Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 26)

"Well, be it as your worship says," replied Sancho; "let us be offnow and find some place of shelter for the night, and God grant it maybe somewhere where there are no blankets, nor blanketeers, norphantoms, nor enchanted Moors; for if there are, may the devil takethe whole concern."

"Ask that of God, my son," said Don Quixote; and do thou lead onwhere thou wilt, for this time I leave our lodging to thy choice;but reach me here thy hand, and feel with thy finger, and find out howmany of my teeth and grinders are missing from this right side ofthe upper jaw, for it is there I feel the pain."

Sancho put in his fingers, and feeling about asked him, "How manygrinders used your worship have on this side?"

"Four," replied Don Quixote, "besides the back-tooth, all wholeand quite sound."

"Mind what you are saying, senor."

"I say four, if not five," answered Don Quixote, "for never in mylife have I had tooth or grinder drawn, nor has any fallen out or beendestroyed by any decay or rheum."

"Well, then," said Sancho, "in this lower side your worship has nomore than two grinders and a half, and in the upper neither a half norany at all, for it is all as smooth as the palm of my hand."

"Luckless that I am!" said Don Quixote, hearing the sad news hissquire gave him; "I had rather they despoiled me of an arm, so it werenot the sword-arm; for I tell thee, Sancho, a mouth without teeth islike a mill without a millstone, and a tooth is much more to be prizedthan a diamond; but we who profess the austere order of chivalry areliable to all this. Mount, friend, and lead the way, and I will followthee at whatever pace thou wilt."

Sancho did as he bade him, and proceeded in the direction in whichhe thought he might find refuge without quitting the high road,which was there very much frequented. As they went along, then, at aslow pace- for the pain in Don Quixote's jaws kept him uneasy andill-disposed for speed- Sancho thought it well to amuse and divert himby talk of some kind, and among the things he said to him was thatwhich will be told in the following chapter.



"It seems to me, senor, that all these mishaps that have befallen usof late have been without any doubt a punishment for the offencecommitted by your worship against the order of chivalry in not keepingthe oath you made not to eat bread off a tablecloth or embrace thequeen, and all the rest of it that your worship swore to observe untilyou had taken that helmet of Malandrino's, or whatever the Moor iscalled, for I do not very well remember."

"Thou art very right, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "but to tell thetruth, it had escaped my memory; and likewise thou mayest rely upon itthat the affair of the blanket happened to thee because of thy faultin not reminding me of it in time; but I will make amends, for thereare ways of compounding for everything in the order of chivalry."

"Why! have I taken an oath of some sort, then?" said Sancho.

"It makes no matter that thou hast not taken an oath," said DonQuixote; "suffice it that I see thou art not quite clear ofcomplicity; and whether or no, it will not be ill done to provideourselves with a remedy."

"In that case," said Sancho, "mind that your worship does not forgetthis as you did the oath; perhaps the phantoms may take it intotheir heads to amuse themselves once more with me; or even with yourworship if they see you so obstinate."

While engaged in this and other talk, night overtook them on theroad before they had reached or discovered any place of shelter; andwhat made it still worse was that they were dying of hunger, forwith the loss of the alforjas they had lost their entire larder andcommissariat; and to complete the misfortune they met with anadventure which without any invention had really the appearance ofone. It so happened that the night closed in somewhat darkly, butfor all that they pushed on, Sancho feeling sure that as the roadwas the king's highway they might reasonably expect to find some innwithin a league or two. Going along, then, in this way, the nightdark, the squire hungry, the master sharp-set, they saw coming towardsthem on the road they were travelling a great number of lights whichlooked exactly like stars in motion. Sancho was taken aback at thesight of them, nor did Don Quixote altogether relish them: the onepulled up his ass by the halter, the other his hack by the bridle, andthey stood still, watching anxiously to see what all this would turnout to be, and found that the lights were approaching them, and thenearer they came the greater they seemed, at which spectacle Sanchobegan to shake like a man dosed with mercury, and Don Quixote's hairstood on end; he, however, plucking up spirit a little, said:

"This, no doubt, Sancho, will be a most mighty and perilousadventure, in which it will be needful for me to put forth all myvalour and resolution."

"Unlucky me!" answered Sancho; "if this adventure happens to beone of phantoms, as I am beginning to think it is, where shall Ifind the ribs to bear it?"

"Be they phantoms ever so much," said Don Quixote, "I will notpermit them to touch a thread of thy garments; for if they playedtricks with thee the time before, it was because I was unable toleap the walls of the yard; but now we are on a wide plain, where Ishall be able to wield my sword as I please."

"And if they enchant and cripple you as they did the last time,"said Sancho, "what difference will it make being on the open plainor not?"

"For all that," replied Don Quixote, "I entreat thee, Sancho, tokeep a good heart, for experience will tell thee what mine is."

"I will, please God," answered Sancho, and the two retiring to oneside of the road set themselves to observe closely what all thesemoving lights might be; and very soon afterwards they made out sometwenty encamisados, all on horseback, with lighted torches in theirhands, the awe-inspiring aspect of whom completely extinguished thecourage of Sancho, who began to chatter with his teeth like one in thecold fit of an ague; and his heart sank and his teeth chatteredstill more when they perceived distinctly that behind them therecame a litter covered over with black and followed by six more mountedfigures in mourning down to the very feet of their mules- for theycould perceive plainly they were not horses by the easy pace atwhich they went. And as the encamisados came along they muttered tothemselves in a low plaintive tone. This strange spectacle at suchan hour and in such a solitary place was quite enough to strike terrorinto Sancho's heart, and even into his master's; and (save in DonQuixote's case) did so, for all Sancho's resolution had now brokendown. It was just the opposite with his master, whose imaginationimmediately conjured up all this to him vividly as one of theadventures of his books.

He took it into his head that the litter was a bier on which wasborne some sorely wounded or slain knight, to avenge whom was a taskreserved for him alone; and without any further reasoning he laidhis lance in rest, fixed himself firmly in his saddle, and withgallant spirit and bearing took up his position in the middle of theroad where the encamisados must of necessity pass; and as soon as hesaw them near at hand he raised his voice and said:

"Halt, knights, or whosoever ye may be, and render me account of whoye are, whence ye come, where ye go, what it is ye carry upon thatbier, for, to judge by appearances, either ye have done some wrongor some wrong has been done to you, and it is fitting and necessarythat I should know, either that I may chastise you for the evil yehave done, or else that I may avenge you for the injury that hasbeen inflicted upon you."

"We are in haste," answered one of the encamisados, "and the innis far off, and we cannot stop to render you such an account as youdemand;" and spurring his mule he moved on.

Don Quixote was mightily provoked by this answer, and seizing themule by the bridle he said, "Halt, and be more mannerly, and render anaccount of what I have asked of you; else, take my defiance to combat,all of you."

The mule was shy, and was so frightened at her bridle being seizedthat rearing up she flung her rider to the ground over her haunches.An attendant who was on foot, seeing the encamisado fall, began toabuse Don Quixote, who now moved to anger, without any more ado,laying his lance in rest charged one of the men in mourning andbrought him badly wounded to the ground, and as he wheeled roundupon the others the agility with which he attacked and routed them wasa sight to see, for it seemed just as if wings had that instantgrown upon Rocinante, so lightly and proudly did he bear himself.The encamisados were all timid folk and unarmed, so they speedily madetheir escape from the fray and set off at a run across the plainwith their lighted torches, looking exactly like maskers running onsome gala or festival night. The mourners, too, enveloped andswathed in their skirts and gowns, were unable to bestir themselves,and so with entire safety to himself Don Quixote belaboured them alland drove them off against their will, for they all thought it wasno man but a devil from hell come to carry away the dead body they hadin the litter.

Sancho beheld all this in astonishment at the intrepidity of hislord, and said to himself, "Clearly this master of mine is as bold andvaliant as he says he is."

A burning torch lay on the ground near the first man whom the mulehad thrown, by the light of which Don Quixote perceived him, andcoming up to him he presented the point of the lance to his face,calling on him to yield himself prisoner, or else he would kill him;to which the prostrate man replied, "I am prisoner enough as it is;I cannot stir, for one of my legs is broken: I entreat you, if yoube a Christian gentleman, not to kill me, which will be committinggrave sacrilege, for I am a licentiate and I hold first orders."

"Then what the devil brought you here, being a churchman?" saidDon Quixote.

"What, senor?" said the other. "My bad luck."

"Then still worse awaits you," said Don Quixote, "if you do notsatisfy me as to all I asked you at first."

"You shall be soon satisfied," said the licentiate; "you mustknow, then, that though just now I said I was a licentiate, I amonly a bachelor, and my name is Alonzo Lopez; I am a native ofAlcobendas, I come from the city of Baeza with eleven others, priests,the same who fled with the torches, and we are going to the city ofSegovia accompanying a dead body which is in that litter, and isthat of a gentleman who died in Baeza, where he was interred; and now,as I said, we are taking his bones to their burial-place, which isin Segovia, where he was born."

"And who killed him?" asked Don Quixote.

"God, by means of a malignant fever that took him," answered thebachelor.

"In that case," said Don Quixote, "the Lord has relieved me of thetask of avenging his death had any other slain him; but, he who slewhim having slain him, there is nothing for it but to be silent, andshrug one's shoulders; I should do the same were he to slay myself;and I would have your reverence know that I am a knight of LaMancha, Don Quixote by name, and it is my business and calling to roamthe world righting wrongs and redressing injuries."

"I do not know how that about righting wrongs can be," said thebachelor, "for from straight you have made me crooked, leaving me witha broken leg that will never see itself straight again all the days ofits life; and the injury you have redressed in my case has been toleave me injured in such a way that I shall remain injured for ever;and the height of misadventure it was to fall in with you who go insearch of adventures."

"Things do not all happen in the same way," answered Don Quixote;"it all came, Sir Bachelor Alonzo Lopez, of your going, as you did, bynight, dressed in those surplices, with lighted torches, praying,covered with mourning, so that naturally you looked like somethingevil and of the other world; and so I could not avoid doing my duty inattacking you, and I should have attacked you even had I knownpositively that you were the very devils of hell, for such I certainlybelieved and took you to be."

"As my fate has so willed it," said the bachelor, "I entreat you,sir knight-errant, whose errand has been such an evil one for me, tohelp me to get from under this mule that holds one of my legs caughtbetween the stirrup and the saddle."

"I would have talked on till to-morrow," said Don Quixote; "how longwere you going to wait before telling me of your distress?"

He at once called to Sancho, who, however, had no mind to come, ashe was just then engaged in unloading a sumpter mule, well ladenwith provender, which these worthy gentlemen had brought with them.Sancho made a bag of his coat, and, getting together as much as hecould, and as the bag would hold, he loaded his beast, and thenhastened to obey his master's call, and helped him to remove thebachelor from under the mule; then putting him on her back he gave himthe torch, and Don Quixote bade him follow the track of hiscompanions, and beg pardon of them on his part for the wrong whichhe could not help doing them.

And said Sancho, "If by chance these gentlemen should want to knowwho was the hero that served them so, your worship may tell themthat he is the famous Don Quixote of La Mancha, otherwise called theKnight of the Rueful Countenance."

The bachelor then took his departure.

I forgot to mention that before he did so he said to Don Quixote,"Remember that you stand excommunicated for having laid violenthands on a holy thing, juxta illud, si quis, suadente diabolo."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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