Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 90)

"Those are gifts to fit her to be not only a countess but a nymph ofthe greenwood," said he of the Grove; "whoreson strumpet! what piththe rogue must have!"

To which Sancho made answer, somewhat sulkily, "She's no strumpet,nor was her mother, nor will either of them be, please God, while Ilive; speak more civilly; for one bred up among knights-errant, whoare courtesy itself, your words don't seem to me to be very becoming."

"O how little you know about compliments, sir squire," returned heof the Grove. "What! don't you know that when a horseman delivers agood lance thrust at the bull in the plaza, or when anyone doesanything very well, the people are wont to say, 'Ha, whoreson rip! howwell he has done it!' and that what seems to be abuse in theexpression is high praise? Disown sons and daughters, senor, who don'tdo what deserves that compliments of this sort should be paid to theirparents."

"I do disown them," replied Sancho, "and in this way, and by thesame reasoning, you might call me and my children and my wife allthe strumpets in the world, for all they do and say is of a kindthat in the highest degree deserves the same praise; and to see themagain I pray God to deliver me from mortal sin, or, what comes tothe same thing, to deliver me from this perilous calling of squireinto which I have fallen a second time, decayed and beguiled by apurse with a hundred ducats that I found one day in the heart of theSierra Morena; and the devil is always putting a bag full of doubloonsbefore my eyes, here, there, everywhere, until I fancy at every stop Iam putting my hand on it, and hugging it, and carrying it home withme, and making investments, and getting interest, and living like aprince; and so long as I think of this I make light of all thehardships I endure with this simpleton of a master of mine, who, Iwell know, is more of a madman than a knight."

"There's why they say that 'covetousness bursts the bag,'" said heof the Grove; "but if you come to talk of that sort, there is not agreater one in the world than my master, for he is one of those ofwhom they say, 'the cares of others kill the ass;' for, in orderthat another knight may recover the senses he has lost, he makes amadman of himself and goes looking for what, when found, may, forall I know, fly in his own face.""And is he in love perchance?" asked Sancho.

"He is," said of the Grove, "with one Casildea de Vandalia, therawest and best roasted lady the whole world could produce; but thatrawness is not the only foot he limps on, for he has greater schemesrumbling in his bowels, as will be seen before many hours are over."

"There's no road so smooth but it has some hole or hindrance in it,"said Sancho; "in other houses they cook beans, but in mine it's by thepotful; madness will have more followers and hangers-on than soundsense; but if there be any truth in the common saying, that to havecompanions in trouble gives some relief, I may take consolation fromyou, inasmuch as you serve a master as crazy as my own."

"Crazy but valiant," replied he of the Grove, "and more roguish thancrazy or valiant."

"Mine is not that," said Sancho; "I mean he has nothing of the roguein him; on the contrary, he has the soul of a pitcher; he has nothought of doing harm to anyone, only good to all, nor has he anymalice whatever in him; a child might persuade him that it is night atnoonday; and for this simplicity I love him as the core of my heart,and I can't bring myself to leave him, let him do ever such foolishthings."

"For all that, brother and senor," said he of the Grove, "if theblind lead the blind, both are in danger of falling into the pit. Itis better for us to beat a quiet retreat and get back to our ownquarters; for those who seek adventures don't always find good ones."

Sancho kept spitting from time to time, and his spittle seemedsomewhat ropy and dry, observing which the compassionate squire of theGrove said, "It seems to me that with all this talk of ours ourtongues are sticking to the roofs of our mouths; but I have a prettygood loosener hanging from the saddle-bow of my horse," and getting uphe came back the next minute with a large bota of wine and a pastyhalf a yard across; and this is no exaggeration, for it was made ofa house rabbit so big that Sancho, as he handled it, took it to bemade of a goat, not to say a kid, and looking at it he said, "And doyou carry this with you, senor?"

"Why, what are you thinking about?" said the other; "do you takeme for some paltry squire? I carry a better larder on my horse's croupthan a general takes with him when he goes on a march."

Sancho ate without requiring to be pressed, and in the dark boltedmouthfuls like the knots on a tether, and said he, "You are a propertrusty squire, one of the right sort, sumptuous and grand, as thisbanquet shows, which, if it has not come here by magic art, at anyrate has the look of it; not like me, unlucky beggar, that havenothing more in my alforjas than a scrap of cheese, so hard that onemight brain a giant with it, and, to keep it company, a few dozencarobs and as many more filberts and walnuts; thanks to theausterity of my master, and the idea he has and the rule he follows,that knights-errant must not live or sustain themselves on anythingexcept dried fruits and the herbs of the field."

"By my faith, brother," said he of the Grove, "my stomach is notmade for thistles, or wild pears, or roots of the woods; let ourmasters do as they like, with their chivalry notions and laws, and eatwhat those enjoin; I carry my prog-basket and this bota hanging to thesaddle-bow, whatever they may say; and it is such an object of worshipwith me, and I love it so, that there is hardly a moment but I amkissing and embracing it over and over again;" and so saying he thrustit into Sancho's hands, who raising it aloft pointed to his mouth,gazed at the stars for a quarter of an hour; and when he had donedrinking let his head fall on one side, and giving a deep sigh,exclaimed, "Ah, whoreson rogue, how catholic it is!"

"There, you see," said he of the Grove, hearing Sancho'sexclamation, "how you have called this wine whoreson by way ofpraise."

"Well," said Sancho, "I own it, and I grant it is no dishonour tocall anyone whoreson when it is to be understood as praise. But tellme, senor, by what you love best, is this Ciudad Real wine?"

"O rare wine-taster!" said he of the Grove; "nowhere else indeeddoes it come from, and it has some years' age too."

"Leave me alone for that," said Sancho; "never fear but I'll hitupon the place it came from somehow. What would you say, sir squire,to my having such a great natural instinct in judging wines that youhave only to let me smell one and I can tell positively its country,its kind, its flavour and soundness, the changes it will undergo,and everything that appertains to a wine? But it is no wonder, for Ihave had in my family, on my father's side, the two bestwine-tasters that have been known in La Mancha for many a long year,and to prove it I'll tell you now a thing that happened them. Theygave the two of them some wine out of a cask, to try, asking theiropinion as to the condition, quality, goodness or badness of the wine.One of them tried it with the tip of his tongue, the other did no morethan bring it to his nose. The first said the wine had a flavour ofiron, the second said it had a stronger flavour of cordovan. The ownersaid the cask was clean, and that nothing had been added to the winefrom which it could have got a flavour of either iron or leather.Nevertheless, these two great wine-tasters held to what they had said.Time went by, the wine was sold, and when they came to clean out thecask, they found in it a small key hanging to a thong of cordovan; seenow if one who comes of the same stock has not a right to give hisopinion in such like cases."

"Therefore, I say," said he of the Grove, "let us give up going inquest of adventures, and as we have loaves let us not go looking forcakes, but return to our cribs, for God will find us there if it behis will."

"Until my master reaches Saragossa," said Sancho, "I'll remain inhis service; after that we'll see."

The end of it was that the two squires talked so much and drank somuch that sleep had to tie their tongues and moderate their thirst,for to quench it was impossible; and so the pair of them fell asleepclinging to the now nearly empty bota and with half-chewed morselsin their mouths; and there we will leave them for the present, torelate what passed between the Knight of the Grove and him of theRueful Countenance.



Among the things that passed between Don Quixote and the Knight ofthe Wood, the history tells us he of the Grove said to Don Quixote,"In fine, sir knight, I would have you know that my destiny, or,more properly speaking, my choice led me to fall in love with thepeerless Casildea de Vandalia. I call her peerless because she hasno peer, whether it be in bodily stature or in the supremacy of rankand beauty. This same Casildea, then, that I speak of, requited myhonourable passion and gentle aspirations by compelling me, as hisstepmother did Hercules, to engage in many perils of various sorts, atthe end of each promising me that, with the end of the next, theobject of my hopes should be attained; but my labours have gone onincreasing link by link until they are past counting, nor do I knowwhat will be the last one that is to be the beginning of theaccomplishment of my chaste desires. On one occasion she bade me goand challenge the famous giantess of Seville, La Giralda by name,who is as mighty and strong as if made of brass, and though neverstirring from one spot, is the most restless and changeable woman inthe world. I came, I saw, I conquered, and I made her stay quiet andbehave herself, for nothing but north winds blew for more than a week.Another time I was ordered to lift those ancient stones, the mightybulls of Guisando, an enterprise that might more fitly be entrusted toporters than to knights. Again, she bade me fling myself into thecavern of Cabra- an unparalleled and awful peril- and bring her aminute account of all that is concealed in those gloomy depths. Istopped the motion of the Giralda, I lifted the bulls of Guisando, Iflung myself into the cavern and brought to light the secrets of itsabyss; and my hopes are as dead as dead can be, and her scorn andher commands as lively as ever. To be brief, last of all she hascommanded me to go through all the provinces of Spain and compel allthe knights-errant wandering therein to confess that she surpasses allwomen alive to-day in beauty, and that I am the most valiant and themost deeply enamoured knight on earth; in support of which claim Ihave already travelled over the greater part of Spain, and havethere vanquished several knights who have dared to contradict me;but what I most plume and pride myself upon is having vanquished insingle combat that so famous knight Don Quixote of La Mancha, and madehim confess that my Casildea is more beautiful than his Dulcinea;and in this one victory I hold myself to have conquered all theknights in the world; for this Don Quixote that I speak of hasvanquished them all, and I having vanquished him, his glory, his fame,and his honour have passed and are transferred to my person; for

The more the vanquished hath of fair renown,The greater glory gilds the victor's crown.

Thus the innumerable achievements of the said Don Quixote are nowset down to my account and have become mine."

Don Quixote was amazed when he heard the Knight of the Grove, andwas a thousand times on the point of telling him he lied, and hadthe lie direct already on the tip of his tongue; but he restrainedhimself as well as he could, in order to force him to confess thelie with his own lips; so he said to him quietly, "As to what you say,sir knight, about having vanquished most of the knights of Spain, oreven of the whole world, I say nothing; but that you have vanquishedDon Quixote of La Mancha I consider doubtful; it may have been someother that resembled him, although there are few like him."

"How! not vanquished?" said he of the Grove; "by the heaven thatis above us I fought Don Quixote and overcame him and made himyield; and he is a man of tall stature, gaunt features, long, lanklimbs, with hair turning grey, an aquiline nose rather hooked, andlarge black drooping moustaches; he does battle under the name of 'TheCountenance,' and he has for squire a peasant called Sancho Panza;he presses the loins and rules the reins of a famous steed calledRocinante; and lastly, he has for the mistress of his will a certainDulcinea del Toboso, once upon a time called Aldonza Lorenzo, justas I call mine Casildea de Vandalia because her name is Casilda andshe is of Andalusia. If all these tokens are not enough to vindicatethe truth of what I say, here is my sword, that will compelincredulity itself to give credence to it."

"Calm yourself, sir knight," said Don Quixote, "and give ear to whatI am about to say to you. you.I would have you know that this DonQuixote you speak of is the greatest friend I have in the world; somuch so that I may say I regard him in the same light as my ownperson; and from the precise and clear indications you have given Icannot but think that he must be the very one you have vanquished.On the other hand, I see with my eyes and feel with my hands that itis impossible it can have been the same; unless indeed it be that,as he has many enemies who are enchanters, and one in particular whois always persecuting him, some one of these may have taken hisshape in order to allow himself to be vanquished, so as to defraud himof the fame that his exalted achievements as a knight have earnedand acquired for him throughout the known world. And in confirmationof this, I must tell you, too, that it is but ten hours since thesesaid enchanters his enemies transformed the shape and person of thefair Dulcinea del Toboso into a foul and mean village lass, and in thesame way they must have transformed Don Quixote; and if all thisdoes not suffice to convince you of the truth of what I say, here isDon Quixote himself, who will maintain it by arms, on foot or onhorseback or in any way you please."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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