Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 76)

The goatherd eyed him, and noticing Don Quixote's sorry appearanceand looks, he was filled with wonder, and asked the barber, who wasnext him, "Senor, who is this man who makes such a figure and talks insuch a strain?"

"Who should it be," said the barber, "but the famous Don Quixoteof La Mancha, the undoer of injustice, the righter of wrongs, theprotector of damsels, the terror of giants, and the winner ofbattles?"

"That," said the goatherd, "sounds like what one reads in thebooks of the knights-errant, who did all that you say this man does;though it is my belief that either you are joking, or else thisgentleman has empty lodgings in his head."

"You are a great scoundrel," said Don Quixote, "and it is you whoare empty and a fool. I am fuller than ever was the whoreson bitchthat bore you;" and passing from words to deeds, he caught up a loafthat was near him and sent it full in the goatherd's face, with suchforce that he flattened his nose; but the goatherd, who did notunderstand jokes, and found himself roughly handled in such goodearnest, paying no respect to carpet, tablecloth, or diners, sprangupon Don Quixote, and seizing him by the throat with both handswould no doubt have throttled him, had not Sancho Panza that instantcome to the rescue, and grasping him by the shoulders flung him downon the table, smashing plates, breaking glasses, and upsetting andscattering everything on it. Don Quixote, finding himself free, stroveto get on top of the goatherd, who, with his face covered withblood, and soundly kicked by Sancho, was on all fours feeling aboutfor one of the table-knives to take a bloody revenge with. The canonand the curate, however, prevented him, but the barber so contrived itthat he got Don Quixote under him, and rained down upon him such ashower of fisticuffs that the poor knight's face streamed with bloodas freely as his own. The canon and the curate were bursting withlaughter, the officers were capering with delight, and both the oneand the other hissed them on as they do dogs that are worrying oneanother in a fight. Sancho alone was frantic, for he could not freehimself from the grasp of one of the canon's servants, who kept himfrom going to his master's assistance.

At last, while they were all, with the exception of the two bruiserswho were mauling each other, in high glee and enjoyment, they hearda trumpet sound a note so doleful that it made them all look in thedirection whence the sound seemed to come. But the one that was mostexcited by hearing it was Don Quixote, who though sorely against hiswill he was under the goatherd, and something more than pretty wellpummelled, said to him, "Brother devil (for it is impossible butthat thou must be one since thou hast had might and strength enough toovercome mine), I ask thee to agree to a truce for but one hour forthe solemn note of yonder trumpet that falls on our ears seems to meto summon me to some new adventure." The goatherd, who was by thistime tired of pummelling and being pummelled, released him at once,and Don Quixote rising to his feet and turning his eyes to the quarterwhere the sound had been heard, suddenly saw coming down the slopeof a hill several men clad in white like penitents.

The fact was that the clouds had that year withheld their moisturefrom the earth, and in all the villages of the district they wereorganising processions, rogations, and penances, imploring God to openthe hands of his mercy and send the rain; and to this end the peopleof a village that was hard by were going in procession to a holyhermitage there was on one side of that valley. Don Quixote when hesaw the strange garb of the penitents, without reflecting how often hehad seen it before, took it into his head that this was a case ofadventure, and that it fell to him alone as a knight-errant toengage in it; and he was all the more confirmed in this notion, by theidea that an image draped in black they had with them was someillustrious lady that these villains and discourteous thieves werecarrying off by force. As soon as this occurred to him he ran with allspeed to Rocinante who was grazing at large, and taking the bridle andthe buckler from the saddle-bow, he had him bridled in an instant, andcalling to Sancho for his sword he mounted Rocinante, braced hisbuckler on his arm, and in a loud voice exclaimed to those who stoodby, "Now, noble company, ye shall see how important it is that thereshould be knights in the world professing the of knight-errantry; now,I say, ye shall see, by the deliverance of that worthy lady who isborne captive there, whether knights-errant deserve to be held inestimation," and so saying he brought his legs to bear on Rocinante-for he had no spurs- and at a full canter (for in all this veracioushistory we never read of Rocinante fairly galloping) set off toencounter the penitents, though the curate, the canon, and thebarber ran to prevent him. But it was out of their power, nor did heeven stop for the shouts of Sancho calling after him, "Where are yougoing, Senor Don Quixote? What devils have possessed you to set you onagainst our Catholic faith? Plague take me! mind, that is a processionof penitents, and the lady they are carrying on that stand there isthe blessed image of the immaculate Virgin. Take care what you aredoing, senor, for this time it may be safely said you don't knowwhat you are about." Sancho laboured in vain, for his master was sobent on coming to quarters with these sheeted figures and releasingthe lady in black that he did not hear a word; and even had heheard, he would not have turned back if the king had ordered him. Hecame up with the procession and reined in Rocinante, who was alreadyanxious enough to slacken speed a little, and in a hoarse, excitedvoice he exclaimed, "You who hide your faces, perhaps because youare not good subjects, pay attention and listen to what I am aboutto say to you." The first to halt were those who were carrying theimage, and one of the four ecclesiastics who were chanting the Litany,struck by the strange figure of Don Quixote, the leanness ofRocinante, and the other ludicrous peculiarities he observed, saidin reply to him, "Brother, if you have anything to say to us say itquickly, for these brethren are whipping themselves, and we cannotstop, nor is it reasonable we should stop to hear anything, unlessindeed it is short enough to be said in two words."

"I will say it in one," replied Don Quixote, "and it is this; thatat once, this very instant, ye release that fair lady whose tearsand sad aspect show plainly that ye are carrying her off against herwill, and that ye have committed some scandalous outrage againsther; and I, who was born into the world to redress all such likewrongs, will not permit you to advance another step until you haverestored to her the liberty she pines for and deserves."

From these words all the hearers concluded that he must be a madman,and began to laugh heartily, and their laughter acted like gunpowderon Don Quixote's fury, for drawing his sword without another word hemade a rush at the stand. One of those who supported it, leaving theburden to his comrades, advanced to meet him, flourishing a forkedstick that he had for propping up the stand when resting, and withthis he caught a mighty cut Don Quixote made at him that severed it intwo; but with the portion that remained in his hand he dealt such athwack on the shoulder of Don Quixote's sword arm (which the bucklercould not protect against the clownish assault) that poor DonQuixote came to the ground in a sad plight.

Sancho Panza, who was coming on close behind puffing and blowing,seeing him fall, cried out to his assailant not to strike him again,for he was poor enchanted knight, who had never harmed anyone allthe days of his life; but what checked the clown was, not Sancho'sshouting, but seeing that Don Quixote did not stir hand or foot; andso, fancying he had killed him, he hastily hitched up his tunicunder his girdle and took to his heels across the country like a deer.

By this time all Don Quixote's companions had come up to where helay; but the processionists seeing them come running, and with themthe officers of the Brotherhood with their crossbows, apprehendedmischief, and clustering round the image, raised their hoods, andgrasped their scourges, as the priests did their tapers, and awaitedthe attack, resolved to defend themselves and even to take theoffensive against their assailants if they could. Fortune, however,arranged the matter better than they expected, for all Sancho didwas to fling himself on his master's body, raising over him the mostdoleful and laughable lamentation that ever was heard, for he believedhe was dead. The curate was known to another curate who walked inthe procession, and their recognition of one another set at rest theapprehensions of both parties; the first then told the other in twowords who Don Quixote was, and he and the whole troop of penitentswent to see if the poor gentleman was dead, and heard Sancho Panzasaying, with tears in his eyes, "Oh flower of chivalry, that withone blow of a stick hast ended the course of thy well-spent life! Ohpride of thy race, honour and glory of all La Mancha, nay, of allthe world, that for want of thee will be full of evil-doers, no longerin fear of punishment for their misdeeds! Oh thou, generous aboveall the Alexanders, since for only eight months of service thou hastgiven me the best island the sea girds or surrounds! Humble with theproud, haughty with the humble, encounterer of dangers, endurer ofoutrages, enamoured without reason, imitator of the good, scourge ofthe wicked, enemy of the mean, in short, knight-errant, which is allthat can be said!"

At the cries and moans of Sancho, Don Quixote came to himself, andthe first word he said was, "He who lives separated from you, sweetestDulcinea, has greater miseries to endure than these. Aid me, friendSancho, to mount the enchanted cart, for I am not in a condition topress the saddle of Rocinante, as this shoulder is all knocked topieces."

"That I will do with all my heart, senor," said Sancho; "and letus return to our village with these gentlemen, who seek your good, andthere we will prepare for making another sally, which may turn outmore profitable and creditable to us."

"Thou art right, Sancho," returned Don Quixote; "It will be wiseto let the malign influence of the stars which now prevails pass off."

The canon, the curate, and the barber told him he would act verywisely in doing as he said; and so, highly amused at Sancho Panza'ssimplicities, they placed Don Quixote in the cart as before. Theprocession once more formed itself in order and proceeded on its road;the goatherd took his leave of the party; the officers of theBrotherhood declined to go any farther, and the curate paid themwhat was due to them; the canon begged the curate to let him knowhow Don Quixote did, whether he was cured of his madness or stillsuffered from it, and then begged leave to continue his journey; inshort, they all separated and went their ways, leaving to themselvesthe curate and the barber, Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, and the goodRocinante, who regarded everything with as great resignation as hismaster. The carter yoked his oxen and made Don Quixote comfortableon a truss of hay, and at his usual deliberate pace took the roadthe curate directed, and at the end of six days they reached DonQuixote's village, and entered it about the middle of the day, whichit so happened was a Sunday, and the people were all in the plaza,through which Don Quixote's cart passed. They all flocked to seewhat was in the cart, and when they recognised their townsman theywere filled with amazement, and a boy ran off to bring the news to hishousekeeper and his niece that their master and uncle had come backall lean and yellow and stretched on a truss of hay on an ox-cart.It was piteous to hear the cries the two good ladies raised, howthey beat their breasts and poured out fresh maledictions on thoseaccursed books of chivalry; all which was renewed when they saw DonQuixote coming in at the gate.

At the news of Don Quixote's arrival Sancho Panza's wife camerunning, for she by this time knew that her husband had gone away withhim as his squire, and on seeing Sancho, the first thing she asked himwas if the ass was well. Sancho replied that he was, better than hismaster was.

"Thanks be to God," said she, "for being so good to me; but now tellme, my friend, what have you made by your squirings? What gown haveyou brought me back? What shoes for your children?"

"I bring nothing of that sort, wife," said Sancho; "though I bringother things of more consequence and value."

"I am very glad of that," returned his wife; "show me these thingsof more value and consequence, my friend; for I want to see them tocheer my heart that has been so sad and heavy all these ages thatyou have been away."

"I will show them to you at home, wife," said Sancho; "be contentfor the present; for if it please God that we should again go on ourtravels in search of adventures, you will soon see me a count, orgovernor of an island, and that not one of those everyday ones, butthe best that is to be had."

"Heaven grant it, husband," said she, "for indeed we have need ofit. But tell me, what's this about islands, for I don't understandit?"

"Honey is not for the mouth of the ass," returned Sancho; "all ingood time thou shalt see, wife- nay, thou wilt be surprised to hearthyself called 'your ladyship' by all thy vassals."

"What are you talking about, Sancho, with your ladyships, islands,and vassals?" returned Teresa Panza- for so Sancho's wife wascalled, though they were not relations, for in La Mancha it iscustomary for wives to take their husbands' surnames.

"Don't be in such a hurry to know all this, Teresa," said Sancho;"it is enough that I am telling you the truth, so shut your mouth. ButI may tell you this much by the way, that there is nothing in theworld more delightful than to be a person of consideration, squireto a knight-errant, and a seeker of adventures. To be sure most ofthose one finds do not end as pleasantly as one could wish, for out ofa hundred, ninety-nine will turn out cross and contrary. I know itby experience, for out of some I came blanketed, and out of othersbelaboured. Still, for all that, it is a fine thing to be on thelook-out for what may happen, crossing mountains, searching woods,climbing rocks, visiting castles, putting up at inns, all at freequarters, and devil take the maravedi to pay."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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