Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 12)



Finding, then, that, in fact he could not move, he thought himselfof having recourse to his usual remedy, which was to think of somepassage in his books, and his craze brought to his mind that aboutBaldwin and the Marquis of Mantua, when Carloto left him wounded onthe mountain side, a story known by heart by the children, notforgotten by the young men, and lauded and even believed by the oldfolk; and for all that not a whit truer than the miracles ofMahomet. This seemed to him to fit exactly the case in which hefound himself, so, making a show of severe suffering, he began to rollon the ground and with feeble breath repeat the very words which thewounded knight of the wood is said to have uttered:

Where art thou, lady mine, that thouMy sorrow dost not rue?Thou canst not know it, lady mine,Or else thou art untrue.

And so he went on with the ballad as far as the lines:

O noble Marquis of Mantua,My Uncle and liege lord!

As chance would have it, when he had got to this line there happenedto come by a peasant from his own village, a neighbour of his, who hadbeen with a load of wheat to the mill, and he, seeing the manstretched there, came up to him and asked him who he was and whatwas the matter with him that he complained so dolefully.

Don Quixote was firmly persuaded that this was the Marquis ofMantua, his uncle, so the only answer he made was to go on with hisballad, in which he told the tale of his misfortune, and of theloves of the Emperor's son and his wife all exactly as the balladsings it.

The peasant stood amazed at hearing such nonsense, and relieving himof the visor, already battered to pieces by blows, he wiped hisface, which was covered with dust, and as soon as he had done so herecognised him and said, "Senor Quixada" (for so he appears to havebeen called when he was in his senses and had not yet changed from aquiet country gentleman into a knight-errant), "who has brought yourworship to this pass?" But to all questions the other only went onwith his ballad.

Seeing this, the good man removed as well as he could hisbreastplate and backpiece to see if he had any wound, but he couldperceive no blood nor any mark whatever. He then contrived to raisehim from the ground, and with no little difficulty hoisted him uponhis ass, which seemed to him to be the easiest mount for him; andcollecting the arms, even to the splinters of the lance, he tiedthem on Rocinante, and leading him by the bridle and the ass by thehalter he took the road for the village, very sad to hear whatabsurd stuff Don Quixote was talking. Nor was Don Quixote less so, forwhat with blows and bruises he could not sit upright on the ass, andfrom time to time he sent up sighs to heaven, so that once more hedrove the peasant to ask what ailed him. And it could have been onlythe devil himself that put into his head tales to match his ownadventures, for now, forgetting Baldwin, he bethought himself of theMoor Abindarraez, when the Alcaide of Antequera, Rodrigo de Narvaez,took him prisoner and carried him away to his castle; so that when thepeasant again asked him how he was and what ailed him, he gave him forreply the same words and phrases that the captive Abindarraez gaveto Rodrigo de Narvaez, just as he had read the story in the "Diana" ofJorge de Montemayor where it is written, applying it to his own caseso aptly that the peasant went along cursing his fate that he had tolisten to such a lot of nonsense; from which, however, he came tothe conclusion that his neighbour was mad, and so made all haste toreach the village to escape the wearisomeness of this harangue ofDon Quixote's; who, at the end of it, said, "Senor Don Rodrigo deNarvaez, your worship must know that this fair Xarifa I have mentionedis now the lovely Dulcinea del Toboso, for whom I have done, am doing,and will do the most famous deeds of chivalry that in this worldhave been seen, are to be seen, or ever shall be seen."

To this the peasant answered, "Senor- sinner that I am!- cannot yourworship see that I am not Don Rodrigo de Narvaez nor the Marquis ofMantua, but Pedro Alonso your neighbour, and that your worship isneither Baldwin nor Abindarraez, but the worthy gentleman SenorQuixada?"

"I know who I am," replied Don Quixote, "and I know that I may benot only those I have named, but all the Twelve Peers of France andeven all the Nine Worthies, since my achievements surpass all thatthey have done all together and each of them on his own account."

With this talk and more of the same kind they reached the villagejust as night was beginning to fall, but the peasant waited until itwas a little later that the belaboured gentleman might not be seenriding in such a miserable trim. When it was what seemed to him theproper time he entered the village and went to Don Quixote's house,which he found all in confusion, and there were the curate and thevillage barber, who were great friends of Don Quixote, and hishousekeeper was saying to them in a loud voice, "What does yourworship think can have befallen my master, Senor Licentiate PeroPerez?" for so the curate was called; "it is three days now sinceanything has been seen of him, or the hack, or the buckler, lance,or armour. Miserable me! I am certain of it, and it is as true as thatI was born to die, that these accursed books of chivalry he has, andhas got into the way of reading so constantly, have upset hisreason; for now I remember having often heard him saying to himselfthat he would turn knight-errant and go all over the world in quest ofadventures. To the devil and Barabbas with such books, that havebrought to ruin in this way the finest understanding there was inall La Mancha!"

The niece said the same, and, more: "You must know, MasterNicholas"- for that was the name of the barber- "it was often myuncle's way to stay two days and nights together poring over theseunholy books of misventures, after which he would fling the bookaway and snatch up his sword and fall to slashing the walls; andwhen he was tired out he would say he had killed four giants like fourtowers; and the sweat that flowed from him when he was weary he saidwas the blood of the wounds he had received in battle; and then hewould drink a great jug of cold water and become calm and quiet,saying that this water was a most precious potion which the sageEsquife, a great magician and friend of his, had brought him. But Itake all the blame upon myself for never having told your worshipsof my uncle's vagaries, that you might put a stop to them beforethings had come to this pass, and burn all these accursed books- forhe has a great number- that richly deserve to be burned likeheretics."

"So say I too," said the curate, "and by my faith to-morrow shallnot pass without public judgment upon them, and may they becondemned to the flames lest they lead those that read to behave as mygood friend seems to have behaved."

All this the peasant heard, and from it he understood at last whatwas the matter with his neighbour, so he began calling aloud, "Open,your worships, to Senor Baldwin and to Senor the Marquis of Mantua,who comes badly wounded, and to Senor Abindarraez, the Moor, whomthe valiant Rodrigo de Narvaez, the Alcaide of Antequera, bringscaptive."

At these words they all hurried out, and when they recognisedtheir friend, master, and uncle, who had not yet dismounted from theass because he could not, they ran to embrace him.

"Hold!" said he, "for I am badly wounded through my horse's fault;carry me to bed, and if possible send for the wise Urganda to cure andsee to my wounds."

"See there! plague on it!" cried the housekeeper at this: "did notmy heart tell the truth as to which foot my master went lame of? Tobed with your worship at once, and we will contrive to cure you herewithout fetching that Hurgada. A curse I say once more, and ahundred times more, on those books of chivalry that have broughtyour worship to such a pass."

They carried him to bed at once, and after searching for hiswounds could find none, but he said they were all bruises fromhaving had a severe fall with his horse Rocinante when in combatwith ten giants, the biggest and the boldest to be found on earth.

"So, so!" said the curate, "are there giants in the dance? By thesign of the Cross I will burn them to-morrow before the day over."

They put a host of questions to Don Quixote, but his only answerto all was- give him something to eat, and leave him to sleep, forthat was what he needed most. They did so, and the curate questionedthe peasant at great length as to how he had found Don Quixote. Hetold him, and the nonsense he had talked when found and on the wayhome, all which made the licentiate the more eager to do what he didthe next day, which was to summon his friend the barber, MasterNicholas, and go with him to Don Quixote's house.



He was still sleeping; so the curate asked the niece for the keys ofthe room where the books, the authors of all the mischief, were, andright willingly she gave them. They all went in, the housekeeperwith them, and found more than a hundred volumes of big books verywell bound, and some other small ones. The moment the housekeepersaw them she turned about and ran out of the room, and came backimmediately with a saucer of holy water and a sprinkler, saying,"Here, your worship, senor licentiate, sprinkle this room; don't leaveany magician of the many there are in these books to bewitch us inrevenge for our design of banishing them from the world."

The simplicity of the housekeeper made the licentiate laugh, andhe directed the barber to give him the books one by one to see whatthey were about, as there might be some to be found among them thatdid not deserve the penalty of fire.

"No," said the niece, "there is no reason for showing mercy to anyof them; they have every one of them done mischief; better flingthem out of the window into the court and make a pile of them andset fire to them; or else carry them into the yard, and there abonfire can be made without the smoke giving any annoyance." Thehousekeeper said the same, so eager were they both for the slaughterof those innocents, but the curate would not agree to it without firstreading at any rate the titles.

The first that Master Nicholas put into his hand was "The four booksof Amadis of Gaul." "This seems a mysterious thing," said thecurate, "for, as I have heard say, this was the first book of chivalryprinted in Spain, and from this all the others derive their birthand origin; so it seems to me that we ought inexorably to condemn itto the flames as the founder of so vile a sect."

"Nay, sir," said the barber, "I too, have heard say that this is thebest of all the books of this kind that have been written, and so,as something singular in its line, it ought to be pardoned."

"True," said the curate; "and for that reason let its life be sparedfor the present. Let us see that other which is next to it."

"It is," said the barber, "the 'Sergas de Esplandian,' the lawfulson of Amadis of Gaul."

"Then verily," said the curate, "the merit of the father must not beput down to the account of the son. Take it, mistress housekeeper;open the window and fling it into the yard and lay the foundation ofthe pile for the bonfire we are to make."

The housekeeper obeyed with great satisfaction, and the worthy"Esplandian" went flying into the yard to await with all patiencethe fire that was in store for him.

"Proceed," said the curate.

"This that comes next," said the barber, "is 'Amadis of Greece,'and, indeed, I believe all those on this side are of the same Amadislineage."

"Then to the yard with the whole of them," said the curate; "forto have the burning of Queen Pintiquiniestra, and the shepherd Darineland his eclogues, and the bedevilled and involved discourses of hisauthor, I would burn with them the father who begot me if he weregoing about in the guise of a knight-errant."

"I am of the same mind," said the barber.

"And so am I," added the niece.

"In that case," said the housekeeper, "here, into the yard withthem!"

They were handed to her, and as there were many of them, shespared herself the staircase, and flung them down out of the window.

"Who is that tub there?" said the curate.

"This," said the barber, "is 'Don Olivante de Laura.'"

"The author of that book," said the curate, "was the same that wrote'The Garden of Flowers,' and truly there is no deciding which of thetwo books is the more truthful, or, to put it better, the lesslying; all I can say is, send this one into the yard for aswaggering fool."

"This that follows is 'Florismarte of Hircania,'" said the barber.

"Senor Florismarte here?" said the curate; "then by my faith he musttake up his quarters in the yard, in spite of his marvellous birth andvisionary adventures, for the stiffness and dryness of his styledeserve nothing else; into the yard with him and the other, mistresshousekeeper."

"With all my heart, senor," said she, and executed the order withgreat delight.

"This," said the barber, "is The Knight Platir.'"

"An old book that," said the curate, "but I find no reason forclemency in it; send it after the others without appeal;" which wasdone.

Another book was opened, and they saw it was entitled, "The Knightof the Cross."

"For the sake of the holy name this book has," said the curate, "itsignorance might be excused; but then, they say, 'behind the crossthere's the devil; to the fire with it."

Taking down another book, the barber said, "This is 'The Mirror ofChivalry.'"

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
Viewed 402346 times


Page generation 0.001 seconds