Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

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The Life and Exploits
of the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha

By Miguel de Cervantes, Translated by Charles Jarvis, Esq.

The First Part

CHAPTER XVI: Of what happened to the ingenious Gentleman in the Inn,
which he imagined to be a Castle.


THE innkeeper, seeing Don Quixote laid across the ass, inquired of Sancho what ailed him? Sancho answered him, that it was nothing but a fall from a rock, whereby his ribs were somewhat bruised. The innkeeper had a wife of a different disposition from those of the like occupation; for she was naturally charitable, and touched with the misfortunes of her neighbours; so that she presently set herself to cure Don Quixote, and made her daughter, a very comely young maiden, assist her in the cure of her guest. There was also a servant in the inn, an Asturian wench, broad-faced, flat-headed, and saddle-nosed, with one eye squinting and the other not much better. It is true, the activity of her body made amends for her other defects. She was not seven hands high from her feet to her head; and her shoulders, which burdened her a little too much, made her look down to the ground more than she cared to do. Now this agreeable lass helped the damsel; and both of them made Don Quixote a very sorry bed in a garret, which gave evident tokens of having formerly served many years as a horse-loft: in which room lodged also a carrier, whose bed lay a little beyond that of our Don Quixote; and though it was composed of pannels, and other trappings of his mules, it had much the advantage of Don Quixote's, which consisted of four not very smooth boards upon two not very equal trestles, and a flock-bed no thicker than a quilt, and full of knobs, which, if one had not seen through the breaches that they were not wool, by the hardness might have been taken for pebble stones; with two sheets, like the leather of an old target, and a rug, the threads of which, if you had a mind, you might number without losing a single one of the account.

In this wretched bed was Don Quixote laid
In this wretched bed was Don Quixote laid

In this wretched bed was Don Quixote laid; and immediately the hostess and her daughter plastered him from head to foot; Maritornes, for so the Asturian was called, holding the light. And as the hostess laid on the plasters, perceiving Don Quixote to be so full 'of bruises in all parts, she said that they seemed to be rather marks of blows than of a fall. "They were not blows," said Sancho; "but the rock had many sharp points and knobs, and every one has left its mark." He said also, "Pray, forsooth, order it so, that some tow may be left; somebody else may have occasion for it, for my sides also ache a little." "So then," said the hostess, "you have had a fall too?" "No fall," said Sancho Panza; "but the fright I took at seeing my master fall has made my body so sore, that methinks I have received a thousand drubs." "That may very well be," said the girl; "for I have often dreamed that I was falling down from some high tower, and could never come to the ground; and when I have awaked, I have found myself as bruised and battered as if I had really fallen." "But here is the point, mistress," answered Sancho Panza, "that I, without dreaming at all, and more awake than I am now, find myself with almost as many braises as my master Don Quixote." "How is this cavalier called?" quoth the Asturian Maritornes. "Don Quixote de la Mancha," answered Sancho Panza; "he is a knight-errant, and one of the best and most valiant that has been seen this long time in the world." "What is a knight-errant?" replied the wench. "Are you such a novice that you do not know?" -[62]- answered Sancho Panza: "Then learn, sister of mine, that a knight-errant is a thing that, in two words, is seen cudgelled and an emperor; to-day is the most unfortunate creature in the world, and the most necessitous; and to-morrow will have two or three crowns or kingdoms to give to his squire." "How comes it then to pass that you, being squire to this so worthy a gentleman," said the hostess, "have not yet, as it seems, got so much as an earldom?" "It is early days yet," answered Sancho; "for it is but a month since we set out in quest of adventures, and hitherto we have met with none that deserve the name. And sometimes one looks for one thing and finds another. True it is, if my master Don Quixote recovers of this wound or fall, and I am not disabled thereby, I would not truck my hopes for the best title in Spain."

All this discourse Don Quixote listened to very attentively; and, setting himself up in his bed, as well as he could, and taking the hostess by the hand, he said to her: "Believe me, beauteous lady, you may reckon yourself happy in having lodged my person in this your castle, and such a person, that, if I do not praise myself, it is because, as is commonly said, self-praise depreciates; but my squire will inform you who I am. I only say that I shall retain the service you have done me eternally engraved in my memory, and be grateful to you, whilst my life shall remain. And had it pleased the high heavens that love had not held me so enthralled, and subjected to his laws, and to the eyes of that beautiful ingrate whose name I mutter between my teeth, the eyes of this lovely virgin had been mistresses of my liberty."

The hostess, her daughter, and the good Maritornes, stood confounded at hearing our knight-errant's discourse, which they understood just as much as if he had spoken Greek; though they guessed that it all tended to compliments and offers of service. And not being accustomed to such kind of language, they stared at him with admiration, and thought him another sort of man than those now in fashion; and so thanking him, with inn-like phrase, for his offers, they left him. The Asturian Maritornes doctored Sancho, who stood in no less need of it than his master. The carrier and she had agreed to solace themselves together that night; and she had given him her word, that when the guests were in bed, and her master and mistress asleep, she would repair to him and satisfy his desire as much as he pleased. And it is said of this honest wench that she never made the like promise, but she performed it, though she had made it on a mountain, without any witness: for she stood much upon her gentility, and yet thought it no disgrace to be employed in that calling of serving in an inn; often saying that misfortunes and unhappy accidents had brought her to that state.

Don Quixote's hard, scanty, beggarly, feeble bed, stood first in the middle of that illustrious cock-loft; and close by it stood Sancho's, which consisted only of a flag-mat and a rug, that seemed to be rather of beaten hemp than of wool. Next these two stood the carrier's, made up, as has been said, of pannels, and the whole furniture of two of the best mules he had; which were twelve in number, sleek, fat, and stately; for he was one of the richest carriers of Arevalo, as the author of this history relates, who makes particular mention of this carrier, whom he knew very well; nay, some go so far as to say he was somewhat of kin to him. Besides, Cid Hamet Benengeli was a very curious and very punctual historian in all things; and this appears plainly from the circumstances already related, -[63]- which however seemingly minute and trivial, he would not pass over in silence; which may serve as an example to the grave historians who relate facts so very briefly and succinctly, that we have scarcely a taste of them, leaving behind, either through neglect, malice, or ignorance, the most substantial part of the work. The blessing of God a thousand times on the author of Tablante of Ricamonte, and on him who wrote the Exploits of the Count de Tomillas! With what punctuality do they describe everything!

I say, then, that after the carrier had visited his mules, and given them their second course, he laid himself down upon his pannels, in expectation of his most punctual Maritornes. Sancho was already plastered and laid down; and though he endeavoured to sleep, the pain of his ribs would not consent; and Don Quixote, through the anguish of his, kept his eyes as wide open as a hare. The whole inn was in profound silence, and no other light in it than what proceeded from a lamp which hung burning in the middle of the entry. This marvellous stillness, and the thoughts which our knight always carried about him from the accidents recounted in every page of the books, the authors of his misfortune, brought to his imagination one of the strangest whimsies that can well be conceived: which was, that he fancied he was arrived at a certain famous castle; for, as has been said, all the inns where he lodged were in his opinion castles, and that the innkeeper's daughter was daughter to the lord of the castle; who, captivated by his fine appearance, was fallen in love with him, and had promised him that night, unknown to her parents, to steal privately to him, and pass a good part of it with him. And taking all this chimera, which he had formed to himself, for reality and truth, he began to be uneasy, and to reflect on the dangerous crisis to which his fidelity was going to be exposed; and he resolved in his heart not to commit disloyalty against his Lady Dulcinea del Toboso, though Queen Ginebra herself, with the Lady Quintaniona, should present themselves before him.

Whilst his thoughts were taken up with these extravagances, the time and the hour (which to him proved an unlucky one) of the Asturian's coming drew near; who, in her smock, and barefooted, her hair tucked up under a fustian coif, came with silent and cautious steps into the room where the three were lodged, to find her carrier. But scarce was she come to the door when Don Quixote perceived her, and sitting up in his bed, in spite of his plasters and the pain of his ribs, stretched out his arms to receive his beauteous damsel the Asturian, who, crouching and holding her breath, went with hands extended feeling for her lover. Thus she encountered Don Quixote's arms, who caught fast hold of her by the wrist, and pulling her toward him, she not daring to speak a word, made her sit down on the bed by him. Presently he fell to feeling her shift, which, though it was of canvas, seemed to him to be of the finest and softest lawn. She had on her wrist a string of glass beads; but to his fancy they were precious oriental pearls. Her hairs, not unlike those of a horse's mane, he took for threads of the brightest gold of Arabia, whose splendour obscures that of the sun itself. And though her breath doubtless smelt of stale last night's salt-fish, he fancied himself sucking from her lips a delicious and aromatic odour. In short, he painted her in his imagination in the very form and manner he had read described in his books of some princess, who comes adorned in the manner here mentioned to visit the dangerously wounded knight with whom she is in love. And so great -[64]- was the poor gentleman's infatuation, that neither the touch, nor the breath; nor other things the good wench had about her, could undeceive him, though enough to make anyone but a carrier vomit. Yet he imagined he held the goddess of beauty between his arms; and clasping her fast, with an amorous and low voice, he began to say to her: "Oh! that I were in a condition, beautiful and high lady, to be able to return so vast a favour as this you have done me by the presence of your great beauty; but fortune, who is never weary of persecuting the good, is pleased to lay me on this bed, where I lie so bruised and disabled, that though I were ever so much inclined to gratify your desires, it would be impossible. And to this is added another still greater impossibility, which is the plighted faith I have given to the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso, the sole mistress of my most hidden thoughts. Had it not been for these obstacles, I should not have been so dull a knight as to let slip the happy opportunity your great goodness has put into my hands."

Maritornes was in the utmost pain, and in a violent heat, to find herself held so fast by Don Quixote; and not hearing or minding what he said to her, she struggled, without speaking a word, to get away from him. The honest carrier, whose loose desires kept him awake, heard his sweetheart from the first moment she entered the door, and listened attentively to all that Don Quixote said; and jealous that the Asturian had broken her word with him for another, he drew nearer and nearer to Don Quixote's bed, and stood still to see what would come of those speeches which he did not understand. But seeing that the wench strove to get from him, and that Don Quixote laboured to hold her, not liking the jest, he lifted up his arm and discharged so terrible a blow on the lantern jaws of the enamoured knight, that he bathed his mouth in blood; and not content with this, he mounted upon his ribs, and paced them over somewhat above a trot from end to end. The bed, which was a little crazy, and its foundations none of the strongest, being unable to bear the additional weight of the carrier, came down with them to the ground; at which great noise the host awaked, and presently imagined it must be some prank of Maritornes's; for having called to her aloud, she made no answer. With this suspicion he got up; and lighting a candle, went toward the place where he had heard the bustle. The wench perceiving her master coming, and knowing him to be terribly passionate, all trembling and confounded, betook herself to Sancho Panza's bed, who was now asleep; and creeping in, she lay close to him, and as round as an egg. The innkeeper entering, said: "Where are you, strumpet? These are most certainly some of your doings." Now Sancho awoke, and perceiving that bulk lying as it were a-top of him, fancied he had got the night-mare, and began to lay about him on every side; and not a few of his fisticuffs reached Maritornes, who, provoked by the smart, and laying all modesty aside, made Sancho such a return in kind, that she quite roused him from sleep in spite of his drowsiness; who finding himself handled in that manner, without knowing by whom, raised himself up as well as he could, and grappled with Maritornes; and there began between these two the toughest and pleasantest skirmish in the world. The carrier perceiving by the light of the host's candle how it fared with his mistress, quitted Don Quixote, and ran to give her the necessary assistance. The landlord did the same, but with a different intention; for his was to chastise the wench, concluding without doubt, that she was the sole occasion of all this harmony. And so as the proverb goes, the cat to the rat, -[65]- the rat to the rope, and the rope to the stick: the carrier belaboured Sancho, Sancho the wench, the wench him, the innkeeper the wench; and all laid about them so thick, that they gave themselves not a minute's rest; and the best of it was, that the landlord's candle went out; and they being left in the dark, threshed one another so unmercifully, that, let the hand light where it would, it left nothing sound.

There lodged by chance that night in the inn an officer of those they call the Holy Brotherhood of Toledo; (44) who likewise hearing the strange noise of the scuffle, caught up his wand, and the tin box which held his commission, and entered the room in the dark, crying out: "Forbear, in the name of justice; forbear, in the name of the Holy Brotherhood." And the first he lighted on was the battered Don Quixote, who lay on his demolished bed stretched upon his back and quite senseless; and laying hold of his beard, as he was groping about, he cried out incessantly, "I charge you to aid and assist me: "but finding that the person he had laid hold of neither stirred nor moved, he concluded that he must be dead, and that the people within the room were his murderers; and with this suspicion he raised his voice still louder, crying, "Shut the inn-door, see that nobody gets out; for they have killed a man here." This voice astonished them all, and each of them left the conflict the very moment the voice reached them. The landlord withdrew to his chamber, the carrier to his pannels, and the wench to her straw; only the unfortunate Don Quixote and Sancho could not stir from the place they were in. Now the officer let go Don Quixote's beard, and went out to get a light to search after and apprehend the delinquents: but he found none; for the innkeeper had purposely extinguished the lamp when he retired to his chamber, and the officer was forced to have recourse to the chimney, where after much pains and time, he lighted another lamp.


Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

Gavilan Spanish Questions or comments Bibliographic Record Index page Previous page Top Next page