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 Second Part

CHAPTER XIII: Wherein is continued the Adventure of the Knight of the Wood; with the wise, new, and pleasant Dialogue between the two Squires.


The knights and squires were separated, the latter relating the story of their lives, and the former that of their loves; but the history begins with -[345]- the conversation between the servants, and afterwards proceeds to that of the masters; and it says, that, being gone a little apart, the squire of the wood said to Sancho, "It is a toilsome life we lead, Sir, we who are squires to knights-errant; in good truth we eat our bread in the sweat of our brows, which is one of the curses God laid upon our first parents." — "It may also be said," added Sancho, "that we «at it in the frost of our bodies; for who endure more heat and cold than your miserable squires to knight-errantry? Nay, it would not be quite so bad, did we but eat at all; for good fare lessens care; but it now and then happens, that we pass a whole day or two without breaking our fast, unless it be upon air." — "All this may be endured," said he of the wood, "with the hopes we entertain of the reward; for if the knight-errant, whom a squire serves, is not over and above unlucky, he must, in a short time, find himself recompensed at least with a handsome government of some island, or some pretty earldom." — "I," replied Sancho, "have already told my master, that I should be satisfied with the government of any island; and he is so noble and so generous, that he has promised it me a thousand times." — "I," said he of the wood, "should think myself amply rewarded for all my services with a canonry, and my master has already ordered me one." — "Why then," quoth Sancho, "belike your master is a knight in the ecclesiastical way, and so has it in his power to bestow these sort of rewards on his faithful squires; but mine is a mere layman; though I remember some discreet persons (but in my opinion with no very good design) advised him to endeavour to be an archbishop; but he rejected their counsel, and would be nothing but an emperor. I trembled all the while, lest he should take it into his head to be of the Church, because I am not qualified to hold ecclesiastical preferments; and, to say the truth, Sir, though I look like a man, I am a very beast in church matters." — "Truly, you are under a great mistake," said he of the wood; "for your insular governments are not all of them so inviting; some are crabbed, some poor, and some unpleasant; in short, the best and most desirable of them carries with it a heavy burden of cares and inconveniences, which the unhappy wight, to whose lot it falls, must unavoidably undergo. It would be far better for us, who profess this cursed service, to retire home to our houses, and pass our time there in more easy employments, such as hunting or fishing: for what squire is there in the world so poor as not to have his nag, his brace of greyhounds, and his angling-rod, to divert himself within his own village?"

"I want nothing of all this," answered Sancho: "it is true, indeed, I have no horse, but then I have an ass that is worth twice as much as my master's steed. God send me a bad Easter, and may it be the first that comes, if I would swap with him, though he should give me four bushels of barley to boot. Perhaps, Sir, you will take for a joke the price I set upon my Dapple, for dapple is the colour of my ass. And then I cannot want greyhounds, our town being over-stocked with them; besides, sporting is the more pleasant when it is at other people's charge." — "Really and truly, Signor Squire," answered he of the wood, "I have resolved and determined with myself to quit the frolics of these knights-errant, and to get me home again to our village, and bring up my children; for I have three, like three Oriental pearls." — "And I have two," quoth Sancho, "fit to be presented to the Pope himself in person, and especially a girl, that I am breeding up for a countess, if it please God, in spite of her mother." — "And pray what may be the age of the young lady you are breeding up for -[346]- a countess?" demanded he of the wood. "Fifteen years, or thereabouts," answered Sancho: "but she is as tall as a lance, as fresh as an April morning, and as strong as a porter." — "These are qualifications," said he of the wood, "not only for a countess, but for a nymph of the green grove. Ah, the whoreson young slut! how buxom must the maid be!" To which Sancho answered somewhat angrily, "She is no whore, nor was her mother one before her, nor shall either of them be so, God willing, whilst I live. And, pray speak more civilly; for such language is unbecoming a person educated, as you have been, among knights-errant, who are courtesy itself." — "How little, Signor Squire, do you understand what belongs to praising!" said he of the wood: "What! do you not know, that when some knight, at a bull-feast, gives the bull a home thrust with his lance, or when anyone does a thing well, the common people usually cry, 'How cleverly the son of a whore did it!' and what seems to carry reproach with it, is indeed a notable commendation? I would have you renounce those sons or daughters whose actions do not render their parents deserving of praise in that fashion." — "I do renounce them," answered Sancho; "and in this sense, and by this same rule, if you mean no otherwise, you may call my wife and children all the whores and bawds you please; for all they do or say are perfections worthy of such praises; and, that I may return and see them again, I beseech God to deliver me from mortal sin, that is, from this dangerous profession of a squire, into which I have run a second time, enticed and deluded by a purse of a hundred ducats, which I found one day in the midst of the Sable Mountain; and the devil is continually setting before my eyes, here and there and everywhere, a bag full of gold pistoles; so that methinks, at every step, I am laying my hand upon it, embracing it, and carrying it home; buying lands, settling rents, and living like a prince; and all the while this runs in my head, all the toils I undergo with this fool my master, who to my knowledge is more of the madman than of the knight, become supportable and easy to me."

"For this reason," answered he of the wood, "it is said that covetous-ness bursts the bag; and now you talk of madmen, there is not a greater in the world than my master, who is one of those meant by the saying, Other folk's burdens break the ass's back: for, that another knight may recover his wits, he loses his own, and is searching after that, which, when found, may chance to hit him in the teeth." — "By the way, is he in love?" demanded Sancho. — "Yes," replied he of the wood, "with one Casildea de Vandalia, one of the most whimsical dames in the world. But that is not the foot he halts on at present; he has some other crotchets of more consequence in his pate, and we shall hear more of them anon." — "There is no road so even," quoth Sancho, "but it has some stumblingplaces or rubs in it; in other folk's houses they boil beans, but in mine whole kettlesful; madness will have more followers than discretion. But if the common saying be true, that it is some relief to have partners in grief, I may comfort myself with your worship, who serve a master as crack-brained as my own." — "Crack-brained, but valiant," answered he of the wood, "and more knavish than crack-brained or valiant." — "Mine is not so," answered Sancho: "I can assure you he has nothing of the knave in him; on the contrary, he has a soul as dull as a pitcher; knows not how to do ill to any, but good to all; bears no malice; a child may persuade him it is night at noonday; and for this simplicity I love him as my life, and cannot find in my heart to leave him, let him commit never so many extravagances." -[347]- "For all that, brother and signor," quoth he of the wood, "if the blind lead the blind, both are in danger of falling into the ditch. We had better turn us fairly about, and go back to our homes; for they who seek adventures do not always meet with good ones."

Here Sancho beginning to spit every now and then, and very dry, the squire of the wood, who saw and observed it, said, "Methinks we have talked till our tongues cleave to the roofs of our mouths; but I have brought, hanging at my saddle-bow, that which will loosen them;" and rising up, he soon returned with a large bottle of wine, and a pasty half a yard long; and this is no exaggeration; for it was of a tame rabbit, so large, that Sancho, at lifting it, thought verily it must contain a whole goat, or at least a large kid. Sancho, viewing it, said, "And do you carry all this about with you?" — "Why, what did you think?" answered the other; "did you take me for some holiday squire? I have a better cupboard behind me on my horse, than a general has with him upon a march." Sancho fell to, without staying to be entreated, and swallowing mouthfuls in the dark, said, "Your worship is indeed a squire, trusty and loyal, wanting for nothing, magnificent and great, as this banquet demonstrates, which, if it came not hither by enchantment, at least it looks like it, and not as I am, a poor unfortunate wretch, who have nothing in my wallet but a piece of cheese, and that so hard that you may knock out a giant's brains with it, and, to bear it company, four dozen of carobes(148) and as many hazelnuts and walnuts, thanks to my master's stinginess, and to the opinion he has, and the order he observes, that knights-errant ought to feed and diet themselves only upon dried fruits and wild salads." — "By my faith, brother," replied he of the wood, "I have no stomach for your wild pears, nor your sweet thistles, nor your mountain roots; let our masters have them, with their opinions and laws of chivalry, and let them eat what they commend. I carry cold meats, and this bottle hanging at my saddle-pommel, happen what will; and such a reverence I have for it, and so much I love it, that few minutes pass but I give it a thousand kisses and a thousand hugs." And so saying, he put it into Sancho's hand, who, grasping and setting it to his mouth, stood gazing at the stars for a quarter of an hour; and, having done drinking, he let fall his head on one side, and, fetching a deep sigh, said, "O whoreson rogue! how catholic it is!" — "You see now," cried he of the wood, hearing Sancho's whoreson, "how you have commended this wine in calling it whoreson." — "I confess my error," answered Sancho, "and see plainly that it is no discredit to anybody to be called son of a whore, when it comes under the notion of praising.

"But tell me, Sir, by the life of him you love best, is not this wine of Ciudad Real?" — "You have a distinguishing palate," answered he of the wood: "it is of no other growth, and besides has some years over its head." — "Trust me for that," quoth Sancho: "depend upon it, I always hit right, and guess the kind. But is it not strange, Signor Squire, that I should have so great and natural an instinct in the business of knowing wines? Let me but smell to any, I hit upon the country, the kind, the flavour, and how long it will keep, how many changes it will undergo, with all other circumstances appertaining to wines. But no wonder; for I have had in my family, by the father's side, the two most exquisite tasters that La Mancha has known for many ages; for proof whereof there happened to them what I am going to relate. To each of them was given a taste of -[348]- a certain hogshead, and their opinion asked of the condition, quality, goodness, or badness, of the wine. The one tried it with the tip of his tongue; and the other put it to his nose. The first said the wine savoured of iron; the second said it had rather a tang of goat's leather. The owner protested the vessel was clean and the wine neat, so that it could not taste either of iron or leather. Notwithstanding this, the two famous tasters stood positively to what they had said. Time went on; the wine was sold off, and, at rinsing the hogshead, there was found in it a small key hanging to a leather throng. Judge then, Sir, whether one of that race may not very well undertake to give his opinion in these matters." — "Therefore, I say," replied he of the wood, "let us give over seeking adventures, and, since we have a good loaf of bread, let us not look for cheesecakes; and let us get home to our cabins, for there God will find us, if it be his will." — "I will serve my master till he arrives at Saragossa," quoth Sancho, "and then we shall all understand one another."

In short, the two good squires talked and drank so much, that it was high time sleep should tie their tongues and allay their thirst, for to quench it was impossible; and thus both of them, keeping fast hold of the almost empty bottle, with their meat half chewed, fell fast asleep, where we will leave them at present, to relate what passed between the Knight of the Wood and him of the Sorrowful Figure.


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