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 Bottom Next page   

-[89]-

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 XXI: Which treats of the high adventure and rich Prize of Mambrino's Helmet, with other Things which befell our invincible Knight.

 

About this time it began to rain a little, and Sancho had a mind they should betake themselves to the fulling-mills. But Don Quixote had conceived such an abhorrence of them for the late jest, that he would by no means go in; and so turning to the right hand, they struck into another road like that they had lighted upon the day before. Soon after Don Quixote discovered a man on horseback, who had on his head something which glittered as if it had been of gold; and scarce had he seen it, but turning to Sancho, he said, "I am of opinion, Sancho, there is no proverb but what is true, because they are all sentences drawn from experience itself, the mother of all the sciences; especially that which says, Where one door is shut another is opened. I say this, because, if fortune last night shut the door against what we looked for, deceiving us with the fulling-mills, it now sets another wide open for a better and more certain adventure, which if I fail to enter right into the fault will be mine, without imputing it to my little knowledge of fulling-mills, or to the darkness of the night. This, I say, because if I mistake not there comes one towards us, who carries on his head Mambrino's helmet, (53) about which I swore the oath you know." "Take care, Sir, what you say, and more, what you do," said Sancho; "for I would not wish for other fulling-mills, to finish the milling and mashing our senses." "The devil take you!" replied Don Quixote, "what has a helmet to do with fulling-mills?" "I know not," answered Sancho; "but, in faith, if I might talk as much as I used to do, perhaps I could give such reasons, that your worship would see you are mistaken in what you say." "How can I be mistaken in what I say, scrupulous traitor?" said Don Quixote. "Tell me, seest thou not yon knight, coming toward us on a dapple-grey steed, with a helmet of gold on his head?" "What I see and perceive," answered Sancho, "is only a man on a grey ass like mine, with something on his head, that glitters." "Why, that is Mambrino's helmet," said Don Quixote; "get aside, and leave me alone to deal with him; you shall see me conclude this adventure, to save time without speaking a word; and the helmet I have so much longed for shall be my own." "I shall take care to get out of the way," replied Sancho; "but I pray God, I say again, it may not prove another fulling-mill adventure." "I have already -[90]- told you, brother, not to mention those fulling-mills, nor so much as to think of them any more," said Don Quixote: "if you do, I say no more, but I vow to mill your soul for you." Sancho held his peace, fearing lest his master should perform his vow, which had struck him all of a heap.

Now the truth of the matter, concerning the helmet, the steed, and the knight, which Don Quixote saw, was this. There were two villages in that neighbourhood, one of them so small that it had neither shop nor barber, but the other adjoining to it had both; and the barber of the greater served also the less; in which a person indisposed wanted to be let blood, and another to be trimmed; and for this purpose was the barber coming, and brought with him his brass basin. And fortune so ordered it, that as he was upon the road it began to rain, and that his hat might not be spoiled, for it was a new one, he clapped the basin on his head, and being new scoured it glittered half a league off. He rode on a grey ass, as Sancho said; and this was the reason why Don Quixote took the barber for a knight, his ass for a dappled-grey steed, and his basin for a golden helmet; for he very readily adapted whatever he saw to his knightly extravagancies and wild conceits. And when he saw the poor cavalier approach, without staying to reason the case with him, he advanced at Rozinante's best speed, and couched his lance low, designing to run him through and through. But when he came up to him, without checking the fury of his career, he cried out, "Defend yourself, caitiff, or surrender willingly what is so justly my due." The barber, who, not suspecting or apprehending any such thing, saw this phantom coming upon him, had no other way to avoid the thrust of the lance, but to let himself fall down from the ass; and no sooner had he touched the ground, when, leaping up nimbler than a roebuck, he began to scour over the plain with such speed that the wind could not overtake him. He left the basin on the ground; with which Don Quixote was satisfied, and said, the miscreant had acted discreetly in imitating the beaver, who, finding itself closely pursued by the hunters, tears off with its teeth that for which it knows, by natural instinct, it is hunted. He ordered Sancho to take up the helmet, who, holding it in his hand, said, "Before God, the basin is a special one, and is as well worth a piece of eight as a farthing." Then he gave it to his master, who immediately clapped it on his head, twirling it about to find the visor; and not finding it he said, "Doubtless the pagan, for whom this famous helmet was first forged, must have had a prodigious large head; and the worst of it is, that one half is wanting." When Sancho heard the basin called a helmet, he could not forbear laughing; but recollecting his master's late choler, he checked it in the middle. "What dost thou laugh at, Sancho?" said Don Quixote. He answered, "I laugh to think what a huge head the pagan had who owned this helmet, which is, for all the world, just like a barber's basin." "Knowest thou, Sancho, what I take to be the case? This famous piece, this enchanted helmet, by some strange accident, must have fallen into the hands of someone, who being ignorant of its true value, and not considering what he did, seeing it to be of the purest gold, has melted down the one half for lucre's sake, and of the other half made this, which as you say does look like a barber's basin: but be it what it will, to me, who know it, its transformation signifies nothing; for I will get it put to rights in the first town where there is a smith, and in such sort that even that which the god of smiths made and forged for the god of battles shall not surpass nor -[91]- equal it; in the meantime I will wear it as I can, for something is better than nothing; and the rather since it will be more than sufficient to defend me from stones." "It will so," said Sancho, "if they do not throw them with slings, as they did in the battle of the two armies, when they crossed your worship's chaps, and broke the cruise, in which was contained that most blessed drench which made me vomit up my guts." "I am in no great pain for having lost it; for you know, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "I have the recipe by heart." "So have I too," answered Sancho; "but if ever I make, or try it again while I live, may I never stir from this place. Besides, I do not intend to expose myself to the hazard of standing in need of it; for I mean to keep myself, with all my five senses, from being wounded, or from wounding anybody. As to being tossed again in a blanket, I say nothing; for it is difficult to prevent such mishaps; and if they do corne, there is nothing to be done but to shrug up one's shoulders, hold one's breath, shut one's eyes, and let one's self go whither fortune and the blanket please to toss one." "You are no good Christian, Sancho," said Don Quixote, at hearing this; "for you never forget an injury once done you; but know, it is inherent in generous and noble breasts to lay no stress upon trifles. What leg have you lamed, what rib, or what head have you broken, that you cannot yet forget that jest? For to take the thing right, it was mere jest and pastime; and had I not understood it so, I had long ago returned thither, and done more mischief in revenging your quarrel than the Greeks did for the rape of Helen; who, if she had lived in these times, or my Dulcinea in those, would never, you may be sure, have been so famous for beauty as she is:" and here he uttered a sigh, and sent it to the clouds. "Let it then pass for a jest," said Sancho, "since it is not likely to be revenged in earnest; but I know of what kinds the jests and the earnest were; and I know also they will no more slip out of my memory than off my shoulders.

"But setting this aside, tell me, Sir, what we shall do with this dapple-grey steed, which looks so like a grey ass, and which that caitiff, whom your worship overthrew, has left behind here to shift for itself; for to judge by his scouring off so hastily, and flying for it, he does not think of ever returning for him; and, by my beard, Dapple is a special one." "It is not my custom," said Don Quixote, "to plunder those I overcome, nor is it the usage of chivalry to take from them their horses, and leave them on foot, unless the victor hath lost his own in the conflict: for in such a case it is lawful to take that of the vanquished as fairly won in battle. Therefore, Sancho, leave this horse or ass, or what you will have it to be; for when his owner sees us gone a pretty way off he will come again for him." "God knows whether it were best for me to take him," replied Sancho, "or at least to truck mine for him, which methinks is not so good: verily the laws of chivalry are very strict, since they do not extend to the swapping one ass for another; and I would fain know, whether I might exchange furniture if I had a mind." "I am not very clear as to that point," answered Don Quixote; "and in case of doubt, until better information can be had, I say, you may truck, if you are in extreme want of them." "So extreme," replied Sancho, "that I could not want them more, if they were for my own proper person." And so saying, he proceeded, with that license, to an exchange of caparisons, and made his own beast three parts in four the better for his new furniture. This done, they breakfasted on the remains of the plunder of the -[92]- sumpter-mule, and drank of the water of the fulling-mills, without turning their faces to look at them, such was their abhorrence of them for the fright they had put them in. Their choler and hunger being thus allayed they mounted; and without resolving to follow any particular road, as is the custom of knights-errant, they put on whithersoever Rozinante's will led him, (54) which drew after it that of his master, and also that of the ass, which followed, in love and good fellowship, wherever he led the way. Notwithstanding which, they soon turned again into the great road, which they followed at a venture without any other design.

As they thus sauntered on, Sancho said to his master: "Sir, will your worship be pleased to indulge me the liberty of a word or two; for since you imposed on me that harsh command of silence, sundry things have rotted in my breast, and I have one just now at my tongue's end, that I would not for anything should miscarry." "Out with it," said Don Quixote, "and be brief in thy discourse; for none that is long, can be pleasing." "I say then, Sir," answered Sancho, "that for some days past, I have been considering how little is gained by wandering up and down in quest of those adventures your worship is seeking through these deserts and crossways, where, though you overcome and achieve the most perilous, there is nobody to see or know anything of them; so that they must remain in perpetual oblivion to the prejudice of your worship's intention, and their deserts. And therefore I think it would be more advisable, with submission to your better judgment, that we went to serve some emperor or other great prince, who is engaged in war; in whose service your worship may display the worth of your person, your great courage, and greater understanding; which being perceived by the lord we serve, he must of necessity reward each of us according to his merits; nor can you there fail of meeting with somebody to put your worship's exploits in writing, for a perpetual remembrance of them. I say nothing of my own, because they must not exceed the squirely limits; though I dare say, if it be the custom in chivalry to pen the deeds of squires, mine will not be forgotten."

"You are not much out, Sancho," answered Don Quixote; "but, before it comes to that, it is necessary for a knight-errant to wander about the world, seeking adventures, by way of probation; that, by achieving some, he may acquire such fame and renown, that when he comes to the court of some great monarch, he shall be known by his works beforehand; and scarcely shall the boys see him enter the gates of the city, but they shall all follow and surround him, crying aloud, This is the Knight of the Sun, or of the Serpent, or of any other device under which he may have achieved great exploits. 'This is he,' will they say, 'who overthrew the huge giant Brocabruno of mighty force, in single combat; he who disenchanted the great Mameluco of Persia from the long enchantment, which held him confined almost nine hundred years.' Thus, from hand to hand, they shall go on blazoning his deeds; and presently, at the bustle of the boys, and of the rest of the people, the king of that country shall appear at the windows of his royal palace; and as soon as he espies the knight, knowing him by his armour, or by the device on his shield, he must necessarily say: 'Ho, there, go forth, my knights, all that are at court, to receive the flower of chivalry, who is coming yonder.' At which command they all shall go forth, and the king himself, descending half-way down the stairs, shall receive him with a close embrace, saluting and kissing him; -[93]- and then, taking him by the hand, shall conduct him to the apartment of the queen, where the knight shall find her accompanied by her daughter, the infanta, who is so beautiful and accomplished a damsel, that her equal cannot easily be found in any part of the known world. After this, it must immediately fall out, that she fixes her eyes on the knight, and he his eyes upon hers, and each shall appear to the other something rather divine than human; and without knowing how, or which way, they shall be taken, and entangled in the inextricable net of love, and be in great perplexity of mind through not knowing how to converse, and discover their amorous anguish to each other. From thence, without doubt, they will conduct him to some quarter of the palace, richly furnished, where, having taken off his armour, they will bring him a rich scarlet mantle to put on; and, if he looked well in armour, he must needs make a much more graceful figure in ermines. (55) The night being come, he shall sup with the king, queen, and infanta, where he shall never take his eyes off the princess, viewing her by stealth, and she doing the same by him with the same wariness: for, as I have said, she is a very discreet damsel. (56) The tables being removed, there shall enter, unexpectedly, at the hall door, a little ill-favoured dwarf, followed by a beautiful matron between two giants, with the offer of a certain adventure, so contrived by a most ancient sage, that he who shall accomplish it shall be esteemed the best knight in the world. The king shall immediately command all who are present to try it, and none shall be able to finish it but the stranger knight, to the great advantage of his fame; at which the infanta will be highly delighted, and reckon herself overpaid for having placed her thoughts on so exalted an object. And the best of it is, that this king, or prince, or whatever he be, is carrying on a bloody war with another monarch as powerful as himself; and the stranger knight, after having been a few days at his court, asks leave to serve his majesty in the aforesaid war. The king shall readily grant his request, and the knight shall most courteously kiss his royal hands for the favour he does him. And that night he shall take his leave of his lady, the infanta, at the iron rails of a garden adjoining to her apartment, through which he had already conversed with her several times, by the mediation of a certain female confidante in whom the infanta greatly trusted. He sighs, she swoons; the damsel runs for cold water; he is very uneasy at the approach of the morning light, and would by no means they should be discovered, for the sake of his lady's honour. The infanta at length comes to herself, and gives her snowy hands to the knight to kiss through the rails, who kisses them a thousand and a thousand times over, and bedews them with his tears. They agree how to let one another know their good or ill fortune; and the princess desires him to be absent as little a while as possible; which he promises with many oaths: he kisses her hands again, and takes leave with so much concern, that it almost puts an end to his life. From thence he repairs to his chamber, throws himself on his bed, and cannot sleep for grief at the parting; he rises early in the morning, and goes to take leave of the king, the queen, and the infanta: having taken his leave of the two former, he is told that the princess is indisposed, and cannot admit of a visit; the knight thinks it is for grief at his departure; his heart is pierced, and he is very near giving manifest indications of his passion; the damsel confidante is all this while present, and observes what passes; she goes and tells it her lady, who receives the account with tears, and tells her that her chief concern is, that -[94]- she does not know who her knight is, and whether he be of royal descent or not; the damsel assures her he is, since so much courtesy, politeness, and valour, as her knight is endowed with, cannot exist but in a royal and grave subject. (57) The afflicted princess is comforted hereby, and endeavours to compose herself, that she may not give her parents cause to suspect anything amiss, and two days after she appears in public. The knight is now gone to the war; he fights, and overcomes the king's enemy; takes many towns; wins several battles; returns to court; sees his lady at the usual place of interview; it is agreed he shall demand her in marriage of her father, in recompense for his services: the king does not consent to give her to him, not knowing who he is. Notwithstanding which, either by carrying her off, or by some other means, the infanta becomes his wife, and her father comes to take it for a piece of the greatest good fortune, being assured that the knight is son to a valorous king, of I know not what kingdom, for I believe it is not in the map. The father dies; the infanta inherits; and, in two words, the knight becomes a king. Here presently comes in the rewarding his squire, and all those who assisted him in mounting to so exalted a state. He marries his squire to one of the infanta's maids of honour, who is, doubtless, the very confidante of this amour, and daughter to one of the chief dukes."

"This and a clear stage is what I would be at," quoth Sancho; "this I stick to; for every tittle of this must happen precisely to your worship, being called the Knight of the Sorrowful Figure." "Doubt it not, Sancho," replied Don Quixote; "for by those very means, and those very steps I have recounted, the knights-errant do rise, and have risen to be kings and emperors. All that remains to be done is to look out and find what king of the Christians or of the Pagans is at war, and has a beautiful daughter; but there is time enough to think of this, for, as I have told you, we must procure renown elsewhere before we repair to court. Besides, there is still another thing wanting; for supposing a king were found who is at war, and has a handsome daughter, and that I have gotten incredible fame throughout the whole universe, I do not see how it can be made appear that I am of the lineage of kings, or even second cousin to an emperor; for the king will not give me his daughter to wife until he is first very well assured that I am such, though my renowned actions should deserve it ever so well. So that through this defect I am afraid I shall lose that which my arm has richly deserved. It is true, indeed, I am a gentleman of an ancient family, possessed of a real estate of one hundred and twenty crowns a year; and perhaps the sage who writes my history may so brighten up my kindred and genealogy, that I may be found the fifth or sixth in descent from a king. For you must know, Sancho, that there are two kinds of lineages in the world. Some there are who derive their pedigree from princes and monarchs, whom time has reduced by little and little, until they have ended in a point, like a pyramid reversed: others have had poor and low beginnings and have risen by degrees, until at last they have become great lords. So that the difference lies in this, that some have been what now they are not, and others are now what they were not before; and who knows but I may be one of the former, and that upon examination my origin may be found to have been great and glorious, with which the king my father-in-law that is to be ought to be satisfied; and though he should not be satisfied, the infanta is to be so in love with me, that in spite of her father she is to receive me for her lord -[95]- and husband, though she certainly knew I was the son of a water-carrier; and in case she should not, then is the time to take her away by force, and convey her whither I please; and time or death will put a period to the displeasure of her parents."

"Here," said Sancho, "comes in properly what some naughty people say, Never stand begging for that which you may take by force, though this other is nearer to the purpose; A leaf from a hedge is better than the prayer of a good man. I say this, because if my lord the king, your worship's father-in-law, should not vouchsafe to yield unto you my lady the infanta, there is no more to be done, as your worship says, but to steal and carry her off. But the mischief is, that while peace is making, and before you can enjoy the kingdom quietly, the poor squire may go whistle for his reward; unless the damsel go between, who is to be his wife, goes off with the infanta, and he shares his misfortune with her, until it shall please heaven to ordain otherwise; for I believe his master may immediately give her to him for his lawful spouse." "That you may depend upon," said Don Quixote. "Since it is so," answered Sancho, "there is no more to be done but to commend ourselves to God, and let things take their course." "God grant it," answered Don Quixote, "as I desire and you need, and let him be wretched who thinks himself so." "Let him in God's name," said Sancho; "for I am an old Christian, and that is enough to qualify me to be an earl." "Aye, and more than enough," said Don Quixote; "but it matters not whether you are or no; for I being a king, can easily bestow nobility on you, without your buying it or doing me the least service; and, in creating you an earl, I make you a gentleman of course; and say what they will, in good faith they must style you your lordship, though it grieve them never so much." "Do you think," quoth Sancho, "I should not know how to give authority to the indignity?" "Dignity, you should say, and not indignity," said his master. "So let it be," answered Sancho Panza; "I say, I should do well enough with it; for I assure you I was once beadle of a company, and the beadle's gown became me so well, that everybody said, I had a presence fit to be warden of the said company. Then what will it be when I am arrayed in a duke's robe all shining with gold and pearls, like a foreign count? I am of opinion folks will come a hundred leagues to see me." "You will make a goodly appearance indeed," said Don Quixote, "but it will be necessary to trim your beard a little oftener; for it is so rough and frowzy, that, if you do not shave with a razor every other day at least, you will discover what you are a musket-shot off." "Why," said Sancho, "it is but taking a barber into the house, and giving him wages; and, if there be occasion, I will make him follow me like a gentleman of the horse to a grandee." "How came you to know," demanded Don Quixote, "that grandees have their gentlemen of the horse to follow them?" "I will tell you," said Sancho; "some years ago, I was about the court for a month, and there I saw a very little gentleman riding backward and forward, who, they said, was a very great lord; a man followed him on horseback, turning about as he turned, that one would have thought he had been his tail. I asked why that man did not ride by the other's side, but kept always behind him? they answered me, that it was his gentleman of the horse, and that noblemen commonly have such to follow them; and from that day to this I have never forgotten it." "You are in the right," said Don Quixote, "and in the same manner you may carry about your barber; for all -[96]- customs do not arise together, nor were they invented at once; and you may be the first earl who carried about his barber after him; and indeed it is a greater trust to shave the beard than to saddle a horse." "Leave the business of the barber to my care," said Sancho; "and let it be your worship's to procure yourself to be a king, and to make me an earl." "So it shall be," answered Don Quixote; and, lifting up his eyes, he saw what will be told in the following chapter.

 

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