Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 24

  • **In which is continued the adventure of the Sierra Morena**
  • The history relates that it was with the greatest attention Don Quixot_istened to the ragged knight of the Sierra, who began by saying:
  • "Of a surety, senor, whoever you are, for I know you not, I thank you for th_roofs of kindness and courtesy you have shown me, and would I were in _ondition to requite with something more than good-will that which you hav_isplayed towards me in the cordial reception you have given me; but my fat_oes not afford me any other means of returning kindnesses done me save th_earty desire to repay them."
  • "Mine," replied Don Quixote, "is to be of service to you, so much so that _ad resolved not to quit these mountains until I had found you, and learned o_ou whether there is any kind of relief to be found for that sorrow unde_hich from the strangeness of your life you seem to labour; and to search fo_ou with all possible diligence, if search had been necessary. And if you_isfortune should prove to be one of those that refuse admission to any sor_f consolation, it was my purpose to join you in lamenting and mourning ove_t, so far as I could; for it is still some comfort in misfortune to find on_ho can feel for it. And if my good intentions deserve to be acknowledged wit_ny kind of courtesy, I entreat you, senor, by that which I perceive yo_ossess in so high a degree, and likewise conjure you by whatever you love o_ave loved best in life, to tell me who you are and the cause that has brough_ou to live or die in these solitudes like a brute beast, dwelling among the_n a manner so foreign to your condition as your garb and appearance show. An_ swear," added Don Quixote, "by the order of knighthood which I hav_eceived, and by my vocation of knight-errant, if you gratify me in this, t_erve you with all the zeal my calling demands of me, either in relieving you_isfortune if it admits of relief, or in joining you in lamenting it as _romised to do."
  • The Knight of the Thicket, hearing him of the Rueful Countenance talk in thi_train, did nothing but stare at him, and stare at him again, and again surve_im from head to foot; and when he had thoroughly examined him, he said t_im:
  • "If you have anything to give me to eat, for God's sake give it me, and afte_ have eaten I will do all you ask in acknowledgment of the goodwill you hav_isplayed towards me."
  • Sancho from his sack, and the goatherd from his pouch, furnished the Ragge_ne with the means of appeasing his hunger, and what they gave him he ate lik_ half-witted being, so hastily that he took no time between mouthfuls,
  • gorging rather than swallowing; and while he ate neither he nor they wh_bserved him uttered a word. As soon as he had done he made signs to them t_ollow him, which they did, and he led them to a green plot which lay a littl_arther off round the corner of a rock. On reaching it he stretched himsel_pon the grass, and the others did the same, all keeping silence, until th_agged One, settling himself in his place, said:
  • "If it is your wish, sirs, that I should disclose in a few words th_urpassing extent of my misfortunes, you must promise not to break the threa_f my sad story with any question or other interruption, for the instant yo_o so the tale I tell will come to an end."
  • These words of the Ragged One reminded Don Quixote of the tale his squire ha_old him, when he failed to keep count of the goats that had crossed the rive_nd the story remained unfinished; but to return to the Ragged One, he went o_o say:
  • "I give you this warning because I wish to pass briefly over the story of m_isfortunes, for recalling them to memory only serves to add fresh ones, an_he less you question me the sooner shall I make an end of the recital, thoug_ shall not omit to relate anything of importance in order fully to satisf_our curiosity."
  • Don Quixote gave the promise for himself and the others, and with thi_ssurance he began as follows:
  • "My name is Cardenio, my birthplace one of the best cities of this Andalusia,
  • my family noble, my parents rich, my misfortune so great that my parents mus_ave wept and my family grieved over it without being able by their wealth t_ighten it; for the gifts of fortune can do little to relieve reverses sent b_eaven. In that same country there was a heaven in which love had placed al_he glory I could desire; such was the beauty of Luscinda, a damsel as nobl_nd as rich as I, but of happier fortunes, and of less firmness than was du_o so worthy a passion as mine. This Luscinda I loved, worshipped, and adore_rom my earliest and tenderest years, and she loved me in all the innocenc_nd sincerity of childhood. Our parents were aware of our feelings, and wer_ot sorry to perceive them, for they saw clearly that as they ripened the_ust lead at last to a marriage between us, a thing that seemed almos_rearranged by the equality of our families and wealth. We grew up, and wit_ur growth grew the love between us, so that the father of Luscinda felt boun_or propriety's sake to refuse me admission to his house, in this perhap_mitating the parents of that Thisbe so celebrated by the poets, and thi_efusal but added love to love and flame to flame; for though they enforce_ilence upon our tongues they could not impose it upon our pens, which ca_ake known the heart's secrets to a loved one more freely than tongues; fo_any a time the presence of the object of love shakes the firmest will an_trikes dumb the boldest tongue. Ah heavens! how many letters did I write her,
  • and how many dainty modest replies did I receive! how many ditties and love-
  • songs did I compose in which my heart declared and made known its feelings,
  • described its ardent longings, revelled in its recollections and dallied wit_ts desires! At length growing impatient and feeling my heart languishing wit_onging to see her, I resolved to put into execution and carry out what seeme_o me the best mode of winning my desired and merited reward, to ask her o_er father for my lawful wife, which I did. To this his answer was that h_hanked me for the disposition I showed to do honour to him and to regar_yself as honoured by the bestowal of his treasure; but that as my father wa_live it was his by right to make this demand, for if it were not i_ccordance with his full will and pleasure, Luscinda was not to be taken o_iven by stealth. I thanked him for his kindness, reflecting that there wa_eason in what he said, and that my father would assent to it as soon as _hould tell him, and with that view I went the very same instant to let hi_now what my desires were. When I entered the room where he was I found hi_ith an open letter in his hand, which, before I could utter a word, he gav_e, saying, 'By this letter thou wilt see, Cardenio, the disposition the Duk_icardo has to serve thee.' This Duke Ricardo, as you, sirs, probably kno_lready, is a grandee of Spain who has his seat in the best part of thi_ndalusia. I took and read the letter, which was couched in terms s_lattering that even I myself felt it would be wrong in my father not t_omply with the request the duke made in it, which was that he would send m_mmediately to him, as he wished me to become the companion, not servant, o_is eldest son, and would take upon himself the charge of placing me in _osition corresponding to the esteem in which he held me. On reading th_etter my voice failed me, and still more when I heard my father say, 'Tw_ays hence thou wilt depart, Cardenio, in accordance with the duke's wish, an_ive thanks to God who is opening a road to thee by which thou mayest attai_hat I know thou dost deserve; and to these words he added others of fatherl_ounsel. The time for my departure arrived; I spoke one night to Luscinda, _old her all that had occurred, as I did also to her father, entreating him t_llow some delay, and to defer the disposal of her hand until I should se_hat the Duke Ricardo sought of me: he gave me the promise, and she confirme_t with vows and swoonings unnumbered. Finally, I presented myself to th_uke, and was received and treated by him so kindly that very soon envy bega_o do its work, the old servants growing envious of me, and regarding th_uke's inclination to show me favour as an injury to themselves. But the on_o whom my arrival gave the greatest pleasure was the duke's second son,
  • Fernando by name, a gallant youth, of noble, generous, and amorou_isposition, who very soon made so intimate a friend of me that it wa_emarked by everybody; for though the elder was attached to me, and showed m_indness, he did not carry his affectionate treatment to the same length a_on Fernando. It so happened, then, that as between friends no secret remain_nshared, and as the favour I enjoyed with Don Fernando had grown int_riendship, he made all his thoughts known to me, and in particular a lov_ffair which troubled his mind a little. He was deeply in love with a peasan_irl, a vassal of his father's, the daughter of wealthy parents, and hersel_o beautiful, modest, discreet, and virtuous, that no one who knew her wa_ble to decide in which of these respects she was most highly gifted or mos_xcelled. The attractions of the fair peasant raised the passion of Do_ernando to such a point that, in order to gain his object and overcome he_irtuous resolutions, he determined to pledge his word to her to become he_usband, for to attempt it in any other way was to attempt an impossibility.
  • Bound to him as I was by friendship, I strove by the best arguments and th_ost forcible examples I could think of to restrain and dissuade him from suc_ course; but perceiving I produced no effect I resolved to make the Duk_icardo, his father, acquainted with the matter; but Don Fernando, bein_harp-witted and shrewd, foresaw and apprehended this, perceiving that by m_uty as a good servant I was bound not to keep concealed a thing so muc_pposed to the honour of my lord the duke; and so, to mislead and deceive me,
  • he told me he could find no better way of effacing from his mind the beaut_hat so enslaved him than by absenting himself for some months, and that h_ished the absence to be effected by our going, both of us, to my father'_ouse under the pretence, which he would make to the duke, of going to see an_uy some fine horses that there were in my city, which produces the best i_he world. When I heard him say so, even if his resolution had not been s_ood a one I should have hailed it as one of the happiest that could b_magined, prompted by my affection, seeing what a favourable chance an_pportunity it offered me of returning to see my Luscinda. With this though_nd wish I commended his idea and encouraged his design, advising him to pu_t into execution as quickly as possible, as, in truth, absence produced it_ffect in spite of the most deeply rooted feelings. But, as afterward_ppeared, when he said this to me he had already enjoyed the peasant gir_nder the title of husband, and was waiting for an opportunity of making i_nown with safety to himself, being in dread of what his father the duke woul_o when he came to know of his folly. It happened, then, that as with youn_en love is for the most part nothing more than appetite, which, as its fina_bject is enjoyment, comes to an end on obtaining it, and that which seemed t_e love takes to flight, as it cannot pass the limit fixed by nature, whic_ixes no limit to true love—what I mean is that after Don Fernando had enjoye_his peasant girl his passion subsided and his eagerness cooled, and if a_irst he feigned a wish to absent himself in order to cure his love, he wa_ow in reality anxious to go to avoid keeping his promise.
  • "The duke gave him permission, and ordered me to accompany him; we arrived a_y city, and my father gave him the reception due to his rank; I saw Luscind_ithout delay, and, though it had not been dead or deadened, my love gathere_resh life. To my sorrow I told the story of it to Don Fernando, for I though_hat in virtue of the great friendship he bore me I was bound to concea_othing from him. I extolled her beauty, her gaiety, her wit, so warmly, tha_y praises excited in him a desire to see a damsel adorned by suc_ttractions. To my misfortune I yielded to it, showing her to him one night b_he light of a taper at a window where we used to talk to one another. As sh_ppeared to him in her dressing-gown, she drove all the beauties he had see_ntil then out of his recollection; speech failed him, his head turned, he wa_pell-bound, and in the end love-smitten, as you will see in the course of th_tory of my misfortune; and to inflame still further his passion, which he hi_rom me and revealed to Heaven alone, it so happened that one day he found _ote of hers entreating me to demand her of her father in marriage, s_elicate, so modest, and so tender, that on reading it he told me that i_uscinda alone were combined all the charms of beauty and understanding tha_ere distributed among all the other women in the world. It is true, and I ow_t now, that though I knew what good cause Don Fernando had to prais_uscinda, it gave me uneasiness to hear these praises from his mouth, and _egan to fear, and with reason to feel distrust of him, for there was n_oment when he was not ready to talk of Luscinda, and he would start th_ubject himself even though he dragged it in unseasonably, a circumstance tha_roused in me a certain amount of jealousy; not that I feared any change i_he constancy or faith of Luscinda; but still my fate led me to forebode wha_he assured me against. Don Fernando contrived always to read the letters _ent to Luscinda and her answers to me, under the pretence that he enjoyed th_it and sense of both. It so happened, then, that Luscinda having begged of m_ book of chivalry to read, one that she was very fond of, Amadis of Gaul-"
  • Don Quixote no sooner heard a book of chivalry mentioned, than he said:
  • "Had your worship told me at the beginning of your story that the Lad_uscinda was fond of books of chivalry, no other laudation would have bee_equisite to impress upon me the superiority of her understanding, for i_ould not have been of the excellence you describe had a taste for suc_elightful reading been wanting; so, as far as I am concerned, you need wast_o more words in describing her beauty, worth, and intelligence; for, o_erely hearing what her taste was, I declare her to be the most beautiful an_he most intelligent woman in the world; and I wish your worship had, alon_ith Amadis of Gaul, sent her the worthy Don Rugel of Greece, for I know th_ady Luscinda would greatly relish Daraida and Garaya, and the shrewd saying_f the shepherd Darinel, and the admirable verses of his bucolics, sung an_elivered by him with such sprightliness, wit, and ease; but a time may com_hen this omission can be remedied, and to rectify it nothing more is neede_han for your worship to be so good as to come with me to my village, fo_here I can give you more than three hundred books which are the delight of m_oul and the entertainment of my life;—though it occurs to me that I have no_ot one of them now, thanks to the spite of wicked and envious enchanters;—bu_ardon me for having broken the promise we made not to interrupt you_iscourse; for when I hear chivalry or knights-errant mentioned, I can no mor_elp talking about them than the rays of the sun can help giving heat, o_hose of the moon moisture; pardon me, therefore, and proceed, for that i_ore to the purpose now."
  • While Don Quixote was saying this, Cardenio allowed his head to fall upon hi_reast, and seemed plunged in deep thought; and though twice Don Quixote bad_im go on with his story, he neither looked up nor uttered a word in reply;
  • but after some time he raised his head and said, "I cannot get rid of th_dea, nor will anyone in the world remove it, or make me think otherwise—an_e would be a blockhead who would hold or believe anything else than that tha_rrant knave Master Elisabad made free with Queen Madasima."
  • "That is not true, by all that's good," said Don Quixote in high wrath,
  • turning upon him angrily, as his way was; "and it is a very great slander, o_ather villainy. Queen Madasima was a very illustrious lady, and it is not t_e supposed that so exalted a princess would have made free with a quack; an_hoever maintains the contrary lies like a great scoundrel, and I will giv_im to know it, on foot or on horseback, armed or unarmed, by night or by day,
  • or as he likes best."
  • Cardenio was looking at him steadily, and his mad fit having now come upo_im, he had no disposition to go on with his story, nor would Don Quixote hav_istened to it, so much had what he had heard about Madasima disgusted him.
  • Strange to say, he stood up for her as if she were in earnest his veritabl_orn lady; to such a pass had his unholy books brought him. Cardenio, then,
  • being, as I said, now mad, when he heard himself given the lie, and called _coundrel and other insulting names, not relishing the jest, snatched up _tone that he found near him, and with it delivered such a blow on Do_uixote's breast that he laid him on his back. Sancho Panza, seeing his maste_reated in this fashion, attacked the madman with his closed fist; but th_agged One received him in such a way that with a blow of his fist h_tretched him at his feet, and then mounting upon him crushed his ribs to hi_wn satisfaction; the goatherd, who came to the rescue, shared the same fate;
  • and having beaten and pummelled them all he left them and quietly withdrew t_is hiding-place on the mountain. Sancho rose, and with the rage he felt a_inding himself so belaboured without deserving it, ran to take vengeance o_he goatherd, accusing him of not giving them warning that this man was a_imes taken with a mad fit, for if they had known it they would have been o_heir guard to protect themselves. The goatherd replied that he had said so,
  • and that if he had not heard him, that was no fault of his. Sancho retorted,
  • and the goatherd rejoined, and the altercation ended in their seizing eac_ther by the beard, and exchanging such fisticuffs that if Don Quixote had no_ade peace between them, they would have knocked one another to pieces.
  • "Leave me alone, Sir Knight of the Rueful Countenance," said Sancho, grapplin_ith the goatherd, "for of this fellow, who is a clown like myself, and n_ubbed knight, I can safely take satisfaction for the affront he has offere_e, fighting with him hand to hand like an honest man."
  • "That is true," said Don Quixote, "but I know that he is not to blame for wha_as happened."
  • With this he pacified them, and again asked the goatherd if it would b_ossible to find Cardenio, as he felt the greatest anxiety to know the end o_is story. The goatherd told him, as he had told him before, that there was n_nowing of a certainty where his lair was; but that if he wandered about muc_n that neighbourhood he could not fail to fall in with him either in or ou_f his senses.