Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

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-[383]-

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 XXI: In which is continued the History of Camacho's Wedding, with other delightful Accidents.

 

They proceeded towards a theatre on one side of the meadow.
They proceeded towards a theatre on one side of the meadow.

While Don Quixote and Sancho were engaged in the discourses mentioned in the preceding chapter, they heard a great outcry and noise, raised and occasioned by those that rode on the mares, who, in full career and with a great shout, went to meet the bride and bridegroom, who were coming, surrounded with a thousand kinds of musical instruments and inventions, accompanied by the parish priest and the kindred on both sides, and by all the better sort of people from the neighbouring towns, all in their holiday apparel. And when Sancho espied the bride, he said: "In good faith she is not clad like a country girl, but like any court lady; by the mass, the breast-piece she wears seems to me at this distance to be of rich coral; and her gown, instead of green stuff of Cuenca, is no less than a thirty-piled velvet; besides, the trimming, I vow, is of satin. Then do but observe her hands; instead of rings of jet, let me never thrive, but they are of gold, ay, and of right gold, and adorned with pearls as white as a curd, and every one of them worth an eye of one's head. Ah, whoreson jade! and what fine hair she has! If it is not false, I never saw longer nor fairer in all my life. Then her sprightliness and mien; why, she is a very moving palm-tree, loaden with branches of dates; for just so look the trinkets hanging at her hair, and about her neck; by my soul the girl is so well plated over, she might pass current at any bank in Flanders."(161) Don Quixote smiled at the rustic praises bestowed by Sancho Panza, and thought that, setting aside his mistress Dulcinea del Toboso, he had never seen a more beautiful woman. The fair Quiteria looked a little pale, occasioned, perhaps, by want of rest the preceding night; which brides always employ in setting themselves off, and dressing for their wedding-day following.

They proceeded towards a theatre on one side of the meadow, adorned -[384]- with carpets and boughs, where the nuptial ceremony was to be performed, and from whence they were to see the dances and inventions. And, just as they arrived at the standing, they heard a great outcry behind them, and somebody calling aloud, "Hold a little, inconsiderate and hasty people." At which voice and words they all turned about their heads, and found they came from a man clad in a black jacket, all welted with crimson in flames. He was crowned, as they presently perceived, with a garland of mournful cypress, and held in his hand a great truncheon. As he drew near, all knew him to be the gallant Basilius, and were in suspense, waiting to see what would be the issue of this procedure, and apprehending some sinister event from his arrival at such a season. At length he came up, tired and out of breath, and, planting himself just before the affianced couple, and leaning on his truncheon, which had a steel pike at the end, changing colour, and fixing his eyes on Quiteria, with a trembling and hoarse voice he uttered these expressions: "You well know, forgetful Quiteria, that, by the rules of that holy religion we profess, you cannot marry another man whilst I am living; neither are you ignorant that, waiting till time and my own industry should better my fortune, I have not failed to preserve the respect due to your honour. But you, casting all obligations due to my lawful love behind your back, are going to make another man master of what is mine; whose riches serve not only to make him happy in the possession of them, but every way superlatively fortunate; and that his good luck may be heaped brim full, not that I think he deserves it, but that Heaven will have it so, I with my own hands will remove all impossibility, or inconvenience, by removing myself out of his way. Long live the rich Camacho with the ungrateful Quiteria; many and happy ages may they live, and let poor Basilius die, whose poverty clipped the wings of his good fortune, and laid him in his grave!" And so saying, he laid hold of his truncheon, which was stuck in the ground, and drawing out a short tuck that was concealed in it, and to which it served as a scabbard; and setting what may be called the hilt upon the ground, with a nimble spring and determinate purpose, he threw himself upon it; and in an instant half the bloody point appeared at his back, the poor wretch lying along upon the ground, weltering in his blood, and pierced through with his own weapon.

His friends ran presently to his assistance, grieved at his misery and deplorable disaster; and Don Quixote, quitting Rozinante, ran also to assist, and took him in his arms, and found he had still life in him. They would have drawn out the tuck: but the priest, who was by, was of opinion it should not be drawn out till he had made his confession; for their pulling it out, and his expiring, would happen at the same moment. But Basilius, coming a little to himself, with a faint and doleful voice said: "If, cruel Quiteria, in this my last and fatal agony, you would give me your hand to be my spouse, I should hope my rashness might be pardoned, since it procured me the blessing of being yours." Which the priest hearing, advised him to mind the salvation of his soul rather than the gratifying his bodily appetites, and in good earnest to beg pardon of God for his sins, and especially for this last desperate action. To which Basilius replied, that he would by no means make any confession till Quiteria had first given him her hand to be his wife; for that satisfaction would quiet his spirits, and gave him breath for confession. Don Quixote, hearing the wounded man's request, said in a loud voice, that Basilius desired a very -[385]- just and very reasonable thing, and besides very easy to be done; and that it would be every whit as honourable for Signor Camacho to take Quiteria, a widow of the brave Basilius, as if he received her at her father's hands; all that was necessary being but a bare Yes, which could have no other consequence than the pronouncing the word, since the nuptial bed of these espousals must be the grave. Camacho heard all this, and was in suspense and confusion, not knowing what to do or say; but so importunate were the cries of Basilius's friends, desiring him to consent that Quiteria might give her hand to be Basilius's wife, lest his soul should be lost by departing out of this life in despair, that they moved and forced him to say, that, if Quiteria thought fit to give it him, he was contented, since it was only delaying for a moment the accomplishment of his wishes. Presently all ran and applied to Quiteria, and some with entreaties, others with tears, and others with persuasive reasons, importuned her to give her hand to poor Basilius; but she, harder than marble, and more immovable than a statue, neither could, nor would return any answer. But the priest bid her resolve immediately; for Basilius had his soul between his teeth, and there was no time to wait for irresolute determinations.

Then the beautiful Quiteria, without answering a word, and in appearance much troubled and concerned, approached Basilius, his eyes already turned in his head, breathing short and quick, muttering the name of Quiteria, and giving tokens of dying more like a heathen than a Christian. At last Quiteria, kneeling down by him, made signs to him for his hand. Basilius unclosed his eyes, and fixing them steadfastly upon her, said, "O Quiteria! you relent at a time when your pity is a sword to finish the taking away of my life; for now I have not enough left to bear the glory you give me in making me yours, nor to suspend the pain which will presently cover my eyes with the dreadful shadow of death! What I beg of you, O fatal star of mine, is, that the hand you require and give be not out of compliment, or to deceive me afresh; but that you would confess and acknowledge that you bestow it without any force laid upon your will, and give it me, as to your lawful husband; for it is not reasonable that, in this extremity, you should impose upon me, or deal falsely with him who has dealt so faithfully and sincerely with you." At these words he was seized with such a fainting fit, that all the bystanders thought his soul was just departing. Quiteria, all modesty and bashfulness, taking Basilius's right hand in hers, said: "No force would be sufficient to bias my will; and therefore, with all the freedom I have, I give you my hand to be your lawful wife, and receive yours, if you give it me as freely, and the calamity you have brought yourself into by your precipitate resolution does not disturb or hinder it." "Yes, I give it you," answered Basilius, "neither discomposed nor confused, but with the clearest understanding that Heaven was ever pleased to bestow upon me; and so I give and engage myself to be your husband." "And I to be your wife," answered Quiteria, "whether you live many years, or are carried from my arms to the grave." "For one so much wounded," quoth Sancho Panza at this period, "this young man talks a great deal: advise him to leave off his courtship and mind the business of his soul; though, to my thinking, he has it more in his tongue than between his teeth."

Basilius and Quiteria being thus with hands joined, the tender-hearted priest, with tears in his eyes, pronounced the benediction upon them, and prayed to God for the repose of the new-married man's soul; who, as soon -[386]- as he had received the benediction, suddenly started up, and nimbly drew out the tuck which was sheathed in his body. All the bystanders were in astonishment, and some, more simple than the rest, began to cry aloud, "A miracle! a miracle I "But Basilius replied, "No miracle, no miracle, but a stratagem! a stratagem!" The priest, astonished and confounded, ran with both his hands to feel the wound, and found that the sword had passed, not through Basilius's flesh and ribs, but through a hollow iron pipe, filled with blood, and cunningly fitted to the place and purpose; and, as it was known afterwards, the blood was prepared by art, that it could not congeal. In short, the priest, Camacho, and the rest of the bystanders found they were imposed upon and deceived. The bride showed no signs of being sorry for the trick; on the contrary, hearing it said that the marriage, as being fraudulent, was not valid, she said she confirmed it anew; from whence everybody concluded the business was concerted with the knowledge and privity of both parties; at which Camacho and his abettors were so confounded, that they transferred their revenge to their hands, and unsheathing abundance of swords, they fell upon Basilius, in whose behalf as many more were instantly drawn. Don Quixote, leading the van on horseback, with his lance upon his arm, and well covered with his shield, made them all give way. Sancho, who took no pleasure in such kind of frays, retired to the jars, out of which he had gotten his charming skimmings, that place seeming to him to be sacred, and therefore to be revered. Don Quixote cried aloud, "Hold, Sirs, hold: for it is not fit to take revenge for the injuries done us by love; and pray consider that love and war are exactly alike; and as, in war, it is lawful and customary to employ cunning and stratagem to defeat the enemy, so, in amorous conflicts and rivalships, it is allowable to put in practice tricks and sleights, in order to compass the desired end, provided they be not to the prejudice and dishonour of the party beloved. Quiteria was Basilius's, and Basilius Quiteria's, by the just and favourable disposition of Heaven. Camacho is rich, and may purchase his pleasure when, where, and how he pleases. Basilius has but this one ewe-lamb; and no one, how powerful soever, has a right to take it from him; for those whom God hath joined together, let no man put asunder; and whoever shall attempt it must first pass the point of this lance." Then he brandished it with such vigour and dexterity, that he struck terror into all that did not know him.

But Quiteria's disdain took such fast hold of the imagination of Camacho, that it presently blotted her out of his memory; and so the persuasions of the priest, who was a prudent and well-meaning man, had their effect, and Camacho and those of his faction remained pacified and calmed; in token whereof they put up their swords again in their scabbards, blaming rather the fickleness of Quiteria than the cunning of Basilius. Camacho reasoned within himself, that, if Quiteria loved Basilius when she was a virgin, she would love him also when she was married, and that he had more reason to thank Heaven for so good a riddance than to repine at the loss of her. Camacho and his followers being thus pacified and comforted, those of Basilius were so too; and the rich Camacho, to show he did not resent the trick put upon him, nor value it at all, would have the diversions and entertainments go on, as if he had been really married: but neither Basilius, nor his bride, nor their followers, would partake of them; and so they went home to Basilius's house; for the poor -[387]- man, who is virtuous and discreet, has those that follow, honour, and stand by him, as well as the rich has his attendants and flatterers. They took Don Quixote with them, esteeming him to be a person of worth and bravery. Only Sancho's soul was cloudy and overcast, finding it impossible for him to stay and partake of Camacho's splendid entertainment and festival, which lasted till night; and thus drooping and sad he followed his master, who went off with Basilius's troop, leaving behind him the flesh-pots of Egypt, which however he carried in his mind; the skimmings of the kettle, now almost consumed and spent, representing to him the glory and abundance of the good he had lost; and so, anxious and pensive, though not hungry, and without alighting from Dapple, he followed the track of Rozinante.

 

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

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