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 XXIV: A Continuation of the Adventure of the Sable Mountain.


The history relates, that great was the attention with which Don Quixote listened to the ragged Knight of the Mountain, who began his discourse thus: "Assuredly, Signor, whoever you are, for I do not know you, I am obliged to you for your expressions of civility to me; and I wish it were in my power to serve you with more than my bare good will, for the kind reception you have given me: but my fortune allows me nothing but good wishes to return you for your kind intentions towards me." "Mine," answered Don Quixote, "are to serve you, insomuch that I determined not to quit these mountains until I had found you, and learned from your own mouth whether the affliction which, by your leading this strange life, -[110]- seems to possess you, may admit of any remedy, and if need were, to use all possible diligence to compass it; and though your misfortune were of that sort, which keep the door locked against all kind of comfort, I intended to assist you in bewailing and bemoaning it the best I could; for it is some relief in misfortunes to find those who pity them. And if you think my intention deserves to be taken kindly, and with any degree of acknowledgment, I beseech you, Sir, by the abundance of civility I see you are possessed of, I conjure you also, by whatever in this life you have loved or do love most, to tell me who you are, and what has brought you hither, to live and die like a brute beast, amidst these solitudes; as you seem to intend, by frequenting them in a manner so unbecoming of yourself, if I may judge by your person, and what remains of your attire. And I swear," added Don Quixote, "by the order of knighthood I have received, though unworthy and a sinner, and by the profession of a knight-errant, if you gratify me in this, to serve you to the utmost of what my profession obliges me to, either in remedying your misfortune, if a remedy may be found, or in assisting you to bewail it, as I have already promised." The Knight of the Wood, hearing him of the Sorrowful Figure talk in this manner, did nothing but view him and review him, and view him again from head to foot; and when he had surveyed him thoroughly, he said to him: "If you have anything to give me to eat, give it me, for God's sake; and when I have eaten, I will do all you command me, in requital for the good wishes you have expressed towards me."

Sancho immediately drew out of his wallet, and the goatherd out of his scrip, some meat, with which the ragged knight satisfied his hunger, eating what they gave him like a distracted person, so fast that he took no time between one mouthful and another; for he rather devoured than ate; and while he was eating neither he nor the by-standers spoke a word. When he had done, he made signs to them to follow him, which they did; and he led them to a little green meadow not far off, at the turning of a rock, a little out of the way. Where, being arrived, he stretched himself along upon the grass, and the rest did the same: and all this without a word spoken, until the ragged knight, having settled himself in his place, said, "If you desire, gentlemen, that I should tell you in few words the immensity of my misfortunes, you must promise me not to interrupt, by asking questions or otherwise, the thread of my doleful history; for in the instant you do so I shall break off and tell no more." These words brought to Don Quixote's memory the tale his squire had told him, which by his mistaking the number of the goats that had passed the river remained still unfinished. But to return to our ragged knight: he went on, saying, "I give this caution, because I would pass briefly over the account of my misfortunes; for the bringing them back to my remembrance serves only to add new ones; and though the fewer questions I am asked the sooner I shall have finished my story, yet will I not omit any material circumstance, designing entirely to satisfy your desire." Don Quixote promised, in the name of all the rest, it should be so; and, upon this assurance, he began in the following manner: 

"My name is Cardenio: the place of my birth one of the best cities of all Andalusia; my family noble; my parents rich; my wretchedness so great, that my parents must have lamented it, and my relations felt it, without being able to remedy it by all their wealth; for the goods of fortune seldom avail anything towards the relief of misfortunes sent from heaven. -[111]- In this country there lived a heaven, wherein love had placed all the glory I could wish for. Such is the beauty of Lucinda, a damsel of as good a family and as rich as myself, but of more good fortune, and less constancy than was due to my honourable intentions. This Lucinda I loved, courted, and adored from my childhood and tender years; and she, on her part, loved me with that innocent affection proper to her age. Our parents were not unacquainted with our inclinations, nor were they displeased at them; foreseeing that if they went on, they could end in nothing but our marriage: a thing pointed out as it were by the equality of our birth and circumstances. Our love increased with our years, insomuch that Lucinda's father thought proper, for reasons of decency, to deny me access to his house; imitating, as it were, the parents of that Thisbe, so celebrated by the poets. This restraint was only adding flame to flame, and desire to desire: for though it was in their power to impose silence on our tongues, they could not on our pens, which discover to the person beloved the most hidden secrets of the soul, and that with more freedom than the tongue; for the presence of the beloved object very often disturbs and strikes mute the most determined intention and the most resolute tongue. O heavens! how many billet-doux did I write to her! What charming, what modest answers did I receive! How many sonnets did I pen! how many love verses indite, in which my soul unfolded all its passion, described its inflamed desires, cherished its remembrances, and gave a loose to its wishes! In short, finding myself at my wits' end, and my soul languishing with desire of seeing her, I resolved at once to put in execution what seemed to me the most likely means to obtain my desired and deserved reward: and that was, to demand her of her father for my lawful wife; which I accordingly did. He answered me, that he thanked me for the inclination I showed to do him honour in my proposed alliance with his family; but that my father being alive, it belonged more properly to him to make this demand: for without his full consent and approbation, Lucinda was not a woman to be taken or given by stealth. I returned him thanks for his kind intention, thinking there was reason in what he said, and that my father would come into it as soon as I should break it to him. In that very instant I went to acquaint my father with my desires, and upon entering the room where he was, I found him with a letter open in his hand, which he gave me before I spoke a word, saying to me: 'By this letter you will see, Cardenio, the inclination Duke Ricardo has to do you service.' This Duke Ricardo, gentlemen, as you cannot but know, is a grandee of Spain, whose estate lies in the best part of Andalusia. I took and read the letter, which was so extremely kind, that I myself judged it would be wrong in my father not to comply with what he requested in it; which was, that he would send me to him very soon, being desirous to place me, not as a servant, but as a Companion, to his eldest son; and that he engaged to put me into a post answerable to the opinion he had of me. I was confounded at reading the letter, and especially when I heard my father say: 'Two days hence, Cardenio, you shall depart to fulfil the duke's pleasure; and give thanks to God who is opening you a way to that preferment I know you deserve.' To these he added several other expressions, by way of fatherly admonition.

"The time fixed for my departure came: I talked the night before to Lucinda, and told her all that had passed; and I did the same to her father, begging of him to wait a few days, and not to dispose of her until I knew what Duke Ricardo's pleasure was with me. He promised me all -[112]- I desired; and she, on her part, confirmed it with a thousand vows and a thousand faintings. I arrived at length where Duke Ricardo resided; who received and treated me with so much kindness, that envy presently began to do her office, by possessing his old servants with an opinion that every favour the duke conferred upon me was prejudicial to their interest. But the person the most pleased with my being there, was a second son of the duke's, called Fernando, a sprightly young gentleman, of a genteel, generous, and amorous disposition, who, in a short time, contracted so intimate a friendship with me, that it became the subject of everybody's discourse; and though I had a great share likewise in the favour and affection of the elder brother, yet they did not come up to that distinguishing manner in which Don Fernando loved and treated me. Now, as there is no secret which is not communicated between friends, and as the intimacy I held with Don Fernando ceased to be barely such by being converted into friendship, he revealed to me all his thoughts, and especially one, relating to his being in love, which gave him no small disquiet. He loved a country girl, a vassal of his father's; her parents were very rich, and she herself was so beautiful, reserved, discreet, and modest, that no one who knew her could determine in which of these qualifications she most excelled, or was most accomplished. These perfections of the country maid raised Don Fernando's desires to such a pitch, that he resolved, in order to carry his point, and subdue the chastity of the maiden, to give her his promise to marry her, for otherwise it would have been to attempt an impossibility. The obligation I was under to his friendship put me upon using the best reasons, and the most lively examples I could think of, to divert and dissuade him from such a purpose. But, finding it was all in vain, I resolved to acquaint his father with the affair. Don Fernando, being sharp-sighted and artful, suspected and feared no less, knowing that I was obliged, as a faithful servant, not to conceal from my lord and master the duke a matter so prejudicial to his honour: and, therefore, to amuse and deceive me, he said, that he knew no better remedy for effacing the remembrance of the beauty that had so captivated him, than to absent himself for some months; and this absence, he said, should be effected by our going together to my father's house, under pretence, as he would tell the duke, of seeing and cheapening some very fine horses in our town, which produces the best in the world. Scarcely had I heard him say this, when, prompted by my own love, I approved of his proposal, as one of the best concerted imaginable, and should have done so had it not been so plausible a one, since it afforded me so good an opportunity of returning to see my dear Lucinda. Upon this motive I came into his opinion, and seconded his design, desiring him to put it in execution as soon as possible; since, probably, absence might have its effect in spite of the strongest inclinations. At the very time he made this proposal to me, he had already, as appeared afterwards, enjoyed the maiden, under the title of a husband, and only waited for a convenient season to divulge it with safety to himself, being afraid of what the duke his father might do, when he should hear of his folly. Now, as love in young men is, for the most part, nothing but appetite, and as pleasure is its ultimate end, it is terminated by enjoyment; and what seemed to be love vanishes, because it cannot pass the bounds assigned by nature; whereas true love admits of no limits. I would say, that, when Don Fernando had enjoyed the country girl, his desires grew faint, and his fondness -[113]- abated; so that, in reality, by the absence which he proposed as a remedy for his passion, he only chose to avoid what was now no longer agreeable to him. The duke gave him his leave, and ordered me to bear him company.

"We came to our town; my father received him according to his quality; I immediately visited Lucinda; my passion revived, though, in truth, it had been neither dead nor asleep; unfortunately for me, I revealed it to Don Fernando, thinking that, by the laws of friendship, I ought to conceal nothing from him. I expatiated to him in so lively a manner on the beauty, good humour, and discretion, of Lucinda, that my praises excited in him a desire of seeing a damsel endowed with such fine accomplishments. I complied with it, to my misfortune; and showed her to him one night by the light of a taper at a window, where we two used to converse together. She appeared to him, though in an undress, so charming, as to blot out of his memory all the beauties he had ever seen before. He was struck dumb; he lost all sense; he was transported; in short, he fell in love to such a degree, as will appear by the sequel of the story of my misfortunes. And, the more to inflame his desire, which he concealed from me, and disclosed to Heaven alone, fortune so ordered it, that he one day found a letter of hers to me, desiring me to demand her of her father in marriage, so ingenuous, so modest, and so full of tenderness, that, when he had read it, he declared to me that he thought in Lucinda alone were united all the graces of beauty and good sense which are dispersed and divided among the rest of her sex. True it is, I confess it now, that, though I knew what just grounds Don Fernando had to commend Lucinda, I was grieved to hear those commendations from his mouth. I began to fear and suspect him; for he was every moment putting me upon talking of Lucinda, and would begin the discourse himself, though he brought it in never so abruptly; which awakened in me I know not what jealousy; and, though I did not fear any change in the goodness and fidelity of Lucinda, yet I could not but dread the very thing they secured me against. Don Fernando constantly procured a sight of the letters I wrote to Lucinda, and her answers, under pretence that he was mightily pleased with the wit of both. Now it fell out that Lucinda, who was very fond of books of chivalry, having desired me to lend her that of Amadis de Gaul".

Scarce had Don Quixote heard him mention books of chivalry, when he said, "Had you told me, Sir, at the beginning of your story, that the Lady Lucinda was fond of reading books of chivalry, there would have needed no other exaggeration to convince me of the sublimity of her understanding; for it could never have been so excellent as you have described it had she wanted a relish for such savoury reading; so that, with respect to me, it is needless to waste more words in displaying her beauty, worth, and understanding; for, from only knowing her taste, I pronounce her to be the most beautiful and the most ingenious woman in the world. And I wish, Sir, that, together with Amadis de Gaul, you had sent her the good Don Rugel of Greece; for I know that the Lady Lucinda will be highly delighted with Daraida and Garaya, and the witty conceits of the shepherd Darinel; also with those admirable verses of his Bucolics, which he sung and repeated with so much good humour, wit, and freedom; but the time may come when this fault may be amended; and the reparation may be made as soon as ever you will be pleased, Sir, to come with me -[114]- to our town; where I can furnish you with more than three hundred books, that are the delight of my soul, and the entertainment of my life; though, upon second thoughts, I have not one of them left, thanks to the malice of wicked and envious enchanters. Pardon me, Sir, the having given you this interruption, contrary to what I promised; but when I hear of matters of chivalry and knights-errant, I can as well forbear talking of them, as the beams of the sun can cease to give heat, or those of the moon to moisten. So that, pray excuse me, and go on; for that is of most importance to us at present."

While Don Quixote was saying all this, Cardenio hung down his head upon his breast, with all the signs of being profoundly thoughtful; and though Don Quixote twice desired him to continue his story, he neither lifted up his head nor answered a word. But after some time he raised it, and said, "I cannot get it out of my mind, nor can anyone persuade me to the contrary, and he must be a blockhead who understands or believes otherwise, but that that great villain master Elisabat lay with Queen Madasima." (63) "It is false, I swear," answered Don Quixote, in great wrath; "it is extreme malice, or rather villainy, to say so: Queen Madasima was a very noble lady, and it is not to be presumed that so high a princess should lie with a quack; and whoever pretends she did lies like a very great rascal; and I will make him know it on foot or on horseback, armed or unarmed, by night or by day, or how he pleases." Cardenio sat looking at him very attentively; and the mad fit being already come upon him, he was in no condition to prosecute his story; neither would Don Quixote have heard him, so disgusted was he at what he had heard of Madasima; and strange it was to see him take her part with as much earnestness as if she had really been his true and natural princess; so far had his cursed books turned his head.

I say, then, that Cardenio, being now mad, and hearing himself called liar and villain, with other such opprobrious words, did not like the jest; and catching up a stone that lay close by him, he gave Don Quixote such a thump with it on the breast, that it tumbled him down backward. Sancho Panza, seeing his master handled in this manner, attacked the madman with his clenched fist; and the ragged knight received him in such sort, and that with one blow he laid him along at his feet; and presently, getting upon him, he pounded his ribs much to his own heart's content. The goatherd, who endeavoured to defend him, fared little better; and when he had beaten and thrashed them all he left them, and very quietly marched off to his haunts amidst the rocks. Sancho got up in a rage to find himself so roughly handled, and so undeservedly withal; and was for taking his revenge on the goatherd, telling him he was in fault for not having given them warning that this man had his mad fits; for had they known as much they should have been aware, and upon their guard. The goatherd answered, that he had already given them notice of it, and that if he had not heard it, the fault was none of his. Sancho Panza replied, and the goatherd rejoined; and the replies and rejoinders ended in taking one another by the beard, and cuffing each other so, that if Don Quixote had not made peace between them, they would have beaten themselves to pieces. Sancho, still keeping fast hold of the goatherd, said, "Let me alone, Sir Knight of the Sorrowful Figure; for this fellow being a bumpkin, like myself, and not dubbed a knight, I may very safely revenge myself on him for the injury he has done me, by fighting with him hand to -[115]- hand, like a man of honour." "True," said Don Quixote; "but I know that he is not to blame for what has happened." Herewith he pacified them; and Don Quixote inquired again of the goatherd whether it were possible to find out Cardenio; for he had a mighty desire to learn the end of his story. The goatherd told him, as at first, that he did not certainly know his haunts; but that if he walked thereabouts pretty much, he would not fail to meet him, either in or out of his senses.


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