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 XLVIII: What happened to Don Quixote with Donna Rodriguez, the Duchess’s Waiting-Woman; with other Successes, worthy to be written, and had in Eternal Remembrance

 

THE ill-wounded Don Quixote was exceeding musty and melancholy, with his face bound up, and scarred not by the hand of God, but by the nails of a cat (misfortunes annexed to knight-errantry). Six days passed ere he came abroad; in one of which, in a night, when he was awake, and watching, thinking upon his mishaps, and his being persecuted by Altisidora, he perceived that somebody opened his chamber door with a key, and straight he imagined that the enamoured damsel came to set upon his honesty, and to put him to the hazard of foregoing his loyalty due to his mistress Dulcinea del Toboso. ‘No,’ said he, believing in his imagination, and this so loud that he might easily be heard, ‘no beauty in the world shall make me leave her that is graved and stamped in the midst of my heart and in my innermost entrails; be thou, mistress mine, either transformed into an onion-like husbandwoman, or into a nymph of the golden Tagus weaving webs made of silk and gold twist; be thou in Merlin’s power, or in Montesinos his, where’er they will have thee; for wheresoever thou art, thou art mine; and wheresoever I am, I will be thine.’ His speech ended and the door opened both together.

Up he stood upon the bed, wrapped from head to foot in a quilt of yellow satin, a woollen cap upon his head, his face and mustachoes bound up, his face for his scratches, his mustachoes because they should not dismay or fall down, in which posture he looked like the strangest apparition that can be imagined.

He nailed his very eyes upon the door; and whereas he thought to have seen the vanquished and pitiful Altisidora enter, he saw that it was a most reverend matron, with a long white gathered stole, so long that it did cover and bemantle her from head to foot; betwixt her left-hand fingers she had half a candle lighted, and with her right hand she shadowed herself, to keep the light from her eyes, which were hid with a great pair of spectacles; she came treading softly, and moving her feet gently.

Don Quixote from his watch-tower beheld her, and when he saw her furniture, and noted her silence, he thought it had been some hag or magician, which came in that shape to do him some shrewd turn, and he began apace to bless himself.

The vision came somewhat nearer, but being in the midst of the chamber, she lifted up her eyes, and saw with what haste Don Quixote was crossing himself; and, if he were afraid to see such a shape, she was no less affrighted with his, for seeing him so lank and yellow in the quilt, and with the bands that disfigured him, she cried out, saying, ‘Jesus, what’s this?’ and, with the sudden fright, the candle dropped out of her hand, and being in the dark, she turned her back to be gone, but, for fear, stumbled upon her coats, and had a sound fall.

Don Quixote, timorous, began to say, ‘I conjure thee, Apparition, or whatso’er thou art, to tell me who thou art, and what thou wilt have with me. If thou be’st a soul in purgatory, tell me, and I will do what I am able for thee; for I am a Catholic Christian, and love to do good to all the world; for for this cause I took upon me the order of knight-errant, which I profess, whose practice extends even to do good to the souls in purgatory.’

The broken matron, that heard herself thus conjured by her fear guessed at Don Quixote’s, and, with a low and pitiful voice, she answered him, ‘Signior Don Quixote (if you be he I mean), I am no apparition, nor vision, nor soul of purgatory, as you have thought; but Donna Rodriguez, my lady the duchess’s honoured matron, that come to you with a case of necessity of those that you usually give redress to.’

‘Tell me, Donna Rodriguez,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘come you happily about some piece of brokage? For let me tell you, if you do, there’s no good to be done with me for anybody, thanks to the peerless beauty of my mistress Dulcinea del Toboso. So that, let me tell you, Donna Rodriguez, setting aside all amorous messages, you may go light your candle again, and return, and impart what you will command me, and anything you please, excepting, I say, all kind of inciting niceties.’

‘I, sir, messages from anybody? You know not me, i’ faith; I am not so stale yet that I should fall to those trifles; for, God be praised, I have life and flesh, and all my teeth and my grinders in my mouth, except some few, that the catarrhs which are so common in this country of Aragon have usurped on. But stay a little, sir; I’ll go out and light my candle, and I’ll come in an instant, and relate my griefs to you as to the redresser of all such-like in the world.’

And so, without staying for an answer, she left the room, where Don Quixote remained still and pensative, expecting her; but straight a thousand imaginations came into his mind, touching this new adventure, and he thought it would be very ill done, or worse imagined, to endanger the breach of his vowed loyalty to his mistress, and said to himself, ‘Who knows whether the devil, that is so subtle and crafty, may deceive me now with this matron? which he hath not been able to do with em-presses, queens, duchesses, marquesses; and I have heard say often, by many well-experienced men, that he will rather make a man sin with a foul than a fair one; and who knows whether this privacy, this opportunity and silence, may not awake my desires now sleeping, and that now in my old age I may fall, where I never stumbled? in such-like chances ‘tis better fly than try the combat. But sure I am out of my wits, since I talk thus idly; and sure it is not possible that a white-stoled, lank, spectacled matron should move or stir up a lascivious thought in the ungodliest breast in the world. Is there any matron in the world that hath soft flesh? Is there any that is not foolish, nice, and coy? Avaunt, then, you matronly troops, unprofitable for man’s delight! How well did that lady, of whom it was observed that she had two matrons statue-ways of wood, with their spectacles and pin-pillows, at the end of her seat of state, as if they had been at work! and those statues served as well to authorise her room as if they had been real matrons.’

And this said, he flung from the bed to have shut the door and not have let Mistress Rodriguez come in; but, as he was going to do it, she was come back with her candle lighted of white wax; and when she saw Don Quixote near her, wrapped in his quilt, his bands, his woollen cap, and a thick cloth about his neck, she began to fear again; and, stepping two or three steps backward, she asked, ‘Am I safe, sir knight? For I hold it not a very honest sign that you are up from your bed.’ “Twere fit I asked that question of you,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘and therefore let me know whether I shall be free from ravishing?’ ‘By whom?’ quoth she. ‘By you,’ said Don Quixote; ‘for neither am I of marble or you of brass; neither is it now ten a-clock at day-time, but midnight and something more, as I think; and we are in a more secret and close couch than the cave in which the bold, traitorous Aeneas enjoyed the fair and pitying Dido; but give me your hand, mistress, and I’ll have no other assurance than mine own continency and wariness’; and in saying this, he kissed her right hand, and she laid hold of his, which she gave him with the same solemnity.

Here Cid Hamet makes a parenthesis, and earnestly protesteth he would have given the best coat he had to have seen them both go so joined and linked from the chamber door to the bed.

In fine, Don Quixote went to his bed, and Donna Rodriguez sat down in a chair a pretty way from it, without taking off her spectacles or setting down the candle. Don Quixote crowded up together, and covered himself all over, leaving nothing but his face uncovered; so both of them being quiet, the first that broke off their silence was Don Quixote, saying, ‘Now, Mistress Rodriguez, you may unrip yourself, and dismaw all that you have in your troubled heart and grieved entrails, which shall be heard by my chaste ears, and relieved with my pious works.’

‘I believe no less,’ said the matron, ‘for from your gentle and pleasing presence there could not be but a Christian answer expected. Thus, then, it is, Signior Don Quixote, that though you see me set in this chair, and in the midst of the kingdom of Aragon, in the habit of a poor and waybeaten matron, I was born in the Asturias1 and kingdom of Oviedo, and of a lineage allied to the best of that province; but my hard fortune, and my father’s lavishing, that grew to be a beggar before his time, God knows how, brought me to the court at Madrid, where very quietly, and to avoid other inconveniences, my friends placed me to serve as a chambermaid to a worthy lady; and, though I say it, that for white-work, hemming and stitching, I was never yet put down in all my life. My friends left me at service, and returned homeward, and not long after went, in likelihood, to heaven, for they were wonderful good Catholic Christians; thus was I an orphan, and stinted to the miserable wages and hard allowance that at court is given to such kind of servants; and at that time, I not giving any occasion thereto, a squire of the house fell in love with me, somewhat an elderly man, big-bearded and personable, and above all, as good a gentleman as the king; for he was of the mountains. We kept not our loves so close but that they came to my lady’s ears, who, without any more ado, with full consent of our Holy Mother the Catholic Roman Church, caused us to be married; by which matrimony, to end my good fortune, if I had any, I had a daughter, if I had any, I say, it was ended; not that I died of childbed, for I miscarried not, but that my husband not long after died of a fright he had, and had I time now to tell you of it, ‘twould admire you’; and with this, she began to weep most tenderly, and said, ‘Pardon me, Signior Don Quixote, for I cannot do withal; as often as I remember my unfortunate husband the tears trickle down mine eyes. Lord God! and how stately he would carry my lady behind him, upon a lusty black mule, as black as jet; for then they used no coaches nor hand-chairs, as now they say they do, and then gentlewomen rode behind their squires; and I cannot but tell you this tale, that you may see the punctualness and good manners of my husband.

‘As he was going in at St Jaques’ Street in Madrid, which was somewhat narrow, a judge of the court, with two sergeants before him, was coming out; and as soon as my honest squire saw him, he turned his mule’s reins, making show as if he would wait upon him. My lady, that rode behind, asked him softly, “What dost thou, knave? Dost not see that I am here?” The judge very mannerly laid hold on his rein, and said, “Keep your way, sir, for it were fitter for me to wait upon my lady Casilda,” for that was my lady’s name. Yet still my husband was earnest, with his cap in his hand, and would have waited on the judge; which when my lady saw, full of wrath and anger, she pulled out a great pin, or rather, as I believe, a little bodkin out of her estoises, and thrust him into the rump; insomuch that my husband cried out, and, wriggling his body, my lady and he came to the ground together.

‘Two of her lackeys came to raise her, and the judge and the sergeants likewise; the gate of Guadalaxara was in an uproar, I mean the idle people up and down there.

‘My lady was fain to walk on foot, and my husband got him to a barber’s house, saying that he was run quite thorough and thorough. This mannerliness of my husband’s was bruited up and down, insomuch that the very boys in the streets mocked him; so that for this, and because, too, he was somewhat purblind, my lady the duchess turned him away; for grief of which, I verily believe, he died, and I remained widow and succourless, with a child to boot, that went on increasing in beauty like the foam of the sea.

‘Finally, for as much as I had the report of an excellent sempstress, my lady the duchess, that was newly married to my lord the duke, would needs bring me with her here to this kingdom of Aragon together with my daughter, where in process of time she grew up, and with her all the prettiness that could be; she sings like a lark; she danceth in company as quick as thought, and alone like a castaway; she writes and reads like a schoolmaster, and casts account like a usurer; for her cleanliness I say nothing, the water that runs is not clearer; and she is now, if I forget not, about sixteen years old, five months, and three days, one or two more or less. In fine, a rich farmer’s son fell in love with my daughter, one that liveth in one of my lord the duke’s villages, not far from hence; in effect, I know not how, but they met, and under colour of marriage he mocked my daughter, and will not keep his promise; and though the duke know it, for I have complained to him often of it, and beseeched him to command the young farmer to marry my daughter, but he hath a tradesman’s ears, and will not hear me: the reason is, because the cozening knave’s father is rich, and lends him money, and lets him have credit every foot to go on with his juggling, and will by no means discontent or trouble him.

‘I beseech you, sir, therefore, to take upon you the redressing of this wrong, either by entreaties or by force; since, as all the world says, you were born to right wrongs and protect the needy. Consider that my daughter is an orphan; consider her gentleness, her youth, and all the good parts that I have told you o or in my soul and conscience, amongst all the damsels that my lady hath, there is none worthy to untie her shoe; and one of them they call Altisidora, which is the lustiest and gallantest, in comparison of my daughter, is nobody. For let me tell you, sir, all is not gold that glisters; for this Altisidora is more bold than beauteous, more gamesome than retired; besides, she is not very sound, for she hath a certain breath that annoys, and you cannot endure her to stand by you a moment; and my lady the duchess, too—but mum, they say walls have ears.

‘What ails my lady duchess, by your life, Mistress Rodriguez?’ quoth Don Quixote.

‘By that,’ said she, ‘I cannot but answer you with all truth. Do you mark, sir,’ quoth she, ‘that beauty of my lady’s, that smoothness of her face that is like a polished sword, those two cheeks of milk and vermilion, in one of which she hath the sun, in the other the moon, and that state with which she goes, trampling and despising the ground, as if she went dealing of health up and down? Know, sir, that first she may thank God for it; and next, two issues that she hath in both her legs, at which all the ill humour is let out, of which physicians say she is full.’

‘Saint Mary,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘and is it possible that my lady the duchess hath such outlets? I should not have believed it if barefoot friars had told me so; but since Donna Rodriguez tells me, it is so; but from such issues, and such places, no ill humour, but liquid amber, is distilled. I now verily believe that this making of issues is a thing very necessary for the health.’

Scarce had Don Quixote ended this speech when at one pluck the chamber door was opened, and with the sudden fright Donna Rodriguez’s candle fell out of her hand, and the room was as dark as pitch. Straight the matron felt that they had laid hands upon her throat so hard that they gave her no time to yawl; and one of them, very quickly lifting up her coats, with a slipper, in likelihood, began to give her so many jerks that ‘twas pity; and though Don Quixote had some compassion on her, yet he stirred not from his bed, and knew not what might be the matter; quiet was he, and silent, fearing lest the whipping-task and tawing might light upon him: and his fear was not needless; for when the silent executioners had left the matron well curried, who durst not cry out, they came to Don Quixote, and, unwrapping him from the sheet and the quilt, they pinched him so hard and so often that he could but go to buffets to defend himself; and all this passed in admirable silence. The combat lasted some half an hour, the apparitions vanished; Donna Rodriguez tucked up her coats, and, bewailing her mishap, got her out of the door, not speaking a word to Don Quixote, who, heavy and all-to-bepinched, sad and pensative, remained alone, where we will leave him desirous to know who was the perverse enchanter that had so dressed him; but that shall be told in due time. For Sancho Panza calls us, and the decorum of this history.
 

1 A barren mountainous country in Spain, like our Wales.

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

The History of Don Quixote - The Second Part

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