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Chapter 69

  • **Of the strangest and most extraordinary adventure that befell Don Quixote i_he whole course of this great history**
  • The horsemen dismounted, and, together with the men on foot, without _oment's delay taking up Sancho and Don Quixote bodily, they carried them int_he court, all round which near a hundred torches fixed in sockets wer_urning, besides above five hundred lamps in the corridors, so that in spit_f the night, which was somewhat dark, the want of daylight could not b_erceived. In the middle of the court was a catafalque, raised about two yard_bove the ground and covered completely by an immense canopy of black velvet,
  • and on the steps all round it white wax tapers burned in more than a hundre_ilver candlesticks. Upon the catafalque was seen the dead body of a damsel s_ovely that by her beauty she made death itself look beautiful. She lay wit_er head resting upon a cushion of brocade and crowned with a garland o_weet-smelling flowers of divers sorts, her hands crossed upon her bosom, an_etween them a branch of yellow palm of victory. On one side of the court wa_rected a stage, where upon two chairs were seated two persons who from havin_rowns on their heads and sceptres in their hands appeared to be kings of som_ort, whether real or mock ones. By the side of this stage, which was reache_y steps, were two other chairs on which the men carrying the prisoners seate_on Quixote and Sancho, all in silence, and by signs giving them to understan_hat they too were to be silent; which, however, they would have been withou_ny signs, for their amazement at all they saw held them tongue-tied. And no_wo persons of distinction, who were at once recognised by Don Quixote as hi_osts the duke and duchess, ascended the stage attended by a numerous suite,
  • and seated themselves on two gorgeous chairs close to the two kings, as the_eemed to be. Who would not have been amazed at this? Nor was this all, fo_on Quixote had perceived that the dead body on the catafalque was that of th_air Altisidora. As the duke and duchess mounted the stage Don Quixote an_ancho rose and made them a profound obeisance, which they returned by bowin_heir heads slightly. At this moment an official crossed over, and approachin_ancho threw over him a robe of black buckram painted all over with flames o_ire, and taking off his cap put upon his head a mitre such as thos_ndergoing the sentence of the Holy Office wear; and whispered in his ear tha_e must not open his lips, or they would put a gag upon him, or take his life.
  • Sancho surveyed himself from head to foot and saw himself all ablaze wit_lames; but as they did not burn him, he did not care two farthings for them.
  • He took off the mitre and seeing painted with devils he put it on again,
  • saying to himself, "Well, so far those don't burn me nor do these carry m_ff." Don Quixote surveyed him too, and though fear had got the better of hi_aculties, he could not help smiling to see the figure Sancho presented. An_ow from underneath the catafalque, so it seemed, there rose a low sweet soun_f flutes, which, coming unbroken by human voice (for there silence itsel_ept silence), had a soft and languishing effect. Then, beside the pillow o_hat seemed to be the dead body, suddenly appeared a fair youth in a Roma_abit, who, to the accompaniment of a harp which he himself played, sang in _weet and clear voice these two stanzas:
  • {verse
  • While fair Altisidora, who the sport
  • Of cold Don Quixote's cruelty hath been,
  • Returns to life, and in this magic court
  • The dames in sables come to grace the scene,
  • And while her matrons all in seemly sort
  • My lady robes in baize and bombazine,
  • Her beauty and her sorrows will I sing
  • With defter quill than touched the Thracian string.
  • But not in life alone, methinks, to me
  • Belongs the office; Lady, when my tongue
  • Is cold in death, believe me, unto thee
  • My voice shall raise its tributary song.
  • My soul, from this strait prison-house set free,
  • As o'er the Stygian lake it floats along,
  • Thy praises singing still shall hold its way,
  • And make the waters of oblivion stay.
  • {verse
  • At this point one of the two that looked like kings exclaimed, "Enough,
  • enough, divine singer! It would be an endless task to put before us now th_eath and the charms of the peerless Altisidora, not dead as the ignoran_orld imagines, but living in the voice of fame and in the penance whic_ancho Panza, here present, has to undergo to restore her to the long-los_ight. Do thou, therefore, O Rhadamanthus, who sittest in judgment with me i_he murky caverns of Dis, as thou knowest all that the inscrutable fates hav_ecreed touching the resuscitation of this damsel, announce and declare it a_nce, that the happiness we look forward to from her restoration be no longe_eferred."
  • No sooner had Minos the fellow judge of Rhadamanthus said this, tha_hadamanthus rising up said:
  • "Ho, officials of this house, high and low, great and small, make haste hithe_ne and all, and print on Sancho's face four-and-twenty smacks, and give hi_welve pinches and six pin thrusts in the back and arms; for upon thi_eremony depends the restoration of Altisidora."
  • On hearing this Sancho broke silence and cried out, "By all that's good, I'l_s soon let my face be smacked or handled as turn Moor. Body o' me! What ha_andling my face got to do with the resurrection of this damsel? 'The ol_oman took kindly to the blits; they enchant Dulcinea, and whip me in order t_isenchant her; Altisidora dies of ailments God was pleased to send her, an_o bring her to life again they must give me four-and-twenty smacks, and pric_oles in my body with pins, and raise weals on my arms with pinches! Try thos_okes on a brother-in-law; 'I'm an old dog, and "tus, tus" is no use wit_e.'"
  • "Thou shalt die," said Rhadamanthus in a loud voice; "relent, thou tiger;
  • humble thyself, proud Nimrod; suffer and be silent, for no impossibilities ar_sked of thee; it is not for thee to inquire into the difficulties in thi_atter; smacked thou must be, pricked thou shalt see thyself, and with pinche_hou must be made to howl. Ho, I say, officials, obey my orders; or by th_ord of an honest man, ye shall see what ye were born for."
  • At this some six duennas, advancing across the court, made their appearance i_rocession, one after the other, four of them with spectacles, and all wit_heir right hands uplifted, showing four fingers of wrist to make their hand_ook longer, as is the fashion now-a-days. No sooner had Sancho caught sigh_f them than, bellowing like a bull, he exclaimed, "I might let myself b_andled by all the world; but allow duennas to touch me—not a bit of it!
  • Scratch my face, as my master was served in this very castle; run me throug_he body with burnished daggers; pinch my arms with red-hot pincers; I'll bea_ll in patience to serve these gentlefolk; but I won't let duennas touch me,
  • though the devil should carry me off!"
  • Here Don Quixote, too, broke silence, saying to Sancho, "Have patience, m_on, and gratify these noble persons, and give all thanks to heaven that i_as infused such virtue into thy person, that by its sufferings thou cans_isenchant the enchanted and restore to life the dead."
  • The duennas were now close to Sancho, and he, having become more tractable an_easonable, settling himself well in his chair presented his face and beard t_he first, who delivered him a smack very stoutly laid on, and then made him _ow curtsey.
  • "Less politeness and less paint, senora duenna," said Sancho; "by God you_ands smell of vinegar-wash."
  • In fine, all the duennas smacked him and several others of the househol_inched him; but what he could not stand was being pricked by the pins; an_o, apparently out of patience, he started up out of his chair, and seizing _ighted torch that stood near him fell upon the duennas and the whole set o_is tormentors, exclaiming, "Begone, ye ministers of hell; I'm not made o_rass not to feel such out-of-the-way tortures."
  • At this instant Altisidora, who probably was tired of having been so lon_ying on her back, turned on her side; seeing which the bystanders cried ou_lmost with one voice, "Altisidora is alive! Altisidora lives!"
  • Rhadamanthus bade Sancho put away his wrath, as the object they had in vie_as now attained. When Don Quixote saw Altisidora move, he went on his knee_o Sancho saying to him, "Now is the time, son of my bowels, not to call the_y squire, for thee to give thyself some of those lashes thou art bound to la_n for the disenchantment of Dulcinea. Now, I say, is the time when the virtu_hat is in thee is ripe, and endowed with efficacy to work the good that i_ooked for from thee."
  • To which Sancho made answer, "That's trick upon trick, I think, and not hone_pon pancakes; a nice thing it would be for a whipping to come now, on the to_f pinches, smacks, and pin-proddings! You had better take a big stone and ti_t round my neck, and pitch me into a well; I should not mind it much, if I'_o be always made the cow of the wedding for the cure of other people'_ilments. Leave me alone; or else by God I'll fling the whole thing to th_ogs, let come what may."
  • Altisidora had by this time sat up on the catafalque, and as she did so th_larions sounded, accompanied by the flutes, and the voices of all presen_xclaiming, "Long life to Altisidora! long life to Altisidora!" The duke an_uchess and the kings Minos and Rhadamanthus stood up, and all, together wit_on Quixote and Sancho, advanced to receive her and take her down from th_atafalque; and she, making as though she were recovering from a swoon, bowe_er head to the duke and duchess and to the kings, and looking sideways at Do_uixote, said to him, "God forgive thee, insensible knight, for through th_ruelty I have been, to me it seems, more than a thousand years in the othe_orld; and to thee, the most compassionate upon earth, I render thanks for th_ife I am now in possession of. From this day forth, friend Sancho, count a_hine six smocks of mine which I bestow upon thee, to make as many shirts fo_hyself, and if they are not all quite whole, at any rate they are all clean."
  • Sancho kissed her hands in gratitude, kneeling, and with the mitre in hi_and. The duke bade them take it from him, and give him back his cap an_oublet and remove the flaming robe. Sancho begged the duke to let them leav_im the robe and mitre; as he wanted to take them home for a token and mement_f that unexampled adventure. The duchess said they must leave them with him;
  • for he knew already what a great friend of his she was. The duke then gav_rders that the court should be cleared, and that all should retire to thei_hambers, and that Don Quixote and Sancho should be conducted to their ol_uarters.