Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 98)

"For God's sake, Sancho," said Don Quixote here, "stop thatharangue; it is my belief, if thou wert allowed to continue all thoubeginnest every instant, thou wouldst have no time left for eatingor sleeping; for thou wouldst spend it all in talking."

"If your worship had a good memory," replied Sancho, "you wouldremember the articles of our agreement before we started from homethis last time; one of them was that I was to be let say all Iliked, so long as it was not against my neighbour or your worship'sauthority; and so far, it seems to me, I have not broken the saidarticle."

"I remember no such article, Sancho," said Don Quixote; "and even ifit were so, I desire you to hold your tongue and come along; for theinstruments we heard last night are already beginning to enliven thevalleys again, and no doubt the marriage will take place in the coolof the morning, and not in the heat of the afternoon."

Sancho did as his master bade him, and putting the saddle onRocinante and the pack-saddle on Dapple, they both mounted and at aleisurely pace entered the arcade. The first thing that presenteditself to Sancho's eyes was a whole ox spitted on a whole elm tree,and in the fire at which it was to be roasted there was burning amiddling-sized mountain of faggots, and six stewpots that stoodround the blaze had not been made in the ordinary mould of commonpots, for they were six half wine-jars, each fit to hold thecontents of a slaughter-house; they swallowed up whole sheep and hidthem away in their insides without showing any more sign of themthan if they were pigeons. Countless were the hares ready skinnedand the plucked fowls that hung on the trees for burial in the pots,numberless the wildfowl and game of various sorts suspended from thebranches that the air might keep them cool. Sancho counted more thansixty wine skins of over six gallons each, and all filled, as itproved afterwards, with generous wines. There were, besides, pilesof the whitest bread, like the heaps of corn one sees on thethreshing-floors. There was a wall made of cheeses arranged likeopen brick-work, and two cauldrons full of oil, bigger than those of adyer's shop, served for cooking fritters, which when fried weretaken out with two mighty shovels, and plunged into another cauldronof prepared honey that stood close by. Of cooks and cook-maids therewere over fifty, all clean, brisk, and blithe. In the capaciousbelly of the ox were a dozen soft little sucking-pigs, which, sewnup there, served to give it tenderness and flavour. The spices ofdifferent kinds did not seem to have been bought by the pound but bythe quarter, and all lay open to view in a great chest. In short,all the preparations made for the wedding were in rustic style, butabundant enough to feed an army.

Sancho observed all, contemplated all, and everything won his heart.The first to captivate and take his fancy were the pots, out ofwhich he would have very gladly helped himself to a moderatepipkinful; then the wine skins secured his affections; and lastly, theproduce of the frying-pans, if, indeed, such imposing cauldrons may becalled frying-pans; and unable to control himself or bear it anylonger, he approached one of the busy cooks and civilly but hungrilybegged permission to soak a scrap of bread in one of the pots; towhich the cook made answer, "Brother, this is not a day on whichhunger is to have any sway, thanks to the rich Camacho; get down andlook about for a ladle and skim off a hen or two, and much good maythey do you."

"I don't see one," said Sancho.

"Wait a bit," said the cook; "sinner that I am! how particular andbashful you are!" and so saying, he seized a bucket and plunging itinto one of the half jars took up three hens and a couple of geese,and said to Sancho, "Fall to, friend, and take the edge off yourappetite with these skimmings until dinner-time comes."

"I have nothing to put them in," said Sancho.

"Well then," said the cook, "take spoon and all; for Camacho'swealth and happiness furnish everything."

While Sancho fared thus, Don Quixote was watching the entrance, atone end of the arcade, of some twelve peasants, all in holiday andgala dress, mounted on twelve beautiful mares with rich handsome fieldtrappings and a number of little bells attached to their petrals, who,marshalled in regular order, ran not one but several courses overthe meadow, with jubilant shouts and cries of "Long live Camacho andQuiteria! he as rich as she is fair; and she the fairest on earth!"

Hearing this, Don Quixote said to himself, "It is easy to seethese folk have never seen my Dulcinea del Toboso; for if they hadthey would be more moderate in their praises of this Quiteria oftheirs."

Shortly after this, several bands of dancers of various sortsbegan to enter the arcade at different points, and among them one ofsword-dancers composed of some four-and-twenty lads of gallant andhigh-spirited mien, clad in the finest and whitest of linen, andwith handkerchiefs embroidered in various colours with fine silk;and one of those on the mares asked an active youth who led them ifany of the dancers had been wounded. "As yet, thank God, no one hasbeen wounded," said he, "we are all safe and sound;" and he at oncebegan to execute complicated figures with the rest of his comrades,with so many turns and so great dexterity, that although Don Quixotewas well used to see dances of the same kind, he thought he hadnever seen any so good as this. He also admired another that came incomposed of fair young maidens, none of whom seemed to be underfourteen or over eighteen years of age, all clad in green stuff,with their locks partly braided, partly flowing loose, but all of suchbright gold as to vie with the sunbeams, and over them they woregarlands of jessamine, roses, amaranth, and honeysuckle. At their headwere a venerable old man and an ancient dame, more brisk and active,however, than might have been expected from their years. The notesof a Zamora bagpipe accompanied them, and with modesty in theircountenances and in their eyes, and lightness in their feet, theylooked the best dancers in the world.

Following these there came an artistic dance of the sort they call"speaking dances." It was composed of eight nymphs in two files,with the god Cupid leading one and Interest the other, the formerfurnished with wings, bow, quiver and arrows, the latter in a richdress of gold and silk of divers colours. The nymphs that followedLove bore their names written on white parchment in large letters ontheir backs. "Poetry" was the name of the first, "Wit" of thesecond, "Birth" of the third, and "Valour" of the fourth. Those thatfollowed Interest were distinguished in the same way; the badge of thefirst announced "Liberality," that of the second "Largess," thethird "Treasure," and the fourth "Peaceful Possession." In front ofthem all came a wooden castle drawn by four wild men, all clad inivy and hemp stained green, and looking so natural that they nearlyterrified Sancho. On the front of the castle and on each of the foursides of its frame it bore the inscription "Castle of Caution." Fourskillful tabor and flute players accompanied them, and the dancehaving been opened, Cupid, after executing two figures, raised hiseyes and bent his bow against a damsel who stood between the turretsof the castle, and thus addressed her:

I am the mighty God whose swayIs potent over land and sea.The heavens above us own me; nay,The shades below acknowledge me.I know not fear, I have my will,Whate'er my whim or fancy be;For me there's no impossible,I order, bind, forbid, set free.

Having concluded the stanza he discharged an arrow at the top of thecastle, and went back to his place. Interest then came forward andwent through two more figures, and as soon as the tabors ceased, he said:

But mightier than Love am I,Though Love it be that leads me on,Than mine no lineage is more high,Or older, underneath the sun.To use me rightly few know how,To act without me fewer still,For I am Interest, and I vowFor evermore to do thy will.

Interest retired, and Poetry came forward, and when she had gonethrough her figures like the others, fixing her eyes on the damselof the castle, she said:

With many a fanciful conceit,Fair Lady, winsome PoesyHer soul, an offering at thy feet,Presents in sonnets unto thee.If thou my homage wilt not scorn,Thy fortune, watched by envious eyes,On wings of poesy upborneShall be exalted to the skies.

Poetry withdrew, and on the side of Interest Liberality advanced,and after having gone through her figures, said:

To give, while shunning each extreme,The sparing hand, the over-free,Therein consists, so wise men deem,The virtue Liberality.But thee, fair lady, to enrich,Myself a prodigal I'll prove,A vice not wholly shameful, whichMay find its fair excuse in love.

In the same manner all the characters of the two bands advancedand retired, and each executed its figures, and delivered itsverses, some of them graceful, some burlesque, but Don Quixote'smemory (though he had an excellent one) only carried away those thathave been just quoted. All then mingled together, forming chains andbreaking off again with graceful, unconstrained gaiety; and wheneverLove passed in front of the castle he shot his arrows up at it,while Interest broke gilded pellets against it. At length, afterthey had danced a good while, Interest drew out a great purse, made ofthe skin of a large brindled cat and to all appearance full ofmoney, and flung it at the castle, and with the force of the blowthe boards fell asunder and tumbled down, leaving the damsel exposedand unprotected. Interest and the characters of his band advanced, andthrowing a great chain of gold over her neck pretended to take her andlead her away captive, on seeing which, Love and his supporters madeas though they would release her, the whole action being to theaccompaniment of the tabors and in the form of a regular dance. Thewild men made peace between them, and with great dexterityreadjusted and fixed the boards of the castle, and the damsel oncemore ensconced herself within; and with this the dance wound up, tothe great enjoyment of the beholders.

Don Quixote asked one of the nymphs who it was that had composed andarranged it. She replied that it was a beneficiary of the town who hada nice taste in devising things of the sort. "I will lay a wager,"said Don Quixote, "that the same bachelor or beneficiary is agreater friend of Camacho's than of Basilio's, and that he is betterat satire than at vespers; he has introduced the accomplishments ofBasilio and the riches of Camacho very neatly into the dance."Sancho Panza, who was listening to all this, exclaimed, "The king ismy cock; I stick to Camacho." "It is easy to see thou art a clown,Sancho," said Don Quixote, "and one of that sort that cry 'Long lifeto the conqueror.'"

"I don't know of what sort I am," returned Sancho, "but I knowvery well I'll never get such elegant skimmings off Basilio's potsas these I have got off Camacho's;" and he showed him the bucketful ofgeese and hens, and seizing one began to eat with great gaiety andappetite, saying, "A fig for the accomplishments of Basilio! As muchas thou hast so much art thou worth, and as much as thou art worthso much hast thou. As a grandmother of mine used to say, there areonly two families in the world, the Haves and the Haven'ts; and shestuck to the Haves; and to this day, Senor Don Quixote, people wouldsooner feel the pulse of 'Have,' than of 'Know;' an ass covered withgold looks better than a horse with a pack-saddle. So once more Isay I stick to Camacho, the bountiful skimmings of whose pots aregeese and hens, hares and rabbits; but of Basilio's, if any evercome to hand, or even to foot, they'll be only rinsings."

"Hast thou finished thy harangue, Sancho?" said Don Quixote. "Ofcourse I have finished it," replied Sancho, "because I see yourworship takes offence at it; but if it was not for that, there waswork enough cut out for three days."

"God grant I may see thee dumb before I die, Sancho," said DonQuixote.

"At the rate we are going," said Sancho, "I'll be chewing claybefore your worship dies; and then, maybe, I'll be so dumb that I'llnot say a word until the end of the world, or, at least, till theday of judgment."

"Even should that happen, O Sancho," said Don Quixote, "thysilence will never come up to all thou hast talked, art talking, andwilt talk all thy life; moreover, it naturally stands to reason,that my death will come before thine; so I never expect to see theedumb, not even when thou art drinking or sleeping, and that is theutmost I can say."

"In good faith, senor," replied Sancho, "there's no trusting thatfleshless one, I mean Death, who devours the lamb as soon as thesheep, and, as I have heard our curate say, treads with equal footupon the lofty towers of kings and the lowly huts of the poor. Thatlady is more mighty than dainty, she is no way squeamish, shedevours all and is ready for all, and fills her alforjas with peopleof all sorts, ages, and ranks. She is no reaper that sleeps out thenoontide; at all times she is reaping and cutting down, as well thedry grass as the green; she never seems to chew, but bolts andswallows all that is put before her, for she has a canine appetitethat is never satisfied; and though she has no belly, she shows shehas a dropsy and is athirst to drink the lives of all that live, asone would drink a jug of cold water."

"Say no more, Sancho," said Don Quixote at this; "don't try tobetter it, and risk a fall; for in truth what thou hast said aboutdeath in thy rustic phrase is what a good preacher might have said.I tell thee, Sancho, if thou hadst discretion equal to thy mother wit,thou mightst take a pulpit in hand, and go about the world preachingfine sermons." "He preaches well who lives well," said Sancho, "andI know no more theology than that."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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