Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 28)

"If that is the way thou tellest thy tale, Sancho," said DonQuixote, "repeating twice all thou hast to say, thou wilt not havedone these two days; go straight on with it, and tell it like areasonable man, or else say nothing."

"Tales are always told in my country in the very way I am tellingthis," answered Sancho, "and I cannot tell it in any other, nor isit right of your worship to ask me to make new customs."

"Tell it as thou wilt," replied Don Quixote; "and as fate willhave it that I cannot help listening to thee, go on."

"And so, lord of my soul," continued Sancho, as I have said, thisshepherd was in love with Torralva the shepherdess, who was a wildbuxom lass with something of the look of a man about her, for shehad little moustaches; I fancy I see her now."

"Then you knew her?" said Don Quixote.

"I did not know her," said Sancho, "but he who told me the storysaid it was so true and certain that when I told it to another I mightsafely declare and swear I had seen it all myself. And so in course oftime, the devil, who never sleeps and puts everything in confusion,contrived that the love the shepherd bore the shepherdess turnedinto hatred and ill-will, and the reason, according to evil tongues,was some little jealousy she caused him that crossed the line andtrespassed on forbidden ground; and so much did the shepherd hateher from that time forward that, in order to escape from her, hedetermined to quit the country and go where he should never set eyeson her again. Torralva, when she found herself spurned by Lope, wasimmediately smitten with love for him, though she had never lovedhim before."

"That is the natural way of women," said Don Quixote, "to scornthe one that loves them, and love the one that hates them: go on,Sancho."

"It came to pass," said Sancho, "that the shepherd carried out hisintention, and driving his goats before him took his way across theplains of Estremadura to pass over into the Kingdom of Portugal.Torralva, who knew of it, went after him, and on foot and barefootfollowed him at a distance, with a pilgrim's staff in her hand and ascrip round her neck, in which she carried, it is said, a bit oflooking-glass and a piece of a comb and some little pot or other ofpaint for her face; but let her carry what she did, I am not goingto trouble myself to prove it; all I say is, that the shepherd, theysay, came with his flock to cross over the river Guadiana, which wasat that time swollen and almost overflowing its banks, and at the spothe came to there was neither ferry nor boat nor anyone to carry him orhis flock to the other side, at which he was much vexed, for heperceived that Torralva was approaching and would give him greatannoyance with her tears and entreaties; however, he went lookingabout so closely that he discovered a fisherman who had alongside ofhim a boat so small that it could only hold one person and one goat;but for all that he spoke to him and agreed with him to carryhimself and his three hundred goats across. The fisherman got into theboat and carried one goat over; he came back and carried another over;he came back again, and again brought over another- let your worshipkeep count of the goats the fisherman is taking across, for if oneescapes the memory there will be an end of the story, and it will beimpossible to tell another word of it. To proceed, I must tell you thelanding place on the other side was miry and slippery, and thefisherman lost a great deal of time in going and coming; still hereturned for another goat, and another, and another."

"Take it for granted he brought them all across," said DonQuixote, "and don't keep going and coming in this way, or thou wiltnot make an end of bringing them over this twelvemonth."

"How many have gone across so far?" said Sancho.

"How the devil do I know?" replied Don Quixote.

"There it is," said Sancho, "what I told you, that you must keep agood count; well then, by God, there is an end of the story, for thereis no going any farther."

"How can that be?" said Don Quixote; "is it so essential to thestory to know to a nicety the goats that have crossed over, that ifthere be a mistake of one in the reckoning, thou canst not go onwith it?"

"No, senor, not a bit," replied Sancho; "for when I asked yourworship to tell me how many goats had crossed, and you answered youdid not know, at that very instant all I had to say passed away out ofmy memory, and, faith, there was much virtue in it, andentertainment."

"So, then," said Don Quixote, "the story has come to an end?"

"As much as my mother has," said Sancho.

"In truth," said Don Quixote, "thou hast told one of the rareststories, tales, or histories, that anyone in the world could haveimagined, and such a way of telling it and ending it was never seennor will be in a lifetime; though I expected nothing else from thyexcellent understanding. But I do not wonder, for perhaps thoseceaseless strokes may have confused thy wits."

"All that may be," replied Sancho, "but I know that as to mystory, all that can be said is that it ends there where the mistake inthe count of the passage of the goats begins."

"Let it end where it will, well and good," said Don Quixote, "andlet us see if Rocinante can go;" and again he spurred him, and againRocinante made jumps and remained where he was, so well tied was he.

Just then, whether it was the cold of the morning that was nowapproaching, or that he had eaten something laxative at supper, orthat it was only natural (as is most likely), Sancho felt a desireto do what no one could do for him; but so great was the fear that hadpenetrated his heart, he dared not separate himself from his master byas much as the black of his nail; to escape doing what he wantedwas, however, also impossible; so what he did for peace's sake wasto remove his right hand, which held the back of the saddle, andwith it to untie gently and silently the running string which aloneheld up his breeches, so that on loosening it they at once fell downround his feet like fetters; he then raised his shirt as well as hecould and bared his hind quarters, no slim ones. But, thisaccomplished, which he fancied was all he had to do to get out of thisterrible strait and embarrassment, another still greater difficultypresented itself, for it seemed to him impossible to relieve himselfwithout making some noise, and he ground his teeth and squeezed hisshoulders together, holding his breath as much as he could; but inspite of his precautions he was unlucky enough after all to make alittle noise, very different from that which was causing him so muchfear.

Don Quixote, hearing it, said, "What noise is that, Sancho?"

"I don't know, senor," said he; "it must be something new, foradventures and misadventures never begin with a trifle." Once morehe tried his luck, and succeeded so well, that without any furthernoise or disturbance he found himself relieved of the burden thathad given him so much discomfort. But as Don Quixote's sense ofsmell was as acute as his hearing, and as Sancho was so closely linkedwith him that the fumes rose almost in a straight line, it could notbe but that some should reach his nose, and as soon as they did hecame to its relief by compressing it between his fingers, saying ina rather snuffing tone, "Sancho, it strikes me thou art in greatfear."

"I am," answered Sancho; "but how does your worship perceive itnow more than ever?"

"Because just now thou smellest stronger than ever, and not ofambergris," answered Don Quixote.

"Very likely," said Sancho, "but that's not my fault, but yourworship's, for leading me about at unseasonable hours and at suchunwonted paces."

"Then go back three or four, my friend," said Don Quixote, all thetime with his fingers to his nose; "and for the future pay moreattention to thy person and to what thou owest to mine; for it is mygreat familiarity with thee that has bred this contempt."

"I'll bet," replied Sancho, "that your worship thinks I have donesomething I ought not with my person."

"It makes it worse to stir it, friend Sancho," returned Don Quixote.

With this and other talk of the same sort master and man passedthe night, till Sancho, perceiving that daybreak was coming onapace, very cautiously untied Rocinante and tied up his breeches. Assoon as Rocinante found himself free, though by nature he was not atall mettlesome, he seemed to feel lively and began pawing- for as tocapering, begging his pardon, he knew not what it meant. DonQuixote, then, observing that Rocinante could move, took it as agood sign and a signal that he should attempt the dread adventure.By this time day had fully broken and everything showed distinctly,and Don Quixote saw that he was among some tall trees, chestnuts,which cast a very deep shade; he perceived likewise that the soundof the strokes did not cease, but could not discover what caused it,and so without any further delay he let Rocinante feel the spur, andonce more taking leave of Sancho, he told him to wait for him therethree days at most, as he had said before, and if he should not havereturned by that time, he might feel sure it had been God's willthat he should end his days in that perilous adventure. He againrepeated the message and commission with which he was to go on hisbehalf to his lady Dulcinea, and said he was not to be uneasy as tothe payment of his services, for before leaving home he had made hiswill, in which he would find himself fully recompensed in the matterof wages in due proportion to the time he had served; but if Goddelivered him safe, sound, and unhurt out of that danger, he mightlook upon the promised island as much more than certain. Sanchobegan to weep afresh on again hearing the affecting words of hisgood master, and resolved to stay with him until the final issue andend of the business. From these tears and this honourable resolve ofSancho Panza's the author of this history infers that he must havebeen of good birth and at least an old Christian; and the feeling hedisplayed touched his but not so much as to make him show anyweakness; on the contrary, hiding what he felt as well as he could, hebegan to move towards that quarter whence the sound of the water andof the strokes seemed to come.

Sancho followed him on foot, leading by the halter, as his customwas, his ass, his constant comrade in prosperity or adversity; andadvancing some distance through the shady chestnut trees they cameupon a little meadow at the foot of some high rocks, down which amighty rush of water flung itself. At the foot of the rocks weresome rudely constructed houses looking more like ruins than houses,from among which came, they perceived, the din and clatter of blows,which still continued without intermission. Rocinante took fright atthe noise of the water and of the blows, but quieting him DonQuixote advanced step by step towards the houses, commending himselfwith all his heart to his lady, imploring her support in that dreadpass and enterprise, and on the way commending himself to God, too,not to forget him. Sancho who never quitted his side, stretched hisneck as far as he could and peered between the legs of Rocinante tosee if he could now discover what it was that caused him such fear andapprehension. They went it might be a hundred paces farther, when onturning a corner the true cause, beyond the possibility of anymistake, of that dread-sounding and to them awe-inspiring noise thathad kept them all the night in such fear and perplexity, appearedplain and obvious; and it was (if, reader, thou art not disgustedand disappointed) six fulling hammers which by their alternate strokesmade all the din.

When Don Quixote perceived what it was, he was struck dumb and rigidfrom head to foot. Sancho glanced at him and saw him with his headbent down upon his breast in manifest mortification; and Don Quixoteglanced at Sancho and saw him with his cheeks puffed out and his mouthfull of laughter, and evidently ready to explode with it, and in spiteof his vexation he could not help laughing at the sight of him; andwhen Sancho saw his master begin he let go so heartily that he hadto hold his sides with both hands to keep himself from bursting withlaughter. Four times he stopped, and as many times did his laughterbreak out afresh with the same violence as at first, whereat DonQuixote grew furious, above all when he heard him say mockingly, "Thoumust know, friend Sancho, that of Heaven's will I was born in this ouriron age to revive in it the golden or age of gold; I am he for whomare reserved perils, mighty achievements, valiant deeds;" and herehe went on repeating the words that Don Quixote uttered the first timethey heard the awful strokes.

Don Quixote, then, seeing that Sancho was turning him into ridicule,was so mortified and vexed that he lifted up his pike and smote himtwo such blows that if, instead of catching them on his shoulders,he had caught them on his head there would have been no wages topay, unless indeed to his heirs. Sancho seeing that he was gettingan awkward return in earnest for his jest, and fearing his mastermight carry it still further, said to him very humbly, "Calm yourself,sir, for by God I am only joking."

"Well, then, if you are joking I am not," replied Don Quixote. "Lookhere, my lively gentleman, if these, instead of being fulling hammers,had been some perilous adventure, have I not, think you, shown thecourage required for the attempt and achievement? Am I, perchance,being, as I am, a gentleman, bound to know and distinguish soundsand tell whether they come from fulling mills or not; and that, whenperhaps, as is the case, I have never in my life seen any as you have,low boor as you are, that have been born and bred among them? But turnme these six hammers into six giants, and bring them to beard me,one by one or all together, and if I do not knock them head overheels, then make what mockery you like of me."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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