eBooks Cube
 
CHAPTER LVI

OF THE PRODIGIOUS AND UNPARALLELED BATTLE THAT TOOK PLACE BETWEEN
DON QUIXOTE OF LA MANCHA AND THE LACQUEY TOSILOS IN DEFENCE OF THE
DAUGHTER OF DONA RODRIGUEZ

The duke and duchess had no reason to regret the joke that had
been played upon Sancho Panza in giving him the government; especially
as their majordomo returned the same day, and gave them a minute
account of almost every word and deed that Sancho uttered or did
during the time; and to wind up with, eloquently described to them the
attack upon the island and Sancho's fright and departure, with which
they were not a little amused. After this the history goes on to say
that the day fixed for the battle arrived, and that the duke, after
having repeatedly instructed his lacquey Tosilos how to deal with
Don Quixote so as to vanquish him without killing or wounding him,
gave orders to have the heads removed from the lances, telling Don
Quixote that Christian charity, on which he plumed himself, could
not suffer the battle to be fought with so much risk and danger to
life; and that he must be content with the offer of a battlefield on
his territory (though that was against the decree of the holy Council,
which prohibits all challenges of the sort) and not push such an
arduous venture to its extreme limits. Don Quixote bade his excellence
arrange all matters connected with the affair as he pleased, as on his
part he would obey him in everything. The dread day, then, having
arrived, and the duke having ordered a spacious stand to be erected
facing the court of the castle for the judges of the field and the
appellant duennas, mother and daughter, vast crowds flocked from all
the villages and hamlets of the neighbourhood to see the novel
spectacle of the battle; nobody, dead or alive, in those parts
having ever seen or heard of such a one.

The first person to enter the-field and the lists was the master
of the ceremonies, who surveyed and paced the whole ground to see that
there was nothing unfair and nothing concealed to make the
combatants stumble or fall; then the duennas entered and seated
themselves, enveloped in mantles covering their eyes, nay even their
bosoms, and displaying no slight emotion as Don Quixote appeared in
the lists. Shortly afterwards, accompanied by several trumpets and
mounted on a powerful steed that threatened to crush the whole
place, the great lacquey Tosilos made his appearance on one side of
the courtyard with his visor down and stiffly cased in a suit of stout
shining armour. The horse was a manifest Frieslander, broad-backed and
flea-bitten, and with half a hundred of wool hanging to each of his
fetlocks. The gallant combatant came well primed by his master the
duke as to how he was to bear himself against the valiant Don
Quixote of La Mancha; being warned that he must on no account slay
him, but strive to shirk the first encounter so as to avoid the risk
of killing him, as he was sure to do if he met him full tilt. He
crossed the courtyard at a walk, and coming to where the duennas
were placed stopped to look at her who demanded him for a husband; the
marshal of the field summoned Don Quixote, who had already presented
himself in the courtyard, and standing by the side of Tosilos he
addressed the duennas, and asked them if they consented that Don
Quixote of La Mancha should do battle for their right. They said
they did, and that whatever he should do in that behalf they
declared rightly done, final and valid. By this time the duke and
duchess had taken their places in a gallery commanding the
enclosure, which was filled to overflowing with a multitude of
people eager to see this perilous and unparalleled encounter. The
conditions of the combat were that if Don Quixote proved the victor
his antagonist was to marry the daughter of Dona Rodriguez; but if
he should be vanquished his opponent was released from the promise
that was claimed against him and from all obligations to give
satisfaction. The master of the ceremonies apportioned the sun to
them, and stationed them, each on the spot where he was to stand.
The drums beat, the sound of the trumpets filled the air, the earth
trembled under foot, the hearts of the gazing crowd were full of
anxiety, some hoping for a happy issue, some apprehensive of an
untoward ending to the affair, and lastly, Don Quixote, commending
himself with all his heart to God our Lord and to the lady Dulcinea
del Toboso, stood waiting for them to give the necessary signal for
the onset. Our lacquey, however, was thinking of something very
different; he only thought of what I am now going to mention.

It seems that as he stood contemplating his enemy she struck him
as the most beautiful woman he had ever seen all his life; and the
little blind boy whom in our streets they commonly call Love had no
mind to let slip the chance of triumphing over a lacquey heart, and
adding it to the list of his trophies; and so, stealing gently upon
him unseen, he drove a dart two yards long into the poor lacquey's
left side and pierced his heart through and through; which he was able
to do quite at his ease, for Love is invisible, and comes in and
goes out as he likes, without anyone calling him to account for what
he does. Well then, when they gave the signal for the onset our
lacquey was in an ecstasy, musing upon the beauty of her whom he had
already made mistress of his liberty, and so he paid no attention to
the sound of the trumpet, unlike Don Quixote, who was off the
instant he heard it, and, at the highest speed Rocinante was capable
of, set out to meet his enemy, his good squire Sancho shouting lustily
as he saw him start, "God guide thee, cream and flower of
knights-errant! God give thee the victory, for thou hast the right
on thy side!" But though Tosilos saw Don Quixote coming at him he
never stirred a step from the spot where he was posted; and instead of
doing so called loudly to the marshal of the field, to whom when he
came up to see what he wanted he said, "Senor, is not this battle to
decide whether I marry or do not marry that lady?" "Just so," was
the answer. "Well then," said the lacquey, "I feel qualms of
conscience, and I should lay a-heavy burden upon it if I were to
proceed any further with the combat; I therefore declare that I
yield myself vanquished, and that I am willing to marry the lady at
once."

The marshal of the field was lost in astonishment at the words of
Tosilos; and as he was one of those who were privy to the
arrangement of the affair he knew not what to say in reply. Don
Quixote pulled up in mid career when he saw that his enemy was not
coming on to the attack. The duke could not make out the reason why
the battle did not go on; but the marshal of the field hastened to him
to let him know what Tosilos said, and he was amazed and extremely
angry at it. In the meantime Tosilos advanced to where Dona
Rodriguez sat and said in a loud voice, "Senora, I am willing to marry
your daughter, and I have no wish to obtain by strife and fighting
what I can obtain in peace and without any risk to my life."

The valiant Don Quixote heard him, and said, "As that is the case
I am released and absolved from my promise; let them marry by all
means, and as 'God our Lord has given her, may Saint Peter add his
blessing.'"

The duke had now descended to the courtyard of the castle, and going
up to Tosilos he said to him, "Is it true, sir knight, that you
yield yourself vanquished, and that moved by scruples of conscience
you wish to marry this damsel?"

"It is, senor," replied Tosilos.

"And he does well," said Sancho, "for what thou hast to give to
the mouse, give to the cat, and it will save thee all trouble."

Tosilos meanwhile was trying to unlace his helmet, and he begged
them to come to his help at once, as his power of breathing was
failing him, and he could not remain so long shut up in that
confined space. They removed it in all haste, and his lacquey features
were revealed to public gaze. At this sight Dona Rodriguez and her
daughter raised a mighty outcry, exclaiming, "This is a trick! This is
a trick! They have put Tosilos, my lord the duke's lacquey, upon us in
place of the real husband. The justice of God and the king against
such trickery, not to say roguery!"

"Do not distress yourselves, ladies," said Don Quixote; "for this is
no trickery or roguery; or if it is, it is not the duke who is at
the bottom of it, but those wicked enchanters who persecute me, and
who, jealous of my reaping the glory of this victory, have turned your
husband's features into those of this person, who you say is a lacquey
of the duke's; take my advice, and notwithstanding the malice of my
enemies marry him, for beyond a doubt he is the one you wish for a
husband."

When the duke heard this all his anger was near vanishing in a fit
of laughter, and he said, "The things that happen to Senor Don Quixote
are so extraordinary that I am ready to believe this lacquey of mine
is not one; but let us adopt this plan and device; let us put off
the marriage for, say, a fortnight, and let us keep this person
about whom we are uncertain in close confinement, and perhaps in the
course of that time he may return to his original shape; for the spite
which the enchanters entertain against Senor Don Quixote cannot last
so long, especially as it is of so little advantage to them to
practise these deceptions and transformations."

"Oh, senor," said Sancho, "those scoundrels are well used to
changing whatever concerns my master from one thing into another. A
knight that he overcame some time back, called the Knight of the
Mirrors, they turned into the shape of the bachelor Samson Carrasco of
our town and a great friend of ours; and my lady Dulcinea del Toboso
they have turned into a common country wench; so I suspect this
lacquey will have to live and die a lacquey all the days of his life."

Here the Rodriguez's daughter exclaimed, "Let him be who he may,
this man that claims me for a wife; I am thankful to him for the same,
for I had rather he the lawful wife of a lacquey than the cheated
mistress of a gentleman; though he who played me false is nothing of
the kind."

To be brief, all the talk and all that had happened ended in Tosilos
being shut up until it was seen how his transformation turned out. All
hailed Don Quixote as victor, but the greater number were vexed and
disappointed at finding that the combatants they had been so anxiously
waiting for had not battered one another to pieces, just as the boys
are disappointed when the man they are waiting to see hanged does
not come out, because the prosecution or the court has pardoned him.
The people dispersed, the duke and Don Quixote returned to the castle,
they locked up Tosilos, Dona Rodriguez and her daughter remained
perfectly contented when they saw that any way the affair must end
in marriage, and Tosilos wanted nothing else.




Don Quixote by Migeul de Cervantes
Category:
Romance Literature - Spanish
Nabou.com: the big site