Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616). Don Quixote, Part 1.
The Fourth Book
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.
IX. Which Treats of Many Rare Successes Befallen in the Inn
WHILST they discoursed thus, the innkeeper, who stood all the while at the door, said, ‘Here comes a fair troop of guests, and if they will here alight we may sing Gaudeamus.’ ‘What folk is it?’ quoth Cardenio. ‘Four men on horseback,’ quoth the host, ‘and ride jennet-wise, with lances and targets, and masks on their faces; and with them comes likewise a woman apparelled in white, in a side-saddle, and her face also masked, and two lackeys that run with them a-foot.’ ‘Are they near?’ quoth the curate. ‘So near,’ replied the innkeeper, ‘as they do now arrive.’ Dorothea hearing him say so, covered her face, and Cardenio entered into Don Quixote’s chamber; and scarce had they leisure to do it, when the others of whom the host spake, entered into the inn, and the four horsemen alighting, which were all of very comely and gallant disposition, they went to help down the lady that rode in the side-saddle, and one of them taking her down in his arms, did seat her in a chair that stood at the chamber door, into which Cardenio had entered: and all this while neither she nor they took off their masks, or spake a word, only the gentlewoman, at her sitting down in the chair, breathed forth a very deep sigh, and let fall her arms like a sick and dismayed person. The lackeys carried away their horses to the stable. Master curate seeing and noting all this, and curious to know what they were that came to the inn in so unwonted an attire, and kept such profound silence therein, went to the lackeys and demanded of one of them that which he desired to know, who answered, ‘In good faith, sir, I cannot tell you what folk this is: only this I know, that they seem to be very noble, but chiefly he that went and took down the lady in his arms that you see there; and this I say, because all the others do respect him very much, and nothing is done but what he ordains and commands,’ ‘And the lady, what is she?’ quoth the curate. ‘I can as hardly inform you,’ quoth the lackey, ‘for I have not once seen her face in all this journey; yet I have heard her often groan and breathe out so profound sighs, as it seems she would give up the ghost at every one of them. And it is no marvel that we should know no more than we have said, for my companion and myself have been in their company but two days; for they encountered us on the way, and prayed and persuaded us to go with them unto Andalusia, promising that they would recompense our pains largely.’ ‘And hast thou heard them name one another?’ said the curate. ‘No, truly,’ answered the lackey; ‘for they all travel with such silence, as it is a wonder; for you shall not hear a word among, but the sighs and throbs of the poor lady, which do move in us very great compassion. And we do questionless persuade ourselves that she is forced wheresoever she goes: and as it may be collected by her attire, she is a nun, or, as is most probable, goes to be one; and perhaps she goeth so sorrowful as it seems because she hath no desire to become religious.’ ‘It may very well be so,’ quoth the curate. And so leaving them, he returned to the place where he had left Dorothea; who, hearing the disguised lady to sigh so often, moved by the native compassion of that sex, drew near her and said, ‘What ails you, good madam? I pray you think if it be any of those inconveniences to which woman be subject, and whereof they may have use and experience to cure them, I do offer unto you my service, assistance, and good-will to help you, as much as lies in my power.’ To all those compliments the doleful lady answered nothing; and although Dorothea made her again larger offers of her service, yet stood she, ever silent, until the bemasked gentleman (whom the lackey said the rest did obey) came over and said to Dorothea, ‘Lady, do not trouble yourself to offer anything to that woman, for she is of a most ungrateful nature, and is never wont to gratify any courtesy, nor do you seek her to answer unto your demands, if you would not hear some lie from her mouth.’ ‘I never said any,’ quoth the silent lady, ‘but rather because I am so true and sincere, without guiles, I am now drowned here in those misfortunes; and of this I would have thyself bear witness, seeing my pure truth makes thee to be so false and disloyal.’
Cardenio overheard those words very clear and distinctly, as one that stood so near unto her that said them, as only Don Quixote’s chamber door stood between them. And instantly when he heard them, he said with a very loud voice, ‘Good God! what is this that I hear? What voice is this that hath touched mine ear?’ The lady, moved with a sudden passion, turned her head at those outcries, and seeing she could not perceive him that gave them, she got up, and would have entered into the room, which the gentleman espying, withheld her, and would not let her stir out of the place: and with the alteration and sudden motion the mask fell off her face, and she discovered an incomparable beauty, and an angelical countenance, although it was somewhat wan and pale, and turned here and there with her eyes to every place so earnestly as she seemed to be distracted; which motions, without knowing the reason why they were made, struck Dorothea and the rest that beheld her into very great compassion. The gentleman holding her very strongly fast by the shoulders, the mask he wore on his own face was falling; and he being so busied could not hold it up, but in the end [it] fell wholly. Dorothea, who had likewise embraced the lady, lifting up her eyes by chance, saw that he which did also embrace the lady was her spouse Don Fernando; and scarce had she known him, when, breathing out a long and most pitiful ‘Alas!’ from the bottom of her heart, she fell backward in a trance; and if the barber had not been by good hap at hand, she would have fallen on the ground with all the weight of her body. The curate presently repaired to take off the veil of her face and cast water thereon: and as soon as he did discover it, Don Fernando, who was he indeed that held fast the other, knew her, and looked like a dead man as soon as he viewed her, but did not all this while let go Lucinda, who was the other whom he held so fast, and that laboured so much to escape out of his hands. Cardenio likewise heard the ‘Alas!’ that Dorothea said when she fell into a trance, and, believing that it was his Lucinda, issued out of the chamber greatly altered, and the first he espied was Don Fernando, which held Lucinda fast, who forthwith knew him. And all the three—Lucinda, Cardenio, and Dorothea—stood dumb and amazed, as folk that knew not what had befallen unto them. All of them held their peace, and beheld one another; Dorothea looked on Don Fernando, Don Fernando on Cardenio, Cardenio on Lucinda, and Lucinda again on Cardenio; but Lucinda was the first that broke silence, speaking to Don Fernando in this manner: ‘Leave me off, Lord Fernando, I conjure thee, by that thou shouldst be; for that which thou art, if thou wilt not do it for any other respect; let me cleave to the wall whose ivy I am; to the supporter from whom neither thy importunity nor threats, promises or gifts, could once deflect me. Note how Heaven, by unusual, unfrequented, and from us concealed ways, hath set my true spouse before mine eyes; and thou dost know well, by a thousand costly experiences, that only death is potent to blot forth his remembrance out of my memory. Let, then, so manifest truths be of power (if thou must do none other) to convert thine affliction into rage, and thy good-will into despite, and therewithal end my life; for if I may render up the ghost in the presence of my dear spouse, I shall account it fortunately lost. Perhaps by my death he will remain satisfied of the faith which I have kept sincere towards him until the last period of my life.’ By this time Dorothea was come to herself, and listened to most of Lucinda’s reasons, and by them came to the knowledge of herself. But seeing Don Fernando did not yet let her depart from between his arms, nor answer anything to her words, encouraging herself the best that she might, she arose, and, kneeling at his feet, and shedding a number of crystal and penetrating tears, she spoke to him thus:
‘If it be not so, my lord, that the beams of that sun which thou holdest eclipsed between thine arms do darken and deprive those of thine eyes, thou mightest have by this perceived how she that is prostrated at thy feet is the unfortunate (until thou shalt please) and the disastrous Dorothea. I am that poor humble countrywoman whom thou, either through thy bounty, or for thy pleasure, didst deign to raise to that height that she might call thee her own. I am she which, some time immured within the limits of honesty, did lead a most contented life, until it opened the gates of her recollection and wariness to thine importunity, and seeming just and amorous requests, and rendered up to thee the keys of her liberty; a gift by thee so ill recompensed, as the finding myself in so remote a place as this wherein you have met with me, and I seen you, may clearly testify; but yet for all this, I would not have you to imagine that I come here guided by dishonourable steps, being only hitherto conducted by the tracts of dolour and feeling, to see myself thus forgotten by thee. It was thy will that I should be thine own, and thou didst desire it in such a manner, as although now thou wouldst not have it so, yet canst not thou possibly leave off to be mine. Know, my dear lord, that the matchless affections that I do bear towards thee may recompense and be equivalent to her beauty and nobility for whom thou dost abandon me.
‘Thou canst’ not be the beautiful Lucinda’s, because thou art mine; nor she thine, forasmuch as she belongs to Cardenio; and it will be more easy, if you will note it well, to reduce thy will to love her that adores thee, than to address hers, that hates thee, to bear thee affection. Thou didst solicit my recchelessness, thou prayedst to mine integrity, and wast not ignorant of my quality; thou knowest also very well upon what terms I subjected myself to thy will, so as there remains no place nor colour to term it a fraud or deceit; and all this being so, as in verity it is, and that thou beest as Christian as thou art noble, why dost thou with these so many untoward wreathings dilate the making of mine end happy, whose commencement thou didst illustrate so much? And if thou wilt not have me for what I am, who am thy true and lawful spouse, yet at least take and admit me for thy slave, for so that I may be in thy possession I will account myself happy and fortunate. Do not permit that by leaving and abandoning me, meetings may be made to discourse of my dishonour. Do not vex thus the declining years of my parents, seeing that the loyal services which they ever have done as vassals to thine deserve not so [dis]honest a recompense. And if thou esteemest that thy blood by meddling with mine shall be stained or embased, consider how few noble houses, or rather none at all, are there in the world which have not run the same way, and that the woman’s side is not essentially requisite for the illustrating of noble descents. How much more, seeing that true nobility consists in virtue, which if it shall want in thee, by refusing that which thou owest me so justly, I shall remain with many more degrees of nobility than thou shalt. And in conclusion, that which I will lastly say is, that whether thou wilt or no, I am thy wife; the witnesses are thine own words, which neither should nor ought to lie, if thou dost esteem thyself to have that for the want of which thou despisest me. Witness shall also be thine own handwriting. Witness Heaven, which thou didst invoke to bear witness of that which thou didst promise unto me: and when all this shall fail, thy very conscience shall never fail from using clamours, being silent in thy mirth and turning, for this truth which I have said to thee now shall trouble the greatest pleasure and delight.’
These and many other like reasons did the sweetly grieved Dorothea use with such feeling, as all those that were presents, as well such as accompanied Don Fernando, and all the others that did accompany her, shed abundance of tears. Don Fernando listened unto her without replying a word, until she had ended her speech, and given beginning to so many sighs and sobs, as the heart that could endure to behold them without moving were harder than brass. Lucinda did also regard her, no less compassionate of her sorrow than admired at her discretion and beauty, and although she would have approached to her, and used some consolatory words, yet was she hindered by Don Fernando’s arms, which held her still embraced, who, full of confusion and marvel, after he had stood very attentively beholding Dorothea a good while, opening his arms, and leaving Lucinda free, said, ‘Thou hast vanquished, O beautiful Dorothea! thou hast vanquished me; for it is not possible to resist or deny so many united truths.’ Lucinda, through her former trance and weakness, as Don Fernando left her, was like to fall, if Cardenio, who stood behind Don Fernando all the while lest he should be known, shaking off all fear and endangering his person, had not started forward to stay her from falling; and, clasping her sweetly between his arms, he said, ‘If pitiful Heaven be pleased, and would have thee now at last take some ease, my loyal, constant, and beautiful lady, I presume that thou canst not possess it more securely than between these arms which do now receive thee, as whilom they did when fortune was pleased that I might call thee mine own.’ And then Lucinda, first severing her eyelids, beheld Cardenio, and having first taken notice of him by his voice, and confirmed it again by her sight, like one quite distracted, without further regarding modest respects, she cast both her arms about his neck, and, joining her face to his, said, ‘Yea, thou indeed art my lord; thou, the true owner of this poor captive, howsoever adverse fortune shall thwart it, or this life, which is only sustained and lives by thine, be ever so much threatened.’ This was a marvellous spectacle to Don Fernando, and all the rest of the beholders, which did universally admire at this so unexpected an event. And Dorothea, perceiving Don Fernando to change colour, as one resolving to take revenge on Cardenio, for he had set hand to his sword, which she conjecturing, did with marvellous expedition kneel, and, catching hold on his legs, kissing them, she strained them with so loving embracements as he could not stir out of the place, and then, with her eyes overflown with tears, said unto him, “What meanest thou to do, my only refuge in this unexpected trance? Thou hast here thine own spouse at thy feet, and her whom thou wouldst fain possess is between her own husband’s arms. Judge, then, whether it become thee, or is a thing possible, to dissolve that which Heaven hath knit, or whether it be anywise laudable to endeavour to raise and equal to thyself her who, contemning all dangers and inconveniences, and confirmed in faith and constancy, doth in thy presence bathe her eyes with amorous liquor of her true love’s face and bosom. I desire thee for God’s sake, and by thine own worths I request thee, that this so notorious a verity may not only assuage thy choler, but also diminish it in such sort, as thou mayst quietly and peaceably permit those two lovers to enjoy their desires without any encumbrance all the time that Heaven shall grant it to them; and herein thou shalt show the generosity of thy magnanimous and noble breast, and give the world to understand how reason prevaileth in thee, and domineereth over passion.’ All the time that Dorothea spoke thus to Don Fernando, although Cardenio held Lucinda between his arms, yet did he never take his eyes off Don Fernando, with resolution that if he did see him once stir in his prejudice, he would labour both to defend himself and offend his adversary and all those who should join with him to do him any harm, as much as he could, although it were with the rest of his life. But Don Fernando’s friends, the curate and barber, that were present and saw all that was passed, repaired in the mean season, without omitting the good Sancho Panza, and all of them together compassed Don Fernando, entreating him to have regard of the beautiful Dorothea’s tears, and it being true (as they believed it was) that she had said, he should not permit her to remain defrauded of her so just and lawful hopes, assuring him that it was not by chance, but rather by the particular providence and disposition of the heavens, that they had all met together so unexpectedly; and that he should remember, as master curate said very well, that only death could sever Lucinda from her Cardenio; and that although the edge of a sword might divide and part them asunder, yet in that case they would account their death most happy; and that, in irremediless events, it was highest prudence, by straining and overcoming himself, to show a generous mind, and that he might conquer his own will, by permitting these two to enjoy that good which Heaven had already granted to them; and that he should turn his eyes to behold the beauty of Dorothea, and he should see that few or none could for feature paragon with her, and much less excel her; and that he should confer her humility and extreme love which she bore to him with her other endowments: and principally, that if he gloried in the titles of nobility or Christianity, he could not do any other than accomplish the promise that he had passed to her; and that by fulfilling it he should please God and satisfy discreet persons, which know very well how it is a special prerogative of beauty, though it be in an humble and mean subject, if it be consorted with modesty and virtue, to exalt and equal itself to any dignity, without disparagement of him which doth help to raise or unite it to himself. And when the strong laws of delight are accomplished (so that there intercur no sin in the acting thereof), he is not to be condemned which doth follow them. Finally, they added to these reasons others so many and forcible, that the valorous breast of Don Fernando (as commonly all those that are warmed and nourished by noble blood are wont) was mollified, and permitted itself to be vanquished by that truth which he could not deny though he would. And the token that he gave of his being overcome, was to stoop down and embrace Dorothea, saying unto her, ‘Arise, lady; for it is not just that she be prostrate at my feet whose image I have erected in my mind. And if I have not hitherto given demonstrations of what I now aver, it hath perhaps befallen through the disposition of Heaven, to the end I might, by noting the constancy and faith wherewithal thou dost affect me, know after how to value and esteem thee according unto thy merits. And that which in recompense thereof I do entreat of thee is, that thou wilt excuse in me mine ill manner of proceeding and exceeding carelessness in repaying thy good-will; for the very occasion and violent passions that made me to accept thee as mine, the very same did also impel me again not to be thine; and for the more verifying of mine assertion, do but once behold the eyes of the now contented Lucinda, and thou mayst read in them a thousand excuses for mine error; and seeing she hath found and obtained her heart’s desire, and I have in thee also gotten what is most convenient—for I wish she may live securely and joyfully many and happy years with her Cardenio: for I will pray the same, that it will license me to enjoy my beloved Dorothea.’ And saying so, he embraced her again, and joined his face to hers with so lovely motion, as it constrained him to hold watch over his tears, lest violently bursting forth, they should give doubtless arguments of his fervent love and remorse.
Cardenio, Lucinda, and almost all the rest could not do so, for the greater number of them shed so many tears, some for their private contentments, and others for their friends, as it seemed that some grievous and heavy misfortune had betided them all; even very Sancho Panza wept, although he excused it afterward, saying that he wept only because that he saw that Dorothea was not the Queen Micomicona, as he had imagined, of whom he hoped to have received so great gifts and favours. The admiration and tears joined, endured in them all for a pretty space; and presently after, Cardenio and Lucinda went and kneeled to Don Fernando, yielding him thanks for the favour that he had done to them, with so courteous compliments as he knew not what to answer, and therefore lifted them up, and embraced them with very great affection and kindness, and presently after he demanded of Dorothea how she came to that place, so far from her own dwelling. And she recounted unto him all that she had told to Cardenio; whereat Don Fernando and those which came with him took so great delight, as they could have wished that her story had continued a longer time in the telling than it did-so great was Dorothea’s grace in setting out her misfortunes. And as soon as she had ended, Don Fernando told all that had befallen him in the city, after that he had found the scroll in Lucinda’s bosom, wherein she declared Cardenio to be her husband, and that he therefore could not marry her; and also how he attempted to kill her, and would have done it, were it not that her parents hindered him; and that he therefore departed out of the house, full of shame and despite, with resolution to revenge himself more commodiously; and how he understood the next day following, how Lucinda was secretly departed from her father’s house, and gone nobody knew where, but that he finally learned within a few months after, that she had entered into a certain monastery, with intention to remain there all the days of her life, if she could not pass them with Cardenio; and that as soon as he had learned that, choosing those three gentlemen for his associates, he came to the place where she was, but would not speak to her, fearing lest that, as soon as they knew of his being there, they would increase the guards of the monastery; and therefore expected until he found on a day the gates of the monastery open, and leaving two of his fellows to keep the door, he with the other entered into the abbey in Lucinda’s search, whom they found talking with a nun in the cloister; and, snatching her away ere she could retire herself, they brought her to a certain village, where they disguised themselves in that sort they were; for so it was requisite for to bring her away: all which they did with the more facility, that the monastery was seated abroad in the fields, a good way from any village. He likewise told that, as soon as Lucinda saw herself in his power, she fell into a swoon; and that, after she had returned to herself, she never did any other thing but weep and sigh, without speaking a word; and that in that manner, accompanied with silence and tears, they had arrived to that inn, which was to him as grateful as an arrival to heaven, wherein all earthly mishaps are concluded and finished.