Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 68)

Sancho, finding himself so unexpectedly assailed, and hearing theabuse poured upon him, seized the pack-saddle with one hand, andwith the other gave the barber a cuff that bathed his teeth inblood. The barber, however, was not so ready to relinquish the prizehe had made in the pack-saddle; on the contrary, he raised such anoutcry that everyone in the inn came running to know what the noiseand quarrel meant. "Here, in the name of the king and justice!" hecried, "this thief and highwayman wants to kill me for trying torecover my property."

"You lie," said Sancho, "I am no highwayman; it was in fair war mymaster Don Quixote won these spoils."

Don Quixote was standing by at the time, highly pleased to see hissquire's stoutness, both offensive and defensive, and from that timeforth he reckoned him a man of mettle, and in his heart resolved todub him a knight on the first opportunity that presented itself,feeling sure that the order of chivalry would be fittingly bestowedupon him.

In the course of the altercation, among other things the barbersaid, "Gentlemen, this pack-saddle is mine as surely as I owe God adeath, and I know it as well as if I had given birth to it, and hereis my ass in the stable who will not let me lie; only try it, and ifit does not fit him like a glove, call me a rascal; and what ismore, the same day I was robbed of this, they robbed me likewise ofa new brass basin, never yet handselled, that would fetch a crownany day."

At this Don Quixote could not keep himself from answering; andinterposing between the two, and separating them, he placed thepack-saddle on the ground, to lie there in sight until the truth wasestablished, and said, "Your worships may perceive clearly and plainlythe error under which this worthy squire lies when he calls a basinwhich was, is, and shall be the helmet of Mambrino which I won fromhim in air war, and made myself master of by legitimate and lawfulpossession. With the pack-saddle I do not concern myself; but I maytell you on that head that my squire Sancho asked my permission tostrip off the caparison of this vanquished poltroon's steed, andwith it adorn his own; I allowed him, and he took it; and as to itshaving been changed from a caparison into a pack-saddle, I can give noexplanation except the usual one, that such transformations willtake place in adventures of chivalry. To confirm all which, run,Sancho my son, and fetch hither the helmet which this good fellowcalls a basin."

"Egad, master," said Sancho, "if we have no other proof of ourcase than what your worship puts forward, Mambrino's helmet is just asmuch a basin as this good fellow's caparison is a pack-saddle."

"Do as I bid thee," said Don Quixote; "it cannot be thateverything in this castle goes by enchantment."

Sancho hastened to where the basin was, and brought it back withhim, and when Don Quixote saw it, he took hold of it and said:

"Your worships may see with what a face this squire can assertthat this is a basin and not the helmet I told you of; and I swearby the order of chivalry I profess, that this helmet is theidentical one I took from him, without anything added to or taken fromit."

"There is no doubt of that," said Sancho, "for from the time mymaster won it until now he has only fought one battle in it, when helet loose those unlucky men in chains; and if had not been for thisbasin-helmet he would not have come off over well that time, for therewas plenty of stone-throwing in that affair."



What do you think now, gentlemen," said the barber, "of what thesegentles say, when they want to make out that this is a helmet?"

"And whoever says the contrary," said Don Quixote, "I will let himknow he lies if he is a knight, and if he is a squire that he liesagain a thousand times."

Our own barber, who was present at all this, and understood DonQuixote's humour so thoroughly, took it into his head to back up hisdelusion and carry on the joke for the general amusement; soaddressing the other barber he said:

"Senor barber, or whatever you are, you must know that I belong toyour profession too, and have had a licence to practise for morethan twenty years, and I know the implements of the barber craft,every one of them, perfectly well; and I was likewise a soldier forsome time in the days of my youth, and I know also what a helmet is,and a morion, and a headpiece with a visor, and other thingspertaining to soldiering, I meant to say to soldiers' arms; and I say-saving better opinions and always with submission to sounder judgments-that this piece we have now before us, which this worthy gentlemanhas in his hands, not only is no barber's basin, but is as far frombeing one as white is from black, and truth from falsehood; I say,moreover, that this, although it is a helmet, is not a completehelmet."

"Certainly not," said Don Quixote, "for half of it is wanting,that is to say the beaver."

"It is quite true," said the curate, who saw the object of hisfriend the barber; and Cardenio, Don Fernando and his companionsagreed with him, and even the Judge, if his thoughts had not been sofull of Don Luis's affair, would have helped to carry on the joke; buthe was so taken up with the serious matters he had on his mind that hepaid little or no attention to these facetious proceedings.

"God bless me!" exclaimed their butt the barber at this; "is itpossible that such an honourable company can say that this is not abasin but a helmet? Why, this is a thing that would astonish a wholeuniversity, however wise it might be! That will do; if this basin is ahelmet, why, then the pack-saddle must be a horse's caparison, as thisgentleman has said."

"To me it looks like a pack-saddle," said Don Quixote; "but I havealready said that with that question I do not concern myself."

"As to whether it be pack-saddle or caparison," said the curate, "itis only for Senor Don Quixote to say; for in these matters of chivalryall these gentlemen and I bow to his authority."

"By God, gentlemen," said Don Quixote, "so many strange thingshave happened to me in this castle on the two occasions on which Ihave sojourned in it, that I will not venture to assert anythingpositively in reply to any question touching anything it contains; forit is my belief that everything that goes on within it goes byenchantment. The first time, an enchanted Moor that there is in itgave me sore trouble, nor did Sancho fare well among certain followersof his; and last night I was kept hanging by this arm for nearly twohours, without knowing how or why I came by such a mishap. So thatnow, for me to come forward to give an opinion in such a puzzlingmatter, would be to risk a rash decision. As regards the assertionthat this is a basin and not a helmet I have already given ananswer; but as to the question whether this is a pack-saddle or acaparison I will not venture to give a positive opinion, but willleave it to your worships' better judgment. Perhaps as you are notdubbed knights like myself, the enchantments of this place havenothing to do with you, and your faculties are unfettered, and you cansee things in this castle as they really and truly are, and not asthey appear to me."

"There can be no question," said Don Fernando on this, "but thatSenor Don Quixote has spoken very wisely, and that with us rests thedecision of this matter; and that we may have surer ground to go on, Iwill take the votes of the gentlemen in secret, and declare the resultclearly and fully."

To those who were in the secret of Don Quixote's humour all thisafforded great amusement; but to those who knew nothing about it, itseemed the greatest nonsense in the world, in particular to the fourservants of Don Luis, as well as to Don Luis himself, and to threeother travellers who had by chance come to the inn, and had theappearance of officers of the Holy Brotherhood, as indeed they were;but the one who above all was at his wits' end, was the barberbasin, there before his very eyes, had been turned into Mambrino'shelmet, and whose pack-saddle he had no doubt whatever was about tobecome a rich caparison for a horse. All laughed to see Don Fernandogoing from one to another collecting the votes, and whispering to themto give him their private opinion whether the treasure over whichthere had been so much fighting was a pack-saddle or a caparison;but after he had taken the votes of those who knew Don Quixote, hesaid aloud, "The fact is, my good fellow, that I am tired collectingsuch a number of opinions, for I find that there is not one of whomI ask what I desire to know, who does not tell me that it is absurd tosay that this is the pack-saddle of an ass, and not the caparison of ahorse, nay, of a thoroughbred horse; so you must submit, for, in spiteof you and your ass, this is a caparison and no pack-saddle, and youhave stated and proved your case very badly."

"May I never share heaven," said the poor barber, "if yourworships are not all mistaken; and may my soul appear before God asthat appears to me a pack-saddle and not a caparison; but, 'laws go,'-I say no more; and indeed I am not drunk, for I am fasting, exceptit be from sin."

The simple talk of the barber did not afford less amusement than theabsurdities of Don Quixote, who now observed:

"There is no more to be done now than for each to take whatbelongs to him, and to whom God has given it, may St. Peter add hisblessing."

But said one of the four servants, "Unless, indeed, this is adeliberate joke, I cannot bring myself to believe that men sointelligent as those present are, or seem to be, can venture todeclare and assert that this is not a basin, and that not apack-saddle; but as I perceive that they do assert and declare it, Ican only come to the conclusion that there is some mystery in thispersistence in what is so opposed to the evidence of experience andtruth itself; for I swear by"- and here he rapped out a round oath-"all the people in the world will not make me believe that this is nota barber's basin and that a jackass's pack-saddle."

"It might easily be a she-ass's," observed the curate.

"It is all the same," said the servant; "that is not the point;but whether it is or is not a pack-saddle, as your worships say."

On hearing this one of the newly arrived officers of theBrotherhood, who had been listening to the dispute and controversy,unable to restrain his anger and impatience, exclaimed, "It is apack-saddle as sure as my father is my father, and whoever has said orwill say anything else must be drunk."

"You lie like a rascally clown," returned Don Quixote; and liftinghis pike, which he had never let out of his hand, he delivered sucha blow at his head that, had not the officer dodged it, it wouldhave stretched him at full length. The pike was shivered in piecesagainst the ground, and the rest of the officers, seeing their comradeassaulted, raised a shout, calling for help for the HolyBrotherhood. The landlord, who was of the fraternity, ran at once tofetch his staff of office and his sword, and ranged himself on theside of his comrades; the servants of Don Luis clustered round him,lest he should escape from them in the confusion; the barber, seeingthe house turned upside down, once more laid hold of his pack-saddleand Sancho did the same; Don Quixote drew his sword and charged theofficers; Don Luis cried out to his servants to leave him alone and goand help Don Quixote, and Cardenio and Don Fernando, who weresupporting him; the curate was shouting at the top of his voice, thelandlady was screaming, her daughter was wailing, Maritornes wasweeping, Dorothea was aghast, Luscinda terror-stricken, and Dona Clarain a faint. The barber cudgelled Sancho, and Sancho pommelled thebarber; Don Luis gave one of his servants, who ventured to catch himby the arm to keep him from escaping, a cuff that bathed his teethin blood; the Judge took his part; Don Fernando had got one of theofficers down and was belabouring him heartily; the landlord raisedhis voice again calling for help for the Holy Brotherhood; so that thewhole inn was nothing but cries, shouts, shrieks, confusion, terror,dismay, mishaps, sword-cuts, fisticuffs, cudgellings, kicks, andbloodshed; and in the midst of all this chaos, complication, andgeneral entanglement, Don Quixote took it into his head that he hadbeen plunged into the thick of the discord of Agramante's camp; and,in a voice that shook the inn like thunder, he cried out:

"Hold all, let all sheathe their swords, let all be calm andattend to me as they value their lives!"

All paused at his mighty voice, and he went on to say, "Did I nottell you, sirs, that this castle was enchanted, and that a legion orso of devils dwelt in it? In proof whereof I call upon you to beholdwith your own eyes how the discord of Agramante's camp has comehither, and been transferred into the midst of us. See how they fight,there for the sword, here for the horse, on that side for the eagle,on this for the helmet; we are all fighting, and all at crosspurposes. Come then, you, Senor Judge, and you, senor curate; letthe one represent King Agramante and the other King Sobrino, andmake peace among us; for by God Almighty it is a sorry business thatso many persons of quality as we are should slay one another forsuch trifling cause."The officers, who did not understand Don Quixote's mode ofspeaking, and found themselves roughly handled by Don Fernando,Cardenio, and their companions, were not to be appeased; the barberwas, however, for both his beard and his pack-saddle were the worsefor the struggle; Sancho like a good servant obeyed the slightest wordof his master; while the four servants of Don Luis kept quiet whenthey saw how little they gained by not being so. The landlord aloneinsisted upon it that they must punish the insolence of this madman,who at every turn raised a disturbance in the inn; but at length theuproar was stilled for the present; the pack-saddle remained acaparison till the day of judgment, and the basin a helmet and the inna castle in Don Quixote's imagination.

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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