Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 22)

"For all that let me tell thee, brother Panza," said Don Quixote,"that there is no recollection which time does not put an end to,and no pain which death does not remove."

"And what greater misfortune can there be," replied Panza, "than theone that waits for time to put an end to it and death to remove it? Ifour mishap were one of those that are cured with a couple of plasters,it would not be so bad; but I am beginning to think that all theplasters in a hospital almost won't be enough to put us right."

"No more of that: pluck strength out of weakness, Sancho, as Imean to do," returned Don Quixote, "and let us see how Rocinante is,for it seems to me that not the least share of this mishap hasfallen to the lot of the poor beast."

"There is nothing wonderful in that," replied Sancho, "since he is aknight-errant too; what I wonder at is that my beast should havecome off scot-free where we come out scotched."

"Fortune always leaves a door open in adversity in order to bringrelief to it," said Don Quixote; "I say so because this little beastmay now supply the want of Rocinante, carrying me hence to some castlewhere I may be cured of my wounds. And moreover I shall not hold itany dishonour to be so mounted, for I remember having read how thegood old Silenus, the tutor and instructor of the gay god of laughter,when he entered the city of the hundred gates, went very contentedlymounted on a handsome ass."

"It may be true that he went mounted as your worship says," answeredSancho, "but there is a great difference between going mounted andgoing slung like a sack of manure."

To which Don Quixote replied, "Wounds received in battle conferhonour instead of taking it away; and so, friend Panza, say no more,but, as I told thee before, get up as well as thou canst and put me ontop of thy beast in whatever fashion pleases thee best, and let usgo hence ere night come on and surprise us in these wilds."

"And yet I have heard your worship say," observed Panza, "that it isvery meet for knights-errant to sleep in wastes and deserts, andthat they esteem it very good fortune."

"That is," said Don Quixote, "when they cannot help it, or when theyare in love; and so true is this that there have been knights who haveremained two years on rocks, in sunshine and shade and all theinclemencies of heaven, without their ladies knowing anything of it;and one of these was Amadis, when, under the name of Beltenebros, hetook up his abode on the Pena Pobre for -I know not if it was eightyears or eight months, for I am not very sure of the reckoning; at anyrate he stayed there doing penance for I know not what pique thePrincess Oriana had against him; but no more of this now, Sancho,and make haste before a mishap like Rocinante's befalls the ass."

"The very devil would be in it in that case," said Sancho; andletting off thirty "ohs," and sixty sighs, and a hundred and twentymaledictions and execrations on whomsoever it was that had brought himthere, he raised himself, stopping half-way bent like a Turkish bowwithout power to bring himself upright, but with all his pains hesaddled his ass, who too had gone astray somewhat, yielding to theexcessive licence of the day; he next raised up Rocinante, and asfor him, had he possessed a tongue to complain with, most assuredlyneither Sancho nor his master would have been behind him. To be brief,Sancho fixed Don Quixote on the ass and secured Rocinante with aleading rein, and taking the ass by the halter, he proceeded more orless in the direction in which it seemed to him the high road mightbe; and, as chance was conducting their affairs for them from goodto better, he had not gone a short league when the road came in sight,and on it he perceived an inn, which to his annoyance and to thedelight of Don Quixote must needs be a castle. Sancho insisted that itwas an inn, and his master that it was not one, but a castle, andthe dispute lasted so long that before the point was settled theyhad time to reach it, and into it Sancho entered with all his teamwithout any further controversy.



The innkeeper, seeing Don Quixote slung across the ass, asked Sanchowhat was amiss with him. Sancho answered that it was nothing, onlythat he had fallen down from a rock and had his ribs a little bruised.The innkeeper had a wife whose disposition was not such as those ofher calling commonly have, for she was by nature kind-hearted and feltfor the sufferings of her neighbours, so she at once set about tendingDon Quixote, and made her young daughter, a very comely girl, help herin taking care of her guest. There was besides in the inn, as servant,an Asturian lass with a broad face, flat poll, and snub nose, blind ofone eye and not very sound in the other. The elegance of her shape, tobe sure, made up for all her defects; she did not measure sevenpalms from head to foot, and her shoulders, which overweighted hersomewhat, made her contemplate the ground more than she liked. Thisgraceful lass, then, helped the young girl, and the two made up a verybad bed for Don Quixote in a garret that showed evident signs ofhaving formerly served for many years as a straw-loft, in whichthere was also quartered a carrier whose bed was placed a littlebeyond our Don Quixote's, and, though only made of the pack-saddlesand cloths of his mules, had much the advantage of it, as DonQuixote's consisted simply of four rough boards on two not very eventrestles, a mattress, that for thinness might have passed for a quilt,full of pellets which, were they not seen through the rents to bewool, would to the touch have seemed pebbles in hardness, two sheetsmade of buckler leather, and a coverlet the threads of which anyonethat chose might have counted without missing one in the reckoning.

On this accursed bed Don Quixote stretched himself, and thehostess and her daughter soon covered him with plasters from top totoe, while Maritornes- for that was the name of the Asturian- held thelight for them, and while plastering him, the hostess, observing howfull of wheals Don Quixote was in some places, remarked that thishad more the look of blows than of a fall.

It was not blows, Sancho said, but that the rock had many points andprojections, and that each of them had left its mark. "Pray,senora," he added, "manage to save some tow, as there will be nowant of some one to use it, for my loins too are rather sore."

"Then you must have fallen too," said the hostess.

"I did not fall," said Sancho Panza, "but from the shock I got atseeing my master fall, my body aches so that I feel as if I had hada thousand thwacks."

"That may well be," said the young girl, "for it has many a timehappened to me to dream that I was falling down from a tower and nevercoming to the ground, and when I awoke from the dream to find myselfas weak and shaken as if I had really fallen."

"There is the point, senora," replied Sancho Panza, "that Iwithout dreaming at all, but being more awake than I am now, findmyself with scarcely less wheals than my master, Don Quixote."

"How is the gentleman called?" asked Maritornes the Asturian.

"Don Quixote of La Mancha," answered Sancho Panza, "and he is aknight-adventurer, and one of the best and stoutest that have beenseen in the world this long time past."

"What is a knight-adventurer?" said the lass.

"Are you so new in the world as not to know?" answered Sancho Panza."Well, then, you must know, sister, that a knight-adventurer is athing that in two words is seen drubbed and emperor, that is to-daythe most miserable and needy being in the world, and to-morrow willhave two or three crowns of kingdoms to give his squire."

"Then how is it," said the hostess, "that belonging to so good amaster as this, you have not, to judge by appearances, even so much asa county?"

"It is too soon yet," answered Sancho, "for we have only been amonth going in quest of adventures, and so far we have met withnothing that can be called one, for it will happen that when one thingis looked for another thing is found; however, if my master DonQuixote gets well of this wound, or fall, and I am left none the worseof it, I would not change my hopes for the best title in Spain."

To all this conversation Don Quixote was listening very attentively,and sitting up in bed as well as he could, and taking the hostess bythe hand he said to her, "Believe me, fair lady, you may call yourselffortunate in having in this castle of yours sheltered my person, whichis such that if I do not myself praise it, it is because of what iscommonly said, that self-praise debaseth; but my squire will informyou who I am. I only tell you that I shall preserve for ever inscribedon my memory the service you have rendered me in order to tender youmy gratitude while life shall last me; and would to Heaven love heldme not so enthralled and subject to its laws and to the eyes of thatfair ingrate whom I name between my teeth, but that those of thislovely damsel might be the masters of my liberty."

The hostess, her daughter, and the worthy Maritornes listened inbewilderment to the words of the knight-errant; for they understoodabout as much of them as if he had been talking Greek, though theycould perceive they were all meant for expressions of good-will andblandishments; and not being accustomed to this kind of language, theystared at him and wondered to themselves, for he seemed to them aman of a different sort from those they were used to, and thanking himin pothouse phrase for his civility they left him, while theAsturian gave her attention to Sancho, who needed it no less thanhis master.

The carrier had made an arrangement with her for recreation thatnight, and she had given him her word that when the guests werequiet and the family asleep she would come in search of him and meethis wishes unreservedly. And it is said of this good lass that shenever made promises of the kind without fulfilling them, even thoughshe made them in a forest and without any witness present, for sheplumed herself greatly on being a lady and held it no disgrace to bein such an employment as servant in an inn, because, she said,misfortunes and ill-luck had brought her to that position. The hard,narrow, wretched, rickety bed of Don Quixote stood first in the middleof this star-lit stable, and close beside it Sancho made his, whichmerely consisted of a rush mat and a blanket that looked as if itwas of threadbare canvas rather than of wool. Next to these two bedswas that of the carrier, made up, as has been said, of thepack-saddles and all the trappings of the two best mules he had,though there were twelve of them, sleek, plump, and in primecondition, for he was one of the rich carriers of Arevalo, accordingto the author of this history, who particularly mentions thiscarrier because he knew him very well, and they even say was in somedegree a relation of his; besides which Cide Hamete Benengeli was ahistorian of great research and accuracy in all things, as is veryevident since he would not pass over in silence those that have beenalready mentioned, however trifling and insignificant they might be,an example that might be followed by those grave historians who relatetransactions so curtly and briefly that we hardly get a taste of them,all the substance of the work being left in the inkstand fromcarelessness, perverseness, or ignorance. A thousand blessings onthe author of "Tablante de Ricamonte" and that of the other book inwhich the deeds of the Conde Tomillas are recounted; with whatminuteness they describe everything!

To proceed, then: after having paid a visit to his team and giventhem their second feed, the carrier stretched himself on hispack-saddles and lay waiting for his conscientious Maritornes.Sancho was by this time plastered and had lain down, and though hestrove to sleep the pain of his ribs would not let him, while DonQuixote with the pain of his had his eyes as wide open as a hare's.The inn was all in silence, and in the whole of it there was nolight except that given by a lantern that hung burning in the middleof the gateway. This strange stillness, and the thoughts, alwayspresent to our knight's mind, of the incidents described at every turnin the books that were the cause of his misfortune, conjured up to hisimagination as extraordinary a delusion as can well be conceived,which was that he fancied himself to have reached a famous castle(for, as has been said, all the inns he lodged in were castles tohis eyes), and that the daughter of the innkeeper was daughter ofthe lord of the castle, and that she, won by his high-bred bearing,had fallen in love with him, and had promised to come to his bed for awhile that night without the knowledge of her parents; and holding allthis fantasy that he had constructed as solid fact, he began to feeluneasy and to consider the perilous risk which his virtue was about toencounter, and he resolved in his heart to commit no treason to hislady Dulcinea del Toboso, even though the queen Guinevere herselfand the dame Quintanona should present themselves before him.

While he was taken up with these vagaries, then, the time and thehour- an unlucky one for him- arrived for the Asturian to come, who inher smock, with bare feet and her hair gathered into a fustian coif,with noiseless and cautious steps entered the chamber where thethree were quartered, in quest of the carrier; but scarcely had shegained the door when Don Quixote perceived her, and sitting up inhis bed in spite of his plasters and the pain of his ribs, hestretched out his arms to receive his beauteous damsel. TheAsturian, who went all doubled up and in silence with her hands beforeher feeling for her lover, encountered the arms of Don Quixote, whograsped her tightly by the wrist, and drawing her towards him, whileshe dared not utter a word, made her sit down on the bed. He then felther smock, and although it was of sackcloth it appeared to him to beof the finest and softest silk: on her wrists she wore some glassbeads, but to him they had the sheen of precious Orient pearls: herhair, which in some measure resembled a horse's mane, he rated asthreads of the brightest gold of Araby, whose refulgence dimmed thesun himself: her breath, which no doubt smelt of yesterday's stalesalad, seemed to him to diffuse a sweet aromatic fragrance from hermouth; and, in short, he drew her portrait in his imagination with thesame features and in the same style as that which he had seen in hisbooks of the other princesses who, smitten by love, came with allthe adornments that are here set down, to see the sorely woundedknight; and so great was the poor gentleman's blindness that neithertouch, nor smell, nor anything else about the good lass that wouldhave made any but a carrier vomit, were enough to undeceive him; onthe contrary, he was persuaded he had the goddess of beauty in hisarms, and holding her firmly in his grasp he went on to say in low,tender voice:

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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