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CHAPTER LV
OF WHAT BEFELL SANCHO ON THE ROAD, AND OTHER THINGS THAT CANNOT BE SURPASSED

The length of time he delayed with Ricote prevented Sancho from
reaching the duke's castle that day, though he was within half a
league of it when night, somewhat dark and cloudy, overtook him. This,
however, as it was summer time, did not give him much uneasiness,
and he turned aside out of the road intending to wait for morning; but
his ill luck and hard fate so willed it that as he was searching about
for a place to make himself as comfortable as possible, he and
Dapple fell into a deep dark hole that lay among some very old
buildings. As he fell he commended himself with all his heart to
God, fancying he was not going to stop until he reached the depths
of the bottomless pit; but it did not turn out so, for at little
more than thrice a man's height Dapple touched bottom, and he found
himself sitting on him without having received any hurt or damage
whatever. He felt himself all over and held his breath to try
whether he was quite sound or had a hole made in him anywhere, and
finding himself all right and whole and in perfect health he was
profuse in his thanks to God our Lord for the mercy that had been
shown him, for he made sure he had been broken into a thousand pieces.
He also felt along the sides of the pit with his hands to see if it
were possible to get out of it without help, but he found they were
quite smooth and afforded no hold anywhere, at which he was greatly
distressed, especially when he heard how pathetically and dolefully
Dapple was bemoaning himself, and no wonder he complained, nor was
it from ill-temper, for in truth he was not in a very good case.
"Alas," said Sancho, "what unexpected accidents happen at every step
to those who live in this miserable world! Who would have said that
one who saw himself yesterday sitting on a throne, governor of an
island, giving orders to his servants and his vassals, would see
himself to-day buried in a pit without a soul to help him, or
servant or vassal to come to his relief? Here must we perish with
hunger, my ass and myself, if indeed we don't die first, he of his
bruises and injuries, and I of grief and sorrow. At any rate I'll
not be as lucky as my master Don Quixote of La Mancha, when he went
down into the cave of that enchanted Montesinos, where he found people
to make more of him than if he had been in his own house; for it seems
he came in for a table laid out and a bed ready made. There he saw
fair and pleasant visions, but here I'll see, I imagine, toads and
adders. Unlucky wretch that I am, what an end my follies and fancies
have come to! They'll take up my bones out of this, when it is
heaven's will that I'm found, picked clean, white and polished, and my
good Dapple's with them, and by that, perhaps, it will be found out
who we are, at least by such as have heard that Sancho Panza never
separated from his ass, nor his ass from Sancho Panza. Unlucky
wretches, I say again, that our hard fate should not let us die in our
own country and among our own people, where if there was no help for
our misfortune, at any rate there would be some one to grieve for it
and to close our eyes as we passed away! O comrade and friend, how ill
have I repaid thy faithful services! Forgive me, and entreat
Fortune, as well as thou canst, to deliver us out of this miserable
strait we are both in; and I promise to put a crown of laurel on thy
head, and make thee look like a poet laureate, and give thee double
feeds."

In this strain did Sancho bewail himself, and his ass listened to
him, but answered him never a word, such was the distress and
anguish the poor beast found himself in. At length, after a night
spent in bitter moanings and lamentations, day came, and by its
light Sancho perceived that it was wholly impossible to escape out
of that pit without help, and he fell to bemoaning his fate and
uttering loud shouts to find out if there was anyone within hearing;
but all his shouting was only crying in the wilderness, for there
was not a soul anywhere in the neighbourhood to hear him, and then
at last he gave himself up for dead. Dapple was lying on his back, and
Sancho helped him to his feet, which he was scarcely able to keep; and
then taking a piece of bread out of his alforjas which had shared
their fortunes in the fall, he gave it to the ass, to whom it was
not unwelcome, saying to him as if he understood him, "With bread
all sorrows are less."

And now he perceived on one side of the pit a hole large enough to
admit a person if he stooped and squeezed himself into a small
compass. Sancho made for it, and entered it by creeping, and found
it wide and spacious on the inside, which he was able to see as a
ray of sunlight that penetrated what might be called the roof showed
it all plainly. He observed too that it opened and widened out into
another spacious cavity; seeing which he made his way back to where
the ass was, and with a stone began to pick away the clay from the
hole until in a short time he had made room for the beast to pass
easily, and this accomplished, taking him by the halter, he
proceeded to traverse the cavern to see if there was any outlet at the
other end. He advanced, sometimes in the dark, sometimes without
light, but never without fear; "God Almighty help me!" said he to
himself; "this that is a misadventure to me would make a good
adventure for my master Don Quixote. He would have been sure to take
these depths and dungeons for flowery gardens or the palaces of
Galiana, and would have counted upon issuing out of this darkness
and imprisonment into some blooming meadow; but I, unlucky that I
am, hopeless and spiritless, expect at every step another pit deeper
than the first to open under my feet and swallow me up for good;
'welcome evil, if thou comest alone.'"

In this way and with these reflections he seemed to himself to
have travelled rather more than half a league, when at last he
perceived a dim light that looked like daylight and found its way in
on one side, showing that this road, which appeared to him the road to
the other world, led to some opening.

Here Cide Hamete leaves him, and returns to Don Quixote, who in high
spirits and satisfaction was looking forward to the day fixed for
the battle he was to fight with him who had robbed Dona Rodriguez's
daughter of her honour, for whom he hoped to obtain satisfaction for
the wrong and injury shamefully done to her. It came to pass, then,
that having sallied forth one morning to practise and exercise himself
in what he would have to do in the encounter he expected to find
himself engaged in the next day, as he was putting Rocinante through
his paces or pressing him to the charge, he brought his feet so
close to a pit that but for reining him in tightly it would have
been impossible for him to avoid falling into it. He pulled him up,
however, without a fall, and coming a little closer examined the
hole without dismounting; but as he was looking at it he heard loud
cries proceeding from it, and by listening attentively was able to
make out that he who uttered them was saying, "Ho, above there! is
there any Christian that hears me, or any charitable gentleman that
will take pity on a sinner buried alive, on an unfortunate disgoverned
governor?"

It struck Don Quixote that it was the voice of Sancho Panza he
heard, whereat he was taken aback and amazed, and raising his own
voice as much as he could, he cried out, "Who is below there? Who is
that complaining?"

"Who should be here, or who should complain," was the answer, "but
the forlorn Sancho Panza, for his sins and for his ill-luck governor
of the island of Barataria, squire that was to the famous knight Don
Quixote of La Mancha?"

When Don Quixote heard this his amazement was redoubled and his
perturbation grew greater than ever, for it suggested itself to his
mind that Sancho must be dead, and that his soul was in torment down
there; and carried away by this idea he exclaimed, "I conjure thee
by everything that as a Catholic Christian I can conjure thee by, tell
me who thou art; and if thou art a soul in torment, tell me what
thou wouldst have me do for thee; for as my profession is to give
aid and succour to those that need it in this world, it will also
extend to aiding and succouring the distressed of the other, who
cannot help themselves."

"In that case," answered the voice, "your worship who speaks to me
must be my master Don Quixote of La Mancha; nay, from the tone of
the voice it is plain it can be nobody else."

"Don Quixote I am," replied Don Quixote, "he whose profession it
is to aid and succour the living and the dead in their necessities;
wherefore tell me who thou art, for thou art keeping me in suspense;
because, if thou art my squire Sancho Panza, and art dead, since the
devils have not carried thee off, and thou art by God's mercy in
purgatory, our holy mother the Roman Catholic Church has
intercessory means sufficient to release thee from the pains thou
art in; and I for my part will plead with her to that end, so far as
my substance will go; without further delay, therefore, declare
thyself, and tell me who thou art."

"By all that's good," was the answer, "and by the birth of
whomsoever your worship chooses, I swear, Senor Don Quixote of La
Mancha, that I am your squire Sancho Panza, and that I have never died
all my life; but that, having given up my government for reasons
that would require more time to explain, I fell last night into this
pit where I am now, and Dapple is witness and won't let me lie, for
more by token he is here with me."

Nor was this all; one would have fancied the ass understood what
Sancho said, because that moment he began to bray so loudly that the
whole cave rang again.

"Famous testimony!" exclaimed Don Quixote; "I know that bray as well
as if I was its mother, and thy voice too, my Sancho. Wait while I
go to the duke's castle, which is close by, and I will bring some
one to take thee out of this pit into which thy sins no doubt have
brought thee."

"Go, your worship," said Sancho, "and come back quick for God's
sake; for I cannot bear being buried alive any longer, and I'm dying
of fear."

Don Quixote left him, and hastened to the castle to tell the duke
and duchess what had happened Sancho, and they were not a little
astonished at it; they could easily understand his having fallen, from
the confirmatory circumstance of the cave which had been in
existence there from time immemorial; but they could not imagine how
he had quitted the government without their receiving any intimation
of his coming. To be brief, they fetched ropes and tackle, as the
saying is, and by dint of many hands and much labour they drew up
Dapple and Sancho Panza out of the darkness into the light of day. A
student who saw him remarked, "That's the way all bad governors should
come out of their governments, as this sinner comes out of the
depths of the pit, dead with hunger, pale, and I suppose without a
farthing."

Sancho overheard him and said, "It is eight or ten days, brother
growler, since I entered upon the government of the island they gave
me, and all that time I never had a bellyful of victuals, no not for
an hour; doctors persecuted me and enemies crushed my bones; nor had I
any opportunity of taking bribes or levying taxes; and if that be
the case, as it is, I don't deserve, I think, to come out in this
fashion; but 'man proposes and God disposes;' and God knows what is
best, and what suits each one best; and 'as the occasion, so the
behaviour;' and 'let nobody say "I won't drink of this water;"' and
'where one thinks there are flitches, there are no pegs;' God knows my
meaning and that's enough; I say no more, though I could."

"Be not angry or annoyed at what thou hearest, Sancho," said Don
Quixote, "or there will never be an end of it; keep a safe
conscience and let them say what they like; for trying to stop
slanderers' tongues is like trying to put gates to the open plain.
If a governor comes out of his government rich, they say he has been a
thief; and if he comes out poor, that he has been a noodle and a
blockhead."

"They'll be pretty sure this time," said Sancho, "to set me down for
a fool rather than a thief."

Thus talking, and surrounded by boys and a crowd of people, they
reached the castle, where in one of the corridors the duke and duchess
stood waiting for them; but Sancho would not go up to see the duke
until he had first put up Dapple in the stable, for he said he had
passed a very bad night in his last quarters; then he went upstairs to
see his lord and lady, and kneeling before them he said, "Because it
was your highnesses' pleasure, not because of any desert of my own,
I went to govern your island of Barataria, which 'I entered naked, and
naked I find myself; I neither lose nor gain.' Whether I have governed
well or ill, I have had witnesses who will say what they think fit.
I have answered questions, I have decided causes, and always dying
of hunger, for Doctor Pedro Recio of Tirteafuera, the island and
governor doctor, would have it so. Enemies attacked us by night and
put us in a great quandary, but the people of the island say they came
off safe and victorious by the might of my arm; and may God give
them as much health as there's truth in what they say. In short,
during that time I have weighed the cares and responsibilities
governing brings with it, and by my reckoning I find my shoulders
can't bear them, nor are they a load for my loins or arrows for my
quiver; and so, before the government threw me over I preferred to
throw the government over; and yesterday morning I left the island
as I found it, with the same streets, houses, and roofs it had when
I entered it. I asked no loan of anybody, nor did I try to fill my
pocket; and though I meant to make some useful laws, I made hardly
any, as I was afraid they would not be kept; for in that case it comes
to the same thing to make them or not to make them. I quitted the
island, as I said, without any escort except my ass; I fell into a
pit, I pushed on through it, until this morning by the light of the
sun I saw an outlet, but not so easy a one but that, had not heaven
sent me my master Don Quixote, I'd have stayed there till the end of
the world. So now my lord and lady duke and duchess, here is your
governor Sancho Panza, who in the bare ten days he has held the
government has come by the knowledge that he would not give anything
to be governor, not to say of an island, but of the whole world; and
that point being settled, kissing your worships' feet, and imitating
the game of the boys when they say, 'leap thou, and give me one,' I
take a leap out of the government and pass into the service of my
master Don Quixote; for after all, though in it I eat my bread in fear
and trembling, at any rate I take my fill; and for my part, so long as
I'm full, it's all alike to me whether it's with carrots or with
partridges."

Here Sancho brought his long speech to an end, Don Quixote having
been the whole time in dread of his uttering a host of absurdities;
and when he found him leave off with so few, he thanked heaven in
his heart. The duke embraced Sancho and told him he was heartily sorry
he had given up the government so soon, but that he would see that
he was provided with some other post on his estate less onerous and
more profitable. The duchess also embraced him, and gave orders that
he should be taken good care of, as it was plain to see he had been
badly treated and worse bruised.




Don Quixote by Migeul de Cervantes
Category:
Romance Literature - Spanish
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