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 XXVIII: Of Things that Benengeli relates, which he that reads shall know, if he read them with Attention


WHEN the valiant man turns his back the advantage over him is manifest, and it is the part of wise men to reserve themselves to better occasions: this truth was verified in Don Quixote, who, giving way to the fury of the people and to the ill intentions of that angry squadron, took his heels, and without remembering Sancho, or the danger he left him in, got himself so far as he might seem to be safe. Sancho followed, laid athwart upon his ass, as hath been said; at last he overtook him, being now come to himself; and, coming near, he fell off his Dapple at Rozinante’s feet, all sorrowful, bruised and beaten. Don Quixote alighted to search his wounds; but, finding him whole from top to toe, very angrily he said, ‘You must bray, with a plague to you! and where have you found that ‘tis good naming the halter in the hanged man’s house? To your braying-music what counterpoint could you expect but bat-blows? And, Sancho, you may give God thanks that, since they blessed you with a cudgel, they had not made the per signum crucis on you with a scimitar.’ ‘I know not what to answer,’ quoth Sancho, ‘for methinks I speak at my back. Pray let’s be gone from hence, and I’ll no more braying; yet I cannot but say that your knights-errant can fly and leave their faithful squires to be bruised like privet by their enemies.’ ‘To retire is not to fly,’ said Don Quixote, ‘for know, Sancho, that valour that is not founded upon the basis of wisdom is styled temerity, and the rash man’s actions are rather attributed to good fortune than courage. So that I confess I retired, but fled not, and in this have imitated many valiant men, that have reserved themselves for better times; and histories are full of these, which, because now they would be tedious to me and unprofitable to thee, I relate them not at present.’

By this time Sancho, with Don Quixote’s help, got to horse, and Don Quixote mounted Rozinante, and by little and little they had gotten into a little elm grove, some quarter of a league off. Now and then Sancho would fetch a most deep heigh-ho and dolorous sighs. And, Don Quixote demanding the reason of his pitiful complaints, he said that from the point of his backbone to the top of his crown he was so sore that he knew not what to do. ‘The cause of that pain, undoubtedly,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘is that, as the cudgel with which they banged thee was long and slender, it lighted upon those parts of thy back all along that grieve thee; and if it had been thicker it had grieved thee more.’ ‘Truly,’ quoth Sancho, you have resolved me of a great doubt, and in most delicate terms declared it to me. Body of me! was the cause of my grief so concealed that you must needs tell me that all of me was sore where the cudgel lighted? If my ankles did pain me, I warrant you would riddle the cause of it; but ‘tis poor riddling to tell that my bruising grieves me. I’faith, i’faith, master mine, other men’s ills are slightly regarded; and every day I discover land, and see how little I can expect from your service; for if at this time you suffered me to be dry-beaten, we shall come a hundred and a hundred times to the blanket-tossing you wot of and other childish tricks, which, if they now lighted on my shoulders, they will after come out at mine eyes. It were a great deal better for me, but that I am a beast, and shall never do aught well while I live,—it were a great deal better, I say again, for me to get me home to my wife and children, to maintain and bring them up with that little God hath given me, and not to follow you up and down these byways, drinking ill and eating worse. And for your bed, good honest squire, even count me out seven foot of good earth; and, if you will have any more, take as many more; for you may feed at pleasure, stretch yourself at your ease. I would the first that made stitch in knight-errantry were burned or beaten to powder, or at least he that first would be squire to such fools as all your knights-errant in former times have been; of the present I say nothing, for, yourself being one, I respect them, and because I know that you know an ace more than the devil in all you speak or think.’

‘I durst venture a good wager with thee, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘that now thou talkest and nobody controls thee, thou feelest no pain in all thy body. Talk on, child mine, all that is in thy mind, or comes to thy mouth, for, so thou be’st not grieved, I will be pleased with the distaste that thy impertinencies might give me. And, if you desire so much to be at home with your wife and children, God forbid I should gainsay it; you have money of mine, and see how long ‘tis since our third sally from home, and how much is due to you for every month, and pay yourself.’

‘When I served,’ quoth Sancho, ‘Tome Carrasco, father to the Bachelor Carrasco, whom you know well, I had two ducats a month besides my victuals: of you I know not how much I shall have, though I am sure it is a greater toil to be a squire to a knight-errant than to serve a rich husbandman; for, indeed, we that serve husbandmen, though we labour never so much in the daytime, if the worst come to the worst, at night we sup with the pottage-pot, and lie in a bed, which I have not done ever since I served you, except it were that short time we were at Don Diego de Miranda’s house, and after when I had the cheer of the skimmings of Camacho’s pots, and when I ate and drunk and slept at Basilius his house; all the rest hath been upon the cold ground, to the open air, and subject, as you would say, to the inclemencies of the heavens, only living upon bits of cheese and scraps of bread, and drinking water, sometimes of brooks, sometimes of springs, which we met withal by the ways we went.’

‘I confess, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘that all thou sayst may be true; how much more thinkest thou should I give thee than Tome Carrasco?’ ‘You shall please me, quoth Sancho, ‘with twelvepence more a month, and that concerning my wages for my service; but touching your word and promise you gave me, that I should have the government of an island, it were fit you added the t’other three shillings, which in all make up fifteen.’ ‘It is very well,’ said Don Quixote, ‘and, according to the wages that you have allotted unto yourself, it is now twenty-five days since our last sally. Reckon, Sancho, so much for so much, and see how much is due to you, and pay yourself, as I have bidden you.’ ‘Body of me!’ said Sancho, ‘you are clean out of the reckoning; for, touching the promise of governing the island, you must reckon from the time you promised till this present.’ ‘Why, how long is it,’ quoth he, ‘since I promised it?’ ‘If I be not forgetful,’ said Sancho, ‘it is now some twenty years wanting two or three days.’

Don Quixote gave himself a good clap on the forehead, and began to laugh heartily, saying, ‘Why, my being about Sierra Morena and our whole travels were in less than two months, and dost thou say it was twenty years since I promised thee the island? I am now of opinion that thou wouldst have all the money thou hast of mine consumed in paying thee wages; which if it be so, and that thou art so minded, from henceforward take it, much good may it do thee; for, so I may not be troubled with such a squire, I shall be glad to be poor and without a farthing. But tell me, thou prevaricator of the squirely laws of knight-errantry, where hast thou ever seen or read of any squire belonging to knight-errant that hath capitulated with his master to give him thus much or so much? Launch, launch, thou base lewd fellow, thou hobgoblin—launch, I say, into the mare magnum of their histories; and, if thou find that any squire have said or so much as imagined what thou hast said, I will give thee leave to brand my forehead, and, to boot, to seal me with four tucks in the mouth.1 Turn thy reins or thine ass’s halter, and get thee to thine house; for thou shalt not go a step further with me. O ill-given bread, and ill-placed promises! O man, more beast than man! Now when I thought to have put thee into a fortune, and such a one that, in spite of thy wife, thou shouldst have been styled my lord, thou leavest me; now dost thou go when I had a purpose to have made thee lord of the best island in the world. Well, well, as thou thyself hath said many times, “The honey is not for the ass mouth.” An ass thou art, an ass thou wilt be, and an ass thou shalt die; and till then wilt thou remain so, before thou fallest into the reckoning that thou art a beast.’

Sancho beheld Don Quixote earnestly all the while he thus rated him, and was so moved that the tears stood in his eyes, and with a dolorous low voice he said, ‘Master mine, I confess that to be altogether an ass I want nothing but a tail; if you will put one on me, I will be contented, and will serve you like an ass all days of my life. Pardon me, sir, and pity my youth, and consider my folly; for, if I speak much, it proceeds rather out of simplicity than knavery. “Who errs and mends, to God Himself commends.”’ ‘I would be sorry, little Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘but that thou shouldest mingle some by-pretty proverb in thy dialogue. Well, I’ll pardon thee for this once, upon condition hereafter thou mend, and show not thyself so covetous, but that thou rouse up thy spirits, and encourage thyself with hope of the accomplishment of my promise; for better late than not at all.’ Sancho answered him he would, though it were to make a virtue of necessity.

Hereupon they put into the elm-grove, and Don Quixote got to the foot of an elm, and Sancho to the foot of a beech; for these kind of trees and suchlike have always feet, but no hands. Sancho had an ill night on it; for his bat-blow made him more sensible in the cold. Don Quixote fell into his usual imaginations; yet they both slept, and by day-peep they were on their way, searching after the famous banks of Heber, where they happened upon what shall be told in the ensuing chapter.

1 A trick to give a tuck with the thumb upon one’s lips, as freshmen are used in a university.

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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