Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 66)

"Say no more, Dona Clara," said Dorothea at this, at the same timekissing her a thousand times over, "say no more, I tell you, butwait till day comes; when I trust in God to arrange this affair ofyours so that it may have the happy ending such an innocentbeginning deserves."

"Ah, senora," said Dona Clara, "what end can be hoped for when hisfather is of such lofty position, and so wealthy, that he wouldthink I was not fit to be even a servant to his son, much less wife?And as to marrying without the knowledge of my father, I would notdo it for all the world. I would not ask anything more than thatthis youth should go back and leave me; perhaps with not seeing him,and the long distance we shall have to travel, the pain I suffer nowmay become easier; though I daresay the remedy I propose will do mevery little good. I don't know how the devil this has come about, orhow this love I have for him got in; I such a young girl, and hesuch a mere boy; for I verily believe we are both of an age, and Iam not sixteen yet; for I will be sixteen Michaelmas Day, next, myfather says."

Dorothea could not help laughing to hear how like a child Dona Claraspoke. "Let us go to sleep now, senora," said she, "for the littleof the night that I fancy is left to us: God will soon send usdaylight, and we will set all to rights, or it will go hard with me."

With this they fell asleep, and deep silence reigned all through theinn. The only persons not asleep were the landlady's daughter andher servant Maritornes, who, knowing the weak point of Don Quixote'shumour, and that he was outside the inn mounting guard in armour andon horseback, resolved, the pair of them, to play some trick upon him,or at any rate to amuse themselves for a while by listening to hisnonsense. As it so happened there was not a window in the whole innthat looked outwards except a hole in the wall of a straw-loft throughwhich they used to throw out the straw. At this hole the twodemi-damsels posted themselves, and observed Don Quixote on his horse,leaning on his pike and from time to time sending forth such deepand doleful sighs, that he seemed to pluck up his soul by the rootswith each of them; and they could hear him, too, saying in a soft,tender, loving tone, "Oh my lady Dulcinea del Toboso, perfection ofall beauty, summit and crown of discretion, treasure house of grace,depositary of virtue, and finally, ideal of all that is good,honourable, and delectable in this world! What is thy grace doing now?Art thou, perchance, mindful of thy enslaved knight who of his ownfree will hath exposed himself to so great perils, and all to servethee? Give me tidings of her, oh luminary of the three faces!Perhaps at this moment, envious of hers, thou art regarding her,either as she paces to and fro some gallery of her sumptuouspalaces, or leans over some balcony, meditating how, whilst preservingher purity and greatness, she may mitigate the tortures thiswretched heart of mine endures for her sake, what glory shouldrecompense my sufferings, what repose my toil, and lastly what deathmy life, and what reward my services? And thou, oh sun, that art nowdoubtless harnessing thy steeds in haste to rise betimes and comeforth to see my lady; when thou seest her I entreat of thee tosalute her on my behalf: but have a care, when thou shalt see herand salute her, that thou kiss not her face; for I shall be morejealous of thee than thou wert of that light-footed ingrate thatmade thee sweat and run so on the plains of Thessaly, or on thebanks of the Peneus (for I do not exactly recollect where it wasthou didst run on that occasion) in thy jealousy and love."

Don Quixote had got so far in his pathetic speech when thelandlady's daughter began to signal to him, saying, "Senor, comeover here, please."

At these signals and voice Don Quixote turned his head and saw bythe light of the moon, which then was in its full splendour, that someone was calling to him from the hole in the wall, which seemed tohim to be a window, and what is more, with a gilt grating, as richcastles, such as he believed the inn to be, ought to have; and itimmediately suggested itself to his imagination that, as on the formeroccasion, the fair damsel, the daughter of the lady of the castle,overcome by love for him, was once more endeavouring to win hisaffections; and with this idea, not to show himself discourteous, orungrateful, he turned Rocinante's head and approached the hole, and ashe perceived the two wenches he said:

"I pity you, beauteous lady, that you should have directed yourthoughts of love to a quarter from whence it is impossible that such areturn can be made to you as is due to your great merit and gentlebirth, for which you must not blame this unhappy knight-errant whomlove renders incapable of submission to any other than her whom, thefirst moment his eyes beheld her, he made absolute mistress of hissoul. Forgive me, noble lady, and retire to your apartment, and donot, by any further declaration of your passion, compel me to showmyself more ungrateful; and if, of the love you bear me, you shouldfind that there is anything else in my power wherein I can gratifyyou, provided it be not love itself, demand it of me; for I swear toyou by that sweet absent enemy of mine to grant it this instant,though it be that you require of me a lock of Medusa's hair, which wasall snakes, or even the very beams of the sun shut up in a vial."

"My mistress wants nothing of that sort, sir knight," saidMaritornes at this.

"What then, discreet dame, is it that your mistress wants?"replied Don Quixote.

"Only one of your fair hands," said Maritornes, "to enable her tovent over it the great passion passion which has brought her to thisloophole, so much to the risk of her honour; for if the lord herfather had heard her, the least slice he would cut off her would beher ear."

"I should like to see that tried," said Don Quixote; "but he hadbetter beware of that, if he does not want to meet the most disastrousend that ever father in the world met for having laid hands on thetender limbs of a love-stricken daughter."

Maritornes felt sure that Don Quixote would present the hand she hadasked, and making up her mind what to do, she got down from the holeand went into the stable, where she took the halter of SanchoPanza's ass, and in all haste returned to the hole, just as DonQuixote had planted himself standing on Rocinante's saddle in order toreach the grated window where he supposed the lovelorn damsel to be;and giving her his hand, he said, "Lady, take this hand, or ratherthis scourge of the evil-doers of the earth; take, I say, this handwhich no other hand of woman has ever touched, not even hers who hascomplete possession of my entire body. I present it to you, not thatyou may kiss it, but that you may observe the contexture of thesinews, the close network of the muscles, the breadth and capacityof the veins, whence you may infer what must be the strength of thearm that has such a hand."

"That we shall see presently," said Maritornes, and making a runningknot on the halter, she passed it over his wrist and coming downfrom the hole tied the other end very firmly to the bolt of the doorof the straw-loft.

Don Quixote, feeling the roughness of the rope on his wrist,exclaimed, "Your grace seems to be grating rather than caressing myhand; treat it not so harshly, for it is not to blame for theoffence my resolution has given you, nor is it just to wreak allyour vengeance on so small a part; remember that one who loves so wellshould not revenge herself so cruelly."

But there was nobody now to listen to these words of DonQuixote's, for as soon as Maritornes had tied him she and the othermade off, ready to die with laughing, leaving him fastened in such away that it was impossible for him to release himself.

He was, as has been said, standing on Rocinante, with his arm passedthrough the hole and his wrist tied to the bolt of the door, and inmighty fear and dread of being left hanging by the arm if Rocinantewere to stir one side or the other; so he did not dare to make theleast movement, although from the patience and imperturbabledisposition of Rocinante, he had good reason to expect that he wouldstand without budging for a whole century. Finding himself fast, then,and that the ladies had retired, he began to fancy that all this wasdone by enchantment, as on the former occasion when in that samecastle that enchanted Moor of a carrier had belaboured him; and hecursed in his heart his own want of sense and judgment in venturing toenter the castle again, after having come off so badly the first time;it being a settled point with knights-errant that when they have triedan adventure, and have not succeeded in it, it is a sign that it isnot reserved for them but for others, and that therefore they need nottry it again. Nevertheless he pulled his arm to see if he couldrelease himself, but it had been made so fast that all his effortswere in vain. It is true he pulled it gently lest Rocinante shouldmove, but try as he might to seat himself in the saddle, he hadnothing for it but to stand upright or pull his hand off. Then itwas he wished for the sword of Amadis, against which no enchantmentwhatever had any power; then he cursed his ill fortune; then hemagnified the loss the world would sustain by his absence while heremained there enchanted, for that he believed he was beyond alldoubt; then he once more took to thinking of his beloved Dulcineadel Toboso; then he called to his worthy squire Sancho Panza, who,buried in sleep and stretched upon the pack-saddle of his ass, wasoblivious, at that moment, of the mother that bore him; then he calledupon the sages Lirgandeo and Alquife to come to his aid; then heinvoked his good friend Urganda to succour him; and then, at last,morning found him in such a state of desperation and perplexity thathe was bellowing like a bull, for he had no hope that day wouldbring any relief to his suffering, which he believed would last forever, inasmuch as he was enchanted; and of this he was convinced byseeing that Rocinante never stirred, much or little, and he feltpersuaded that he and his horse were to remain in this state,without eating or drinking or sleeping, until the malign influenceof the stars was overpast, or until some other more sage enchantershould disenchant him.

But he was very much deceived in this conclusion, for daylight hadhardly begun to appear when there came up to the inn four men onhorseback, well equipped and accoutred, with firelocks across theirsaddle-bows. They called out and knocked loudly at the gate of theinn, which was still shut; on seeing which, Don Quixote, even therewhere he was, did not forget to act as sentinel, and said in a loudand imperious tone, "Knights, or squires, or whatever ye be, ye haveno right to knock at the gates of this castle; for it is plainenough that they who are within are either asleep, or else are notin the habit of throwing open the fortress until the sun's rays arespread over the whole surface of the earth. Withdraw to a distance,and wait till it is broad daylight, and then we shall see whether itwill be proper or not to open to you."

"What the devil fortress or castle is this," said one, "to make usstand on such ceremony? If you are the innkeeper bid them open tous; we are travellers who only want to feed our horses and go on,for we are in haste."

"Do you think, gentlemen, that I look like an innkeeper?" said DonQuixote.

"I don't know what you look like," replied the other; "but I knowthat you are talking nonsense when you call this inn a castle."

"A castle it is," returned Don Quixote, "nay, more, one of thebest in this whole province, and it has within it people who havehad the sceptre in the hand and the crown on the head."

"It would be better if it were the other way," said the traveller,"the sceptre on the head and the crown in the hand; but if so, maybe there is within some company of players, with whom it is a commonthing to have those crowns and sceptres you speak of; for in such asmall inn as this, and where such silence is kept, I do not believeany people entitled to crowns and sceptres can have taken up theirquarters."

"You know but little of the world," returned Don Quixote, "since youare ignorant of what commonly occurs in knight-errantry."

But the comrades of the spokesman, growing weary of the dialoguewith Don Quixote, renewed their knocks with great vehemence, so muchso that the host, and not only he but everybody in the inn, awoke, andhe got up to ask who knocked. It happened at this moment that one ofthe horses of the four who were seeking admittance went to smellRocinante, who melancholy, dejected, and with drooping ears stoodmotionless, supporting his sorely stretched master; and as he was,after all, flesh, though he looked as if he were made of wood, hecould not help giving way and in return smelling the one who had cometo offer him attentions. But he had hardly moved at all when DonQuixote lost his footing; and slipping off the saddle, he would havecome to the ground, but for being suspended by the arm, which causedhim such agony that he believed either his wrist would be cut throughor his arm torn off; and he hung so near the ground that he could justtouch it with his feet, which was all the worse for him; for, findinghow little was wanted to enable him to plant his feet firmly, hestruggled and stretched himself as much as he could to gain a footing;just like those undergoing the torture of the strappado, when they arefixed at "touch and no touch," who aggravate their own sufferings bytheir violent efforts to stretch themselves, deceived by the hopewhich makes them fancy that with a very little more they will reachthe ground.



So loud, in fact, were the shouts of Don Quixote, that thelandlord opening the gate of the inn in all haste, came out in dismay,and ran to see who was uttering such cries, and those who were outsidejoined him. Maritornes, who had been by this time roused up by thesame outcry, suspecting what it was, ran to the loft and, withoutanyone seeing her, untied the halter by which Don Quixote wassuspended, and down he came to the ground in the sight of the landlordand the travellers, who approaching asked him what was the matter withhim that he shouted so. He without replying a word took the rope offhis wrist, and rising to his feet leaped upon Rocinante, braced hisbuckler on his arm, put his lance in rest, and making a considerablecircuit of the plain came back at a half-gallop exclaiming:

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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