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 XVII: Where is showed the Last and Extremest Hazard to which the Unheard-of Courage of Don Quixote did or could arrive, with the Prosperous Accomplishment of the Adventure of the Lions


THE history says that when Don Quixote called to Sancho to bring him his helmet he was buying curds which the shepherds sold him, and, being hastily laid at by his master, he knew not what to do with them, or how to bestow them without losing them, for he had paid for them; so he bethought himself, and clapped them into his master’s helmet; and, this good order taken, he went to see what he would have, who, when he came, said, ‘Give me, friend, that same helmet; for either I know not what belongs to adventures, or that I see yonder is one that will force me to take arms.’ He of the green coat, that heard this, turned his eyes every way, and saw nothing but a cart that came toward them with two or three small flags, which made him think that the said cart carried the king’s money, and so he told Don Quixote; but he believed him not, always thinking that everything he saw was adventure upon adventure; so he answered the gentleman, ‘He that is warned is half armed; there is nothing lost in being provided; for I know by experience that I have enemies visible and invisible, and I know not when, nor where, nor at what time, or in what shape they will set upon me. And, turning to Sancho, he demanded his helmet, who, wanting leisure to take the curds out, was forced to give it him as it was. Don Quixote took it, and, not perceiving what was in it, clapped it suddenly upon his head; and, as the curds were squeezed and thrust together, the whey began to run down Don Quixote’s face and beard, at which he was in such a fright that he cried out to Sancho, ‘What ails me, Sancho? for methinks my skull is softened, or my brains melt, or that I sweat from top to toe; and, if it be sweat, I assure thee it is not for fear. I believe certainly that I am like to have a terrible adventure of this; give me something, if thou hast it, to wipe on, for this abundance of sweat blinds me.’ Sancho was silent, and gave him a cloth, and with it thanks to God that his master fell not into the business. Don Quixote wiped himself, and took off his helmet to see what it was that, as he thought, did benumb his head, and, seeing those white splashes in his helmet, he put them to his nose, and, smelling to them, said, ‘By my mistress Dulcinea del Toboso’s life, they are curds that thou hast brought me here, thou base traitor and unmannerly squire.’ To which Sancho very cunningly, and with a great deal of pause, answered: ‘If they be curds, give them me, pray, and I’ll eat ‘em. But let the devil eat ‘em, for he put ‘em there! Should I be so bold as to foul your worship’s helmet? And there you have found, as I told you, who did it! In faith, sir, as sure as God lives, I have my enchanters too that persecute me as a creature and part of you, and I warrant have put that filth there to stir you up to choler, and to make you bang my sides, as you use to do. Well, I hope this time they have lost their labour; for I trust in my master’s discretion, that he will consider that I have neither curds nor milk, nor any such thing; for, if I had, I had rather put it in my stomach than in the helmet.’ ‘All this may be,’ said Don Quixote.

The gentleman observed all, and wondered, especially when Don Quixote, after he had wiped his head, face, beard, and helmet, clapped it on again, settling himself well in his stirrups, searching for his sword and grasping his lance, he cried out, ‘Now come on’t what will, for here I am with a courage to meet Satan himself in person.’

By this the cart with the flags drew near, in which there came no man but the carter with his mules, and another upon the foremost of them. Don Quixote put himself forward, and asked, ‘Whither go ye, my masters? what cart is this? what do you carry in it? and what colours be these?’ To which the carter answered, ‘The cart is mine, the carriage is two fierce lions caged up, which the General of Oran sends to the King at court for a present: these colours be his Majesty’s, in sign that what goes here is his.’ ‘And are the lions big?’ said Don Quixote. ‘So big,’ said he that went toward the cart door, ‘that there never came bigger out of Africa into Spain; and I am their keeper, and have carried others, but never any so big. They are male and female; the male is in this first grate, the female in the hindermost, and now they are hungry, for they have not eat to-day; and therefore I pray, sir, give us way, for we had need come quickly where we may meat them.’ To which quoth Don Quixote, smiling a little, ‘Your lion whelps to me? to me your lion whelps? and at this time of day? Well, I vow to God, your General that sends em this way shall know whether I be one that am afraid of lions. Alight, honest fellow, and, if you be the keeper, open their cages, and let me your beasts forth; for I’ll make ‘em know, in the midst of this champian, who Don Quixote is, in spite of those enchanters that sent ’em’. ‘Fie! fie!’ said the gentleman at this instant to himself, ‘our knight shows very well what he is; the curds have softened his skull and ripened his brains.’

By this Sancho came to him and said, ‘For God’s love handle the matter so, sir, that my master meddle not with these lions, for if he do they’ll worry us all.’ ‘Why, is your master so mad,’ quoth the gentleman, ‘that you fear or believe he will fight with wild beasts?’ ‘He is not mad,’ said Sancho, ‘but hardy.’ ‘I’ll make him otherwise,’ said the gentleman; and coming to Don Quixote, that was hastening the keeper to open the cages, said, ‘Sir knight, knights-errant ought to undertake adventures that may give a likelihood of ending them well, and not such as are altogether desperate; for valour grounded upon rashness hath more madness than fortitude. How much more, these lions come not to assail you; they are carried to be presented to his Majesty, and therefore ‘twere not good to stay or hinder their journey.’

‘Pray get you gone, gentle sir,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘and deal with your tame partridge and your murdering ferret, and leave every man to his function; this is mine, and I am sufficient to know whether these lions come against me or no.’ So, turning to the keeper, he cried: ‘By this —! goodman slave,1 if you do not forthwith open the cage, I’ll nail you with my lance to your cart.’

The carter, that perceived the resolution of that armed vision, told him, ‘Signior mine, will you be pleased in charity to let me unyoke my mules, and to put myself and them in safety, before I unsheath my lions? for if they should kill them I am undone all days of my life, for I have no other living but this cart and my mules.’ ‘O thou wretch of little faith!’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘light, and unyoke, and do what thou wilt, for thou shalt see thou mightest have saved a labour.’

The carter alighted, and unyoked hastily, and the keeper cried out aloud, ‘Bear witness, my masters all, that I am forced against my will to open the cages and to let loose the lions, and that I protest to this gentleman that all the harm and mischief that these beasts shall do light upon him; besides that he pay me my wages and due. Shift you, sirs, for yourselves, before I open, for I am sure they’ll do me no hurt.’

The gentleman persuaded him the second time that he should not attempt such a piece of madness, for such a folly was to tempt God. To which Don Quixote answered that he knew what he did. The gentleman replied that he should consider well of it, for he knew he was deceived. ‘Well, sir,’ said Don Quixote, ‘if you will not be a spectator of this which you think tragedy, pray spur your flea-bitten, and put yourself in safety.’ Which when Sancho heard, with tears in his eyes, he beseeched him to desist from that enterprise, in comparison of which that of the windmills was cakebread, and that fearful one also of the fulling-mill, or all the exploits that ever he had done in his life. ‘Look ye, sir,’ said Sancho, ‘here’s no enchantment, nor any such thing; for I have looked thorough the grates and chinks of the cages, and have seen a claw of a true lion, by which claw I guess the lion is as big as a mountain.’

‘Thy fear, at least,’ said Don Quixote, ‘will make him as big as half the world. Get thee out of the way, Sancho, and leave me; and if I die in the place thou knowest our agreement: repair to Dulcinea, and that’s enough.’ To these he added other reasons, by which he cut off all hope of his leaving the prosecution of that foolish enterprise.

He of the green coat would have hindered him, but he found himself unequally matched in weapons, and thought it no wisdom to deal with a madman, for now Don Quixote appeared no otherwise to him, who, hastening the keeper afresh and reiterating his threats, made the gentleman set spurs to his mare, and Sancho to his Dapple, and the carter to his mules, each of them striving to get as far from the cart as they could, before the lions should be unhampered. Sancho bewailed his master’s loss, for he believed certainly that the lion would catch him in his paws; he cursed his fortune, and the time that ever he came again to his master’s service; but, for all his wailing and lamenting, he left not punching of Dapple, to make him get far enough from the cart. The keeper, when he saw those that fled far enough off, began anew to require and intimate to Don Quixote what he had formerly done, who answered that he heard him, and that he should leave his intimations, for all was needless, and that he should make haste.

Whilst the keeper was opening the first cage, Don Quixote began to consider whether it were best to fight on foot or on horseback; and at last he determined it should be on foot, fearing that Rozinante would be afraid to look upon the lions; and thereupon he leaped from his horse, cast by his lance, buckled his shield to him, and unsheathed his sword: fair and softly, with a marvellous courage and valiant heart, he marched toward the cart, recommending himself first to God and then to his lady Dulcinea.

And here it is to be noted that, when the author of the true history came to this passage, he exclaims and cries ‘O strong and beyond all comparison courageous Don Quixote! Thou looking-glass in which all the valiant knights of the world may behold themselves! Thou new and second Don Manuel de Leon, who was the honour and glory of the Spanish knights! With what words shall I recount this fearful exploit, or with what arguments shall I make it credible to ensuing times? Or what praises shall not fit and square with thee, though they may seem hyperboles above all hyperboles? Thou on foot, alone, undaunted, and magnanimous, with thy sword only—and that none of your cutting fox-blades—with a shield, not of bright and shining steel, expectest and attendest two of the fiercest lions that ever were bred in African woods. Let thine own deeds extol thee, brave Manchegan; for I must leave ‘em here abruptly, since I want words to endear them.’

Here the author’s exclamation ceased, and the thread of the story went knitting itself on, saying:—The keeper seeing Don Quixote in his posture, and that he must needs let loose the male lion, on pain of the bold knight’s indignation, he set the first cage wide open, where the lion, as is said, was of an extraordinary bigness, fearful and ugly to see to. The first thing he did was to tumble up and down the cage, stretch one paw, and rouse himself; forthwith he yawned and gently sneezed; then with his tongue, some two handfuls long, he licked the dust out of his eyes, and washed his face, which done he thrust his head out of the cage and looked round about him, with his eyes like fire-coals, a sight and gesture able to make temerity itself afraid. Only Don Quixote beheld him earnestly, and wished he would leap out of the cart, that they might grapple, for he thought to slice him in pieces. Hitherto came the extreme of his not-heard-of madness. But the generous lion, more courteous than arrogant, neglecting such childishness and bravadoes, after he had looked round about him, as is said, turned his back, and showed his tail to Don Quixote, and very quietly lay down again in the cage. Which Don Quixote seeing, he commanded the keeper to give him two or three blows to make him come forth. ‘No, not I,’ quoth the keeper, ‘for if I urge him I shall be the first he will tear in pieces. I pray you, sir knight, be contented with your day’s work, which is as much as could in valour be done, and tempt not a second hazard. The lion’s door was open; he might have come out if he would; but, since he hath not hitherto, he will not come forth all this day. You have well showed the stoutness of your courage; no brave combatant, in my opinion, is tied to more than to defy his enemy and to expect him in field; and, if his contrary come not, the disgrace is his, and he that expected remains with the prize.’

‘True it is,’ answered Don Quixote. ‘Friend, shut the door, and give me a certificate, in the best form that you can, of what you have seen me do here: to wit, that you opened to the lion, that I expected him, and he came not out; that I expected him again, yet all would not do, but he lay down. I could do no more. Enchantments avaunt! God maintain right and truth, and true chivalry! Shut, as I bade you, whilst I make signs to them that are fled that they may know this exploit from thy relation.

The keeper obeyed, and Don Quixote putting his handkerchief on the point of his lance, with which he had wiped the curd-shower from off his face, he began to call those that fled, and never so much as looked behind them, all in a troop, and the gentleman the fore-man; but Sancho, seeing the white cloth, said, ‘Hang me if my master have not vanquished the wild beasts, since he calls us.’ All of them made a stand, and knew it was Don Quixote that made the sign; so, lessening their fear, by little and little they drew near him, till they could plainly hear that he called them. At length they returned to the cart; and Don Quixote said to the carter, ‘Yoke your mules again, brother, and get you on your way: and, Sancho, give him two pistolets in gold, for him and the lion-keeper, in recompense of their stay.’ ‘With a very good will,’ said Sancho. ‘But what’s become of the lions? are they alive or dead?’ Then the keeper fair and softly began to tell them of the bickering, extolling as well as he could Don Quixote’s valour, at whose sight the lion, trembling, would not or durst not sally from the cage, although the door were open a pretty while; and that because he had told the knight that to provoke the lion was to tempt God, by making him come out by force—as he would that he should be provoked in spite of his teeth, and against his will—he suffered the door to be shut. ‘What think you of this, Sancho?’ quoth Don Quixote. ‘Can enchantment now prevail against true valour? Well may enchanters make me unfortunate; but ‘tis impossible they should bereave me of my valour.’

Sancho bestowed the pistolets, and the carter yoked; the keeper took leave of Don Quixote, and thanked him for his kindness, and promised him to relate his valorous exploit to the King himself, when he came to court. ‘Well, if his Majesty chance to ask who it was that did it, tell him “the Knight of the Lions”; for henceforward I will that my name be trucked, exchanged, turned, and changed now from that I had of the Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance; and in this I follow the ancient use of knights-errant, that would change their names when they pleased, or thought it convenient.’

The cart went on its way, and Don Quixote, Sancho, and he in the green held on theirs. In all this while Don Diego de Miranda spoke not a word, being busied in noting Don Quixote’s speeches and actions, taking him to be a wise madman, or a mad man that came somewhat near a wise man. He knew nothing as yet of the first part of his history; for, if he had read that, he would have left admiring his words and deeds, since he might have known the nature of his madness; but, for he knew it not, he held him to be wise and mad by fits; for what he spoke was consonant, elegant, and well delivered, but his actions were foolish, rash, and unadvised. ‘And,’ thought he to himself, ‘what greater madness could there be than to clap on a helmet full of curds, and to make us believe that enchanters had softened his skull? or what greater rashness or foppery than forcibly to venture upon lions?’

Don Quixote drew him from these imaginations, saying, ‘Who doubts, Signior Don Diego de Miranda, but that you will hold me in your opinion for an idle fellow, or a madman? And no marvel that I be held so, for my actions testify no less; for all that, I would have you know that I am not so mad or so shallow as I seem. It is a brave sight to see a goodly knight in the midst of the market-place, before his prince, to give a thrust with his lance to a fierce bull;2 and it is a brave sight to see a knight armed in shining armour pass about the tilt-yard at the cheerful jousts before the ladies; and all those knights are a brave sight that in military exercises, or such as may seem so, do entertain, revive, and honour their princes’ courts; but, above all these, a knight-errant is a better sight, that by deserts and wildernesses, by crossways and woods and mountains, searcheth after dangerous adventures, with a purpose to end them happily and fortunately, only to obtain glorious and lasting fame. A knight-errant, I say, is a better sight, succouring a widow in some desert, than a court knight courting some damosel in the city. All knights have their particular exercises. Let the courtier serve ladies, authorise his prince’s court with liveries, sustain poor gentlemen at his table, appoint jousts, maintain tourneys, show himself noble, liberal, and magnificent, and, above all, religious; and in these he shall accomplish with his obligation. But, for the knight-errant, let him search the corners of the world, enter the most intricate labyrinths, every foot undertake impossibilities, and in the deserts and wilderness let him resist the sunbeams in the midst of summer, and the sharp rigour of the winds and frosts in winter; let not lions fright him, nor spirits terrify him, nor hobgoblins make him quake; for to seek these, to set upon them, and to overcome all, are his prime exercises. And since it fell to my lot to be one of the number of these knights-errant, I cannot but undergo all that I think comes under the jurisdiction of my profession. So that the encountering those lions did directly belong to me, though I knew it to be an exorbitant rashness; for well I know that valour is a virtue betwixt two vicious extremes, as cowardice and rashness; but it is less dangerous for him that is valiant to rise to a point of rashness than to fall or touch upon the coward. For, as it is more easy for a prodigal man to be liberal than a covetous, so it is easier for a rash man to be truly valiant than a coward to come to true valour. And, touching the onset in adventures, believe me, Signior Don Diego, it is better playing a good trump than a small; for it sounds better in the hearer’s ears, “Such a knight is rash and hardy,” than “Such a knight is fearful and cowardly.”’ ‘I say, signior,’ answered Don Diego, ‘that all that you have said and done is levelled out by the line of reason, and I think, if the statutes and ordinances of knight-errantry were lost, they might be found again in your breast, as in their own storehouse and register. And so let us haste, for the day grows on us; let us get to my village and house, where you shall ease yourself of your former labour, which, though it have not been bodily, yet it is mental, which doth often redound to the body’s weariness.’ ‘I thank you for your kind offer, signior,’ quoth Don Quixote; and, spurring on faster, about two of the clock they came to the village and Don Diego’s house, whom Don Quixote styled the Knight of the Green Cassock.

1 Voto a tal.’  When he would seem to swear, but swears by nothing.
2 In Spain they use with horsemen and footmen to course their bulls to death in the market

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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