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CHAPTER XXIII

OF WHAT BEFELL DON QUIXOTE IN THE SIERRA MORENA, WHICH WAS ONE OF
THE RAREST ADVENTURES RELATED IN THIS VERACIOUS HISTORY

Seeing himself served in this way, Don Quixote said to his squire,
"I have always heard it said, Sancho, that to do good to boors is to
throw water into the sea. If I had believed thy words, I should have
avoided this trouble; but it is done now, it is only to have
patience and take warning for the future."

"Your worship will take warning as much as I am a Turk," returned
Sancho; "but, as you say this mischief might have been avoided if
you had believed me, believe me now, and a still greater one will be
avoided; for I tell you chivalry is of no account with the Holy
Brotherhood, and they don't care two maravedis for all the
knights-errant in the world; and I can tell you I fancy I hear their
arrows whistling past my ears this minute."

"Thou art a coward by nature, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "but lest
thou shouldst say I am obstinate, and that I never do as thou dost
advise, this once I will take thy advice, and withdraw out of reach of
that fury thou so dreadest; but it must be on one condition, that
never, in life or in death, thou art to say to anyone that I retired
or withdrew from this danger out of fear, but only in compliance
with thy entreaties; for if thou sayest otherwise thou wilt lie
therein, and from this time to that, and from that to this, I give
thee lie, and say thou liest and wilt lie every time thou thinkest
or sayest it; and answer me not again; for at the mere thought that
I am withdrawing or retiring from any danger, above all from this,
which does seem to carry some little shadow of fear with it, I am
ready to take my stand here and await alone, not only that Holy
Brotherhood you talk of and dread, but the brothers of the twelve
tribes of Israel, and the Seven Maccabees, and Castor and Pollux,
and all the brothers and brotherhoods in the world."

"Senor," replied Sancho, "to retire is not to flee, and there is
no wisdom in waiting when danger outweighs hope, and it is the part of
wise men to preserve themselves to-day for to-morrow, and not risk all
in one day; and let me tell you, though I am a clown and a boor, I
have got some notion of what they call safe conduct; so repent not
of having taken my advice, but mount Rocinante if you can, and if
not I will help you; and follow me, for my mother-wit tells me we have
more need of legs than hands just now."

Don Quixote mounted without replying, and, Sancho leading the way on
his ass, they entered the side of the Sierra Morena, which was close
by, as it was Sancho's design to cross it entirely and come out
again at El Viso or Almodovar del Campo, and hide for some days
among its crags so as to escape the search of the Brotherhood should
they come to look for them. He was encouraged in this by perceiving
that the stock of provisions carried by the ass had come safe out of
the fray with the galley slaves, a circumstance that he regarded as
a miracle, seeing how they pillaged and ransacked.

That night they reached the very heart of the Sierra Morena, where
it seemed prudent to Sancho to pass the night and even some days, at
least as many as the stores he carried might last, and so they
encamped between two rocks and among some cork trees; but fatal
destiny, which, according to the opinion of those who have not the
light of the true faith, directs, arranges, and settles everything
in its own way, so ordered it that Gines de Pasamonte, the famous
knave and thief who by the virtue and madness of Don Quixote had
been released from the chain, driven by fear of the Holy
Brotherhood, which he had good reason to dread, resolved to take
hiding in the mountains; and his fate and fear led him to the same
spot to which Don Quixote and Sancho Panza had been led by theirs,
just in time to recognise them and leave them to fall asleep: and as
the wicked are always ungrateful, and necessity leads to evildoing,
and immediate advantage overcomes all considerations of the future,
Gines, who was neither grateful nor well-principled, made up his
mind to steal Sancho Panza's ass, not troubling himself about
Rocinante, as being a prize that was no good either to pledge or sell.
While Sancho slept he stole his ass, and before day dawned he was
far out of reach.

Aurora made her appearance bringing gladness to the earth but
sadness to Sancho Panza, for he found that his Dapple was missing, and
seeing himself bereft of him he began the saddest and most doleful
lament in the world, so loud that Don Quixote awoke at his
exclamations and heard him saying, "O son of my bowels, born in my
very house, my children's plaything, my wife's joy, the envy of my
neighbours, relief of my burdens, and lastly, half supporter of
myself, for with the six-and-twenty maravedis thou didst earn me daily
I met half my charges."

Don Quixote, when he heard the lament and learned the cause,
consoled Sancho with the best arguments he could, entreating him to be
patient, and promising to give him a letter of exchange ordering three
out of five ass-colts that he had at home to be given to him. Sancho
took comfort at this, dried his tears, suppressed his sobs, and
returned thanks for the kindness shown him by Don Quixote. He on his
part was rejoiced to the heart on entering the mountains, as they
seemed to him to be just the place for the adventures he was in
quest of. They brought back to his memory the marvellous adventures
that had befallen knights-errant in like solitudes and wilds, and he
went along reflecting on these things, so absorbed and carried away by
them that he had no thought for anything else. Nor had Sancho any
other care (now that he fancied he was travelling in a safe quarter)
than to satisfy his appetite with such remains as were left of the
clerical spoils, and so he marched behind his master laden with what
Dapple used to carry, emptying the sack and packing his paunch, and so
long as he could go that way, he would not have given a farthing to
meet with another adventure.

While so engaged he raised his eyes and saw that his master had
halted, and was trying with the point of his pike to lift some bulky
object that lay upon the ground, on which he hastened to join him
and help him if it were needful, and reached him just as with the
point of the pike he was raising a saddle-pad with a valise attached
to it, half or rather wholly rotten and torn; but so heavy were they
that Sancho had to help to take them up, and his master directed him
to see what the valise contained. Sancho did so with great alacrity,
and though the valise was secured by a chain and padlock, from its
torn and rotten condition he was able to see its contents, which
were four shirts of fine holland, and other articles of linen no
less curious than clean; and in a handkerchief he found a good lot
of gold crowns, and as soon as he saw them he exclaimed:

"Blessed be all Heaven for sending us an adventure that is good
for something!"

Searching further he found a little memorandum book richly bound;
this Don Quixote asked of him, telling him to take the money and
keep it for himself. Sancho kissed his hands for the favour, and
cleared the valise of its linen, which he stowed away in the provision
sack. Considering the whole matter, Don Quixote observed:

"It seems to me, Sancho- and it is impossible it can be otherwise-
that some strayed traveller must have crossed this sierra and been
attacked and slain by footpads, who brought him to this remote spot to
bury him."

"That cannot be," answered Sancho, "because if they had been robbers
they would not have left this money."

"Thou art right," said Don Quixote, "and I cannot guess or explain
what this may mean; but stay; let us see if in this memorandum book
there is anything written by which we may be able to trace out or
discover what we want to know."

He opened it, and the first thing he found in it, written roughly
but in a very good hand, was a sonnet, and reading it aloud that
Sancho might hear it, he found that it ran as follows:


SONNET
Or Love is lacking in intelligence,
Or to the height of cruelty attains,
Or else it is my doom to suffer pains
Beyond the measure due to my offence.
But if Love be a God, it follows thence
That he knows all, and certain it remains
No God loves cruelty; then who ordains
This penance that enthrals while it torments?
It were a falsehood, Chloe, thee to name;
Such evil with such goodness cannot live;
And against Heaven I dare not charge the blame,
I only know it is my fate to die.
To him who knows not whence his malady
A miracle alone a cure can give.


"There is nothing to be learned from that rhyme," said Sancho,
"unless by that clue there's in it, one may draw out the ball of the
whole matter."

"What clue is there?" said Don Quixote.

"I thought your worship spoke of a clue in it," said Sancho.

"I only said Chloe," replied Don Quixote; "and that no doubt, is the
name of the lady of whom the author of the sonnet complains; and,
faith, he must be a tolerable poet, or I know little of the craft."

"Then your worship understands rhyming too?"

"And better than thou thinkest," replied Don Quixote, "as thou shalt
see when thou carriest a letter written in verse from beginning to end
to my lady Dulcinea del Toboso, for I would have thee know, Sancho,
that all or most of the knights-errant in days of yore were great
troubadours and great musicians, for both of these accomplishments, or
more properly speaking gifts, are the peculiar property of
lovers-errant: true it is that the verses of the knights of old have
more spirit than neatness in them."

"Read more, your worship," said Sancho, "and you will find something
that will enlighten us."

Don Quixote turned the page and said, "This is prose and seems to be
a letter."

"A correspondence letter, senor?"

"From the beginning it seems to be a love letter," replied Don
Quixote.

"Then let your worship read it aloud," said Sancho, "for I am very
fond of love matters."

"With all my heart," said Don Quixote, and reading it aloud as
Sancho had requested him, he found it ran thus:


Thy false promise and my sure misforutne carry me to a place
whence the news of my death will reach thy ears before the words of my
complaint. Ungrateful one, thou hast rejected me for one more wealthy,
but not more worthy; but if virtue were esteemed wealth I should
neither envy the fortunes of others nor weep for misfortunes of my
own. What thy beauty raised up thy deeds have laid low; by it I
believed thee to be an angel, by them I know thou art a woman. Peace
be with thee who hast sent war to me, and Heaven grant that the deceit
of thy husband be ever hidden from thee, so that thou repent not of
what thou hast done, and I reap not a revenge I would not have.

When he had finished the letter, Don Quixote said, "There is less to
be gathered from this than from the verses, except that he who wrote
it is some rejected lover;" and turning over nearly all the pages of
the book he found more verses and letters, some of which he could
read, while others he could not; but they were all made up of
complaints, laments, misgivings, desires and aversions, favours and
rejections, some rapturous, some doleful. While Don Quixote examined
the book, Sancho examined the valise, not leaving a corner in the
whole of it or in the pad that he did not search, peer into, and
explore, or seam that he did not rip, or tuft of wool that he did
not pick to pieces, lest anything should escape for want of care and
pains; so keen was the covetousness excited in him by the discovery of
the crowns, which amounted to near a hundred; and though he found no
more booty, he held the blanket flights, balsam vomits, stake
benedictions, carriers' fisticuffs, missing alforjas, stolen coat, and
all the hunger, thirst, and weariness he had endured in the service of
his good master, cheap at the price; as he considered himself more
than fully indemnified for all by the payment he received in the
gift of the treasure-trove.

The Knight of the Rueful Countenance was still very anxious to
find out who the owner of the valise could be, conjecturing from the
sonnet and letter, from the money in gold, and from the fineness of
the shirts, that he must be some lover of distinction whom the scorn
and cruelty of his lady had driven to some desperate course; but as in
that uninhabited and rugged spot there was no one to be seen of whom
he could inquire, he saw nothing else for it but to push on, taking
whatever road Rocinante chose- which was where he could make his
way- firmly persuaded that among these wilds he could not fail to meet
some rare adventure. As he went along, then, occupied with these
thoughts, he perceived on the summit of a height that rose before
their eyes a man who went springing from rock to rock and from tussock
to tussock with marvellous agility. As well as he could make out he
was unclad, with a thick black beard, long tangled hair, and bare legs
and feet, his thighs were covered by breeches apparently of tawny
velvet but so ragged that they showed his skin in several places. He
was bareheaded, and notwithstanding the swiftness with which he passed
as has been described, the Knight of the Rueful Countenance observed
and noted all these trifles, and though he made the attempt, he was
unable to follow him, for it was not granted to the feebleness of
Rocinante to make way over such rough ground, he being, moreover,
slow-paced and sluggish by nature. Don Quixote at once came to the
conclusion that this was the owner of the saddle-pad and of the
valise, and made up his mind to go in search of him, even though he
should have to wander a year in those mountains before he found him,
and so he directed Sancho to take a short cut over one side of the
mountain, while he himself went by the other, and perhaps by this
means they might light upon this man who had passed so quickly out
of their sight.

"I could not do that," said Sancho, "for when I separate from your
worship fear at once lays hold of me, and assails me with all sorts of
panics and fancies; and let what I now say be a notice that from
this time forth I am not going to stir a finger's width from your
presence."

"It shall be so," said he of the Rueful Countenance, "and I am
very glad that thou art willing to rely on my courage, which will
never fail thee, even though the soul in thy body fail thee; so come
on now behind me slowly as well as thou canst, and make lanterns of
thine eyes; let us make the circuit of this ridge; perhaps we shall
light upon this man that we saw, who no doubt is no other than the
owner of what we found."

To which Sancho made answer, "Far better would it be not to look for
him, for, if we find him, and he happens to be the owner of the money,
it is plain I must restore it; it would be better, therefore, that
without taking this needless trouble, I should keep possession of it
until in some other less meddlesome and officious way the real owner
may be discovered; and perhaps that will be when I shall have spent
it, and then the king will hold me harmless."

"Thou art wrong there, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "for now that we
have a suspicion who the owner is, and have him almost before us, we
are bound to seek him and make restitution; and if we do not see
him, the strong suspicion we have as to his being the owner makes us
as guilty as if he were so; and so, friend Sancho, let not our
search for him give thee any uneasiness, for if we find him it will
relieve mine."

And so saying he gave Rocinante the spur, and Sancho followed him on
foot and loaded, and after having partly made the circuit of the
mountain they found lying in a ravine, dead and half devoured by
dogs and pecked by jackdaws, a mule saddled and bridled, all which
still further strengthened their suspicion that he who had fled was
the owner of the mule and the saddle-pad.

As they stood looking at it they heard a whistle like that of a
shepherd watching his flock, and suddenly on their left there appeared
a great number of goats and behind them on the summit of the
mountain the goatherd in charge of them, a man advanced in years.
Don Quixote called aloud to him and begged him to come down to where
they stood. He shouted in return, asking what had brought them to that
spot, seldom or never trodden except by the feet of goats, or of the
wolves and other wild beasts that roamed around. Sancho in return bade
him come down, and they would explain all to him.

The goatherd descended, and reaching the place where Don Quixote
stood, he said, "I will wager you are looking at that hack mule that
lies dead in the hollow there, and, faith, it has been lying there now
these six months; tell me, have you come upon its master about here?"

"We have come upon nobody," answered Don Quixote, "nor on anything
except a saddle-pad and a little valise that we found not far from
this."

"I found it too," said the goatherd, "but I would not lift it nor go
near it for fear of some ill-luck or being charged with theft, for the
devil is crafty, and things rise up under one's feet to make one
fall without knowing why or wherefore."

"That's exactly what I say," said Sancho; "I found it too, and I
would not go within a stone's throw of it; there I left it, and
there it lies just as it was, for I don't want a dog with a bell."

"Tell me, good man," said Don Quixote, "do you know who is the owner
of this property?"

"All I can tell you," said the goatherd, "is that about six months
ago, more or less, there arrived at a shepherd's hut three leagues,
perhaps, away from this, a youth of well-bred appearance and
manners, mounted on that same mule which lies dead here, and with
the same saddle-pad and valise which you say you found and did not
touch. He asked us what part of this sierra was the most rugged and
retired; we told him that it was where we now are; and so in truth
it is, for if you push on half a league farther, perhaps you will
not be able to find your way out; and I am wondering how you have
managed to come here, for there is no road or path that leads to
this spot. I say, then, that on hearing our answer the youth turned
about and made for the place we pointed out to him, leaving us all
charmed with his good looks, and wondering at his question and the
haste with which we saw him depart in the direction of the sierra; and
after that we saw him no more, until some days afterwards he crossed
the path of one of our shepherds, and without saying a word to him,
came up to him and gave him several cuffs and kicks, and then turned
to the ass with our provisions and took all the bread and cheese it
carried, and having done this made off back again into the sierra with
extraordinary swiftness. When some of us goatherds learned this we
went in search of him for about two days through the most remote
portion of this sierra, at the end of which we found him lodged in the
hollow of a large thick cork tree. He came out to meet us with great
gentleness, with his dress now torn and his face so disfigured and
burned by the sun, that we hardly recognised him but that his clothes,
though torn, convinced us, from the recollection we had of them,
that he was the person we were looking for. He saluted us courteously,
and in a few well-spoken words he told us not to wonder at seeing
him going about in this guise, as it was binding upon him in order
that he might work out a penance which for his many sins had been
imposed upon him. We asked him to tell us who he was, but we were
never able to find out from him: we begged of him too, when he was
in want of food, which he could not do without, to tell us where we
should find him, as we would bring it to him with all good-will and
readiness; or if this were not to his taste, at least to come and
ask it of us and not take it by force from the shepherds. He thanked
us for the offer, begged pardon for the late assault, and promised for
the future to ask it in God's name without offering violence to
anybody. As for fixed abode, he said he had no other than that which
chance offered wherever night might overtake him; and his words
ended in an outburst of weeping so bitter that we who listened to
him must have been very stones had we not joined him in it,
comparing what we saw of him the first time with what we saw now; for,
as I said, he was a graceful and gracious youth, and in his
courteous and polished language showed himself to be of good birth and
courtly breeding, and rustics as we were that listened to him, even to
our rusticity his gentle bearing sufficed to make it plain.

"But in the midst of his conversation he stopped and became
silent, keeping his eyes fixed upon the ground for some time, during
which we stood still waiting anxiously to see what would come of
this abstraction; and with no little pity, for from his behaviour, now
staring at the ground with fixed gaze and eyes wide open without
moving an eyelid, again closing them, compressing his lips and raising
his eyebrows, we could perceive plainly that a fit of madness of
some kind had come upon him; and before long he showed that what we
imagined was the truth, for he arose in a fury from the ground where
he had thrown himself, and attacked the first he found near him with
such rage and fierceness that if we had not dragged him off him, he
would have beaten or bitten him to death, all the while exclaiming,
'Oh faithless Fernando, here, here shalt thou pay the penalty of the
wrong thou hast done me; these hands shall tear out that heart of
thine, abode and dwelling of all iniquity, but of deceit and fraud
above all; and to these he added other words all in effect
upbraiding this Fernando and charging him with treachery and
faithlessness.

"We forced him to release his hold with no little difficulty, and
without another word he left us, and rushing off plunged in among
these brakes and brambles, so as to make it impossible for us to
follow him; from this we suppose that madness comes upon him from time
to time, and that some one called Fernando must have done him a
wrong of a grievous nature such as the condition to which it had
brought him seemed to show. All this has been since then confirmed
on those occasions, and they have been many, on which he has crossed
our path, at one time to beg the shepherds to give him some of the
food they carry, at another to take it from them by force; for when
there is a fit of madness upon him, even though the shepherds offer it
freely, he will not accept it but snatches it from them by dint of
blows; but when he is in his senses he begs it for the love of God,
courteously and civilly, and receives it with many thanks and not a
few tears. And to tell you the truth, sirs," continued the goatherd,
"it was yesterday that we resolved, I and four of the lads, two of
them our servants, and the other two friends of mine, to go in
search of him until we find him, and when we do to take him, whether
by force or of his own consent, to the town of Almodovar, which is
eight leagues from this, and there strive to cure him (if indeed his
malady admits of a cure), or learn when he is in his senses who he is,
and if he has relatives to whom we may give notice of his
misfortune. This, sirs, is all I can say in answer to what you have
asked me; and be sure that the owner of the articles you found is he
whom you saw pass by with such nimbleness and so naked."

For Don Quixote had already described how he had seen the man go
bounding along the mountain side, and he was now filled with amazement
at what he heard from the goatherd, and more eager than ever to
discover who the unhappy madman was; and in his heart he resolved,
as he had done before, to search for him all over the mountain, not
leaving a corner or cave unexamined until he had found him. But chance
arranged matters better than he expected or hoped, for at that very
moment, in a gorge on the mountain that opened where they stood, the
youth he wished to find made his appearance, coming along talking to
himself in a way that would have been unintelligible near at hand,
much more at a distance. His garb was what has been described, save
that as he drew near, Don Quixote perceived that a tattered doublet
which he wore was amber-tanned, from which he concluded that one who
wore such garments could not be of very low rank.

Approaching them, the youth greeted them in a harsh and hoarse voice
but with great courtesy. Don Quixote returned his salutation with
equal politeness, and dismounting from Rocinante advanced with
well-bred bearing and grace to embrace him, and held him for some time
close in his arms as if he had known him for a long time. The other,
whom we may call the Ragged One of the Sorry Countenance, as Don
Quixote was of the Rueful, after submitting to the embrace pushed
him back a little and, placing his hands on Don Quixote's shoulders,
stood gazing at him as if seeking to see whether he knew him, not less
amazed, perhaps, at the sight of the face, figure, and armour of Don
Quixote than Don Quixote was at the sight of him. To be brief, the
first to speak after embracing was the Ragged One, and he said what
will be told farther on.




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