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CHAPTER IX

WHEREIN IS RELATED WHAT WILL BE SEEN THERE

'Twas at the very midnight hour- more or less- when Don Quixote
and Sancho quitted the wood and entered El Toboso. The town was in
deep silence, for all the inhabitants were asleep, and stretched on
the broad of their backs, as the saying is. The night was darkish,
though Sancho would have been glad had it been quite dark, so as to
find in the darkness an excuse for his blundering. All over the
place nothing was to be heard except the barking of dogs, which
deafened the ears of Don Quixote and troubled the heart of Sancho. Now
and then an ass brayed, pigs grunted, cats mewed, and the various
noises they made seemed louder in the silence of the night; all
which the enamoured knight took to be of evil omen; nevertheless he
said to Sancho, "Sancho, my son, lead on to the palace of Dulcinea, it
may be that we shall find her awake."

"Body of the sun! what palace am I to lead to," said Sancho, "when
what I saw her highness in was only a very little house?"

"Most likely she had then withdrawn into some small apartment of her
palace," said Don Quixote, "to amuse herself with damsels, as great
ladies and princesses are accustomed to do."

"Senor," said Sancho, "if your worship will have it in spite of me
that the house of my lady Dulcinea is a palace, is this an hour, think
you, to find the door open; and will it be right for us to go knocking
till they hear us and open the door; making a disturbance and
confusion all through the household? Are we going, do you fancy, to
the house of our wenches, like gallants who come and knock and go in
at any hour, however late it may be?"

"Let us first of all find out the palace for certain," replied Don
Quixote, "and then I will tell thee, Sancho, what we had best do;
but look, Sancho, for either I see badly, or that dark mass that one
sees from here should be Dulcinea's palace."

"Then let your worship lead the way," said Sancho, "perhaps it may
be so; though I see it with my eyes and touch it with my hands, I'll
believe it as much as I believe it is daylight now."

Don Quixote took the lead, and having gone a matter of two hundred
paces he came upon the mass that produced the shade, and found it
was a great tower, and then he perceived that the building in question
was no palace, but the chief church of the town, and said he, "It's
the church we have lit upon, Sancho."

"So I see," said Sancho, "and God grant we may not light upon our
graves; it is no good sign to find oneself wandering in a graveyard at
this time of night; and that, after my telling your worship, if I
don't mistake, that the house of this lady will be in an alley without
an outlet."

"The curse of God on thee for a blockhead!" said Don Quixote; "where
hast thou ever heard of castles and royal palaces being built in
alleys without an outlet?"

"Senor," replied Sancho, "every country has a way of its own;
perhaps here in El Toboso it is the way to build palaces and grand
buildings in alleys; so I entreat your worship to let me search
about among these streets or alleys before me, and perhaps, in some
corner or other, I may stumble on this palace- and I wish I saw the
dogs eating it for leading us such a dance."

"Speak respectfully of what belongs to my lady, Sancho," said Don
Quixote; "let us keep the feast in peace, and not throw the rope after
the bucket."

"I'll hold my tongue," said Sancho, "but how am I to take it
patiently when your worship wants me, with only once seeing the
house of our mistress, to know always, and find it in the middle of
the night, when your worship can't find it, who must have seen it
thousands of times?"

"Thou wilt drive me to desperation, Sancho," said Don Quixote. "Look
here, heretic, have I not told thee a thousand times that I have never
once in my life seen the peerless Dulcinea or crossed the threshold of
her palace, and that I am enamoured solely by hearsay and by the great
reputation she bears for beauty and discretion?"

"I hear it now," returned Sancho; "and I may tell you that if you
have not seen her, no more have I."

"That cannot be," said Don Quixote, "for, at any rate, thou
saidst, on bringing back the answer to the letter I sent by thee, that
thou sawest her sifting wheat."

"Don't mind that, senor," said Sancho; "I must tell you that my
seeing her and the answer I brought you back were by hearsay too,
for I can no more tell who the lady Dulcinea is than I can hit the
sky."

"Sancho, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "there are times for jests and
times when jests are out of place; if I tell thee that I have
neither seen nor spoken to the lady of my heart, it is no reason why
thou shouldst say thou hast not spoken to her or seen her, when the
contrary is the case, as thou well knowest."

While the two were engaged in this conversation, they perceived some
one with a pair of mules approaching the spot where they stood, and
from the noise the plough made, as it dragged along the ground, they
guessed him to be some labourer who had got up before daybreak to go
to his work, and so it proved to be. He came along singing the
ballad that says-

Ill did ye fare, ye men of France,
In Roncesvalles chase-


"May I die, Sancho," said Don Quixote, when he heard him, "if any
good will come to us tonight! Dost thou not hear what that clown is
singing?"

"I do," said Sancho, "but what has Roncesvalles chase to do with
what we have in hand? He might just as well be singing the ballad of
Calainos, for any good or ill that can come to us in our business."

By this time the labourer had come up, and Don Quixote asked him,
"Can you tell me, worthy friend, and God speed you, whereabouts here
is the palace of the peerless princess Dona Dulcinea del Toboso?"

"Senor," replied the lad, "I am a stranger, and I have been only a
few days in the town, doing farm work for a rich farmer. In that house
opposite there live the curate of the village and the sacristan, and
both or either of them will be able to give your worship some
account of this lady princess, for they have a list of all the
people of El Toboso; though it is my belief there is not a princess
living in the whole of it; many ladies there are, of quality, and in
her own house each of them may be a princess."

"Well, then, she I am inquiring for will be one of these, my
friend," said Don Quixote.

"May be so," replied the lad; "God be with you, for here comes the
daylight;" and without waiting for any more of his questions, he
whipped on his mules.

Sancho, seeing his master downcast and somewhat dissatisfied, said
to him, "Senor, daylight will be here before long, and it will not
do for us to let the sun find us in the street; it will be better
for us to quit the city, and for your worship to hide in some forest
in the neighbourhood, and I will come back in the daytime, and I won't
leave a nook or corner of the whole village that I won't search for
the house, castle, or palace, of my lady, and it will be hard luck for
me if I don't find it; and as soon as I have found it I will speak
to her grace, and tell her where and how your worship is waiting for
her to arrange some plan for you to see her without any damage to
her honour and reputation."

"Sancho," said Don Quixote, "thou hast delivered a thousand
sentences condensed in the compass of a few words; I thank thee for
the advice thou hast given me, and take it most gladly. Come, my
son, let us go look for some place where I may hide, while thou dost
return, as thou sayest, to seek, and speak with my lady, from whose
discretion and courtesy I look for favours more than miraculous."

Sancho was in a fever to get his master out of the town, lest he
should discover the falsehood of the reply he had brought to him in
the Sierra Morena on behalf of Dulcinea; so he hastened their
departure, which they took at once, and two miles out of the village
they found a forest or thicket wherein Don Quixote ensconced
himself, while Sancho returned to the city to speak to Dulcinea, in
which embassy things befell him which demand fresh attention and a new
chapter.




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