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 XXIV: Where are recounted a Thousand Flim-flams, as impertinent as necessary to the Understanding of this Famous History


THE translator of this famous history out of his original, written by Cid Hamet Benengeli, says that, when he came to the last chapter going before, these words were written in the margin by the same Hamet: ‘I cannot believe or be persuaded that all that is written in the antecedent chapter happened so punctually to the valorous Don Quixote; the reason is, because all adventures hitherto have been accidental and probable; but this of the cave, I see no likelihood of the truth of it, as being so unreasonable: yet to think Don Quixote would lie, being the worthiest gentleman and noblest knight of his time, is not possible, for he would not lie though he were shot to death with arrows. On the other side, I consider that he related it with all the aforesaid circumstances, and that in so short a time he could not frame such a machina of fopperies; and, if this adventure seem to be apocrypha, the fault is not mine; so that, leaving it indifferent, I here set it down. Thou, O reader, as thou art wise, judge as thou thinkest good, for I can do no more; though one thing be certain, that when he was upon his deathbed he disclaimed this adventure, and said that he had only invented it because it suited with such as he had read of in his histories. So he proceeds, saying:

The scholar wondered as well at Sancho’s boldness as his master’s patience; but he thought that by reason of the joy that he received in having seen his mistress Dulcinea, though enchanted, that softness of condition grew upon him; for, had it been otherwise, Sancho spoke words that might have grinded him to powder, for in his opinion he was somewhat saucy with his master, to whom he said: ‘Signior Don Quixote, I think the journey that I have made with you very well employed, because in it I have stored up four things: the first is the having known yourself; which I esteem as a great happiness; the second, to have known the secrets of this Montesinos’ Cave, with the transformations of Guadiana and Ruydera’s lakes, which may help me in my Spanish Ovid I have in hand; the third is, to know the antiquity of card-playing, which was used at least in time of the Emperor Charles the Great, as may be collected out of the words you say Durandarte used, when, after a long speech between him and Montesinos, he awakened saying, “Patience and shuffle” (and this kind of speaking he could not learn when he was enchanted, but when he lived in France, in time of the aforesaid emperor); and this observation comes in pudding-time for the other book that I am making, which is my Supply to Polydore Virgil in the Invention of Antiquities; and I believe in his he left out cards, which I will put in, as a matter of great importance, especially having so authentic an author as Signior Durandarte. The fourth is to have known for a certain the true spring of the river Guadiana, which hath hitherto been concealed.’

‘You have reason,’ said Don Quixote; ‘but I would fain know of you, now that it hath pleased God to give you abilities to print your books, to whom will you direct them?’ ‘You have lords and grandees1 in Spain,’ said the scholar, ‘to whom I may direct them.’ ‘Few of them,’ said Don Quixote; ‘not because they do not deserve the dedications, but because they will not admit of them, not to oblige themselves to the satisfaction that is due to the author’s pains and courtesy. One prince I know that may supply the deserts of the rest, with such advantage that, should I speak of it, it might stir up envy in some noble breasts; but let this rest till some fit time, and let us look out where we may lodge to-night.’ ‘Not far from hence,’ said the scholar, ‘there is a hermitage, where dwells a hermit that they say hath been a soldier, and is thought to be a good Christian, and very discreet and charitable. Beside the hermitage, he hath a little house which he hath built at his own charge; yet, though it be little, it is fit to receive guests. ‘Bath he any hens, trow?’ said Sancho. ‘Few hermits are without ‘em,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘for your hermits nowadays are not like those that lived in the deserts of Egypt, that were clad in palm-leaves, and lived upon the roots of the earth; but mistake me not, that because I speak well of them I should speak ill of these, only the penitency of these times comes not near those; yet, for aught I know, all are good, at least I think so; and, if the worst come to the worst, your hypocrite that feigns himself good doth less hurt than he that sins in public.’

As they were thus talking they might espy a footman coming towards them, going apace, and beating with his wand a he-mule laden with lances and halberds. When he came near them he saluted them and passed on; but Don Quixote said to him, ‘Honest fellow, stay, for methinks you make your mule go faster than needs.’ ‘I cannot stay, sir,’ said he, ‘because these weapons that you see I carry must be used to-morrow morning, so I must needs go on my way. Farewell; but, if you will know why I carry them, I shall lodge to-night in the vent2 above the hermitage; and, if you go that way; there you shall have me, and I will tell you wonders; and so once more, farewell.’ So the mule pricked on so fast that Don Quixote had no leisure to ask him what wonders they were; and as he was curious, and always desirous of novelties, he took order that they should presently go and pass that night in the vent, without touching at the hermitage, where the scholar would have stayed that night.

So all three of them mounted, and went toward the vent, whither they reached somewhat before it grew dark, and the scholar invited Don Quixote to drink a sup by the way at the, hermitage, which as soon as Sancho heard, he made haste with Dapple, as did Don Quixote and the scholar likewise; but, as Sancho’s ill-luck would have it, the hermit was not at home, as was told them by the under-hermit. They asked him whether he had any of the dearer sort of wine, who answered his master had none, but, if they would have any cheap water, he would give it them with a good will. ‘If my thirst would be quenched with water, we might have had ‘wells to drink at by the way. Ah, Camacho’s marriage and Don Diego’s plenty, how oft shall I miss you!’

Now they left the hermitage, and spurred toward the vent, and a little before them they overtook a youth that went not very fast before them; so they overtook him. He had a sword upon his shoulder, and upon it, as it seemed, a bundle of clothes, as breeches and cloak and a shirt — for he wore a velvet jerkin that had some kind of remainder of satin, and his shirt hung out — his stockings were of silk, and his shoes square at toe, after the court fashion; he was about eighteen years of age, and active of body to see to; to pass the tediousness of the way, he went singing short pieces of songs, and as they came near him he made an end of one, which the scholar, they say, learned by heart, and it was this:

‘To the wars I go for necessity,
At home would I tarry if I had money.’

Don Quixote was the first that spoke to him, saying, ‘You go very naked, sir gallant; and whither, a God’s name? Let’s know, if it be your pleasure to tell us?’ To which the youth answered, ‘Heat and poverty are the causes that I walk so light, and my journey is to the wars.’ ‘Why for poverty?’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘for heat it may well be.’ ‘Sir,’ said the youth, ‘I carry in this bundle a pair of slops, fellows to this jerkin; if I wear ‘em by the way, I shall do myself no credit with them when I come to any town, and I have no money to buy others with; so as well for this as to air myself I go till I can overtake certain companies of foot, which are not above twelve leagues from hence, where I shall get me a place, and shall not want carriages to travel in, till I come to our embarking-place, which, they say, must be in Cartagina, and I had rather have the king to my master and serve him, than any beggarly courtier.’ ‘And pray tell me, have you any extraordinary pay?’ said the scholar ‘Had I served any grandee, or man of quality,’ said the youth, ‘no doubt I should; for that comes by your serving good masters, that out of the scullery men come to be lieutenants or captains, or to have some good pay; but I always had the ill luck to serve your shagrags and upstarts, whose allowance was so bare and short that one half of it still was spent in starching me a ruff, and it is a miracle that one venturing page amongst a hundred should ever get any reasonable fortune.’ ‘But tell me, friend,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘is it possible that in all the time you served you never got a livery?’ ‘Two,’ said the page; ‘but, as he that goes out of a monastery before he professeth hath his habit taken from him, and his clothes given him back, so my masters returned me mine, when they had ended their businesses for which they came to the court, and returned to their own homes, and withheld their liveries which they had only showed for ostentation.’

‘A notable Espilorcheria,3 as saith your Italian,’ quoth Don Quixote. ‘For all that, think yourself happy that you are come from the court with so good an intention, for there is nothing in the world better nor more profitable than to serve God first, and next your prince and natural master, especially in the practice of arms, by which, if not more wealth, yet at least more honour, is obtained than by learning; as I have said many times, that though learning hath raised more houses than arms, yet your swordmen have a kind of I know not what advantage above scholars, with a kind of splendour that doth advantage them over all. And bear in your mind what I shall now tell you, which shall be much for your good and much lighten you in your travels; that is, not to think upon adversity, for the worst that can come is death, which if it be a good death, the best fortune of all is to die. Julius Caesar, that brave Roman emperor being asked which was the best death, answered, “A sudden one, and unthought of”; and, though he answered like a Gentile, and void of the knowledge of the true God, yet he said well, to save human feeling a labour; for say you should be slain in the first skirmish, either with cannon-shot or blown up with a mine, what matter is it? All is but dying, and there’s an end; and, as Terence says, a soldier slain in the field shows better than alive and safe in flight; and so much the more famous is a good soldier, by how much he obeys his captains and those that may command him. And mark, child, it is better for a soldier to smell of his gunpowder than of civet; and when old age comes upon you in this honourable exercise, though you be full of scars, maimed or lame, at least you shall not be without honour, which poverty cannot diminish; and, besides, there is order taken now that old and maimed soldiers may be relieved; neither are they dealt withal like those men’s negars, that when they are old and can do their masters no service, they (under colour of making them free) turn them out of doors and make them slaves to hunger, from which nothing can free them but death.4 And for this time I will say no more to you, but only get up behind me till you come to the vent, and there you shall sup with me, and to-morrow take your journey, which God speed as your desires deserve.’

The page accepted not of his invitement to ride behind him; but for the supper he did. And at this season, they say, Sancho said to himself; ‘Lord defend thee, master! And is it possible that a man that knows to speak such, so many, and so good things as he hath said here should say he hath seen such impossible fooleries as he hath told us of Montesinos’ Cave? Well, we shall see what will become of it.’

And by this they came to the vent just as it was night, for which Sancho was glad, because too his master took it to be a true vent, and not a castle, as he was wont. They were no sooner entered when Don Quixote asked the venter5 for the man with the lances and halberds, who answered him he was in the stable looking to his moil. Sancho and the scholar did the same to their asses, giving Don Quixote’s Rozinante the best manger and room in the stable.

1 A name given to men of title, as dukes, marquises, or earls, in Spain, whose only privilege is to stand covered before the king.
Ventas places in Spain, in barren unpeopled parts, for lodging, like our beggarly alehouses upon the highways.
3 Cullionry.
4 He describes the right subtle and cruel nature of his damned countrymen.
5 Ventero,
the master of the vent.

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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