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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 89)


Don Quixote laughed at Sancho's affected phraseology, andperceived that what he said about his improvement was true, for nowand then he spoke in a way that surprised him; though always, ormostly, when Sancho tried to talk fine and attempted politelanguage, he wound up by toppling over from the summit of hissimplicity into the abyss of his ignorance; and where he showed hisculture and his memory to the greatest advantage was in dragging inproverbs, no matter whether they had any bearing or not upon thesubject in hand, as may have been seen already and will be noticedin the course of this history.

In conversation of this kind they passed a good part of the night,but Sancho felt a desire to let down the curtains of his eyes, as heused to say when he wanted to go to sleep; and stripping Dapple heleft him at liberty to graze his fill. He did not remove Rocinante'ssaddle, as his master's express orders were, that so long as they werein the field or not sleeping under a roof Rocinante was not to bestripped- the ancient usage established and observed by knights-errantbeing to take off the bridle and hang it on the saddle-bow, but toremove the saddle from the horse- never! Sancho acted accordingly, andgave him the same liberty he had given Dapple, between whom andRocinante there was a friendship so unequalled and so strong, thatit is handed down by tradition from father to son, that the authorof this veracious history devoted some special chapters to it,which, in order to preserve the propriety and decorum due to a historyso heroic, he did not insert therein; although at times he forgetsthis resolution of his and describes how eagerly the two beastswould scratch one another when they were together and how, when theywere tired or full, Rocinante would lay his neck across Dapple's,stretching half a yard or more on the other side, and the pair wouldstand thus, gazing thoughtfully on the ground, for three days, or atleast so long as they were left alone, or hunger did not drive them togo and look for food. I may add that they say the author left it onrecord that he likened their friendship to that of Nisus and Euryalus,and Pylades and Orestes; and if that be so, it may be perceived, tothe admiration of mankind, how firm the friendship must have beenbetween these two peaceful animals, shaming men, who preservefriendships with one another so badly. This was why it was said-

For friend no longer is there friend;The reeds turn lances now.

And some one else has sung-

Friend to friend the bug, &c.

And let no one fancy that the author was at all astray when hecompared the friendship of these animals to that of men; for menhave received many lessons from beasts, and learned many importantthings, as, for example, the clyster from the stork, vomit andgratitude from the dog, watchfulness from the crane, foresight fromthe ant, modesty from the elephant, and loyalty from the horse.

Sancho at last fell asleep at the foot of a cork tree, while DonQuixote dozed at that of a sturdy oak; but a short time only hadelapsed when a noise he heard behind him awoke him, and rising upstartled, he listened and looked in the direction the noise came from,and perceived two men on horseback, one of whom, letting himselfdrop from the saddle, said to the other, "Dismount, my friend, andtake the bridles off the horses, for, so far as I can see, thisplace will furnish grass for them, and the solitude and silence mylove-sick thoughts need of." As he said this he stretched himself uponthe ground, and as he flung himself down, the armour in which he wasclad rattled, whereby Don Quixote perceived that he must be aknight-errant; and going over to Sancho, who was asleep, he shookhim by the arm and with no small difficulty brought him back to hissenses, and said in a low voice to him, "Brother Sancho, we have gotan adventure."

"God send us a good one," said Sancho; "and where may her ladyshipthe adventure be?"

"Where, Sancho?" replied Don Quixote; "turn thine eyes and look, andthou wilt see stretched there a knight-errant, who, it strikes me,is not over and above happy, for I saw him fling himself off his horseand throw himself on the ground with a certain air of dejection, andhis armour rattled as he fell."

"Well," said Sancho, "how does your worship make out that to be anadventure?"

"I do not mean to say," returned Don Quixote, "that it is a completeadventure, but that it is the beginning of one, for it is in thisway adventures begin. But listen, for it seems he is tuning a luteor guitar, and from the way he is spitting and clearing his chest hemust be getting ready to sing something."

"Faith, you are right," said Sancho, "and no doubt he is someenamoured knight."

"There is no knight-errant that is not," said Don Quixote; "butlet us listen to him, for, if he sings, by that thread we shallextract the ball of his thoughts; because out of the abundance ofthe heart the mouth speaketh."

Sancho was about to reply to his master, but the Knight of theGrove's voice, which was neither very bad nor very good, stoppedhim, and listening attentively the pair heard him sing this

SONNET

Your pleasure, prithee, lady mine, unfold;Declare the terms that I am to obey;My will to yours submissively I mould,And from your law my feet shall never stray.Would you I die, to silent grief a prey?Then count me even now as dead and cold;Would you I tell my woes in some new way?Then shall my tale by Love itself be told.The unison of opposites to prove,Of the soft wax and diamond hard am I;But still, obedient to the laws of love,Here, hard or soft, I offer you my breast,Whate'er you grave or stamp thereon shall restIndelible for all eternity.

With an "Ah me!" that seemed to be drawn from the inmost recesses ofhis heart, the Knight of the Grove brought his lay to an end, andshortly afterwards exclaimed in a melancholy and piteous voice, "Ofairest and most ungrateful woman on earth! What! can it be, mostserene Casildea de Vandalia, that thou wilt suffer this thy captiveknight to waste away and perish in ceaseless wanderings and rude andarduous toils? It is not enough that I have compelled all theknights of Navarre, all the Leonese, all the Tartesians, all theCastilians, and finally all the knights of La Mancha, to confessthee the most beautiful in the world?"

"Not so," said Don Quixote at this, "for I am of La Mancha, and Ihave never confessed anything of the sort, nor could I nor should Iconfess a thing so much to the prejudice of my lady's beauty; thouseest how this knight is raving, Sancho. But let us listen, perhaps hewill tell us more about himself."

"That he will," returned Sancho, "for he seems in a mood to bewailhimself for a month at a stretch."

But this was not the case, for the Knight of the Grove, hearingvoices near him, instead of continuing his lamentation, stood up andexclaimed in a distinct but courteous tone, "Who goes there? Whatare you? Do you belong to the number of the happy or of themiserable?"

"Of the miserable," answered Don Quixote.

"Then come to me," said he of the Grove, "and rest assured that itis to woe itself and affliction itself you come."

Don Quixote, finding himself answered in such a soft and courteousmanner, went over to him, and so did Sancho.

The doleful knight took Don Quixote by the arm, saying, "Sit downhere, sir knight; for, that you are one, and of those that professknight-errantry, it is to me a sufficient proof to have found you inthis place, where solitude and night, the natural couch and properretreat of knights-errant, keep you company." To which Don madeanswer, "A knight I am of the profession you mention, and thoughsorrows, misfortunes, and calamities have made my heart their abode,the compassion I feel for the misfortunes of others has not beenthereby banished from it. From what you have just now sung I gatherthat yours spring from love, I mean from the love you bear that fairingrate you named in your lament."

In the meantime, they had seated themselves together on the hardground peaceably and sociably, just as if, as soon as day broke,they were not going to break one another's heads.

"Are you, sir knight, in love perchance?" asked he of the Grove ofDon Quixote.

"By mischance I am," replied Don Quixote; "though the ills arisingfrom well-bestowed affections should be esteemed favours rather thanmisfortunes."

"That is true," returned he of the Grove, "if scorn did not unsettleour reason and understanding, for if it be excessive it looks likerevenge."

"I was never scorned by my lady," said Don Quixote.

"Certainly not," said Sancho, who stood close by, "for my lady is asa lamb, and softer than a roll of butter."

"Is this your squire?" asked he of the Grove.

"He is," said Don Quixote.

"I never yet saw a squire," said he of the Grove, "who ventured tospeak when his master was speaking; at least, there is mine, who is asbig as his father, and it cannot be proved that he has ever opened hislips when I am speaking."

"By my faith then," said Sancho, "I have spoken, and am fit tospeak, in the presence of one as much, or even- but never mind- itonly makes it worse to stir it."

The squire of the Grove took Sancho by the arm, saying to him,"Let us two go where we can talk in squire style as much as we please,and leave these gentlemen our masters to fight it out over the storyof their loves; and, depend upon it, daybreak will find them at itwithout having made an end of it."

"So be it by all means," said Sancho; "and I will tell yourworship who I am, that you may see whether I am to be reckoned amongthe number of the most talkative squires."

With this the two squires withdrew to one side, and between themthere passed a conversation as droll as that which passed betweentheir masters was serious.

CHAPTER XIII

IN WHICH IS CONTINUED THE ADVENTURE OF THE KNIGHT OF THE GROVE,TOGETHER WITH THE SENSIBLE, ORIGINAL, AND TRANQUIL COLLOQUY THATPASSED BETWEEN THE TWO SQUIRES

The knights and the squires made two parties, these telling thestory of their lives, the others the story of their loves; but thehistory relates first of all the conversation of the servants, andafterwards takes up that of the masters; and it says that, withdrawinga little from the others, he of the Grove said to Sancho, "A hard lifeit is we lead and live, senor, we that are squires toknights-errant; verily, we eat our bread in the sweat of our faces,which is one of the curses God laid on our first parents."

"It may be said, too," added Sancho, "that we eat it in the chill ofour bodies; for who gets more heat and cold than the miserable squiresof knight-errantry? Even so it would not be so bad if we had somethingto eat, for woes are lighter if there's bread; but sometimes we go aday or two without breaking our fast, except with the wind thatblows."

"All that," said he of the Grove, "may be endured and put up withwhen we have hopes of reward; for, unless the knight-errant heserves is excessively unlucky, after a few turns the squire will atleast find himself rewarded with a fine government of some island orsome fair county."

"I," said Sancho, "have already told my master that I shall becontent with the government of some island, and he is so noble andgenerous that he has promised it to me ever so many times."

"I," said he of the Grove, "shall be satisfied with a canonry for myservices, and my master has already assigned me one."

"Your master," said Sancho, "no doubt is a knight in the Churchline, and can bestow rewards of that sort on his good squire; but mineis only a layman; though I remember some clever, but, to my mind,designing people, strove to persuade him to try and become anarchbishop. He, however, would not be anything but an emperor; but Iwas trembling all the time lest he should take a fancy to go intothe Church, not finding myself fit to hold office in it; for I maytell you, though I seem a man, I am no better than a beast for theChurch."

"Well, then, you are wrong there," said he of the Grove; "forthose island governments are not all satisfactory; some are awkward,some are poor, some are dull, and, in short, the highest andchoicest brings with it a heavy burden of cares and troubles which theunhappy wight to whose lot it has fallen bears upon his shoulders. Farbetter would it be for us who have adopted this accursed service to goback to our own houses, and there employ ourselves in pleasanteroccupations -in hunting or fishing, for instance; for what squire inthe world is there so poor as not to have a hack and a couple ofgreyhounds and a fishingrod to amuse himself with in his own village?"

"I am not in want of any of those things," said Sancho; "to besure I have no hack, but I have an ass that is worth my master's horsetwice over; God send me a bad Easter, and that the next one I am tosee, if I would swap, even if I got four bushels of barley to boot.You will laugh at the value I put on my Dapple- for dapple is thecolour of my beast. As to greyhounds, I can't want for them, for thereare enough and to spare in my town; and, moreover, there is morepleasure in sport when it is at other people's expense."

"In truth and earnest, sir squire," said he of the Grove, "I havemade up my mind and determined to have done with these drunkenvagaries of these knights, and go back to my village, and bring upmy children; for I have three, like three Oriental pearls."

"I have two," said Sancho, "that might be presented before thePope himself, especially a girl whom I am breeding up for acountess, please God, though in spite of her mother."

"And how old is this lady that is being bred up for a countess?"asked he of the Grove.

"Fifteen, a couple of years more or less," answered Sancho; "but sheis as tall as a lance, and as fresh as an April morning, and as strongas a porter."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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