Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 46

  • **Of the terrible bell and cat fright that Don Quixote got in the course o_he enamoured Altisidora's wooing**
  • We left Don Quixote wrapped up in the reflections which the music of th_namourned maid Altisidora had given rise to. He went to bed with them, an_ust like fleas they would not let him sleep or get a moment's rest, and th_roken stitches of his stockings helped them. But as Time is fleet and n_bstacle can stay his course, he came riding on the hours, and morning ver_oon arrived. Seeing which Don Quixote quitted the soft down, and, nowis_lothful, dressed himself in his chamois suit and put on his travelling boot_o hide the disaster to his stockings. He threw over him his scarlet mantle, put on his head a montera of green velvet trimmed with silver edging, flun_cross his shoulder the baldric with his good trenchant sword, took up a larg_osary that he always carried with him, and with great solemnity and precisio_f gait proceeded to the antechamber where the duke and duchess were alread_ressed and waiting for him. But as he passed through a gallery, Altisidor_nd the other damsel, her friend, were lying in wait for him, and the instan_ltisidora saw him she pretended to faint, while her friend caught her in he_ap, and began hastily unlacing the bosom of her dress.
  • Don Quixote observed it, and approaching them said, "I know very well wha_his seizure arises from."
  • "I know not from what," replied the friend, "for Altisidora is the healthies_amsel in all this house, and I have never heard her complain all the time _ave known her. A plague on all the knights-errant in the world, if they b_ll ungrateful! Go away, Senor Don Quixote; for this poor child will not com_o herself again so long as you are here."
  • To which Don Quixote returned, "Do me the favour, senora, to let a lute b_laced in my chamber to-night; and I will comfort this poor maiden to the bes_f my power; for in the early stages of love a prompt disillusion is a_pproved remedy;" and with this he retired, so as not to be remarked by an_ho might see him there.
  • He had scarcely withdrawn when Altisidora, recovering from her swoon, said t_er companion, "The lute must be left, for no doubt Don Quixote intends t_ive us some music; and being his it will not be bad."
  • They went at once to inform the duchess of what was going on, and of the lut_on Quixote asked for, and she, delighted beyond measure, plotted with th_uke and her two damsels to play him a trick that should be amusing bu_armless; and in high glee they waited for night, which came quickly as th_ay had come; and as for the day, the duke and duchess spent it in charmin_onversation with Don Quixote.
  • When eleven o'clock came, Don Quixote found a guitar in his chamber; he trie_t, opened the window, and perceived that some persons were walking in th_arden; and having passed his fingers over the frets of the guitar and tune_t as well as he could, he spat and cleared his chest, and then with a voice _ittle hoarse but full-toned, he sang the following ballad, which he ha_imself that day composed:
  • {verse
  • Mighty Love the hearts of maidens
  • Doth unsettle and perplex,
  • And the instrument he uses
  • Most of all is idleness.
  • Sewing, stitching, any labour,
  • Having always work to do,
  • To the poison Love instilleth
  • Is the antidote most sure.
  • And to proper-minded maidens
  • Who desire the matron's name
  • Modesty's a marriage portion,
  • Modesty their highest praise.
  • Men of prudence and discretion,
  • Courtiers gay and gallant knights,
  • With the wanton damsels dally,
  • But the modest take to wife.
  • There are passions, transient, fleeting,
  • Loves in hostelries declar'd,
  • Sunrise loves, with sunset ended,
  • When the guest hath gone his way.
  • Love that springs up swift and sudden,
  • Here to-day, to-morrow flown,
  • Passes, leaves no trace behind it,
  • Leaves no image on the soul.
  • Painting that is laid on painting
  • Maketh no display or show;
  • Where one beauty's in possession
  • There no other can take hold.
  • Dulcinea del Toboso
  • Painted on my heart I wear;
  • Never from its tablets, never,
  • Can her image be eras'd.
  • The quality of all in lovers
  • Most esteemed is constancy;
  • 'T is by this that love works wonders,
  • This exalts them to the skies.
  • {verse
  • Don Quixote had got so far with his song, to which the duke, the duchess, Altisidora, and nearly the whole household of the castle were listening, whe_ll of a sudden from a gallery above that was exactly over his window they le_own a cord with more than a hundred bells attached to it, and immediatel_fter that discharged a great sack full of cats, which also had bells o_maller size tied to their tails. Such was the din of the bells and th_qualling of the cats, that though the duke and duchess were the contrivers o_he joke they were startled by it, while Don Quixote stood paralysed wit_ear; and as luck would have it, two or three of the cats made their way i_hrough the grating of his chamber, and flying from one side to the other, made it seem as if there was a legion of devils at large in it. The_xtinguished the candles that were burning in the room, and rushed abou_eeking some way of escape; the cord with the large bells never ceased risin_nd falling; and most of the people of the castle, not knowing what was reall_he matter, were at their wits' end with astonishment. Don Quixote sprang t_is feet, and drawing his sword, began making passes at the grating, shoutin_ut, "Avaunt, malignant enchanters! avaunt, ye witchcraft-working rabble! I a_on Quixote of La Mancha, against whom your evil machinations avail not no_ave any power." And turning upon the cats that were running about the room, he made several cuts at them. They dashed at the grating and escaped by it, save one that, finding itself hard pressed by the slashes of Don Quixote'_word, flew at his face and held on to his nose tooth and nail, with the pai_f which he began to shout his loudest. The duke and duchess hearing this, an_uessing what it was, ran with all haste to his room, and as the poo_entleman was striving with all his might to detach the cat from his face, they opened the door with a master-key and went in with lights and witnesse_he unequal combat. The duke ran forward to part the combatants, but Do_uixote cried out aloud, "Let no one take him from me; leave me hand to han_ith this demon, this wizard, this enchanter; I will teach him, I myself, wh_on Quixote of La Mancha is." The cat, however, never minding these threats, snarled and held on; but at last the duke pulled it off and flung it out o_he window. Don Quixote was left with a face as full of holes as a sieve and _ose not in very good condition, and greatly vexed that they did not let hi_inish the battle he had been so stoutly fighting with that villain of a_nchanter. They sent for some oil of John's wort, and Altisidora herself wit_er own fair hands bandaged all the wounded parts; and as she did so she sai_o him in a low voice. "All these mishaps have befallen thee, hardhearte_night, for the sin of thy insensibility and obstinacy; and God grant th_quire Sancho may forget to whip himself, so that that dearly beloved Dulcine_f thine may never be released from her enchantment, that thou mayest neve_ome to her bed, at least while I who adore thee am alive."
  • To all this Don Quixote made no answer except to heave deep sighs, and the_tretched himself on his bed, thanking the duke and duchess for thei_indness, not because he stood in any fear of that bell-ringing rabble o_nchanters in cat shape, but because he recognised their good intentions i_oming to his rescue. The duke and duchess left him to repose and withdre_reatly grieved at the unfortunate result of the joke; as they never though_he adventure would have fallen so heavy on Don Quixote or cost him so dear, for it cost him five days of confinement to his bed, during which he ha_nother adventure, pleasanter than the late one, which his chronicler will no_elate just now in order that he may turn his attention to Sancho Panza, wh_as proceeding with great diligence and drollery in his government.