Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 23)

"Would that found myself, lovely and exalted lady, in a positionto repay such a favour as that which you, by the sight of your greatbeauty, have granted me; but fortune, which is never weary ofpersecuting the good, has chosen to place me upon this bed, where Ilie so bruised and broken that though my inclination would gladlycomply with yours it is impossible; besides, to this impossibilityanother yet greater is to be added, which is the faith that I havepledged to the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso, sole lady of my mostsecret thoughts; and were it not that this stood in the way I shouldnot be so insensible a knight as to miss the happy opportunity whichyour great goodness has offered me."

Maritornes was fretting and sweating at finding herself held so fastby Don Quixote, and not understanding or heeding the words headdressed to her, she strove without speaking to free herself. Theworthy carrier, whose unholy thoughts kept him awake, was aware of hisdoxy the moment she entered the door, and was listening attentively toall Don Quixote said; and jealous that the Asturian should have brokenher word with him for another, drew nearer to Don Quixote's bed andstood still to see what would come of this talk which he could notunderstand; but when he perceived the wench struggling to get free andDon Quixote striving to hold her, not relishing the joke he raised hisarm and delivered such a terrible cuff on the lank jaws of the amorousknight that be bathed all his mouth in blood, and not content withthis he mounted on his ribs and with his feet tramped all over them ata pace rather smarter than a trot. The bed which was somewhat crazyand not very firm on its feet, unable to support the additional weightof the carrier, came to the ground, and at the mighty crash of thisthe innkeeper awoke and at once concluded that it must be some brawlof Maritornes', because after calling loudly to her he got noanswer. With this suspicion he got up, and lighting a lamp hastened tothe quarter where he had heard the disturbance. The wench, seeing thather master was coming and knowing that his temper was terrible,frightened and panic-stricken made for the bed of Sancho Panza, whostill slept, and crouching upon it made a ball of herself.

The innkeeper came in exclaiming, "Where art thou, strumpet? Ofcourse this is some of thy work." At this Sancho awoke, and feelingthis mass almost on top of him fancied he had the nightmare andbegan to distribute fisticuffs all round, of which a certain sharefell upon Maritornes, who, irritated by the pain and flingingmodesty aside, paid back so many in return to Sancho that she woke himup in spite of himself. He then, finding himself so handled, by whomhe knew not, raising himself up as well as he could, grappled withMaritornes, and he and she between them began the bitterest anddrollest scrimmage in the world. The carrier, however, perceiving bythe light of the innkeeper candle how it fared with his ladylove,quitting Don Quixote, ran to bring her the help she needed; and theinnkeeper did the same but with a different intention, for his wasto chastise the lass, as he believed that beyond a doubt she alone wasthe cause of all the harmony. And so, as the saying is, cat to rat,rat to rope, rope to stick, the carrier pounded Sancho, Sancho thelass, she him, and the innkeeper her, and all worked away so brisklythat they did not give themselves a moment's rest; and the best ofit was that the innkeeper's lamp went out, and as they were left inthe dark they all laid on one upon the other in a mass so unmercifullythat there was not a sound spot left where a hand could light.

It so happened that there was lodging that night in the inn acaudrillero of what they call the Old Holy Brotherhood of Toledo, who,also hearing the extraordinary noise of the conflict, seized his staffand the tin case with his warrants, and made his way in the darkinto the room crying: "Hold! in the name of the Jurisdiction! Hold! inthe name of the Holy Brotherhood!"

The first that he came upon was the pummelled Don Quixote, who laystretched senseless on his back upon his broken-down bed, and, hishand falling on the beard as he felt about, he continued to cry, "Helpfor the Jurisdiction!" but perceiving that he whom he had laid hold ofdid not move or stir, he concluded that he was dead and that thosein the room were his murderers, and with this suspicion he raisedhis voice still higher, calling out, "Shut the inn gate; see that noone goes out; they have killed a man here!" This cry startled themall, and each dropped the contest at the point at which the voicereached him. The innkeeper retreated to his room, the carrier to hispack-saddles, the lass to her crib; the unlucky Don Quixote and Sanchoalone were unable to move from where they were. The cuadrillero onthis let go Don Quixote's beard, and went out to look for a light tosearch for and apprehend the culprits; but not finding one, as theinnkeeper had purposely extinguished the lantern on retreating tohis room, he was compelled to have recourse to the hearth, where aftermuch time and trouble he lit another lamp.



By this time Don Quixote had recovered from his swoon; and in thesame tone of voice in which he had called to his squire the day beforewhen he lay stretched "in the vale of the stakes," he began calling tohim now, "Sancho, my friend, art thou asleep? sleepest thou, friendSancho?"

"How can I sleep, curses on it!" returned Sancho discontentedlyand bitterly, "when it is plain that all the devils have been at methis night?"

"Thou mayest well believe that," answered Don Quixote, "because,either I know little, or this castle is enchanted, for thou must know-but this that I am now about to tell thee thou must swear to keepsecret until after my death."

"I swear it," answered Sancho.

"I say so," continued Don Quixote, "because I hate taking awayanyone's good name."

"I say," replied Sancho, "that I swear to hold my tongue about ittill the end of your worship's days, and God grant I may be able tolet it out tomorrow."

"Do I do thee such injuries, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "that thouwouldst see me dead so soon?"

"It is not for that," replied Sancho, "but because I hate keepingthings long, and I don't want them to grow rotten with me fromover-keeping."

"At any rate," said Don Quixote, "I have more confidence in thyaffection and good nature; and so I would have thee know that thisnight there befell me one of the strangest adventures that I coulddescribe, and to relate it to thee briefly thou must know that alittle while ago the daughter of the lord of this castle came to me,and that she is the most elegant and beautiful damsel that could befound in the wide world. What I could tell thee of the charms of herperson! of her lively wit! of other secret matters which, topreserve the fealty I owe to my lady Dulcinea del Toboso, I shall passover unnoticed and in silence! I will only tell thee that, either fatebeing envious of so great a boon placed in my hands by good fortune,or perhaps (and this is more probable) this castle being, as I havealready said, enchanted, at the time when I was engaged in thesweetest and most amorous discourse with her, there came, without myseeing or knowing whence it came, a hand attached to some arm ofsome huge giant, that planted such a cuff on my jaws that I havethem all bathed in blood, and then pummelled me in such a way that Iam in a worse plight than yesterday when the carriers, on account ofRocinante's misbehaviour, inflicted on us the injury thou knowestof; whence conjecture that there must be some enchanted Moorguarding the treasure of this damsel's beauty, and that it is notfor me."

"Not for me either," said Sancho, "for more than four hundredMoors have so thrashed me that the drubbing of the stakes was cakesand fancy-bread to it. But tell me, senor, what do you call thisexcellent and rare adventure that has left us as we are left now?Though your worship was not so badly off, having in your arms thatincomparable beauty you spoke of; but I, what did I have, except theheaviest whacks I think I had in all my life? Unlucky me and themother that bore me! for I am not a knight-errant and never expectto be one, and of all the mishaps, the greater part falls to myshare."

"Then thou hast been thrashed too?" said Don Quixote.

"Didn't I say so? worse luck to my line!" said Sancho.

"Be not distressed, friend," said Don Quixote, "for I will nowmake the precious balsam with which we shall cure ourselves in thetwinkling of an eye."

By this time the cuadrillero had succeeded in lighting the lamp, andcame in to see the man that he thought had been killed; and asSancho caught sight of him at the door, seeing him coming in hisshirt, with a cloth on his head, and a lamp in his hand, and a veryforbidding countenance, he said to his master, "Senor, can it bethat this is the enchanted Moor coming back to give us morecastigation if there be anything still left in the ink-bottle?"

"It cannot be the Moor," answered Don Quixote, "for those underenchantment do not let themselves be seen by anyone."

"If they don't let themselves be seen, they let themselves be felt,"said Sancho; "if not, let my shoulders speak to the point."

"Mine could speak too," said Don Quixote, "but that is not asufficient reason for believing that what we see is the enchantedMoor."

The officer came up, and finding them engaged in such a peacefulconversation, stood amazed; though Don Quixote, to be sure, stilllay on his back unable to move from pure pummelling and plasters.The officer turned to him and said, "Well, how goes it, good man?"

"I would speak more politely if I were you," replied Don Quixote;"is it the way of this country to address knights-errant in thatstyle, you booby?"

The cuadrillero finding himself so disrespectfully treated by such asorry-looking individual, lost his temper, and raising the lamp fullof oil, smote Don Quixote such a blow with it on the head that he gavehim a badly broken pate; then, all being in darkness, he went out, andSancho Panza said, "That is certainly the enchanted Moor, Senor, andhe keeps the treasure for others, and for us only the cuffs andlamp-whacks."

"That is the truth," answered Don Quixote, "and there is no use introubling oneself about these matters of enchantment or being angry orvexed at them, for as they are invisible and visionary we shall findno one on whom to avenge ourselves, do what we may; rise, Sancho, ifthou canst, and call the alcaide of this fortress, and get him to giveme a little oil, wine, salt, and rosemary to make the salutiferousbalsam, for indeed I believe I have great need of it now, because I amlosing much blood from the wound that phantom gave me."

Sancho got up with pain enough in his bones, and went after theinnkeeper in the dark, and meeting the officer, who was looking to seewhat had become of his enemy, he said to him, "Senor, whoever you are,do us the favour and kindness to give us a little rosemary, oil, salt,and wine, for it is wanted to cure one of the best knights-errant onearth, who lies on yonder bed wounded by the hands of the enchantedMoor that is in this inn."

When the officer heard him talk in this way, he took him for a manout of his senses, and as day was now beginning to break, he openedthe inn gate, and calling the host, he told him what this good manwanted. The host furnished him with what he required, and Sanchobrought it to Don Quixote, who, with his hand to his head, wasbewailing the pain of the blow of the lamp, which had done him no moreharm than raising a couple of rather large lumps, and what hefancied blood was only the sweat that flowed from him in hissufferings during the late storm. To be brief, he took thematerials, of which he made a compound, mixing them all and boilingthem a good while until it seemed to him they had come toperfection. He then asked for some vial to pour it into, and asthere was not one in the inn, he decided on putting it into a tinoil-bottle or flask of which the host made him a free gift; and overthe flask he repeated more than eighty paternosters and as many moreave-marias, salves, and credos, accompanying each word with a cross byway of benediction, at all which there were present Sancho, theinnkeeper, and the cuadrillero; for the carrier was now peacefullyengaged in attending to the comfort of his mules.

This being accomplished, he felt anxious to make trial himself, onthe spot, of the virtue of this precious balsam, as he consideredit, and so he drank near a quart of what could not be put into theflask and remained in the pigskin in which it had been boiled; butscarcely had he done drinking when he began to vomit in such a waythat nothing was left in his stomach, and with the pangs and spasms ofvomiting he broke into a profuse sweat, on account of which he badethem cover him up and leave him alone. They did so, and he laysleeping more than three hours, at the end of which he awoke andfelt very great bodily relief and so much ease from his bruises thathe thought himself quite cured, and verily believed he had hit uponthe balsam of Fierabras; and that with this remedy he mightthenceforward, without any fear, face any kind of destruction, battle,or combat, however perilous it might be.

Sancho Panza, who also regarded the amendment of his master asmiraculous, begged him to give him what was left in the pigskin, whichwas no small quantity. Don Quixote consented, and he, taking it withboth hands, in good faith and with a better will, gulped down anddrained off very little less than his master. But the fact is, thatthe stomach of poor Sancho was of necessity not so delicate as that ofhis master, and so, before vomiting, he was seized with suchgripings and retchings, and such sweats and faintness, that verily andtruly be believed his last hour had come, and finding himself soracked and tormented he cursed the balsam and the thief that had givenit to him.

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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