Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 67)

"Whoever shall say that I have been enchanted with just cause,provided my lady the Princess Micomicona grants me permission to doso, I give him the lie, challenge him and defy him to single combat."

The newly arrived travellers were amazed at the words of DonQuixote; but the landlord removed their surprise by telling them whohe was, and not to mind him as he was out of his senses. They thenasked the landlord if by any chance a youth of about fifteen yearsof age had come to that inn, one dressed like a muleteer, and ofsuch and such an appearance, describing that of Dona Clara's lover.The landlord replied that there were so many people in the inn hehad not noticed the person they were inquiring for; but one of themobserving the coach in which the Judge had come, said, "He is hereno doubt, for this is the coach he is following: let one of us stay atthe gate, and the rest go in to look for him; or indeed it would be aswell if one of us went round the inn, lest he should escape over thewall of the yard." "So be it," said another; and while two of themwent in, one remained at the gate and the other made the circuit ofthe inn; observing all which, the landlord was unable to conjecturefor what reason they were taking all these precautions, though heunderstood they were looking for the youth whose description theyhad given him.

It was by this time broad daylight; and for that reason, as wellas in consequence of the noise Don Quixote had made, everybody wasawake and up, but particularly Dona Clara and Dorothea; for they hadbeen able to sleep but badly that night, the one from agitation athaving her lover so near her, the other from curiosity to see him. DonQuixote, when he saw that not one of the four travellers took anynotice of him or replied to his challenge, was furious and ready todie with indignation and wrath; and if he could have found in theordinances of chivalry that it was lawful for a knight-errant toundertake or engage in another enterprise, when he had plighted hisword and faith not to involve himself in any until he had made anend of the one to which he was pledged, he would have attacked thewhole of them, and would have made them return an answer in spite ofthemselves. But considering that it would not become him, nor beright, to begin any new emprise until he had established Micomicona inher kingdom, he was constrained to hold his peace and wait quietlyto see what would be the upshot of the proceedings of those sametravellers; one of whom found the youth they were seeking lying asleepby the side of a muleteer, without a thought of anyone coming insearch of him, much less finding him.

The man laid hold of him by the arm, saying, "It becomes you wellindeed, Senor Don Luis, to be in the dress you wear, and well thebed in which I find you agrees with the luxury in which your motherreared you."

The youth rubbed his sleepy eyes and stared for a while at him whoheld him, but presently recognised him as one of his father'sservants, at which he was so taken aback that for some time he couldnot find or utter a word; while the servant went on to say, "Thereis nothing for it now, Senor Don Luis, but to submit quietly andreturn home, unless it is your wish that my lord, your father,should take his departure for the other world, for nothing else can bethe consequence of the grief he is in at your absence."

"But how did my father know that I had gone this road and in thisdress?" said Don Luis.

"It was a student to whom you confided your intentions," answeredthe servant, "that disclosed them, touched with pity at the distresshe saw your father suffer on missing you; he therefore despatched fourof his servants in quest of you, and here we all are at yourservice, better pleased than you can imagine that we shall return sosoon and be able to restore you to those eyes that so yearn for you."

"That shall be as I please, or as heaven orders," returned Don Luis.

"What can you please or heaven order," said the other, "except toagree to go back? Anything else is impossible."

All this conversation between the two was overheard by themuleteer at whose side Don Luis lay, and rising, he went to reportwhat had taken place to Don Fernando, Cardenio, and the others, whohad by this time dressed themselves; and told them how the man hadaddressed the youth as "Don," and what words had passed, and how hewanted him to return to his father, which the youth was unwilling todo. With this, and what they already knew of the rare voice thatheaven had bestowed upon him, they all felt very anxious to knowmore particularly who he was, and even to help him if it was attemptedto employ force against him; so they hastened to where he was stilltalking and arguing with his servant. Dorothea at this instant cameout of her room, followed by Dona Clara all in a tremor; and callingCardenio aside, she told him in a few words the story of themusician and Dona Clara, and he at the same time told her what hadhappened, how his father's servants had come in search of him; butin telling her so, he did not speak low enough but that Dona Claraheard what he said, at which she was so much agitated that had notDorothea hastened to support her she would have fallen to theground. Cardenio then bade Dorothea return to her room, as he wouldendeavour to make the whole matter right, and they did as hedesired. All the four who had come in quest of Don Luis had now comeinto the inn and surrounded him, urging him to return and consolehis father at once and without a moment's delay. He replied that hecould not do so on any account until he had concluded some business inwhich his life, honour, and heart were at stake. The servantspressed him, saying that most certainly they would not returnwithout him, and that they would take him away whether he liked itor not.

"You shall not do that," replied Don Luis, "unless you take me dead;though however you take me, it will be without life."

By this time most of those in the inn had been attracted by thedispute, but particularly Cardenio, Don Fernando, his companions,the Judge, the curate, the barber, and Don Quixote; for he nowconsidered there was no necessity for mounting guard over the castleany longer. Cardenio being already acquainted with the young man'sstory, asked the men who wanted to take him away, what object they hadin seeking to carry off this youth against his will.

"Our object," said one of the four, "is to save the life of hisfather, who is in danger of losing it through this gentleman'sdisappearance."

Upon this Don Luis exclaimed, "There is no need to make my affairspublic here; I am free, and I will return if I please; and if not,none of you shall compel me."

"Reason will compel your worship," said the man, "and if it has nopower over you, it has power over us, to make us do what we camefor, and what it is our duty to do."

"Let us hear what the whole affair is about," said the Judge atthis; but the man, who knew him as a neighbour of theirs, replied, "Doyou not know this gentleman, Senor Judge? He is the son of yourneighbour, who has run away from his father's house in a dress sounbecoming his rank, as your worship may perceive."

The judge on this looked at him more carefully and recognised him,and embracing him said, "What folly is this, Senor Don Luis, or whatcan have been the cause that could have induced you to come here inthis way, and in this dress, which so ill becomes your condition?"

Tears came into the eyes of the young man, and he was unable toutter a word in reply to the Judge, who told the four servants notto be uneasy, for all would be satisfactorily settled; and then takingDon Luis by the hand, he drew him aside and asked the reason of hishaving come there.

But while he was questioning him they heard a loud outcry at thegate of the inn, the cause of which was that two of the guests who hadpassed the night there, seeing everybody busy about finding out whatit was the four men wanted, had conceived the idea of going offwithout paying what they owed; but the landlord, who minded his ownaffairs more than other people's, caught them going out of the gateand demanded his reckoning, abusing them for their dishonesty withsuch language that he drove them to reply with their fists, and sothey began to lay on him in such a style that the poor man wasforced to cry out, and call for help. The landlady and her daughtercould see no one more free to give aid than Don Quixote, and to himthe daughter said, "Sir knight, by the virtue God has given you,help my poor father, for two wicked men are beating him to a mummy."

To which Don Quixote very deliberately and phlegmatically replied,"Fair damsel, at the present moment your request is inopportune, for Iam debarred from involving myself in any adventure until I havebrought to a happy conclusion one to which my word has pledged me; butthat which I can do for you is what I will now mention: run and tellyour father to stand his ground as well as he can in this battle,and on no account to allow himself to be vanquished, while I go andrequest permission of the Princess Micomicona to enable me tosuccour him in his distress; and if she grants it, rest assured I willrelieve him from it."

"Sinner that I am," exclaimed Maritornes, who stood by; "beforeyou have got your permission my master will be in the other world."

"Give me leave, senora, to obtain the permission I speak of,"returned Don Quixote; "and if I get it, it will matter very littleif he is in the other world; for I will rescue him thence in spiteof all the same world can do; or at any rate I will give you such arevenge over those who shall have sent him there that you will be morethan moderately satisfied;" and without saying anything more he wentand knelt before Dorothea, requesting her Highness in knightly anderrant phrase to be pleased to grant him permission to aid and succourthe castellan of that castle, who now stood in grievous jeopardy.The princess granted it graciously, and he at once, bracing hisbuckler on his arm and drawing his sword, hastened to the inn-gate,where the two guests were still handling the landlord roughly; butas soon as he reached the spot he stopped short and stood still,though Maritornes and the landlady asked him why he hesitated tohelp their master and husband.

"I hesitate," said Don Quixote, "because it is not lawful for meto draw sword against persons of squirely condition; but call mysquire Sancho to me; for this defence and vengeance are his affair andbusiness."

Thus matters stood at the inn-gate, where there was a very livelyexchange of fisticuffs and punches, to the sore damage of the landlordand to the wrath of Maritornes, the landlady, and her daughter, whowere furious when they saw the pusillanimity of Don Quixote, and thehard treatment their master, husband and father was undergoing. Butlet us leave him there; for he will surely find some one to helphim, and if not, let him suffer and hold his tongue who attemptsmore than his strength allows him to do; and let us go back fiftypaces to see what Don Luis said in reply to the Judge whom we leftquestioning him privately as to his reasons for coming on foot andso meanly dressed.

To which the youth, pressing his hand in a way that showed his heartwas troubled by some great sorrow, and shedding a flood of tears, madeanswer:

"Senor, I have no more to tell you than that from the moment when,through heaven's will and our being near neighbours, I first sawDona Clara, your daughter and my lady, from that instant I made herthe mistress of my will, and if yours, my true lord and father, offersno impediment, this very day she shall become my wife. For her Ileft my father's house, and for her I assumed this disguise, to followher whithersoever she may go, as the arrow seeks its mark or thesailor the pole-star. She knows nothing more of my passion than whatshe may have learned from having sometimes seen from a distance thatmy eyes were filled with tears. You know already, senor, the wealthand noble birth of my parents, and that I am their sole heir; ifthis be a sufficient inducement for you to venture to make mecompletely happy, accept me at once as your son; for if my father,influenced by other objects of his own, should disapprove of thishappiness I have sought for myself, time has more power to alter andchange things, than human will."

With this the love-smitten youth was silent, while the Judge,after hearing him, was astonished, perplexed, and surprised, as wellat the manner and intelligence with which Don Luis had confessed thesecret of his heart, as at the position in which he found himself, notknowing what course to take in a matter so sudden and unexpected.All the answer, therefore, he gave him was to bid him to make his mindeasy for the present, and arrange with his servants not to take himback that day, so that there might be time to consider what was bestfor all parties. Don Luis kissed his hands by force, nay, bathedthem with his tears, in a way that would have touched a heart ofmarble, not to say that of the Judge, who, as a shrewd man, hadalready perceived how advantageous the marriage would be to hisdaughter; though, were it possible, he would have preferred that itshould be brought about with the consent of the father of Don Luis,who he knew looked for a title for his son.

The guests had by this time made peace with the landlord, for, bypersuasion and Don Quixote's fair words more than by threats, they hadpaid him what he demanded, and the servants of Don Luis were waitingfor the end of the conversation with the Judge and their master'sdecision, when the devil, who never sleeps, contrived that the barber,from whom Don Quixote had taken Mambrino's helmet, and Sancho Panzathe trappings of his ass in exchange for those of his own, should atthis instant enter the inn; which said barber, as he led his ass tothe stable, observed Sancho Panza engaged in repairing something orother belonging to the pack-saddle; and the moment he saw it he knewit, and made bold to attack Sancho, exclaiming, "Ho, sir thief, I havecaught you! hand over my basin and my pack-saddle, and all mytrappings that you robbed me of."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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