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CHAPTER XXII
WHERIN IS RELATED THE GRAND ADVENTURE OF THE CAVE OF MONTESINOS IN
THE HEART OF LA MANCHA, WHICH THE VALIANT DON QUIXOTE BROUGHT TO A
HAPPY TERMINATION

Many and great were the attentions shown to Don Quixote by the newly
married couple, who felt themselves under an obligation to him for
coming forward in defence of their cause; and they exalted his
wisdom to the same level with his courage, rating him as a Cid in
arms, and a Cicero in eloquence. Worthy Sancho enjoyed himself for
three days at the expense of the pair, from whom they learned that the
sham wound was not a scheme arranged with the fair Quiteria, but a
device of Basilio's, who counted on exactly the result they had
seen; he confessed, it is true, that he had confided his idea to
some of his friends, so that at the proper time they might aid him
in his purpose and insure the success of the deception.

"That," said Don Quixote, "is not and ought not to be called
deception which aims at virtuous ends;" and the marriage of lovers
he maintained to be a most excellent end, reminding them, however,
that love has no greater enemy than hunger and constant want; for love
is all gaiety, enjoyment, and happiness, especially when the lover
is in the possession of the object of his love, and poverty and want
are the declared enemies of all these; which he said to urge Senor
Basilio to abandon the practice of those accomplishments he was
skilled in, for though they brought him fame, they brought him no
money, and apply himself to the acquisition of wealth by legitimate
industry, which will never fail those who are prudent and persevering.
The poor man who is a man of honour (if indeed a poor man can be a man
of honour) has a jewel when he has a fair wife, and if she is taken
from him, his honour is taken from him and slain. The fair woman who
is a woman of honour, and whose husband is poor, deserves to be
crowned with the laurels and crowns of victory and triumph. Beauty
by itself attracts the desires of all who behold it, and the royal
eagles and birds of towering flight stoop on it as on a dainty lure;
but if beauty be accompanied by want and penury, then the ravens and
the kites and other birds of prey assail it, and she who stands firm
against such attacks well deserves to be called the crown of her
husband. "Remember, O prudent Basilio," added Don Quixote, "it was the
opinion of a certain sage, I know not whom, that there was not more
than one good woman in the whole world; and his advice was that each
one should think and believe that this one good woman was his own
wife, and in this way he would live happy. I myself am not married,
nor, so far, has it ever entered my thoughts to be so; nevertheless
I would venture to give advice to anyone who might ask it, as to the
mode in which he should seek a wife such as he would be content to
marry. The first thing I would recommend him, would be to look to good
name rather than to wealth, for a good woman does not win a good
name merely by being good, but by letting it he seen that she is so,
and open looseness and freedom do much more damage to a woman's honour
than secret depravity. If you take a good woman into your house it
will he an easy matter to keep her good, and even to make her still
better; but if you take a bad one you will find it hard work to mend
her, for it is no very easy matter to pass from one extreme to
another. I do not say it is impossible, but I look upon it as
difficult."

Sancho, listening to all this, said to himself, "This master of
mine, when I say anything that has weight and substance, says I
might take a pulpit in hand, and go about the world preaching fine
sermons; but I say of him that, when he begins stringing maxims
together and giving advice not only might he take a pulpit in hand,
but two on each finger, and go into the market-places to his heart's
content. Devil take you for a knight-errant, what a lot of things
you know! I used to think in my heart that the only thing he knew
was what belonged to his chivalry; but there is nothing he won't
have a finger in."

Sancho muttered this somewhat aloud, and his master overheard him,
and asked, "What art thou muttering there, Sancho?"

"I'm not saying anything or muttering anything," said Sancho; "I was
only saying to myself that I wish I had heard what your worship has
said just now before I married; perhaps I'd say now, 'The ox that's
loose licks himself well.'"

"Is thy Teresa so bad then, Sancho?"

"She is not very bad," replied Sancho; "but she is not very good; at
least she is not as good as I could wish."

"Thou dost wrong, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "to speak ill of thy
wife; for after all she is the mother of thy children." "We are
quits," returned Sancho; "for she speaks ill of me whenever she
takes it into her head, especially when she is jealous; and Satan
himself could not put up with her then."

In fine, they remained three days with the newly married couple,
by whom they were entertained and treated like kings. Don Quixote
begged the fencing licentiate to find him a guide to show him the
way to the cave of Montesinos, as he had a great desire to enter it
and see with his own eyes if the wonderful tales that were told of
it all over the country were true. The licentiate said he would get
him a cousin of his own, a famous scholar, and one very much given
to reading books of chivalry, who would have great pleasure in
conducting him to the mouth of the very cave, and would show him the
lakes of Ruidera, which were likewise famous all over La Mancha, and
even all over Spain; and he assured him he would find him
entertaining, for he was a youth who could write books good enough
to be printed and dedicated to princes. The cousin arrived at last,
leading an ass in foal, with a pack-saddle covered with a
parti-coloured carpet or sackcloth; Sancho saddled Rocinante, got
Dapple ready, and stocked his alforjas, along with which went those of
the cousin, likewise well filled; and so, commending themselves to God
and bidding farewell to all, they set out, taking the road for the
famous cave of Montesinos.

On the way Don Quixote asked the cousin of what sort and character
his pursuits, avocations, and studies were, to which he replied that
he was by profession a humanist, and that his pursuits and studies
were making books for the press, all of great utility and no less
entertainment to the nation. One was called "The Book of Liveries," in
which he described seven hundred and three liveries, with their
colours, mottoes, and ciphers, from which gentlemen of the court might
pick and choose any they fancied for festivals and revels, without
having to go a-begging for them from anyone, or puzzling their brains,
as the saying is, to have them appropriate to their objects and
purposes; "for," said he, "I give the jealous, the rejected, the
forgotten, the absent, what will suit them, and fit them without fail.
I have another book, too, which I shall call 'Metamorphoses, or the
Spanish Ovid,' one of rare and original invention, for imitating
Ovid in burlesque style, I show in it who the Giralda of Seville and
the Angel of the Magdalena were, what the sewer of Vecinguerra at
Cordova was, what the bulls of Guisando, the Sierra Morena, the
Leganitos and Lavapies fountains at Madrid, not forgetting those of
the Piojo, of the Cano Dorado, and of the Priora; and all with their
allegories, metaphors, and changes, so that they are amusing,
interesting, and instructive, all at once. Another book I have which I
call 'The Supplement to Polydore Vergil,' which treats of the
invention of things, and is a work of great erudition and research,
for I establish and elucidate elegantly some things of great
importance which Polydore omitted to mention. He forgot to tell us who
was the first man in the world that had a cold in his head, and who
was the first to try salivation for the French disease, but I give
it accurately set forth, and quote more than five-and-twenty authors
in proof of it, so you may perceive I have laboured to good purpose
and that the book will be of service to the whole world."

Sancho, who had been very attentive to the cousin's words, said to
him, "Tell me, senor- and God give you luck in printing your books-
can you tell me (for of course you know, as you know everything) who
was the first man that scratched his head? For to my thinking it
must have been our father Adam."

"So it must," replied the cousin; "for there is no doubt but Adam
had a head and hair; and being the first man in the world he would
have scratched himself sometimes."

"So I think," said Sancho; "but now tell me, who was the first
tumbler in the world?"

"Really, brother," answered the cousin, "I could not at this
moment say positively without having investigated it; I will look it
up when I go back to where I have my books, and will satisfy you the
next time we meet, for this will not be the last time."

"Look here, senor," said Sancho, "don't give yourself any trouble
about it, for I have just this minute hit upon what I asked you. The
first tumbler in the world, you must know, was Lucifer, when they cast
or pitched him out of heaven; for he came tumbling into the bottomless
pit."

"You are right, friend," said the cousin; and said Don Quixote,
"Sancho, that question and answer are not thine own; thou hast heard
them from some one else."

"Hold your peace, senor," said Sancho; "faith, if I take to asking
questions and answering, I'll go on from this till to-morrow
morning. Nay! to ask foolish things and answer nonsense I needn't go
looking for help from my neighbours."

"Thou hast said more than thou art aware of, Sancho," said Don
Quixote; "for there are some who weary themselves out in learning
and proving things that, after they are known and proved, are not
worth a farthing to the understanding or memory."

In this and other pleasant conversation the day went by, and that
night they put up at a small hamlet whence it was not more than two
leagues to the cave of Montesinos, so the cousin told Don Quixote,
adding, that if he was bent upon entering it, it would be requisite
for him to provide himself with ropes, so that he might be tied and
lowered into its depths. Don Quixote said that even if it reached to
the bottomless pit he meant to see where it went to; so they bought
about a hundred fathoms of rope, and next day at two in the
afternoon they arrived at the cave, the mouth of which is spacious and
wide, but full of thorn and wild-fig bushes and brambles and briars,
so thick and matted that they completely close it up and cover it
over.

On coming within sight of it the cousin, Sancho, and Don Quixote
dismounted, and the first two immediately tied the latter very
firmly with the ropes, and as they were girding and swathing him
Sancho said to him, "Mind what you are about, master mine; don't go
burying yourself alive, or putting yourself where you'll be like a
bottle put to cool in a well; it's no affair or business of your
worship's to become the explorer of this, which must be worse than a
Moorish dungeon."

"Tie me and hold thy peace," said Don Quixote, "for an emprise
like this, friend Sancho, was reserved for me;" and said the guide, "I
beg of you, Senor Don Quixote, to observe carefully and examine with a
hundred eyes everything that is within there; perhaps there may be
some things for me to put into my book of 'Transformations.'"

"The drum is in hands that will know how to beat it well enough,"
said Sancho Panza.

When he had said this and finished the tying (which was not over the
armour but only over the doublet) Don Quixote observed, "It was
careless of us not to have provided ourselves with a small cattle-bell
to be tied on the rope close to me, the sound of which would show that
I was still descending and alive; but as that is out of the question
now, in God's hand be it to guide me;" and forthwith he fell on his
knees and in a low voice offered up a prayer to heaven, imploring
God to aid him and grant him success in this to all appearance
perilous and untried adventure, and then exclaimed aloud, "O
mistress of my actions and movements, illustrious and peerless
Dulcinea del Toboso, if so be the prayers and supplications of this
fortunate lover can reach thy ears, by thy incomparable beauty I
entreat thee to listen to them, for they but ask thee not to refuse me
thy favour and protection now that I stand in such need of them. I
am about to precipitate, to sink, to plunge myself into the abyss that
is here before me, only to let the world know that while thou dost
favour me there is no impossibility I will not attempt and
accomplish." With these words he approached the cavern, and
perceived that it was impossible to let himself down or effect an
entrance except by sheer force or cleaving a passage; so drawing his
sword he began to demolish and cut away the brambles at the mouth of
the cave, at the noise of which a vast multitude of crows and
choughs flew out of it so thick and so fast that they knocked Don
Quixote down; and if he had been as much of a believer in augury as he
was a Catholic Christian he would have taken it as a bad omen and
declined to bury himself in such a place. He got up, however, and as
there came no more crows, or night-birds like the bats that flew out
at the same time with the crows, the cousin and Sancho giving him
rope, he lowered himself into the depths of the dread cavern; and as
he entered it Sancho sent his blessing after him, making a thousand
crosses over him and saying, "God, and the Pena de Francia, and the
Trinity of Gaeta guide thee, flower and cream of knights-errant. There
thou goest, thou dare-devil of the earth, heart of steel, arm of
brass; once more, God guide thee and send thee back safe, sound, and
unhurt to the light of this world thou art leaving to bury thyself
in the darkness thou art seeking there;" and the cousin offered up
almost the same prayers and supplications.

Don Quixote kept calling to them to give him rope and more rope, and
they gave it out little by little, and by the time the calls, which
came out of the cave as out of a pipe, ceased to be heard they had let
down the hundred fathoms of rope. They were inclined to pull Don
Quixote up again, as they could give him no more rope; however, they
waited about half an hour, at the end of which time they began to
gather in the rope again with great ease and without feeling any
weight, which made them fancy Don Quixote was remaining below; and
persuaded that it was so, Sancho wept bitterly, and hauled away in
great haste in order to settle the question. When, however, they had
come to, as it seemed, rather more than eighty fathoms they felt a
weight, at which they were greatly delighted; and at last, at ten
fathoms more, they saw Don Quixote distinctly, and Sancho called out
to him, saying, "Welcome back, senor, for we had begun to think you
were going to stop there to found a family." But Don Quixote
answered not a word, and drawing him out entirely they perceived he
had his eyes shut and every appearance of being fast asleep.

They stretched him on the ground and untied him, but still he did
not awake; however, they rolled him back and forwards and shook and
pulled him about, so that after some time he came to himself,
stretching himself just as if he were waking up from a deep and
sound sleep, and looking about him he said, "God forgive you, friends;
ye have taken me away from the sweetest and most delightful
existence and spectacle that ever human being enjoyed or beheld. Now
indeed do I know that all the pleasures of this life pass away like
a shadow and a dream, or fade like the flower of the field. O
ill-fated Montesinos! O sore-wounded Durandarte! O unhappy Belerma!
O tearful Guadiana, and ye O hapless daughters of Ruidera who show
in your waves the tears that flowed from your beauteous eyes!"

The cousin and Sancho Panza listened with deep attention to the
words of Don Quixote, who uttered them as though with immense pain
he drew them up from his very bowels. They begged of him to explain
himself, and tell them what he had seen in that hell down there.

"Hell do you call it?" said Don Quixote; "call it by no such name,
for it does not deserve it, as ye shall soon see."

He then begged them to give him something to eat, as he was very
hungry. They spread the cousin's sackcloth on the grass, and put the
stores of the alforjas into requisition, and all three sitting down
lovingly and sociably, they made a luncheon and a supper of it all
in one; and when the sackcloth was removed, Don Quixote of La Mancha
said, "Let no one rise, and attend to me, my sons, both of you."




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