Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 37)

"She it is," said Don Quixote, "and she it is that is worthy to belady of the whole universe."

"I know her well," said Sancho, "and let me tell you she can fling acrowbar as well as the lustiest lad in all the town. Giver of allgood! but she is a brave lass, and a right and stout one, and fit tobe helpmate to any knight-errant that is or is to be, who may make herhis lady: the whoreson wench, what sting she has and what a voice! Ican tell you one day she posted herself on the top of the belfry ofthe village to call some labourers of theirs that were in a ploughedfield of her father's, and though they were better than half aleague off they heard her as well as if they were at the foot of thetower; and the best of her is that she is not a bit prudish, for shehas plenty of affability, and jokes with everybody, and has a grin anda jest for everything. So, Sir Knight of the Rueful Countenance, I sayyou not only may and ought to do mad freaks for her sake, but you havea good right to give way to despair and hang yourself; and no onewho knows of it but will say you did well, though the devil shouldtake you; and I wish I were on my road already, simply to see her, forit is many a day since I saw her, and she must be altered by thistime, for going about the fields always, and the sun and the air spoilwomen's looks greatly. But I must own the truth to your worship, SenorDon Quixote; until now I have been under a great mistake, for Ibelieved truly and honestly that the lady Dulcinea must be someprincess your worship was in love with, or some person great enough todeserve the rich presents you have sent her, such as the Biscayanand the galley slaves, and many more no doubt, for your worship musthave won many victories in the time when I was not yet your squire.But all things considered, what good can it do the lady AldonzaLorenzo, I mean the lady Dulcinea del Toboso, to have the vanquishedyour worship sends or will send coming to her and going down ontheir knees before her? Because may be when they came she'd behackling flax or threshing on the threshing floor, and they'd beashamed to see her, and she'd laugh, or resent the present."

"I have before now told thee many times, Sancho," said DonQuixote, "that thou art a mighty great chatterer, and that with ablunt wit thou art always striving at sharpness; but to show thee whata fool thou art and how rational I am, I would have thee listen to ashort story. Thou must know that a certain widow, fair, young,independent, and rich, and above all free and easy, fell in lovewith a sturdy strapping young lay-brother; his superior came to knowof it, and one day said to the worthy widow by way of brotherlyremonstrance, 'I am surprised, senora, and not without good reason,that a woman of such high standing, so fair, and so rich as you are,should have fallen in love with such a mean, low, stupid fellow asSo-and-so, when in this house there are so many masters, graduates,and divinity students from among whom you might choose as if they werea lot of pears, saying this one I'll take, that I won't take;' but shereplied to him with great sprightliness and candour, 'My dear sir, youare very much mistaken, and your ideas are very old-fashioned, ifyou think that I have made a bad choice in So-and-so, fool as heseems; because for all I want with him he knows as much and morephilosophy than Aristotle.' In the same way, Sancho, for all I wantwith Dulcinea del Toboso she is just as good as the most exaltedprincess on earth. It is not to be supposed that all those poets whosang the praises of ladies under the fancy names they give them, hadany such mistresses. Thinkest thou that the Amarillises, thePhillises, the Sylvias, the Dianas, the Galateas, the Filidas, and allthe rest of them, that the books, the ballads, the barber's shops, thetheatres are full of, were really and truly ladies of flesh and blood,and mistresses of those that glorify and have glorified them?Nothing of the kind; they only invent them for the most part tofurnish a subject for their verses, and that they may pass for lovers,or for men valiant enough to be so; and so it suffices me to think andbelieve that the good Aldonza Lorenzo is fair and virtuous; and asto her pedigree it is very little matter, for no one will examine intoit for the purpose of conferring any order upon her, and I, for mypart, reckon her the most exalted princess in the world. For thoushouldst know, Sancho, if thou dost not know, that two things alonebeyond all others are incentives to love, and these are great beautyand a good name, and these two things are to be found in Dulcinea inthe highest degree, for in beauty no one equals her and in good namefew approach her; and to put the whole thing in a nutshell, I persuademyself that all I say is as I say, neither more nor less, and Ipicture her in my imagination as I would have her to be, as well inbeauty as in condition; Helen approaches her not nor does Lucretiacome up to her, nor any other of the famous women of times past,Greek, Barbarian, or Latin; and let each say what he will, for if inthis I am taken to task by the ignorant, I shall not be censured bythe critical."

"I say that your worship is entirely right," said Sancho, "andthat I am an ass. But I know not how the name of ass came into mymouth, for a rope is not to be mentioned in the house of him who hasbeen hanged; but now for the letter, and then, God be with you, I amoff."

Don Quixote took out the note-book, and, retiring to one side,very deliberately began to write the letter, and when he hadfinished it he called to Sancho, saying he wished to read it to him,so that he might commit it to memory, in case of losing it on theroad; for with evil fortune like his anything might be apprehended. Towhich Sancho replied, "Write it two or three times there in the bookand give it to me, and I will carry it very carefully, because toexpect me to keep it in my memory is all nonsense, for I have such abad one that I often forget my own name; but for all that repeat it tome, as I shall like to hear it, for surely it will run as if it was inprint."

"Listen," said Don Quixote, "this is what it says:


"Sovereign and exalted Lady,- The pierced by the point of absence,the wounded to the heart's core, sends thee, sweetest Dulcinea delToboso, the health that he himself enjoys not. If thy beautydespises me, if thy worth is not for me, if thy scorn is myaffliction, though I be sufficiently long-suffering, hardly shall Iendure this anxiety, which, besides being oppressive, is protracted.My good squire Sancho will relate to thee in full, fair ingrate,dear enemy, the condition to which I am reduced on thy account: ifit be thy pleasure to give me relief, I am thine; if not, do as may bepleasing to thee; for by ending my life I shall satisfy thy crueltyand my desire.

"Thine till death,

"The Knight of the Rueful Countenance."

"By the life of my father," said Sancho, when he heard the letter,"it is the loftiest thing I ever heard. Body of me! how your worshipsays everything as you like in it! And how well you fit in 'The Knightof the Rueful Countenance' into the signature. I declare your worshipis indeed the very devil, and there is nothing you don't know."

"Everything is needed for the calling I follow," said Don Quixote.

"Now then," said Sancho, "let your worship put the order for thethree ass-colts on the other side, and sign it very plainly, that theymay recognise it at first sight."

"With all my heart," said Don Quixote, and as he had written it heread it to this effect:

"Mistress Niece,- By this first of ass-colts please pay to SanchoPanza, my squire, three of the five I left at home in your charge:said three ass-colts to be paid and delivered for the same numberreceived here in hand, which upon this and upon his receipt shall beduly paid. Done in the heart of the Sierra Morena, thetwenty-seventh of August of this present year."

"That will do," said Sancho; "now let your worship sign it."

"There is no need to sign it," said Don Quixote, "but merely toput my flourish, which is the same as a signature, and enough forthree asses, or even three hundred."

"I can trust your worship," returned Sancho; "let me go and saddleRocinante, and be ready to give me your blessing, for I mean to goat once without seeing the fooleries your worship is going to do; I'llsay I saw you do so many that she will not want any more."

"At any rate, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "I should like- and thereis reason for it- I should like thee, I say, to see me stripped to theskin and performing a dozen or two of insanities, which I can get donein less than half an hour; for having seen them with thine own eyes,thou canst then safely swear to the rest that thou wouldst add; andI promise thee thou wilt not tell of as many as I mean to perform."

"For the love of God, master mine," said Sancho, "let me not seeyour worship stripped, for it will sorely grieve me, and I shall notbe able to keep from tears, and my head aches so with all I shedlast night for Dapple, that I am not fit to begin any fresh weeping;but if it is your worship's pleasure that I should see someinsanities, do them in your clothes, short ones, and such as comereadiest to hand; for I myself want nothing of the sort, and, as Ihave said, it will be a saving of time for my return, which will bewith the news your worship desires and deserves. If not, let thelady Dulcinea look to it; if she does not answer reasonably, I swearas solemnly as I can that I will fetch a fair answer out of herstomach with kicks and cuffs; for why should it be borne that aknight-errant as famous as your worship should go mad without rhyme orreason for a -? Her ladyship had best not drive me to say it, for byGod I will speak out and let off everything cheap, even if itdoesn't sell: I am pretty good at that! she little knows me; faith, ifshe knew me she'd be in awe of me."

"In faith, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "to all appearance thou art nosounder in thy wits than I."

"I am not so mad," answered Sancho, "but I am more peppery; butapart from all this, what has your worship to eat until I come back?Will you sally out on the road like Cardenio to force it from theshepherds?"

"Let not that anxiety trouble thee," replied Don Quixote, "foreven if I had it I should not eat anything but the herbs and thefruits which this meadow and these trees may yield me; the beauty ofthis business of mine lies in not eating, and in performing othermortifications."

"Do you know what I am afraid of?" said Sancho upon this; "that Ishall not be able to find my way back to this spot where I amleaving you, it is such an out-of-the-way place."

"Observe the landmarks well," said Don Quixote, "for I will trynot to go far from this neighbourhood, and I will even take care tomount the highest of these rocks to see if I can discover theereturning; however, not to miss me and lose thyself, the best planwill be to cut some branches of the broom that is so abundant abouthere, and as thou goest to lay them at intervals until thou hastcome out upon the plain; these will serve thee, after the fashion ofthe clue in the labyrinth of Theseus, as marks and signs for findingme on thy return."

"So I will," said Sancho Panza, and having cut some, he asked hismaster's blessing, and not without many tears on both sides, tookhis leave of him, and mounting Rocinante, of whom Don Quixotecharged him earnestly to have as much care as of his own person, heset out for the plain, strewing at intervals the branches of broomas his master had recommended him; and so he went his way, thoughDon Quixote still entreated him to see him do were it only a couple ofmad acts. He had not gone a hundred paces, however, when he returnedand said:

"I must say, senor, your worship said quite right, that in orderto be able to swear without a weight on my conscience that I hadseen you do mad things, it would be well for me to see if it were onlyone; though in your worship's remaining here I have seen a verygreat one."

"Did I not tell thee so?" said Don Quixote. "Wait, Sancho, and Iwill do them in the saying of a credo," and pulling off his breechesin all haste he stripped himself to his skin and his shirt, andthen, without more ado, he cut a couple of gambados in the air, anda couple of somersaults, heels over head, making such a displaythat, not to see it a second time, Sancho wheeled Rocinante round, andfelt easy, and satisfied in his mind that he could swear he had lefthis master mad; and so we will leave him to follow his road untilhis return, which was a quick one.



Returning to the proceedings of him of the Rueful Countenance whenhe found himself alone, the history says that when Don Quixote hadcompleted the performance of the somersaults or capers, naked from thewaist down and clothed from the waist up, and saw that Sancho had goneoff without waiting to see any more crazy feats, he climbed up tothe top of a high rock, and there set himself to consider what hehad several times before considered without ever coming to anyconclusion on the point, namely whether it would be better and more tohis purpose to imitate the outrageous madness of Roland, or themelancholy madness of Amadis; and communing with himself he said:

"What wonder is it if Roland was so good a knight and so valiantas everyone says he was, when, after all, he was enchanted, and nobodycould kill him save by thrusting a corking pin into the sole of hisfoot, and he always wore shoes with seven iron soles? Though cunningdevices did not avail him against Bernardo del Carpio, who knew allabout them, and strangled him in his arms at Roncesvalles. But puttingthe question of his valour aside, let us come to his losing hiswits, for certain it is that he did lose them in consequence of theproofs he discovered at the fountain, and the intelligence theshepherd gave him of Angelica having slept more than two siestaswith Medoro, a little curly-headed Moor, and page to Agramante. Ifhe was persuaded that this was true, and that his lady had wrongedhim, it is no wonder that he should have gone mad; but I, how am Ito imitate him in his madness, unless I can imitate him in the causeof it? For my Dulcinea, I will venture to swear, never saw a Moor inher life, as he is, in his proper costume, and she is this day asthe mother that bore her, and I should plainly be doing her a wrongif, fancying anything else, I were to go mad with the same kind ofmadness as Roland the Furious. On the other hand, I see that Amadis ofGaul, without losing his senses and without doing anything mad,acquired as a lover as much fame as the most famous; for, according tohis history, on finding himself rejected by his lady Oriana, who hadordered him not to appear in her presence until it should be herpleasure, all he did was to retire to the Pena Pobre in company with ahermit, and there he took his fill of weeping until Heaven sent himrelief in the midst of his great grief and need. And if this betrue, as it is, why should I now take the trouble to strip starknaked, or do mischief to these trees which have done me no harm, orwhy am I to disturb the clear waters of these brooks which will giveme to drink whenever I have a mind? Long live the memory of Amadis andlet him be imitated so far as is possible by Don Quixote of La Mancha,of whom it will be said, as was said of the other, that if he didnot achieve great things, he died in attempting them; and if I amnot repulsed or rejected by my Dulcinea, it is enough for me, as Ihave said, to be absent from her. And so, now to business; come tomy memory ye deeds of Amadis, and show me how I am to begin to imitateyou. I know already that what he chiefly did was to pray and commendhimself to God; but what am I to do for a rosary, for I have not gotone?"

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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