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 XXIX: Of the famous Adventure of the enchanted Barque.


In two days after leaving the poplar grove, Don Quixote and Sancho, travelling as softly as foot could fall, came to the river Ebro, the sight of which gave Don Quixote great pleasure, while he saw and contemplated -[420]- the verdure of its banks, the clearness of its waters, the smoothness of its current, and the abundance of its liquid crystal. This cheerful prospect brought to his remembrance a thousand amorous thoughts; and particularly he mused upon what he had seen in the cave of Montesinos; for, though Master Peter's ape had told him that part of those things was true, and part false, he inclined rather to believe all true than false; quite the reverse of Sancho, who held them all for falsehood itself.

Now, as they sauntered along in this manner, they perceived a small barque, without oars or any sort of tackle, tied to the trunk of a tree which grew on the brink of the river. Don Quixote looked round him on every way, and seeing nobody at all, without more ado alighted from Rozinante, and ordered Sancho to do the like from Dapple, and to tie both the beasts very fast to the body of a poplar or willow, which grew there. Sancho asked the reason of this hasty alighting and tying. Don Quixote answered, "You are to know, Sancho, that this vessel lies here for no other reason in the world but to invite me to embark in it, in order to succour some knight, or other person of high degree, who is in extreme distress; for such is the practice of enchanters in the books of chivalry, when some knight happens to be engaged in some difficulty, from which he cannot be delivered but by the hand of another knight. Then, though they are distant from each other two or three thousand leagues and even more, they either snatch him up in a cloud, or furnish him with a boat to embark in; and, in less than the twinkling of an eye, they carry him through the air or over the sea, whither they list, and where his assistance is wanted. So that, Sancho, this barque must be placed here for the self-same purpose; and this is as true as that it is now day; and, before it be spent, tie Dapple and Rozinante together, and the hand of God be our guide; for I would not fail to embark, though barefooted friars themselves should entreat me to the contrary." "Since it is so," answered Sancho, "and that your worship will every step be running into these same (how shall I call them?) extravagances, there is no way but to obey and bow the head, giving heed to the proverb, Do what your master bids you, and sit down by him at table. But for all that, as to what pertains to the discharge of my conscience, I must warn your worship that to me this same boat seems not to belong to the enchanted, but to some fishermen upon the river; for here they catch the best shads in the world."

All this Sancho said while he was tying the cattle, leaving them to the protection and care of enchanters, with sufficient grief of his soul. Don Quixote bid him be in no pain about forsaking those beasts; for he who was to carry themselves through ways and regions of such longitude, would take care to feed them." "I do not understand your logitudes," said Sancho, "nor have I heard such a word in all the days of my life." "Longitude," replied Don Quixote, "means length, and no wonder you do not understand it; for you are not bound to know Latin; though some there are who pretend to know it, and are quite as ignorant as yourself." "Now they are tied," quoth Sancho, "what must we do next?" "What?" answered Don Quixote;" why, bless ourselves, and weigh anchor; I mean, embark ourselves, and cut the rope with which the vessel is tied," And, leaping into it, Sancho following him, he cut the cord, and the boat fell off by little and little from the shore; and when Sancho saw himself about a couple of yards from the bank, he began to quake, fearing he should be lost; but nothing troubled him more than to hear his ass bray, and to -[421]- see Rozinante struggling to get loose; and he said to his master, "The ass brays as bemoaning our absence, and Rozinante is endeavouring to get loose, to throw himself into the river after us. O dearest friends, abide in peace! and may the madness which separates you from us, converted into a conviction of our error, return us to your presence!" and here he began to weep so bitterly, that Don Quixote grew angry, and said, "What are you afraid of, cowardly creature? What weep you for, heart of butter? Who pursues, who hurts you, soul of a house-rat? Or what want you, poor wretch, in the midst of the bowels of abundance? Art thou trudging barefoot over the Riphean Mountains? No, but seated upon a bench, like an archduke, sliding easily down the stream of this charming river, whence in a short space we shall issue out into the boundless ocean. But doubtless we are got out already, and must have gone at least seven or eight hundred leagues. If I had here an astrolabe, to take the elevation of the pole, I would tell you how many we have gone; though, either I know little, or we are already past, or shall presently pass, the equinoctial line, which divides and cuts the opposite poles at equal distances." "And when we arrive at that line your worship speaks of," quoth Sancho, "how far shall we have travelled?" "A great way," replied Don Quixote;" for, of three hundred and sixty degrees, contained in the terraqueous globe, according to the computation of Ptolomy, the greatest geographer we know of, we shall have travelled one half when we come to the line I told you of." "By the Lord!" quoth Sancho, "your worship has brought a very pretty fellow, that same Tolmy, or whatever you call him, with his amputation, to vouch the truth of what you say."

Don Quixote smiled at Sancho's blunders as to the name and computation of the geographer Ptolomy, and said: "You must know, Sancho, that one of the signs by which the Spaniards, and those who embark at Cadiz from the East Indies, discover whether they have passed the equinoctial line I told you of, is, that all the lice upon every man in the ship die, not one remaining alive; nor is one to be found in the vessel, though they would give its weight in gold for it; and therefore, Sancho, pass your hand over your thigh, and if you light upon anything alive, we shall be out of this doubt, and, if not, we have passed the line." "I believe nothing of all this," answered Sancho; "but for all that I will do as your worship bids me, though I do not know what occasion there is for making this experiment, since I see with my own eyes that we are net got five yards from the bank, nor fallen two yards below our cattle; for yonder stand Rozinante and Dapple, in the very place where we left them; and, taking aim as I do now, I vow to God we do not stir nor move an ant's place." "Sancho," said Don Quixote, "make the trial I bid you, and take no further care; for you know not what things colours are, not what are lines, parallels, zodiacs, elliptics, poles, solstice, equinoctials, planets, signs, points, and measures, of which the celestial and terrestrial globes are composed: for, if you knew all these things, or but a part of them, you would plainly perceive what parallels we have cut, what signs we have seen, and what constellations we have left behind us, and are just now leaving. And once more I bid you feel yourself all over, and fish; for I, for my part, am of opinion you are as clean as a sheet of paper, smooth and white." Sancho carried his hand softly and gently towards his left ham, and then lifted up his head, and looking at his master, said: "Either the experiment is false, or we are not arrived where your worship says, not by a great many leagues." -[422]- "Why," replied Don Quixote, "have you met with something then?" "Ay, several somethings," answered Sancho; and, shaking his fingers, he washed his whole hand in the river, down whose current the boat was gently gliding, not moved by any secret influence, nor by any concealed enchanter, but merely by the stream of the water, then smooth and calm.

By this time they discovered certain large water-mills, standing in the midst of the river; and scarcely had Don Quixote espied them, when he said with a loud voice to Sancho: "O friend, behold yonder appears the city, castle, or fortress, in which some knight lies under oppression, or some queen, infanta, or princess, in evil plight, for whose relief I am brought hither." "What the devil of a city, fortress, or castle do you talk of, Sir?" quoth Sancho; "do you not perceive that they are mills standing in the river for the grinding of corn?" "Peace! Sancho," said Don Quixote;" for though they seem to be mills, they are not so: I have already told you that enchanters transform and change all things from their natural shape. I do not say, they change them really from one thing to another but only in appearance, as experience showed us in the transformation of Dulcinea, the sole refuge of my hopes."

The boat, being now got into the current of the river, began to move a little faster than it had done hitherto. The millers seeing it coming adrift with the stream, and that it was just going into the mouth of the swift stream of the mill-wheels, several of them ran out in all haste with long poles to stop it; and, their faces and clothes being covered with meal, they made but an ill appearance; and calling out aloud they said: "Devils of men, where are you going? Are ye desperate, that ye have a mind to drown yourselves, or be ground to pieces by the wheels?" "Did I not tell you, Sancho," said Don Quixote at this juncture, "that we are come where I must demonstrate how far the valour of my arm extends? Look what a parcel of murderers and felons come out against me: see what hobgoblins to oppose us, and what ugly countenances to scare us. Now we shall see, rascals." And, standing up in the boat, he began to threaten the millers aloud, saying: "Ill-led and worse-advised scoundrels, set at liberty and free the person you keep under oppression in this your fortress or prison, whether of high or low degree; for I am Don Quixote de la Mancha, otherwise called the Knight of the Lions, for whom, by order of the high Heavens, the putting a happy end to this adventure is reserved." And so saying, he clapped his hand to his sword, and began to fence with it in the air against the millers, who, hearing, but not understanding, these foolish flourishes, set themselves with their poles to stop the boat, which was just entering into the stream and eddy of the wheels. Sancho fell upon his knees, and prayed to Heaven devoutly to deliver him from so apparent a danger; which it did by the diligence and agility of the millers, who, setting their poles against the boat, stopped it; though not so dexterously, but that they overset it, and tipped Don Quixote and Sancho into the water. It was well for Don Quixote that he knew how to swim like a goose; nevertheless the weight of his armour carried him twice to the bottom; and had it not been for the millers, who threw themselves into the river, and as it were, craned them both up, they must have inevitably perished.

When they were dragged on shore, more wet than thirsty, Sancho, kneeling, with hands joined and eyes uplifted, beseeched God, in a long -[423]- and devout prayer, to deliver him henceforward from the daring desires and enterprises of his master. And now came the fishermen, owners of the boat, which the mill-wheels had crushed to pieces; and, seeing it broke, they began to strip Sancho, and demand payment for it of Don Quixote, who with great tranquility, as if nothing had befallen him, told the millers and the fishermen he would pay for the boat with all his heart, upon condition they should deliver up to him, free and without ransom, the person or persons who lay under oppression in their castle. "What persons or what castle do you mean, madmen?" answered one of the millers;" would you carry off those who come to grind their corn at our mills?" "Enough," thought Don Quixote to himself;" it will be preaching in the desert to endeavour, by entreaty, to prevail with such mob to do anything that is honourable; and, in this adventure, two able enchanters must have engaged, the one frustrating what the other attempts, the one providing me a barque, and the other oversetting it. God help us! this world is nothing but machinations and tricks quite opposite one to the other; I can do no more." Then, looking towards the mills, he raised his voice, and said: "Friends, whoever you are, that are enclosed in this prison, pardon me, that, through my misfortune and yours, I cannot deliver you from your affliction; this adventure is kept and reserved for some other knight." Having said this, he compounded with the fishermen, and paid fifty reals for the boat, which Sancho disbursed much against his will, saying, "A couple more of such embarkations will sink our whole capital." The fishermen and millers stood wondering at these two figures, so out of the fashion and semblance of other men, not being able to comprehend what Don Quixote drove at by his questions, and the discourse he held with them; and, looking upon them as madmen, they left them, and betook themselves to their mills, and the fishermen to their huts. Don Quixote and Sancho, like beasts themselves, returned to their beasts; and thus ended the adventure of the enchanted barque.


Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

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