Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

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The Life and Exploits
of the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha

By Miguel de Cervantes, Translated by Charles Jarvis, Esq.

The Second Part

CHAPTER XXIII: Of the wonderful Things which the unexampled Don Quixote de la Mancha declared he had seen in the deep Cave of Montesinos, the Greatness and Impossibility of which makes this Adventure pass for apocryphal.


It was about four of the clock in the afternoon, when the sun, hidden among the clouds, with a faint light and temperate rays, gave Don Quixote an opportunity, without extraordinary heat or trouble, of relating to his two illustrious hearers what he had seen in the cave of Montesinos; and he began in the following manner:

"About twelve or fourteen fathom in the depth of this dungeon, on the right hand, there is a hollow space, wide enough to contain a large waggon, mules and all; a little light makes its way into it, through some cracks and holes at a distance in the surface of the earth. This hollow and open space I saw, just as I began to weary, and out of humour to find myself pendant and tied by the rope, and journeying through that dark region below, without knowing whither I was going; and so I determined to enter into it, and rest a little. I called out to you aloud not to let down more rope till I bid you; but, it seems, you heard me not. I gathered up the cord you had let down, and, coiling it up into a heap, or bundle, I sat me down upon it, extremely pensive, and considering what method I should take to descend to the bottom, having nothing to support my weight. And being thus thoughtful, and in confusion, on a sudden, without any endeavour of mine, a deep sleep fell upon me; and, when I least thought of it, I awaked, and found myself, I knew not by what means, in the midst of the finest, pleasantest, and most delightful meadow that nature could create, or the most pregnant fancy imagine. I rubbed my eyes, wiped them, and perceived I was not asleep, but really awake; but for all that I fell to feeling my head and breast, to be assured whether it was I myself who was there, or some empty and counterfeit illusion; but feeling, sensation, and the coherent discourse I made to myself, convinced me that I was then there the same person I am now here. Immediately a royal and splendid palace or castle presented itself to my view; the walls and battlements whereof seemed to be built of clear and transparent crystal; from out of which, through a pair of great folding-doors, that opened of their own accord, I saw come forth, and advance towards me, a venerable old man, clad in a long mourning cloak of purple baize, which trailed upon the ground. Over his shoulders and breast he wore a kind of collegiate tippet of green satin; he had a black Milan cap on his head, and his hoary beard reached below his girdle. He carried no weapon at all, only a rosary of beads in his hand, bigger than middling walnuts, and every tenth bead like an ordinary ostrich egg. His mien, his gait, his gravity, and his goodly presence, each by itself, and all altogether, surprised and amazed me. He came up to me, and the first thing he did was to embrace me close; and then he said: 'It is a long time, most valorous knight Don Quixote de la Mancha, that we, who are shut up and enchanted in these solitudes,' have hoped to see you, that the world by you may be informed what this deep cave, commonly called the cave of Montesinos, encloses and conceals; an exploit reserved for your invincible heart and stupendous courage. Come along with me, illustrious Sir, that I may show you the wonders contained in this transparent castle, of which I am warder and perpetual guard; -[393]- for I am Montesinos himself, from whom this cave derives its name.' Scarcely had he told me he was Montesinos, when I asked him, whether it was true, which was reported in the world above, that with a little dagger he had taken out the heart of his great friend Durandarte, and carried it to his Lady Belerma, as he had desired him at the point of death. He replied, all was true, excepting as to the dagger; for it was neither a dagger, nor little, but a bright poniard sharper than an awl."

"That poniard," interrupted Sancho, "must have been made by Raymond de Hozes of Seville." "I do not know," continued Don Quixote: "but, upon second thoughts, it could not be of his making; for Raymond de Hozes lived but the other day, and the battle of Roncesvalles, where this misfortune happened, was fought many years ago. But this objection is of no importance, and neither disorders nor alters the truth and connection of the story." "True," answered the scholar; "pray go on, Signor Don Quixote, for I listen to you with the greatest pleasure in the world." "And I tell it with no less," answered Don Quixote, "and so I say:

"The venerable Montesinos conducted me to the crystalline palace, where, in a lower hall, extremely cool, and all of alabaster, there stood a marble tomb of exquisite workmanship, on which I saw, laid at full length, a cavalier, not of brass, or marble, or jasper, as is usual on other monuments, but of pure flesh and bones. His right hand, which, to my thinking, was pretty hairy and nervous, a sign that its owner was very strong, was laid on the region of his heart; and before I could ask any question, Montesinos, perceiving me in some suspense, and my eyes fixed on the sepulchre, said, 'This is my friend Durandarte, the flower and mirror of all the enamoured and valiant knights-errant of his time. Merlin, that French enchanter, keeps him here enchanted, as he does me, and many others of both sexes. It is said, he is the son of the devil; though I do not believe him to be the devil's son, but only, as the saying is, that he knows one point more than the devil himself. How, or why, he enchanted us, nobody knows; but time will bring it to light, and I fancy it will not be long first. What I wonder at is, that I am as sure as it is now day, that Durandarte expired in my arms, and that, after he was dead, I pulled out his heart with my own hands; and indeed it could not weigh less than two pounds; for, according to the opinion of naturalists, he who has a large heart is endued with more courage than he who has a small one.' 'It being then certain, that this cavalier really died,' said I, 'how comes it to pass, that he complains every now and then, and sighs, as if he were alive?' This was no sooner said, but the wretched Durandarte, crying out aloud, said: 'O my dear cousin Montesinos! the last thing I desired of you, when I was dying, and my soul departing, was, to carry my heart, ripping it out of my breast with a dagger or poniard, to Belerma.' The venerable Montesinos, hearing this, threw himself on his knees before the complaining cavalier, and, with tears in his eyes, said to him, 'Long since, O my dearest cousin Durandarte, I did what you enjoined me in that bitter day of our loss; I took out your heart, as well as I could, without leaving the least bit of it in your breast; I wiped it with a lace handkerchief, and took it, and went off full speed with it for France, having first laid you in the bosom of the earth, shedding as many tears as sufficed to wash my hands, and clean away the blood, which stuck to them by raking in your entrails. By the same token, dear cousin of my soul, in the first place I lighted upon, -[394]- going from Roncesvalles, I sprinkled a little salt over your heart, that it might not stink, and might keep, if not fresh, at least dried up, till it came to the Lady Belerma; who, together with you and me, and your squire Guadiana, and the Duenna Ruydera, and her seven daughters, and two nieces, with several others of your friends and acquaintance, have been kept here enchanted by the sage Merlin these many years past; and, though it be above five hundred years ago, not one of us is dead; only Ruydera and her daughters and nieces are gone, whom, because of their weeping, Merlin, out of compassion, turned into so many lakes, which, at this time, in the world of the living, and in the province of La Mancha, are called the Lakes of Ruydera. The seven sisters belong to the kings of Spain, and the two nieces to the knights of a very holy order, called the Knights of Saint John. Guadiana also, your squire, bewailing your misfortune, was changed into a river of his own name; who, arriving at the surface of the earth, and seeing the sun of another sky, was so grieved at the thought of forsaking you, that he plunged again into the bowels of the earth; but, it being impossible to avoid taking the natural course, he rises now and then, and shows himself, where the sun and people may see him. The aforesaid lakes supply him with their waters, with which, and several others that join him, he enters stately and great into Portugal. Nevertheless, whithersoever he goes, he discovers his grief and melancholy, breeding in his waters, not delicate and costly fish, but only coarse and unsavoury ones, very different from those of the golden Tagus. And what I now tell you, O my dearest cousin, I have often told you before; and since you make me no answer, I fancy you do not believe me, or do not hear me; which, God knows, afflicts me very much. One piece of news however I will tell you, which, if it serves not to alleviate your grief, will in nowise increase it. Know then, that you have here present (open your eyes, and you will see him) that great knight, of whom the sage Merlin prophesied so many things; that Don Quixote de la Mancha, I say, who, with greater advantages than in the ages past, has, in the present times, restored the long-forgotten order of knight-errantry; by whose means and favour we may, perhaps, be disenchanted; for great exploits are reserved for great men.' 'And though it should fall out otherwise,' answered the poor Durandarte with a faint and low voice, 'though it should not prove so, O cousin, I say, patience, and shuffle the cards;' and, turning himself on one side, he relapsed into his accustomed silence, without speaking a word more.

"Then were heard great cries and wailings, accompanied with profound sighs and distressful sobbings. I turned my head about, and saw through the crystal walls a procession, in two files, of most beautiful damsels, all clad in mourning, with white turbans on their heads after the Turkish fashion; and last of all, in the rear of the files, came a lady (for by her gravity she seemed to be such) clad also in black, with a white veil so long, that it kissed the ground. Her turban was twice as large as the largest of the others; her eyebrows were joined; her nose was somewhat flattish; her mouth wide, but her lips red; her teeth, which she sometimes showed, were thin set, and not very even, though as white as blanched almonds. She carried in her hand a fine linen handkerchief, and in it, as seemed to me, a heart of mummy, it appeared to be so dry and withered. Montesinos told me, that all those of the procession were servants to Durandarte and Belerma, and were there enchanted with their master and mistress, and that she, who came last, bearing the heart in the linen handkerchief, was -[395]- the Lady Belerma herself, who, four days in the week, made that procession, together with her damsels, singing, or rather weeping dirges over the body and over the piteous heart of his cousin; and that if she appeared to be somewhat ugly, or not so beautiful as fame reported, it was occasioned by the bad nights and worse days she passed in that enchantment, as might be seen by the great wrinkles under her eyes, and her broken complexion; as to her being pale and hollow-eyed, it was not occasioned by the periodical indisposition incident to women, there not having been, for several months, and even years past, the least appearance of any such matter; but merely by the affliction her heart feels from what she carries continually in her hands; which renews and revives in her memory the disaster of her untimely deceased lover; for had it not been for this, the great Dulcinea del Toboso herself, so celebrated in these parts, and even over the whole world, would hardly have equalled her in beauty, good-humour, and sprightliness.

"'Fair and softly,' said I then, 'good Signor Montesinos: tell your story as you ought to do; for you know that comparisons are odious, and therefore there is no need of comparing anybody with anybody. The peerless Dulcinea is what she is, and the Lady Donna Belerma is what she is, and what she has been, and so much for that.' To which he answered, 'Signor Don Quixote, pardon me: I confess I was in the wrong, in saying that the Lady Dulcinea would hardly equal the Lady Belerma; my understanding, by I know not what, guesses that your worship is her knight, and ought to have made me bite my tongue, sooner than compare her to anything but Heaven itself.' With this satisfaction given me by the great Montesinos, my heart was delivered from the surprise it was in at hearing my mistress compared with Belerma." "And I too admire," quoth Sancho, "that your worship did not fall upon the old fellow, and bruise his bones with kicking, and pluck his beard for him, till you had not left him a hair in it." "No, friend Sancho," answered Don Quixote, "it did not become me to do so; for we are all bound to respect old men, though they be not knights, and especially those who are such, and enchanted into the bargain. I know very well I was not at all behindhand with him in several other questions and answers which passed between us."

Here the scholar said, "I cannot imagine, Signor Don Quixote, how your worship, in the short space of time you have been there below, could see so many things, and talk and answer so much." "How long is it since I went down?" asked Don Quixote. "A little above an hour," answered Sancho. "That cannot be," replied Don Quixote; "for night came upon me there, and then it grew day; and then night came again, and day again, three times successively: so that by my account I must have been three days in those parts, so remote and hidden from our sight." "My master," said Sancho, "must needs be in the right; for as everything has happened to him in the way of enchantment, what seems to us but an hour, may seem there three days and three nights." "It is so," answered Don Quixote. "And has your worship, good Sir, eaten anything in all this time?" said the scholar. "I have not broken my fast with one mouthful," answered Don Quixote, "nor have I been hungry, or so much as thought of it all the while." "Do the enchanted eat?" said the scholar. "They do not eat," answered Don Quixote, "nor are they troubled with the greater excrements, though it is a common opinion that their nails, their beards, and their hair grow." "And, Sir, do the enchanted sleep?" -[396]- quoth Sancho. "No, truly," answered Don Quixote; "at least, in the three days that I have been amongst them, not one of them has closed an eye, nor I neither." "Here," quoth Sancho, "the proverb hits right; Tell me your company, and I will tell you what you are. If your worship keeps company with those who fast and watch, what wonder is it that you neither eat nor sleep while you are with them? But pardon me, good master of mine, if I tell your worship, that, of all you have been saying, God take me (I was going to say the devil) if I believe one word." "How so?" said the scholar: "Signor Don Quixote then must have lied; who, if he had a mind to it, has not had time to imagine and compose such a heap of lies." "I do not believe my master lies," answered Sancho. "If not, what do you believe?" said Don Quixote. "I believe," answered Sancho, "that the same Merlin, or those necromancers, who enchanted all the crew your worship says you saw and conversed with there below, have crammed into your imagination or memory all this stuff you have already told us, or that remains to be told."

"Such a thing might be, Sancho," replied Don Quixote; "but it is not so: for what I have related I saw with my own eyes, and touched with my own hands; but what will you say when I tell you, that, among an infinite number of things and wonders shown me by Montesinos, which I will recount in the progress of our journey, at leisure, and in their due time, for they do not all belong properly to this place, he showed me three country wenches who were dancing and capering like any kids about those charming fields; and scarcely had I espied them, when I knew one of them to be the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso, and the other two the very same wenches that came with her, whom we talked with at their coming out of Toboso. I asked Montesinos whether he knew them. He answered No, but that he took them to be some ladies of quality lately enchanted, for they had appeared in those meadows but a few days before; and that I ought not to wonder at it, for there were a great many other ladies there, of the past and present ages, enchanted under various and strange figures, among whom he knew Queen Ginebra, and her duenna Quintannona, cup-bearer to Lancelot when he arrived from Britain." When Sancho heard his master say all this, he was ready to run distracted, or to die with laughing; for, as he knew the truth of the feigned enchantment of Dulcinea, of whom he himself had been the enchanter, and the bearer of that testimony, he concluded undoubtedly that his master had lost his senses, and was in all points mad; and therefore he said to him: "In an evil juncture, and in a worse season, and in a bitter day, dear patron of mine, did you go down to the other world; and in an unlucky moment did you meet with Signor Montesinos, who has returned you back to us in such guise. Your worship was very well here above, entirely in your senses, such as God had given you, speaking sentences and giving advice at every turn, and not, as now, relating the greatest extravagances that can be imagined." "As I know you, Sancho," answered Don Quixote, "I make no account of your words." "Nor I of your worship's," replied Sancho. "You may hurt me if you will, you may kill me if you please, for those I have said already, or those I intend to say if you do not correct and amend your own. But tell me, Sir, now we are at peace, how or by what did you know the lady our mistress? And if you spoke to her, what said you, and what answer did she make you?"

"I knew her," answered Don Quixote, "by the very same clothes she -[397]- wore when you showed her to me. I spoke to her; but she answered me not a word; on the contrary, she turned her back upon me, and fled away with so much speed, that an arrow could not overtake her. I would have followed her; but Montesinos advised me not to tire myself with so doing, since it would be in vain; besides, it was now time for me to think of returning and getting out of the cave. He also told me, that in process of time, I should be informed of the means of disenchanting himself, Belerma, Durandarte, and all the rest there. But what gave me the most pain of anything I saw or took notice of was, that, while Montesinos was saying these things to me, there approached me on one side, unperceived by me, one of the two companions of the unfortunate Dulcinea, and, with tears in her eyes, in a low and troubled voice, said to me: 'My Lady Dulcinea del Toboso kisses your worship's hands, and desires you to let her know how you do; and, being in great necessity, she also earnestly begs your worship would be pleased to lend her, upon this new dimity petticoat I have brought here, six reals, or what you have about you, which she promises to return very shortly.' This message threw me into suspense and wonder; and, turning to Signor Montesinos, I demanded of him;' Is it possible, Signor Montesinos, that persons of quality under enchantment suffer necessity?' To which he answered: 'Believe me, Signor Don Quixote de la Mancha, that what is called necessity prevails everywhere, extends to all, and reaches everybody, not excusing even those who are enchanted; and since the Lady Dulcinea sends to desire of you those six reals, and the pawn is, in appearance, a good one, there is no more to be done but to give her them; for without doubt she must needs be in some very great strait.' 'I will take no pawn,' answered I;' nor can I send her what she desires, for I have but four reals;' which I sent her, being those you gave me the other day, Sancho, to bestow in alms on the poor I should meet with upon the road; and I said to the damsel: 'Sweetheart, tell your lady, that I am grieved to my soul at her distresses, and wish I were a Fucar(163) to remedy them; and pray let her know, that I neither can nor will have health, while I want her amiable presence and discreet conversation; and that I beseech her, with all imaginable earnestness, that she would vouchsafe to let herself be seen and conversed with by this her captive servant and bewildered knight. Tell her, that, when she least thinks of it, she will hear it said, that I have made an oath and vow, like that made by the Marquis of Mantua, to revenge his nephew Valdovinos, when he found him ready to expire in the midst of the mountain; which was, not to eat bread upon a table-cloth, with the other idle whims he then added, till he had revenged his death. In like manner will I take no rest, but traverse the seven parts of the universe with more punctuality than did the Infante Don Pedro of Portugal,(164) till she be disenchanted.' 'All this and more your worship owes my lady,' answered the damsel; and, taking the four reals, instead of making me a courtesy, she cut a caper full two yards high in the air."

"O holy God!" cried Sancho aloud at this juncture, "is it possible there should be such an one in the world, and that enchanters and enchantments should have such power over him, as to change my master's good understanding into so extravagant a madness! O Sir! Sir! for God's sake, look to yourself, and stand up for your honour, and give no credit to these vanities, which have diminished and decayed your senses." "It is your love of me, Sancho, makes you talk at this rate," replied Don Quixote; -[398]- "and not being experienced in the things of the world, you take everything, in which there is the least difficulty, for impossible; but the time will come, as I said before, when I shall tell you some other of the things I have seen below, which will make you give credit to what I have now told you, the truth of which admits of no reply or dispute."(165)


Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

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