Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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The History of the
Valorous & Witty Knight-Errant Don Quixote of the Mancha

By Miguel de Cervantes, Translated by Thomas Shelton

The Second Part

CHAPTER XI: Of the Strange Adventure that befel Don Quixote,
with the Cart or Waggon of the Parliament of Death

 

DON QUIXOTE went on, wonderful pensative to think what a shrewd trick the enchanters had played him, in changing his mistress Dulcinea into the rustic shape of a country-wench, and could not imagine what means he might use to bring her to her pristine being; and these thoughts so distracted him that carelessly he gave Rozinante the reins, who, perceiving the liberty he had, stayed every stitch-while to feed upon the green grass of which those fields were full; but Sancho put him out of his maze, saying, ‘Sir, sorrow was not ordained for beasts but men, yet if men do exceed in it they become beasts. Pray, sir, recollect and come to yourself, and pluck up Rozinante’s reins; revive and cheer yourself, show the courage that befits a knight-errant. What a devil’s the matter? What faintness is this? Are we dreaming on a dry summer? Now, Satan take all the Dulcineas in the world! since the welfare of one only knight-errant is more worth than all the enchantments and transformations in the world.’

‘Peace, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote, with a voice now not very faint; ‘peace, I say, and speak no blasphemies against that enchanted lady, for I only am in fault for her misfortune and unhappiness; her ill plight springs from the envy that enchanters bear me.’ ‘So say I too,’ quoth Sancho; ‘for what heart sees her now, that saw her before, and doth not deplore?’ ‘Thou mayst well say so, Sancho,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘since thou sawest her in her just entire beauty, and the enchantment dimmed not thy sight nor concealed her fairness. Against me only, only against mine eyes, the force of its venom is directed. But for all that, Sancho, I have fallen upon one thing, which is that thou didst ill describe her beauty to me; for, if I forget not, thou saidst she had eyes of pearls, and such eyes are rather the eyes of a sea-bream than a fair dame’s; but, as I think, Dulcinea’s eyes are like two green emeralds rared with two celestial arcs, that serve them for eyebrows. And therefore, for you pearls, take them from her eyes and put them to her teeth; for doubtless, Sancho, thou mistookest eyes for teeth.’

‘All this may be,’ said Sancho, ‘for her beauty troubled me as much as her foulness since hath done you; but leave we all to God, who is the knower of all things that befals us in this vale of tears, in this wicked world, where there is scarce anything without mixture of mischief, impostorship, or villainy. One thing, master mine, troubles me more than all the rest — to think what means there will be, when you overcome any giant or other knight, and command him to present himself before the beauty of the Lady Dulcinea, where this poor giant or miserable vanquished knight shall find her? Methinks I see ‘em go staring up and down Toboso to find my Lady Dulcinea, and, though they should meet her in the middle of the street, yet they would no more know her than my father.’

‘It may be, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘her enchantment will not extend to take from vanquished and presented giants and knights the knowledge of Dulcinea; and therefore, in one or two of the first I conquer and send, we will make trial whether they see her or no, commanding them that they return to relate unto me what hath befallen them.’

‘I say, sir,’ quoth Sancho, ‘I like what you have said very well, and by this device we shall know what we desire; and, if so be she be only hidden to you, your misfortune is beyond hers. But, so my Lady Dulcinea have health and content, we will bear and pass it over here as well as we may, seeking our adventures; and let time alone, who is the best physician for these and other infirmities.’

Don Quixote would have answered Sancho Panza, but he was interrupted by a waggon that came cross the way, loaden with the most different and strange personages and shapes that might be imagined. He that guided the mules, and served for waggoner, was an ugly devil. The waggon’s self was open, without tilt or boughs. The first shape that presented itself to Don Quixote’s eyes was of Death herself, with a human face, and next her an angel with large painted wings; on one side stood an emperor, with a crown upon his head, to see to, of gold; at Death’s feet was the god called Cupid, not blindfolded, but with his bow, his quiver, and arrows. There was also a knight completely armed, only he had no morion or headpiece, but a hat full of divers-coloured plumes. With these there were other personages of different fashions and faces. All which, seen on a sudden, in some sort troubled Don Quixote, and affrighted Sancho’s heart; but straight Don Quixote was jocund, believing that some rare and dangerous adventure was offered unto him; and with this thought, and a mind disposed to give the onset to any peril, he got himself before the waggon, and with a loud and threatening voice cried out, ‘Carter, coachman, or devil, or whatsoe’er thou art, be not slow to tell me who thou art, whither thou goest, and what people these are thou carriest in thy cart-coach, rather like Charon’s boat than waggons now in use.

To which the devil, staying the cart, gently replied, ‘Sir, we are players of Thomas Angulo’s company. We have played a play called The Parliament of Death against this Corpus Christi tide, in a town behind the ridge of yonder mountain, and this afternoon we are to play it again at the town you see before us, which because it is so near, to save a labour of new attiring us, we go in the same clothes in which we are to act. That young man plays Death; that other an angel; that woman, our author’s wife, the queen; a fourth there, a soldier; a fifth the emperor; and I the devil, which is one of the chiefest actors in the play, for I have the best part. If you desire to know anything else of us, ask me, and I shall answer you most punctually; for, as I am a devil, nothing is unknown to me.’

‘By the faith of a knight-errant,’ said Don Quixote, ‘as soon as ever I saw this waggon I imagined some strange adventure towards; and now I say it is fit to be fully satisfied of these apparitions, by touching them with our hands. God be with you, honest people; act your play, and see whether you will command anything wherein I may be serviceable to you; for I will be so most cheerfully and willingly: for since I was a boy I have loved mask-shows, and in my youth I have been ravished with stage-plays.’

Whilst they were thus discoursing, it fell out that one of the company came toward them, clad for the fool in the play, with morrice-bells, and at the end of a stick he had three cows’ bladders full-blown, who thus masked, running toward Don Quixote, began to fence with his cudgel, and to thwack the bladders upon the ground, and to frisk with his bells in the air, which dreadful sight so troubled Rozinante that, Don Quixote not able to hold him in, for he had gotten the bridle betwixt his teeth, he fell a-running up and down the field, much swifter than his anatomised bones made show for. Sancho, that considered in what danger of being thrown down his master might be, leaped from Dapple, and with all speed ran to help him; but, by that time he came to him, he was upon the ground, and Rozinante by him, for they both tumbled together. This was the common pass Rozinante’s tricks and boldness came to. But no sooner had Sancho left his horsebackship to come to Don Quixote, when the damning devil with the bladders leaped on Dapple, and, clapping him with them, the fear and noise, more than the blows, made him fly thorough the field toward the place where they were to play. Sancho beheld Dapple’s career and his master’s fall, and knew not to which of the ill chances he might first repair; but yet, like a good squire and faithful servant, his master’s love prevailed more with him than the cockering of his ass, though every hoisting of the bladders, and falling on Dapple’s buttocks, were to him trances and tidings of death, and rather had he those blows had lighted on his eyeballs than on the least hair of his ass’s tail.

In this perplexity he came to Don Quixote, who was in a great deal worse plight than he was willing to see him; and, helping him on Rozinante, said, ‘Sir, the devil hath carried away Dapple.’ ‘What devil?’ quoth Don Quixote. ‘He with the bladders,’ replied Sancho. ‘Well, I will recover him,’ said Don Quixote, ‘though he should lock him up with him in the darkest and deepest dungeons of hell. Follow me, Sancho, for the waggon goes but slowly, and the mules shall satisfy Dapple’s loss.’ ‘There is no need,’ said Sancho; ‘temper your choler, for now I see the devil hath left Dapple, and he returns to his home.’ And he said true, for the devil having fallen with Dapple, to imitate Don Quixote and Rozinante, he went on foot to the town, and the ass came back to his master.

‘For all that,’ said Don Quixote, ‘it were fit to take revenge of the devil’s unmannerliness upon some of those in the waggon, even of the emperor himself.’ ‘Oh, never think of any such matter,’ said Sancho, ‘and take my counsel, that is, never to meddle with players, for they are a people mightily beloved. I have known one of ‘em in prison for two murders, and yet scaped scot-free. Know this, sir, that, as they are merry jovial lads, all men love, esteem, and help them, especially if they be the king’s players, and all of them in their fashion and garb are gentleman-like.’ ‘For all that,’ said Don Quixote, ‘the devil-player shall not scape from me and brag of it, though all mankind help him.’ And so saying, he got to the waggon, that was now somewhat near the town, and, crying aloud, said, ‘Hold, stay, merry Greeks, for I’ll make ye know what belongs to the asses and furniture belonging to the squires of knights-errant.’ Don Quixote’s noise was such that those of the waggon heard it; and, guessing at his intention by his speeches, in an instant Mistress Death leaped out of the waggon, and after her the emperor, the devil-waggoner, and the angel, and the queen too, with little Cupid; all of them were straight loaded with stones, and put themselves in order, expecting Don Quixote with their peeble-points.

Don Quixote, that saw them in so gallant a squadron, ready to discharge strongly their stones, held in Rozinante’s reins, and began to consider how he should set upon them with least hazard of his person. Whilst he thus stayed, Sancho came to him, and, seeing him ready to give the onset, said: ‘‘Tis a mere madness, sir, to attempt this enterprise; I pray consider that, for your river-sops,1 there are no defensive weapons in the world, but to be shut up and inlaid under a brazen bell; and consider likewise ‘tis rather rashness than valour for one man alone to set upon an army wherein Death is, and where emperors fight in person, and where good and bad angels help; and, if the consideration of this be not sufficient, may this move you, to know that amongst all these, though they seem to be kings, princes, and emperors, yet there is not so much as one knight-errant.’

‘Thou hast hit upon the right, Sancho,’ said Don Quixote, ‘the very point that may alter my determination. I neither can nor must draw my sword, as I have often told thee, against any that be not knights-errant. It concerns thee, Sancho, if thou meanest to be revenged for the wrong done unto thine ass; and I will encourage thee, and from hence give thee wholesome instructions.’ ‘There needs no being revenged of anybody,’ said Sancho, ‘for there is no Christianity in it; besides, mine ass shall be contented to put his cause to me and to my will, which is to live peaceable and quietly, as long as Heaven shall be pleased to afford me life.’ ‘Since this is thy determination,’ said Don Quixote, ‘honest, wise, discreet, Christian-like, pure Sancho, let us leave these dreams, and seek other better and more real adventures; for I see this country is like to afford us many miraculous ones.’

So he turned Rozinante’s reins, and Sancho took his Dapple; Death with all the flying squadron returned to the waggon, and went on their voyage; and this was the happy end of the waggon of Death’s adventure, thanks be to the good advice that Sancho Panza gave his master, to whom the day after there happened another adventure, no less pleasant, with an enamoured knight-errant as well as he.
 

1 Meaning the stones.

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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