Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis
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 XXXIV: In which is continued the "Novel of the Curious Impertinent".
"Anselmo received this letter, and understood by it, that Lothario had begun the attack, and that Camilla must have received it according to his wish; and overjoyed at this good news, he sent Camilla a verbal message, not to stir from her house upon any account, for he would return very speedily. Camilla was surprised at Anselmo's answer, which increased the perplexity she was under; for now she durst neither stay in her own house, nor retire to that of her parents; since in staying she hazarded her virtue, and in going she should act contrary to her husband's positive command. At length she resolved upon that which proved the worst for her; which was to stay, and not to shun Lothario's company, lest it might give her servants occasion to talk; and she already began to be sorry she had written what she did to her husband, fearing lest he should think Lothario must have observed some signs of lightness in her which had emboldened him to lay aside the respect he owed her. But conscious of her own integrity, she trusted in God and her own virtuous disposition, resolving to resist by her silence whatever Lothario should say to her, without giving her husband any farther account, lest it should involve him in any quarrel or trouble. She even began to consider how she might excuse Lothario to Anselmo, when he should ask her the cause of her writing that letter.
"With these thoughts, more honourable than proper or beneficial, the next day she sat still, and heard what Lothario had to say to her; who plied her so warmly, that Camilla's firmness began to totter; and her virtue had much ado to get into her eyes, and prevent some indications of an amorous compassion, which the tears and arguments of Lothario had awakened in her breast. All this Lothario observed, and all contributed to inflame him the more. In short he thought it necessary whilst he had the time and opportunity which Anselmo's absence afforded him, to shorten the siege of this fortress; and therefore he attacked her pride with the praises of her beauty; for there is nothing which sooner reduces and levels the towering -- castles of the vanity of the fair sex than vanity itself, when posted upon the tongue of flattery. In effect, he undermined the rock of her integrity with such engines, that though she had been made of brass, she must have fallen to the ground. Lothario wept, entreated, flattered, and solicited with such earnestness and demonstrations of sincerity, that he quite overthrew all Camilla's reserve, and at last triumphed over what he least expected and most desired. She surrendered; even Camilla surrendered; and what wonder, when even Lothario's friendship could not stand its ground? A plain example, showing us, that the passion of love is to be vanquished only by flying, and that we must not pretend to grapple with so powerful an enemy, since divine succours are necessary to subdue such force, though human. Leonela alone was privy to her lady's frailty; for the two faithless friends and new lovers, could not hide it from her. Lothario would not acquaint Camilla with Anselmo's project, nor with his having designedly given him the opportunity of arriving at that point, lest she should esteem his passion the less, or should think he had made love to her by chance, rather than out of choice.
"A few days after Anselmo returned home, and did not miss what he had lost, which was what he took least care of, and yet valued most. He presently went to make a visit to Lothario, and found him at home. They embraced each other, and the one inquired what news concerning his life or death. 'The news I have for you, O friend Anselmo,' said Lothario, 1 is, that you have a wife worthy to be the pattern and crown of all good women. The words I have said to her are given to the wind; my offers have been despised, my presents refused; and when I shed some few feigned tears, she made a mere jest of them. In short, as Camilla is the sum of all beauty, she is also the repository in which modesty, good nature, and reserve, with all the virtues that can make a good woman praiseworthy and happy, are treasured up. Therefore, friend, take back your money; here it is; I had no occasion to make use of it; for Camilla's integrity is not to be shaken by things so mean as presents and promises. Be satisfied, Anselmo, and make no further trials; and since you have safely passed the gulf of those doubts and suspicions we are apt to entertain of women, do not again expose yourself on the deep sea of new disquiets, nor make a fresh trial, with another pilot, of the goodness and strength of the vessel which heaven has allotted you for your passage through the ocean of this world; but make account that you are arrived safe in port; and secure yourself with the anchor of serious consideration, and lie by, until you are required to pay that duty from which no human rank is exempted.'
"Anselmo was entirely satisfied with Lothario's words, and believed them, as if they had been delivered by some oracle. Nevertheless, he desired him not to give over the undertaking, though he carried it on merely out of curiosity and amusement; however he need not for the future ply her so close as he had done; all that he now desired of him was, that he would write some verses in her praise under the name of Chloris, and he would give Camilla to understand that he was in love with a lady, to whom he had given that name, that he might celebrate her with the regard due to her modesty; and if Lothario did not care to be at the trouble of writing the verses himself, he would do it for him. 'There will be no need of that,' said Lothario; 'for the Muses are not so unpropitious to me, but that now and then they make me a visit. Tell Camilla your -- thoughts of my counterfeit passion, and leave me to make the verses, which if not so good as the subject deserves, shall at least be the best I can make.' Thus agreed the impertinent and the treacherous friends; and Anselmo being returned to his house, inquired of Camilla, what she wondered he had not already inquired; namely, the occasion of her writing the letter she had sent him. Camilla answered, that she then fancied Lothario looked at her a little more licentiously than when he was at home; but that now she was undeceived, and believed it to be a mere imagination of her own; for Lothario had of late avoided seeing and being alone with her. Anselmo replied, that she might be very secure from that suspicion; for, to his knowledge, Lothario was in love with a young lady of condition in the city, whom he celebrated under the name of Chloris; and though it were not so, she had nothing to fear, considering Lothario's virtue, and the great friendship that subsisted between them. Had not Camilla been beforehand advertised by Lothario that this story of his love for Chloris was all a fiction, and that he had told it Anselmo, that he might have an opportunity now and then of employing himself in the praises of Camilla herself, she had doubtless fallen into the desperate snare of jealousy; but being prepared for it, it gave her no disturbance.
"The next day, when they were all at table together, Anselmo desired Lothario to recite some of the verses he had composed on his beloved Chloris; for since Camilla did not know her, he might safely repeat what he pleased. 'Though she did know her,' answered Lothario, 'I should have no reason to conceal what I have written; for when a lover praises his mistress's beauty, and at the same time taxes her with cruelty, he casts no reproach upon her good name. But be that as it will, I must tell you, that yesterday I made a sonnet on the ingratitude of Chloris; and it is this:
"Camilla was very well pleased with the sonnet, but Anselmo more; he commended it, and said, the lady was extremely cruel who made no return to so much truth.' — 'What then! 'replied Camilla, 'are we to take all that the enamoured poets tell us, for truth? '— 'Not all they tell us as poets,' answered Lothario, 'but as lovers; for though, as poets, they may exceed, as lovers they always fall short of the truth.' — 'There is no doubt of that,' replied Anselmo, resolved to second and support the credit of everything -- Lothario said with Camilla, who was now become as indifferent to Anselmo's artifice as she was in love with Lothario. Being therefore pleased with everything that was his, and besides taking it for granted that all his desires and verses were addressed to her, and that she was the true Chloris, she desired him, if he could recollect any other sonnet or verses, to repeat them. 'I remember one,' answered Lothario; 'but I believe it is not so good as the former, or to speak properly, less bad; as you shall judge; for it is this:
"Anselmo commended this second sonnet as much as he had done the first; and thus he went on, adding link after link to the chain, wherewith he bound himself and secured his own dishonour; for when Lothario dishonoured him most, he then assured him his honour was safest. And thus every step of the ladder Camilla descended toward the centre of her disgrace, she ascended in her husband's opinion toward the uppermost round of virtue and her good fame.
"Now it happened one day that Camilla, being alone with her maid, said to her: 'I am ashamed, dear Leonela, to think how little value I set upon myself, in not making it cost Lothario more time to gain the entire possession of my inclinations, which I gave up so soon: I fear he will look upon my easiness in surrendering as levity, without reflecting on the violence he used, which put it out of my power to resist him.' — 'Dear madam,' answered Leonela, 'let not this trouble you; for there is nothing in it: the value of a gift, if it be good in itself and worthy of esteem, is not lessened by being soon given; and therefore they say, he who gives quickly, gives twice.' — 'They say also,' quoth Camilla, 'that which costs little, is less valued.' — 'This does not affect your case,' answered Leonela; 1 for love, as I have heard say, sometimes flies and sometimes walks; runs with one person, and goes leisurely with another; some he warms, and some he burns; some he wounds, and others he kills; in one and the same instant he begins and concludes the career of his desires. He often in the morning lays siege to a fortress, and in the evening has it surrendered to him; for no force is able to resist him. And this being so, what are you afraid of, if this be the very case of Lothario, love having made my -- master's absence the instrument to oblige you to surrender to him, and it being absolutely necessary to finish in that interval, what love had decreed, without giving Time himself any time to bring back Anselmo, and by his presence render the work imperfect? For love has no surer minister to execute his designs than opportunity; he makes use of it in all his exploits, especially in the beginning. All this I am well acquainted with, and from experience rather than hearsay; and one day or other, madam, I may let you see that I also am a girl of flesh and blood. Besides, madam, you did not declare your passion, nor engage yourself before you had first seen in his eyes, in his sighs, in his expressions, in his promises, and his presents, Lothario's whole soul; and in that and all his accomplishments how worthy he was of your love. Then since it is so, let not these scruples and niceties disturb you, but rest assured that Lothario esteems you no less than you do him; and live contented and satisfied, that since you are fallen into the snare of love, it is with a person of worth and character, and one who possesses not only the four S's, (89) which they say all true lovers ought to have, but the whole alphabet. Do but hear me, and you shall see how I have it by heart. He is, if I judge right, (90) amiable, bountiful, constant, daring, enamoured, faithful, gallant, honourable, illustrious, kind, loyal, mild, noble, obliging, prudent, quiet, rich, and the S's, as they say: lastly, true, valiant, and wise; the X suits him not, because it is a harsh letter; the Y, he is young; the Z, zealous of your honour.'
"Camilla smiled at her maid's alphabet, and took her to be more conversant in love-matters than she had hitherto owned; and, indeed, she now confessed to Camilla that she had a love-affair with a young gentleman of the same city. At which Camilla was much disturbed, fearing lest, from that quarter, her own honour might be in danger. And therefore she sifted her to know whether her amour had gone farther than words. She, with little shame and much boldness, owned it had. For it is certain that the slips of the mistress take off all shame from the maidservants, who, when they see their mistresses trip, make nothing of downright halting, nor of its being known. Camilla could do no more but beg of Leonela to say nothing of her affair to the person she said was her lover, and to manage her own with such secrecy, that it might not come to the knowledge of Anselmo or of Lothario. Leonela answered she would do so; but she kept her word in such a manner as justified Camilla's fears that she might lose her reputation by her means. For the amorous and bold Leonela, when she found that her mistress's conduct was not the same it used to be, had the assurance to introduce and conceal her lover in the house, presuming that her lady durst not speak of it though she knew it. For this inconvenience, among others, attends the failings of mistresses, that they become slaves to their very servants, and are obliged to conceal their dishonesty and lewdness; as was the case with Camilla. For, though she saw, not once only, but several times, that Leonela was with her gallant in a room of her house, she was so far from daring to chide her, that she gave her opportunities of locking him in, and did all she could to prevent his being seen by her husband. But all could not hinder Lothario from seeing him once go out of the house at break of day; who, not knowing who he was, thought at first it must be some apparition. But when he saw him steal off, muffling himself up, and concealing himself with care and caution, he changed one foolish opinion for another, which must have been the ruin of them all if Camilla had not remedied it. -- Lothario was so far from thinking that the man whom he had seen coming out of Anselmo's house at so unseasonable an hour, came thither upon Leonela's account, that he did not so much as remember there was such a person as Leonela in the world. What he thought was, that Camilla, as she had been easy and complying to him, was so to another also; for the wickedness of a bad woman carries this additional mischief along with it, that it weakens her credit even with the man to whose entreaties and persuasions she surrendered her honour; and he is ready to believe, upon the slightest grounds, that she yields to others even with greater facility.
"All Lothario's good sense and prudent reasonings seem to have failed him upon this occasion; for, without making one proper, or even rational, reflection, he became impatient, and blinded with a jealous rage that gnawed his bowels; and dying to be revenged on Camilla, who had offended him in nothing, he went to Anselmo before he was up, and said to him: 'Know, Anselmo, that for several days past, I struggled with myself to keep from you what it is no longer possible nor just to conceal. Know, that Camilla's fort is surrendered and submitted to my will and pleasure; and if I have delayed discovering to you this truth, it was to satisfy myself, whether it was any wanton desire in her, or whether she had a mind to try me, and to see whether the love I made to her, with your connivance, was in earnest. And I still believed, if she was what she ought to be, and what we both thought her, she would, before now, have given you an account of my solicitations. But, since I find she has not, I conclude she intends to keep the promise she has made me of giving me a meeting the next time you are absent from home, in her dressing-room (and in fact, that was the very place where he and Camilla used to meet). And, since the fault is not yet committed, except in thought, I would not have you run precipitately to take revenge; for, perhaps between this and the time of putting it in execution, Camilla may change her mind, and repent. And therefore, as you have hitherto always followed my advice, in whole, or in part, follow and observe this I shall now give you, that, without possibility of being mistaken, and upon matures! deliberation, you may satisfy yourself as to what is most fitting for you to do. Pretend an absence of three or four days, as you used to do at other times, and contrive to hide yourself in the dressing-room, where the tapestry, and other moveables, may serve to conceal you; and then you will see with your own eyes, and I with mine, what Camilla intends; and if it be wickedness, as is rather to be feared than expected, you may then with secrecy and caution be the avenger of your own injury.'
"Anselmo was amazed, confounded, and astonished, at Lothario's words, which came upon him at a time when he least expected to hear them; for he already looked upon Camilla as victorious over Lothario's feigned assaults, and began to enjoy the glory of the conquest. He stood a good while with his eyes fixed motionless on the ground, and at length said: 'Lothario, you have done what I expected from your friendship; I must follow your advice in everything; do what you will, and be as secret as so unlooked-for an event requires.' Lothario promised him he would; and, scarcely had he left him, when he began to repent of all he had said, and was convinced he had acted foolishly, since he might have revenged himself on Camilla by a less cruel and less dishonourable method. He cursed his want of sense, condemned his heedless resolution, and was at a loss how to undo what was done, or to get -- tolerably well out of the scrape. At last he resolved to discover all to Camilla; and as he could not long want an opportunity of doing it, that very day he found her alone; and immediately on his coming in, she said: 'Know, dear Lothario, that I have an uneasiness at heart, which tortures me in such a manner, that methinks it is ready to burst it, and, indeed, it is a wonder it does not; for Leonela's impudence is arrived to that pitch, that she every night entertains a gallant in the house, who stays with her until daylight, so much to the prejudice of my reputation, that it will leave room for censure to all who shall see him go out at such unseasonable hours; and what gives me the most concern is, that I cannot chastise, or so much as reprimand her; because she is in the secret of our correspondence, which puts a bridle into my mouth, and obliges me to conceal hers; and I am afraid of some unlucky event from this quarter.'
"At first, when Camilla said this, Lothario believed it a piece of cunning to deceive him, by persuading him that the man he saw go out was Leonela's gallant, and not Camilla's; but, perceiving that she wept, and afflicted herself, and begged his assistance in finding a remedy, he soon came into the belief of what she said; and so was filled with confusion and repentance for what he had done. He desired Camilla to make herself easy, for he would take an effectual course to restrain Leonela's insolence. He also told her what the furious rage of jealousy had instigated him to tell Anselmo, and how it was agreed that Anselmo should hide himself in the dressing-room, to be an eye-witness of her disloyalty to him. He begged her to pardon this madness, and desired her advice how to remedy what was done, and extricate them out of so perplexed a labyrinth as his rashness had involved them in. Camilla was astonished at hearing what Lothario said, and with much resentment, reproached him for the ill thoughts he had entertained of her; and, with many discreet reasons, set before him the folly and inconsiderateness of the resolution he had taken. But, as women have naturally a more ready invention, either for good or bad purposes, than men, though it often fails them when they set themselves purposely to deliberate; Camilla instantly hit upon a way to remedy an affair seemingly incapable of all remedy. She bid Lothario see that Anselmo hid himself the next day where he had proposed; for by this very hiding she proposed to secure, for the future, their mutual enjoyment without fear of surprise; and, without letting him into the whole of her design, she only desired him, after Anselmo was posted, to be ready at Leonela's call, and that he should take care to answer to whatever she should say to him, just as he would do if he did not know that Anselmo was listening. Lothario pressed her to explain to him her whole design, that he might, with the more safety and caution, be upon his guard in all that he thought necessary. 'No other guard,' said Camilla, 'is necessary, but only to answer me directly to what I shall ask you.' For she was not willing to let him into the secret of what she intended to do, lest he should not come into that design which she thought so good, and should look out for some other, not likely to prove so successful.
"Lothario then left her; and the next day Anselmo, under pretence of going to his friend's villa, went from home, but turned presently back to hide himself; which he might conveniently enough do, for Camilla and Leonela were out of the way on purpose. Anselmo being now hidden, with all that palpitation of heart which may be imagined in one who expected to see with his own eyes the bowels of his honour ripped up, and -- was upon the point of losing that supreme bliss he thought himself possessed of in his beloved Camilla; she and Leonela, being well assured that Anselmo was behind the hangings, came together into the dressing-room; and Camilla had set her foot in it, when, fetching a deep sigh, she said: 'Ah! dear Leonela, would it not be better, before I put that in execution which I would keep secret from you, lest you should endeavour to prevent it, that you should take Anselmo's dagger, and plunge it into this infamous breast? But do it not; for it is not reasonable I should bear the punishment of another's fault. I will first know what the bold and wanton eyes of Lothario saw in me, that could give him the assurance to discover so wicked a design as that he has discovered to me, in contempt of his friend and of my honour. Step to the window, Leonela, and call him; for, doubtless, he is waiting in the street, in hopes of putting his wicked design in execution. But first my cruel, but honourable, purpose shall be executed.' — 'Ah, dear Madam! 'answered the cunning and well-instructed Leonela, 'what is it you intend to do with this dagger? Is it to take away your own life, or Lothario's? Whichever of the two you do, will redound to the ruin of your credit and fame. It is better you should dissemble your wrong, than to let this wicked man now into the house while we are alone. Consider, Madam, we are weak women, and he a man, and resolute; and as he comes blinded and big with his wicked purpose, he may, perhaps, before you can execute yours, do what would be worse for you than taking away your life. A mischief take my master Anselmo, for giving this impudent fellow such an ascendant in his house. But pray, Madam, if you kill him, as I imagine you intend, what should we do with him after he is dead? '— 'What, child? 'answered Camilla; 'why, leave him here for Anselmo to bury him; for it is but just he should have the agreeable trouble of burying his own infamy. Call him without more ado; for all the time I lose in delaying to take due revenge for my wrong, methinks I offend against that loyalty I owe to my husband.'
"All this Anselmo listened to, and at every word Camilla spoke, his sentiments changed. But, when he understood that she intended to kill Lothario, he was inclined to prevent it by coming out and discovering himself; but was withheld by the strong desire he had to see what would be the end of so brave and virtuous a resolution; purposing, however, to come out time enough to prevent mischief. And now Camilla was taken with a strong fainting fit; and throwing herself upon a bed that was there, Leonela began to weep bitterly, and to say: 'Ah, woe is me! that I should be so unhappy as to see die here, between my arms, the flower of the world's virtue, the crown of good women, the pattern of chastity!' with other such expressions, that nobody who had heard her, but would have taken her for the most compassionate and faithful damsel in the universe, and her lady for another persecuted Penelope. Camilla soon recovered from her swoon, and when she was come to herself, she said: 'Why do you not go, Leonela, and call the most faithless of all friends that the sun ever saw, or the night covered? Be quick, run, fly; let not the fire of my rage evaporate and be spent by delay, and the just vengeance I expect pass off in empty threatenings and curses.' — 'I am going to call him,' said Leonela; 'but, dear madam, you must first give me that dagger, lest, when I am gone, you should do a thing which might give those who love you cause to weep all their lives long.' — 'Go, dear Leonela, and fear not,' said Camilla; 'I will not do it; for though I am resolute, and, in your opinion, sincere, in -- defending my honour, I shall not be so to the degree that Lucretia was, of whom it is said, that she killed herself without having committed any fault, and without first killing him who was the cause of her misfortune. Yes, I will die, if die I must; but it shall be after I have satiated my revenge on him who is the occasion of my being now here to bewail his insolence, which proceeded from no fault of mine.'
"Leonela wanted a great deal of entreaty before she would go and call Lothario; but at last she went, and while she was away, Camilla, as if she was talking to herself, said: 'Good God! would it not have been more advisable to have dismissed Lothario, as I have done many other times, than to give him room, as I have now done, to think me dishonest and naught, though it be only for the short time I defer the undeceiving him? Without doubt it would have been better; but I shall not be revenged, nor my husband's honour satisfied, if he get off so clean, and so smoothly, from an attempt to which his wicked thoughts have led him. No! let the traitor pay with his life for what he undertakes with so lascivious a desire. Let the world know (if perchance it comes to know it) that Camilla not only preserved her loyalty to her husband, but revenged him on the person who dared to wrong him. But after all, it would perhaps be better to give an account of the whole matter to Anselmo; but I have already hinted it to him in the letter I wrote him into the country; and I fancy his neglecting to remedy the mischief I pointed out to him must be owing to pure good-nature, and a confidence in Lothario, which would not let him believe that the least thought to the prejudice of his honour could be lodged in the breast of so faithful a friend; nor did I myself believe it for many days, nor should ever have given credit to it, if his insolence had not risen so high, and his avowed presents, large promises, and continual tears, put it past all dispute. But why do I talk thus? Does a brave resolution stand in need of counsel? No, certainly. Traitor, avaunt! come vengeance! Let the false one come, let him enter, let him die, and then befall what will. Unspotted I entered into the power of him whom heaven allotted me for my husband, and unspotted I will leave him, though bathed in my own chaste blood, and the impure gore of the falsest friend that friendship ever saw.' And saying this, she walked up and down the room with the drawn dagger in her hand, taking such irregular and huge strides, and with such gestures, that one would have thought her beside herself, and have taken her, not for a soft and delicate woman, but for some desperate ruffian.
"Anselmo observed all from behind the arras, where he had hidden himself, and was amazed, and already thought what he had seen and heard sufficient to balance still greater suspicions; and began to wish that Lothario might not come, for fear of some sudden disaster. And being now upon the point of discovering himself, and coming out to embrace and undeceive his wife, he was prevented by seeing Leonela return with Lothario by the hand; and as soon as Camilla saw him, she drew with the dagger a long line between her and him, and said: 'Take notice, Lothario, of what I say to you: if you shall dare to pass this line you see here, or but come up to it, the moment I see you attempt it, I will pierce my breast with this dagger I hold in my hand; but, before you answer me a word to this, hear a few more I have to say to you, and then answer me as you please. In the first place, Lothario, I desire you to tell me, whether you know Anselmo my husband, and in what estimation you hold him? And, in the next place, I would be informed whether you know me? Answer -- me this, and be under no concern, nor study for an answer; for they arc no difficult questions I ask you.' Lothario was not so ignorant, but that from the instant Camilla bid him hide Anselmo, he guessed what she intended to do, and accordingly humoured her design so well, that they were able between them to make the counterfeit pass for something more than truth; and therefore he answered Camilla in this manner: 'I did not imagine, fair Camilla, that you called me to answer to things so wide of the purpose for which I came hither. If you do it to delay me the promised favour, why did you not adjourn it to a still farther day? For the nearer the prospect of possession is, the more eager we are to enjoy the desired good. But that you may not say I do not answer to your questions, I reply, that I do know your husband Anselmo, and that we have known each other from our tender years. Of our friendship I will say nothing, that I may not be a witness against myself of the wrong which love, that powerful excuse for greater faults, has made me do him. You too I know, and prize you as highly as he does: for were it not so, I should not for less excellence have acted so contrary to my duty as a gentleman, and so much against the holy laws of true friendship, which I have now broken and violated, through the tyranny of that enemy, love.' — 'If you acknowledge so much,' replied Camilla, 'mortal enemy of all that justly deserves to be loved, with what face dare you appear before her whom you know to be the mirror in which Anselmo looks, and in which you might have seen upon what slight grounds you injure him? But ah! unhappy me! I now begin to find what it was that made you forget yourself: it was, doubtless, some indiscretion of mine; for I will not call it immodesty, since it proceeded not from design, but from some one of those inadvertences which women frequently fall into unawares, when there is nobody present before whom they think they need be upon the reserve. But tell me, O traitor, when did I ever answer your addresses with any word or sign that could give you the least shadow of hope that you should ever accomplish your infamous desires? When were not your amorous expressions repulsed and rebuked with rigour and severity? When were your many promises and greater presents believed or accepted? But knowing that no one can persevere long in an affair of love, unless it be kept alive by some hope, I take upon myself the blame of your impertinence; since, without doubt, some inadvertence of mine has nourished your hope so long, and therefore I will chastise and inflict that punishment on myself which your offence deserves. And to convince you that, being so severe to myself, I could not possibly be otherwise to you, I had a mind you should come hither to be a witness to the sacrifice I intend to make to the offended honour of my worthy husband, injured by you with the greatest deliberation imaginable, and by me too, through my carelessness in not shunning the occasion, if I gave you any, of countenancing and authorising your wicked intentions. I say again, that the suspicion I have that some inadvertence of mine has occasioned such licentious thought" in you is what disturbs me the most, and what I most desire to punish with my own hands; for should some other executioner do it, my crime perhaps would be more public. Yes, I will die, but I will die killing, and carry with me one who shall entirely satisfy the thirst of that revenge I expect, and partly enjoy already, as I shall have before my eyes, to what place soever I go, the vengeance of impartial justice strictly executed on him who has reduced me to this desperate condition.'
"At these words, she flew upon Lothario with the drawn dagger so -- swiftly, with such incredible violence, and with such seeming earnestness to stab him to the heart, that he was almost in doubt himself whether those efforts were feigned or real; and he was forced to make use of all his dexterity and strength to prevent his being wounded by Camilla, who played the counterfeit so to the life, that to give this strange imposture a colour of truth, she resolved to stain it with her own blood. For perceiving, or pretending that she could not wound Lothario, she said: 'Since fortune denies a complete satisfaction to my just desires, it shall not, however, be in its power to defeat that satisfaction entirely;' and so struggling to free her dagger-hand, held by Lothario, she got it loose, and directing the point to a part where it might give but a slight wound, she stabbed herself above the breast near the left shoulder, and presently fell to the ground, as in a swoon. Leonela and Lothario stood in suspense, and astonished at this accident, and were in doubt what to think of it, especially when they saw Camilla lying on the floor, and bathed in her own blood. Lothario run hastily, frighted and breathless, to draw out the dagger; but perceiving the slightness of the wound, the fear he had been in vanished, and he admired still more the sagacity, prudence, and great ingenuity of the fair Camilla. And now to act his part, he began to make a long and sorrowful lamentation over the body of Camilla, as if she were dead, imprecating heavy curses not only on himself, but on him who had been the cause of bringing him to that pass; and knowing that his friend Anselmo overheard him, he said such things, that whoever had heard them would have pitied him more than they would have done Camilla herself, though they had judged her to be really dead. Leonela took her in her arms, and laid her on the bed, beseeching Lothario to procure somebody to dress Camilla's wound secretly. She also desired his advice and opinion what they should say to Anselmo about it, if he should chance to come home before it was healed. He answered that they might say what they pleased; that he was not in a condition of giving any advice worth following; he bid her endeavour to stop the blood; and as for himself, he would go where he should never be seen more. And so with a show of much sorrow and concern, he left the house; and when he found himself alone, and in a place where nobody saw him, he ceased not to cross himself in admiration at the cunning of Camilla, and the suitable behaviour of Leonela. He considered what a thorough assurance Anselmo must have of his wife's being a second Portia, and wanted to be with him, that they might rejoice together at the imposture and the truth, the most artfully disguised that can be imagined.
"Leonela, as she was bidden, staunched her mistress's blood, which was just as much as might serve to colour her stratagem; and washing the wound with a little wine, she bound it up the best she could, saying such things while she was dressing it, as were alone sufficient to make Anselmo believe that he had in Camilla an image of chastity. To the words Leonela said, Camilla added others, calling herself coward, and poor-spirited, because she wanted the resolution at a time when she stood most in need, to deprive herself of that life she so much abhorred. She asked her maid's advice whether she should give an account of what had happened to her beloved husband, or no. Leonela persuaded her to say nothing about it, since it would lay him under a necessity of revenging himself on Lothario, which he could not do without great danger to himself; and a good woman was obliged to avoid all occasion of involving her husband in a quarrel, and should rather prevent all such as much as she possibly -- could. Camilla replied, she approved of her opinion and would follow it; but that by all means they must contrive what to say to Anselmo about the wound, which he must needs see. To which Leonela answered, that for her part she knew not how to tell a lie, though but in jest. 'How then, pray,' replied Camilla, 'should I know, who dare neither invent nor remain guilty of one, though my life were at stake? If we cannot contrive to come well off, it will be better to tell him the plain truth, than that he should catch us in a false story.' — 'Be in no pain, madam,' answered Leonela; 'for between this and to-morrow morning I will study what we shall tell him; and perhaps the wound being where it is, you may conceal it from his sight, and heaven may be pleased to favour our just and honourable intentions. Compose yourself, good madam; endeavour to quiet your spirits, that my master may not find you in so violent a disorder; and leave the rest to my care, and to that of heaven, which always favours honest designs.'
"Anselmo stood with the utmost attention listening to and beholding the tragedy of the death of his honour, which the actors performed with such strange and moving passions, that it seemed as if they were transformed into the very characters they personated. He longed for the night, and for an opportunity of slipping out of his house, that he might see his dear friend Lothario, and rejoice with him on finding so precious a jewel, by the perfectly clearing up of his wife's virtue. They both took care to give him a convenient opportunity of going out, which he made use of, and immediately went to seek Lothario; and having found him, it is impossible to recount the embraces he gave him, the satisfaction he expressed, and the praises he bestowed on Camilla. All which Lothario hearkened to, without being able to show any signs of joy; for he could not but reflect how much his friend was deceived, and how ungenerously he treated him. And though Anselmo perceived that Lothario did not express any joy, he believed it was because Camilla was wounded, and he had been the occasion of it. And therefore, among other things, he desired him to be in no pain about Camilla; for without doubt the wound must be very slight, since her maid and she had agreed to hide it from him; and as he might depend upon it there was nothing to be feared, he desired that thenceforward he would rejoice and be merry with him; since, through his diligence and by his means he found himself raised to the highest pitch of happiness he could wish to arrive at; and, for himself, he said, he would make it his pastime and amusement to write verses in praise of Camilla, to perpetuate her memory to all future ages. Lothario applauded his good resolution, and said, that he too would lend a helping hand towards raising so illustrious an edifice.
"Anselmo now remained deceived in the most agreeable way possible. He led home by the hand the
instrument, as he thought, of his glory, but in reality the ruin of his fame. Camilla received Lothario with a
countenance seemingly shy, but with inward gladness of heart. This imposture lasted some time, until a few months
after fortune turned her wheel, and the iniquity thus far so artfully concealed came to light, and his impertinent
curiosity cost poor Anselmo his life."
Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis