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CHAPTER XIX

IN WHICH IS RELATED THE ADVENTURE OF THE ENAMOURED SHEPHERD,
TOGETHER WITH OTHER TRULY DROLL INCIDENTS

Don Quixote had gone but a short distance beyond Don Diego's
village, when he fell in with a couple of either priests or
students, and a couple of peasants, mounted on four beasts of the
ass kind. One of the students carried, wrapped up in a piece of
green buckram by way of a portmanteau, what seemed to be a little
linen and a couple of pairs of-ribbed stockings; the other carried
nothing but a pair of new fencing-foils with buttons. The peasants
carried divers articles that showed they were on their way from some
large town where they had bought them, and were taking them home to
their village; and both students and peasants were struck with the
same amazement that everybody felt who saw Don Quixote for the first
time, and were dying to know who this man, so different from
ordinary men, could be. Don Quixote saluted them, and after
ascertaining that their road was the same as his, made them an offer
of his company, and begged them to slacken their pace, as their
young asses travelled faster than his horse; and then, to gratify
them, he told them in a few words who he was and the calling and
profession he followed, which was that of a knight-errant seeking
adventures in all parts of the world. He informed them that his own
name was Don Quixote of La Mancha, and that he was called, by way of
surname, the Knight of the Lions.

All this was Greek or gibberish to the peasants, but not so to the
students, who very soon perceived the crack in Don Quixote's pate; for
all that, however, they regarded him with admiration and respect,
and one of them said to him, "If you, sir knight, have no fixed
road, as it is the way with those who seek adventures not to have any,
let your worship come with us; you will see one of the finest and
richest weddings that up to this day have ever been celebrated in La
Mancha, or for many a league round."

Don Quixote asked him if it was some prince's, that he spoke of it
in this way. "Not at all," said the student; "it is the wedding of a
farmer and a farmer's daughter, he the richest in all this country,
and she the fairest mortal ever set eyes on. The display with which it
is to be attended will be something rare and out of the common, for it
will be celebrated in a meadow adjoining the town of the bride, who is
called, par excellence, Quiteria the fair, as the bridegroom is called
Camacho the rich. She is eighteen, and he twenty-two, and they are
fairly matched, though some knowing ones, who have all the pedigrees
in the world by heart, will have it that the family of the fair
Quiteria is better than Camacho's; but no one minds that now-a-days,
for wealth can solder a great many flaws. At any rate, Camacho is
free-handed, and it is his fancy to screen the whole meadow with
boughs and cover it in overhead, so that the sun will have hard work
if he tries to get in to reach the grass that covers the soil. He
has provided dancers too, not only sword but also bell-dancers, for in
his own town there are those who ring the changes and jingle the bells
to perfection; of shoe-dancers I say nothing, for of them he has
engaged a host. But none of these things, nor of the many others I
have omitted to mention, will do more to make this a memorable wedding
than the part which I suspect the despairing Basilio will play in
it. This Basilio is a youth of the same village as Quiteria, and he
lived in the house next door to that of her parents, of which
circumstance Love took advantage to reproduce to the word the
long-forgotten loves of Pyramus and Thisbe; for Basilio loved Quiteria
from his earliest years, and she responded to his passion with
countless modest proofs of affection, so that the loves of the two
children, Basilio and Quiteria, were the talk and the amusement of the
town. As they grew up, the father of Quiteria made up his mind to
refuse Basilio his wonted freedom of access to the house, and to
relieve himself of constant doubts and suspicions, he arranged a match
for his daughter with the rich Camacho, as he did not approve of
marrying her to Basilio, who had not so large a share of the gifts
of fortune as of nature; for if the truth be told ungrudgingly, he
is the most agile youth we know, a mighty thrower of the bar, a
first-rate wrestler, and a great ball-player; he runs like a deer, and
leaps better than a goat, bowls over the nine-pins as if by magic,
sings like a lark, plays the guitar so as to make it speak, and, above
all, handles a sword as well as the best."

"For that excellence alone," said Don Quixote at this, "the youth
deserves to marry, not merely the fair Quiteria, but Queen Guinevere
herself, were she alive now, in spite of Launcelot and all who would
try to prevent it."

"Say that to my wife," said Sancho, who had until now listened in
silence, "for she won't hear of anything but each one marrying his
equal, holding with the proverb 'each ewe to her like.' What I would
like is that this good Basilio (for I am beginning to take a fancy
to him already) should marry this lady Quiteria; and a blessing and
good luck- I meant to say the opposite- on people who would prevent
those who love one another from marrying."

"If all those who love one another were to marry," said Don Quixote,
"it would deprive parents of the right to choose, and marry their
children to the proper person and at the proper time; and if it was
left to daughters to choose husbands as they pleased, one would be for
choosing her father's servant, and another, some one she has seen
passing in the street and fancies gallant and dashing, though he may
be a drunken bully; for love and fancy easily blind the eyes of the
judgment, so much wanted in choosing one's way of life; and the
matrimonial choice is very liable to error, and it needs great caution
and the special favour of heaven to make it a good one. He who has
to make a long journey, will, if he is wise, look out for some
trusty and pleasant companion to accompany him before he sets out.
Why, then, should not he do the same who has to make the whole journey
of life down to the final halting-place of death, more especially when
the companion has to be his companion in bed, at board, and
everywhere, as the wife is to her husband? The companionship of
one's wife is no article of merchandise, that, after it has been
bought, may be returned, or bartered, or changed; for it is an
inseparable accident that lasts as long as life lasts; it is a noose
that, once you put it round your neck, turns into a Gordian knot,
which, if the scythe of Death does not cut it, there is no untying.
I could say a great deal more on this subject, were I not prevented by
the anxiety I feel to know if the senor licentiate has anything more
to tell about the story of Basilio."

To this the student, bachelor, or, as Don Quixote called him,
licentiate, replied, "I have nothing whatever to say further, but that
from the moment Basilio learned that the fair Quiteria was to be
married to Camacho the rich, he has never been seen to smile, or heard
to utter rational word, and he always goes about moody and dejected,
talking to himself in a way that shows plainly he is out of his
senses. He eats little and sleeps little, and all he eats is fruit,
and when he sleeps, if he sleeps at all, it is in the field on the
hard earth like a brute beast. Sometimes he gazes at the sky, at other
times he fixes his eyes on the earth in such an abstracted way that he
might be taken for a clothed statue, with its drapery stirred by the
wind. In short, he shows such signs of a heart crushed by suffering,
that all we who know him believe that when to-morrow the fair Quiteria
says 'yes,' it will be his sentence of death."

"God will guide it better," said Sancho, "for God who gives the
wound gives the salve; nobody knows what will happen; there are a good
many hours between this and to-morrow, and any one of them, or any
moment, the house may fall; I have seen the rain coming down and the
sun shining all at one time; many a one goes to bed in good health who
can't stir the next day. And tell me, is there anyone who can boast of
having driven a nail into the wheel of fortune? No, faith; and between
a woman's 'yes' and 'no' I wouldn't venture to put the point of a pin,
for there would not be room for it; if you tell me Quiteria loves
Basilio heart and soul, then I'll give him a bag of good luck; for
love, I have heard say, looks through spectacles that make copper seem
gold, poverty wealth, and blear eyes pearls."

"What art thou driving at, Sancho? curses on thee!" said Don
Quixote; "for when thou takest to stringing proverbs and sayings
together, no one can understand thee but Judas himself, and I wish
he had thee. Tell me, thou animal, what dost thou know about nails
or wheels, or anything else?"

"Oh, if you don't understand me," replied Sancho, "it is no wonder
my words are taken for nonsense; but no matter; I understand myself,
and I know I have not said anything very foolish in what I have
said; only your worship, senor, is always gravelling at everything I
say, nay, everything I do."

"Cavilling, not gravelling," said Don Quixote, "thou prevaricator of
honest language, God confound thee!"

"Don't find fault with me, your worship," returned Sancho, "for
you know I have not been bred up at court or trained at Salamanca,
to know whether I am adding or dropping a letter or so in my words.
Why! God bless me, it's not fair to force a Sayago-man to speak like a
Toledan; maybe there are Toledans who do not hit it off when it
comes to polished talk."

"That is true," said the licentiate, "for those who have been bred
up in the Tanneries and the Zocodover cannot talk like those who are
almost all day pacing the cathedral cloisters, and yet they are all
Toledans. Pure, correct, elegant and lucid language will be met with
in men of courtly breeding and discrimination, though they may have
been born in Majalahonda; I say of discrimination, because there are
many who are not so, and discrimination is the grammar of good
language, if it be accompanied by practice. I, sirs, for my sins
have studied canon law at Salamanca, and I rather pique myself on
expressing my meaning in clear, plain, and intelligible language."

"If you did not pique yourself more on your dexterity with those
foils you carry than on dexterity of tongue," said the other
student, "you would have been head of the degrees, where you are now
tail."

"Look here, bachelor Corchuelo," returned the licentiate, "you
have the most mistaken idea in the world about skill with the sword,
if you think it useless."

"It is no idea on my part, but an established truth," replied
Corchuelo; "and if you wish me to prove it to you by experiment, you
have swords there, and it is a good opportunity; I have a steady
hand and a strong arm, and these joined with my resolution, which is
not small, will make you confess that I am not mistaken. Dismount
and put in practice your positions and circles and angles and science,
for I hope to make you see stars at noonday with my rude raw
swordsmanship, in which, next to God, I place my trust that the man is
yet to be born who will make me turn my back, and that there is not
one in the world I will not compel to give ground."

"As to whether you turn your back or not, I do not concern
myself," replied the master of fence; "though it might be that your
grave would be dug on the spot where you planted your foot the first
time; I mean that you would be stretched dead there for despising
skill with the sword."

"We shall soon see," replied Corchuelo, and getting off his ass
briskly, he drew out furiously one of the swords the licentiate
carried on his beast.

"It must not be that way," said Don Quixote at this point; "I will
be the director of this fencing match, and judge of this often
disputed question;" and dismounting from Rocinante and grasping his
lance, he planted himself in the middle of the road, just as the
licentiate, with an easy, graceful bearing and step, advanced
towards Corchuelo, who came on against him, darting fire from his
eyes, as the saying is. The other two of the company, the peasants,
without dismounting from their asses, served as spectators of the
mortal tragedy. The cuts, thrusts, down strokes, back strokes and
doubles, that Corchuelo delivered were past counting, and came thicker
than hops or hail. He attacked like an angry lion, but he was met by a
tap on the mouth from the button of the licentiate's sword that
checked him in the midst of his furious onset, and made him kiss it as
if it were a relic, though not as devoutly as relics are and ought
to he kissed. The end of it was that the licentiate reckoned up for
him by thrusts every one of the buttons of the short cassock he
wore, tore the skirts into strips, like the tails of a cuttlefish,
knocked off his hat twice, and so completely tired him out, that in
vexation, anger, and rage, he took the sword by the hilt and flung
it away with such force, that one of the peasants that were there, who
was a notary, and who went for it, made an affidavit afterwards that
he sent it nearly three-quarters of a league, which testimony will
serve, and has served, to show and establish with all certainty that
strength is overcome by skill.

Corchuelo sat down wearied, and Sancho approaching him said, "By
my faith, senor bachelor, if your worship takes my advice, you will
never challenge anyone to fence again, only to wrestle and throw the
bar, for you have the youth and strength for that; but as for these
fencers as they call them, I have heard say they can put the point
of a sword through the eye of a needle."

"I am satisfied with having tumbled off my donkey," said
Corchuelo, "and with having had the truth I was so ignorant of
proved to me by experience;" and getting up he embraced the
licentiate, and they were better friends than ever; and not caring
to wait for the notary who had gone for the sword, as they saw he
would be a long time about it, they resolved to push on so as to reach
the village of Quiteria, to which they all belonged, in good time.

During the remainder of the journey the licentiate held forth to
them on the excellences of the sword, with such conclusive
arguments, and such figures and mathematical proofs, that all were
convinced of the value of the science, and Corchuelo cured of his
dogmatism.

It grew dark; but before they reached the town it seemed to them all
as if there was a heaven full of countless glittering stars in front
of it. They heard, too, the pleasant mingled notes of a variety of
instruments, flutes, drums, psalteries, pipes, tabors, and timbrels,
and as they drew near they perceived that the trees of a leafy
arcade that had been constructed at the entrance of the town were
filled with lights unaffected by the wind, for the breeze at the
time was so gentle that it had not power to stir the leaves on the
trees. The musicians were the life of the wedding, wandering through
the pleasant grounds in separate bands, some dancing, others
singing, others playing the various instruments already mentioned.
In short, it seemed as though mirth and gaiety were frisking and
gambolling all over the meadow. Several other persons were engaged
in erecting raised benches from which people might conveniently see
the plays and dances that were to be performed the next day on the
spot dedicated to the celebration of the marriage of Camacho the
rich and the obsequies of Basilio. Don Quixote would not enter the
village, although the peasant as well as the bachelor pressed him;
he excused himself, however, on the grounds, amply sufficient in his
opinion, that it was the custom of knights-errant to sleep in the
fields and woods in preference to towns, even were it under gilded
ceilings; and so turned aside a little out of the road, very much
against Sancho's will, as the good quarters he had enjoyed in the
castle or house of Don Diego came back to his mind.




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