Home  »  Don Quixote, Part 1  »  X. Wherein Is Prosecuted the Adventure of Sierra Morena

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616). Don Quixote, Part 1.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

The Third Book

X. Wherein Is Prosecuted the Adventure of Sierra Morena

THE HISTORY affirms that great was the attention wherewithal Don Quixote listened to the Unfortunate Knight of the Rock, who began his speech on this manner: ‘Truly, good sir, whatsoever you be (or I know you not), I do with all my heart gratify the signs of affection and courtesy which you have used towards me, and wish heartily that I were in terms to serve with more than my will the good-will you bear towards me, as your courteous entertainment denotes; but my fate is so niggardly as it affords me no other means to repay good works done to me, than only to lend me a good desire sometime to satisfy them.’

‘So great is mine affection,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘to serve you, as I was fully resolved never to depart out of these mountains until I had found you, and known of yourself whether there might be any kind of remedy found for the grief that this your so unusual a kind of life argues doth possess your soul; and, if it were requisite, to search it out with all possible diligence; and when your disasters were known of those which clap their doors in the face of comfort, I intended in that case to bear a part in your lamentations, and plain it with the doleful note; for it is a consolation in affliction to have one that condoles in them. And, if this my good intention may merit any acceptance, or be gratified by any courtesy, let me entreat you, sir, by the excess thereof which I see accumulated in your bosom, and jointly I conjure you by that thing which you have, or do presently most affect, that you will please to disclose unto me who you are, and what the cause hath been that persuaded you to come to live and die in these deserts like a brute beast, seeing you live among such, so alienated from yourself, as both your attire and countenance demonstrate. And I do vow,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘by the high order of chivalry which I, although unworthy and a sinner, have received, and by the profession of knights-errant, that if you do pleasure me herein, to assist you with as good earnest as my profession doth bind me, either by remedying hour disaster, if it can be holpen, or else by assisting you to lament it, if it be so desperate.’

The Knight of the Rock, who heard him of the Ill-favoured Face speak in that manner, did nothing else for a great while but behold him again and again, and re-behold him from top to toe. And, after viewing him well, he said: ‘If you have anything to eat, I pray you give it me for God’s sake, and after I have eaten I will satisfy your demand thoroughly, to gratify the many courtesies and undeserved proffers you have made unto me.’ Sancho, and the goatherd present, the one out of this wallet, the other out of his scrip, took some meat, and gave it to the Knight of the Rock, to allay his hunger; and he did eat so fast, like a distracted man, as he left no intermission between bit and bit, but clapt them up so swiftly, as he rather seemed to swallow than to chew them; and whilst he did eat, neither he nor any of the rest spake a word; and having ended his dinner, he made them signs to follow him, as at last they did, unto a little meadow seated hard by that place, at the fold of a mountain, where being arrived, he stretched himself on the grass, which the rest did likewise in his imitation, without speaking a word until that he, after settling himself in his place, began in this manner: ‘If, sirs, you please to hear the exceeding greatness of my disasters briefly rehearsed, you must promise me that you will not interrupt the file of my doleful narration with either demand or other thing; for in the very instant that you shall do it, there also must remain that which I say depending.’ These words of our ragged knight’s called to Don Quixote’s remembrance the tale which his squire had told unto him, where he erred in the account of his goats which had passed the river, for which that history remained suspended. But returning to our ragged man, he said: ‘This prevention which now I give is to the end that I may compendiously pass over the discourse of my mishaps; for the revoking of them to remembrance only serves me to none other stead than to increase the old by adding of new misfortunes; and by how much the fewer your questions are, by so much the more speedily shall I have finished my pitiful discourse; and yet I mean not to omit the essential point of my woes untouched, that your desires may be herein sufficiently satisfied.’ Don Quixote, in his own and his other companion’s name, promised to perform his request; whereupon he began his relation on this manner:

‘My name is Cardenio, the place of my birth one of the best cities in Andalusia, my lineage noble, my parents rich, and my misfortunes so great as I think my parents have ere this deplored and my kinsfolk condoled them, being very little able with their wealth to redress them; for the goods of fortune are but of small virtue to remedy the disasters of heaven. There dwelt in the same city a heaven, wherein love had placed all the glory that I could desire; so great is the beauty of Lucinda, a damsel as noble and rich as I, but more fortunate, and less constant than my honourable desires expected. I loved, honoured, and adored this Lucinda almost from my very infancy, and she affected me likewise, with all the integrity and goodwill which with her so young years did accord. Our parents knew our mutual amity, for which they were nothing aggrieved, perceiving very well, that although we continued it, yet could it have none other end but that of matrimony: a thing which the equality of our blood and substance did of itself almost invite us to. Our age and affection increased in such sort, as it seemed fit for Lucinda’s father, for certain good respects, to deny me the entrance of his house any longer, imitating in a manner therein Thisbe, so much solemnised by the poets, her parents; which hindrance served only to add flame to flame, and desire to desire; for, although it set silence to our tongues, yet would they not impose it to our pens, which are wont to express to whom it pleased, the most hidden secrecies of our souls, with more liberty than the tongue; for the presence of the beloved doth often distract, trouble, and strike dumb the boldest tongue and firmest resolution. O heavens! how many letters have I written unto her! What cheerful and honest answers have I received! How many ditties and amorous verses have I composed, wherein my soul declared and published her passions, declined her inflamed desires, entertained her remembrance, and recreated her will! In effect, perceiving myself to be forced, and that my soul consumed with a perpetual desire to behold her, I resolved to put my desires in execution, and finish in an instant that which I deemed most expedient for the better achieving of my desired and deserved reward; which was (as I did indeed), to demand her of her father for my lawful spouse.’

‘To which he made answer, that he did gratify the good-will which I showed by honouring him, and desire to honour myself with pawns that were his; but, seeing my father yet lived, the motion of that matter properly most concerned him: for, if it were not done with his good liking and pleasure, Lucinda was not a woman to be taken or given by stealth. I rendered him thanks for his goodwill, his words seeming unto me very reasonable, as that my father should agree unto them as soon as I should explain the matter; and therefore departed presently to acquaint him with my desires: who, at the time which I entered into a chamber wherein he was, stood with a letter open in his hand; and, espying me, ere I could break my mind unto him, gave it me, saying, “By that letter, Cardenio, you may gather the desire that Duke Ricardo bears to do you any pleasure or favour.”

‘This Duke Ricardo, as I think you know, sirs, already, is a grandee of Spain, whose dukedom is seated in the best part of all Andalusia. I took the letter and read it, which appeared so urgent, as I myself accounted it would be ill done if my father did not accomplish the contents thereof, which were indeed, that he should presently address me to his court, to the end I might be companion (and not servant) to his eldest son; and that he would incharge himself with the advancing of me to such preferments as might be answerable unto the value and estimation he made of my person. I passed over the whole letter, and was strucken dumb at the reading thereof, but chiefly hearing my father to say, “Cardenio, thou must depart within two days, to accomplish the duke’s desire, and omit not to render Almighty God thanks, which doth thus open the way by which thou mayst attain in fine to that which I know thou dost merit.” And to these words added certain others of fatherly counsel and direction. The term of my departure arrived, and I spoke to my Lucinda on a certain night, and recounted unto her all that passed, and likewise to her father, entreating them to overslip a few days, and defer the bestowing of his daughter elsewhere, until I went to understand Duke Ricardo his will; which he promised me, and she confirmed it, with a thousand oaths and promises.

‘Finally, I came to Duke Ricardo’s court, and was so friendly received and entertained by him, as even then very envy began to exercise her accustomed function, being forthwith emulated by the ancient servitors, persuading themselves that the tokens the duke showed to do me favours could not but turn to their prejudice. But he that rejoiced most at mine arrival was a second son of the duke’s, called Fernando, who was young, gallant, very comely, liberal, and amorous; who, within a while after my coming, held me so dearly as every one wondered thereat; and although the elder loved me well, and did me favour, yet was it in no respect comparable to that wherewithal Don Fernando loved and treated me. It therefore befel that, as there is no secrecy amongst friends so great but they will communicate it the one to the other, and the familiarity which I had with Don Fernando was now past the limits of favour and turned into dearest amity, he revealed unto me all his thoughts, but chiefly one of his love, which did not a little molest him; for he was enamoured on a farmer’s daughter, that was his father’s vassal, whose parents were marvellous rich, and she herself so beautiful, wary, discreet, and honest, as never a one that knew her could absolutely determine wherein or in which of all her perfections she did most excel, or was most accomplished. And those good parts of the beautiful country maid reduced Don Fernando his desires to such an exigent, as he resolved, that he might the better gain her good-will and conquer her integrity, to pass her a promise of marriage; for otherwise he should labour to effect that which was impossible, and but strive against the stream. I, as one bound thereunto by our friendship, did thwart and dissuade him from his purpose; with the best reasons and most efficacious words I might; and, seeing all could not prevail, I determined to acquaint the Duke Ricardo his father wherewithal. But Don Fernando, being very crafty and discreet, suspected and feared as much, because he considered that, in the law of a faithful servant, I was bound not to conceal a thing that would turn so much to the prejudice of the duke, my lord; and therefore, both to divert and deceive me at once, [he said] that he could find no means so good to deface the remembrance of that beauty out of his mind, which held his heart in such subjection, than to absent himself for certain months; and he would likewise have that absence to be this, that both of us should depart together, and come to my father’s house, under pretence (as he would inform the duke) that he went to see and cheapen certain great horses that were in the city wherein I was born, a place of breeding the best horses in the world.

‘Scarce had I heard him say this, when (borne away by the natural propension each one hath to his country, and my love joined) although his designment had not been so good, yet would I have ratified it, as one of the most expedient that could be imagined, because I saw occasion and opportunity so fairly offered, to return and see again my Lucinda; and therefore, set on by this thought and desire, I approved his opinion, and did quicken his purpose, persuading him to prosecute it with all possible speed; for absence would in the end work her effect in despite of the most forcible and urgent thoughts. And when he said this to me, he had already, under the title of a husband (as it was afterward known), reaped the fruits of his longing desires from his beautiful country maid, and did only await an opportunity to reveal it without his own detriment, fearful of the duke his father’s indignation when he should understand his error.

‘It afterwards happened that, as love in young men is not for the most part love, but lust, the which (as [that which] it ever proposeth to itself as his last end and period is delight) so soon as it obtaineth the same, it likewise decayeth and maketh forcibly to retire that which was termed love; for it cannot transgress the limits which Nature hath assigned it, which boundings or measures Nature hath in no wise allotted to true and sincere affection,—I would say that, as soon as Don Fernando had enjoyed his country lass, his desires weakened, and his importunities waxed cold; and if at the first he feigned an excuse to absent himself, that he might with more facility compass them, he did now in very good earnest procure to depart, to the end he might not put them in execution. The duke gave him license to depart, and commanded me to accompany him. We came to my city, where my father entertained him according to his calling. I saw Lucinda, and then again were revived (although, indeed, they were neither dead nor mortified) my desires, and I acquainted Don Fernando (alas! to my total ruin) with them, because I thought it was not lawful, by the law of amity, to keep anything concealed from him. There I dilated to him on the beauty, wit, and discretion of Lucinda, in so ample a manner as my praise stirred in him a desire to view a damsel so greatly adorned, and enriched with so rare endowments. And this his desire I (through my misfortune) satisfied, showing her unto him by the light of a candle, at a window where we two were wont to parley together; where he beheld her to be such as was sufficient to blot out of his memory all the beauties which ever he had viewed before. He stood mute, beside himself, and ravished; and, moreover, rested so greatly enamoured, as you may perceive in the discourse of this my doleful narration. And, to inflame his desires the more (a thing which I fearfully avoided, and only discovered to Heaven), fortune so disposed that he found after me one of her letters, wherein she requested that I would demand her of her father for wife, which was so discreet, honest, and amorously penned, as he said, after reading it, that in Lucinda alone were included all the graces of beauty and understanding jointly, which were divided and separate in all the other women of the world.

‘Yet, in good sooth, I will here confess the truth, that although I saw clearly how deservedly Lucinda was thus extolled by Don Fernando, yet did not her praises please me so much pronounced by him; and therefore began to fear and suspect him, because he let no moment overslip us without making some mention of Lucinda, and would still himself begin the discourse, were the occasion never so far-fetched: a thing which roused in me I cannot tell what jealousy; not that I did fear any traverse in Lucinda’s loyalty, but yet, for all, my fates made me the very thing which they most assured me. And Don Fernando procured to read all the papers I sent to Lucinda, or she to me, under pretext that he took extraordinary delight to note the witty conceits of us both. It therefore fell out, that Lucinda, having demanded of me a book of chivalry to read, wherein she took marvellous delight, and was that of Amadis de Gaul’—

Scarce had Don Quixote well heard him make mention of books of knighthood when he replied to him: ‘If you had, good sir, but once told me at the beginning of your historical narration that your Lady Lucinda was affected to the reading of knightly adventures, you needed not to have used any amplification to endear or make plain unto me the eminency of her wit, which certainly could not in any wise be so excellent and perspicuous as you have figured it, if she wanted the propension and feeling you have rehearsed to the perusing of so pleasing discourses; so that henceforth, with me, you need not spend any more words to explain and manifest the height of her beauty, worth, and understanding; for by this only notice I have received of her devotion to books of knighthood, I do confirm her for the most fair and accomplished woman for all perfection in the world; and I would to God, good sir, that you had also sent her, together with Amadis, the histories of the good Don Rugel of Grecia; for I am certain the Lady Lucinda would have taken great delight in Darayda and Garaya, and in the witty conceits of the shepherd Darinel, and in those admirable verses of his Bucolics, sung and rehearsed by him with such grace, discretion, and liberty. But a time may come wherein this fault may be recompensed, if it shall please you to come with me to my village; for there I may give you three hundred books, which are may soul’s greatest contentment, and the entertainment of my life,—although I do now verily believe that none of them are left, thanks be to the malice of evil and envious enchanters. And I beseech you to pardon me this transgression of our agreement at the first promised, not to interrupt your discourses; for when I hear any motion made of chivalry or knights-errant, it is no more in my power to omit to speak of them than in the sunbeams to leave off warming, or in the moon to render things humid. And therefore I entreat pardon, and that you will prosecute your history, as that which most imports us.’

Whilst Don Quixote spoke those words, Cardenio hung his head on his breast, giving manifest tokens that he was exceeding sad. And although Don Quixote requested him twice to follow on with his discourse, yet neither did he lift up his head or answer a word, till at last, after he had stood a good while musing, he held up his head and said: ‘It cannot be taken out of my mind, nor is there any one in the world can deprive me of the conceit, or make me believe the contrary, and he were a bottlehead that would think or believe otherwise, than that the great villain, Master Elisabat the barber, kept Queen Madasima as his leman.’

‘That is not so, I vow by such and such!’ quoth Don Quixote, in great choler (and as he was wont, rapped out three or four round oaths); ‘it is great malice, or rather villainy, to say such a thing; for Queen Madasima was a very noble lady, and it ought not to be presumed that so high a princess would fall in love with a quack-salver; and whosoever thinks the contrary lies like an errant villain, as I will make him understand, a-horseback or afoot, armed or disarmed, by night or by day, or as he best liketh.’ Cardenio stood beholding him very earnestly as he spoke these words, whom the accident of his madness had by this possessed, and was not in plight to prosecute his history; nor would Don Quixote give ear to it, he was so mightily disgusted to hear Queen Madasima detracted.

A marvellous accident! for he took her defence as earnestly as if she were verily his true and natural princess, his wicked books had so much distracted him. And Cardenio being by this furiously mad, hearing himself answered with the lie, and the denomination of a villain, with other the like outrages, he took the rest in ill part, and, lifting up a stone that was near unto him, gave Don Quixote such a blow therewithal as he overthrew him to the ground on his back. Sancho Panza, seeing his master so roughly handled, set upon the fool with his fist shut; and the ragged man received his assault in such manner, as he likewise overthrew him at his feet with one fist, and, mounting afterward upon him, did work him with his feet like a piece of dough; and the goatherd, who thought to succour him, was like to incur the same danger. And after he had overthrown and beaten them all very well, he departed from them, and entered into the wood very quietly. Sancho arose; and with rage to see himself so belaboured without desert, he ran upon the goatherd to be revenged on him, saying that he was in the fault, who had not premonished them how that man’s raving fits did take him so at times; for, had they been advertised thereof, they might have stood all the while on their guard.

The goatherd answered that he had already advised them thereof, and if he had not been attentive thereunto, yet he was therefore nothing the more culpable.

Sancho Panza replied, and the goatherd made a rejoinder thereunto; but their disputation ended at last in the catching hold of one another’s beards, and befisting themselves so uncompassionately, as if Don Quixote had not pacified them, they would have torn one another to pieces. Sancho, holding still the goatherd fast, said unto his lord, ‘Let me alone, sir Knight of the Ill-favoured Face; for on this man, who is a clown as I am myself, and no dubbed knight, I may safely satisfy myself of the wrong he hath done me, by fighting with him hand to hand, like an honourable man.’ ‘It is true,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘but I know well that he is in no wise culpable of that which hath happened.’ And, saying so, appeased them, and turned again to demand of the goatherd whether it were possible to meet again with Cardenio; for he remained possessed with an exceeding desire to know the end of his history.

The goatherd turned again to repeat what he had said at the first, to wit, that he knew not any certain place of his abode; but if he haunted that commark any while, he would some time meet with him, either in his mad or modest humour.