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 XXVI: Wherein is contained the pleasant Adventure of the Puppet-player, with sundry other Matters in Truth sufficiently good.


Tyrians and Trojans were all silent: I mean, that all the spectators of the show hung upon the mouth of the declarer of its wonders, when from within the scene they heard the sound of a number of drums and trumpets, and several discharges of artillery; which noise was soon over, and immediately the boy raised his voice, and said: "This true history, here represented to you, gentlemen, is taken word for word from the French chronicles -[408]- and Spanish ballads, which are in everybody's mouth, and sung by the boys up and down the streets. It treats how Don Gayferos freed his wife Melisendra, who was a prisoner in Spain, in the hands of the Moors, in the city of Sansuenna, now called Saragossa; and there you may see how Don Gayferos is playing at tables, according to the ballad:

' Gayferos now at tables plays,
  Forgetful of his lady dear,' &c.

That personage, who appears yonder with a crown on his head, and a sceptre in his hands, is the emperor Charles the Great, the supposed father of Melisendra; who, being vexed to see the indolence and negligence of his son-in-law, comes forth to chide him; and, pray, mark with what vehemency and earnestness he rates him, that one would think he had a mind to give him half a dozen raps over the pate with his sceptre; yea, there are authors, who say he actually gave them, and sound ones too; and, after having said sundry things about the danger his honour ran, in not procuring the liberty of his spouse, it is reported he said to him: 'I have told you enough of it, look to it.' Pray observe, gentlemen, how the emperor turns his back, and leaves Don Gayferos in a fret. See him now impatient with choler, flinging about the board and pieces, and calling hastily for his armour; desiring Don Orlando, his cousin, to lend him his sword Durindana; and then how Don Orlando refuses to lend it him, offering to bear him company in that arduous enterprise; but the valorous enraged will not accept of it: saying, that he alone is able to deliver his spouse, though she were thrust down to the centre of the earth Hereupon he goes in to arm himself for setting forward immediately. Now, gentlemen, turn your eyes towards that tower, which appears yonder, which you are to suppose to be one of the Moorish towers of Saragossa, now called the Aljaferia,(170) and that lady, who appears at yon balcony in a Moorish habit, is the peerless Melisendra, casting many a heavy look towards the road that leads to France, and fixing her imagination upon the city of Paris and her husband, her only consolation in her captivity. Now behold a strange incident, the like perhaps never seen. Do you not see yon Moor, who stealing along softly, and step by step, with his finger on his mouth, comes behind Melisendra? Behold how he gives her a smacking kiss full on her lips: observe the haste she makes to spit, and wipe her mouth with her white shift-sleeves; and how she takes on, and tears her beauteous hair for vexation, as if that was to blame for the indignity. Observe that grave Moor in yonder gallery; he is Marsilio, the king of Sansuenna; who, seeing the insolence of the Moor, though he is a relation of his, and a great favourite, orders him to be seized immediately, and two hundred stripes to be given him, and to be led through the most frequented streets of the city, with criers before to publish his crime, and the officers of justice with their rods behind; and now behold the officers coming out to execute the sentence, almost as soon as the fault is committed; for, among the Moors, there is no citation of the party, nor copies of the process, nor delay of justice, as among us."

Here Don Quixote said with a loud voice: "Boy, boy, on with your story in a straight line, and leave your curves and transversals; for, to come at the truth of a fact, there is often need of proof upon proof.' Master Peter also from behind said: "Boy, none of your flourishes, but do what the gentleman bids you; for that is the surest way; sing your -[409]- song plain, and seek not for counterparts; for they usually crack the strings." — "I will," answered the boy; and proceeded, saying:

"The figure you see there on horseback, muffled up in a Gascoigne cloak, is Don Gayferos himself, to whom his spouse, already revenged on the impudence of the enamoured Moor, shows herself from the battlements of the tower with a calmer and more sedate countenance, and talks to her husband, believing him to be some passenger; with whom she holds all that discourse and dialogue in the ballad, which says:

' If tow'rds France your course you bend,
  Let me entreat you, gentle friend,
  Make diligent inquiry there
  For Gayferos, my husband dear.',

The rest I must omit, because length begets loathing. It is sufficient to observe how Don Gayferos discovers himself; and, by the signs of joy she makes, you may perceive she knows him, and especially now that you see she lets herself down from the balcony, to get on horseback behind her good husband. But alas, poor lady! the border of her under-petticoat has caught hold of one of the iron rails of the balcony, and there she hangs dangling in the air, without being able to reach the ground. But see how merciful Heaven sends relief in the greatest distresses! for now comes Don Gayferos, and, without regarding whether the rich petticoat be torn or not, lays hold of her, and brings her to the ground by main force; and then at a spring sets her behind him on his horse astride like a man, bidding her hold very fast, and clasp her arms about his shoulders till they cross and meet over his breast, that she may not fall; because the Lady Melisendra was not used to that way of riding. See how the horse, by his neighings, shows he is pleased with the burden of his valiant master and his fair mistress. And see how they turn their backs and go out of the city, and how merrily and joyfully they take the way to Paris. Peace be with you, O peerless pair of faithful lovers! may you arrive in safety at your desired country, without fortune's laying any obstacle in the way of your prosperous journey! May the eyes of your friends and relations behold ye enjoy in perfect peace the remaining days (and may they be like Nestor's) of your lives!" Here again Master Peter raised his voice, and said: "Plainness, boy; do not encumber yourself; for all affectation is naught." The interpreter made no answer, but went on, saying: "There wanted not some idle eyes, such as espy everything, to see Melisendra's getting down and then mounting; of which they gave notice to King Marsilio, who immediately commanded to sound the alarm; and pray take notice what a hurry they are in; how the whole city shakes with the ringing of bells in the steeples of the mosques."

"Not so," said Don Quixote;" Master Peter is very much mistaken in the business of the bells; for the Moors do not use bells, but kettle-drums, and a kind of dulcimers, like our waits; and therefore to introduce the ringing of bells in Sansuenna is a gross absurdity." Which Master Peter overhearing, he left off ringing, and said, "Signor Don Quixote, do not criticise upon trifles, nor expect that perfection which is not to be found in these matters. Are there not a thousand comedies acted almost everywhere, full of as many improprieties and blunders, and yet they run their career with great success, and are listened to not only with applause, but with admiration? Go on, boy, and let folks talk; for, so I fill my bag, I -[410]- care not if I represent more improprieties than there are motes in the sun." — "You are in the right," answered Don Quixote; and the boy proceeded:

"See what a numerous and brilliant cavalry sallies out of the city in pursuit of the two Catholic lovers; how many trumpets sound, how many dulcimers play, and how many drums and kettle-drums rattle; I fear they will overtake them, and bring them back tied to their own horse's tail, which would be a lamentable spectacle." Don Quixote, seeing such a number of Moors, and hearing such a din, thought proper to succour those that fled; and rising up, said in a loud voice, "I will never consent, while I live, that in my presence such an outrage as this be offered to so famous a knight and so daring a lover as Don Gayferos. Hold, base-born rabble, follow not nor pursue after him; for if you do, have at you." And so said, so done; he unsheathed his sword, and at one spring he planted himself close to the show, and with a violent and unheard-of fury began to rain hacks and slashes on the Moorish puppets, overthrowing some, and beheading others, laming this, and demolishing that; and, among a great many other strokes, he fetched one with such a force, that, if Master Peter had not ducked and squatted down, he had chopped off his head with as much ease as if it had been made of sugar paste. Master Peter cried out, saying, "Hold, Signor Don Quixote, hold, and consider that these figures you throw down, maim, and destroy, are not real Moors, but only puppets made of pasteboard; consider, sinner that I am! that you are undoing me, and destroying my whole livelihood." For all that, Don Quixote still laid about him, showering down, doubling, and re-doubling fore-strokes and back-strokes like hail. In short, in less than the saying two Credos, he demolished the whole machine, hacking to pieces all the tackling and figures, King Marsilio being sorely wounded, and the head and crown of the emperor Charlemagne cloven in two. The whole audience was in a consternation; the ape flew to the top of the house; the scholar was frightened, the page daunted, and even Sancho himself trembled mightily; for, as he swore after the storm was over, he had never seen his master in so outrageous a passion.

The general demolition of the machinery thus achieved, Don Quixote began to be a little calm, and said, "I wish I had here before me, at this instant, all those who are not, and will not be convinced, of how much benefit knights-errant are to the world; for, had I not been present, what would have become of good Don Gayferos and the fair Melisendra? I warrant ye, these dogs would have overtaken them by this time, and have offered them some indignity. When all is done, long live knight-errantry above all things living in the world!" — "In God's name let it live, and let me die," cried Master Peter at this juncture, with a fainting voice, "since I am so unfortunate, that I can say with King Roderigo,(171) 'Yesterday I was sovereign of Spain, and to-day have not a foot of land I can call my own.' It is not half an hour ago, nor scarcely half a minute, since I was master of kings and emperors, my stalls full of horses, and my trunks and sacks full of fine things; and now I am desolate and dejected, poor, and a beggar, and, what grieves me most of all, without my ape, who, i' faith, will make my teeth sweat for it, before I get him again; and all through the inconsiderate fury of this Sir Knight, who is said to protect orphans, redress wrongs, and do other charitable deeds; but in me alone, praised be the highest Heavens for it, his generous intention has failed. In short, it could -[411]- only be the Knight of the Sorrowful Figure who was destined thus to disfigure me and mine."

Sancho Panza was moved to compassion by what Master Peter had spoken, and therefore said to him, "Weep not, Master Peter, nor take on so; for you break my heart, and I assure you my master Don Quixote is so Catholic and scrupulous a Christian, that, if he comes to reflect that he has done you any wrong, he knows how, and will certainly make you amends with interest." — "If Signor Don Quixote," replied Master Peter, "would but repay me part of the damage he has done me, I should be satisfied, and his worship would discharge his conscience; for nobody can be saved who withholds another's property against his will, and does not make restitution." — "True," said Don Quixote;" but as yet I do not know that I have anything of yours, Master Peter." — "How!" answered Master Peter: "what but the invincible force of your powerful arm scattered and annihilated these relics, which lie up and down on this hard and barren ground? Whose were their bodies but mine? And how did I maintain myself but by them?" — "Now am I entirely convinced," replied Don Quixote at this juncture, "of what I have often believed before, that those enchanters who persecute me, are perpetually setting shapes before me as they really are, and presently putting the change upon me, and transforming them into whatever they please. I protest to you, gentlemen, that hear me, that whatever has passed at this time seemed to me to pass actually and precisely so: I took Melisendra to be Melisendra; Don Gayferos, Don Gayferos; Marsilio, Marsilio; and Charlemagne, Charlemagne. This it was that inflamed my choler; and, in compliance with the duty of my profession as a knight-errant, I had a mind to assist and succour those who fled; and with this good intention I did what you just now saw; if things have fallen out the reverse, it is no fault of mine, but of those my wicked persecutors; and, notwithstanding this mistake of mine, and though it did not proceed from malice, yet will I condemn myself in costs. See, Master Peter, what you must have for the damaged figures, and I will pay it you down in current and lawful money of Castile." Master Peter made him a low bow, saying, "I expected no less from the unexampled Christianity of the valorous Don Quixote de la Mancha, the true succourer and support of all the needy and distressed; and let Master Innkeeper and the great Sancho be umpires and appraisers, between your worship and me, of what the demolished figures are or might be worth."

The innkeeper and Sancho said they would; and then Master Peter, taking up Marsilio, king of Saragossa, without a head, said: "You see how impossible it is to restore this king to his pristine state, and therefore I think, with submission to better judgment, you must award me for his death and destruction four reals and a half." — "Proceed," said Don Quixote. "Then for this that is cleft from top to bottom," continued Master Peter, taking up the Emperor Charlemagne, "I think five reals and a quarter little enough to ask." — "Not very little," quoth Sancho. "Not very much," replied the innkeeper; "but split the difference, and set him down five reals." — "Give him the whole five and a quarter," said Don Quixote;" for, in such a notable mischance as this, a quarter more or less is not worth standing upon; and make an end, Master Peter; for it grows towards supper-time, and I have some symptoms of hunger upon me," "For this figure," cried Master Peter, "which wants a nose and an eye, and is the fair Melisendra, I must have and can abate nothing of two reals and -[412]- twelve maravedís." — "Nay," said Don Quixote, "the devil must be in it, if Melisendra be not, by this time, with her husband, at least upon the borders of France; for methought the horse they rode upon seemed to fly rather than gallop; and therefore do not pretend to sell me a cat for a coney, showing me here Melisendra noseless, whereas, at this very instant, probably, she is solacing herself at full stretch with her husband in France. God help every one with his own, Master Peter; let us have plain dealing, and proceed." Master Peter, finding that Don Quixote began to warp, and was returning to his old bent, had no mind he should escape him so, and therefore said to him: "Now I think on it, this is not Melisendra, but one of her waiting-maids, and so with sixty maravedís I shall be well enough paid, and very well contented." Thus he went on, setting a price upon several broken figures, which the arbitrators afterwards moderated to the satisfaction of both parties. The whole amounted to forty reals and three quarters; and over and above all this, which Sancho immediately disbursed, Master Peter demanded two reals for the trouble he should have in catching his ape. "Give him them, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "not for catching the ape, but to drink. I would give two hundred to anyone that could tell me for certain, that Donna Melisendra and Signor Don Gayferos are at this time in France, and among their friends." — "Nobody can tell us that better than my ape," said Master Peter, "but the devil himself cannot catch him now; though I suppose his affection for me, or hunger, will force him to come to me at night; and to-morrow is a new day, and we shall see one another again."

In conclusion, the bustle of the puppet-show was quite over, and they all supped together in peace and good company, at the expense of Don Quixote, who was liberal to the last degree. He who carried the lances and halberds went off before day, and after it was light, the scholar and the page came to take their leaves of Don Quixote, the one in order to return home, and the other to pursue his intended journey; and Don Quixote gave him a dozen reals to help to bear his charges. Master Peter had no mind to enter into any more tell me's and I will tell you' s, with Don Quixote, whom he knew perfectly well; and therefore up he got before sun; and, gathering up the fragments of his show, and taking his ape, away he went in quest of adventures of his own. The innkeeper, who knew not Don Quixote, was equally in astonishment at his madness and liberality. In short, Sancho, by order of his master, paid him very well; and at about eight in the morning, bidding him farewell, they left the inn, and went their way, where we will leave them to give place to the relating several other things, necessary to the better understanding this famous history.


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