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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 95)


They all stopped, and perceived that it was Don Quixote who wasmaking signals, and shaking off their fears to some extent, theyapproached slowly until they were near enough to hear distinctly DonQuixote's voice calling to them. They returned at length to thecart, and as they came up, Don Quixote said to the carter, "Put yourmules to once more, brother, and continue your journey; and do thou,Sancho, give him two gold crowns for himself and the keeper, tocompensate for the delay they have incurred through me."

"That will I give with all my heart," said Sancho; "but what hasbecome of the lions? Are they dead or alive?"

The keeper, then, in full detail, and bit by bit, described theend of the contest, exalting to the best of his power and abilitythe valour of Don Quixote, at the sight of whom the lion quailed,and would not and dared not come out of the cage, although he had heldthe door open ever so long; and showing how, in consequence of hishaving represented to the knight that it was tempting God to provokethe lion in order to force him out, which he wished to have done, hevery reluctantly, and altogether against his will, had allowed thedoor to be closed.

"What dost thou think of this, Sancho?" said Don Quixote. "Are thereany enchantments that can prevail against true valour? Theenchanters may be able to rob me of good fortune, but of fortitude andcourage they cannot."

Sancho paid the crowns, the carter put to, the keeper kissed DonQuixote's hands for the bounty bestowed upon him, and promised to givean account of the valiant exploit to the King himself, as soon as hesaw him at court.

"Then," said Don Quixote, "if his Majesty should happen to ask whoperformed it, you must say THE KNIGHT OF THE LIONS; for it is mydesire that into this the name I have hitherto borne of Knight ofthe Rueful Countenance be from this time forward changed, altered,transformed, and turned; and in this I follow the ancient usage ofknights-errant, who changed their names when they pleased, or whenit suited their purpose."

The cart went its way, and Don Quixote, Sancho, and he of thegreen gaban went theirs. All this time, Don Diego de Miranda had notspoken a word, being entirely taken up with observing and noting allthat Don Quixote did and said, and the opinion he formed was that hewas a man of brains gone mad, and a madman on the verge ofrationality. The first part of his history had not yet reached him,for, had he read it, the amazement with which his words and deedsfilled him would have vanished, as he would then have understood thenature of his madness; but knowing nothing of it, he took him to berational one moment, and crazy the next, for what he said wassensible, elegant, and well expressed, and what he did, absurd,rash, and foolish; and said he to himself, "What could be madderthan putting on a helmet full of curds, and then persuading oneselfthat enchanters are softening one's skull; or what could be greaterrashness and folly than wanting to fight lions tooth and nail?"

Don Quixote roused him from these reflections and this soliloquyby saying, "No doubt, Senor Don Diego de Miranda, you set me down inyour mind as a fool and a madman, and it would be no wonder if youdid, for my deeds do not argue anything else. But for all that, Iwould have you take notice that I am neither so mad nor so foolishas I must have seemed to you. A gallant knight shows to advantagebringing his lance to bear adroitly upon a fierce bull under theeyes of his sovereign, in the midst of a spacious plaza; a knightshows to advantage arrayed in glittering armour, pacing the listsbefore the ladies in some joyous tournament, and all those knightsshow to advantage that entertain, divert, and, if we may say so,honour the courts of their princes by warlike exercises, or whatresemble them; but to greater advantage than all these does aknight-errant show when he traverses deserts, solitudes,cross-roads, forests, and mountains, in quest of perilousadventures, bent on bringing them to a happy and successful issue, allto win a glorious and lasting renown. To greater advantage, Imaintain, does the knight-errant show bringing aid to some widow insome lonely waste, than the court knight dallying with some citydamsel. All knights have their own special parts to play; let thecourtier devote himself to the ladies, let him add lustre to hissovereign's court by his liveries, let him entertain poor gentlemenwith the sumptuous fare of his table, let him arrange joustings,marshal tournaments, and prove himself noble, generous, andmagnificent, and above all a good Christian, and so doing he willfulfil the duties that are especially his; but let the knight-errantexplore the corners of the earth and penetrate the most intricatelabyrinths, at each step let him attempt impossibilities, ondesolate heaths let him endure the burning rays of the midsummersun, and the bitter inclemency of the winter winds and frosts; letno lions daunt him, no monsters terrify him, no dragons make himquail; for to seek these, to attack those, and to vanquish all, are intruth his main duties. I, then, as it has fallen to my lot to be amember of knight-errantry, cannot avoid attempting all that to meseems to come within the sphere of my duties; thus it was my boundenduty to attack those lions that I just now attacked, although I knewit to be the height of rashness; for I know well what valour is,that it is a virtue that occupies a place between two viciousextremes, cowardice and temerity; but it will be a lesser evil for himwho is valiant to rise till he reaches the point of rashness, thanto sink until he reaches the point of cowardice; for, as it iseasier for the prodigal than for the miser to become generous, so itis easier for a rash man to prove truly valiant than for a coward torise to true valour; and believe me, Senor Don Diego, in attemptingadventures it is better to lose by a card too many than by a cardtoo few; for to hear it said, 'such a knight is rash and daring,'sounds better than 'such a knight is timid and cowardly.'"

"I protest, Senor Don Quixote," said Don Diego, "everything you havesaid and done is proved correct by the test of reason itself; and Ibelieve, if the laws and ordinances of knight-errantry should be lost,they might be found in your worship's breast as in their own properdepository and muniment-house; but let us make haste, and reach myvillage, where you shall take rest after your late exertions; for ifthey have not been of the body they have been of the spirit, and thesesometimes tend to produce bodily fatigue."

"I take the invitation as a great favour and honour, Senor DonDiego," replied Don Quixote; and pressing forward at a better pacethan before, at about two in the afternoon they reached the villageand house of Don Diego, or, as Don Quixote called him, "The Knightof the Green Gaban."

CHAPTER XVIII

OF WHAT HAPPENED DON QUIXOTE IN THE CASTLE OR HOUSE OF THE KNIGHT OFTHE GREEN GABAN, TOGETHER WITH OTHER MATTERS OUT OF THE COMMON

Don Quixote found Don Diego de Miranda's house built in villagestyle, with his arms in rough stone over the street door; in the patiowas the store-room, and at the entrance the cellar, with plenty ofwine-jars standing round, which, coming from El Toboso, brought backto his memory his enchanted and transformed Dulcinea; and with a sigh,and not thinking of what he was saying, or in whose presence he was,he exclaimed-

"O ye sweet treasures, to my sorrow found!Once sweet and welcome when 'twas heaven's good-will.

O ye Tobosan jars, how ye bring back to my memory the sweet objectof my bitter regrets!"

The student poet, Don Diego's son, who had come out with hismother to receive him, heard this exclamation, and both mother and sonwere filled with amazement at the extraordinary figure he presented;he, however, dismounting from Rocinante, advanced with greatpoliteness to ask permission to kiss the lady's hand, while DonDiego said, "Senora, pray receive with your wonted kindness SenorDon Quixote of La Mancha, whom you see before you, a knight-errant,and the bravest and wisest in the world."

The lady, whose name was Dona Christina, received him with everysign of good-will and great courtesy, and Don Quixote placed himselfat her service with an abundance of well-chosen and polishedphrases. Almost the same civilities were exchanged between him and thestudent, who listening to Don Quixote, took him to be a sensible,clear-headed person.

Here the author describes minutely everything belonging to DonDiego's mansion, putting before us in his picture the whole contentsof a rich gentleman-farmer's house; but the translator of thehistory thought it best to pass over these and other details of thesame sort in silence, as they are not in harmony with the main purposeof the story, the strong point of which is truth rather than dulldigressions.

They led Don Quixote into a room, and Sancho removed his armour,leaving him in loose Walloon breeches and chamois-leather doublet, allstained with the rust of his armour; his collar was a falling one ofscholastic cut, without starch or lace, his buskins buff-coloured, andhis shoes polished. He wore his good sword, which hung in a baldric ofsea-wolf's skin, for he had suffered for many years, they say, from anailment of the kidneys; and over all he threw a long cloak of goodgrey cloth. But first of all, with five or six buckets of water (foras regard the number of buckets there is some dispute), he washedhis head and face, and still the water remained whey-coloured,thanks to Sancho's greediness and purchase of those unlucky curds thatturned his master so white. Thus arrayed, and with an easy, sprightly,and gallant air, Don Quixote passed out into another room, where thestudent was waiting to entertain him while the table was being laid;for on the arrival of so distinguished a guest, Dona Christina wasanxious to show that she knew how and was able to give a becomingreception to those who came to her house.

While Don Quixote was taking off his armour, Don Lorenzo (for so DonDiego's son was called) took the opportunity to say to his father,"What are we to make of this gentleman you have brought home to us,sir? For his name, his appearance, and your describing him as aknight-errant have completely puzzled my mother and me."

"I don't know what to say, my son," replied. Don Diego; "all I cantell thee is that I have seen him act the acts of the greatestmadman in the world, and heard him make observations so sensiblethat they efface and undo all he does; do thou talk to him and feelthe pulse of his wits, and as thou art shrewd, form the mostreasonable conclusion thou canst as to his wisdom or folly; though, totell the truth, I am more inclined to take him to be mad than sane."

With this Don Lorenzo went away to entertain Don Quixote as has beensaid, and in the course of the conversation that passed between themDon Quixote said to Don Lorenzo, "Your father, Senor Don Diego deMiranda, has told me of the rare abilities and subtle intellect youpossess, and, above all, that you are a great poet."

"A poet, it may be," replied Don Lorenzo, "but a great one, by nomeans. It is true that I am somewhat given to poetry and to readinggood poets, but not so much so as to justify the title of 'great'which my father gives me."

"I do not dislike that modesty," said Don Quixote; "for there isno poet who is not conceited and does not think he is the best poet inthe world."

"There is no rule without an exception," said Don Lorenzo; "theremay be some who are poets and yet do not think they are."

"Very few," said Don Quixote; "but tell me, what verses are thosewhich you have now in hand, and which your father tells me keep yousomewhat restless and absorbed? If it be some gloss, I knowsomething about glosses, and I should like to hear them; and if theyare for a poetical tournament, contrive to carry off the second prize;for the first always goes by favour or personal standing, the secondby simple justice; and so the third comes to be the second, and thefirst, reckoning in this way, will be third, in the same way aslicentiate degrees are conferred at the universities; but, for allthat, the title of first is a great distinction."

"So far," said Don Lorenzo to himself, "I should not take you tobe a madman; but let us go on." So he said to him, "Your worship hasapparently attended the schools; what sciences have you studied?"

"That of knight-errantry," said Don Quixote, "which is as good asthat of poetry, and even a finger or two above it."

"I do not know what science that is," said Don Lorenzo, "and untilnow I have never heard of it."

"It is a science," said Don Quixote, "that comprehends in itself allor most of the sciences in the world, for he who professes it mustbe a jurist, and must know the rules of justice, distributive andequitable, so as to give to each one what belongs to him and is due tohim. He must be a theologian, so as to be able to give a clear anddistinctive reason for the Christian faith he professes, wherever itmay be asked of him. He must be a physician, and above all aherbalist, so as in wastes and solitudes to know the herbs that havethe property of healing wounds, for a knight-errant must not golooking for some one to cure him at every step. He must be anastronomer, so as to know by the stars how many hours of the nighthave passed, and what clime and quarter of the world he is in. He mustknow mathematics, for at every turn some occasion for them willpresent itself to him; and, putting it aside that he must be adornedwith all the virtues, cardinal and theological, to come down tominor particulars, he must, I say, be able to swim as well as Nicholasor Nicolao the Fish could, as the story goes; he must know how to shoea horse, and repair his saddle and bridle; and, to return to highermatters, he must be faithful to God and to his lady; he must be purein thought, decorous in words, generous in works, valiant in deeds,patient in suffering, compassionate towards the needy, and, lastly, anupholder of the truth though its defence should cost him his life.Of all these qualities, great and small, is a true knight-errantmade up; judge then, Senor Don Lorenzo, whether it be a contemptiblescience which the knight who studies and professes it has to learn,and whether it may not compare with the very loftiest that aretaught in the schools."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
Viewed 201697 times

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