eBooks Cube
 
CHAPTER LX

OF WHAT HAPPENED DON QUIXOTE ON HIS WAY TO BARCELONA

It was a fresh morning giving promise of a cool day as Don Quixote
quitted the inn, first of all taking care to ascertain the most direct
road to Barcelona without touching upon Saragossa; so anxious was he
to make out this new historian, who they said abused him so, to be a
liar. Well, as it fell out, nothing worthy of being recorded
happened him for six days, at the end of which, having turned aside
out of the road, he was overtaken by night in a thicket of oak or cork
trees; for on this point Cide Hamete is not as precise as he usually
is on other matters.

Master and man dismounted from their beasts, and as soon as they had
settled themselves at the foot of the trees, Sancho, who had had a
good noontide meal that day, let himself, without more ado, pass the
gates of sleep. But Don Quixote, whom his thoughts, far more than
hunger, kept awake, could not close an eye, and roamed in fancy to and
fro through all sorts of places. At one moment it seemed to him that
he was in the cave of Montesinos and saw Dulcinea, transformed into
a country wench, skipping and mounting upon her she-ass; again that
the words of the sage Merlin were sounding in his ears, setting
forth the conditions to be observed and the exertions to be made for
the disenchantment of Dulcinea. He lost all patience when he
considered the laziness and want of charity of his squire Sancho;
for to the best of his belief he had only given himself five lashes, a
number paltry and disproportioned to the vast number required. At this
thought he felt such vexation and anger that he reasoned the matter
thus: "If Alexander the Great cut the Gordian knot, saying, 'To cut
comes to the same thing as to untie,' and yet did not fail to become
lord paramount of all Asia, neither more nor less could happen now
in Dulcinea's disenchantment if I scourge Sancho against his will;
for, if it is the condition of the remedy that Sancho shall receive
three thousand and odd lashes, what does it matter to me whether he
inflicts them himself, or some one else inflicts them, when the
essential point is that he receives them, let them come from
whatever quarter they may?"

With this idea he went over to Sancho, having first taken
Rocinante's reins and arranged them so as to be able to flog him
with them, and began to untie the points (the common belief is he
had but one in front) by which his breeches were held up; but the
instant he approached him Sancho woke up in his full senses and
cried out, "What is this? Who is touching me and untrussing me?"

"It is I," said Don Quixote, "and I come to make good thy
shortcomings and relieve my own distresses; I come to whip thee,
Sancho, and wipe off some portion of the debt thou hast undertaken.
Dulcinea is perishing, thou art living on regardless, I am dying of
hope deferred; therefore untruss thyself with a good will, for mine it
is, here, in this retired spot, to give thee at least two thousand
lashes."

"Not a bit of it," said Sancho; "let your worship keep quiet, or
else by the living God the deaf shall hear us; the lashes I pledged
myself to must be voluntary and not forced upon me, and just now I
have no fancy to whip myself; it is enough if I give you my word to
flog and flap myself when I have a mind."

"It will not do to leave it to thy courtesy, Sancho," said Don
Quixote, "for thou art hard of heart and, though a clown, tender of
flesh;" and at the same time he strove and struggled to untie him.

Seeing this Sancho got up, and grappling with his master he
gripped him with all his might in his arms, giving him a trip with the
heel stretched him on the ground on his back, and pressing his right
knee on his chest held his hands in his own so that he could neither
move nor breathe.

"How now, traitor!" exclaimed Don Quixote. "Dost thou revolt against
thy master and natural lord? Dost thou rise against him who gives thee
his bread?"

"I neither put down king, nor set up king," said Sancho; "I only
stand up for myself who am my own lord; if your worship promises me to
be quiet, and not to offer to whip me now, I'll let you go free and
unhindered; if not-

Traitor and Dona Sancha's foe,
Thou diest on the spot."


Don Quixote gave his promise, and swore by the life of his
thoughts not to touch so much as a hair of his garments, and to
leave him entirely free and to his own discretion to whip himself
whenever he pleased.

Sancho rose and removed some distance from the spot, but as he was
about to place himself leaning against another tree he felt
something touch his head, and putting up his hands encountered
somebody's two feet with shoes and stockings on them. He trembled with
fear and made for another tree, where the very same thing happened
to him, and he fell a-shouting, calling upon Don Quixote to come and
protect him. Don Quixote did so, and asked him what had happened to
him, and what he was afraid of. Sancho replied that all the trees were
full of men's feet and legs. Don Quixote felt them, and guessed at
once what it was, and said to Sancho, "Thou hast nothing to be
afraid of, for these feet and legs that thou feelest but canst not see
belong no doubt to some outlaws and freebooters that have been
hanged on these trees; for the authorities in these parts are wont
to hang them up by twenties and thirties when they catch them; whereby
I conjecture that I must be near Barcelona;" and it was, in fact, as
he supposed; with the first light they looked up and saw that the
fruit hanging on those trees were freebooters' bodies.

And now day dawned; and if the dead freebooters had scared them,
their hearts were no less troubled by upwards of forty living ones,
who all of a sudden surrounded them, and in the Catalan tongue bade
them stand and wait until their captain came up. Don Quixote was on
foot with his horse unbridled and his lance leaning against a tree,
and in short completely defenceless; he thought it best therefore to
fold his arms and bow his head and reserve himself for a more
favourable occasion and opportunity. The robbers made haste to
search Dapple, and did not leave him a single thing of all he
carried in the alforjas and in the valise; and lucky it was for Sancho
that the duke's crowns and those he brought from home were in a girdle
that he wore round him; but for all that these good folk would have
stripped him, and even looked to see what he had hidden between the
skin and flesh, but for the arrival at that moment of their captain,
who was about thirty-four years of age apparently, strongly built,
above the middle height, of stern aspect and swarthy complexion. He
was mounted upon a powerful horse, and had on a coat of mail, with
four of the pistols they call petronels in that country at his
waist. He saw that his squires (for so they call those who follow that
trade) were about to rifle Sancho Panza, but he ordered them to desist
and was at once obeyed, so the girdle escaped. He wondered to see
the lance leaning against the tree, the shield on the ground, and
Don Quixote in armour and dejected, with the saddest and most
melancholy face that sadness itself could produce; and going up to him
he said, "Be not so cast down, good man, for you have not fallen
into the hands of any inhuman Busiris, but into Roque Guinart's, which
are more merciful than cruel."

"The cause of my dejection," returned Don Quixote, "is not that I
have fallen into thy hands, O valiant Roque, whose fame is bounded
by no limits on earth, but that my carelessness should have been so
great that thy soldiers should have caught me unbridled, when it is my
duty, according to the rule of knight-errantry which I profess, to
be always on the alert and at all times my own sentinel; for let me
tell thee, great Roque, had they found me on my horse, with my lance
and shield, it would not have been very easy for them to reduce me
to submission, for I am Don Quixote of La Mancha, he who hath filled
the whole world with his achievements."

Roque Guinart at once perceived that Don Quixote's weakness was more
akin to madness than to swagger; and though he had sometimes heard him
spoken of, he never regarded the things attributed to him as true, nor
could he persuade himself that such a humour could become dominant
in the heart of man; he was extremely glad, therefore, to meet him and
test at close quarters what he had heard of him at a distance; so he
said to him, "Despair not, valiant knight, nor regard as an untoward
fate the position in which thou findest thyself; it may be that by
these slips thy crooked fortune will make itself straight; for
heaven by strange circuitous ways, mysterious and incomprehensible
to man, raises up the fallen and makes rich the poor."

Don Quixote was about to thank him, when they heard behind them a
noise as of a troop of horses; there was, however, but one, riding
on which at a furious pace came a youth, apparently about twenty years
of age, clad in green damask edged with gold and breeches and a
loose frock, with a hat looped up in the Walloon fashion,
tight-fitting polished boots, gilt spurs, dagger and sword, and in his
hand a musketoon, and a pair of pistols at his waist.

Roque turned round at the noise and perceived this comely figure,
which drawing near thus addressed him, "I came in quest of thee,
valiant Roque, to find in thee if not a remedy at least relief in my
misfortune; and not to keep thee in suspense, for I see thou dost
not recognise me, I will tell thee who I am; I am Claudia Jeronima,
the daughter of Simon Forte, thy good friend, and special enemy of
Clauquel Torrellas, who is thine also as being of the faction
opposed to thee. Thou knowest that this Torrellas has a son who is
called, or at least was not two hours since, Don Vicente Torrellas.
Well, to cut short the tale of my misfortune, I will tell thee in a
few words what this youth has brought upon me. He saw me, he paid
court to me, I listened to him, and, unknown to my father, I loved
him; for there is no woman, however secluded she may live or close she
may be kept, who will not have opportunities and to spare for
following her headlong impulses. In a word, he pledged himself to be
mine, and I promised to be his, without carrying matters any
further. Yesterday I learned that, forgetful of his pledge to me, he
was about to marry another, and that he was to go this morning to
plight his troth, intelligence which overwhelmed and exasperated me;
my father not being at home I was able to adopt this costume you
see, and urging my horse to speed I overtook Don Vicente about a
league from this, and without waiting to utter reproaches or hear
excuses I fired this musket at him, and these two pistols besides, and
to the best of my belief I must have lodged more than two bullets in
his body, opening doors to let my honour go free, enveloped in his
blood. I left him there in the hands of his servants, who did not dare
and were not able to interfere in his defence, and I come to seek from
thee a safe-conduct into France, where I have relatives with whom I
can live; and also to implore thee to protect my father, so that Don
Vicente's numerous kinsmen may not venture to wreak their lawless
vengeance upon him."

Roque, filled with admiration at the gallant bearing, high spirit,
comely figure, and adventure of the fair Claudia, said to her,
"Come, senora, let us go and see if thy enemy is dead; and then we
will consider what will be best for thee." Don Quixote, who had been
listening to what Claudia said and Roque Guinart said in reply to her,
exclaimed, "Nobody need trouble himself with the defence of this lady,
for I take it upon myself. Give me my horse and arms, and wait for
me here; I will go in quest of this knight, and dead or alive I will
make him keep his word plighted to so great beauty."

"Nobody need have any doubt about that," said Sancho, "for my master
has a very happy knack of matchmaking; it's not many days since he
forced another man to marry, who in the same way backed out of his
promise to another maiden; and if it had not been for his
persecutors the enchanters changing the man's proper shape into a
lacquey's the said maiden would not be one this minute."

Roque, who was paying more attention to the fair Claudia's adventure
than to the words of master or man, did not hear them; and ordering
his squires to restore to Sancho everything they had stripped Dapple
of, he directed them to return to the place where they had been
quartered during the night, and then set off with Claudia at full
speed in search of the wounded or slain Don Vicente. They reached
the spot where Claudia met him, but found nothing there save freshly
spilt blood; looking all round, however, they descried some people
on the slope of a hill above them, and concluded, as indeed it
proved to be, that it was Don Vicente, whom either dead or alive his
servants were removing to attend to his wounds or to bury him. They
made haste to overtake them, which, as the party moved slowly, they
were able to do with ease. They found Don Vicente in the arms of his
servants, whom he was entreating in a broken feeble voice to leave him
there to die, as the pain of his wounds would not suffer him to go any
farther. Claudia and Roque threw themselves off their horses and
advanced towards him; the servants were overawed by the appearance
of Roque, and Claudia was moved by the sight of Don Vicente, and going
up to him half tenderly half sternly, she seized his hand and said
to him, "Hadst thou given me this according to our compact thou
hadst never come to this pass."

The wounded gentleman opened his all but closed eyes, and
recognising Claudia said, "I see clearly, fair and mistaken lady, that
it is thou that hast slain me, a punishment not merited or deserved by
my feelings towards thee, for never did I mean to, nor could I,
wrong thee in thought or deed."

"It is not true, then," said Claudia, "that thou wert going this
morning to marry Leonora the daughter of the rich Balvastro?"

"Assuredly not," replied Don Vicente; "my cruel fortune must have
carried those tidings to thee to drive thee in thy jealousy to take my
life; and to assure thyself of this, press my hands and take me for
thy husband if thou wilt; I have no better satisfaction to offer
thee for the wrong thou fanciest thou hast received from me."

Claudia wrung his hands, and her own heart was so wrung that she lay
fainting on the bleeding breast of Don Vicente, whom a death spasm
seized the same instant. Roque was in perplexity and knew not what
to do; the servants ran to fetch water to sprinkle their faces, and
brought some and bathed them with it. Claudia recovered from her
fainting fit, but not so Don Vicente from the paroxysm that had
overtaken him, for his life had come to an end. On perceiving this,
Claudia, when she had convinced herself that her beloved husband was
no more, rent the air with her sighs and made the heavens ring with
her lamentations; she tore her hair and scattered it to the winds, she
beat her face with her hands and showed all the signs of grief and
sorrow that could be conceived to come from an afflicted heart.
"Cruel, reckless woman!" she cried, "how easily wert thou moved to
carry out a thought so wicked! O furious force of jealousy, to what
desperate lengths dost thou lead those that give thee lodging in their
bosoms! O husband, whose unhappy fate in being mine hath borne thee
from the marriage bed to the grave!"

So vehement and so piteous were the lamentations of Claudia that
they drew tears from Roque's eyes, unused as they were to shed them on
any occasion. The servants wept, Claudia swooned away again and again,
and the whole place seemed a field of sorrow and an abode of
misfortune. In the end Roque Guinart directed Don Vicente's servants
to carry his body to his father's village, which was close by, for
burial. Claudia told him she meant to go to a monastery of which an
aunt of hers was abbess, where she intended to pass her life with a
better and everlasting spouse. He applauded her pious resolution,
and offered to accompany her whithersoever she wished, and to
protect her father against the kinsmen of Don Vicente and all the
world, should they seek to injure him. Claudia would not on any
account allow him to accompany her; and thanking him for his offers as
well as she could, took leave of him in tears. The servants of Don
Vicente carried away his body, and Roque returned to his comrades, and
so ended the love of Claudia Jeronima; but what wonder, when it was
the insuperable and cruel might of jealousy that wove the web of her
sad story?

Roque Guinart found his squires at the place to which he had ordered
them, and Don Quixote on Rocinante in the midst of them delivering a
harangue to them in which he urged them to give up a mode of life so
full of peril, as well to the soul as to the body; but as most of them
were Gascons, rough lawless fellows, his speech did not make much
impression on them. Roque on coming up asked Sancho if his men had
returned and restored to him the treasures and jewels they had
stripped off Dapple. Sancho said they had, but that three kerchiefs
that were worth three cities were missing.

"What are you talking about, man?" said one of the bystanders; "I
have got them, and they are not worth three reals."

"That is true," said Don Quixote; "but my squire values them at
the rate he says, as having been given me by the person who gave
them."

Roque Guinart ordered them to be restored at once; and making his
men fall in in line he directed all the clothing, jewellery, and money
that they had taken since the last distribution to be produced; and
making a hasty valuation, and reducing what could not be divided
into money, he made shares for the whole band so equitably and
carefully, that in no case did he exceed or fall short of strict
distributive justice.

When this had been done, and all left satisfied, Roque observed to
Don Quixote, "If this scrupulous exactness were not observed with
these fellows there would be no living with them."

Upon this Sancho remarked, "From what I have seen here, justice is
such a good thing that there is no doing without it, even among the
thieves themselves."

One of the squires heard this, and raising the butt-end of his
harquebuss would no doubt have broken Sancho's head with it had not
Roque Guinart called out to him to hold his hand. Sancho was
frightened out of his wits, and vowed not to open his lips so long
as he was in the company of these people.

At this instant one or two of those squires who were posted as
sentinels on the roads, to watch who came along them and report what
passed to their chief, came up and said, "Senor, there is a great
troop of people not far off coming along the road to Barcelona."

To which Roque replied, "Hast thou made out whether they are of
the sort that are after us, or of the sort we are after?"

"The sort we are after," said the squire.

"Well then, away with you all," said Roque, "and bring them here
to me at once without letting one of them escape."

They obeyed, and Don Quixote, Sancho, and Roque, left by themselves,
waited to see what the squires brought, and while they were waiting
Roque said to Don Quixote, "It must seem a strange sort of life to
Senor Don Quixote, this of ours, strange adventures, strange
incidents, and all full of danger; and I do not wonder that it
should seem so, for in truth I must own there is no mode of life
more restless or anxious than ours. What led me into it was a
certain thirst for vengeance, which is strong enough to disturb the
quietest hearts. I am by nature tender-hearted and kindly, but, as I
said, the desire to revenge myself for a wrong that was done me so
overturns all my better impulses that I keep on in this way of life in
spite of what conscience tells me; and as one depth calls to
another, and one sin to another sin, revenges have linked themselves
together, and I have taken upon myself not only my own but those of
others: it pleases God, however, that, though I see myself in this
maze of entanglements, I do not lose all hope of escaping from it
and reaching a safe port."

Don Quixote was amazed to hear Roque utter such excellent and just
sentiments, for he did not think that among those who followed such
trades as robbing, murdering, and waylaying, there could be anyone
capable of a virtuous thought, and he said in reply, "Senor Roque, the
beginning of health lies in knowing the disease and in the sick
man's willingness to take the medicines which the physician
prescribes; you are sick, you know what ails you, and heaven, or
more properly speaking God, who is our physician, will administer
medicines that will cure you, and cure gradually, and not of a
sudden or by a miracle; besides, sinners of discernment are nearer
amendment than those who are fools; and as your worship has shown good
sense in your remarks, all you have to do is to keep up a good heart
and trust that the weakness of your conscience will be strengthened.
And if you have any desire to shorten the journey and put yourself
easily in the way of salvation, come with me, and I will show you
how to become a knight-errant, a calling wherein so many hardships and
mishaps are encountered that if they be taken as penances they will
lodge you in heaven in a trice."

Roque laughed at Don Quixote's exhortation, and changing the
conversation he related the tragic affair of Claudia Jeronima, at
which Sancho was extremely grieved; for he had not found the young
woman's beauty, boldness, and spirit at all amiss.

And now the squires despatched to make the prize came up, bringing
with them two gentlemen on horseback, two pilgrims on foot, and a
coach full of women with some six servants on foot and on horseback in
attendance on them, and a couple of muleteers whom the gentlemen had
with them. The squires made a ring round them, both victors and
vanquished maintaining profound silence, waiting for the great Roque
Guinart to speak. He asked the gentlemen who they were, whither they
were going, and what money they carried with them; "Senor," replied
one of them, "we are two captains of Spanish infantry; our companies
are at Naples, and we are on our way to embark in four galleys which
they say are at Barcelona under orders for Sicily; and we have about
two or three hundred crowns, with which we are, according to our
notions, rich and contented, for a soldier's poverty does not allow
a more extensive hoard."

Roque asked the pilgrims the same questions he had put to the
captains, and was answered that they were going to take ship for Rome,
and that between them they might have about sixty reals. He asked also
who was in the coach, whither they were bound and what money they had,
and one of the men on horseback replied, "The persons in the coach are
my lady Dona Guiomar de Quinones, wife of the regent of the Vicaria at
Naples, her little daughter, a handmaid and a duenna; we six
servants are in attendance upon her, and the money amounts to six
hundred crowns."

"So then," said Roque Guinart, "we have got here nine hundred crowns
and sixty reals; my soldiers must number some sixty; see how much
there falls to each, for I am a bad arithmetician." As soon as the
robbers heard this they raised a shout of "Long life to Roque Guinart,
in spite of the lladres that seek his ruin!"

The captains showed plainly the concern they felt, the regent's lady
was downcast, and the pilgrims did not at all enjoy seeing their
property confiscated. Roque kept them in suspense in this way for a
while; but he had no desire to prolong their distress, which might
be seen a bowshot off, and turning to the captains he said, "Sirs,
will your worships be pleased of your courtesy to lend me sixty
crowns, and her ladyship the regent's wife eighty, to satisfy this
band that follows me, for 'it is by his singing the abbot gets his
dinner;' and then you may at once proceed on your journey, free and
unhindered, with a safe-conduct which I shall give you, so that if you
come across any other bands of mine that I have scattered in these
parts, they may do you no harm; for I have no intention of doing
injury to soldiers, or to any woman, especially one of quality."

Profuse and hearty were the expressions of gratitude with which
the captains thanked Roque for his courtesy and generosity; for such
they regarded his leaving them their own money. Senora Dona Guiomar de
Quinones wanted to throw herself out of the coach to kiss the feet and
hands of the great Roque, but he would not suffer it on any account;
so far from that, he begged her pardon for the wrong he had done her
under pressure of the inexorable necessities of his unfortunate
calling. The regent's lady ordered one of her servants to give the
eighty crowns that had been assessed as her share at once, for the
captains had already paid down their sixty. The pilgrims were about to
give up the whole of their little hoard, but Roque bade them keep
quiet, and turning to his men he said, "Of these crowns two fall to
each man and twenty remain over; let ten be given to these pilgrims,
and the other ten to this worthy squire that he may be able to speak
favourably of this adventure;" and then having writing materials, with
which he always went provided, brought to him, he gave them in writing
a safe-conduct to the leaders of his bands; and bidding them
farewell let them go free and filled with admiration at his
magnanimity, his generous disposition, and his unusual conduct, and
inclined to regard him as an Alexander the Great rather than a
notorious robber.

One of the squires observed in his mixture of Gascon and Catalan,
"This captain of ours would make a better friar than highwayman; if he
wants to be so generous another time, let it be with his own
property and not ours."

The unlucky wight did not speak so low but that Roque overheard him,
and drawing his sword almost split his head in two, saying, "That is
the way I punish impudent saucy fellows." They were all taken aback,
and not one of them dared to utter a word, such deference did they pay
him. Roque then withdrew to one side and wrote a letter to a friend of
his at Barcelona, telling him that the famous Don Quixote of La
Mancha, the knight-errant of whom there was so much talk, was with
him, and was, he assured him, the drollest and wisest man in the
world; and that in four days from that date, that is to say, on
Saint John the Baptist's Day, he was going to deposit him in full
armour mounted on his horse Rocinante, together with his squire Sancho
on an ass, in the middle of the strand of the city; and bidding him
give notice of this to his friends the Niarros, that they might divert
themselves with him. He wished, he said, his enemies the Cadells could
be deprived of this pleasure; but that was impossible, because the
crazes and shrewd sayings of Don Quixote and the humours of his squire
Sancho Panza could not help giving general pleasure to all the
world. He despatched the letter by one of his squires, who, exchanging
the costume of a highwayman for that of a peasant, made his way into
Barcelona and gave it to the person to whom it was directed.




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