Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 38)

And then it occurred to him how he might make one, and that was bytearing a great strip off the tail of his shirt which hung down, andmaking eleven knots on it, one bigger than the rest, and this servedhim for a rosary all the time he was there, during which he repeatedcountless ave-marias. But what distressed him greatly was not havinganother hermit there to confess him and receive consolation from;and so he solaced himself with pacing up and down the little meadow,and writing and carving on the bark of the trees and on the finesand a multitude of verses all in harmony with his sadness, and somein praise of Dulcinea; but, when he was found there afterwards, theonly ones completely legible that could be discovered were thosethat follow here:

Ye on the mountain side that grow,Ye green things all, trees, shrubs, and bushes,Are ye aweary of the woeThat this poor aching bosom crushes?If it disturb you, and I oweSome reparation, it may be aDefence for me to let you knowDon Quixote's tears are on the flow,And all for distant DulcineaDel Toboso.

The lealest lover time can show,Doomed for a lady-love to languish,Among these solitudes doth go,A prey to every kind of anguish.Why Love should like a spiteful foeThus use him, he hath no idea,But hogsheads full- this doth he know-Don Quixote's tears are on the flow,And all for distant DulcineaDel Toboso.

Adventure-seeking doth he goUp rugged heights, down rocky valleys,But hill or dale, or high or low,Mishap attendeth all his sallies:Love still pursues him to and fro,And plies his cruel scourge- ah me! aRelentless fate, an endless woe;Don Quixote's tears are on the flow,And all for distant DulcineaDel Toboso.

The addition of "Del Toboso" to Dulcinea's name gave rise to nolittle laughter among those who found the above lines, for theysuspected Don Quixote must have fancied that unless he added "delToboso" when he introduced the name of Dulcinea the verse would beunintelligible; which was indeed the fact, as he himself afterwardsadmitted. He wrote many more, but, as has been said, these threeverses were all that could be plainly and perfectly deciphered. Inthis way, and in sighing and calling on the fauns and satyrs of thewoods and the nymphs of the streams, and Echo, moist and mournful,to answer, console, and hear him, as well as in looking for herbs tosustain him, he passed his time until Sancho's return; and had thatbeen delayed three weeks, as it was three days, the Knight of theRueful Countenance would have worn such an altered countenance thatthe mother that bore him would not have known him: and here it will bewell to leave him, wrapped up in sighs and verses, to relate howSancho Panza fared on his mission.

As for him, coming out upon the high road, he made for El Toboso,and the next day reached the inn where the mishap of the blanket hadbefallen him. As soon as he recognised it he felt as if he were oncemore living through the air, and he could not bring himself to enterit though it was an hour when he might well have done so, for it wasdinner-time, and he longed to taste something hot as it had been allcold fare with him for many days past. This craving drove him todraw near to the inn, still undecided whether to go in or not, andas he was hesitating there came out two persons who at once recognisedhim, and said one to the other:

"Senor licentiate, is not he on the horse there Sancho Panza who,our adventurer's housekeeper told us, went off with her master asesquire?"

"So it is," said the licentiate, "and that is our friend DonQuixote's horse;" and if they knew him so well it was because theywere the curate and the barber of his own village, the same who hadcarried out the scrutiny and sentence upon the books; and as soon asthey recognised Sancho Panza and Rocinante, being anxious to hear ofDon Quixote, they approached, and calling him by his name the curatesaid, "Friend Sancho Panza, where is your master?"

Sancho recognised them at once, and determined to keep secret theplace and circumstances where and under which he had left hismaster, so he replied that his master was engaged in a certain quarteron a certain matter of great importance to him which he could notdisclose for the eyes in his head.

"Nay, nay," said the barber, "if you don't tell us where he is,Sancho Panza, we will suspect as we suspect already, that you havemurdered and robbed him, for here you are mounted on his horse; infact, you must produce the master of the hack, or else take theconsequences."

"There is no need of threats with me," said Sancho, "for I am nota man to rob or murder anybody; let his own fate, or God who made him,kill each one; my master is engaged very much to his taste doingpenance in the midst of these mountains; and then, offhand and withoutstopping, he told them how he had left him, what adventures hadbefallen him, and how he was carrying a letter to the lady Dulcineadel Toboso, the daughter of Lorenzo Corchuelo, with whom he was overhead and ears in love. They were both amazed at what Sancho Panza toldthem; for though they were aware of Don Quixote's madness and thenature of it, each time they heard of it they were filled with freshwonder. They then asked Sancho Panza to show them the letter he wascarrying to the lady Dulcinea del Toboso. He said it was written ina note-book, and that his master's directions were that he should haveit copied on paper at the first village he came to. On this the curatesaid if he showed it to him, he himself would make a fair copy ofit. Sancho put his hand into his bosom in search of the note-bookbut could not find it, nor, if he had been searching until now,could he have found it, for Don Quixote had kept it, and had nevergiven it to him, nor had he himself thought of asking for it. WhenSancho discovered he could not find the book his face grew deadlypale, and in great haste he again felt his body all over, and seeingplainly it was not to be found, without more ado he seized his beardwith both hands and plucked away half of it, and then, as quick ashe could and without stopping, gave himself half a dozen cuffs onthe face and nose till they were bathed in blood.

Seeing this, the curate and the barber asked him what had happenedhim that he gave himself such rough treatment.

"What should happen me?" replied Sancho, "but to have lost fromone hand to the other, in a moment, three ass-colts, each of them likea castle?"

"How is that?" said the barber.

"I have lost the note-book," said Sancho, "that contained the letterto Dulcinea, and an order signed by my master in which he directed hisniece to give me three ass-colts out of four or five he had athome;" and he then told them about the loss of Dapple.

The curate consoled him, telling him that when his master wasfound he would get him to renew the order, and make a fresh draft onpaper, as was usual and customary; for those made in notebooks werenever accepted or honoured.

Sancho comforted himself with this, and said if that were so theloss of Dulcinea's letter did not trouble him much, for he had italmost by heart, and it could be taken down from him wherever andwhenever they liked.

"Repeat it then, Sancho," said the barber, "and we will write itdown afterwards."

Sancho Panza stopped to scratch his head to bring back the letter tohis memory, and balanced himself now on one foot, now the other, onemoment staring at the ground, the next at the sky, and after havinghalf gnawed off the end of a finger and kept them in suspensewaiting for him to begin, he said, after a long pause, "By God,senor licentiate, devil a thing can I recollect of the letter; butit said at the beginning, 'Exalted and scrubbing Lady.'"

"It cannot have said 'scrubbing,'" said the barber, "but'superhuman' or 'sovereign.'"

"That is it," said Sancho; "then, as well as I remember, it went on,'The wounded, and wanting of sleep, and the pierced, kisses yourworship's hands, ungrateful and very unrecognised fair one; and itsaid something or other about health and sickness that he wassending her; and from that it went tailing off until it ended with'Yours till death, the Knight of the Rueful Countenance."

It gave them no little amusement, both of them, to see what a goodmemory Sancho had, and they complimented him greatly upon it, andbegged him to repeat the letter a couple of times more, so that theytoo might get it by heart to write it out by-and-by. Sancho repeatedit three times, and as he did, uttered three thousand moreabsurdities; then he told them more about his master but he never saida word about the blanketing that had befallen himself in that inn,into which he refused to enter. He told them, moreover, how hislord, if he brought him a favourable answer from the lady Dulcinea delToboso, was to put himself in the way of endeavouring to become anemperor, or at least a monarch; for it had been so settled betweenthem, and with his personal worth and the might of his arm it was aneasy matter to come to be one: and how on becoming one his lord was tomake a marriage for him (for he would be a widower by that time, asa matter of course) and was to give him as a wife one of the damselsof the empress, the heiress of some rich and grand state on themainland, having nothing to do with islands of any sort, for he didnot care for them now. All this Sancho delivered with so muchcomposure- wiping his nose from time to time- and with so littlecommon-sense that his two hearers were again filled with wonder at theforce of Don Quixote's madness that could run away with this poorman's reason. They did not care to take the trouble of disabusinghim of his error, as they considered that since it did not in anyway hurt his conscience it would be better to leave him in it, andthey would have all the more amusement in listening to hissimplicities; and so they bade him pray to God for his lord'shealth, as it was a very likely and a very feasible thing for him incourse of time to come to be an emperor, as he said, or at least anarchbishop or some other dignitary of equal rank.

To which Sancho made answer, "If fortune, sirs, should bringthings about in such a way that my master should have a mind,instead of being an emperor, to be an archbishop, I should like toknow what archbishops-errant commonly give their squires?"

"They commonly give them," said the curate, some simple beneficeor cure, or some place as sacristan which brings them a good fixedincome, not counting the altar fees, which may be reckoned at asmuch more."

"But for that," said Sancho, "the squire must be unmarried, and mustknow, at any rate, how to help at mass, and if that be so, woe isme, for I am married already and I don't know the first letter ofthe A B C. What will become of me if my master takes a fancy to bean archbishop and not an emperor, as is usual and customary withknights-errant?"

"Be not uneasy, friend Sancho," said the barber, "for we willentreat your master, and advise him, even urging it upon him as a caseof conscience, to become an emperor and not an archbishop, becauseit will be easier for him as he is more valiant than lettered."

"So I have thought," said Sancho; "though I can tell you he is fitfor anything: what I mean to do for my part is to pray to our Lordto place him where it may be best for him, and where he may be able tobestow most favours upon me."

"You speak like a man of sense," said the curate, "and you will beacting like a good Christian; but what must now be done is to takesteps to coax your master out of that useless penance you say he isperforming; and we had best turn into this inn to consider what planto adopt, and also to dine, for it is now time."

Sancho said they might go in, but that he would wait thereoutside, and that he would tell them afterwards the reason why hewas unwilling, and why it did not suit him to enter it; but bebegged them to bring him out something to eat, and to let it be hot,and also to bring barley for Rocinante. They left him and went in, andpresently the barber brought him out something to eat. By-and-by,after they had between them carefully thought over what they should doto carry out their object, the curate hit upon an idea very welladapted to humour Don Quixote, and effect their purpose; and hisnotion, which he explained to the barber, was that he himself shouldassume the disguise of a wandering damsel, while the other shouldtry as best he could to pass for a squire, and that they should thusproceed to where Don Quixote was, and he, pretending to be anaggrieved and distressed damsel, should ask a favour of him, whichas a valiant knight-errant he could not refuse to grant; and thefavour he meant to ask him was that he should accompany her whithershe would conduct him, in order to redress a wrong which a wickedknight had done her, while at the same time she should entreat him notto require her to remove her mask, nor ask her any question touchingher circumstances until he had righted her with the wicked knight. Andhe had no doubt that Don Quixote would comply with any request made inthese terms, and that in this way they might remove him and take himto his own village, where they would endeavour to find out if hisextraordinary madness admitted of any kind of remedy.



The curate's plan did not seem a bad one to the barber, but on thecontrary so good that they immediately set about putting it inexecution. They begged a petticoat and hood of the landlady, leavingher in pledge a new cassock of the curate's; and the barber made abeard out of a grey-brown or red ox-tail in which the landlord used tostick his comb. The landlady asked them what they wanted thesethings for, and the curate told her in a few words about the madnessof Don Quixote, and how this disguise was intended to get him awayfrom the mountain where he then was. The landlord and landladyimmediately came to the conclusion that the madman was their guest,the balsam man and master of the blanketed squire, and they told thecurate all that had passed between him and them, not omitting whatSancho had been so silent about. Finally the landlady dressed up thecurate in a style that left nothing to be desired; she put on him acloth petticoat with black velvet stripes a palm broad, all slashed,and a bodice of green velvet set off by a binding of white satin,which as well as the petticoat must have been made in the time of kingWamba. The curate would not let them hood him, but put on his head alittle quilted linen cap which he used for a night-cap, and boundhis forehead with a strip of black silk, while with another he madea mask with which he concealed his beard and face very well. He thenput on his hat, which was broad enough to serve him for an umbrella,and enveloping himself in his cloak seated himself woman-fashion onhis mule, while the barber mounted his with a beard down to thewaist of mingled red and white, for it was, as has been said, the tailof a clay-red ox.

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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