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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 87)


With this reflection Sancho made his mind easy, counting thebusiness as good as settled, and stayed there till the afternoon so asto make Don Quixote think he had time enough to go to El Toboso andreturn; and things turned out so luckily for him that as he got upto mount Dapple, he spied, coming from El Toboso towards the spotwhere he stood, three peasant girls on three colts, or fillies- forthe author does not make the point clear, though it is more likelythey were she-asses, the usual mount with village girls; but as itis of no great consequence, we need not stop to prove it.

To be brief, the instant Sancho saw the peasant girls, he returnedfull speed to seek his master, and found him sighing and uttering athousand passionate lamentations. When Don Quixote saw him heexclaimed, "What news, Sancho, my friend? Am I to mark this day with awhite stone or a black?"

"Your worship," replied Sancho, "had better mark it with ruddle,like the inscriptions on the walls of class rooms, that those whosee it may see it plain."

"Then thou bringest good news," said Don Quixote.

"So good," replied Sancho, "that your worship bas only to spurRocinante and get out into the open field to see the lady Dulcinea delToboso, who, with two others, damsels of hers, is coming to see yourworship."

"Holy God! what art thou saying, Sancho, my friend?" exclaimed DonQuixote. "Take care thou art not deceiving me, or seeking by false joyto cheer my real sadness."

"What could I get by deceiving your worship," returned Sancho,"especially when it will so soon be shown whether I tell the truthor not? Come, senor, push on, and you will see the princess ourmistress coming, robed and adorned- in fact, like what she is. Herdamsels and she are all one glow of gold, all bunches of pearls, alldiamonds, all rubies, all cloth of brocade of more than ten borders;with their hair loose on their shoulders like so many sunbeams playingwith the wind; and moreover, they come mounted on three piebaldcackneys, the finest sight ever you saw."

"Hackneys, you mean, Sancho," said Don Quixote.

"There is not much difference between cackneys and hackneys," saidSancho; "but no matter what they come on, there they are, the finestladies one could wish for, especially my lady the princess Dulcinea,who staggers one's senses."

"Let us go, Sancho, my son," said Don Quixote, "and in guerdon ofthis news, as unexpected as it is good, I bestow upon thee the bestspoil I shall win in the first adventure I may have; or if that doesnot satisfy thee, I promise thee the foals I shall have this year frommy three mares that thou knowest are in foal on our village common."

"I'll take the foals," said Sancho; "for it is not quite certainthat the spoils of the first adventure will be good ones."

By this time they had cleared the wood, and saw the three villagelasses close at hand. Don Quixote looked all along the road to ElToboso, and as he could see nobody except the three peasant girls,he was completely puzzled, and asked Sancho if it was outside the cityhe had left them.

"How outside the city?" returned Sancho. "Are your worship's eyes inthe back of your head, that you can't see that they are these whoare coming here, shining like the very sun at noonday?"

"I see nothing, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "but three countrygirls on three jackasses."

"Now, may God deliver me from the devil!" said Sancho, "and can itbe that your worship takes three hackneys- or whatever they're called-as white as the driven snow, for jackasses? By the Lord, I couldtear my beard if that was the case!"

"Well, I can only say, Sancho, my friend," said Don Quixote, "thatit is as plain they are jackasses- or jennyasses- as that I am DonQuixote, and thou Sancho Panza: at any rate, they seem to me to beso."

"Hush, senor," said Sancho, "don't talk that way, but open youreyes, and come and pay your respects to the lady of your thoughts, whois close upon us now;" and with these words he advanced to receive thethree village lasses, and dismounting from Dapple, caught hold ofone of the asses of the three country girls by the halter, anddropping on both knees on the ground, he said, "Queen and princess andduchess of beauty, may it please your haughtiness and greatness toreceive into your favour and good-will your captive knight whostands there turned into marble stone, and quite stupefied andbenumbed at finding himself in your magnificent presence. I amSancho Panza, his squire, and he the vagabond knight Don Quixote of LaMancha, otherwise called 'The Knight of the Rueful Countenance.""

Don Quixote had by this time placed himself on his knees besideSancho, and, with eyes starting out of his head and a puzzled gaze,was regarding her whom Sancho called queen and lady; and as he couldsee nothing in her except a village lass, and not a very well-favouredone, for she was platter-faced and snub-nosed, he was perplexed andbewildered, and did not venture to open his lips. The country girls,at the same time, were astonished to see these two men, so differentin appearance, on their knees, preventing their companion from goingon. She, however, who had been stopped, breaking silence, said angrilyand testily, "Get out of the way, bad luck to you, and let us pass,for we are in a hurry."

To which Sancho returned, "Oh, princess and universal lady of ElToboso, is not your magnanimous heart softened by seeing the pillarand prop of knight-errantry on his knees before your sublimatedpresence?"

On hearing this, one of the others exclaimed, "Woa then! why, I'mrubbing thee down, she-ass of my father-in-law! See how thelordlings come to make game of the village girls now, as if we herecould not chaff as well as themselves. Go your own way, and let usgo ours, and it will be better for you."

"Get up, Sancho," said Don Quixote at this; "I see that fortune,'with evil done to me unsated still,' has taken possession of allthe roads by which any comfort may reach 'this wretched soul' that Icarry in my flesh. And thou, highest perfection of excellence that canbe desired, utmost limit of grace in human shape, sole relief ofthis afflicted heart that adores thee, though the malign enchanterthat persecutes me has brought clouds and cataracts on my eyes, and tothem, and them only, transformed thy unparagoned beauty and changedthy features into those of a poor peasant girl, if so be he has not atthe same time changed mine into those of some monster to render themloathsome in thy sight, refuse not to look upon me with tenderness andlove; seeing in this submission that I make on my knees to thytransformed beauty the humility with which my soul adores thee."

"Hey-day! My grandfather!" cried the girl, "much I care for yourlove-making! Get out of the way and let us pass, and we'll thank you."

Sancho stood aside and let her go, very well pleased to have gotso well out of the hobble he was in. The instant the village lasswho had done duty for Dulcinea found herself free, prodding her"cackney" with a spike she had at the end of a stick, she set off atfull speed across the field. The she-ass, however, feeling the pointmore acutely than usual, began cutting such capers, that it flungthe lady Dulcinea to the ground; seeing which, Don Quixote ran toraise her up, and Sancho to fix and girth the pack-saddle, whichalso had slipped under the ass's belly. The pack-saddle being secured,as Don Quixote was about to lift up his enchanted mistress in his armsand put her upon her beast, the lady, getting up from the ground,saved him the trouble, for, going back a little, she took a short run,and putting both hands on the croup of the ass she dropped into thesaddle more lightly than a falcon, and sat astride like a man, whereatSancho said, "Rogue!" but our lady is lighter than a lanner, and mightteach the cleverest Cordovan or Mexican how to mount; she clearedthe back of the saddle in one jump, and without spurs she is makingthe hackney go like a zebra; and her damsels are no way behind her,for they all fly like the wind;" which was the truth, for as soon asthey saw Dulcinea mounted, they pushed on after her, and sped awaywithout looking back, for more than half a league.

Don Quixote followed them with his eyes, and when they were nolonger in sight, he turned to Sancho and said, "How now, Sancho?thou seest how I am hated by enchanters! And see to what a lengththe malice and spite they bear me go, when they seek to deprive meof the happiness it would give me to see my lady in her own properform. The fact is I was born to be an example of misfortune, and thetarget and mark at which the arrows of adversity are aimed anddirected. Observe too, Sancho, that these traitors were not contentwith changing and transforming my Dulcinea, but they transformed andchanged her into a shape as mean and ill-favoured as that of thevillage girl yonder; and at the same time they robbed her of thatwhich is such a peculiar property of ladies of distinction, that is tosay, the sweet fragrance that comes of being always among perfumes andflowers. For I must tell thee, Sancho, that when I approached to putDulcinea upon her hackney (as thou sayest it was, though to me itappeared a she-ass), she gave me a whiff of raw garlic that made myhead reel, and poisoned my very heart."

"O scum of the earth!" cried Sancho at this, "O miserable,spiteful enchanters! O that I could see you all strung by the gills,like sardines on a twig! Ye know a great deal, ye can do a great deal,and ye do a great deal more. It ought to have been enough for you,ye scoundrels, to have changed the pearls of my lady's eyes into oakgalls, and her hair of purest gold into the bristles of a red ox'stail, and in short, all her features from fair to foul, withoutmeddling with her smell; for by that we might somehow have found outwhat was hidden underneath that ugly rind; though, to tell thetruth, I never perceived her ugliness, but only her beauty, whichwas raised to the highest pitch of perfection by a mole she had on herright lip, like a moustache, with seven or eight red hairs likethreads of gold, and more than a palm long."

"From the correspondence which exists between those of the faceand those of the body," said Don Quixote, "Dulcinea must haveanother mole resembling that on the thick of the thigh on that side onwhich she has the one on her ace; but hairs of the length thou hastmentioned are very long for moles."

"Well, all I can say is there they were as plain as could be,"replied Sancho.

"I believe it, my friend," returned Don Quixote; "for naturebestowed nothing on Dulcinea that was not perfect and well-finished;and so, if she had a hundred moles like the one thou hast described,in her they would not be moles, but moons and shining stars. Buttell me, Sancho, that which seemed to me to be a pack-saddle as thouwert fixing it, was it a flat-saddle or a side-saddle?"

"It was neither," replied Sancho, "but a jineta saddle, with a fieldcovering worth half a kingdom, so rich is it."

"And that I could not see all this, Sancho!" said Don Quixote; "oncemore I say, and will say a thousand times, I am the most unfortunateof men."

Sancho, the rogue, had enough to do to hide his laughter, at hearingthe simplicity of the master he had so nicely befooled. At length,after a good deal more conversation had passed between them, theyremounted their beasts, and followed the road to Saragossa, which theyexpected to reach in time to take part in a certain grand festivalwhich is held every year in that illustrious city; but before they gotthere things happened to them, so many, so important, and sostrange, that they deserve to be recorded and read, as will be seenfarther on.

CHAPTER XIOF THE STRANGE ADVENTURE WHICH THE VALIANT DON QUIXOTE HAD WITHTHE CAR OR CART OF "THE CORTES OF DEATH"

Dejected beyond measure did Don Quixote pursue his journey,turning over in his mind the cruel trick the enchanters had played himin changing his lady Dulcinea into the vile shape of the village lass,nor could he think of any way of restoring her to her original form;and these reflections so absorbed him, that without being aware ofit he let go Rocinante's bridle, and he, perceiving the liberty thatwas granted him, stopped at every step to crop the fresh grass withwhich the plain abounded.

Sancho recalled him from his reverie. "Melancholy, senor," saidhe, "was made, not for beasts, but for men; but if men give way toit overmuch they turn to beasts; control yourself, your worship; beyourself again; gather up Rocinante's reins; cheer up, rouseyourself and show that gallant spirit that knights-errant ought tohave. What the devil is this? What weakness is this? Are we here or inFrance? The devil fly away with all the Dulcineas in the world; forthe well-being of a single knight-errant is of more consequence thanall the enchantments and transformations on earth."

"Hush, Sancho," said Don Quixote in a weak and faint voice, "hushand utter no blasphemies against that enchanted lady; for I alone amto blame for her misfortune and hard fate; her calamity has come ofthe hatred the wicked bear me."

"So say I," returned Sancho; "his heart rend in twain, I trow, whosaw her once, to see her now."

"Thou mayest well say that, Sancho," replied Don Quixote, "as thousawest her in the full perfection of her beauty; for the enchantmentdoes not go so far as to pervert thy vision or hide her lovelinessfrom thee; against me alone and against my eyes is the strength of itsvenom directed. Nevertheless, there is one thing which has occurred tome, and that is that thou didst ill describe her beauty to me, for, aswell as I recollect, thou saidst that her eyes were pearls; but eyesthat are like pearls are rather the eyes of a sea-bream than of alady, and I am persuaded that Dulcinea's must be green emeralds,full and soft, with two rainbows for eyebrows; take away thosepearls from her eyes and transfer them to her teeth; for beyond adoubt, Sancho, thou hast taken the one for the other, the eyes for theteeth."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
Viewed 198796 times

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