Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 33)

While so engaged he raised his eyes and saw that his master hadhalted, and was trying with the point of his pike to lift some bulkyobject that lay upon the ground, on which he hastened to join himand help him if it were needful, and reached him just as with thepoint of the pike he was raising a saddle-pad with a valise attachedto it, half or rather wholly rotten and torn; but so heavy were theythat Sancho had to help to take them up, and his master directed himto see what the valise contained. Sancho did so with great alacrity,and though the valise was secured by a chain and padlock, from itstorn and rotten condition he was able to see its contents, whichwere four shirts of fine holland, and other articles of linen noless curious than clean; and in a handkerchief he found a good lotof gold crowns, and as soon as he saw them he exclaimed:

"Blessed be all Heaven for sending us an adventure that is goodfor something!"

Searching further he found a little memorandum book richly bound;this Don Quixote asked of him, telling him to take the money andkeep it for himself. Sancho kissed his hands for the favour, andcleared the valise of its linen, which he stowed away in the provisionsack. Considering the whole matter, Don Quixote observed:

"It seems to me, Sancho- and it is impossible it can be otherwise-that some strayed traveller must have crossed this sierra and beenattacked and slain by footpads, who brought him to this remote spot tobury him."

"That cannot be," answered Sancho, "because if they had been robbersthey would not have left this money."

"Thou art right," said Don Quixote, "and I cannot guess or explainwhat this may mean; but stay; let us see if in this memorandum bookthere is anything written by which we may be able to trace out ordiscover what we want to know."

He opened it, and the first thing he found in it, written roughlybut in a very good hand, was a sonnet, and reading it aloud thatSancho might hear it, he found that it ran as follows:

SONNETOr Love is lacking in intelligence,Or to the height of cruelty attains,Or else it is my doom to suffer painsBeyond the measure due to my offence.But if Love be a God, it follows thenceThat he knows all, and certain it remainsNo God loves cruelty; then who ordainsThis penance that enthrals while it torments?It were a falsehood, Chloe, thee to name;Such evil with such goodness cannot live;And against Heaven I dare not charge the blame,I only know it is my fate to die.To him who knows not whence his maladyA miracle alone a cure can give.

"There is nothing to be learned from that rhyme," said Sancho,"unless by that clue there's in it, one may draw out the ball of thewhole matter."

"What clue is there?" said Don Quixote.

"I thought your worship spoke of a clue in it," said Sancho.

"I only said Chloe," replied Don Quixote; "and that no doubt, is thename of the lady of whom the author of the sonnet complains; and,faith, he must be a tolerable poet, or I know little of the craft."

"Then your worship understands rhyming too?"

"And better than thou thinkest," replied Don Quixote, "as thou shaltsee when thou carriest a letter written in verse from beginning to endto my lady Dulcinea del Toboso, for I would have thee know, Sancho,that all or most of the knights-errant in days of yore were greattroubadours and great musicians, for both of these accomplishments, ormore properly speaking gifts, are the peculiar property oflovers-errant: true it is that the verses of the knights of old havemore spirit than neatness in them."

"Read more, your worship," said Sancho, "and you will find somethingthat will enlighten us."

Don Quixote turned the page and said, "This is prose and seems to bea letter."

"A correspondence letter, senor?"

"From the beginning it seems to be a love letter," replied DonQuixote.

"Then let your worship read it aloud," said Sancho, "for I am veryfond of love matters."

"With all my heart," said Don Quixote, and reading it aloud asSancho had requested him, he found it ran thus:

Thy false promise and my sure misforutne carry me to a placewhence the news of my death will reach thy ears before the words of mycomplaint. Ungrateful one, thou hast rejected me for one more wealthy,but not more worthy; but if virtue were esteemed wealth I shouldneither envy the fortunes of others nor weep for misfortunes of myown. What thy beauty raised up thy deeds have laid low; by it Ibelieved thee to be an angel, by them I know thou art a woman. Peacebe with thee who hast sent war to me, and Heaven grant that the deceitof thy husband be ever hidden from thee, so that thou repent not ofwhat thou hast done, and I reap not a revenge I would not have.

When he had finished the letter, Don Quixote said, "There is less tobe gathered from this than from the verses, except that he who wroteit is some rejected lover;" and turning over nearly all the pages ofthe book he found more verses and letters, some of which he couldread, while others he could not; but they were all made up ofcomplaints, laments, misgivings, desires and aversions, favours andrejections, some rapturous, some doleful. While Don Quixote examinedthe book, Sancho examined the valise, not leaving a corner in thewhole of it or in the pad that he did not search, peer into, andexplore, or seam that he did not rip, or tuft of wool that he didnot pick to pieces, lest anything should escape for want of care andpains; so keen was the covetousness excited in him by the discovery ofthe crowns, which amounted to near a hundred; and though he found nomore booty, he held the blanket flights, balsam vomits, stakebenedictions, carriers' fisticuffs, missing alforjas, stolen coat, andall the hunger, thirst, and weariness he had endured in the service ofhis good master, cheap at the price; as he considered himself morethan fully indemnified for all by the payment he received in thegift of the treasure-trove.

The Knight of the Rueful Countenance was still very anxious tofind out who the owner of the valise could be, conjecturing from thesonnet and letter, from the money in gold, and from the fineness ofthe shirts, that he must be some lover of distinction whom the scornand cruelty of his lady had driven to some desperate course; but as inthat uninhabited and rugged spot there was no one to be seen of whomhe could inquire, he saw nothing else for it but to push on, takingwhatever road Rocinante chose- which was where he could make hisway- firmly persuaded that among these wilds he could not fail to meetsome rare adventure. As he went along, then, occupied with thesethoughts, he perceived on the summit of a height that rose beforetheir eyes a man who went springing from rock to rock and from tussockto tussock with marvellous agility. As well as he could make out hewas unclad, with a thick black beard, long tangled hair, and bare legsand feet, his thighs were covered by breeches apparently of tawnyvelvet but so ragged that they showed his skin in several places. Hewas bareheaded, and notwithstanding the swiftness with which he passedas has been described, the Knight of the Rueful Countenance observedand noted all these trifles, and though he made the attempt, he wasunable to follow him, for it was not granted to the feebleness ofRocinante to make way over such rough ground, he being, moreover,slow-paced and sluggish by nature. Don Quixote at once came to theconclusion that this was the owner of the saddle-pad and of thevalise, and made up his mind to go in search of him, even though heshould have to wander a year in those mountains before he found him,and so he directed Sancho to take a short cut over one side of themountain, while he himself went by the other, and perhaps by thismeans they might light upon this man who had passed so quickly outof their sight.

"I could not do that," said Sancho, "for when I separate from yourworship fear at once lays hold of me, and assails me with all sorts ofpanics and fancies; and let what I now say be a notice that fromthis time forth I am not going to stir a finger's width from yourpresence."

"It shall be so," said he of the Rueful Countenance, "and I amvery glad that thou art willing to rely on my courage, which willnever fail thee, even though the soul in thy body fail thee; so comeon now behind me slowly as well as thou canst, and make lanterns ofthine eyes; let us make the circuit of this ridge; perhaps we shalllight upon this man that we saw, who no doubt is no other than theowner of what we found."

To which Sancho made answer, "Far better would it be not to look forhim, for, if we find him, and he happens to be the owner of the money,it is plain I must restore it; it would be better, therefore, thatwithout taking this needless trouble, I should keep possession of ituntil in some other less meddlesome and officious way the real ownermay be discovered; and perhaps that will be when I shall have spentit, and then the king will hold me harmless."

"Thou art wrong there, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "for now that wehave a suspicion who the owner is, and have him almost before us, weare bound to seek him and make restitution; and if we do not seehim, the strong suspicion we have as to his being the owner makes usas guilty as if he were so; and so, friend Sancho, let not oursearch for him give thee any uneasiness, for if we find him it willrelieve mine."

And so saying he gave Rocinante the spur, and Sancho followed him onfoot and loaded, and after having partly made the circuit of themountain they found lying in a ravine, dead and half devoured bydogs and pecked by jackdaws, a mule saddled and bridled, all whichstill further strengthened their suspicion that he who had fled wasthe owner of the mule and the saddle-pad.

As they stood looking at it they heard a whistle like that of ashepherd watching his flock, and suddenly on their left there appeareda great number of goats and behind them on the summit of themountain the goatherd in charge of them, a man advanced in years.Don Quixote called aloud to him and begged him to come down to wherethey stood. He shouted in return, asking what had brought them to thatspot, seldom or never trodden except by the feet of goats, or of thewolves and other wild beasts that roamed around. Sancho in return badehim come down, and they would explain all to him.

The goatherd descended, and reaching the place where Don Quixotestood, he said, "I will wager you are looking at that hack mule thatlies dead in the hollow there, and, faith, it has been lying there nowthese six months; tell me, have you come upon its master about here?"

"We have come upon nobody," answered Don Quixote, "nor on anythingexcept a saddle-pad and a little valise that we found not far fromthis."

"I found it too," said the goatherd, "but I would not lift it nor gonear it for fear of some ill-luck or being charged with theft, for thedevil is crafty, and things rise up under one's feet to make onefall without knowing why or wherefore."

"That's exactly what I say," said Sancho; "I found it too, and Iwould not go within a stone's throw of it; there I left it, andthere it lies just as it was, for I don't want a dog with a bell."

"Tell me, good man," said Don Quixote, "do you know who is the ownerof this property?"

"All I can tell you," said the goatherd, "is that about six monthsago, more or less, there arrived at a shepherd's hut three leagues,perhaps, away from this, a youth of well-bred appearance andmanners, mounted on that same mule which lies dead here, and withthe same saddle-pad and valise which you say you found and did nottouch. He asked us what part of this sierra was the most rugged andretired; we told him that it was where we now are; and so in truthit is, for if you push on half a league farther, perhaps you willnot be able to find your way out; and I am wondering how you havemanaged to come here, for there is no road or path that leads tothis spot. I say, then, that on hearing our answer the youth turnedabout and made for the place we pointed out to him, leaving us allcharmed with his good looks, and wondering at his question and thehaste with which we saw him depart in the direction of the sierra; andafter that we saw him no more, until some days afterwards he crossedthe path of one of our shepherds, and without saying a word to him,came up to him and gave him several cuffs and kicks, and then turnedto the ass with our provisions and took all the bread and cheese itcarried, and having done this made off back again into the sierra withextraordinary swiftness. When some of us goatherds learned this wewent in search of him for about two days through the most remoteportion of this sierra, at the end of which we found him lodged in thehollow of a large thick cork tree. He came out to meet us with greatgentleness, with his dress now torn and his face so disfigured andburned by the sun, that we hardly recognised him but that his clothes,though torn, convinced us, from the recollection we had of them,that he was the person we were looking for. He saluted us courteously,and in a few well-spoken words he told us not to wonder at seeinghim going about in this guise, as it was binding upon him in orderthat he might work out a penance which for his many sins had beenimposed upon him. We asked him to tell us who he was, but we werenever able to find out from him: we begged of him too, when he wasin want of food, which he could not do without, to tell us where weshould find him, as we would bring it to him with all good-will andreadiness; or if this were not to his taste, at least to come andask it of us and not take it by force from the shepherds. He thankedus for the offer, begged pardon for the late assault, and promised forthe future to ask it in God's name without offering violence toanybody. As for fixed abode, he said he had no other than that whichchance offered wherever night might overtake him; and his wordsended in an outburst of weeping so bitter that we who listened tohim must have been very stones had we not joined him in it,comparing what we saw of him the first time with what we saw now; for,as I said, he was a graceful and gracious youth, and in hiscourteous and polished language showed himself to be of good birth andcourtly breeding, and rustics as we were that listened to him, even toour rusticity his gentle bearing sufficed to make it plain.

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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