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   


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 XXVII: How the Priest and the Barber put their Design in execution,
with other Matters worthy to be recited in this History.


The barber liked the priest's contrivance so well, that it was immediately put in execution. They borrowed of the landlady a petticoat and headdress, leaving a new cassock of the priest's in pawn for them. The barber made himself an huge beard of the sorrel tail of a pied ox, in which the innkeeper used to hang his comb. The hostess asked them why they desired those things? The priest gave them a brief account of Don Quixote's madness, and how necessary that disguise was in order to get him from the mountain where he then was. The host and hostess presently conjectured, that this madman was he who had been their guest, the maker of the balsam, and master of the blanketed squire; and they related to the priest what had passed between him and them, without concealing what Sancho so industriously concealed. In short the landlady equipped the priest so nicely that nothing could be better. She put him on a cloth petticoat, laid thick with stripes of black velvet, each the breadth of a span, all pinked and slashed; and a tight waistcoat of green velvet, trimmed with a border of white satin; which, together with the petticoat, must have been made in the days of King Bamba. (68) The priest would not consent to wear a woman's head-dress, but put on a little white quilted cap, which he wore at night, and bound one of his gartars of black taffeta about his forehead, and with the other made a kind of vizard, which covered his face and beard very neatly. Then he sunk his head into his beaver, which was so broad-brimmed that it might serve him for an umbrella; and lapping himself up in his cloak, he got upon his mule sideways, like a woman. The barber got also upon his, with his beard that reached to his girdle, between sorrel and white, being, as has been said, made of the tail of a pied ox. They took leave of all, and of good Maritornes, who promised, though a sinner, to pray over an entire rosary, that God might give them good success in so arduous and Christian a business as that they had undertaken.

But scarcely had they got out of the inn when the priest began to think he had done amiss in equipping himself after that manner, it being an indecent thing for a priest to be so accoutred, though much depended upon it; and acquainting the barber with his scruple, he desired they might change dresses, it being fitter that he should personate the distressed damsel, and himself act the squire, as being a less profanation of his dignity; and if he would not consent to do so, he was determined to proceed no farther, though the devil should run away with Don Quixote. Upon this Sancho came up to them, and seeing them both tricked up in that manner could not forbear laughing. The barber, in short, consented to what the priest desired; and the scheme being thus altered, the priest began to instruct the barber how to act his part, and what expressions to use to Don Quixote, to prevail upon him to go with them, and to make him out of conceit with the place he had chosen for his fruitless penance. The barber answered, that without his instructions he would undertake to manage that point to a tittle. He would not put on the dress until they came near to the place where Don Quixote was; and so he folded up his habit, and the priest adjusted his beard, and on they went, Sancho Panza -[131]- being their guide; who, on the way, recounted to them what had happened in relation to the madman they met in the mountain, but said not a word of finding the portmanteau, and what was in it: for, with all his folly and simplicity, the spark was somewhat covetous.

The next day they arrived at the spot where Sancho had strewed the broom boughs, as tokens to ascertain the place where he had left his master; and knowing it again, he told them that was the entrance into it, and therefore they would do well to put on their disguise, if that was of any significancy toward delivering his master: for they had before told him that their going dressed in that manner was of the utmost importance towards disengaging his master from that evil life he had chosen; and that he must by no means let his master know who they were, nor that he knew them: and if he should ask him, as no doubt he would, whether he had delivered the letter to Dulcinea, he should say he had, and that she, not being able to read or write, had answered by word of mouth, that she commanded him, on pain of her displeasure, to repair to her immediately, it being a matter of great consequence to him; for, with this, and what they intended to say to him themselves, they made sure account of reducing him to a better life, and managing him so, that he should presently set out, in order to become an emperor, or a king; for as to his being an archbishop there was no need to fear that. Sancho listened attentively to all this, and imprinted it well in his memory, and thanked them mightily for their design of advising his lord to be an emperor and not an archbishop: for he was of opinion, that as to rewarding their squires, emperors could do more than archbishops-errant. He told them also, it would be proper he should go before to find him, and deliver him his lady's answer; for, perhaps, that alone would be sufficient to bring him out of that place, without their putting themselves to so much trouble. They approved of what Sancho said, and so they resolved to wait for his return with the news of finding his master. Sancho entered the openings of the mountain, leaving them in a place through which there ran a little smooth stream, cool, and pleasantly shaded by some rocks and neighbouring trees.

It was in the month of August, when the heats in those parts are very violent: the hour was three in the afternoon: all which made the situation the more agreeable, and invited them to wait there for Sancho's return, which accordingly they did. While they reposed themselves in the shade, a voice reached their ears, which, though unaccompanied by any instrument, sounded sweetly and delightfully; at which they were not a little surprised, that being no place where they might expect to find a person who could sing so well. For though it is usually said, there are in the woods and fields shepherds with excellent voices, it is rather an exaggeration of the poets than what is really true; and especially when they observed that the verses they heard sung were not like the compositions of rustic shepherds, but like those of witty and court-like persons. And the verses which confirmed them in their opinion were these following:


What causes all my grief and pain?
       Cruel Disdain.
What aggravates my misery?
       Accursed jealousy.
How has my soul its patience lost?
       By tedious absence cross'd.      -[132]-
Alas! no balsam can be found
To heal the grief of such a wound;
When absence, jealousy, and scorn,
Have left me hopeless and forlorn.


What in my breast this grief could move?
       Neglected love.
What doth my fond desires withstand?
       Fate's cruel hand.
And what confirms my misery?
       Heaven's fix'd decree.
Ah me! my boding fears portend
This strange disease my life will end;
For die I must, when three such foes,
Heav'n, fate, and love, my bliss oppose.


My peace of mind what can restore?
       Death's welcome hour.
What gains love's joys most readily?
       Fickle inconstancy.
Its pains what med'cine can assuage?
       Wild frenzy's rage.'
Tis therefore little wisdom, sure,
For such a grief to seek a cure,
As knows no better remedy,
Than frenzy, death, inconstancy.

The hour, the season, the solitude, the voice, and the skill of the person who sung, raised both wonder and delight in the two hearers, who lay still, expecting if perchance they might hear something more; but perceiving the silence continue a good while, they resolved to issue forth, in search of the musician who had sung so agreeably; and just as they were about to do so, the same voice hindered them from stirring, and again reached their ears with this sonnet:


" Friendship, that hast with nimble flight
  Exulting gain'd th' empyreal height,
  In heav'n to dwell, whilst here below
  Thy semblance reigns in mimic show!
  From thence to earth, at thy behest,
  Descends fair Peace, celestial guest;
  Beneath whose veil of shining hue
  Deceit oft lurks, conceal'd from view.
  Leave, Friendship, leave thy heav'nly seat;
  Or strip thy livery off the cheat.
  If still he wears thy borrowed smiles,
  And still unwary truth beguiles,
  Soon must this dark terrestrial ball
  Into its first confusion fall."

The song ended with a deep sigh, and they again listened very attentively in hopes of more; but finding that the music was changed into groans and laments, they agreed to go and find out the unhappy person whose voice was as excellent as his complaints were mournful. They had not gone far, when at doubling the point of a rock they -[133]- perceived a man of the same stature and figure that Sancho had described to them when he told them the story of Cardenio. The man expressed no surprise at the sight of them, but stood still, inclining his head upon his breast, in a pensive posture, without lifting up his eyes to look at them, until just at the instant when they came unexpectedly upon him. The priest, who was a well-spoken man, being already acquainted with his misfortune, and knowing him by. the description, went up to him, and in few but very significant words, entreated and pressed him to forsake that miserable kind of life, lest he should lose it in that place, which of all misfortunes would be the greatest. Cardenio was then in his perfect senses, free from those outrageous fits that so often drove him beside himself; and seeing them both in a dress not worn by any that frequented those solitudes, he could not forbear wondering at them for some time; and especially when he heard them speak of his affair as a thing known to them; for by what the priest had said to him, he understood as much; wherefore he answered in this manner: "I am sensible, gentlemen, whoever you may be, that Heaven, which takes care to relieve the good, and very often even the bad, sometimes without any desert of mine, sends into these places, so remote and distant from the commerce of human kind, persons who, setting before my eyes, with variety of lively arguments, how far the life I lead is from being reasonable, have endeavoured to draw me from hence to some better place; but not knowing, as I do, that I shall no sooner get out of this mischief but I shall fall into a greater, they doubtless take me for a very weak man, and perhaps, what is worse, a fool or a madman. And no wonder; for I have some apprehension that the sense of my misfortunes is so forcible and intense, and so prevalent to my destruction, that without my being able to prevent it, I sometimes become like a stone, void of all knowledge and sensation: and I find this to be true, by people's telling and showing me the marks of what I have done, while the terrible fit has had the mastery of me; and all I can do, is to bewail myself in vain, to load my fortune with unavailing curses, and to excuse my follies, by telling the occasion of them to as many as will hear me; for men of sense, seeing the cause, will not wonder at the effects; and if they administer no remedy, at least they will not throw the blame upon me, but convert their displeasure at my behaviour into compassion for my misfortune. And, gentlemen, if you come with the same intention that others have done, before you proceed any farther in your prudent persuasions, I beseech you to hear the account of my numberless misfortunes; for, perhaps, when you have heard it, you may save yourselves the trouble of endeavouring to cure a malady that admits of no consolation."

The two, who desired nothing more than to learn from his own mouth the cause of his misery, entreated him to relate it, assuring him they would do nothing but what he desired, either by way of remedy or advice; and upon this, the poor gentleman began his melancholy story, almost in the same words and method he had used in relating it to Don Quixote and the goatherd some few days before, when, on the mention of Master Elisabat and Don Quixote's punctuality, in observing the decorum of knight-errantry, the tale was cut short, as the history left it above. But now, as good fortune would have it, Cardenio's mad fit was suspended, and afforded him leisure to rehearse it to the end: and so, coming to the passage of the love-letter, which Don Fernando found between the leaves of the book -[134]- of Amadis de Gaul, he said he remembered it perfectly well, and that it was as follows:

Lucinda to Cardenio.

"I every day discover such worth in you, as obliges and forces me to esteem you more and more; and therefore, if you would put it in my power to discharge my obligations to you, without prejudice to my honour, you may easily do it. I have a father who knows you, and has an affection for me; who will never force my inclinations, and will comply with whatever you can justly desire, if you really have that value for me which you profess, and I believe you to have."

"This letter made me resolve to demand Lucinda in marriage, as I have already related, and was one of those which gave Don Fernando such an opinion of Lucinda, that he looked upon her as one of the most sensible and prudent women of her time. And it was this letter which put him upon the design of undoing me before mine could be effected. I told Don Fernando what Lucinda's father expected, which was, that my father should propose the match; but that I durst not mention it to him, lest he should not come into it; not because he was unacquainted with the circumstances, goodness, virtue, and beauty of Lucinda, and that she had qualities sufficient to adorn any other family of Spain whatever; but because I understood by him that he was desirous I should not marry soon, but wait until we should see what Duke Ricardo would do for me. In a word, I told him that I durst not venture to speak to my father about it, as well for that reason as for many others which disheartened me, I knew not why; only I presaged that my desires were never to take effect. To all this Don Fernando answered, that he took it upon himself to speak to my father, and to prevail upon him to speak to Lucinda's. O ambitious Marius! O cruel Catiline! O wicked Sylla! O crafty Galaion ! O perfidious Vellido! O vindictive Julian! (69) O covetous Judas! traitor! cruel, vindictive, and crafty! what disservice had this poor wretch done you, who so frankly discovered to you the secrets and the joys of his heart? Wherein had I offended you? What word did I ever utter, or advice did I ever give, that were not all directed to the increase of your honour and your interest? But why do I complain? Miserable wretch that I am! since it is certain, that when the strong influences of the stars pour down misfortunes upon us, they fall from on high with such violence and fury, that no human force can stop them, nor human address prevent them. Who could have thought that Don Fernando, an illustrious cavalier, of good sense, obliged by my services, and secure of success wherever his amorous inclinations led him, should take such cruel pains to deprive me of my single ewe-lamb, which yet was not in my possession? But setting aside these reflections as vain and unprofitable, let us resume the broken thread of my unhappy story.

"I say then, that Don Fernando thinking my presence an obstacle to the putting his treacherous and wicked design in execution, resolved to send me to his elder brother for money to pay for six horses, which, merely for the purpose of getting me out of the way, that he might the better succeed in his hellish intent, he had bought that very day on which he offered to speak to my father, and on which he despatched me for the money. Could I prevent this treachery? Could I so much as suspect it? No, certainly; on the contrary, with great pleasure I offered to depart instantly, well satisfied with the good bargain he had made. That night I -[135]- spoke with Lucinda, and told her what had been agreed upon between Don Fernando and me, bidding her not doubt the success of our just and honourable desires. She, as little suspecting Don Fernando's treachery as I did, desired me to make haste back, since she believed the completion of our wishes would be no longer deferred than until my father had spoken to hers. I know not whence it was, but she had no sooner said this, than her eyes stood full of tears, and some sudden obstruction in her throat would not suffer her to utter one word of a great many she seemed endeavouring to say to me. I was astonished at this strange accident, having never seen the like in her before; for whenever good fortune or my assiduity gave us an opportunity, we always conversed with the greatest pleasure and satisfaction, nor ever intermixed with our discourse tears, sighs, jealousies, suspicions, or fears. I did nothing but applaud my good fortune in having her given me by heaven for a mistress. I magnified her beauty, and admired her merit and understanding. She returned the compliment by commending in me what as a lover she thought worthy of commendation. We told one another an hundred thousand little childish stories concerning our neighbours and acquaintance; and the greatest length my presumption ran, was to seize, as it were by force, one of her fair and snowy hands, and press it to my lips, as well as the narrowness of the iron grate which was between us would permit. But the night that preceded the doleful day of my departure, she wept and sighed, and withdrew abruptly, leaving me full of confusion and trepidation, and astonished at seeing such new and sad tokens of grief and tender concern in Lucinda. But not to destroy my hopes, I ascribed it all to the violence of the love she bore me, and to the sorrow which parting occasions in those who love one another tenderly. In short, I went away sad and pensive, my soul filled with imaginations and suspicions, without knowing what I imagined or suspected; all manifest presages of the dismal event reserved in store for me.

"I arrived at the place whither I was sent: I gave the letters to Don Fernando's brother: I was well received: but my business was not soon despatched; for he ordered me to wait, much to my sorrow, eight days, and to keep out of his father's sight; for his brother, he said, had written to him to send him a certain sum of money, without the duke's knowledge. All this was a contrivance of the false Don Fernando; for his brother did not want money to have despatched me immediately. This injunction put me into such a condition that I could not presently think of obeying it; it seeming to me impossible to support life under an absence of so many days from Lucinda, especially considering I had left her in so much sorrow as I have already told you. Nevertheless I did obey, like a good servant, though I found it was likely to be at the expense of my health. But four days after my arrival there came a man in quest of me, with a letter which he gave me, and which by the superscription I knew to be Luanda's; for it was her own hand. I opened it with fear and trembling, believing it must be some very extraordinary matter that put her upon writing to me at a distance, a thing she very seldom did when I was near her. Before I read it, I inquired of the messenger who gave it him, and how long he had been coming. He told me, that passing accidentally through a street of the town about noon, a very beautiful lady with tears in her eyes called to him from a window, and said to him in a great hurry: 'Friend, if you are a Christian, as you seem to be, I beg of you for the -[136]- love of God to carry this letter with all expedition to the place and person it is directed to, for both are well known; and in so doing you will do a charity acceptable to our Lord. And that you may not want wherewithal to do it, take what is tied up in this handkerchief;' and so saying, she threw the handkerchief out at the window, in which were tied up a hundred reals, and this gold ring I have here, with the letter I have given you; and presently, without staying for my answer, she quitted the window; but first she saw me take up the letter and the handkerchief, and I assured her by signs that I would do what she commanded. And now, seeing myself so well paid for the pains I was to take in bringing the letter, and knowing by the superscription it was for you; for, Sir, I know you very well, and obliged besides by the tears of that beautiful lady, I resolved not to trust any other person, but to deliver it to you with my own hands; and in sixteen hours, for so long it is since it was given me, I have performed the journey, which you know is eighteen leagues.' While the kind messenger was speaking thus to me, I hung upon his words, my legs trembling so that I could scarce stand. At length I opened the letter, and saw it contained these words:

'The promise Don Fernando gave you, that he would desire your father to speak to mine, he has fulfilled, more for his own gratification than your interest. Know, Sir, he has demanded me to wife; and my father, allured by the advantage he thinks Don Fernando has over you, has accepted this proposal with so much earnestness, that the marriage is to be solemnised two days hence, and with so much secrecy and privacy, that the heavens alone, and a few of our own family, are to be witnesses of it. Imagine what a condition I am in, and consider whether it be convenient for you to return home. Whether I love you or not, the event of this business will show you. God grant this may come to your hand before mine be reduced to the extremity of being joined with his who keeps his promised faith so ill.'

"These were the contents of the letter, and such as made me set out immediately, without waiting for any other answer, or the money; for now I plainly saw it was not the buying of the horses, but the indulging his own pleasure that had moved Don Fernando to send me to his brother. The rage I conceived against Don Fernando, joined with the fear of losing the prize I had acquired by the services and wishes of so many years, added wings to my speed; so that the next day I reached our town, at the hour and moment most convenient for me to go and talk with Lucinda. I went privately, having left the mule I rode on at the house of the honest man who brought me the letter. And fortune, which I then found propitious, so ordered it. that Lucinda was standing at the grate, (70) the witness of our loves. She presently knew me, and I her; but not as she ought to have known me, and I her. But who is there in the world that can boast of having fathomed and thoroughly seen into the intricate and variable nature of a woman? Nobody certainly. I say then, that as soon as Lucinda saw me, she said: 'Cardenio, I am in my bridal habit; there are now staying for me in the hall the treacherous Don Fernando and my covetous father, with some others, who shall sooner be witnesses of my death than of my nuptials. Be not troubled, my friend; but procure the means to be present at this sacrifice, which if my arguments cannot prevent, I carry a dagger about me, which can prevent a more determined force, by putting an end to my life, and giving you a convincing proof of the affection I have borne, and still do bear you.' I replied to her, with confusion and precipitation, fearing I should want time to answer her: 'Let your actions, -[137]- madam, make good your words; if you carry a dagger to secure your honour, I carry a sword to defend you, or kill myself, if fortune proves adverse to us.' I do not believe she heard all these words, being, as I perceived, called away hastily; for the bridegroom waited for her. With this the night of my sorrow was fallen, the sun of my joy was set; I remained without light in my eyes, and without judgment in my intellects. I was irresolute as to going into her house, nor did I know which way to turn me; but when I reflected on the consequence of my being present at what might happen in that case, I animated myself the best I could, and at last got into her house. And as I was perfectly acquainted with all the avenues, and the whole family was busied about the secret affair then transacting, I escaped being perceived by anybody. And so without being seen, I had leisure to place myself in a hollow of a bow-window of the hall behind the hangings, where two pieces of tapestry met; whence without being seen myself, I could see all that was done in the hall. Who can describe the emotions and beatings of heart I felt while I stood there? the thoughts that occurred to me; the reflections I made? Such and so many were they, that they neither can nor ought to be told. Let it suffice to tell you, that the bridegroom came into the hall with no other ornament than the clothes he usually wore. He had with him, for brideman, a cousin-german of Lucinda's, and there was no other person in the room but the servants of the house. Soon after, from a withdrawing-room, came out Lucinda, accompanied by her mother and two of her own maids, as richly dressed and adorned as her quality and beauty deserved, and as befitted the height and perfection of all that was gallant and courtlike. The agony and distraction I was in gave me no leisure to view and observe the particulars of her dress; I could only take notice of the colours, which were carnation and white, and of the splendour of the precious stones and jewels of her head-attire, and of the rest of her habit; yet these were exceeded in lustre by the singular beauty of her fair and golden tresses, which vying with the precious stones, and the light of four flambeaux that were in the hall, struck the eyes with superior brightness. O memory, thou mortal enemy of my repose! why dost thou represent to me now the incomparable beauty of that my adored enemy? Were it not better, cruel memory, to put me in mind of and represent to my imagination what she then, did; that, moved by so flagrant an injury, I may strive, since I do not revenge it, at least to put an end to my life? Be not weary, gentlemen, of hearing these digressions I make; for my misfortune is not of that kind that can or ought to be related succinctly and methodically, since each circumstance seems to me to deserve a long discourse." To this the priest replied, that they were so far from being tired with hearing it, that they took great pleasure in the minutest particulars he recounted, being such as deserved not to be passed over in silence, and merited no less attention than the principal parts of the story.

"I say then," continued Cardenio, "that they being all assembled in the hall, the parish priest entered, and having taken them both by the hand, in order to perform what is necessary on such occasions, when he came to these words: 'Will you, Madam Lucinda, take Signer Don Fernando, who is here present, for your lawful husband, as our Holy Mother the Church commands?' I thrust out my head and neck through the partings of the tapestry, and with the utmost attention and distraction of soul, set myself to listen to what Lucinda answered; expecting from her -[138]- answer the sentence of my death, or the confirmation of my life. Oh! that I had dared to venture out then, and to have cried aloud; 'Ah Lucinda, Lucinda! take heed what you do; consider what you owe me: behold, you are mine, and cannot be another's. Take notice, that your saying Yes, and the putting an end to my life, will both happen in the same moment. Ah, traitor Don Fernando! ravisher of my glory, death of my life! what is it you would have? What is it you pretend to? Consider you cannot, as a Christian, arrive at the end of your desires; for Lucinda is my wife, and I am her husband.' Ah, fool that I am! now that I am absent, and at a distance from the danger, I am saying I ought to have done what I did not do. Now that I have suffered myself to be robbed of my soul's treasure, I am cursing the thief on whom I might have revenged myself, if I had had as much heart to do it as I have now to complain. In short, since I was then a coward and a fool, no wonder if I die now ashamed, repentant, and mad. The priest stood expecting Lucinda's answer, who gave it not for a long time; and, when I thought she was pulling out the dagger in defence of her honour, or letting loose her tongue to avow some truth, which might undeceive them and redound to my advantage, I heard her say, with a low and faint voice, I will. The same said Don Fernando, and the ring being put on, they remained tied in an indissoluble band. The bridegroom came to embrace his bride; and she, laying her hand on her heart, swooned away between her mother's arms. It remains now to tell you what condition I was in, when I saw in the Yes I had heard, my hopes frustrated, Lucinda's vows and promises broken, and no possibility left of my ever recovering the happiness I in that moment lost. I was totally confounded, and thought myself abandoned of heaven and become an enemy to the earth that sustained me; the air denying me breath for my sighs, and the water moisture for my tears; the fire alone was so increased in me, that I was all inflamed with rage and jealousy. They were all alarmed at Lucinda's swooning; and her mother, unlacing her bosom to give her air, discovered in it a paper folded up, which Don Fernando presently seized, and read it by the light of one of the flambeaux; and having done reading it, he sat himself down in a chair, leaning his cheek on his hand, with all the signs of a man full of thought, and without attending to the means that were using to recover his bride from her fainting fit.

"Perceiving the whole house in a consternation, I ventured out, not caring whether I was seen or not; and with a determined resolution, if seen, to act so desperate a part, that all the world should have known the just indignation of my breast, by the chastisement of the false Don Fernando, and of the fickle, though swooning traitoress. But my fate, which has doubtless reserved me for greater evils, if greater can possibly be, ordained that at that juncture I had the use of my understanding, which has since failed me; and so, without thinking to take revenge on my greatest enemies, which might very easily have been done, when they thought so little of me, I resolved to take it on myself, and to execute on my own person that punishment which they deserved; and perhaps with greater rigour than I should have done on them, even in taking away their lives; for a sudden death soon puts one out of pain, but that which is prolonged by tortures is always killing, without putting an end to life. In a word, I got out of the house, and went to the place where I had left the mule; I got it saddled, and, without taking any leave, I mounted and rode -[139]- out of the town, not daring, like another Lot, to look behind me; and when I found myself alone in the field, and covered by the darkness of the night, and the silence thereof inviting me to complain without regard or fear of being heard or known, I gave a loose to my voice, and untied my tongue, in a thousand exclamations on Lucinda and Don Fernando, as if that had been satisfaction for the wrong they had done me. I called her cruel, false, and ungrateful; but above all, covetous, 'since the wealth of my enemy had shut the eyes of her affection, and withdrawn it from me to engage it to another, to whom fortune had shown herself more bountiful and liberal. But in the height of these curses and reproaches I excused her, saying, it was no wonder that a maiden, kept up close in her father's house, and always accustomed to obey her parents, should comply with their inclination, especially since they gave her for a husband so considerable, so rich, and so accomplished a cavalier; and that to have refused him would have made people think she had no judgment, or that her affections were engaged elsewhere; either of which would have redounded to the prejudice of her honour and good name. But, on the other hand, supposing she had owned her engagement to me, it would have appeared that she might have been excused, since, before Don Fernando offered himself, they themselves could not, consistently with reason, have desired a better match for their daughter; and how easily might she, before she came to the last extremity of giving her hand, have said, that I had already given her mine; for I would have appeared, and have confirmed whatever she had invented on this occasion. In short, I concluded that little love, little judgment, much ambition, and desire of greatness, had made her forget those words by which she had deluded, kept up, and nourished my firm hopes and honest desires.

"With these soliloquies, and with this disquietude, I journeyed on the rest of the night, and at daybreak arrived at an opening into these mountainous parts, through which I went on three days more, without any road or path, until at last I came to a certain meadow that lies somewhere hereabouts; and there I inquired of some shepherds which was the most solitary part of these craggy rocks. They directed me towards this place. I presently came hither, with design to end my life here; and at the entering among these brakes my mule fell down dead through weariness and hunger, or, as I rather believe, to be rid of so useless a burden. Thus I was left on foot, quite spent and famished, without having or desiring any relief. In this manner I continued, I know not how long, extended on the ground; at length I got up, somewhat refreshed, and found near me some goatherds, who must needs be the persons that relieved my necessity; for they told me in what condition they found me, and that I said so many senseless and extravagant things, that they wanted no further proof of my having lost my understanding; and I am sensible I have not been perfectly right ever since, but so shattered and crazy, that I commit a thousand extravagances, tearing my garments, howling aloud through these solitudes, cursing my fortune, and in vain repeating the beloved name of my enemy, without any other design or intent, at the time, than to end my life with outcries and exclamations. And when I come to myself, I find I am so weary and so sore that I can hardly stir. My usual abode is in the hollow of a cork-tree, large enough to be an inhabitation for this miserable carcass. The goatherds, who feed their cattle hereabouts, provide me sustenance out of charity, laying victuals on the rocks, and in places where -[140]- they think I may chance to pass and find it; and though, at such times, I happen to be out of my senses, natural necessity makes me know my nourishment, and awakens in me an appetite to desire it, and will to take it. At other times, as they tell me, when they meet me in my senses, I come into the road, and though the shepherds who are bringing food from the village to their huts willingly offer me a part of it, I rather choose to take it from them by force. Thus I pass my sad and miserable life, waiting until it shall please Heaven to bring it to a final period, or by fixing the thoughts of that day in my mind, to erase out of it all memory of the beauty and treachery of Lucinda, and the wrongs done me by Don Fernando; for if it vouchsafes me this mercy before I die, my thoughts will take a more rational turn; if not, it remains only to beseech God to have mercy on my soul; for I feel no ability nor strength in myself to raise my body out of this strait, into which I have voluntarily brought it.

"This, gentlemen, is the bitter story of my misfortune: tell me now, could it be borne with less concern than what you have perceived in me? And, pray, give yourselves no trouble to persuade or advise me to follow what you may think reasonable and proper for my cure; for it will do me just as much good as a medicine prescribed by a skilful physician will do a sick man who refuses to take it. I will have no health without Lucinda; and since she was pleased to give herself to another, when she was, or ought to have been, mine, let me have the pleasure of indulging myself in un-happiness, since I might have been happy if I had pleased. She, by her mutability, would have me irretrievably undone; I, by endeavouring to destroy myself, would satisfy her will; and I shall stand as an example to posterity of having been the only unfortunate person whom the impossibility of receiving consolation could not comfort, but plunged in still greater afflictions and misfortunes; for I verily believe they will not have an end even in death itself."

Here Cardenio finished his story, no less full of misfortunes than of love; and just as the priest was preparing to say something to him, by way of consolation, he was prevented by a voice, which, in mournful accents, said what will be related in the following chapter of this history; for at this point the wise and judicious historian, Cid Hamet Benengeli, put an end to this.

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