Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 16)

In the first pamphlet the battle between Don Quixote and theBiscayan was drawn to the very life, they planted in the same attitudeas the history describes, their swords raised, and the one protectedby his buckler, the other by his cushion, and the Biscayan's mule sotrue to nature that it could be seen to be a hired one a bowshotoff. The Biscayan had an inscription under his feet which said, "DonSancho de Azpeitia," which no doubt must have been his name; and atthe feet of Rocinante was another that said, "Don Quixote."Rocinante was marvellously portrayed, so long and thin, so lank andlean, with so much backbone and so far gone in consumption, that heshowed plainly with what judgment and propriety the name ofRocinante had been bestowed upon him. Near him was Sancho Panzaholding the halter of his ass, at whose feet was another label thatsaid, "Sancho Zancas," and according to the picture, he must havehad a big belly, a short body, and long shanks, for which reason, nodoubt, the names of Panza and Zancas were given him, for by thesetwo surnames the history several times calls him. Some othertrifling particulars might be mentioned, but they are all of slightimportance and have nothing to do with the true relation of thehistory; and no history can be bad so long as it is true.

If against the present one any objection be raised on the score ofits truth, it can only be that its author was an Arab, as lying is avery common propensity with those of that nation; though, as theyare such enemies of ours, it is conceivable that there wereomissions rather than additions made in the course of it. And thisis my own opinion; for, where he could and should give freedom tohis pen in praise of so worthy a knight, he seems to me deliberatelyto pass it over in silence; which is ill done and worse contrived, forit is the business and duty of historians to be exact, truthful, andwholly free from passion, and neither interest nor fear, hatred norlove, should make them swerve from the path of truth, whose motheris history, rival of time, storehouse of deeds, witness for thepast, example and counsel for the present, and warning for the future.In this I know will be found all that can be desired in thepleasantest, and if it be wanting in any good quality, I maintain itis the fault of its hound of an author and not the fault of thesubject. To be brief, its Second Part, according to the translation,began in this way:

With trenchant swords upraised and poised on high, it seemed asthough the two valiant and wrathful combatants stood threateningheaven, and earth, and hell, with such resolution and determinationdid they bear themselves. The fiery Biscayan was the first to strike ablow, which was delivered with such force and fury that had not thesword turned in its course, that single stroke would have sufficedto put an end to the bitter struggle and to all the adventures ofour knight; but that good fortune which reserved him for greaterthings, turned aside the sword of his adversary, so that although itsmote him upon the left shoulder, it did him no more harm than tostrip all that side of its armour, carrying away a great part of hishelmet with half of his ear, all which with fearful ruin fell to theground, leaving him in a sorry plight.

Good God! Who is there that could properly describe the rage thatfilled the heart of our Manchegan when he saw himself dealt with inthis fashion? All that can be said is, it was such that he againraised himself in his stirrups, and, grasping his sword more firmlywith both hands, he came down on the Biscayan with such fury,smiting him full over the cushion and over the head, that- even sogood a shield proving useless- as if a mountain had fallen on him,he began to bleed from nose, mouth, and ears, reeling as if about tofall backwards from his mule, as no doubt he would have done had henot flung his arms about its neck; at the same time, however, heslipped his feet out of the stirrups and then unclasped his arms,and the mule, taking fright at the terrible blow, made off acrossthe plain, and with a few plunges flung its master to the ground.Don Quixote stood looking on very calmly, and, when he saw him fall,leaped from his horse and with great briskness ran to him, and,presenting the point of his sword to his eyes, bade him surrender,or he would cut his head off. The Biscayan was so bewildered that hewas unable to answer a word, and it would have gone hard with him,so blind was Don Quixote, had not the ladies in the coach, who hadhitherto been watching the combat in great terror, hastened to wherehe stood and implored him with earnest entreaties to grant them thegreat grace and favour of sparing their squire's life; to which DonQuixote replied with much gravity and dignity, "In truth, fair ladies,I am well content to do what ye ask of me; but it must be on onecondition and understanding, which is that this knight promise me togo to the village of El Toboso, and on my behalf present himselfbefore the peerless lady Dulcinea, that she deal with him as shallbe most pleasing to her."

The terrified and disconsolate ladies, without discussing DonQuixote's demand or asking who Dulcinea might be, promised thattheir squire should do all that had been commanded.

"Then, on the faith of that promise," said Don Quixote, "I shalldo him no further harm, though he well deserves it of me."



Now by this time Sancho had risen, rather the worse for the handlingof the friars' muleteers, and stood watching the battle of his master,Don Quixote, and praying to God in his heart that it might be his willto grant him the victory, and that he might thereby win some island tomake him governor of, as he had promised. Seeing, therefore, thatthe struggle was now over, and that his master was returning tomount Rocinante, he approached to hold the stirrup for him, and,before he could mount, he went on his knees before him, and taking hishand, kissed it saying, "May it please your worship, Senor DonQuixote, to give me the government of that island which has been wonin this hard fight, for be it ever so big I feel myself insufficient force to be able to govern it as much and as well as anyonein the world who has ever governed islands."

To which Don Quixote replied, "Thou must take notice, brotherSancho, that this adventure and those like it are not adventures ofislands, but of cross-roads, in which nothing is got except a brokenhead or an ear the less: have patience, for adventures will presentthemselves from which I may make you, not only a governor, butsomething more."

Sancho gave him many thanks, and again kissing his hand and theskirt of his hauberk, helped him to mount Rocinante, and mountinghis ass himself, proceeded to follow his master, who at a briskpace, without taking leave, or saying anything further to the ladiesbelonging to the coach, turned into a wood that was hard by. Sanchofollowed him at his ass's best trot, but Rocinante stepped out sothat, seeing himself left behind, he was forced to call to hismaster to wait for him. Don Quixote did so, reining in Rocinante untilhis weary squire came up, who on reaching him said, "It seems to me,senor, it would be prudent in us to go and take refuge in some church,for, seeing how mauled he with whom you fought has been left, itwill be no wonder if they give information of the affair to the HolyBrotherhood and arrest us, and, faith, if they do, before we comeout of gaol we shall have to sweat for it."

"Peace," said Don Quixote; "where hast thou ever seen or heardthat a knight-errant has been arraigned before a court of justice,however many homicides he may have committed?"

"I know nothing about omecils," answered Sancho, "nor in my lifehave had anything to do with one; I only know that the HolyBrotherhood looks after those who fight in the fields, and in thatother matter I do not meddle."

"Then thou needst have no uneasiness, my friend," said DonQuixote, "for I will deliver thee out of the hands of the Chaldeans,much more out of those of the Brotherhood. But tell me, as thoulivest, hast thou seen a more valiant knight than I in all the knownworld; hast thou read in history of any who has or had higher mettlein attack, more spirit in maintaining it, more dexterity in woundingor skill in overthrowing?"

"The truth is," answered Sancho, "that I have never read anyhistory, for I can neither read nor write, but what I will ventureto bet is that a more daring master than your worship I have neverserved in all the days of my life, and God grant that this daring benot paid for where I have said; what I beg of your worship is to dressyour wound, for a great deal of blood flows from that ear, and Ihave here some lint and a little white ointment in the alforjas."

"All that might be well dispensed with," said Don Quixote, "if I hadremembered to make a vial of the balsam of Fierabras, for time andmedicine are saved by one single drop."

"What vial and what balsam is that?" said Sancho Panza.

"It is a balsam," answered Don Quixote, "the receipt of which I havein my memory, with which one need have no fear of death, or dreaddying of any wound; and so when I make it and give it to thee thouhast nothing to do when in some battle thou seest they have cut mein half through the middle of the body- as is wont to happenfrequently,- but neatly and with great nicety, ere the bloodcongeal, to place that portion of the body which shall have fallento the ground upon the other half which remains in the saddle,taking care to fit it on evenly and exactly. Then thou shalt give meto drink but two drops of the balsam I have mentioned, and thoushalt see me become sounder than an apple."

"If that be so," said Panza, "I renounce henceforth the governmentof the promised island, and desire nothing more in payment of mymany and faithful services than that your worship give me thereceipt of this supreme liquor, for I am persuaded it will be worthmore than two reals an ounce anywhere, and I want no more to passthe rest of my life in ease and honour; but it remains to be told ifit costs much to make it."

"With less than three reals, six quarts of it may be made," said DonQuixote.

"Sinner that I am!" said Sancho, "then why does your worship put offmaking it and teaching it to me?"

"Peace, friend," answered Don Quixote; "greater secrets I mean toteach thee and greater favours to bestow upon thee; and for thepresent let us see to the dressing, for my ear pains me more than Icould wish."

Sancho took out some lint and ointment from the alforjas; but whenDon Quixote came to see his helmet shattered, he was like to losehis senses, and clapping his hand upon his sword and raising hiseyes to heaven, be said, "I swear by the Creator of all things and thefour Gospels in their fullest extent, to do as the great Marquis ofMantua did when he swore to avenge the death of his nephew Baldwin(and that was not to eat bread from a table-cloth, nor embrace hiswife, and other points which, though I cannot now call them to mind, Ihere grant as expressed) until I take complete vengeance upon himwho has committed such an offence against me."

Hearing this, Sancho said to him, "Your worship should bear in mind,Senor Don Quixote, that if the knight has done what was commandedhim in going to present himself before my lady Dulcinea del Toboso, hewill have done all that he was bound to do, and does not deservefurther punishment unless he commits some new offence."

"Thou hast said well and hit the point," answered Don Quixote; andso I recall the oath in so far as relates to taking fresh vengeance onhim, but I make and confirm it anew to lead the life I have said untilsuch time as I take by force from some knight another helmet such asthis and as good; and think not, Sancho, that I am raising smokewith straw in doing so, for I have one to imitate in the matter, sincethe very same thing to a hair happened in the case of Mambrino'shelmet, which cost Sacripante so dear."

"Senor," replied Sancho, "let your worship send all such oaths tothe devil, for they are very pernicious to salvation and prejudicialto the conscience; just tell me now, if for several days to come wefall in with no man armed with a helmet, what are we to do? Is theoath to be observed in spite of all the inconvenience and discomfortit will be to sleep in your clothes, and not to sleep in a house,and a thousand other mortifications contained in the oath of thatold fool the Marquis of Mantua, which your worship is now wanting torevive? Let your worship observe that there are no men in armourtravelling on any of these roads, nothing but carriers and carters,who not only do not wear helmets, but perhaps never heard tell of themall their lives."

"Thou art wrong there," said Don Quixote, "for we shall not havebeen above two hours among these cross-roads before we see more men inarmour than came to Albraca to win the fair Angelica."

"Enough," said Sancho; "so be it then, and God grant us success, andthat the time for winning that island which is costing me so dearmay soon come, and then let me die."

"I have already told thee, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "not to givethyself any uneasiness on that score; for if an island should fail,there is the kingdom of Denmark, or of Sobradisa, which will fitthee as a ring fits the finger, and all the more that, being onterra firma, thou wilt all the better enjoy thyself. But let usleave that to its own time; see if thou hast anything for us to eat inthose alforjas, because we must presently go in quest of some castlewhere we may lodge to-night and make the balsam I told thee of, forI swear to thee by God, this ear is giving me great pain."

"I have here an onion and a little cheese and a few scraps ofbread," said Sancho, "but they are not victuals fit for a valiantknight like your worship."

"How little thou knowest about it," answered Don Quixote; "I wouldhave thee to know, Sancho, that it is the glory of knights-errant togo without eating for a month, and even when they do eat, that itshould be of what comes first to hand; and this would have beenclear to thee hadst thou read as many histories as I have, for, thoughthey are very many, among them all I have found no mention made ofknights-errant eating, unless by accident or at some sumptuousbanquets prepared for them, and the rest of the time they passed indalliance. And though it is plain they could not do without eating andperforming all the other natural functions, because, in fact, theywere men like ourselves, it is plain too that, wandering as they didthe most part of their lives through woods and wilds and without acook, their most usual fare would be rustic viands such as thosethou now offer me; so that, friend Sancho, let not that distressthee which pleases me, and do not seek to make a new world orpervert knight-errantry."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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