Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

Gavilan Spanish Questions or comments  Bibliographic Record Index page Previous page Bottom Next page 

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 XXIII: Of the Admirable Things that the Unparalleled Don Quixote recounted, which he had seen in Montesinos’ Profound Cave, whose Strangeness and Impossibility makes this Chapter be held for Apocrypha


IT was well toward four of the clock, when the sun, covered between two clouds, showed but a dim light, and with his temperate beams gave Don Quixote leave, without heat or trouble, to relate to his two conspicuous auditors what he had seen in Montesinos’ Cave; and he began as followeth:

‘About a twelve or fourteen men’s heights in the profundity of this dungeon, on the right hand, there is a concavity and space able to contain a cart, mules and all; some light there comes into it by certain chinks and loopholes, which answer to it afar off in the superficies of the earth. This space and concavity saw I, when I was weary and angry to see myself hanging by the rope, to go down to that obscure region, without being carried a sure or known way; so I determined to enter into it, and to rest a little. I cried out unto you, that you should let down no more rope till I bade you, but it seemed you heard me not; I went gathering up the rope you let down to me, and, rolling of it up into a heap, sat me down upon it very pensative, thinking with myself what I might do to get to the bottom; and, being in this thought and confusion, upon a sudden, without any former inclination in me, a most profound sleep came upon me, and when I least thought of it, without knowing how, nor which way, I awaked out of it, and found myself in the midst of the fairest, most pleasant, and delightful meadow that ever Nature created, or the wisest human discretion can imagine. I snuffed mine eyes, wiped them, and saw that I was not asleep, but really awake; notwithstanding, I felt upon my head and my breast, to be assured if I were there myself or up in person, or that it were some illusion or counterfeit; but my touching, feeling, and my reasonable discourse that I made to myself certified me that I was then present, the same that I am now. By and by I saw a princely and sumptuous palace or castle, whose walls and battlements seemed to be made of transparent crystal, from whence, upon the opening of two great gates, I saw that there came towards me a reverend old man, clad in a tawny baize frock, that he dragged upon the ground; over his shoulders and breast he wore a tippet of green satin, like your fellows of colleges, and upon his cap a black Milan bonnet, and his hoary beard reached down to his girdle. He had no kind of weapon in his hand, but only a rosary of beads, somewhat bigger than reasonable walnuts, and the credo-beads about the bigness of ostrich-eggs; his countenance, pace, gravity, and his spreading presence, each thing by itself, and altogether, suspended and admired. He came to me, and the first thing he did was to embrace me straitly, and forthwith said: “It is long since, renowned knight, Don Quixote de la Mancha, that we who live in these enchanted deserts have hoped to see thee, that thou mightest let the world know what is contained here, and enclosed in this profound cave which thou hast entered, called Montesinos’ Cave; an exploit reserved only to be attempted by thy invincible heart and stupendious courage. Come with me, thou most illustrious knight, for I will show thee the wonders that this transparent castle doth conceal, of which I am the governor and perpetual chief warder, as being the same Montesinos from whom the cave takes name.” Scarce had he told me that he was Montesinos, when I asked him whether it were true that was bruited here in the world above, that he had taken his great friend Durandarte’s heart out of the midst of his bosom with a little dagger, and carried it to the Lady Belerma, as he willed at the instant of his death. He answered me that all was true, but only that of the dagger; for it was no dagger, but a little stiletto as sharp as a nawl.’

‘Belike,’ quoth Sancho, ‘it was of Ramon de Hozes the Sevillian’s making.’ ‘I know not,’ said Don Quixote; ‘but ‘twas not of that stiletto-maker, for he lived but the other day, and that battle of Roncesvalles, where this accident happened, was many years since. But this averring is of no importance or let, neither alters the truth, or story’s text.’ ‘You say right,’ quoth the scholar, ‘for I hearken with the greatest delight in the world.’

‘With no less do I tell it you,’ said Don Quixote, ‘and proceed. The venerable Montesinos brought me into the crystalline palace, where in a low hall, exceeding fresh and cool, all of alabaster, was a great sepulchre of marble, made with singular art, upon which I saw a knight laid at length, not of brass, marble, or jasper, as you use to have in other tombs, but of pure flesh and bone; he held his right hand (which was somewhat hairy and sinewy, a sign that the owner was very strong) upon his heart side; and before I asked Montesinos aught, that saw me in suspense, beholding the tomb, he said: “This is my friend Durandarte, the flower and mirror of chivalry, of the enamoured and valiant knights of his time; he is kept here enchanted, as myself and many more knights and ladies are, by Merlin, that French enchanter who, they say,1 was son to the devil; but, as I believe, he was not so, only he knew more than the devil. Why or how he enchanted us, nobody knows, which the times will bring to light, that I hope are not far off; all that I admire is, since I know for certain, as it is now day, that Durandarte died in my arms, and that after he was dead I took out his heart (and surely it weighed above two pounds; for, according to natural philosophy, he that hath the biggest heart is more valiant than he that hath but a less), which being so, and that this knight died really how he complains and sighs sometimes as if he were alive.” Which said, the wretched Durandarte, crying out aloud, said, “O my cousin Montesinos, the last thing that I requested you when I was dying, and my soul departing, was that you would carry my heart to Belerma, taking it out of my bosom, either with poniard or dagger.” Which when the venerable Montesinos heard, he kneeled before the’ grieved knight, and with tears in his eyes said, “Long since, O Durandarte, long since, my dearest cousin, I did what you enjoined me in that bitter day of our loss. I took your heart, as well as I could, without leaving the least part of it in your breast; I wiped it with a laced handkerchief, and posted with it towards France, having first laid you in the bosom of the earth, with so many tears as was sufficient to wash my hands, or to wipe off the blood from them which I had gotten by stirring them in your entrails; and, for more assurance ‘that I did it, my dearest cousin, at the first place I came to from Roncesvalles, I cast salt upon your heart, that it might not stink, and might be fresh and embalmed when it should come to the presence of the Lady Belerma, who with you and me, Guadiana your squire, the waiting-woman Ruydera, and her seven daughters, and her two nieces, and many other of your acquaintances and friends, have been enchanted here by Merlin, that wizard, long since; and, though it be above five hundred years ago, yet none of us is dead; only Ruydera, her daughters and nieces are wanting, whom, by reason of their lamentation, Merlin, that had compassion on them, turned them into so many lakes now living in the world; and in the province of Mancha they are called the lakes of Ruydera; seven belong to the Kings of Spain, and the two nieces to the Knights of the most Holy Order of Saint John. Guadiana your squire, wailing in like manner this mishap, was turned into a river that bore his own name, who, when he came to the superficies of the earth, and saw the sun in another heaven, such was his grief to have left you that he straight plunged him self into the entrails of the earth; but, as it is not possible for him to leave his natural current, sometimes he appears and shows himself where the sun and men may see him. The afore said lakes do minister their waters to him, with which, and many others, he enters Portugal in pomp; but, which way soe’er he goes, he shows his sorrow and melancholy, and contemns the breeding of dainty fish in his waters and such as are esteemed, but only muddy and unsavoury, far differing from those of golden Tagus. And what I now tell you, cousin mine, I have told you often, and, since you answer me nothing, I imagine you either believe me not, or not hear me, for which God knows I am heartily sorry. One news I will let you know, which, though perhaps it may not any way lighten your grief, yet it will no way increase it. Know that you have here in your presence—open your eyes and you shall see him—that famous knight of whom Merlin prophesied such great matters, that Don Quixote de la Mancha, I say, that now newly, and more, happily than former ages, hath raised the long-forgotten knight-errantry, by whose means and favour it may be that we also may be disenchanted; for great exploits are reserved for great personages.” “And if it be otherwise,” answered the grieved Durandarte, with a faint and low voice, “if it be otherwise, O cousin, I say, patience and shuffle”;2 and, turning on one side, he returned to his accustomed silence, without speaking one word.

‘By this we heard great howling and moan, accompanied with deep sighs and short-breathed accents: I turned me about and saw that in another room there came passing by the crystal waters a procession of a company of most beautiful damsels, in two ranks, all clad in mourning, with turbants upon their heads, after the Turkish fashion; at last, and in the end of the ranks, there came a lady, who by her majesty appeared so, clothed in like manner in black, with a white dressing on her head, so large that it kissed the very ground. Her turban was twice as big as the biggest of the rest; she was somewhat beetle-browed, flat-nosed, wide-mouthed, but red-lipped; her teeth, for sometimes she discovered them, seemed to be thin and not very well placed, though they were as white as blanched almonds; in her hand she carried a fine cloth, and within it, as might be perceived, a mummied heart, by reason of the dry embalming of it. Montesinos told me that all those in that procession were servants to Durandarte and Belerma, that were there enchanted with their masters; and that she that came last with the linen cloth and the heart in her hand was the Lady Belerma, who, together with her damsels, four days in the week did make that procession, singing, or, to say truer, howling their dirges over the body and grieved heart of his cousin; and if now she appeared somewhat foul to me, or not so fair as fame hath given out, the cause was her bad nights, but worse days, that she endured in that enchantment, as I might see by her deep-sunk eyes and her broken complexion. “And her monthly disease is not the cause of these (an ordinary thing in women), for it is many months since, and many years, that she hath not had it, nor known what it is, but the grief that she hath in her own heart, for that she carries in her hand continually, which renews and brings to her remembrance the unfortunateness of her luckless lover; for, if it were not for this, scarce would the famous Dulcinea del Toboso equal her in beauty, wit, or liveliness, that is so famous in the Mancha, and all the world over. “Not too fast,” then said I, “Signior Don Montesinos; on with your story as befits; for you know all comparisons are odious, and so leave your comparing: the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso is what she is, and the Lady Belerma is what she is and hath been; and let this suffice.” To which he answered, “Pardon me, Signior Don Quixote; for I confess I did ill, and not well, to say the Lady Dulcinea would scarce equal the Lady Belerma, since it had been sufficient that I understood—I know not by what aim—that you are her knight, enough to have made me bite my tongue, before I had compared her with anything but heaven itself.” With this satisfaction that Montesinos gave me, my heart was free from that sudden passion I had, to hear my mistress compared to Belerma.’

‘And I marvel,’ said Sancho, ‘that you got not to the old carle and banged his bones and pulled his beard, without leaving him a hair in it.’ ‘No, friend Sancho,’ said he; ‘it was not fit for me to do so; for we are all bound to reverence our elders, although they be no knights, and most of all when they are so, and are enchanted. I know well enough I was not behindhand with him in other questions and answers that passed between us.’

Then said the scholar, ‘I know not, Signior Don Quixote, how you in so little time as it is since you went down have seen so many things, and spoken and answered so much.’ ‘How long is it,’ quoth he, ‘since I went down?’ ‘A little more than an hour,’ said Sancho. ‘That cannot be,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘because it was morning and evening, and evening and morning, three times; so that, by my account, I have been three days in those parts so remote and hidden from our sight.’ ‘Surely my master,’ quoth Sancho, ‘is in the right; for, as all things that befal him are by way of enchantment, so perhaps that which appears to us but an hour is to him there three nights and three days.’ ‘He hath hit it,’ said Don Quixote. ‘And have you eat, sir, in all this time?’ quoth the scholar. ‘Not a bit,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘neither have I been hungry, or so much as thought of eating.’ ‘And the enchanted, eat they?’ said the scholar. ‘No,’ said he, ‘neither are they troubled with your greater excrements, although it be probable that their nails, their beards, and their hairs grow.’ ‘Sleep they haply?’ said Sancho. ‘No, indeed,’ said Don Quixote; ‘at least, these three days that I have been with them, not one of them hath closed his eyes, nor I neither.’ ‘That fits the proverb,’ quoth Sancho, ‘which says, “You shall know the person by his company.” You have been amongst the enchanted, and those that watch and fast; no marvel, therefore, though you neither slept nor eat whilst you were amongst them. But pray, sir, pardon me if I say, God—or the devil, I was about to say—take me, if I believe a word of all this you have spoken.’ ‘Why not?’ said the scholar. ‘Do you think Signior Don Quixote would lie to us; for, though he would, he hath not had time to compose or invent such a million of lies?’ ‘I do not believe,’ quoth Sancho, ‘that my master lies.’ ‘But what do you believe, then?’ quoth Don Quixote. ‘Marry, I believe,’ said Sancho, ‘that that Merlin, or those enchanters, that enchanted all that rabble that you say you have seen and conversed with there below, clapped into your apprehension or memory all this machine that you have told us, and all that remains yet to be told.’ ‘All this may be, Sancho,’ said Don Quixote; ‘but ‘tis otherwise; for what I have told I saw with these eyes, and felt with these hands. But what wilt thou say when I shall tell thee that amongst infinite other matters and wonders that Montesinos showed me, which at more leisure and at fitting time in process of our journey I shall tell thee, he showed me three country—wenches, that went leaping and frisking up and down those pleasant fields, like goats? and I scarce saw them when I perceived the one was the peerless Dulcinea, and the other two the selfsame that we spoke to when we left Toboso. I asked Montesinos whether he knew them, who answered me, not; but that sure they were some ladies of quality there enchanted, that but lately appeared in those fields; and that it was no wonder, for that there were many others of former times, and these present, that were enchanted in strange and different shapes, amongst whom he knew Queen Guinivere, and her woman Quintaniona, filling Lansarote’s cups when he came from Britain.’

When Sancho heard his master thus far, it made him stark mad, and ready to burst with laughter; for by reason that he knew the truth of Dulcinea’s enchantment, as having been himself the enchanter, and the raiser of that tale, he did undoubtedly ratify his belief that his master was mad and out of his wits; and so told him, ‘In an ill time, and dismal day, patron mine, went you down into the other world, and at an ill season met with Signior Montesinos, that hath returned you in this pickle; you were well enough here above, in your right senses as God hath given them you, uttering sentences and giving good counsel every foot, and not, as now, telling the greatest unlikelihoods that can be imagined.’ ‘Because I know thee, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘I make no account of thy words.’ ‘Nor I of yours,’ said he; ‘you may strike or kill me if you will, either for those I have spoken or those I mean to speak, if you do not correct and amend yourself. But pray tell me, sir, whilst we are at quiet, how knew you it was our mistress. Spoke you to her? What said she? And what answered you?’

‘I knew her,’ said Don Quixote, ‘by the same clothes she had on at such time as thou show’dst her me. I spoke to her, but she gave me not a word, but turned her back, and scudded away so fast that a flight would not have overtaken her. I meant to have followed her, and had done it, but that Montesinos told me it was in vain, and the rather, because it was now high time for me to return out of the cave. He told me likewise that in process of time he would let me know the means of disenchanting Durandarte, and Belerma, and himself, together with all the rest that were there. But that which most grieved me was, that whilst I was thus talking with Montesinos, one of the unfortunate Dulcinea’s companions came on one side of me, I not perceiving it, and, with tears in her eyes and hollow voice, said to me, “My Lady Dulcinea del Toboso commends her to you, and desires to know how you do; and withal, because she is in great necessity, she desires you with all earnestness that you would be pleased to lend her three shillings upon this new cotton petticoat that I bring you, or what you can spare, for she will pay you again very shortly.” This message held me in suspense and admiration; so that, turning to Signior Montesinos, I asked him, “Is it possible, Signior, that those of your better sort that be enchanted are in want?” To which he answered, “Believe me, Signior Don Quixote, this Necessity rangeth and extends itself everywhere, and overtakes all men, neither spares she the enchanted; and therefore, since the Lady Dulcinea demands these three shillings of you, and that the pawn seems to be good, lend them her, for sure she is much straitened.” “I will take no pawn,” quoth I, “neither can I lend what she requires, for I have but two shillings.” These I gave, which were the same, Sancho, that thou gayest me t’other day for alms to the poor we met; and I told the maid, “Friend, tell your mistress that I am sorry with all my heart for her wants, and I would I were a Fucar3 to relieve them; and let her know that I neither can nor may have health, wanting her pleasing company and discreet conversation; and that I desire her, as earnestly as may be, that this her captive servant and way-beaten knight may see and treat with her. You shall also say, that when she least thinks of it she shall hear say that I have made an oath and vow, such as was the Marquis his of Mantua, to revenge his nephew Baldwine, when he found him ready to give up the ghost in the midst of the mountain, which was, not to eat his meat with napkins, and other flim-flams added thereunto, till he had revenged his death; and so swear I, not to be quiet till I have travelled all the seven partitions of the world, more punctually than Prince Don Manuel of Portugal, till I have disenchanted her.” “All this and more you owe to my mistress,” said the damsel; and, taking the two shillings, instead of making me a courtesy, she fetched a caper two yards high in the air.

 Sancho cried out, ‘and is it possible that enchanters and enchantments should so much prevail upon him as to turn his right understanding into such a wild madness? Sir, sir, for God’s love have a care of yourself, and look to your credit; believe not in these bubbles that have lessened and crazed your wits.’ ‘Out of thy love, Sancho, thou speakest this,’ said Don Quixote; ‘and, for want of experience in the world, all things that have never so little difficulty seem to thee to be impossible: but time will come, as I have told thee already, that I shall relate some things that I have seen before, which may make thee believe what I have said, which admits no reply or controversy.’

1 For so I translate it, to show the author’s mistake.
Patiencia y baraiar;  a metaphor taken from card-players, who, when they lose, cry to the dealer, Patience, and shuffle the cards.
3 Fucares were a rich family and name in Germany that maintained a bank of moneys in Spain, and still used to furnish Philip the Second with moneys in his wars.

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

Gavilan Spanish Questions or comments Bibliographic Record Index page Previous page Top Next page