Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 63)

"Then it will be necessary to waken him and take him with us,"said the renegade, "and everything of value in this fair mansion."

"Nay," said she, "my father must not on any account be touched,and there is nothing in the house except what I shall take, and thatwill be quite enough to enrich and satisfy all of you; wait a littleand you shall see," and so saying she went in, telling us she wouldreturn immediately and bidding us keep quiet making any noise.

I asked the renegade what had passed between them, and when hetold me, I declared that nothing should be done except in accordancewith the wishes of Zoraida, who now came back with a little trunk sofull of gold crowns that she could scarcely carry it. Unfortunatelyher father awoke while this was going on, and hearing a noise in thegarden, came to the window, and at once perceiving that all thosewho were there were Christians, raising a prodigiously loud outcry, hebegan to call out in Arabic, "Christians, Christians! thieves,thieves!" by which cries we were all thrown into the greatest fear andembarrassment; but the renegade seeing the danger we were in and howimportant it was for him to effect his purpose before we were heard,mounted with the utmost quickness to where Hadji Morato was, andwith him went some of our party; I, however, did not dare to leaveZoraida, who had fallen almost fainting in my arms. To be brief, thosewho had gone upstairs acted so promptly that in an instant they camedown, carrying Hadji Morato with his hands bound and a napkin tiedover his mouth, which prevented him from uttering a word, warninghim at the same time that to attempt to speak would cost him his life.When his daughter caught sight of him she covered her eyes so as notto see him, and her father was horror-stricken, not knowing howwillingly she had placed herself in our hands. But it was now mostessential for us to be on the move, and carefully and quickly weregained the vessel, where those who had remained on board werewaiting for us in apprehension of some mishap having befallen us. Itwas barely two hours after night set in when we were all on boardthe vessel, where the cords were removed from the hands of Zoraida'sfather, and the napkin from his mouth; but the renegade once more toldhim not to utter a word, or they would take his life. He, when hesaw his daughter there, began to sigh piteously, and still more whenhe perceived that I held her closely embraced and that she lay quietwithout resisting or complaining, or showing any reluctance;nevertheless he remained silent lest they should carry into effect therepeated threats the renegade had addressed to him.

Finding herself now on board, and that we were about to give waywith the oars, Zoraida, seeing her father there, and the other Moorsbound, bade the renegade ask me to do her the favour of releasingthe Moors and setting her father at liberty, for she would ratherdrown herself in the sea than suffer a father that had loved her sodearly to be carried away captive before her eyes and on heraccount. The renegade repeated this to me, and I replied that I wasvery willing to do so; but he replied that it was not advisable,because if they were left there they would at once raise the countryand stir up the city, and lead to the despatch of swift cruisers inpursuit, and our being taken, by sea or land, without anypossibility of escape; and that all that could be done was to set themfree on the first Christian ground we reached. On this point we allagreed; and Zoraida, to whom it was explained, together with thereasons that prevented us from doing at once what she desired, wassatisfied likewise; and then in glad silence and with cheerfulalacrity each of our stout rowers took his oar, and commendingourselves to God with all our hearts, we began to shape our course forthe island of Majorca, the nearest Christian land. Owing, however,to the Tramontana rising a little, and the sea growing somewhat rough,it was impossible for us to keep a straight course for Majorca, and wewere compelled to coast in the direction of Oran, not without greatuneasiness on our part lest we should be observed from the town ofShershel, which lies on that coast, not more than sixty miles fromAlgiers. Moreover we were afraid of meeting on that course one ofthe galliots that usually come with goods from Tetuan; although eachof us for himself and all of us together felt confident that, if wewere to meet a merchant galliot, so that it were not a cruiser, notonly should we not be lost, but that we should take a vessel inwhich we could more safely accomplish our voyage. As we pursued ourcourse Zoraida kept her head between my hands so as not to see herfather, and I felt that she was praying to Lela Marien to help us.

We might have made about thirty miles when daybreak found us somethree musket-shots off the land, which seemed to us deserted, andwithout anyone to see us. For all that, however, by hard rowing we putout a little to sea, for it was now somewhat calmer, and having gainedabout two leagues the word was given to row by batches, while we atesomething, for the vessel was well provided; but the rowers said itwas not a time to take any rest; let food be served out to those whowere not rowing, but they would not leave their oars on any account.This was done, but now a stiff breeze began to blow, which obligedus to leave off rowing and make sail at once and steer for Oran, as itwas impossible to make any other course. All this was done verypromptly, and under sail we ran more than eight miles an hourwithout any fear, except that of coming across some vessel out on aroving expedition. We gave the Moorish rowers some food, and therenegade comforted them by telling them that they were not held ascaptives, as we should set them free on the first opportunity.

The same was said to Zoraida's father, who replied, "Anythingelse, Christian, I might hope for or think likely from your generosityand good behaviour, but do not think me so simple as to imagine youwill give me my liberty; for you would have never exposed yourselvesto the danger of depriving me of it only to restore it to me sogenerously, especially as you know who I am and the sum you may expectto receive on restoring it; and if you will only name that, I hereoffer you all you require for myself and for my unhappy daughterthere; or else for her alone, for she is the greatest and mostprecious part of my soul."

As he said this he began to weep so bitterly that he filled us allwith compassion and forced Zoraida to look at him, and when she sawhim weeping she was so moved that she rose from my feet and ran tothrow her arms round him, and pressing her face to his, they both gaveway to such an outburst of tears that several of us were constrainedto keep them company.

But when her father saw her in full dress and with all her jewelsabout her, he said to her in his own language, "What means this, mydaughter? Last night, before this terrible misfortune in which weare plunged befell us, I saw thee in thy everyday and indoor garments;and now, without having had time to attire thyself, and without mybringing thee any joyful tidings to furnish an occasion for adorningand bedecking thyself, I see thee arrayed in the finest attire itwould be in my power to give thee when fortune was most kind to us.Answer me this; for it causes me greater anxiety and surprise thaneven this misfortune itself."

The renegade interpreted to us what the Moor said to his daughter;she, however, returned him no answer. But when he observed in onecorner of the vessel the little trunk in which she used to keep herjewels, which he well knew he had left in Algiers and had notbrought to the garden, he was still more amazed, and asked her howthat trunk had come into our hands, and what there was in it. To whichthe renegade, without waiting for Zoraida to reply, made answer, "Donot trouble thyself by asking thy daughter Zoraida so manyquestions, senor, for the one answer I will give thee will serve forall; I would have thee know that she is a Christian, and that it isshe who has been the file for our chains and our deliverer fromcaptivity. She is here of her own free will, as glad, I imagine, tofind herself in this position as he who escapes from darkness into thelight, from death to life, and from suffering to glory."

"Daughter, is this true, what he says?" cried the Moor.

"It is," replied Zoraida.

"That thou art in truth a Christian," said the old man, "and thatthou hast given thy father into the power of his enemies?"

To which Zoraida made answer, "A Christian I am, but it is not I whohave placed thee in this position, for it never was my wish to leavethee or do thee harm, but only to do good to myself."

"And what good hast thou done thyself, daughter?" said he.

"Ask thou that," said she, "of Lela Marien, for she can tell theebetter than I."

The Moor had hardly heard these words when with marvellous quicknesshe flung himself headforemost into the sea, where no doubt he wouldhave been drowned had not the long and full dress he wore held himup for a little on the surface of the water. Zoraida cried aloud to usto save him, and we all hastened to help, and seizing him by hisrobe we drew him in half drowned and insensible, at which Zoraidawas in such distress that she wept over him as piteously andbitterly as though he were already dead. We turned him upon his faceand he voided a great quantity of water, and at the end of two hourscame to himself. Meanwhile, the wind having changed we werecompelled to head for the land, and ply our oars to avoid being drivenon shore; but it was our good fortune to reach a creek that lies onone side of a small promontory or cape, called by the Moors that ofthe "Cava rumia," which in our language means "the wicked Christianwoman;" for it is a tradition among them that La Cava, through whomSpain was lost, lies buried at that spot; "cava" in their languagemeaning "wicked woman," and "rumia" "Christian;" moreover, theycount it unlucky to anchor there when necessity compels them, and theynever do so otherwise. For us, however, it was not the resting-placeof the wicked woman but a haven of safety for our relief, so muchhad the sea now got up. We posted a look-out on shore, and never letthe oars out of our hands, and ate of the stores the renegade had laidin, imploring God and Our Lady with all our hearts to help and protectus, that we might give a happy ending to a beginning so prosperous. Atthe entreaty of Zoraida orders were given to set on shore her fatherand the other Moors who were still bound, for she could not endure,nor could her tender heart bear to see her father in bonds and herfellow-countrymen prisoners before her eyes. We promised her to dothis at the moment of departure, for as it was uninhabited we ran norisk in releasing them at that place.

Our prayers were not so far in vain as to be unheard by Heaven,for after a while the wind changed in our favour, and made the seacalm, inviting us once more to resume our voyage with a good heart.Seeing this we unbound the Moors, and one by one put them on shore, atwhich they were filled with amazement; but when we came to landZoraida's father, who had now completely recovered his senses, hesaid:

"Why is it, think ye, Christians, that this wicked woman is rejoicedat your giving me my liberty? Think ye it is because of theaffection she bears me? Nay verily, it is only because of thehindrance my presence offers to the execution of her base designs. Andthink not that it is her belief that yours is better than ours thathas led her to change her religion; it is only because she knowsthat immodesty is more freely practised in your country than in ours."Then turning to Zoraida, while I and another of the Christians heldhim fast by both arms, lest he should do some mad act, he said to her,"Infamous girl, misguided maiden, whither in thy blindness and madnessart thou going in the hands of these dogs, our natural enemies? Cursedbe the hour when I begot thee! Cursed the luxury and indulgence inwhich I reared thee!"

But seeing that he was not likely soon to cease I made haste toput him on shore, and thence he continued his maledictions andlamentations aloud; calling on Mohammed to pray to Allah to destroyus, to confound us, to make an end of us; and when, in consequenceof having made sail, we could no longer hear what he said we could seewhat he did; how he plucked out his beard and tore his hair and laywrithing on the ground. But once he raised his voice to such a pitchthat we were able to hear what he said. "Come back, dear daughter,come back to shore; I forgive thee all; let those men have themoney, for it is theirs now, and come back to comfort thy sorrowingfather, who will yield up his life on this barren strand if thoudost leave him."

All this Zoraida heard, and heard with sorrow and tears, and all shecould say in answer was, "Allah grant that Lela Marien, who has mademe become a Christian, give thee comfort in thy sorrow, my father.Allah knows that I could not do otherwise than I have done, and thatthese Christians owe nothing to my will; for even had I wished notto accompany them, but remain at home, it would have been impossiblefor me, so eagerly did my soul urge me on to the accomplishment ofthis purpose, which I feel to be as righteous as to thee, dear father,it seems wicked."

But neither could her father hear her nor we see him when she saidthis; and so, while I consoled Zoraida, we turned our attention to ourvoyage, in which a breeze from the right point so favoured us thatwe made sure of finding ourselves off the coast of Spain on the morrowby daybreak. But, as good seldom or never comes pure and unmixed,without being attended or followed by some disturbing evil thatgives a shock to it, our fortune, or perhaps the curses which the Moorhad hurled at his daughter (for whatever kind of father they maycome from these are always to be dreaded), brought it about thatwhen we were now in mid-sea, and the night about three hours spent, aswe were running with all sail set and oars lashed, for the favouringbreeze saved us the trouble of using them, we saw by the light ofthe moon, which shone brilliantly, a square-rigged vessel in full sailclose to us, luffing up and standing across our course, and so closethat we had to strike sail to avoid running foul of her, while theytoo put the helm hard up to let us pass. They came to the side ofthe ship to ask who we were, whither we were bound, and whence wecame, but as they asked this in French our renegade said, "Let noone answer, for no doubt these are French corsairs who plunder allcomers." Acting on this warning no one answered a word, but after wehad gone a little ahead, and the vessel was now lying to leeward,suddenly they fired two guns, and apparently both loaded withchain-shot, for with one they cut our mast in half and brought downboth it and the sail into the sea, and the other, discharged at thesame moment, sent a ball into our vessel amidships, staving her incompletely, but without doing any further damage. We, however, findingourselves sinking began to shout for help and call upon those in theship to pick us up as we were beginning to fill. They then lay to, andlowering a skiff or boat, as many as a dozen Frenchmen, well armedwith match-locks, and their matches burning, got into it and camealongside; and seeing how few we were, and that our vessel was goingdown, they took us in, telling us that this had come to us through ourincivility in not giving them an answer. Our renegade took the trunkcontaining Zoraida's wealth and dropped it into the sea without anyoneperceiving what he did. In short we went on board with theFrenchmen, who, after having ascertained all they wanted to know aboutus, rifled us of everything we had, as if they had been ourbitterest enemies, and from Zoraida they took even the anklets shewore on her feet; but the distress they caused her did not distress meso much as the fear I was in that from robbing her of her rich andprecious jewels they would proceed to rob her of the most preciousjewel that she valued more than all. The desires, however, of thosepeople do not go beyond money, but of that their covetousness isinsatiable, and on this occasion it was carried to such a pitch thatthey would have taken even the clothes we wore as captives if they hadbeen worth anything to them. It was the advice of some of them tothrow us all into the sea wrapped up in a sail; for their purposewas to trade at some of the ports of Spain, giving themselves out asBretons, and if they brought us alive they would be punished as soonas the robbery was discovered; but the captain (who was the one whohad plundered my beloved Zoraida) said he was satisfied with the prizehe had got, and that he would not touch at any Spanish port, butpass the Straits of Gibraltar by night, or as best he could, andmake for La Rochelle, from which he had sailed. So they agreed bycommon consent to give us the skiff belonging to their ship and all werequired for the short voyage that remained to us, and this they didthe next day on coming in sight of the Spanish coast, with which,and the joy we felt, all our sufferings and miseries were ascompletely forgotten as if they had never been endured by us, suchis the delight of recovering lost liberty.

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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