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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 97)


"Say that to my wife," said Sancho, who had until now listened insilence, "for she won't hear of anything but each one marrying hisequal, holding with the proverb 'each ewe to her like.' What I wouldlike is that this good Basilio (for I am beginning to take a fancyto him already) should marry this lady Quiteria; and a blessing andgood luck- I meant to say the opposite- on people who would preventthose who love one another from marrying."

"If all those who love one another were to marry," said Don Quixote,"it would deprive parents of the right to choose, and marry theirchildren to the proper person and at the proper time; and if it wasleft to daughters to choose husbands as they pleased, one would be forchoosing her father's servant, and another, some one she has seenpassing in the street and fancies gallant and dashing, though he maybe a drunken bully; for love and fancy easily blind the eyes of thejudgment, so much wanted in choosing one's way of life; and thematrimonial choice is very liable to error, and it needs great cautionand the special favour of heaven to make it a good one. He who hasto make a long journey, will, if he is wise, look out for sometrusty and pleasant companion to accompany him before he sets out.Why, then, should not he do the same who has to make the whole journeyof life down to the final halting-place of death, more especially whenthe companion has to be his companion in bed, at board, andeverywhere, as the wife is to her husband? The companionship ofone's wife is no article of merchandise, that, after it has beenbought, may be returned, or bartered, or changed; for it is aninseparable accident that lasts as long as life lasts; it is a noosethat, once you put it round your neck, turns into a Gordian knot,which, if the scythe of Death does not cut it, there is no untying.I could say a great deal more on this subject, were I not prevented bythe anxiety I feel to know if the senor licentiate has anything moreto tell about the story of Basilio."

To this the student, bachelor, or, as Don Quixote called him,licentiate, replied, "I have nothing whatever to say further, but thatfrom the moment Basilio learned that the fair Quiteria was to bemarried to Camacho the rich, he has never been seen to smile, or heardto utter rational word, and he always goes about moody and dejected,talking to himself in a way that shows plainly he is out of hissenses. He eats little and sleeps little, and all he eats is fruit,and when he sleeps, if he sleeps at all, it is in the field on thehard earth like a brute beast. Sometimes he gazes at the sky, at othertimes he fixes his eyes on the earth in such an abstracted way that hemight be taken for a clothed statue, with its drapery stirred by thewind. In short, he shows such signs of a heart crushed by suffering,that all we who know him believe that when to-morrow the fair Quiteriasays 'yes,' it will be his sentence of death."

"God will guide it better," said Sancho, "for God who gives thewound gives the salve; nobody knows what will happen; there are a goodmany hours between this and to-morrow, and any one of them, or anymoment, the house may fall; I have seen the rain coming down and thesun shining all at one time; many a one goes to bed in good health whocan't stir the next day. And tell me, is there anyone who can boast ofhaving driven a nail into the wheel of fortune? No, faith; and betweena woman's 'yes' and 'no' I wouldn't venture to put the point of a pin,for there would not be room for it; if you tell me Quiteria lovesBasilio heart and soul, then I'll give him a bag of good luck; forlove, I have heard say, looks through spectacles that make copper seemgold, poverty wealth, and blear eyes pearls."

"What art thou driving at, Sancho? curses on thee!" said DonQuixote; "for when thou takest to stringing proverbs and sayingstogether, no one can understand thee but Judas himself, and I wishhe had thee. Tell me, thou animal, what dost thou know about nailsor wheels, or anything else?"

"Oh, if you don't understand me," replied Sancho, "it is no wondermy words are taken for nonsense; but no matter; I understand myself,and I know I have not said anything very foolish in what I havesaid; only your worship, senor, is always gravelling at everything Isay, nay, everything I do."

"Cavilling, not gravelling," said Don Quixote, "thou prevaricator ofhonest language, God confound thee!"

"Don't find fault with me, your worship," returned Sancho, "foryou know I have not been bred up at court or trained at Salamanca,to know whether I am adding or dropping a letter or so in my words.Why! God bless me, it's not fair to force a Sayago-man to speak like aToledan; maybe there are Toledans who do not hit it off when itcomes to polished talk."

"That is true," said the licentiate, "for those who have been bredup in the Tanneries and the Zocodover cannot talk like those who arealmost all day pacing the cathedral cloisters, and yet they are allToledans. Pure, correct, elegant and lucid language will be met within men of courtly breeding and discrimination, though they may havebeen born in Majalahonda; I say of discrimination, because there aremany who are not so, and discrimination is the grammar of goodlanguage, if it be accompanied by practice. I, sirs, for my sinshave studied canon law at Salamanca, and I rather pique myself onexpressing my meaning in clear, plain, and intelligible language."

"If you did not pique yourself more on your dexterity with thosefoils you carry than on dexterity of tongue," said the otherstudent, "you would have been head of the degrees, where you are nowtail."

"Look here, bachelor Corchuelo," returned the licentiate, "youhave the most mistaken idea in the world about skill with the sword,if you think it useless."

"It is no idea on my part, but an established truth," repliedCorchuelo; "and if you wish me to prove it to you by experiment, youhave swords there, and it is a good opportunity; I have a steadyhand and a strong arm, and these joined with my resolution, which isnot small, will make you confess that I am not mistaken. Dismountand put in practice your positions and circles and angles and science,for I hope to make you see stars at noonday with my rude rawswordsmanship, in which, next to God, I place my trust that the man isyet to be born who will make me turn my back, and that there is notone in the world I will not compel to give ground."

"As to whether you turn your back or not, I do not concernmyself," replied the master of fence; "though it might be that yourgrave would be dug on the spot where you planted your foot the firsttime; I mean that you would be stretched dead there for despisingskill with the sword."

"We shall soon see," replied Corchuelo, and getting off his assbriskly, he drew out furiously one of the swords the licentiatecarried on his beast.

"It must not be that way," said Don Quixote at this point; "I willbe the director of this fencing match, and judge of this oftendisputed question;" and dismounting from Rocinante and grasping hislance, he planted himself in the middle of the road, just as thelicentiate, with an easy, graceful bearing and step, advancedtowards Corchuelo, who came on against him, darting fire from hiseyes, as the saying is. The other two of the company, the peasants,without dismounting from their asses, served as spectators of themortal tragedy. The cuts, thrusts, down strokes, back strokes anddoubles, that Corchuelo delivered were past counting, and came thickerthan hops or hail. He attacked like an angry lion, but he was met by atap on the mouth from the button of the licentiate's sword thatchecked him in the midst of his furious onset, and made him kiss it asif it were a relic, though not as devoutly as relics are and oughtto he kissed. The end of it was that the licentiate reckoned up forhim by thrusts every one of the buttons of the short cassock hewore, tore the skirts into strips, like the tails of a cuttlefish,knocked off his hat twice, and so completely tired him out, that invexation, anger, and rage, he took the sword by the hilt and flungit away with such force, that one of the peasants that were there, whowas a notary, and who went for it, made an affidavit afterwards thathe sent it nearly three-quarters of a league, which testimony willserve, and has served, to show and establish with all certainty thatstrength is overcome by skill.

Corchuelo sat down wearied, and Sancho approaching him said, "Bymy faith, senor bachelor, if your worship takes my advice, you willnever challenge anyone to fence again, only to wrestle and throw thebar, for you have the youth and strength for that; but as for thesefencers as they call them, I have heard say they can put the pointof a sword through the eye of a needle."

"I am satisfied with having tumbled off my donkey," saidCorchuelo, "and with having had the truth I was so ignorant ofproved to me by experience;" and getting up he embraced thelicentiate, and they were better friends than ever; and not caringto wait for the notary who had gone for the sword, as they saw hewould be a long time about it, they resolved to push on so as to reachthe village of Quiteria, to which they all belonged, in good time.

During the remainder of the journey the licentiate held forth tothem on the excellences of the sword, with such conclusivearguments, and such figures and mathematical proofs, that all wereconvinced of the value of the science, and Corchuelo cured of hisdogmatism.

It grew dark; but before they reached the town it seemed to them allas if there was a heaven full of countless glittering stars in frontof it. They heard, too, the pleasant mingled notes of a variety ofinstruments, flutes, drums, psalteries, pipes, tabors, and timbrels,and as they drew near they perceived that the trees of a leafyarcade that had been constructed at the entrance of the town werefilled with lights unaffected by the wind, for the breeze at thetime was so gentle that it had not power to stir the leaves on thetrees. The musicians were the life of the wedding, wandering throughthe pleasant grounds in separate bands, some dancing, otherssinging, others playing the various instruments already mentioned.In short, it seemed as though mirth and gaiety were frisking andgambolling all over the meadow. Several other persons were engagedin erecting raised benches from which people might conveniently seethe plays and dances that were to be performed the next day on thespot dedicated to the celebration of the marriage of Camacho therich and the obsequies of Basilio. Don Quixote would not enter thevillage, although the peasant as well as the bachelor pressed him;he excused himself, however, on the grounds, amply sufficient in hisopinion, that it was the custom of knights-errant to sleep in thefields and woods in preference to towns, even were it under gildedceilings; and so turned aside a little out of the road, very muchagainst Sancho's will, as the good quarters he had enjoyed in thecastle or house of Don Diego came back to his mind.

CHAPTER XX

WHEREIN AN ACCOUNT IS GIVEN OF THE WEDDING OF CAMACHO THE RICH,TOGETHER WITH THE INCIDENT OF BASILIO THE POOR

Scarce had the fair Aurora given bright Phoebus time to dry theliquid pearls upon her golden locks with the heat of his fervent rays,when Don Quixote, shaking off sloth from his limbs, sprang to his feetand called to his squire Sancho, who was still snoring; seeing whichDon Quixote ere he roused him thus addressed him: "Happy thou, aboveall the dwellers on the face of the earth, that, without envying orbeing envied, sleepest with tranquil mind, and that neither enchanterspersecute nor enchantments affright. Sleep, I say, and will say ahundred times, without any jealous thoughts of thy mistress to makethee keep ceaseless vigils, or any cares as to how thou art to pay thedebts thou owest, or find to-morrow's food for thyself and thy needylittle family, to interfere with thy repose. Ambition breaks not thyrest, nor doth this world's empty pomp disturb thee, for the utmostreach of thy anxiety is to provide for thy ass, since upon myshoulders thou hast laid the support of thyself, the counterpoiseand burden that nature and custom have imposed upon masters. Theservant sleeps and the master lies awake thinking how he is to feedhim, advance him, and reward him. The distress of seeing the skyturn brazen, and withhold its needful moisture from the earth, isnot felt by the servant but by the master, who in time of scarcity andfamine must support him who has served him in times of plenty andabundance."

To all this Sancho made no reply because he was asleep, nor would hehave wakened up so soon as he did had not Don Quixote brought him tohis senses with the butt of his lance. He awoke at last, drowsy andlazy, and casting his eyes about in every direction, observed,"There comes, if I don't mistake, from the quarter of that arcade asteam and a smell a great deal more like fried rashers thangalingale or thyme; a wedding that begins with smells like that, by myfaith, ought to be plentiful and unstinting."

"Have done, thou glutton," said Don Quixote; "come, let us go andwitness this bridal, and see what the rejected Basilio does."

"Let him do what he likes," returned Sancho; "be he not poor, hewould marry Quiteria. To make a grand match for himself, and hewithout a farthing; is there nothing else? Faith, senor, it's myopinion the poor man should be content with what he can get, and notgo looking for dainties in the bottom of the sea. I will bet my armthat Camacho could bury Basilio in reals; and if that be so, as nodoubt it is, what a fool Quiteria would be to refuse the finedresses and jewels Camacho must have given her and will give her,and take Basilio's bar-throwing and sword-play. They won't give a pintof wine at the tavern for a good cast of the bar or a neat thrust ofthe sword. Talents and accomplishments that can't be turned intomoney, let Count Dirlos have them; but when such gifts fall to onethat has hard cash, I wish my condition of life was as becoming asthey are. On a good foundation you can raise a good building, andthe best foundation in the world is money."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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