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CHAPTER LXX

WHICH FOLLOWS SIXTY-NINE AND DEALS WITH MATTERS INDISPENSABLE FOR
THE CLEAR COMPREHENSION OF THIS HISTORY


Sancho slept that night in a cot in the same chamber with Don
Quixote, a thing he would have gladly excused if he could for he
knew very well that with questions and answers his master would not
let him sleep, and he was in no humour for talking much, as he still
felt the pain of his late martyrdom, which interfered with his freedom
of speech; and it would have been more to his taste to sleep in a
hovel alone, than in that luxurious chamber in company. And so well
founded did his apprehension prove, and so correct was his
anticipation, that scarcely had his master got into bed when he
said, "What dost thou think of tonight's adventure, Sancho? Great
and mighty is the power of cold-hearted scorn, for thou with thine own
eyes hast seen Altisidora slain, not by arrows, nor by the sword,
nor by any warlike weapon, nor by deadly poisons, but by the thought
of the sternness and scorn with which I have always treated her."

"She might have died and welcome," said Sancho, "when she pleased
and how she pleased; and she might have left me alone, for I never
made her fall in love or scorned her. I don't know nor can I imagine
how the recovery of Altisidora, a damsel more fanciful than wise,
can have, as I have said before, anything to do with the sufferings of
Sancho Panza. Now I begin to see plainly and clearly that there are
enchanters and enchanted people in the world; and may God deliver me
from them, since I can't deliver myself; and so I beg of your
worship to let me sleep and not ask me any more questions, unless
you want me to throw myself out of the window."

"Sleep, Sancho my friend," said Don Quixote, "if the pinprodding and
pinches thou hast received and the smacks administered to thee will
let thee."

"No pain came up to the insult of the smacks," said Sancho, "for the
simple reason that it was duennas, confound them, that gave them to
me; but once more I entreat your worship to let me sleep, for sleep is
relief from misery to those who are miserable when awake."

"Be it so, and God be with thee," said Don Quixote.

They fell asleep, both of them, and Cide Hamete, the author of
this great history, took this opportunity to record and relate what it
was that induced the duke and duchess to get up the elaborate plot
that has been described. The bachelor Samson Carrasco, he says, not
forgetting how he as the Knight of the Mirrors had been vanquished and
overthrown by Don Quixote, which defeat and overthrow upset all his
plans, resolved to try his hand again, hoping for better luck than
he had before; and so, having learned where Don Quixote was from the
page who brought the letter and present to Sancho's wife, Teresa
Panza, he got himself new armour and another horse, and put a white
moon upon his shield, and to carry his arms he had a mule led by a
peasant, not by Tom Cecial his former squire for fear he should be
recognised by Sancho or Don Quixote. He came to the duke's castle, and
the duke informed him of the road and route Don Quixote had taken with
the intention of being present at the jousts at Saragossa. He told
him, too, of the jokes he had practised upon him, and of the device
for the disenchantment of Dulcinea at the expense of Sancho's
backside; and finally he gave him an account of the trick Sancho had
played upon his master, making him believe that Dulcinea was enchanted
and turned into a country wench; and of how the duchess, his wife, had
persuaded Sancho that it was he himself who was deceived, inasmuch
as Dulcinea was really enchanted; at which the bachelor laughed not
a little, and marvelled as well at the sharpness and simplicity of
Sancho as at the length to which Don Quixote's madness went. The
duke begged of him if he found him (whether he overcame him or not) to
return that way and let him know the result. This the bachelor did; he
set out in quest of Don Quixote, and not finding him at Saragossa,
he went on, and how he fared has been already told. He returned to the
duke's castle and told him all, what the conditions of the combat
were, and how Don Quixote was now, like a loyal knight-errant,
returning to keep his promise of retiring to his village for a year,
by which time, said the bachelor, he might perhaps be cured of his
madness; for that was the object that had led him to adopt these
disguises, as it was a sad thing for a gentleman of such good parts as
Don Quixote to be a madman. And so he took his leave of the duke,
and went home to his village to wait there for Don Quixote, who was
coming after him. Thereupon the duke seized the opportunity of
practising this mystification upon him; so much did he enjoy
everything connected with Sancho and Don Quixote. He had the roads
about the castle far and near, everywhere he thought Don Quixote was
likely to pass on his return, occupied by large numbers of his
servants on foot and on horseback, who were to bring him to the
castle, by fair means or foul, if they met him. They did meet him, and
sent word to the duke, who, having already settled what was to be
done, as soon as he heard of his arrival, ordered the torches and
lamps in the court to be lit and Altisidora to be placed on the
catafalque with all the pomp and ceremony that has been described, the
whole affair being so well arranged and acted that it differed but
little from reality. And Cide Hamete says, moreover, that for his part
he considers the concocters of the joke as crazy as the victims of it,
and that the duke and duchess were not two fingers' breadth removed
from being something like fools themselves when they took such pains
to make game of a pair of fools.

As for the latter, one was sleeping soundly and the other lying
awake occupied with his desultory thoughts, when daylight came to them
bringing with it the desire to rise; for the lazy down was never a
delight to Don Quixote, victor or vanquished. Altisidora, come back
from death to life as Don Quixote fancied, following up the freak of
her lord and lady, entered the chamber, crowned with the garland she
had worn on the catafalque and in a robe of white taffeta
embroidered with gold flowers, her hair flowing loose over her
shoulders, and leaning upon a staff of fine black ebony. Don
Quixote, disconcerted and in confusion at her appearance, huddled
himself up and well-nigh covered himself altogether with the sheets
and counterpane of the bed, tongue-tied, and unable to offer her any
civility. Altisidora seated herself on a chair at the head of the bed,
and, after a deep sigh, said to him in a feeble, soft voice, "When
women of rank and modest maidens trample honour under foot, and give a
loose to the tongue that breaks through every impediment, publishing
abroad the inmost secrets of their hearts, they are reduced to sore
extremities. Such a one am I, Senor Don Quixote of La Mancha, crushed,
conquered, love-smitten, but yet patient under suffering and virtuous,
and so much so that my heart broke with grief and I lost my life.
For the last two days I have been dead, slain by the thought of the
cruelty with which thou hast treated me, obdurate knight,

O harder thou than marble to my plaint;

or at least believed to be dead by all who saw me; and had it not been
that Love, taking pity on me, let my recovery rest upon the sufferings
of this good squire, there I should have remained in the other world."

"Love might very well have let it rest upon the sufferings of my
ass, and I should have been obliged to him," said Sancho. "But tell
me, senora- and may heaven send you a tenderer lover than my master-
what did you see in the other world? What goes on in hell? For of
course that's where one who dies in despair is bound for."

"To tell you the truth," said Altisidora, "I cannot have died
outright, for I did not go into hell; had I gone in, it is very
certain I should never have come out again, do what I might. The truth
is, I came to the gate, where some dozen or so of devils were
playing tennis, all in breeches and doublets, with falling collars
trimmed with Flemish bonelace, and ruffles of the same that served
them for wristbands, with four fingers' breadth of the arms exposed to
make their hands look longer; in their hands they held rackets of
fire; but what amazed me still more was that books, apparently full of
wind and rubbish, served them for tennis balls, a strange and
marvellous thing; this, however, did not astonish me so much as to
observe that, although with players it is usual for the winners to
be glad and the losers sorry, there in that game all were growling,
all were snarling, and all were cursing one another." "That's no
wonder," said Sancho; "for devils, whether playing or not, can never
be content, win or lose."

"Very likely," said Altisidora; "but there is another thing that
surprises me too, I mean surprised me then, and that was that no
ball outlasted the first throw or was of any use a second time; and it
was wonderful the constant succession there was of books, new and old.
To one of them, a brand-new, well-bound one, they gave such a stroke
that they knocked the guts out of it and scattered the leaves about.
'Look what book that is,' said one devil to another, and the other
replied, 'It is the "Second Part of the History of Don Quixote of La
Mancha," not by Cide Hamete, the original author, but by an
Aragonese who by his own account is of Tordesillas.' 'Out of this with
it,' said the first, 'and into the depths of hell with it out of my
sight.' 'Is it so bad?' said the other. 'So bad is it,' said the
first, 'that if I had set myself deliberately to make a worse, I could
not have done it.' They then went on with their game, knocking other
books about; and I, having heard them mention the name of Don
Quixote whom I love and adore so, took care to retain this vision in
my memory."

"A vision it must have been, no doubt," said Don Quixote, "for there
is no other I in the world; this history has been going about here for
some time from hand to hand, but it does not stay long in any, for
everybody gives it a taste of his foot. I am not disturbed by
hearing that I am wandering in a fantastic shape in the darkness of
the pit or in the daylight above, for I am not the one that history
treats of. If it should be good, faithful, and true, it will have ages
of life; but if it should be bad, from its birth to its burial will
not be a very long journey."

Altisidora was about to proceed with her complaint against Don
Quixote, when he said to her, "I have several times told you, senora
that it grieves me you should have set your affections upon me, as
from mine they can only receive gratitude, but no return. I was born
to belong to Dulcinea del Toboso, and the fates, if there are any,
dedicated me to her; and to suppose that any other beauty can take the
place she occupies in my heart is to suppose an impossibility. This
frank declaration should suffice to make you retire within the
bounds of your modesty, for no one can bind himself to do
impossibilities."

Hearing this, Altisidora, with a show of anger and agitation,
exclaimed, "God's life! Don Stockfish, soul of a mortar, stone of a
date, more obstinate and obdurate than a clown asked a favour when
he has his mind made up, if I fall upon you I'll tear your eyes out!
Do you fancy, Don Vanquished, Don Cudgelled, that I died for your
sake? All that you have seen to-night has been make-believe; I'm not
the woman to let the black of my nail suffer for such a camel, much
less die!"

"That I can well believe," said Sancho; "for all that about lovers
pining to death is absurd; they may talk of it, but as for doing it-
Judas may believe that!"

While they were talking, the musician, singer, and poet, who had
sung the two stanzas given above came in, and making a profound
obeisance to Don Quixote said, "Will your worship, sir knight,
reckon and retain me in the number of your most faithful servants, for
I have long been a great admirer of yours, as well because of your
fame as because of your achievements?" "Will your worship tell me
who you are," replied Don Quixote, "so that my courtesy may be
answerable to your deserts?" The young man replied that he was the
musician and songster of the night before. "Of a truth," said Don
Quixote, "your worship has a most excellent voice; but what you sang
did not seem to me very much to the purpose; for what have
Garcilasso's stanzas to do with the death of this lady?"

"Don't be surprised at that," returned the musician; "for with the
callow poets of our day the way is for every one to write as he
pleases and pilfer where he chooses, whether it be germane to the
matter or not, and now-a-days there is no piece of silliness they
can sing or write that is not set down to poetic licence."

Don Quixote was about to reply, but was prevented by the duke and
duchess, who came in to see him, and with them there followed a long
and delightful conversation, in the course of which Sancho said so
many droll and saucy things that he left the duke and duchess
wondering not only at his simplicity but at his sharpness. Don Quixote
begged their permission to take his departure that same day,
inasmuch as for a vanquished knight like himself it was fitter he
should live in a pig-sty than in a royal palace. They gave it very
readily, and the duchess asked him if Altisidora was in his good
graces.

He replied, "Senora, let me tell your ladyship that this damsel's
ailment comes entirely of idleness, and the cure for it is honest
and constant employment. She herself has told me that lace is worn
in hell; and as she must know how to make it, let it never be out of
her hands; for when she is occupied in shifting the bobbins to and
fro, the image or images of what she loves will not shift to and fro
in her thoughts; this is the truth, this is my opinion, and this is my
advice."

"And mine," added Sancho; "for I never in all my life saw a
lace-maker that died for love; when damsels are at work their minds
are more set on finishing their tasks than on thinking of their loves.
I speak from my own experience; for when I'm digging I never think
of my old woman; I mean my Teresa Panza, whom I love better than my
own eyelids." "You say well, Sancho," said the duchess, "and I will
take care that my Altisidora employs herself henceforward in
needlework of some sort; for she is extremely expert at it." "There is
no occasion to have recourse to that remedy, senora," said Altisidora;
"for the mere thought of the cruelty with which this vagabond
villain has treated me will suffice to blot him out of my memory
without any other device; with your highness's leave I will retire,
not to have before my eyes, I won't say his rueful countenance, but
his abominable, ugly looks." "That reminds me of the common saying,
that 'he that rails is ready to forgive,'" said the duke.

Altisidora then, pretending to wipe away her tears with a
handkerchief, made an obeisance to her master and mistress and quitted
the room.

"Ill luck betide thee, poor damsel," said Sancho, "ill luck betide
thee! Thou hast fallen in with a soul as dry as a rush and a heart
as hard as oak; had it been me, i'faith 'another cock would have
crowed to thee.'"

So the conversation came to an end, and Don Quixote dressed
himself and dined with the duke and duchess, and set out the same
evening.




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