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CHAPTER XXVII

OF HOW THE CURATE AND THE BARBER PROCEEDED WITH THEIR SCHEME;
TOGETHER WITH OTHER MATTERS WORTHY OF RECORD IN THIS GREAT HISTORY

The curate's plan did not seem a bad one to the barber, but on the
contrary so good that they immediately set about putting it in
execution. They begged a petticoat and hood of the landlady, leaving
her in pledge a new cassock of the curate's; and the barber made a
beard out of a grey-brown or red ox-tail in which the landlord used to
stick his comb. The landlady asked them what they wanted these
things for, and the curate told her in a few words about the madness
of Don Quixote, and how this disguise was intended to get him away
from the mountain where he then was. The landlord and landlady
immediately came to the conclusion that the madman was their guest,
the balsam man and master of the blanketed squire, and they told the
curate all that had passed between him and them, not omitting what
Sancho had been so silent about. Finally the landlady dressed up the
curate in a style that left nothing to be desired; she put on him a
cloth petticoat with black velvet stripes a palm broad, all slashed,
and a bodice of green velvet set off by a binding of white satin,
which as well as the petticoat must have been made in the time of king
Wamba. The curate would not let them hood him, but put on his head a
little quilted linen cap which he used for a night-cap, and bound
his forehead with a strip of black silk, while with another he made
a mask with which he concealed his beard and face very well. He then
put on his hat, which was broad enough to serve him for an umbrella,
and enveloping himself in his cloak seated himself woman-fashion on
his mule, while the barber mounted his with a beard down to the
waist of mingled red and white, for it was, as has been said, the tail
of a clay-red ox.

They took leave of all, and of the good Maritornes, who, sinner as
she was, promised to pray a rosary of prayers that God might grant
them success in such an arduous and Christian undertaking as that they
had in hand. But hardly had he sallied forth from the inn when it
struck the curate that he was doing wrong in rigging himself out in
that fashion, as it was an indecorous thing for a priest to dress
himself that way even though much might depend upon it; and saying
so to the barber he begged him to change dresses, as it was fitter
he should be the distressed damsel, while he himself would play the
squire's part, which would be less derogatory to his dignity;
otherwise he was resolved to have nothing more to do with the
matter, and let the devil take Don Quixote. Just at this moment Sancho
came up, and on seeing the pair in such a costume he was unable to
restrain his laughter; the barber, however, agreed to do as the curate
wished, and, altering their plan, the curate went on to instruct him
how to play his part and what to say to Don Quixote to induce and
compel him to come with them and give up his fancy for the place he
had chosen for his idle penance. The barber told him he could manage
it properly without any instruction, and as he did not care to dress
himself up until they were near where Don Quixote was, he folded up
the garments, and the curate adjusted his beard, and they set out
under the guidance of Sancho Panza, who went along telling them of the
encounter with the madman they met in the Sierra, saying nothing,
however, about the finding of the valise and its contents; for with
all his simplicity the lad was a trifle covetous.

The next day they reached the place where Sancho had laid the
broom-branches as marks to direct him to where he had left his master,
and recognising it he told them that here was the entrance, and that
they would do well to dress themselves, if that was required to
deliver his master; for they had already told him that going in this
guise and dressing in this way were of the highest importance in order
to rescue his master from the pernicious life he had adopted; and they
charged him strictly not to tell his master who they were, or that
he knew them, and should he ask, as ask he would, if he had given
the letter to Dulcinea, to say that he had, and that, as she did not
know how to read, she had given an answer by word of mouth, saying
that she commanded him, on pain of her displeasure, to come and see
her at once; and it was a very important matter for himself, because
in this way and with what they meant to say to him they felt sure of
bringing him back to a better mode of life and inducing him to take
immediate steps to become an emperor or monarch, for there was no fear
of his becoming an archbishop. All this Sancho listened to and fixed
it well in his memory, and thanked them heartily for intending to
recommend his master to be an emperor instead of an archbishop, for he
felt sure that in the way of bestowing rewards on their squires
emperors could do more than archbishops-errant. He said, too, that
it would be as well for him to go on before them to find him, and give
him his lady's answer; for that perhaps might be enough to bring him
away from the place without putting them to all this trouble. They
approved of what Sancho proposed, and resolved to wait for him until
he brought back word of having found his master.

Sancho pushed on into the glens of the Sierra, leaving them in one
through which there flowed a little gentle rivulet, and where the
rocks and trees afforded a cool and grateful shade. It was an August
day with all the heat of one, and the heat in those parts is
intense, and the hour was three in the afternoon, all which made the
spot the more inviting and tempted them to wait there for Sancho's
return, which they did. They were reposing, then, in the shade, when a
voice unaccompanied by the notes of any instrument, but sweet and
pleasing in its tone, reached their ears, at which they were not a
little astonished, as the place did not seem to them likely quarters
for one who sang so well; for though it is often said that shepherds
of rare voice are to be found in the woods and fields, this is
rather a flight of the poet's fancy than the truth. And still more
surprised were they when they perceived that what they heard sung were
the verses not of rustic shepherds, but of the polished wits of the
city; and so it proved, for the verses they heard were these:

What makes my quest of happiness seem vain?
Disdain.
What bids me to abandon hope of ease?
Jealousies.
What holds my heart in anguish of suspense?
Absence.
If that be so, then for my grief
Where shall I turn to seek relief,
When hope on every side lies slain
By Absence, Jealousies, Disdain?

What the prime cause of all my woe doth prove?
Love.
What at my glory ever looks askance?
Chance.
Whence is permission to afflict me given?
Heaven.
If that be so, I but await
The stroke of a resistless fate,
Since, working for my woe, these three,
Love, Chance and Heaven, in league I see.

What must I do to find a remedy?
Die.
What is the lure for love when coy and strange?
Change.
What, if all fail, will cure the heart of sadness?
Madness.
If that be so, it is but folly
To seek a cure for melancholy:
Ask where it lies; the answer saith
In Change, in Madness, or in Death.


The hour, the summer season, the solitary place, the voice and skill
of the singer, all contributed to the wonder and delight of the two
listeners, who remained still waiting to hear something more; finding,
however, that the silence continued some little time, they resolved to
go in search of the musician who sang with so fine a voice; but just
as they were about to do so they were checked by the same voice, which
once more fell upon their ears, singing this


SONNET

When heavenward, holy Friendship, thou didst go
Soaring to seek thy home beyond the sky,
And take thy seat among the saints on high,
It was thy will to leave on earth below
Thy semblance, and upon it to bestow
Thy veil, wherewith at times hypocrisy,
Parading in thy shape, deceives the eye,
And makes its vileness bright as virtue show.
Friendship, return to us, or force the cheat
That wears it now, thy livery to restore,
By aid whereof sincerity is slain.
If thou wilt not unmask thy counterfeit,
This earth will be the prey of strife once more,
As when primaeval discord held its reign.


The song ended with a deep sigh, and again the listeners remained
waiting attentively for the singer to resume; but perceiving that
the music had now turned to sobs and heart-rending moans they
determined to find out who the unhappy being could be whose voice
was as rare as his sighs were piteous, and they had not proceeded
far when on turning the corner of a rock they discovered a man of
the same aspect and appearance as Sancho had described to them when he
told them the story of Cardenio. He, showing no astonishment when he
saw them, stood still with his head bent down upon his breast like one
in deep thought, without raising his eyes to look at them after the
first glance when they suddenly came upon him. The curate, who was
aware of his misfortune and recognised him by the description, being a
man of good address, approached him and in a few sensible words
entreated and urged him to quit a life of such misery, lest he
should end it there, which would be the greatest of all misfortunes.
Cardenio was then in his right mind, free from any attack of that
madness which so frequently carried him away, and seeing them
dressed in a fashion so unusual among the frequenters of those
wilds, could not help showing some surprise, especially when he
heard them speak of his case as if it were a well-known matter (for
the curate's words gave him to understand as much) so he replied to
them thus:

"I see plainly, sirs, whoever you may be, that Heaven, whose care it
is to succour the good, and even the wicked very often, here, in
this remote spot, cut off from human intercourse, sends me, though I
deserve it not, those who seek to draw me away from this to some
better retreat, showing me by many and forcible arguments how
unreasonably I act in leading the life I do; but as they know, that if
I escape from this evil I shall fall into another still greater,
perhaps they will set me down as a weak-minded man, or, what is worse,
one devoid of reason; nor would it be any wonder, for I myself can
perceive that the effect of the recollection of my misfortunes is so
great and works so powerfully to my ruin, that in spite of myself I
become at times like a stone, without feeling or consciousness; and
I come to feel the truth of it when they tell me and show me proofs of
the things I have done when the terrible fit overmasters me; and all I
can do is bewail my lot in vain, and idly curse my destiny, and
plead for my madness by telling how it was caused, to any that care to
hear it; for no reasonable beings on learning the cause will wonder at
the effects; and if they cannot help me at least they will not blame
me, and the repugnance they feel at my wild ways will turn into pity
for my woes. If it be, sirs, that you are here with the same design as
others have come wah, before you proceed with your wise arguments, I
entreat you to hear the story of my countless misfortunes, for perhaps
when you have heard it you will spare yourselves the trouble you would
take in offering consolation to grief that is beyond the reach of it."

As they, both of them, desired nothing more than to hear from his
own lips the cause of his suffering, they entreated him to tell it,
promising not to do anything for his relief or comfort that he did not
wish; and thereupon the unhappy gentleman began his sad story in
nearly the same words and manner in which he had related it to Don
Quixote and the goatherd a few days before, when, through Master
Elisabad, and Don Quixote's scrupulous observance of what was due to
chivalry, the tale was left unfinished, as this history has already
recorded; but now fortunately the mad fit kept off, allowed him to
tell it to the end; and so, coming to the incident of the note which
Don Fernando had found in the volume of "Amadis of Gaul," Cardenio
said that he remembered it perfectly and that it was in these words:


"Luscinda to Cardenio.


"Every day I discover merits in you that oblige and compel me to
hold you in higher estimation; so if you desire to relieve me of
this obligation without cost to my honour, you may easily do so. I
have a father who knows you and loves me dearly, who without putting
any constraint on my inclination will grant what will be reasonable
for you to have, if it be that you value me as you say and as I
believe you do."


"By this letter I was induced, as I told you, to demand Luscinda for
my wife, and it was through it that Luscinda came to be regarded by
Don Fernando as one of the most discreet and prudent women of the day,
and this letter it was that suggested his design of ruining me
before mine could be carried into effect. I told Don Fernando that all
Luscinda's father was waiting for was that mine should ask her of him,
which I did not dare to suggest to him, fearing that he would not
consent to do so; not because he did not know perfectly well the rank,
goodness, virtue, and beauty of Luscinda, and that she had qualities
that would do honour to any family in Spain, but because I was aware
that he did not wish me to marry so soon, before seeing what the
Duke Ricardo would do for me. In short, I told him I did not venture
to mention it to my father, as well on account of that difficulty,
as of many others that discouraged me though I knew not well what they
were, only that it seemed to me that what I desired was never to
come to pass. To all this Don Fernando answered that he would take
it upon himself to speak to my father, and persuade him to speak to
Luscinda's father. O, ambitious Marius! O, cruel Catiline! O, wicked
Sylla! O, perfidious Ganelon! O, treacherous Vellido! O, vindictive
Julian! O, covetous Judas! Traitor, cruel, vindictive, and perfidious,
wherein had this poor wretch failed in his fidelity, who with such
frankness showed thee the secrets and the joys of his heart? What
offence did I commit? What words did I utter, or what counsels did I
give that had not the furtherance of thy honour and welfare for
their aim? But, woe is me, wherefore do I complain? for sure it is
that when misfortunes spring from the stars, descending from on high
they fall upon us with such fury and violence that no power on earth
can check their course nor human device stay their coming. Who could
have thought that Don Fernando, a highborn gentleman, intelligent,
bound to me by gratitude for my services, one that could win the
object of his love wherever he might set his affections, could have
become so obdurate, as they say, as to rob me of my one ewe lamb
that was not even yet in my possession? But laying aside these useless
and unavailing reflections, let us take up the broken thread of my
unhappy story.

"To proceed, then: Don Fernando finding my presence an obstacle to
the execution of his treacherous and wicked design, resolved to send
me to his elder brother under the pretext of asking money from him
to pay for six horses which, purposely, and with the sole object of
sending me away that he might the better carry out his infernal
scheme, he had purchased the very day he offered to speak to my
father, and the price of which he now desired me to fetch. Could I
have anticipated this treachery? Could I by any chance have
suspected it? Nay; so far from that, I offered with the greatest
pleasure to go at once, in my satisfaction at the good bargain that
had been made. That night I spoke with Luscinda, and told her what had
been agreed upon with Don Fernando, and how I had strong hopes of
our fair and reasonable wishes being realised. She, as unsuspicious as
I was of the treachery of Don Fernando, bade me try to return
speedily, as she believed the fulfilment of our desires would be
delayed only so long as my father put off speaking to hers. I know not
why it was that on saying this to me her eyes filled with tears, and
there came a lump in her throat that prevented her from uttering a
word of many more that it seemed to me she was striving to say to
me. I was astonished at this unusual turn, which I never before
observed in her. for we always conversed, whenever good fortune and my
ingenuity gave us the chance, with the greatest gaiety and
cheerfulness, mingling tears, sighs, jealousies, doubts, or fears with
our words; it was all on my part a eulogy of my good fortune that
Heaven should have given her to me for my mistress; I glorified her
beauty, I extolled her worth and her understanding; and she paid me
back by praising in me what in her love for me she thought worthy of
praise; and besides we had a hundred thousand trifles and doings of
our neighbours and acquaintances to talk about, and the utmost
extent of my boldness was to take, almost by force, one of her fair
white hands and carry it to my lips, as well as the closeness of the
low grating that separated us allowed me. But the night before the
unhappy day of my departure she wept, she moaned, she sighed, and
she withdrew leaving me filled with perplexity and amazement,
overwhelmed at the sight of such strange and affecting signs of
grief and sorrow in Luscinda; but not to dash my hopes I ascribed it
all to the depth of her love for me and the pain that separation gives
those who love tenderly. At last I took my departure, sad and
dejected, my heart filled with fancies and suspicions, but not knowing
well what it was I suspected or fancied; plain omens pointing to the
sad event and misfortune that was awaiting me.

"I reached the place whither I had been sent, gave the letter to Don
Fernando's brother, and was kindly received but not promptly
dismissed, for he desired me to wait, very much against my will, eight
days in some place where the duke his father was not likely to see me,
as his brother wrote that the money was to be sent without his
knowledge; all of which was a scheme of the treacherous Don
Fernando, for his brother had no want of money to enable him to
despatch me at once.

"The command was one that exposed me to the temptation of disobeying
it, as it seemed to me impossible to endure life for so many days
separated from Luscinda, especially after leaving her in the sorrowful
mood I have described to you; nevertheless as a dutiful servant I
obeyed, though I felt it would be at the cost of my well-being. But
four days later there came a man in quest of me with a letter which he
gave me, and which by the address I perceived to be from Luscinda,
as the writing was hers. I opened it with fear and trepidation,
persuaded that it must be something serious that had impelled her to
write to me when at a distance, as she seldom did so when I was
near. Before reading it I asked the man who it was that had given it
to him, and how long he had been upon the road; he told me that as
he happened to be passing through one of the streets of the city at
the hour of noon, a very beautiful lady called to him from a window,
and with tears in her eyes said to him hurriedly, 'Brother, if you
are, as you seem to be, a Christian, for the love of God I entreat you
to have this letter despatched without a moment's delay to the place
and person named in the address, all which is well known, and by
this you will render a great service to our Lord; and that you may
be at no inconvenience in doing so take what is in this handkerchief;'
and said he, 'with this she threw me a handkerchief out of the
window in which were tied up a hundred reals and this gold ring
which I bring here together with the letter I have given you. And then
without waiting for any answer she left the window, though not
before she saw me take the letter and the handkerchief, and I had by
signs let her know that I would do as she bade me; and so, seeing
myself so well paid for the trouble I would have in bringing it to
you, and knowing by the address that it was to you it was sent (for,
senor, I know you very well), and also unable to resist that beautiful
lady's tears, I resolved to trust no one else, but to come myself
and give it to you, and in sixteen hours from the time when it was
given me I have made the journey, which, as you know, is eighteen
leagues.'

"All the while the good-natured improvised courier was telling me
this, I hung upon his words, my legs trembling under me so that I
could scarcely stand. However, I opened the letter and read these
words:


"'The promise Don Fernando gave you to urge your father to speak
to mine, he has fulfilled much more to his own satisfaction than to
your advantage. I have to tell you, senor, that be has demanded me for
a wife, and my father, led away by what he considers Don Fernando's
superiority over you, has favoured his suit so cordially, that in
two days hence the betrothal is to take place with such secrecy and so
privately that the only witnesses are to be the Heavens above and a
few of the household. Picture to yourself the state I am in; judge
if it be urgent for you to come; the issue of the affair will show you
whether I love you or not. God grant this may come to your hand before
mine shall be forced to link itself with his who keeps so ill the
faith that he has pledged.'


"Such, in brief, were the words of the letter, words that made me
set out at once without waiting any longer for reply or money; for I
now saw clearly that it was not the purchase of horses but of his
own pleasure that had made Don Fernando send me to his brother. The
exasperation I felt against Don Fernando, joined with the fear of
losing the prize I had won by so many years of love and devotion, lent
me wings; so that almost flying I reached home the same day, by the
hour which served for speaking with Luscinda. I arrived unobserved,
and left the mule on which I had come at the house of the worthy man
who had brought me the letter, and fortune was pleased to be for
once so kind that I found Luscinda at the grating that was the witness
of our loves. She recognised me at once, and I her, but not as she
ought to have recognised me, or I her. But who is there in the world
that can boast of having fathomed or understood the wavering mind
and unstable nature of a woman? Of a truth no one. To proceed: as soon
as Luscinda saw me she said, 'Cardenio, I am in my bridal dress, and
the treacherous Don Fernando and my covetous father are waiting for me
in the hall with the other witnesses, who shall be the witnesses of my
death before they witness my betrothal. Be not distressed, my
friend, but contrive to be present at this sacrifice, and if that
cannot be prevented by my words, I have a dagger concealed which
will prevent more deliberate violence, putting an end to my life and
giving thee a first proof of the love I have borne and bear thee.' I
replied to her distractedly and hastily, in fear lest I should not
have time to reply, 'May thy words be verified by thy deeds, lady; and
if thou hast a dagger to save thy honour, I have a sword to defend
thee or kill myself if fortune be against us.'

"I think she could not have heard all these words, for I perceived
that they called her away in haste, as the bridegroom was waiting. Now
the night of my sorrow set in, the sun of my happiness went down, I
felt my eyes bereft of sight, my mind of reason. I could not enter the
house, nor was I capable of any movement; but reflecting how important
it was that I should be present at what might take place on the
occasion, I nerved myself as best I could and went in, for I well knew
all the entrances and outlets; and besides, with the confusion that in
secret pervaded the house no one took notice of me, so, without
being seen, I found an opportunity of placing myself in the recess
formed by a window of the hall itself, and concealed by the ends and
borders of two tapestries, from between which I could, without being
seen, see all that took place in the room. Who could describe the
agitation of heart I suffered as I stood there- the thoughts that came
to me- the reflections that passed through my mind? They were such
as cannot be, nor were it well they should be, told. Suffice it to say
that the bridegroom entered the hall in his usual dress, without
ornament of any kind; as groomsman he had with him a cousin of
Luscinda's and except the servants of the house there was no one
else in the chamber. Soon afterwards Luscinda came out from an
antechamber, attended by her mother and two of her damsels, arrayed
and adorned as became her rank and beauty, and in full festival and
ceremonial attire. My anxiety and distraction did not allow me to
observe or notice particularly what she wore; I could only perceive
the colours, which were crimson and white, and the glitter of the gems
and jewels on her head dress and apparel, surpassed by the rare beauty
of her lovely auburn hair that vying with the precious stones and
the light of the four torches that stood in the hall shone with a
brighter gleam than all. Oh memory, mortal foe of my peace! why
bring before me now the incomparable beauty of that adored enemy of
mine? Were it not better, cruel memory, to remind me and recall what
she then did, that stirred by a wrong so glaring I may seek, if not
vengeance now, at least to rid myself of life? Be not weary, sirs,
of listening to these digressions; my sorrow is not one of those
that can or should be told tersely and briefly, for to me each
incident seems to call for many words."

To this the curate replied that not only were they not weary of
listening to him, but that the details he mentioned interested them
greatly, being of a kind by no means to be omitted and deserving of
the same attention as the main story.

"To proceed, then," continued Cardenio: "all being assembled in
the hall, the priest of the parish came in and as he took the pair
by the hand to perform the requisite ceremony, at the words, 'Will
you, Senora Luscinda, take Senor Don Fernando, here present, for
your lawful husband, as the holy Mother Church ordains?' I thrust my
head and neck out from between the tapestries, and with eager ears and
throbbing heart set myself to listen to Luscinda's answer, awaiting in
her reply the sentence of death or the grant of life. Oh, that I had
but dared at that moment to rush forward crying aloud, 'Luscinda,
Luscinda! have a care what thou dost; remember what thou owest me;
bethink thee thou art mine and canst not be another's; reflect that
thy utterance of "Yes" and the end of my life will come at the same
instant. O, treacherous Don Fernando! robber of my glory, death of
my life! What seekest thou? Remember that thou canst not as a
Christian attain the object of thy wishes, for Luscinda is my bride,
and I am her husband!' Fool that I am! now that I am far away, and out
of danger, I say I should have done what I did not do: now that I have
allowed my precious treasure to be robbed from me, I curse the robber,
on whom I might have taken vengeance had I as much heart for it as I
have for bewailing my fate; in short, as I was then a coward and a
fool, little wonder is it if I am now dying shame-stricken,
remorseful, and mad.

"The priest stood waiting for the answer of Luscinda, who for a long
time withheld it; and just as I thought she was taking out the
dagger to save her honour, or struggling for words to make some
declaration of the truth on my behalf, I heard her say in a faint
and feeble voice, 'I will:' Don Fernando said the same, and giving her
the ring they stood linked by a knot that could never be loosed. The
bridegroom then approached to embrace his bride; and she, pressing her
hand upon her heart, fell fainting in her mother's arms. It only
remains now for me to tell you the state I was in when in that consent
that I heard I saw all my hopes mocked, the words and promises of
Luscinda proved falsehoods, and the recovery of the prize I had that
instant lost rendered impossible for ever. I stood stupefied, wholly
abandoned, it seemed, by Heaven, declared the enemy of the earth
that bore me, the air refusing me breath for my sighs, the water
moisture for my tears; it was only the fire that gathered strength
so that my whole frame glowed with rage and jealousy. They were all
thrown into confusion by Luscinda's fainting, and as her mother was
unlacing her to give her air a sealed paper was discovered in her
bosom which Don Fernando seized at once and began to read by the light
of one of the torches. As soon as he had read it he seated himself
in a chair, leaning his cheek on his hand in the attitude of one
deep in thought, without taking any part in the efforts that were
being made to recover his bride from her fainting fit.

"Seeing all the household in confusion, I ventured to come out
regardless whether I were seen or not, and determined, if I were, to
do some frenzied deed that would prove to all the world the
righteous indignation of my breast in the punishment of the
treacherous Don Fernando, and even in that of the fickle fainting
traitress. But my fate, doubtless reserving me for greater sorrows, if
such there be, so ordered it that just then I had enough and to
spare of that reason which has since been wanting to me; and so,
without seeking to take vengeance on my greatest enemies (which
might have been easily taken, as all thought of me was so far from
their minds), I resolved to take it upon myself, and on myself to
inflict the pain they deserved, perhaps with even greater severity
than I should have dealt out to them had I then slain them; for sudden
pain is soon over, but that which is protracted by tortures is ever
slaying without ending life. In a word, I quitted the house and
reached that of the man with whom I had left my mule; I made him
saddle it for me, mounted without bidding him farewell, and rode out
of the city, like another Lot, not daring to turn my head to look back
upon it; and when I found myself alone in the open country, screened
by the darkness of the night, and tempted by the stillness to give
vent to my grief without apprehension or fear of being heard or
seen, then I broke silence and lifted up my voice in maledictions upon
Luscinda and Don Fernando, as if I could thus avenge the wrong they
had done me. I called her cruel, ungrateful, false, thankless, but
above all covetous, since the wealth of my enemy had blinded the
eyes of her affection, and turned it from me to transfer it to one
to whom fortune had been more generous and liberal. And yet, in the
midst of this outburst of execration and upbraiding, I found excuses
for her, saying it was no wonder that a young girl in the seclusion of
her parents' house, trained and schooled to obey them always, should
have been ready to yield to their wishes when they offered her for a
husband a gentleman of such distinction, wealth, and noble birth, that
if she had refused to accept him she would have been thought out of
her senses, or to have set her affection elsewhere, a suspicion
injurious to her fair name and fame. But then again, I said, had she
declared I was her husband, they would have seen that in choosing me
she had not chosen so ill but that they might excuse her, for before
Don Fernando had made his offer, they themselves could not have
desired, if their desires had been ruled by reason, a more eligible
husband for their daughter than I was; and she, before taking the last
fatal step of giving her hand, might easily have said that I had
already given her mine, for I should have come forward to support
any assertion of hers to that effect. In short, I came to the
conclusion that feeble love, little reflection, great ambition, and
a craving for rank, had made her forget the words with which she had
deceived me, encouraged and supported by my firm hopes and
honourable passion.

"Thus soliloquising and agitated, I journeyed onward for the
remainder of the night, and by daybreak I reached one of the passes of
these mountains, among which I wandered for three days more without
taking any path or road, until I came to some meadows lying on I
know not which side of the mountains, and there I inquired of some
herdsmen in what direction the most rugged part of the range lay. They
told me that it was in this quarter, and I at once directed my
course hither, intending to end my life here; but as I was making my
way among these crags, my mule dropped dead through fatigue and
hunger, or, as I think more likely, in order to have done with such
a worthless burden as it bore in me. I was left on foot, worn out,
famishing, without anyone to help me or any thought of seeking help:
and so thus I lay stretched on the ground, how long I know not,
after which I rose up free from hunger, and found beside me some
goatherds, who no doubt were the persons who had relieved me in my
need, for they told me how they had found me, and how I had been
uttering ravings that showed plainly I had lost my reason; and since
then I am conscious that I am not always in full possession of it, but
at times so deranged and crazed that I do a thousand mad things,
tearing my clothes, crying aloud in these solitudes, cursing my
fate, and idly calling on the dear name of her who is my enemy, and
only seeking to end my life in lamentation; and when I recover my
senses I find myself so exhausted and weary that I can scarcely
move. Most commonly my dwelling is the hollow of a cork tree large
enough to shelter this miserable body; the herdsmen and goatherds
who frequent these mountains, moved by compassion, furnish me with
food, leaving it by the wayside or on the rocks, where they think I
may perhaps pass and find it; and so, even though I may be then out of
my senses, the wants of nature teach me what is required to sustain
me, and make me crave it and eager to take it. At other times, so they
tell me when they find me in a rational mood, I sally out upon the
road, and though they would gladly give it me, I snatch food by
force from the shepherds bringing it from the village to their huts.
Thus do pass the wretched life that remains to me, until it be
Heaven's will to bring it to a close, or so to order my memory that
I no longer recollect the beauty and treachery of Luscinda, or the
wrong done me by Don Fernando; for if it will do this without
depriving me of life, I will turn my thoughts into some better
channel; if not, I can only implore it to have full mercy on my
soul, for in myself I feel no power or strength to release my body
from this strait in which I have of my own accord chosen to place it.

"Such, sirs, is the dismal story of my misfortune: say if it be
one that can be told with less emotion than you have seen in me; and
do not trouble yourselves with urging or pressing upon me what
reason suggests as likely to serve for my relief, for it will avail me
as much as the medicine prescribed by a wise physician avails the sick
man who will not take it. I have no wish for health without
Luscinda; and since it is her pleasure to be another's, when she is or
should be mine, let it be mine to be a prey to misery when I might
have enjoyed happiness. She by her fickleness strove to make my ruin
irretrievable; I will strive to gratify her wishes by seeking
destruction; and it will show generations to come that I alone was
deprived of that of which all others in misfortune have a
superabundance, for to them the impossibility of being consoled is
itself a consolation, while to me it is the cause of greater sorrows
and sufferings, for I think that even in death there will not be an
end of them."

Here Cardenio brought to a close his long discourse and story, as
full of misfortune as it was of love; but just as the curate was going
to address some words of comfort to him, he was stopped by a voice
that reached his ear, saying in melancholy tones what will be told
in the Fourth Part of this narrative; for at this point the sage and
sagacious historian, Cide Hamete Benengeli, brought the Third to a
conclusion.




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