Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 75)

To this Don Quixote replied, "Seeing that this affair has acertain colour of chivalry about it, I for my part, brother, will hearyou most gladly, and so will all these gentlemen, from the highintelligence they possess and their love of curious novelties thatinterest, charm, and entertain the mind, as I feel quite sure yourstory will do. So begin, friend, for we are all prepared to listen."

"I draw my stakes," said Sancho, "and will retreat with this pastyto the brook there, where I mean to victual myself for three days; forI have heard my lord, Don Quixote, say that a knight-errant's squireshould eat until he can hold no more, whenever he has the chance,because it often happens them to get by accident into a wood sothick that they cannot find a way out of it for six days; and if theman is not well filled or his alforjas well stored, there he may stay,as very often he does, turned into a dried mummy."

"Thou art in the right of it, Sancho," said Don Quixote; "go wherethou wilt and eat all thou canst, for I have had enough, and only wantto give my mind its refreshment, as I shall by listening to thisgood fellow's story."

"It is what we shall all do," said the canon; and then begged thegoatherd to begin the promised tale.

The goatherd gave the goat which he held by the horns a couple ofslaps on the back, saying, "Lie down here beside me, Spotty, for wehave time enough to return to our fold." The goat seemed to understandhim, for as her master seated himself, she stretched herself quietlybeside him and looked up in his face to show him she was all attentionto what he was going to say, and then in these words he began hisstory.



Three leagues from this valley there is a village which, thoughsmall, is one of the richest in all this neighbourhood, and in itthere lived a farmer, a very worthy man, and so much respected that,although to be so is the natural consequence of being rich, he waseven more respected for his virtue than for the wealth he hadacquired. But what made him still more fortunate, as he saidhimself, was having a daughter of such exceeding beauty, rareintelligence, gracefulness, and virtue, that everyone who knew her andbeheld her marvelled at the extraordinary gifts with which heavenand nature had endowed her. As a child she was beautiful, shecontinued to grow in beauty, and at the age of sixteen she was mostlovely. The fame of her beauty began to spread abroad through allthe villages around- but why do I say the villages around, merely,when it spread to distant cities, and even made its way into the hallsof royalty and reached the ears of people of every class, who camefrom all sides to see her as if to see something rare and curious,or some wonder-working image?

Her father watched over her and she watched over herself; forthere are no locks, or guards, or bolts that can protect a younggirl better than her own modesty. The wealth of the father and thebeauty of the daughter led many neighbours as well as strangers toseek her for a wife; but he, as one might well be who had the disposalof so rich a jewel, was perplexed and unable to make up his mind towhich of her countless suitors he should entrust her. I was oneamong the many who felt a desire so natural, and, as her father knewwho I was, and I was of the same town, of pure blood, in the bloomof life, and very rich in possessions, I had great hopes of success.There was another of the same place and qualifications who also soughther, and this made her father's choice hang in the balance, for hefelt that on either of us his daughter would be well bestowed; so toescape from this state of perplexity he resolved to refer the matterto Leandra (for that is the name of the rich damsel who has reduced meto misery), reflecting that as we were both equal it would be bestto leave it to his dear daughter to choose according to herinclination- a course that is worthy of imitation by all fathers whowish to settle their children in life. I do not mean that they oughtto leave them to make a choice of what is contemptible and bad, butthat they should place before them what is good and then allow them tomake a good choice as they please. I do not know which Leandrachose; I only know her father put us both off with the tender age ofhis daughter and vague words that neither bound him nor dismissedus. My rival is called Anselmo and I myself Eugenio- that you may knowthe names of the personages that figure in this tragedy, the end ofwhich is still in suspense, though it is plain to see it must bedisastrous.

About this time there arrived in our town one Vicente de la Roca,the son of a poor peasant of the same town, the said Vicente havingreturned from service as a soldier in Italy and divers other parts.A captain who chanced to pass that way with his company had carriedhim off from our village when he was a boy of about twelve years,and now twelve years later the young man came back in a soldier'suniform, arrayed in a thousand colours, and all over glass trinketsand fine steel chains. To-day he would appear in one gay dress,to-morrow in another; but all flimsy and gaudy, of little substanceand less worth. The peasant folk, who are naturally malicious, andwhen they have nothing to do can be malice itself, remarked allthis, and took note of his finery and jewellery, piece by piece, anddiscovered that he had three suits of different colours, withgarters and stockings to match; but he made so many arrangements andcombinations out of them, that if they had not counted them, anyonewould have sworn that he had made a display of more than ten suitsof clothes and twenty plumes. Do not look upon all this that I amtelling you about the clothes as uncalled for or spun out, for theyhave a great deal to do with the story. He used to seat himself on abench under the great poplar in our plaza, and there he would keepus all hanging open-mouthed on the stories he told us of his exploits.There was no country on the face of the globe he had not seen, norbattle he had not been engaged in; he had killed more Moors than thereare in Morocco and Tunis, and fought more single combats, according tohis own account, than Garcilaso, Diego Garcia de Paredes and athousand others he named, and out of all he had come victoriouswithout losing a drop of blood. On the other hand he showed marks ofwounds, which, though they could not be made out, he said were gunshotwounds received in divers encounters and actions. Lastly, withmonstrous impudence he used to say "you" to his equals and eventhose who knew what he was, and declare that his arm was his fatherand his deeds his pedigree, and that being a soldier he was as good asthe king himself. And to add to these swaggering ways he was atrifle of a musician, and played the guitar with such a flourishthat some said he made it speak; nor did his accomplishments end here,for he was something of a poet too, and on every trifle thathappened in the town he made a ballad a league long.

This soldier, then, that I have described, this Vicente de laRoca, this bravo, gallant, musician, poet, was often seen andwatched by Leandra from a window of her house which looked out onthe plaza. The glitter of his showy attire took her fancy, his balladsbewitched her (for he gave away twenty copies of every one he made),the tales of his exploits which he told about himself came to herears; and in short, as the devil no doubt had arranged it, she fell inlove with him before the presumption of making love to her hadsuggested itself to him; and as in love-affairs none are more easilybrought to an issue than those which have the inclination of thelady for an ally, Leandra and Vicente came to an understanding withoutany difficulty; and before any of her numerous suitors had anysuspicion of her design, she had already carried it into effect,having left the house of her dearly beloved father (for mother she hadnone), and disappeared from the village with the soldier, who camemore triumphantly out of this enterprise than out of any of thelarge number he laid claim to. All the village and all who heard of itwere amazed at the affair; I was aghast, Anselmo thunderstruck, herfather full of grief, her relations indignant, the authorities allin a ferment, the officers of the Brotherhood in arms. They scouredthe roads, they searched the woods and all quarters, and at the end ofthree days they found the flighty Leandra in a mountain cave, striptto her shift, and robbed of all the money and precious jewels shehad carried away from home with her. They brought her back to herunhappy father, and questioned her as to her misfortune, and sheconfessed without pressure that Vicente de la Roca had deceived her,and under promise of marrying her had induced her to leave herfather's house, as he meant to take her to the richest and mostdelightful city in the whole world, which was Naples; and that she,ill-advised and deluded, had believed him, and robbed her father,and handed over all to him the night she disappeared; and that hehad carried her away to a rugged mountain and shut her up in theeave where they had found her. She said, moreover, that the soldier,without robbing her of her honour, had taken from her everything shehad, and made off, leaving her in the cave, a thing that still furthersurprised everybody. It was not easy for us to credit the youngman's continence, but she asserted it with such earnestness that ithelped to console her distressed father, who thought nothing of whathad been taken since the jewel that once lost can never be recoveredhad been left to his daughter. The same day that Leandra made herappearance her father removed her from our sight and took her awayto shut her up in a convent in a town near this, in the hope that timemay wear away some of the disgrace she has incurred. Leandra's youthfurnished an excuse for her fault, at least with those to whom itwas of no consequence whether she was good or bad; but those whoknew her shrewdness and intelligence did not attribute hermisdemeanour to ignorance but to wantonness and the naturaldisposition of women, which is for the most part flighty andill-regulated.

Leandra withdrawn from sight, Anselmo's eyes grew blind, or at anyrate found nothing to look at that gave them any pleasure, and minewere in darkness without a ray of light to direct them to anythingenjoyable while Leandra was away. Our melancholy grew greater, ourpatience grew less; we cursed the soldier's finery and railed at thecarelessness of Leandra's father. At last Anselmo and I agreed toleave the village and come to this valley; and, he feeding a greatflock of sheep of his own, and I a large herd of goats of mine, wepass our life among the trees, giving vent to our sorrows, togethersinging the fair Leandra's praises, or upbraiding her, or else sighingalone, and to heaven pouring forth our complaints in solitude.Following our example, many more of Leandra's lovers have come tothese rude mountains and adopted our mode of life, and they are sonumerous that one would fancy the place had been turned into thepastoral Arcadia, so full is it of shepherds and sheep-folds; nor isthere a spot in it where the name of the fair Leandra is not heard.Here one curses her and calls her capricious, fickle, and immodest,there another condemns her as frail and frivolous; this pardons andabsolves her, that spurns and reviles her; one extols her beauty,another assails her character, and in short all abuse her, and alladore her, and to such a pitch has this general infatuation gonethat there are some who complain of her scorn without ever havingexchanged a word with her, and even some that bewail and mourn theraging fever of jealousy, for which she never gave anyone cause,for, as I have already said, her misconduct was known before herpassion. There is no nook among the rocks, no brookside, no shadebeneath the trees that is not haunted by some shepherd telling hiswoes to the breezes; wherever there is an echo it repeats the nameof Leandra; the mountains ring with "Leandra," "Leandra" murmur thebrooks, and Leandra keeps us all bewildered and bewitched, hopingwithout hope and fearing without knowing what we fear. Of all thissilly set the one that shows the least and also the most sense is myrival Anselmo, for having so many other things to complain of, he onlycomplains of separation, and to the accompaniment of a rebeck, whichhe plays admirably, he sings his complaints in verses that show hisingenuity. I follow another, easier, and to my mind wiser course,and that is to rail at the frivolity of women, at their inconstancy,their double dealing, their broken promises, their unkept pledges, andin short the want of reflection they show in fixing their affectionsand inclinations. This, sirs, was the reason of words andexpressions I made use of to this goat when I came up just now; for asshe is a female I have a contempt for her, though she is the best inall my fold. This is the story I promised to tell you, and if I havebeen tedious in telling it, I will not be slow to serve you; my hut isclose by, and I have fresh milk and dainty cheese there, as well asa variety of toothsome fruit, no less pleasing to the eye than tothe palate.



The goatherd's tale gave great satisfaction to all the hearers,and the canon especially enjoyed it, for he had remarked withparticular attention the manner in which it had been told, which wasas unlike the manner of a clownish goatherd as it was like that of apolished city wit; and he observed that the curate had been quiteright in saying that the woods bred men of learning. They alloffered their services to Eugenio but he who showed himself mostliberal in this way was Don Quixote, who said to him, "Most assuredly,brother goatherd, if I found myself in a position to attempt anyadventure, I would, this very instant, set out on your behalf, andwould rescue Leandra from that convent (where no doubt she is keptagainst her will), in spite of the abbess and all who might try toprevent me, and would place her in your hands to deal with heraccording to your will and pleasure, observing, however, the laws ofchivalry which lay down that no violence of any kind is to beoffered to any damsel. But I trust in God our Lord that the might ofone malignant enchanter may not prove so great but that the power ofanother better disposed may prove superior to it, and then I promiseyou my support and assistance, as I am bound to do by my profession,which is none other than to give aid to the weak and needy."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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