Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.

The history of Don Quixote online

. (page 69 of 85)
Online LibraryMiguel de Cervantes SaavedraThe history of Don Quixote → online text (page 69 of 85)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


have no cause to complain ; supper shall make amends
for the want of your dinner."

"Heaven grant it may." said Sancho.

Now the countryman came in, and by his looks seem-
ed to be a good, harmless, silly soul. As soon as he
entered the room, "Which is my lord governor ?" quoth
he.

"Who but he that sits in the chiir?" answered the
secretary.

"I humble myself to his worship's presence, "quoth
the fellow ; and with that, falling on his knees, begged
to kiss his hand, which Sancho refused, but bid him
rise, and tell him what he had to say. The country-
man then got up: "My lord," quoth he, "I am a
husbandman of Miguel Turra, a town some two leagues
from Oidudad-Beal."

"Here is another Tirteaf uera, " quoth Sancho. " Well,
go on, friend; I know the place full well: it is not far
from our town. "

"If it please you," said the countryman, "my business
is this: I was manied, by Heaven's mercy, in the face
of our holy mother, the Eoman Catholic Church, and I
have two boys that take their learning at the college ;
the youngest studies to become a bachelor, and the
eldest to be a master of arts. I am a widower, because
my wife is dead; she died, if it please you, or, to speak
more truly, she was killed, as a body may say, by a
doctor, who gave her a wrong medicine. "

"So, then," quoth Sancho, "had not your wife died,
or had they not made her die, you had not been a
widower. "

"Very true," answered the man.

"We are much the nearer," cried Sancho; "go on,
honest friend, and pr'ythee dispatch, for it is rather
time to take an afternoon's nap, than to talk of
busines. "

"Now, sir, I must tell you," continued the farmer,
"that that son of mine, the bachelor of arts that is to be,
fell in love with a maiden of our town, Clara Perlerino
by name, the daughter of Andrew Pelerino, a mighty
rich farmer; and Pelerino is not the right name neither,
but, because the whole generation of them is troubled
with the palsy, they used to be called, from the name
of that ailing, Perlaticos, but now they go by that of
Perlerino; and, truly, it fits the young woman rarely,
for she is a precious pearl for beauty, especially if you
stand on her right side, and view her— she looks like a
flower in the fields. On the left, indeed, she does not
look altogether so well, for there she wants an eye,



which she lost by the small pox, that has digged many
pits somewhat deep all over her face ; but those that wish
her well say that is nothing, and that those pits are so
many graves to bury lovers' hearts in. She is so cleanly,
that, because she will not have her nose drop upon her
lips, she carries it cocked up; and her nostrils are
turned up on each side, as if they shunned her mouth,
that is somewhat of the widest; but, for all that, she
looks exceedingly well; and, were it not for some ten
or dozen of her butter-teeth and grinders which, she
wants, she might set up for one of the cleverest lasses
in the country. As for her lips, I do not know what to
say of them, for they are so thin and so slender, that, were
it the fashion to wind lips as they do silk, one might
make a skein of hers; besides, they are not of the
ordinary hue of common lips; no, they are of the most
wonderful color that ever was seen, as being speckled
with blue, green, and orange tawny. I hope my lord
governor will pardon me for dwelling thus on the pic-
ture and several rare feature of her that is one day to
be my daughter, seeing it is merely out of my hearty
love and affection for the girl."

"Pr'ythee, paint on as long as thou wilt," said San-
cho ; " I am mightily taken with this kind of paint-
ing."

"Could I set before your eyes her pretty carriage and
her shape," quoth the fellow, "you would admire. But
that is not to be done, for she is so crooked and crum-
pled up together, that her knees and her chin meet;
and yet any one may perceive that, if she could but
stand upright, her head would touch the very ceiling;
and she would have given her hand to my son the
bachelor, in the way of matrimony, before now, but
that she is not able to stretch it forth, the sinews being
quite shrunk up. However, the broad, long-guttered
nails add no small grace to it, and may let you know
what a well-made hand she has. "

"So far, so good," said Sancho; "but let us suppose
you have drawn her from head to foot ; what is it you
would be at now ? Come to the point, friend, without
so many windings and turnings, and going round about
the bush."

"Sir," said the farmer, "I would desire your honor
to do me the kindness to give me a letter of accommo-
dation to the father of my daughte-in-law, beseeching
him to be pleased to let the marriage be fulfilled, see-
ing we are not unlike neither in estate nor bodily con-
cerns; for, to tell you the truth, my lord governor, my
son is bewitched, and there is not a day passes over his
head but the foul fiends torment him three or four
times; and, having once had the ill-luck to have fallen
into the fire, the skin of his face is shrivelled up like a
piece of parchment, and his eyes are somewhat sore and
full of rheum. But, when all is said, he has the tem-
per of an angel. "

"Have you anything else to ask, honest man?" said
Sancho.

"Only one thing more," quoth the farmer; "but I am
somewhat afraid to speak it; yet I cannot find in my
heart to let it rot within me ; and therefore, fall back
fall edge, I must out with it. I wculd desire your wor-




Don Quixote, tlius anLappily Uurt, was extremely sullen and melanclioly."-}>. 383.



DON QUIXOTE DE LA MANOHA.



385



ship to besto-w on me some three hundred or six hun-
dred ducats towards my bachelor's portion, only to help
him to begin the world, and furnish him a house ; for,
in short, they would live by themselves, without being
subject to the impertinencies of a father-inlaw."

"Well," said San cho, "see if you would have any-
thing else; if you would, do not let fear or bashfulness
be your hindrance; out with it, man. "

"No, truly," quoth the farmer; and he had scarcely
spoken the words, when the governor, starting up, and
laying hold of the chair he sat on, "You brazen-faced,
silly, impudent country booby," cried he, "get out of
my presence this moment, or, by the blood of the Pan-
zas, I will crack your jolter-head with this chairl What
care I for Miguel Turra, or all the generation of the
Perlerinos? Avoid the room, I say, or, by the life of
the duke, I'll be as good as my word, and ding out thy
cuckoo brains. It is not a day and a half that I have



been governor, and thou wouldst have me have six
hundred ducats already, dunderheaded sot!"

The steward made signs to the farmer to withdraw,
and he went out accordingly, hanging down his head^
and, to all appearance, very much afraid lest the gov-
ernor should make good his angry threats; for the cun-
ning knave knew very well how to act his part. But
let us leave Sancho in his angry mood, and let there be
peace and quietness, while we return to Don Quixote,
whom we left with his face covered over with plaisters,
the scratches which he had got when the cat so clap-
per-clawed him having obliged him to no less than
eight days' retirement; during which time there hap-
pened that to him which Cid Hament promises to re-
late with the same punctuality and veracity with which
he delivers the particulars of this history, how trivial
soever they may be.



CHAPTER XLVIII.



•WHAT HAPPENED TO DON QtTIXOTB WITH DONNA EODEIGUEZ, THE DUCHESS'S WOMAN ; AS ALSO OTHEB
PASSAGES WOETHT TO BE EECOEDED AND HAD IN ETEENAL EEMEMBEANOE.



Don Quixote, thus unhappily hurt, was extremely
aollen and melancholy, his face wrapped up and mark-
ed, not by the hawi of a superior being, but the paws
of a cat, a misfortune incident to knight-errantry. He
was six days without appearing in public; and one
night, when he was thus confined to his apartment, as
he lay awake reflecting on his misfortunes and Altisi-
dora's importunities, he perceived somebody was open-
ing his chamber-door with a key. TJp he got in the
bed, wrapped from head to foot in a yellow satin quUt,
with a woollen cap on his head, his face and his mous-
tachios bound up, his face to heal his scratches, and his
moustachios to keep them down; in which posture he
looked like the strangest apparition that can be imag-
inged. He fixed his eyes towards the door, and when
he expected to have seen the yielding and doleful
Altisidora, he beheld a most reverend matron approach-
ing in a white veil, so long that it covered her from head
to foot. Betwixt her left-hand fingers she carried half
a candle lighted, and held her right before her face, to
keep, the blaze of the taper from her eyes, which were
hidden by a huge pair of spectacles. All the way she
trpd very softly, and moved at a very slow pace. Don
Quixote watched her motions, and observing her garb
and silence, took her for some witch or enchantress that
came in that dress to practise her wicked sorceries upon
him, and began to make the sign of the cross as fast as
he could. The vision advanced all the while, and be-
ing got to the middle of the chamber, lifted up its eyes,
and saw Don Quixote thus making a thousand crosses
on his breast. But if he was astonished at the sight of



such a figure, she was no less affrighted at his; so that,
as soon as she spied him thus wrapped up in yellow, so
lank, bepatched, and mnfiled up, "Bless me!" cried
she, "what is this?"

With the sudden fright she dropped the candle, and
now, being in the dark, as she was running out, the
length of her dress made her stumble, and down she
fell in the middle of the chamber. Don Quixote at the
same time was in great anxiety. "Phantom," cried he,
"or whatsoever thou art, 1 conjure thee to tell me who
thou art, and what thou requirest of me. If thou art a
soul in torment, tell me, and I will endeavor thy ease
to the utmost of my power; for I am a catholic Chris-
tian, and love to do good to all mankind ; for which,
reason I took upon me the order of knight-errantry,
whose extensive duties engage me to relieve all in
distress. "

The poor old woman, hearing herself thus conjured,
judged Don Quixote's fears by her own, and therefore,
with a low and doleful voice, "My Lord Don Quixote,"
said she, "if you are he, I am neither a i^hantom nor a
ghost, as I suppose you fancy, but Donna Eodriguez,
my lady duchess's matron of honor, who come to you
about a certain grievance, of the nature of those which
you use to redress."

"Tell me. Donna Eodriguez," said Don Quixote,
"are not you come to manage some love intrigue ? If
you are, take it from me, you will lose your labor. It
is all in vain, thanks to the peerless beauty of my Lady
Dulcinea del Toboso. In a word, madam, provided
you come not on some such embassy, you may go light



386



DON QUIXOTE DE LA MANCHA.



your candle and return, and we will talk of anything
you please; but remember, I bar all dangerous insinu-
ations, all amorous enticements. "

"What," cried the matron; "I find you do not know
me, sir. But stay a little, I will go light my candle,
and then I will tell you my misfortunes, for it is you
that sets to right everything in the world. "

This said, away she went, without stopping for an
answer.

Don Quixote waited for her a while quietly, but his
working brain soon started a thousand chimeras con-
cerning this new adventure, and he fancied he did ill
in giving way, though but to a thought of endangering
his faith to his mistress. So he started from the bed to
lock the door and shut out Donna Eodriguez ; but in
that very moment she happened to come in with a wax
candle lighted; at which time spying the knight near
her, wrapped in his quilt, his face bound up, and a
woollen cap on his head, she was frighted again, and
started two or three steps back.

Here Oid Hamet (making a parenthesis) swears by
Mahomet he would have given the best coat of two that
he had, only to have seen the knight and the matron
thus. To make short, Don Quixote went to bed again,
and Donna Eodriguez sat down in a chair at some dis-
tance, without taking off her spectacles, or setting down
the candle. Don Quixote crowded up together, and
covered himself close, all but his face, and after they
had both remained in silence, the first that broke it was
the knight.

"Now, madam," said he, "you may freely unburden
your heart, sure of attention to your complaints from
chaste ears, and assistance in your distress from a com-
passionate heart."

"I believe as much," said the matron, "and promised
myself no less charitable an answer from a person of so
graceful and pleasing a presence? The case then is,
noble sir, that though you see me sitting in this chair, in
the middle of Airagon, in the habit of an insignificant,
unhappy duenna, I am of Asturias de Oviedo, and
one of the best families in that province. But my hard
fortune, and the neglect of my parents, who fell to de
cay too soon, I cannot tell how, brought me to Madrid,
where, because they could do no better, for fear of the
worst, they place me with a court lady, to be her cham-
ber-maid. And, though I say it, for all manner of plain
work I was never outdone by any one in all my life.
My father and mother left me at service, and returned
home, and some few years after they both died, and
went to heaven, I hope; for they were very good and
religious Catholics. Then was I left an orphan, and
wholly reduced to the sorrowful condition of such
court servants, wretched wages, and a slender allow-
ance. About the same time the gentleman-usher fell
in love with me before I dreamt of any such thing,
Heaven knows. He was somewhat stricken in years,
had a fine beard, was a personable man, and, what is
more, as good a gentleman as the king, for he was
of the mountains. We- did not carry matters so close
in our love but it came to my lady's ear; and so, to
hinder people's tongues, without any more ado, she



caused us to be married in the face of our holy mother,
the Catholic Church. My husband (rest his soul !) died
a while after of a fright; and had I but time to tell you
how it happened, I dare say you would wonder. " Here
she began to weep piteously. "Good sir," cried she^
"I must beg your pardon, for I cannot contain myself.
As often as I think of my poor husband I cannot for-
bear shedding of tears. Bless me ! how he looked, and
with what stateliness he would ride, with my lady be-
hind him, on a stout mule as black as jet; for coaches
and chairs were not used then as they are now-a-days,
but the ladies rode behind the gentlemen-ushers. And
now my tongue is in, I cannot help telling you the
whole story, that you may see what a fine, well-bred
man my dear husband was, and how nice in every
punctilio.

" One day, at Madrid, as he came into St. James's
Street, which is somewhat narrow, with my lady behind
him, he met a judge of the court, with two ofiBcers be-
fore him; whereupon as soon as he saw him, to
show his respect, my husband turned about his mule,
as if he designed to have waited on him. But my lady
whispered him in the ear, 'What do you mean, block-
head?' said she; 'do not you know I am here?' The judge,
on his side.was no less civil ; and stopping his horse, 'Sir,'
said he, 'pray keep your way; you must not wait on
me ; it becomes me rather to wait on my Lady Gasilda'
(for that was my lady's name). However, my husband,
with his hat in his hand, persisted in his civil inten-
tions. But at last the lady, being very angry with him
for it, took a great pin, or rather, as I am apt to believe,
a bodkin, out of her case, and run it into his back;
upon which, my husband suddenly starting and crying
out, fell out of the saddle, and pulled down my lady
after him. Immediately two of her footmen ran to help
her, and the judge and his officers did the like. The
gate of Guadalajara was presently in a hiibbub (the
idle people about the gate, I mean). In short, my lady
returned home a-foot, and my husband went to a sur-
geon, complaining that he was pricked through the
lungs. And now this civility of his was talked of
everywhere, insomuch that the very boys in the streets
would flock about him and cheer him; for which rea-
son, and because he was somewhat short-sighted, my
lady dismissed him her service, which he took so to
heart, poor man! that it cost him his life soon after.
JSTow was I left a poor, helpless widow, and with a
daughter to keep, who still increased in beauty as she
grew up, like the foam of the sea. At length, having
the name of an excellent workwoman at my needle,
my lady duchess, who was newly married to his
grace, took me to live with her here in Arragon, and
my daughter as well as myself. In time the girl grew
up, and became the most accomplished creature in the
world. She sings like a lark, dances like a fairy, trips,
like a wild buck, writes and reads like a schoolmaster,
and casts accounts like a usurer. I say nothing of her
neatness, but certainly the purest spring water that
runs is not more cleanly; and then for her age, she is
now, if I mistake not, just sixteen years, five months,
and three days old. Now, who should happen to fall




me 1 ' cried she, ' what is this ? * " — -p.



388



DON QUIXOTE DE LA MANCHA.



in love with this daughter of mine but a mighty rich
farmer's son, that lives in one of my lord duke's vil-
lages not far off; and, indeed, I cannot tell how he
managed matters, but he plied her so close, that, upon
a promise of marriage, he wheedled her into a consent,
and now refuses to make his word good. The duke is
no stranger to the business, for I have made complaint
to him about it many and many times, and begged of
him to enjoin the young man to wed my daughter; but
he turns his deaf ear to me, and cannot endure I should
speak to him of it, because the young knave's father is
rich, and lends the duke money, and is bound for him
upon all occasions, so that he would by no means dis-
oblige him.

"Therefore, sir, I apply myself to your worship, and
beseech you to see my daughter righted, either bj' en-
treaties or by force, seeing everybody says you were
sent into the world to redress grievances, and assist
those in adversity. Be pleased to cast an eye of pity
on my daughter's orphan state, her beauty, her youth,
and all her other good parts; for, on my conscience, of
all the damsels my lady has, there is not one can come
up to her by a mile ; no, not she that is cried up as the
airiest and finest of them all, whom they call Altisidora :
I am sure she is not to be named the same day ; for,
let me tell you, sir, 'all is not gold that glitters.' This
same Altisidora, after all, is a hoity-toity, that has more
vanity than beauty, and less modesty than confidence,
l^fay, my lady duchess, too — but I must say no more,
for, as they say, walls have ears."

Scarce had Donna Eodriguez said these words, when



at one bounce the chamber-door flew open, whereupon
she was seized with such a terrible fright, that she let
fall her candle, and the room remained as dark as a
wolf's mouth, as the saying is, and presently the poor
duenna felt somebody hold her by the throat, and
squeeze her so hard, that it was not in her power to cry
out; and another laid on her so unmercifully with a
slipper, or some such thing, that it would have moved
any one, but those that did it, to pity. Don Quixote
was not without compassion, yet he did not think fit to
stir from the bed, but lay snug and silent all the while,
not knowing what the meaning of this bustle might be,
fearing lest the tempest that poured on the matron
might also light upon himself; and not without reason,
for, indeed, after the mute executioners had well cured
the old gentlewoman (who durst not cry out), they
came to Don Quixote, aud turning up the bed-clothes,
pinched him so hard and so long, that, in his own de-
fence, he could not forbear laying about him with his
fists as well as he could, till at last, after the scuffle
had lasted about half an hour, the invisible phantoms
vanished.

Donna Eodriguez, lamenting her hard fortune, left
the room without speaking a word to the knight. As
for him, he remained where he was, sadly pinched and
tired, and very moody and thoughtful, not knowing who
this wicked enchanter should be that had used him in
that manner. But we shall know that in its proper
time. Now let us leave him, and return to Sancho
Panza, who calls upon us, as the order of our history
requires.



CHAPTER XLIX.



WHAT HAPPENED TO SANCHO PANZA AS HE WENT THE BOUNDS IN HIS ISLAND.



We left our mighty governor much out of humor,
and in a pelting chafe with that saucy knave of a
countryman, who, according to the instructions he had
received from the steward, and the steward from the
duke, had bantered his worship with his impertinent
description. Yet, as much a dunce and fool as he was,
he made his party good against them all. At last, ad-
dressing himself to those about him, among whom was
Dr. Pedro Bezio, who had ventured into the room again,
after the consult about the duke's letter was over,
"Now," said he, "do I find in good earnest that judges
and governors must be made of brass, or ought to be
made of brass, that they may be proof against the im-
portunities of those that pretend business, who, at all
hours, and at all seasons, would be heard and dis-
patched, without any regard to anybody but themselves,
let what come of the rest, so their turn is served. Now,
if a poor judge does not hear and dispatch them pres-
ently, either because he is otherwise busy and cannot,
or because they do not come at a proper season, then



do they grumble, and give him their blessing back-
wards, rake up the ashes of his forefathers, and would
gnaw his very bones. But with your leave, good Mr.
Busybody, with all your business, you are too hasty;
pray have a little patience, and wait a fit time to make
your application. Do not come at dinner-time or when
a man is going to sleep, for we judges are flesh and
blood, and must allow nature what she naturally re-
quires; unless it be poor I, who am not to allow mine
any food, thanks to my friend, Mr. Doctor Pedro Eezio
Tirteafuera, here present, who is for starving me to
death, and then swears it is for the preservation of my
life. Heaven grant him such a life, I pray, for the good
physicians deserve palms and laurels."

All that knew Sancho wondered to hear him talk so
sensibly, and began to think that offices and places of
trust inspired some men with understanding, as they
stupifled and confounded others. However, Dr. Pedro
Rezio Anguero de Tirteafuera promised him he should
sup that night, though he trespassed against all the



DON QTTIXOTE DB LA MAIfOHA.



389



aphorisms of Hippocrates. This pacified the governor
for the present, and made him wait with a mighty im-
patience for the evening and supper. To his thinking,
the hour was so long a-coming, that he fancied time
stood still ; but yet at last the wished-for moment came,
and they served him up some minced beef, with onions,
and some calves' feet, somewhat stale. The hungry
governor presently fell to with more eagerness and ap-
petite than if they had given him Milan godwits,
Boman pheasants, Sorrentum veal. Moron partridges,
or Lavajos green geese. And after he had pretty well
taken off the sharp edge of his stomach, turning to the
physician, "Look you," quoth he, "Mr. Doctor, here-
after never trouble yourself to get me dainties or tit-
bits to humor my stomach ; that would but take it quite
off the hinges, by reason it has been used to nothing
but good beef, bacon, pork, goat's flesh, turnips, and
onions ; and if you ply me with your kick-shaws, your
nice courtiers' fare, it will but make my stomach
squeamish and untoward, and I should perfectly loathe
them one time or another. However, I shall not take
it amiss if Master Sewer will now and then get me one
of those oUa podridas, and the stronger they are the
better, where all sorts of good things are rotton stewed,
and, as it were, lost in one another; and the more they
are thus rotten, and like their name, the better the
smack; and there you make a jumble of what you will,
so it be eatable ; and I shall remember him, and make
him amends one of these days. But let nobody put
tricks upon travellers, and make a fool of me ; for either
we are or we are not. Let us be merry and wise ; when
God sends his light, he sends it to all. I will govern
this island fair and square, without underhand dealings
or taking of bribes; but take notice, I will not bate an
inch of my right, and therefore let every one carry an



Online LibraryMiguel de Cervantes SaavedraThe history of Don Quixote → online text (page 69 of 85)