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CHAPTER XXIX

OF THE FAMOUS ADVENTURE OF THE ENCHANTED BARK

By stages as already described or left undescribed, two days after
quitting the grove Don Quixote and Sancho reached the river Ebro,
and the sight of it was a great delight to Don Quixote as he
contemplated and gazed upon the charms of its banks, the clearness
of its stream, the gentleness of its current and the abundance of
its crystal waters; and the pleasant view revived a thousand tender
thoughts in his mind. Above all, he dwelt upon what he had seen in the
cave of Montesinos; for though Master Pedro's ape had told him that of
those things part was true, part false, he clung more to their truth
than to their falsehood, the very reverse of Sancho, who held them all
to be downright lies.

As they were thus proceeding, then, they discovered a small boat,
without oars or any other gear, that lay at the water's edge tied to
the stem of a tree growing on the bank. Don Quixote looked all
round, and seeing nobody, at once, without more ado, dismounted from
Rocinante and bade Sancho get down from Dapple and tie both beasts
securely to the trunk of a poplar or willow that stood there. Sancho
asked him the reason of this sudden dismounting and tying. Don Quixote
made answer, "Thou must know, Sancho, that this bark is plainly, and
without the possibility of any alternative, calling and inviting me to
enter it, and in it go to give aid to some knight or other person of
distinction in need of it, who is no doubt in some sore strait; for
this is the way of the books of chivalry and of the enchanters who
figure and speak in them. When a knight is involved in some difficulty
from which he cannot be delivered save by the hand of another
knight, though they may be at a distance of two or three thousand
leagues or more one from the other, they either take him up on a
cloud, or they provide a bark for him to get into, and in less than
the twinkling of an eye they carry him where they will and where his
help is required; and so, Sancho, this bark is placed here for the
same purpose; this is as true as that it is now day, and ere this
one passes tie Dapple and Rocinante together, and then in God's hand
be it to guide us; for I would not hold back from embarking, though
barefooted friars were to beg me."

"As that's the case," said Sancho, "and your worship chooses to give
in to these- I don't know if I may call them absurdities- at every
turn, there's nothing for it but to obey and bow the head, bearing
in mind the proverb, 'Do as thy master bids thee, and sit down to
table with him;' but for all that, for the sake of easing my
conscience, I warn your worship that it is my opinion this bark is
no enchanted one, but belongs to some of the fishermen of the river,
for they catch the best shad in the world here."

As Sancho said this, he tied the beasts, leaving them to the care
and protection of the enchanters with sorrow enough in his heart.
Don Quixote bade him not be uneasy about deserting the animals, "for
he who would carry themselves over such longinquous roads and
regions would take care to feed them."

"I don't understand that logiquous," said Sancho, "nor have I ever
heard the word all the days of my life."

"Longinquous," replied Don Quixote, "means far off; but it is no
wonder thou dost not understand it, for thou art not bound to know
Latin, like some who pretend to know it and don't."

"Now they are tied," said Sancho; "what are we to do next?"

"What?" said Don Quixote, "cross ourselves and weigh anchor; I mean,
embark and cut the moorings by which the bark is held;" and the bark
began to drift away slowly from the bank. But when Sancho saw
himself somewhere about two yards out in the river, he began to
tremble and give himself up for lost; but nothing distressed him
more than hearing Dapple bray and seeing Rocinante struggling to get
loose, and said he to his master, "Dapple is braying in grief at our
leaving him, and Rocinante is trying to escape and plunge in after us.
O dear friends, peace be with you, and may this madness that is taking
us away from you, turned into sober sense, bring us back to you."
And with this he fell weeping so bitterly, that Don Quixote said to
him, sharply and angrily, "What art thou afraid of, cowardly creature?
What art thou weeping at, heart of butter-paste? Who pursues or
molests thee, thou soul of a tame mouse? What dost thou want,
unsatisfied in the very heart of abundance? Art thou, perchance,
tramping barefoot over the Riphaean mountains, instead of being seated
on a bench like an archduke on the tranquil stream of this pleasant
river, from which in a short space we shall come out upon the broad
sea? But we must have already emerged and gone seven hundred or
eight hundred leagues; and if I had here an astrolabe to take the
altitude of the pole, I could tell thee how many we have travelled,
though either I know little, or we have already crossed or shall
shortly cross the equinoctial line which parts the two opposite
poles midway."

"And when we come to that line your worship speaks of," said Sancho,
"how far shall we have gone?"

"Very far," said Don Quixote, "for of the three hundred and sixty
degrees that this terraqueous globe contains, as computed by
Ptolemy, the greatest cosmographer known, we shall have travelled
one-half when we come to the line I spoke of."

"By God," said Sancho, "your worship gives me a nice authority for
what you say, putrid Dolly something transmogrified, or whatever it
is."

Don Quixote laughed at the interpretation Sancho put upon
"computed," and the name of the cosmographer Ptolemy, and said he,
"Thou must know, Sancho, that with the Spaniards and those who
embark at Cadiz for the East Indies, one of the signs they have to
show them when they have passed the equinoctial line I told thee of,
is, that the lice die upon everybody on board the ship, and not a
single one is left, or to be found in the whole vessel if they gave
its weight in gold for it; so, Sancho, thou mayest as well pass thy
hand down thy thigh, and if thou comest upon anything alive we shall
be no longer in doubt; if not, then we have crossed."

"I don't believe a bit of it," said Sancho; "still, I'll do as
your worship bids me; though I don't know what need there is for
trying these experiments, for I can see with my own eyes that we
have not moved five yards away from the bank, or shifted two yards
from where the animals stand, for there are Rocinante and Dapple in
the very same place where we left them; and watching a point, as I
do now, I swear by all that's good, we are not stirring or moving at
the pace of an ant."

"Try the test I told thee of, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "and
don't mind any other, for thou knowest nothing about colures, lines,
parallels, zodiacs, ecliptics, poles, solstices, equinoxes, planets,
signs, bearings, the measures of which the celestial and terrestrial
spheres are composed; if thou wert acquainted with all these things,
or any portion of them, thou wouldst see clearly how many parallels we
have cut, what signs we have seen, and what constellations we have
left behind and are now leaving behind. But again I tell thee, feel
and hunt, for I am certain thou art cleaner than a sheet of smooth
white paper."

Sancho felt, and passing his hand gently and carefully down to the
hollow of his left knee, he looked up at his master and said,
"Either the test is a false one, or we have not come to where your
worship says, nor within many leagues of it."

"Why, how so?" asked Don Quixote; "hast thou come upon aught?"

"Ay, and aughts," replied Sancho; and shaking his fingers he
washed his whole hand in the river along which the boat was quietly
gliding in midstream, not moved by any occult intelligence or
invisible enchanter, but simply by the current, just there smooth
and gentle.

They now came in sight of some large water mills that stood in the
middle of the river, and the instant Don Quixote saw them he cried
out, "Seest thou there, my friend? there stands the castle or
fortress, where there is, no doubt, some knight in durance, or
ill-used queen, or infanta, or princess, in whose aid I am brought
hither."

"What the devil city, fortress, or castle is your worship talking
about, senor?" said Sancho; "don't you see that those are mills that
stand in the river to grind corn?"

"Hold thy peace, Sancho," said Don Quixote; "though they look like
mills they are not so; I have already told thee that enchantments
transform things and change their proper shapes; I do not mean to
say they really change them from one form into another, but that it
seems as though they did, as experience proved in the transformation
of Dulcinea, sole refuge of my hopes."

By this time, the boat, having reached the middle of the stream,
began to move less slowly than hitherto. The millers belonging to
the mills, when they saw the boat coming down the river, and on the
point of being sucked in by the draught of the wheels, ran out in
haste, several of them, with long poles to stop it, and being all
mealy, with faces and garments covered with flour, they presented a
sinister appearance. They raised loud shouts, crying, "Devils of
men, where are you going to? Are you mad? Do you want to drown
yourselves, or dash yourselves to pieces among these wheels?"

"Did I not tell thee, Sancho," said Don Quixote at this, "that we
had reached the place where I am to show what the might of my arm
can do? See what ruffians and villains come out against me; see what
monsters oppose me; see what hideous countenances come to frighten us!
You shall soon see, scoundrels!" And then standing up in the boat he
began in a loud voice to hurl threats at the millers, exclaiming,
"Ill-conditioned and worse-counselled rabble, restore to liberty and
freedom the person ye hold in durance in this your fortress or prison,
high or low or of whatever rank or quality he be, for I am Don Quixote
of La Mancha, otherwise called the Knight of the Lions, for whom, by
the disposition of heaven above, it is reserved to give a happy
issue to this adventure;" and so saying he drew his sword and began
making passes in the air at the millers, who, hearing but not
understanding all this nonsense, strove to stop the boat, which was
now getting into the rushing channel of the wheels. Sancho fell upon
his knees devoutly appealing to heaven to deliver him from such
imminent peril; which it did by the activity and quickness of the
millers, who, pushing against the boat with their poles, stopped it,
not, however, without upsetting and throwing Don Quixote and Sancho
into the water; and lucky it was for Don Quixote that he could swim
like a goose, though the weight of his armour carried him twice to the
bottom; and had it not been for the millers, who plunged in and
hoisted them both out, it would have been Troy town with the pair of
them. As soon as, more drenched than thirsty, they were landed, Sancho
went down on his knees and with clasped hands and eyes raised to
heaven, prayed a long and fervent prayer to God to deliver him
evermore from the rash projects and attempts of his master. The
fishermen, the owners of the boat, which the mill-wheels had knocked
to pieces, now came up, and seeing it smashed they proceeded to
strip Sancho and to demand payment for it from Don Quixote; but he
with great calmness, just as if nothing had happened him, told the
millers and fishermen that he would pay for the bark most
cheerfully, on condition that they delivered up to him, free and
unhurt, the person or persons that were in durance in that castle of
theirs.

"What persons or what castle art thou talking of, madman? Art thou
for carrying off the people who come to grind corn in these mills?"

"That's enough," said Don Quixote to himself, "it would be preaching
in the desert to attempt by entreaties to induce this rabble to do any
virtuous action. In this adventure two mighty enchanters must have
encountered one another, and one frustrates what the other attempts;
one provided the bark for me, and the other upset me; God help us,
this world is all machinations and schemes at cross purposes one
with the other. I can do no more." And then turning towards the
mills he said aloud, "Friends, whoe'er ye be that are immured in
that prison, forgive me that, to my misfortune and yours, I cannot
deliver you from your misery; this adventure is doubtless reserved and
destined for some other knight."

So saying he settled with the fishermen, and paid fifty reals for
the boat, which Sancho handed to them very much against the grain,
saying, "With a couple more bark businesses like this we shall have
sunk our whole capital."

The fishermen and the millers stood staring in amazement at the
two figures, so very different to all appearance from ordinary men,
and were wholly unable to make out the drift of the observations and
questions Don Quixote addressed to them; and coming to the
conclusion that they were madmen, they left them and betook
themselves, the millers to their mills, and the fishermen to their
huts. Don Quixote and Sancho returned to their beasts, and to their
life of beasts, and so ended the adventure of the enchanted bark.




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