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CHAPTER XVI

OF WHAT HAPPENED TO THE INGENIOUS GENTLEMAN IN THE INN WHICH HE TOOK
TO BE A CASTLE

The innkeeper, seeing Don Quixote slung across the ass, asked Sancho
what was amiss with him. Sancho answered that it was nothing, only
that he had fallen down from a rock and had his ribs a little bruised.
The innkeeper had a wife whose disposition was not such as those of
her calling commonly have, for she was by nature kind-hearted and felt
for the sufferings of her neighbours, so she at once set about tending
Don Quixote, and made her young daughter, a very comely girl, help her
in taking care of her guest. There was besides in the inn, as servant,
an Asturian lass with a broad face, flat poll, and snub nose, blind of
one eye and not very sound in the other. The elegance of her shape, to
be sure, made up for all her defects; she did not measure seven
palms from head to foot, and her shoulders, which overweighted her
somewhat, made her contemplate the ground more than she liked. This
graceful lass, then, helped the young girl, and the two made up a very
bad bed for Don Quixote in a garret that showed evident signs of
having formerly served for many years as a straw-loft, in which
there was also quartered a carrier whose bed was placed a little
beyond our Don Quixote's, and, though only made of the pack-saddles
and cloths of his mules, had much the advantage of it, as Don
Quixote's consisted simply of four rough boards on two not very even
trestles, a mattress, that for thinness might have passed for a quilt,
full of pellets which, were they not seen through the rents to be
wool, would to the touch have seemed pebbles in hardness, two sheets
made of buckler leather, and a coverlet the threads of which anyone
that chose might have counted without missing one in the reckoning.

On this accursed bed Don Quixote stretched himself, and the
hostess and her daughter soon covered him with plasters from top to
toe, while Maritornes- for that was the name of the Asturian- held the
light for them, and while plastering him, the hostess, observing how
full of wheals Don Quixote was in some places, remarked that this
had more the look of blows than of a fall.

It was not blows, Sancho said, but that the rock had many points and
projections, and that each of them had left its mark. "Pray,
senora," he added, "manage to save some tow, as there will be no
want of some one to use it, for my loins too are rather sore."

"Then you must have fallen too," said the hostess.

"I did not fall," said Sancho Panza, "but from the shock I got at
seeing my master fall, my body aches so that I feel as if I had had
a thousand thwacks."

"That may well be," said the young girl, "for it has many a time
happened to me to dream that I was falling down from a tower and never
coming to the ground, and when I awoke from the dream to find myself
as weak and shaken as if I had really fallen."

"There is the point, senora," replied Sancho Panza, "that I
without dreaming at all, but being more awake than I am now, find
myself with scarcely less wheals than my master, Don Quixote."

"How is the gentleman called?" asked Maritornes the Asturian.

"Don Quixote of La Mancha," answered Sancho Panza, "and he is a
knight-adventurer, and one of the best and stoutest that have been
seen in the world this long time past."

"What is a knight-adventurer?" said the lass.

"Are you so new in the world as not to know?" answered Sancho Panza.
"Well, then, you must know, sister, that a knight-adventurer is a
thing that in two words is seen drubbed and emperor, that is to-day
the most miserable and needy being in the world, and to-morrow will
have two or three crowns of kingdoms to give his squire."

"Then how is it," said the hostess, "that belonging to so good a
master as this, you have not, to judge by appearances, even so much as
a county?"

"It is too soon yet," answered Sancho, "for we have only been a
month going in quest of adventures, and so far we have met with
nothing that can be called one, for it will happen that when one thing
is looked for another thing is found; however, if my master Don
Quixote gets well of this wound, or fall, and I am left none the worse
of it, I would not change my hopes for the best title in Spain."

To all this conversation Don Quixote was listening very attentively,
and sitting up in bed as well as he could, and taking the hostess by
the hand he said to her, "Believe me, fair lady, you may call yourself
fortunate in having in this castle of yours sheltered my person, which
is such that if I do not myself praise it, it is because of what is
commonly said, that self-praise debaseth; but my squire will inform
you who I am. I only tell you that I shall preserve for ever inscribed
on my memory the service you have rendered me in order to tender you
my gratitude while life shall last me; and would to Heaven love held
me not so enthralled and subject to its laws and to the eyes of that
fair ingrate whom I name between my teeth, but that those of this
lovely damsel might be the masters of my liberty."

The hostess, her daughter, and the worthy Maritornes listened in
bewilderment to the words of the knight-errant; for they understood
about as much of them as if he had been talking Greek, though they
could perceive they were all meant for expressions of good-will and
blandishments; and not being accustomed to this kind of language, they
stared at him and wondered to themselves, for he seemed to them a
man of a different sort from those they were used to, and thanking him
in pothouse phrase for his civility they left him, while the
Asturian gave her attention to Sancho, who needed it no less than
his master.

The carrier had made an arrangement with her for recreation that
night, and she had given him her word that when the guests were
quiet and the family asleep she would come in search of him and meet
his wishes unreservedly. And it is said of this good lass that she
never made promises of the kind without fulfilling them, even though
she made them in a forest and without any witness present, for she
plumed herself greatly on being a lady and held it no disgrace to be
in such an employment as servant in an inn, because, she said,
misfortunes and ill-luck had brought her to that position. The hard,
narrow, wretched, rickety bed of Don Quixote stood first in the middle
of this star-lit stable, and close beside it Sancho made his, which
merely consisted of a rush mat and a blanket that looked as if it
was of threadbare canvas rather than of wool. Next to these two beds
was that of the carrier, made up, as has been said, of the
pack-saddles and all the trappings of the two best mules he had,
though there were twelve of them, sleek, plump, and in prime
condition, for he was one of the rich carriers of Arevalo, according
to the author of this history, who particularly mentions this
carrier because he knew him very well, and they even say was in some
degree a relation of his; besides which Cide Hamete Benengeli was a
historian of great research and accuracy in all things, as is very
evident since he would not pass over in silence those that have been
already mentioned, however trifling and insignificant they might be,
an example that might be followed by those grave historians who relate
transactions so curtly and briefly that we hardly get a taste of them,
all the substance of the work being left in the inkstand from
carelessness, perverseness, or ignorance. A thousand blessings on
the author of "Tablante de Ricamonte" and that of the other book in
which the deeds of the Conde Tomillas are recounted; with what
minuteness they describe everything!

To proceed, then: after having paid a visit to his team and given
them their second feed, the carrier stretched himself on his
pack-saddles and lay waiting for his conscientious Maritornes.
Sancho was by this time plastered and had lain down, and though he
strove to sleep the pain of his ribs would not let him, while Don
Quixote with the pain of his had his eyes as wide open as a hare's.
The inn was all in silence, and in the whole of it there was no
light except that given by a lantern that hung burning in the middle
of the gateway. This strange stillness, and the thoughts, always
present to our knight's mind, of the incidents described at every turn
in the books that were the cause of his misfortune, conjured up to his
imagination as extraordinary a delusion as can well be conceived,
which was that he fancied himself to have reached a famous castle
(for, as has been said, all the inns he lodged in were castles to
his eyes), and that the daughter of the innkeeper was daughter of
the lord of the castle, and that she, won by his high-bred bearing,
had fallen in love with him, and had promised to come to his bed for a
while that night without the knowledge of her parents; and holding all
this fantasy that he had constructed as solid fact, he began to feel
uneasy and to consider the perilous risk which his virtue was about to
encounter, and he resolved in his heart to commit no treason to his
lady Dulcinea del Toboso, even though the queen Guinevere herself
and the dame Quintanona should present themselves before him.

While he was taken up with these vagaries, then, the time and the
hour- an unlucky one for him- arrived for the Asturian to come, who in
her smock, with bare feet and her hair gathered into a fustian coif,
with noiseless and cautious steps entered the chamber where the
three were quartered, in quest of the carrier; but scarcely had she
gained the door when Don Quixote perceived her, and sitting up in
his bed in spite of his plasters and the pain of his ribs, he
stretched out his arms to receive his beauteous damsel. The
Asturian, who went all doubled up and in silence with her hands before
her feeling for her lover, encountered the arms of Don Quixote, who
grasped her tightly by the wrist, and drawing her towards him, while
she dared not utter a word, made her sit down on the bed. He then felt
her smock, and although it was of sackcloth it appeared to him to be
of the finest and softest silk: on her wrists she wore some glass
beads, but to him they had the sheen of precious Orient pearls: her
hair, which in some measure resembled a horse's mane, he rated as
threads of the brightest gold of Araby, whose refulgence dimmed the
sun himself: her breath, which no doubt smelt of yesterday's stale
salad, seemed to him to diffuse a sweet aromatic fragrance from her
mouth; and, in short, he drew her portrait in his imagination with the
same features and in the same style as that which he had seen in his
books of the other princesses who, smitten by love, came with all
the adornments that are here set down, to see the sorely wounded
knight; and so great was the poor gentleman's blindness that neither
touch, nor smell, nor anything else about the good lass that would
have made any but a carrier vomit, were enough to undeceive him; on
the contrary, he was persuaded he had the goddess of beauty in his
arms, and holding her firmly in his grasp he went on to say in low,
tender voice:

"Would that found myself, lovely and exalted lady, in a position
to repay such a favour as that which you, by the sight of your great
beauty, have granted me; but fortune, which is never weary of
persecuting the good, has chosen to place me upon this bed, where I
lie so bruised and broken that though my inclination would gladly
comply with yours it is impossible; besides, to this impossibility
another yet greater is to be added, which is the faith that I have
pledged to the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso, sole lady of my most
secret thoughts; and were it not that this stood in the way I should
not be so insensible a knight as to miss the happy opportunity which
your great goodness has offered me."

Maritornes was fretting and sweating at finding herself held so fast
by Don Quixote, and not understanding or heeding the words he
addressed to her, she strove without speaking to free herself. The
worthy carrier, whose unholy thoughts kept him awake, was aware of his
doxy the moment she entered the door, and was listening attentively to
all Don Quixote said; and jealous that the Asturian should have broken
her word with him for another, drew nearer to Don Quixote's bed and
stood still to see what would come of this talk which he could not
understand; but when he perceived the wench struggling to get free and
Don Quixote striving to hold her, not relishing the joke he raised his
arm and delivered such a terrible cuff on the lank jaws of the amorous
knight that be bathed all his mouth in blood, and not content with
this he mounted on his ribs and with his feet tramped all over them at
a pace rather smarter than a trot. The bed which was somewhat crazy
and not very firm on its feet, unable to support the additional weight
of the carrier, came to the ground, and at the mighty crash of this
the innkeeper awoke and at once concluded that it must be some brawl
of Maritornes', because after calling loudly to her he got no
answer. With this suspicion he got up, and lighting a lamp hastened to
the quarter where he had heard the disturbance. The wench, seeing that
her master was coming and knowing that his temper was terrible,
frightened and panic-stricken made for the bed of Sancho Panza, who
still slept, and crouching upon it made a ball of herself.

The innkeeper came in exclaiming, "Where art thou, strumpet? Of
course this is some of thy work." At this Sancho awoke, and feeling
this mass almost on top of him fancied he had the nightmare and
began to distribute fisticuffs all round, of which a certain share
fell upon Maritornes, who, irritated by the pain and flinging
modesty aside, paid back so many in return to Sancho that she woke him
up in spite of himself. He then, finding himself so handled, by whom
he knew not, raising himself up as well as he could, grappled with
Maritornes, and he and she between them began the bitterest and
drollest scrimmage in the world. The carrier, however, perceiving by
the light of the innkeeper candle how it fared with his ladylove,
quitting Don Quixote, ran to bring her the help she needed; and the
innkeeper did the same but with a different intention, for his was
to chastise the lass, as he believed that beyond a doubt she alone was
the cause of all the harmony. And so, as the saying is, cat to rat,
rat to rope, rope to stick, the carrier pounded Sancho, Sancho the
lass, she him, and the innkeeper her, and all worked away so briskly
that they did not give themselves a moment's rest; and the best of
it was that the innkeeper's lamp went out, and as they were left in
the dark they all laid on one upon the other in a mass so unmercifully
that there was not a sound spot left where a hand could light.

It so happened that there was lodging that night in the inn a
caudrillero of what they call the Old Holy Brotherhood of Toledo, who,
also hearing the extraordinary noise of the conflict, seized his staff
and the tin case with his warrants, and made his way in the dark
into the room crying: "Hold! in the name of the Jurisdiction! Hold! in
the name of the Holy Brotherhood!"

The first that he came upon was the pummelled Don Quixote, who lay
stretched senseless on his back upon his broken-down bed, and, his
hand falling on the beard as he felt about, he continued to cry, "Help
for the Jurisdiction!" but perceiving that he whom he had laid hold of
did not move or stir, he concluded that he was dead and that those
in the room were his murderers, and with this suspicion he raised
his voice still higher, calling out, "Shut the inn gate; see that no
one goes out; they have killed a man here!" This cry startled them
all, and each dropped the contest at the point at which the voice
reached him. The innkeeper retreated to his room, the carrier to his
pack-saddles, the lass to her crib; the unlucky Don Quixote and Sancho
alone were unable to move from where they were. The cuadrillero on
this let go Don Quixote's beard, and went out to look for a light to
search for and apprehend the culprits; but not finding one, as the
innkeeper had purposely extinguished the lantern on retreating to
his room, he was compelled to have recourse to the hearth, where after
much time and trouble he lit another lamp.




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