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 XXVI: Of the Delightful Passage of the Puppet-play,
and other Pleasant Matters


HERE Tyrians and Trojans were all silent—I mean all the spectators of the motion had their ears hanged upon the interpreter’s mouth, that should declare the wonders; by and by there was a great sound of kettle-drums and trumpets, and a volley of great shot within the motion, which passing away briefly, the boy began to raise his voice and to say ‘This true history which is here represented to you is taken word for word out of the French chronicles and the Spanish romaunts, which are in everybody’s mouth, and sung by boys up and down the streets. It treats of the liberty that Signior Don Gayferos gave to Melisendra his wife, that was imprisoned by the Moors in Spain, in the city of Sansuenna, which was then so called, and now Saragosa; and look you there, how Don Gayferos is playing at tables, according to the song,—

“Now Don Gayferos at tables doth play,
Unmindful of Melisendra away.”

And that personage that peeps out there, with a crown on his head and a sceptre in his hand, is the Emperor Charlemain, the supposed father of the said Melisendra, who, grieved with the sloth and neglect of his son-in-law, comes to chide him; and mark with what vehemency and earnestness he rates him, as if he meant to give him half a dozen cons with his sceptre; some authors there be that say he did, and sound ones too. And after he had told him many things concerning the danger of his reputation, if he did not free his spouse, ‘twas said he told him, “I have said enough, look to it.” Look ye, sir, again, how the emperor turns his back, and in what case he leaves Don Gayferos, who, all enraged, flings the tables and the table-men from him, and hastily calls for his armour, and borrows his cousin-german Roldan his sword Durindana, who offers him his company in this difficult enterprise. But the valorous enraged knight would not accept it, saying that he is sufficient to free his spouse, though she were put in the deep centre of the earth. And now he goes in to arm himself for his journey.

‘Now turn your eyes to yonder tower that appears, for you must suppose it is one of the towers of the castle of Saragosa, which is now called the Aliaferia; and that lady that appears in the window, clad in a Moorish habit, is the peerless Melisendra, that many a time looks toward France, thinking on Paris and her spouse, the only comfort in her imprisonment. Behold also a strange accident now that happens, perhaps never the like seen. See you not that Moor that comes fair and softly, with his finger in his mouth, behind Melisendra? Look what a smack he gives her in the midst of her lips, and how suddenly she begins to spit, and to wipe them with her white smock-sleeves, and how she laments, and for very anguish despiteously roots up her fair hairs, as if they were to blame for this wickedness. Mark you also that grave Moor that stands in that open gallery; it is Marsilius, King of Sansuenna, who when he saw the Moor’s sauciness, although he were a kinsman, and a great favourite of his, he commanded him straight to be apprehended, and to have two hundred stripes given him, and to be carried through the chief streets in the city, with minstrels before and rods of justice behind. And look ye how the sentence is put in execution before the fault be scarce committed for your Moors use not, as we do, any legal proceeding.’

‘Child, child,’ cried Don Quixote aloud, ‘on with your story in a direct line, and fall not into your crooks and your transversals; for to verify a thing, I tell you, there had need to be a legal proceeding.’ Then Master Peter too said from within, ‘Boy, fall not you to your flourishes, but do as that gentleman commands you, which is the best course. Sing you your plain-song, and meddle not with the treble, lest you cause the strings break.’

‘I will, master,’ said the boy, and proceeded, saying: ‘He that you see there,’ quoth he, ‘on horseback, clad in a Gascoyne cloak, is Don Gayferos himself, to whom his wife, now revenged on the Moor for his boldness, shows herself from the battlements of the castle, taking him to be some passenger, with whom she passed all the discourse mentioned in the romaunt, that says:

“Friend, if towards France you go,
Ask if Gayferos be there or no.”

The rest I omit, for all prolixity is irksome; ‘tis sufficient that you see there how Don Gayferos discovers himself, and, by Melisendra’s jocund behaviour, we may imagine she knows him, and the rather because now we see she lets herself down from a bay-window to ride away behind her good spouse; but, alas! unhappy creature, one of the skirts of her kirtle hath caught upon one of the iron bars of the window, and she hovers in the air without possibility of coming to the ground. But see how pitiful heavens relieve her in her greatest necessity; for Don Gayferos comes, and, without any care of her rich kirtle, lays hold of it, and forcibly brings her down with him, and at one hoist sets her astride upon his horse’s crupper, and commands her to sit fast, and clap her arms about him, that she fall not; for Melisendra was not used to that kind of riding. Look you how the horse by his neighing shows that he is proud with the burden of his valiant master and fair mistress; look how they turn their backs to the city and merrily take their way toward Paris. Peace be with you, O peerless couple of true lovers! safely may you arrive at your desired country, without fortune’s hindering your prosperous voyage! May your friends and kindred see you enjoy the rest of your years—as many as Nestor’s—peaceably!’

Here Master Peter cried out aloud again, saying, ‘Plainness, good boy; do not you soar so high; this affectation is scurvy.

The interpreter answered nothing, but went on, saying, ‘There wanted not some idle spectators that pry into everything, who saw the going-down of Melisendra, and gave Marsilius notice of it, who straight commanded to sound an alarm; and now behold how fast the city even sinks again with the noise of bells that sound in the high towers of the Mesquits.’1

‘There you are out, boy,’ said Don Quixote, ‘and Master Peter is very improper in his bells; for amongst Moors you have no bells, but kettledrums, and a kind of shaulms that be like our waits; so that your sounding of bells in Sansuenna is a most idle foppery.’ ‘Stand not upon trifles, Signior Don Quixote,’ said Master Peter, ‘and so strictly upon everything, for we shall not know how to please you. Have you not a thousand comedies, ordinarily represented, as full of incongruities and absurdities, and yet they run their career happily, and are heard not only with applause but great admiration also?’ ‘On, boy, say on; and so I fill my purse let there be as many improprieties as motes in the sun.’ ‘You are in the right,’ quoth Don Quixote; and the boy proceeded.

‘Look what a company of gallant knights go out of the city in pursuit of the Catholic lovers: how many trumpets sound, how many shaulms play, how many drums and kettles make a noise! I fear me they, will overtake them, and bring them back both bound to the same horse’s tail, which would be a horrible spectacle.’

Don Quixote seeing and hearing such a deal of Moorism and such a coil, he thought fit to succour those that fled; so, standing up, with a loud voice he cried out, ‘I will never consent, while I live, that in my presence such an outrage as this be offered to so valiant and to so amorous a bold knight as Don Gayferos. Stay, you base scoundrels, do not ye follow or persecute him; if you do, you must first wage war with me.’ So doing and speaking, he unsheathed his sword, and at one frisk he got to the motion, and with an unseen and posting fury he began to rain strokes upon the puppetish Moorism, overthrowing some and beheading others, maiming this and cutting in pieces that; and, amongst many other blows, he fetched one so downright that, had not Master Peter tumbled and squatted down, he had clipped his mazard as easily as if it had been made of marchpane. Master Peter cried out, saying, ‘Hold, Signior Don Quixote, hold; and know that these you hurl down, destroy, and kill are not real Moors, but shapes made of pasteboard. Look you, look ye now, wretch that I am, he spoils all and undoes me.’

But for all this Don Quixote still multiplied his slashes, doubling and redoubling his blows as thick as hops; and, in a word, in less than two credos, he cast down the whole motion, all the tackling first cut to fitters, and all the puppets. King Marsilius was sore wounded, and the Emperor Charlemain his head and crown were parted in two places; the senate and auditors were all in a hurry; and the ape gat up to the top of the house, and so out at the window. The scholar was frighted; the page clean dastarded; and even Sancho himself was in a terrible perplexity, for, as he sware after the storm was past, he never saw his master so outrageous.

The general ruin of the motion thus performed, Don Quixote began to be somewhat pacified, and said, ‘Now would I have all those here at this instant before me, that believe not how profitable knights-errant are to the world; and had not I been now present, what, I marvel, would have become of Signior Don Gayferos and the fair Melisendra? I warrant ere this those dogs would have overtaken and showed them some foul play. When all is done, long live knight-errantry above all things living in the world.’

‘Long live it, on God’s name!’ said Master Peter again with a pitiful voice; ‘and may I die, since I live to be so unhappy as to say with King Don Rodrigo, “Yesterday I was lord of all Spain, but to-day have not a battlement I can call mine.”2 ‘Tis not yet half an hour, scarce half a minute, that I was master of kings and emperors; had my stables, coffers, and bags full of horses and treasure; but now I am desolate, dejected, and poor; and, to add more affliction, without my ape, that before I can catch him again I am like to sweat for it; and all through the unconsiderate furies of this sir knight, who is said to protect the fatherless, to rectify wrongs, and to do other charitable works; but to me only this his generous intention hath been defective, I thank God for it. In fine, it could be none but the Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance that discountenanced me and mine.

Sancho grew compassionate to hear Master Peter’s lamentation, and said, ‘Weep not, nor grieve, Master Peter, for thou breakest my heart; and let me tell thee that my master Don Quixote is so scrupulous and Catholic a Christian that, if he fall into the reckoning that he have done thee any wrong, he knows how, and will satisfy it with much advantage.’ ‘If,’ said Master Peter, ‘Signior Don Quixote would but pay me for some part of the pieces that he hath spoiled, I should be contented, and his worship might not be troubled in conscience; for he that keeps that that is another man’s, against the owner’s will, and restores it not, can hardly be saved.’

‘That’s true,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘but hitherto, Master Peter, I know not whether I have detained aught of yours.’ ‘No? not?’ said Master Peter; ‘why, these poor relics that lie upon the hard and barren earth, who scattered and annihilated them but the invincible force of that powerful arm? And whose were those bodies, but mine? And with whom did I maintain myself but with them?’ ‘Well, I now,’ said Don Quixote, ‘verily believe what I have done often, that the enchanters that persecute me do nothing but put shapes really as they are before mine eyes, and by and by truck and change them at their pleasure. Verily, my masters, you that hear me, I tell you, all that here passed seemed to me to be really so, and immediately; that that Melisendra was Melisendra; Don Gayferos, Don Gayferos; and Marsilius, Marsilius; and Charlemain, Charlemain; and this was it that stirred up my choler; and, to accomplish my profession of knight-errant, my meaning was to succour those that fled; and to this good purpose I did all that you have seen; which if it fell out unluckily, ‘twas no fault of mine, but of my wicked persecutors. Yet for all this error, though it proceeded from no malice of mine, I myself will condemn myself in the charge; let Master Peter see what he will have for the spoiled pieces, and I will pay it all in present current coin of Castile.’

Master Peter made him a low leg, saying, ‘I could expect no less from the unheard-of Christianity of the most valorous Don Quixote de la Mancha, the true succourer and bulwark of all those that be in need and necessity, or wandering vagamunds; and now let the venter and the grand Sancho be arbitrators and price-setters between your worship and me, and let them say what every torn piece was worth.’ The venter and Sancho both agreed; and by and by Master Peter reached up Marsilius, King of Saragosa, headless, and said, ‘You see how impossible it is for this prince to return to his first being, and therefore, saving your better judgments, I think fit to have for him two shillings and three-pence.’ ‘On then,’ quoth Don Quixote. ‘Then for this,’ quoth Master Peter, ‘that is parted from head to foot,’ taking the Emperor Charlemain up, ‘I think two shillings seven-pence halfpenny is little enough.’ ‘Not very little,’ quoth Sancho. ‘Nor much,’ said the venter; ‘but moderate the bargain, and let him have half-a-crown.’ ‘Let him have his full asking,’ said Don Quixote, ‘for for such a mishap as this we’ll ne’er stand upon three halfpence more or less. And make an end quickly, Master Peter, for it is near supper-time, and I have certain suspicions that I shall eat.’ ‘For this puppet,’ said Master Peter, ‘without a nose, and an eye wanting, of the fair Melisendra, I ask but in justice fourteen pence halfpenny.’ ‘Nay, the devil’s in it,’ said Don Quixote, ‘if Melisendra be not now in France, or upon the borders at least, with her husband; for the horse they rode on, to my seeming, rather flew than ran; and therefore sell not me a cat for a coney, presenting me here Melisendra noseless, when she, if the time require it, is wantonly solacing with her husband in France. God give each man his own, Master Peter; let us have plain dealing, and so proceed.’ Master Peter, that saw Don Quixote in a wrong vein, and that he returned to his old theme, thought yet he should not escape him, and so replied, ‘Indeed, this should not be Melisendra, now I think on’t, but some one of the damsels that served her, so that fivepence for her will content me.

Thus he went on pricing of other torn puppets, which the arbitrating judges moderated to the satisfaction of both parties, and the whole prices of all were twenty-one shillings and elevenpence, which when Sancho had disbursed, Master Peter demanded over and above twelvepence for his labour, to look the ape.’ ‘Give it him, Sancho,’ said Don Quixote, ‘not to catch his ape, but a monkey;3 and I would give five pound for a reward to anybody that would certainly tell me that the Lady Melisendra and Don Gayferos were safely arrived in France, amongst their own people.’ ‘None can better tell than my ape,’ said Master Peter, ‘though the devil himself will scarce catch him; yet I imagine, making much of him, and hunger, will force him to seek me to-night, and by morning we shall come together.’

Well, to conclude; the storm of the motion passed, and all supped merrily, and like good fellows, at Don Quixote’s charge, who was liberal in extremity. Before day, the fellow with the lances and halberds was gone, and somewhat after the scholar and the page came to take leave of Don Quixote, the one to return homeward and the other to prosecute his intended voyage; and for a relief Don Quixote gave him six shillings.

Master Peter would have no more to do with him, for he knew him too well. So he got up before the sun, and gathering the relics of the motion together, and his ape, he betook him to his adventures. The venter, that knew not Don Quixote, wondered as much at his liberality as his madness. To conclude, Sancho paid him honestly, by his master’s orders; and taking leave, about eight of the clock they left the vent, and went on their way, where we must leave them; for so it is fit, that we may come to other matters pertaining to the true declaration of this famous history.

1 Mesquitas, Moorish churches.
2 Don Rodrigo was the last king of the Goths that reigned in Spain, conquered by the Moors.
3 As we say, to catch a fox.

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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