Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 27)

"I do not understand that Latin," answered Don Quixote, "but Iknow well I did not lay hands, only this pike; besides, I did notthink I was committing an assault upon priests or things of theChurch, which, like a Catholic and faithful Christian as I am, Irespect and revere, but upon phantoms and spectres of the other world;but even so, I remember how it fared with Cid Ruy Diaz when he brokethe chair of the ambassador of that king before his Holiness the Pope,who excommunicated him for the same; and yet the good Roderick ofVivar bore himself that day like a very noble and valiant knight."

On hearing this the bachelor took his departure, as has been said,without making any reply; and Don Quixote asked Sancho what hadinduced him to call him the "Knight of the Rueful Countenance" morethen than at any other time.

"I will tell you," answered Sancho; "it was because I have beenlooking at you for some time by the light of the torch held by thatunfortunate, and verily your worship has got of late the mostill-favoured countenance I ever saw: it must be either owing to thefatigue of this combat, or else to the want of teeth and grinders."

"It is not that," replied Don Quixote, "but because the sage whoseduty it will be to write the history of my achievements must havethought it proper that I should take some distinctive name as allknights of yore did; one being 'He of the Burning Sword,' another'He of the Unicorn,' this one 'He of the Damsels,' that 'He of thePhoenix,' another 'The Knight of the Griffin,' and another 'He ofthe Death,' and by these names and designations they were known allthe world round; and so I say that the sage aforesaid must have put itinto your mouth and mind just now to call me 'The Knight of the RuefulCountenance,' as I intend to call myself from this day forward; andthat the said name may fit me better, I mean, when the opportunityoffers, to have a very rueful countenance painted on my shield."

"There is no occasion, senor, for wasting time or money on makingthat countenance," said Sancho; "for all that need be done is for yourworship to show your own, face to face, to those who look at you,and without anything more, either image or shield, they will callyou 'Him of the Rueful Countenance' and believe me I am telling youthe truth, for I assure you, senor (and in good part be it said),hunger and the loss of your grinders have given you such anill-favoured face that, as I say, the rueful picture may be verywell spared."

Don Quixote laughed at Sancho's pleasantry; nevertheless he resolvedto call himself by that name, and have his shield or buckler paintedas he had devised.

Don Quixote would have looked to see whether the body in thelitter were bones or not, but Sancho would not have it, saying:

"Senor, you have ended this perilous adventure more safely foryourself than any of those I have seen: perhaps these people, thoughbeaten and routed, may bethink themselves that it is a single man thathas beaten them, and feeling sore and ashamed of it may take heart andcome in search of us and give us trouble enough. The ass is inproper trim, the mountains are near at hand, hunger presses, we havenothing more to do but make good our retreat, and, as the saying is,the dead to the grave and the living to the loaf."

And driving his ass before him he begged his master to follow,who, feeling that Sancho was right, did so without replying; and afterproceeding some little distance between two hills they foundthemselves in a wide and retired valley, where they alighted, andSancho unloaded his beast, and stretched upon the green grass, withhunger for sauce, they breakfasted, dined, lunched, and supped allat once, satisfying their appetites with more than one store of coldmeat which the dead man's clerical gentlemen (who seldom putthemselves on short allowance) had brought with them on theirsumpter mule. But another piece of ill-luck befell them, whichSancho held the worst of all, and that was that they had no wine todrink, nor even water to moisten their lips; and as thirst tormentedthem, Sancho, observing that the meadow where they were was full ofgreen and tender grass, said what will be told in the following chapter.



"It cannot be, senor, but that this grass is a proof that there mustbe hard by some spring or brook to give it moisture, so it would bewell to move a little farther on, that we may find some place where wemay quench this terrible thirst that plagues us, which beyond adoubt is more distressing than hunger."

The advice seemed good to Don Quixote, and, he leading Rocinanteby the bridle and Sancho the ass by the halter, after he had packedaway upon him the remains of the supper, they advanced the meadowfeeling their way, for the darkness of the night made it impossible tosee anything; but they had not gone two hundred paces when a loudnoise of water, as if falling from great rocks, struck their ears. Thesound cheered them greatly; but halting to make out by listeningfrom what quarter it came they heard unseasonably another noisewhich spoiled the satisfaction the sound of the water gave them,especially for Sancho, who was by nature timid and faint-hearted. Theyheard, I say, strokes falling with a measured beat, and a certainrattling of iron and chains that, together with the furious din of thewater, would have struck terror into any heart but Don Quixote's.The night was, as has been said, dark, and they had happened toreach a spot in among some tall trees, whose leaves stirred by agentle breeze made a low ominous sound; so that, what with thesolitude, the place, the darkness, the noise of the water, and therustling of the leaves, everything inspired awe and dread; moreespecially as they perceived that the strokes did not cease, nor thewind lull, nor morning approach; to all which might be added theirignorance as to where they were. But Don Quixote, supported by hisintrepid heart, leaped on Rocinante, and bracing his buckler on hisarm, brought his pike to the slope, and said, "Friend Sancho, knowthat I by Heaven's will have been born in this our iron age torevive revive in it the age of gold, or the golden as it is called;I am he for whom perils, mighty achievements, and valiant deeds arereserved; I am, I say again, he who is to revive the Knights of theRound Table, the Twelve of France and the Nine Worthies; and he who isto consign to oblivion the Platirs, the Tablantes, the Olivantes andTirantes, the Phoebuses and Belianises, with the whole herd offamous knights-errant of days gone by, performing in these in whichI live such exploits, marvels, and feats of arms as shall obscuretheir brightest deeds. Thou dost mark well, faithful and trustysquire, the gloom of this night, its strange silence, the dullconfused murmur of those trees, the awful sound of that water in questof which we came, that seems as though it were precipitating anddashing itself down from the lofty mountains of the Moon, and thatincessant hammering that wounds and pains our ears; which things alltogether and each of itself are enough to instil fear, dread, anddismay into the breast of Mars himself, much more into one not used tohazards and adventures of the kind. Well, then, all this that I putbefore thee is but an incentive and stimulant to my spirit, makingmy heart burst in my bosom through eagerness to engage in thisadventure, arduous as it promises to be; therefore tighten Rocinante'sgirths a little, and God be with thee; wait for me here three days andno more, and if in that time I come not back, thou canst return to ourvillage, and thence, to do me a favour and a service, thou wilt goto El Toboso, where thou shalt say to my incomparable lady Dulcineathat her captive knight hath died in attempting things that might makehim worthy of being called hers."

When Sancho heard his master's words he began to weep in the mostpathetic way, saying:

"Senor, I know not why your worship wants to attempt this sodreadful adventure; it is night now, no one sees us here, we caneasily turn about and take ourselves out of danger, even if we don'tdrink for three days to come; and as there is no one to see us, allthe less will there be anyone to set us down as cowards; besides, Ihave many a time heard the curate of our village, whom your worshipknows well, preach that he who seeks danger perishes in it; so it isnot right to tempt God by trying so tremendous a feat from which therecan be no escape save by a miracle, and Heaven has performed enough ofthem for your worship in delivering you from being blanketed as I was,and bringing you out victorious and safe and sound from among allthose enemies that were with the dead man; and if all this does notmove or soften that hard heart, let this thought and reflection moveit, that you will have hardly quitted this spot when from pure fearI shall yield my soul up to anyone that will take it. I left homeand wife and children to come and serve your worship, trusting to dobetter and not worse; but as covetousness bursts the bag, it hasrent my hopes asunder, for just as I had them highest about gettingthat wretched unlucky island your worship has so often promised me,I see that instead and in lieu of it you mean to desert me now in aplace so far from human reach: for God's sake, master mine, deal notso unjustly by me, and if your worship will not entirely give upattempting this feat, at least put it off till morning, for by whatthe lore I learned when I was a shepherd tells me it cannot want threehours of dawn now, because the mouth of the Horn is overhead and makesmidnight in the line of the left arm."

"How canst thou see, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "where it makes thatline, or where this mouth or this occiput is that thou talkest of,when the night is so dark that there is not a star to be seen in thewhole heaven?"

"That's true," said Sancho, "but fear has sharp eyes, and seesthings underground, much more above in heavens; besides, there is goodreason to show that it now wants but little of day."

"Let it want what it may," replied Don Quixote, "it shall not besaid of me now or at any time that tears or entreaties turned me asidefrom doing what was in accordance with knightly usage; and so I beg ofthee, Sancho, to hold thy peace, for God, who has put it into my heartto undertake now this so unexampled and terrible adventure, willtake care to watch over my safety and console thy sorrow; what thouhast to do is to tighten Rocinante's girths well, and wait here, for Ishall come back shortly, alive or dead."

Sancho perceiving it his master's final resolve, and how littlehis tears, counsels, and entreaties prevailed with him, determinedto have recourse to his own ingenuity and compel him, if he could,to wait till daylight; and so, while tightening the girths of thehorse, he quietly and without being felt, with his ass' halter tiedboth Rocinante's legs, so that when Don Quixote strove to go he wasunable as the horse could only move by jumps. Seeing the success ofhis trick, Sancho Panza said:

"See there, senor! Heaven, moved by my tears and prayers, has soordered it that Rocinante cannot stir; and if you will be obstinate,and spur and strike him, you will only provoke fortune, and kick, asthey say, against the pricks."

Don Quixote at this grew desperate, but the more he drove hisheels into the horse, the less he stirred him; and not having anysuspicion of the tying, he was fain to resign himself and wait tilldaybreak or until Rocinante could move, firmly persuaded that all thiscame of something other than Sancho's ingenuity. So he said to him,"As it is so, Sancho, and as Rocinante cannot move, I am content towait till dawn smiles upon us, even though I weep while it delaysits coming."

"There is no need to weep," answered Sancho, "for I will amuseyour worship by telling stories from this till daylight, unless indeedyou like to dismount and lie down to sleep a little on the green grassafter the fashion of knights-errant, so as to be fresher when daycomes and the moment arrives for attempting this extraordinaryadventure you are looking forward to."

"What art thou talking about dismounting or sleeping for?" saidDon Quixote. "Am I, thinkest thou, one of those knights that taketheir rest in the presence of danger? Sleep thou who art born tosleep, or do as thou wilt, for I will act as I think most consistentwith my character."

"Be not angry, master mine," replied Sancho, "I did not mean tosay that;" and coming close to him he laid one hand on the pommel ofthe saddle and the other on the cantle so that he held his master'sleft thigh in his embrace, not daring to separate a finger's widthfrom him; so much afraid was he of the strokes which still resoundedwith a regular beat. Don Quixote bade him tell some story to amuse himas he had proposed, to which Sancho replied that he would if his dreadof what he heard would let him; "Still," said he, "I will strive totell a story which, if I can manage to relate it, and nobodyinterferes with the telling, is the best of stories, and let yourworship give me your attention, for here I begin. What was, was; andmay the good that is to come be for all, and the evil for him who goesto look for it -your worship must know that the beginning the old folkused to put to their tales was not just as each one pleased; it wasa maxim of Cato Zonzorino the Roman, that says 'the evil for himthat goes to look for it,' and it comes as pat to the purpose now asring to finger, to show that your worship should keep quiet and not golooking for evil in any quarter, and that we should go back by someother road, since nobody forces us to follow this in which so manyterrors affright us."

"Go on with thy story, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "and leave thechoice of our road to my care."

"I say then," continued Sancho, "that in a village of Estremadurathere was a goat-shepherd -that is to say, one who tended goats- whichshepherd or goatherd, as my story goes, was called Lope Ruiz, and thisLope Ruiz was in love with a shepherdess called Torralva, whichshepherdess called Torralva was the daughter of a rich grazier, andthis rich grazier-"

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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