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CHAPTER XXX

OF DON QUIXOTE'S ADVENTURE WITH A FAIR HUNTRESS

They reached their beasts in low spirits and bad humour enough,
knight and squire, Sancho particularly, for with him what touched
the stock of money touched his heart, and when any was taken from
him he felt as if he was robbed of the apples of his eyes. In fine,
without exchanging a word, they mounted and quitted the famous
river, Don Quixote absorbed in thoughts of his love, Sancho in
thinking of his advancement, which just then, it seemed to him, he was
very far from securing; for, fool as he was, he saw clearly enough
that his master's acts were all or most of them utterly senseless; and
he began to cast about for an opportunity of retiring from his service
and going home some day, without entering into any explanations or
taking any farewell of him. Fortune, however, ordered matters after
a fashion very much the opposite of what he contemplated.

It so happened that the next day towards sunset, on coming out of
a wood, Don Quixote cast his eyes over a green meadow, and at the
far end of it observed some people, and as he drew nearer saw that
it was a hawking party. Coming closer, he distinguished among them a
lady of graceful mien, on a pure white palfrey or hackney
caparisoned with green trappings and a silver-mounted side-saddle. The
lady was also in green, and so richly and splendidly dressed that
splendour itself seemed personified in her. On her left hand she
bore a hawk, a proof to Don Quixote's mind that she must be some great
lady and the mistress of the whole hunting party, which was the
fact; so he said to Sancho, "Run Sancho, my son, and say to that
lady on the palfrey with the hawk that I, the Knight of the Lions,
kiss the hands of her exalted beauty, and if her excellence will grant
me leave I will go and kiss them in person and place myself at her
service for aught that may be in my power and her highness may
command; and mind, Sancho, how thou speakest, and take care not to
thrust in any of thy proverbs into thy message."

"You've got a likely one here to thrust any in!" said Sancho; "leave
me alone for that! Why, this is not the first time in my life I have
carried messages to high and exalted ladies."

"Except that thou didst carry to the lady Dulcinea," said Don
Quixote, "I know not that thou hast carried any other, at least in
my service."

"That is true," replied Sancho; "but pledges don't distress a good
payer, and in a house where there's plenty supper is soon cooked; I
mean there's no need of telling or warning me about anything; for
I'm ready for everything and know a little of everything."

"That I believe, Sancho," said Don Quixote; "go and good luck to
thee, and God speed thee."

Sancho went off at top speed, forcing Dapple out of his regular
pace, and came to where the fair huntress was standing, and
dismounting knelt before her and said, "Fair lady, that knight that
you see there, the Knight of the Lions by name, is my master, and I am
a squire of his, and at home they call me Sancho Panza. This same
Knight of the Lions, who was called not long since the Knight of the
Rueful Countenance, sends by me to say may it please your highness
to give him leave that, with your permission, approbation, and
consent, he may come and carry out his wishes, which are, as he says
and I believe, to serve your exalted loftiness and beauty; and if
you give it, your ladyship will do a thing which will redound to
your honour, and he will receive a most distinguished favour and
happiness."

"You have indeed, squire," said the lady, "delivered your message
with all the formalities such messages require; rise up, for it is not
right that the squire of a knight so great as he of the Rueful
Countenance, of whom we have heard a great deal here, should remain on
his knees; rise, my friend, and bid your master welcome to the
services of myself and the duke my husband, in a country house we have
here."

Sancho got up, charmed as much by the beauty of the good lady as
by her high-bred air and her courtesy, but, above all, by what she had
said about having heard of his master, the Knight of the Rueful
Countenance; for if she did not call him Knight of the Lions it was no
doubt because he had so lately taken the name. "Tell me, brother
squire," asked the duchess (whose title, however, is not known), "this
master of yours, is he not one of whom there is a history extant in
print, called 'The Ingenious Gentleman, Don Quixote of La Mancha,' who
has for the lady of his heart a certain Dulcinea del Toboso?"

"He is the same, senora," replied Sancho; "and that squire of his
who figures, or ought to figure, in the said history under the name of
Sancho Panza, is myself, unless they have changed me in the cradle,
I mean in the press."

"I am rejoiced at all this," said the duchess; "go, brother Panza,
and tell your master that he is welcome to my estate, and that nothing
could happen me that could give me greater pleasure."

Sancho returned to his master mightily pleased with this
gratifying answer, and told him all the great lady had said to him,
lauding to the skies, in his rustic phrase, her rare beauty, her
graceful gaiety, and her courtesy. Don Quixote drew himself up briskly
in his saddle, fixed himself in his stirrups, settled his visor,
gave Rocinante the spur, and with an easy bearing advanced to kiss the
hands of the duchess, who, having sent to summon the duke her husband,
told him while Don Quixote was approaching all about the message;
and as both of them had read the First Part of this history, and
from it were aware of Don Quixote's crazy turn, they awaited him
with the greatest delight and anxiety to make his acquaintance,
meaning to fall in with his humour and agree with everything he
said, and, so long as he stayed with them, to treat him as a
knight-errant, with all the ceremonies usual in the books of
chivalry they had read, for they themselves were very fond of them.

Don Quixote now came up with his visor raised, and as he seemed
about to dismount Sancho made haste to go and hold his stirrup for
him; but in getting down off Dapple he was so unlucky as to hitch
his foot in one of the ropes of the pack-saddle in such a way that
he was unable to free it, and was left hanging by it with his face and
breast on the ground. Don Quixote, who was not used to dismount
without having the stirrup held, fancying that Sancho had by this time
come to hold it for him, threw himself off with a lurch and brought
Rocinante's saddle after him, which was no doubt badly girthed, and
saddle and he both came to the ground; not without discomfiture to him
and abundant curses muttered between his teeth against the unlucky
Sancho, who had his foot still in the shackles. The duke ordered his
huntsmen to go to the help of knight and squire, and they raised Don
Quixote, sorely shaken by his fall; and he, limping, advanced as
best he could to kneel before the noble pair. This, however, the
duke would by no means permit; on the contrary, dismounting from his
horse, he went and embraced Don Quixote, saying, "I am grieved, Sir
Knight of the Rueful Countenance, that your first experience on my
ground should have been such an unfortunate one as we have seen; but
the carelessness of squires is often the cause of worse accidents."

"That which has happened me in meeting you, mighty prince,"
replied Don Quixote, "cannot be unfortunate, even if my fall had not
stopped short of the depths of the bottomless pit, for the glory of
having seen you would have lifted me up and delivered me from it. My
squire, God's curse upon him, is better at unloosing his tongue in
talking impertinence than in tightening the girths of a saddle to keep
it steady; but however I may be, allen or raised up, on foot or on
horseback, I shall always be at your service and that of my lady the
duchess, your worthy consort, worthy queen of beauty and paramount
princess of courtesy."

"Gently, Senor Don Quixote of La Mancha," said the duke; "where my
lady Dona Dulcinea del Toboso is, it is not right that other
beauties should he praised."

Sancho, by this time released from his entanglement, was standing
by, and before his master could answer he said, "There is no
denying, and it must be maintained, that my lady Dulcinea del Toboso
is very beautiful; but the hare jumps up where one least expects it;
and I have heard say that what we call nature is like a potter that
makes vessels of clay, and he who makes one fair vessel can as well
make two, or three, or a hundred; I say so because, by my faith, my
lady the duchess is in no way behind my mistress the lady Dulcinea del
Toboso."

Don Quixote turned to the duchess and said, "Your highness may
conceive that never had knight-errant in this world a more talkative
or a droller squire than I have, and he will prove the truth of what I
say, if your highness is pleased to accept of my services for a few
days."

To which the duchess made answer, "that worthy Sancho is droll I
consider a very good thing, because it is a sign that he is shrewd;
for drollery and sprightliness, Senor Don Quixote, as you very well
know, do not take up their abode with dull wits; and as good Sancho is
droll and sprightly I here set him down as shrewd."

"And talkative," added Don Quixote.

"So much the better," said the duke, "for many droll things cannot
be said in few words; but not to lose time in talking, come, great
Knight of the Rueful Countenance-"

"Of the Lions, your highness must say," said Sancho, "for there is
no Rueful Countenance nor any such character now."

"He of the Lions be it," continued the duke; "I say, let Sir
Knight of the Lions come to a castle of mine close by, where he
shall be given that reception which is due to so exalted a
personage, and which the duchess and I are wont to give to all
knights-errant who come there."

By this time Sancho had fixed and girthed Rocinante's saddle, and
Don Quixote having got on his back and the duke mounted a fine
horse, they placed the duchess in the middle and set out for the
castle. The duchess desired Sancho to come to her side, for she
found infinite enjoyment in listening to his shrewd remarks. Sancho
required no pressing, but pushed himself in between them and the duke,
who thought it rare good fortune to receive such a knight-errant and
such a homely squire in their castle.




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