Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616). Don Quixote, Part 1.
The Third Book
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.
XIII. How the Curate and the Barber Put Their Design in Practice, with Many Other Things Worthy to Be Recorded in This Famous History
THE CURATE’S invention disliked not the barber, but rather pleased him so well as they presently put it in execution. They borrowed, therefore, of the innkeeper’s wife a gown and a kerchief, leaving her in pawn thereof a fair new cassock of the curate’s. The barber made him a great beard of a pied ox’s tail, wherein the innkeeper was wont to hang his horse’s comb. The hostess demanded of them the occasion why they would use these things. The curate recounted in brief, reasons of Don Quixote’s madness, and how that disguisement was requisite to bring him away from the mountain wherein at that present he made his abode.
Presently the innkeeper and his wife remembered themselves how he had been their guest, and of his balsam, and was the tossed squire’s lord; and then they rehearsed again to the curate all that had passed between him and them in that inn, without omitting the accident that had befallen Sancho himself; and in conclusion the hostess tricked up the curate so handsomely as there could be no more desired; for she attired him in a gown of broadcloth, laid over with guards of black velvet, each being a span breadth, full of gashes and cuts; the bodice and sleeves of green velvet, welted with white satin; which gown and doublet, as I suspect, were both made in the time of King Bamba. The curate would not permit them to veil and bekerchief him, but set on his head a white quilted linen nightcap, which he carried for the night, and girded his forehead with a black taffeta garter, and with the other he masked his face, wherewithal he covered his beard and visage very neatly; then did he encasque his pate in his hat, which was so broad, as it might serve him excellently for a quitasol; and lapping himself up handsomely in his long cloak, he went to horse, and rode as women use. Then mounted the barber likewise on his mule, with his beard hanging down to the girdle, half red and half white, as that which, as we have said, was made of the tail of as pied-coloured ox; then taking leave of them all, and of the good Maritornes, who promised (although a sinner) to say a rosary to their intention, to the end that God might give them good success in so Christian and difficult an adventure as that which they undertook. But scarce were they gone out of the inn, when the curate began to dread a little that he had done ill in apparelling himself in that wise, accounting it a very indecent thing that a priest should dight himself so, although the matter concerned him never so much. And acquainting the barber with his surmise, he entreated him that they might change attires, seeing it was much more just that he, because a layman, should feign the oppressed lady, and himself would become his squire, for so his dignity would be less profaned; to which, if he would not condescend, he resolved to pass on no farther, although the devil should carry therefore Don Quixote away. Sancho came over to them about this season, and seeing them in that habit, he could not contain his laughter. The barber (to be brief) did all that which the curate pleased, and making thus an exchange of inventions, the curate instructed him how he should behave himself, and what words he should use to Don Quixote to press and move him to come away with him, and forsake the propension and love of that place which he had chosen to perform his vain penance.
The barber answered, that he would set everything in his due point and perfection, though he had never lessoned him, but would not set on the array until they came near to the place where Don Quixote abode; and therefore folded up his clothes, and master parson his beard, and forthwith went on their way; Sancho Panza playing the guide, who recounted at large to them all that bad happened with the madman whom they found in the mountain; concealing, notwithstanding, the booty of the malet, with the other things found therein; for, although otherwise most simple, yet was our young man an ordinary vice of fools, and had a spice of covetousness.
They arrived the next day following to the place where Sancho had left the tokens of boughs, to find that wherein his master sojourned; and having taken notice thereof, he said unto them that that was the entry, and therefore they might do well to apparel themselves, if by change that might be a mean to procure his lord’s liberty; for they had told him already, that on their going and apparelling in that manner consisted wholly the hope of freeing his lord out of that wretched life he had chosen; and therefore did charge him, on his life, not to reveal to his lord in any case what they were, nor seem in any sort to know them; and that if he demanded (as they were sure he would) whether he had delivered his letter to Dulcinea, he should say he did, and that by reason she could not read, she answered him by word of mouth, saying that she commanded, under pain of her indignation, that presently abandoning so austere a life, he would come and see her; for this was most requisite, to the end that moved therewithal, and by what they meant likewise to say unto him, they made certain account to reduce him to a better life, and would besides persuade him to that course instantly, which might set him in the way to become an emperor or monarch; for as concerning the being an archbishop, he needed not to fear it at all.
Sancho listened to all the talk and instruction, and bore them away well in memory, and gave them great thanks for the intention they had to counsel his lord to become an emperor, and not an archbishop; for, as he said, he imagined in his simple judgment, that an emperor was of more ability to reward his squire than an archbishop-errant. He likewise added, that he thought it were necessary he went somewhat before them to search him, and deliver his lady’s answer; for perhaps it alone would be sufficient to fetch him out of that place, without putting them to any further pains. They liked of Sancho Panza’s device, and therefore determined to expect him until his return with the news of finding his master. With that Sancho entered in by the clefts of the rocks (leaving them both behind together), by which ran a little smooth stream, to which other rocks, and some trees that grew near unto it, made a fresh and pleasing shadow. The heats, and the day wherein they arrived there, was one of those of the month of August, when in those places the heat is intolerable; the hour, about three in the afternoon: all which did render the place more grateful, and invited them to remain therein until Sancho’s return. Both, therefore, resting there quietly under the shadow, there arrived to their hearing the sound of a voice, which, without being accompanied by any instrument, did resound so sweet and melodiously, as they remained greatly admired, because they esteemed not that to be a place wherein any so good a musician might make his abode; for, although it is usually said that in the woods and fields are found shepherds of excellent voices, yet is this rather a poetical endearment than an approved truth; and most of all when they perceived that the verses they heard him singing were not of rustic composition, but rather of delicate and courtly invention. The truth whereof is confirmed by the verses, which were these:
‘Who doth my weal diminish thus and stain?
And say by whom my woes augmented be?
And who my patience doth by trial wrong?
An absence long.
If that be so, then for my grievous wrong,
No remedy at all I may obtain,
Since my best hopes I cruelly find slain
By disdain, jealousy, and absence long.
‘Who in my mind those dolors still doth move?
And who my glory’s ebb doth most importune?
And to my plaints by whom increase is giv’n?
If that be so, then my mistrust jumps ev’n,
That of my wondrous evil I needs must die;
Since in my harm join’d and united be,
Love, wavering fortune, and a rigorous Heaven.
‘Who better hap can unto me bequeath?
From whom his favours doth not love estrange?
And his too serious harms, who cureth wholly?
If that be so, it is no wisdom truly,
To think by human means to cure that care,
Where the only antidotes and med’cines are
Desired death, light change, and endless folly.’
The hour, the time, the solitariness of the place, voice, and art of him that sung, struck wonder and delight in the hearers’ minds, which remained still quiet, listening whether they might hear anything else; but, perceiving that the silence continued a pretty while, they agreed to issue and seek out the musician that sung so harmoniously; and being ready to put their resolution in practice, they were again arrested by the same voice, the which touched their ears anew with this sonnet:
‘Holy amity! which, with nimble wings,
Thy semblance leaving here on earth behind,
Among the blessed souls of heaven, up-flings,
To those imperial rooms to cheer thy mind:
And thence to us, is (when thou lik’st) assign’d
Just Peace, whom shady veil so covered brings;
As oft, instead of her, Deceit we find
Clad in weeds of good and virtuous things.
Leave heaven, O amity! do not permit
Foul Fraud thus openly thy robes to invest;
With which, sincere intents destroy does it:
For if thy likeness from it thou dost not wrest,
The world will turn to the first conflict soon,
Of discord, chaos, and confusion.’
The song was concluded with a profound sigh, and both the others lent attentive ear to hear if he would sing any more; but perceiving that the music was converted into throbs and doleful plaints, they resolved to go and learn who was the wretch, as excellent for his voice as dolorous in his sighs. And after they had gone a little, at the doubling of the point of a crag, they perceived one of the very same form the fashion that Sancho had painted unto them when he told them the history of Cardenio; which man espying them likewise, showed no semblance of fear, but stood still with his head hanging on his breast like a malcontent, not once lifting up his eyes to behold them From the first time when they unexpectedly arrived.
The curate, who was a man very well spoken (as one that had already intelligence of his misfortune; for he knew him by his signs), drew nearer to him, and prayed and persuaded him, with short but very forcible reasons, to forsake that miserable life, lest he should there eternally lose it, which of all miseries would prove the most miserable. Cardenio at this season was in his right sense, free from the furious accident that distracted him so often; and therefore, viewing them both attired in so strange and unusual a fashion from that which was used among those deserts, he rested somewhat admired, but chiefly hearing them speak in his affair, as in a matter known (for so much he gathered out of the curate’s speeches); and therefore answered in this manner: ‘I perceive well, good sirs (whosoever you be), that Heaven, which hath always care to succour good men; yea, even, and the wicked many times, hath, without any desert, addressed unto me by these deserts and places so remote from the vulgar haunt, persons which, laying before mine eyes with quick and pregnant reasons the little I have to lead this kind of life, do labour to remove me from this place to a better; and by reason they know not as much as I do, and that after escaping this harm I shall fall into a far greater, they account me perhaps for a man of weak discourse, and what is worse, for one wholly devoid of judgment. And were it so, yet is it no marvel; for it seems to me that the force of the imagination of my disasters is to bent and powerful in my destruction, that I, without being able to make it any resistance, do become like a stone, void of all good feeling and knowledge. And I come to know the certainty of this truth when some men do recount and show unto me tokens of the things I have done whilst this terrible accident overrules me; and after I can do no more than be grieved, though in vain, and curse, without benefit, my too froward fortune, and render as an excuse of my madness the relation of the cause thereof to as many as please to hear it; for wise men perceiving the cause will not wonder at the effects, and though they give me no remedy, yet at least will not condemn me; for it will convert the anger they conceive at my misrules into compassion for my disgraces. And, sirs, if by chance it be so that you come with the same intention that others did, I request you, ere you enlarge further your discreet persuasions, that you will give ear awhile to the relation of my mishaps; for perhaps, when you have understood it, you may save the labour that you would take, comforting an evil wholly incapable of consolation.’
Both of them, which desired nothing so much [as] to understand from his own mouth the occasion of his harms, did entreat him to relate it, promising to do nothing else in his remedy or comfort but what himself pleased. And with this the sorrowful gentleman began his doleful history, with the very same words almost that he had rehearsed it to Don Quixote and the goatherd a few days past, when, by occasion of Master Elisabat and Don Quixote’s curiosity in observing the decorum of chivalry, the tale remained imperfect, as our history left it above. But now good fortune so disposed things, that his foolish fit came not upon him, but gave him leisure to continue his story to the end; and so arriving to the passage that spoke of the letter Don Fernando found in the book of Amadis de Gaul, Cardenio said that he had it very well in memory, and the sense was this:
‘“LUCINDA TO CARDENIO.
‘“I discover daily in thee worths that oblige and enforce me to hold thee dear; and therefore, if thou desirest to have me discharge this debt, without serving a writ on my honour, thou mayst easily do it. I have a father that knows thee, and loves me likewise well, who, without forcing my will, will accomplish that which justly thou oughtest to have, if it be so that thou esteemest me as much as thou sayst, and I do believe.”
‘This letter moved me to demand Lucinda of her father for my wife, as I have already recounted; and by it also Lucinda remained in Don Fernando’s opinion crowned for one of the most discreet women of her time. And this billet letter was that which first put him in mind to destroy me ere I could effect my desires. I told to Don Fernando wherein consisted all the difficulty of her father’s protracting of the marriage, to wit, in that my father should first demand her; the which I dared not to mention unto him, fearing lest he would not willingly consent thereunto; not for that the quality, bounty, virtue, and beauty of Lucinda were to him unknown, or that she had not parts in her able to ennoble and adorn any other lineage of Spain whatsoever, but because I understood by him, that he desired not to marry me until he had seen what Duke Ricardo would do for me. Finally, I told him that I dared not reveal it to my father, as well for that inconvenience, as for many others that made me so afraid, without knowing what they were, as methought my desires would never take effect.
‘To all this Don Fernando made me answer, that he would take upon him to speak to my father, and persuade him to treat of that affair also with Lucinda’s. O ambitious Marius! O cruel Catiline! O facinorous Sylla! O treacherous Galalon! O traitorous Vellido! O revengeful Julian! O covetous Judas! Traitor, cruel, revengeful, and cozening, what indeserts did this wench commit, who with such plaints discovered to thee the secrets and delights of her heart? What offence committed I against thee? What words did I speak, or counsel did I give, that were not all addressed to the increasing of thine honour and profit? But on what do I (the worst of all wretches!) complain? seeing that when the current of the stars doth bring with it mishaps, by reason they come down precipitately from above, there is no earthly force can withhold, or human industry prevent or evacuate them. Who would have imagined that Don Fernando, a noble gentleman, discreet, obliged by my deserts, and powerful to obtain whatsoever the amorous desire would exact of him, where and whensoever it seized on his heart, would (as they say) become so corrupt as to deprive me of one only sheep, which yet I did not possess? But let these considerations be laid apart as unprofitable, that we may knit up again the broken thread of my unfortunate history. And therefore I say that, Don Fernando believing that my presence was a hindrance to put his treacherous and wicked design in execution, he resolved to send me to his eldest brother, under pretext to get some money of him for to buy six great horses, that he had of purpose, and only to the end I might absent myself, bought the very same day that he offered to speak himself to my father, and would have me go for the money, because he might bring his treacherous intent the better to pass. Could I prevent this treason? Or could I perhaps but once imagine it? No, truly; but rather, glad for the good merchandise he had made, did make proffer of myself to depart for the money very willingly. I spoke that night to Lucinda, and acquainted her with the agreement passed between me and Don Fernando, bidding her to hope firmly that our good just desires would sort a wished and happy end. She answered me again (as little suspecting Don Fernando’s treason as myself), bidding me to return with all speed, because she believed that the conclusion of our affections should be no longer deferred than my father deferred to speak unto hers. And what was the cause I know not, but as soon as she had said this unto me, her eyes were filled with tears, and somewhat thwarting her throat, hindered her from saying many other things, which methought she strived to speak.
‘I rested admired at this new accident, until that time never seen in her; for always, as many times as my good fortune and diligence granted it, we conversed with all sport and delight, without ever intermeddling in our discourses any tears, sighs, complaints, suspicions, or fears. All my speech was to advance my fortune for having received her from Heaven as my lady and mistress; then would I amplify her beauty, admire her worth, and praise her discretion. She, on the other side, would return me the exchange, extolling in me what she, as one enamoured, accounted worthy of laud and commendation. After this we would recount a hundred thousand toys and chances befallen our neighbours and acquaintance; and that to which my presumption dared furthest to extend itself, was sometimes to take her beautiful and ivory hands perforce, and kiss them as well as I might, through the rigorous strictness of a niggardly iron grate which divided us. But the precedent night to the day of my sad departure, she wept, sobbed, and sighed, and departed, leaving me full of confusion and inward assaults, amazed to behold such new and doleful tokens of sorrow and feeling in Lucinda. But because I would not murder my hopes, I did attribute all these things to the force of her affection towards me, and to the grief which absence is wont to stir in those that love one another dearly. To be brief, I departed from thence sorrowful and pensive, my soul being full of imaginations and suspicions, and yet knew not what I suspected or imagined: clear tokens, foretelling the sad success and misfortune which attended me. I arrived to the place where I was sent, and delivered my letter to Don Fernando’s brother, and was well entertained, but not well despatched; for he commanded me to expect (a thing to me most displeasing) eight days, and that out of the duke his father’s presence, because his brother had written unto him to send him certain moneys unknown to his father. And all this was but false Don Fernando’s invention; for his brother wanted not money wherewithal to have despatched me presently, had not he written the contrary.
‘This was so displeasing a commandment and order, as almost it brought me to terms of disobeying it, because it seemed to me a thing most impossible to sustain my life so many days in the absence of my Lucinda, and specially having left her so sorrowful as I have recounted; yet, notwithstanding, I did obey like a good servant, although I knew it would be with the cost of my health. But on the fourth day after I had arrived, there came a man in my search with a letter, which he delivered unto me, and by the endorsement I knew it to be Lucinda’s; for the hand was like hers. I opened it (not without fear and assailment of my senses), knowing that it must have been some serious occasion which could move her to write unto me, being absent, seeing she did it so rarely even when I was present. I demanded of the bearer, before I read, who had delivered it to him, and what time he had spent in the way. He answered me, “that passing by chance at midday through a street of the city, a very beautiful lady did call him from a certain window. Her eyes were all beblubbered with tears, and said unto him very hastily, ‘Brother, if thou beest a Christian, as thou appearest to be one, I pray thee, for God’s sake, that thou do forthwith address this letter to the place and person that the superscription assigneth (for they be well known), and therein thou shalt do our Lord great service; and because thou mayst not want means to do it, take what thou shalt find wrapped in that handkerchief.’ And, saying so, she threw out of the window a handkerchief, wherein were lapped up a hundred reals, this ring of gold which I carry here, and that letter which I delivered unto you; and presently, without expecting mine answer, she departed, but first saw me take up the handkerchief and letter, and then I made her signs that I would accomplish herein her command. And after, perceiving the pains I might take in bringing you it so well considered, and seeing by the endorsement that you were the man to whom it was addressed,—for, sir, I know you very well,—and also obliged to do it by the tears of that beautiful lady, I determined not to trust any other with it, but to come and bring it you myself in person; and in sixteen hours since it was given unto me, I have travelled the journey you know, which is at least eighteen leagues long.” Whilst the thankful new messenger spake thus unto me, I remained in a manner hanging on his words, and my thighs did tremble in such manner as I could very hardly sustain myself on foot; yet, taking courage, at last I opened the letter, whereof these were the contents:
‘“The word that Don Fernando hath passed unto you to speak to your father, that he might speak to mine, he hath accomplished more to his own pleasure than to your profit. For, sir, you shall understand that he hath demanded me for his wife; and my father (borne away by the advantage of worths which he supposes to be in Don Fernando more than in you) hath agreed to his demand in so good earnest, as the espousals shall be celebrated within these two days, and that so secretly and alone as only the heavens and some folk of the house shall be witnesses. How I remain, imagine, and whether it be convenient you should return, you may consider; and the success of this affair shall let you to perceive whether I love you well or no. I beseech Almighty God that this may arrive unto your hands before mine shall be in danger to join itself with his, which keepeth his promised faith so ill.”
‘These were, in sum, the contents of the letter, and the motives that persuaded me presently to depart, without attending any other answer or other moneys; for then I conceived clearly that it was not the buyal of the horses, but that of his delights, which had moved Don Fernando to send me to his brother. The rage which I conceived against him, joined with the fear to lose the jewel which I had gained by so many years’ service and desires, did set wings on me, for I arrived as I had flown next day at mine own city, in the hour and moment fit to go speak to Lucinda. I entered secretly, and left my mule whereon I rode in the honest man’s house that had brought me the letter, and my fortune purposing then to be favourable to me, disposed so mine affairs, that I found Lucinda sitting at that iron grate which was the sole witness of our loves. Lucinda knew me straight and I her, but not as we ought to know one another. But who is he in the world that can truly vaunt that he hath penetrated and thoroughly exhausted the confused thoughts and mutable nature of women? Truly none. I say, then, to proceed with my tale, that as soon as Lucinda perceived me, she said, “Cardenio, I am attired with my wedding garments, and in the hall doth wait for me the traitor Don Fernando, and my covetous father, with other witnesses, which shall rather be such of my death than of mine espousals. Be not troubled, dear friend, but procure to be present at this sacrifice, the which if I cannot hinder by my persuasions and reasons, I carry hidden about me a poniard secretly, which may hinder more resolute forces by giving end to my life, and a beginning to thee, to know certain the affection which I have ever borne and do bear unto thee.” I answered her troubled and hastily, fearing I should not have the leisure to reply unto her, saying, “Sweet lady, let thy works verify thy words; for if thou carriest a poniard to defend thy credit, I do here likewise bear a sword wherewithal I will defend thee, or kill myself, if fortune prove adverse and contrary.” I believe that she could not hear all my words, by reason she was called hastily away, as I perceived, for that the bridegroom expected her coming. By this the night of my sorrows did thoroughly fall, and the sun of my gladness was set, and I remained without light in mine eyes or discourse in my understanding. I could not find the way into her house, nor could I move myself to any part; yet, considering at last how important my presence was for that which might befall in that adventure, I animated myself the best I could, and entered into the house; and as one that knew very well all the entries and passages thereof, and specially by reason of the trouble and business that was then in hand, I went in unperceived of any. And thus, without being seen, I had the opportunity to place myself in the hollow room of a window of the same hall, which was covered by the ends of two encountering pieces of tapestry, from whence I could see all that was done in the hall, remaining myself unviewed of any. Who could now describe the assaults and surprisals of my heart while I there abode? the thoughts which encountered my mind? the considerations which I had? which were so many and such, as they can neither be said, nor is it reason they should. Let it suffice you to know that the bridegroom entered into the hall without any ornament, wearing the ordinary array he was wont, and was accompanied by a cousin-german of Lucinda’s, and in all the hall there was no stranger present, nor any other than the household servants. Within a while after, Lucinda came out of the parlour, accompanied by her mother and two waiting-maids of her own, as richly attired and decked as her calling and beauty deserved, and the perfection of courtly pomp and bravery could afford. My distraction and trouble of mind lent me no time to note particularly the apparel she wore, and therefore did only mark the colours, which were carnation and white; and the splendour which the precious stones and jewels of her tires and all the rest of her garments yielded; yet did the singular beauty of her fair and golden tresses surpass them so much, as being in competency with the precious stones, and flame of four links that lighted in the hall, yet did the splendour thereof seem far more bright and glorious to mine eyes. O memory! the mortal enemy of mine ease, to what end serves it now to represent unto me the incomparable beauty of that my adored enemy? Were it not better, cruel memory! to remember and represent that which she did then, that, being moved by so manifest a wrong, I may at least endeavour to lose my life, since I cannot procure a revenge? Tire not, good sirs, to hear the digressions I make; for my grief is not of that kind that may be rehearsed succinctly and speedily, seeing that in mine opinion every passage of it is worthy of a large discourse.’
To this the curate answered, that not only they were not tired or wearied hearing of him, but rather they received marvellous delight to her him recount each minuity and circumstance, because they were such as deserved not to be passed over in silence, but rather merited as much attention as the principal parts of the history.
‘You shall then wit,’ quoth Cardenio, ‘that as they thus stood in the hall, the curate of the parish entered, and, taking them both by the hand to do that which in such an act is required at the saying of, “Will you, Lady Lucinda, take the Lord Don Fernando, who is here present, for your lawful spouse, according as our holy mother of the Church commands?” I thrust out all my head and neck out of the tapestry, and, with most attentive ears and a troubled mind, settled myself to hear what Lucinda answered, expecting by it the sentence of my death or the confirmation of my life. Oh, if one had dared to sally out at that time, and cry with a loud voice, “O Lucinda! Lucinda! see well what thou doest; consider withal what thou owest me! Behold how thou art mine, and that thou canst not be any other’s; Note that thy saying of Yea and the end of my life shall be both in one instant. O traitor, Don Fernando, robber of my glory! death of my life! what is this thou pretendest? what wilt thou do? Consider that thou canst not, Christian-like, achieve thine intention, seeing Lucinda is my spouse, and I am her husband.” O foolish man! now that I am absent, and far from the danger, I say what I should have done, and not what I did. Now, after that I have permitted my dear jewel to be robbed, I exclaim on the thief, on whom I might have revenged myself, had I had as much heart to do it as I have to complain. In fine, since I was then a coward and a fool, it is no matter though I now die ashamed, sorry, and frantic. The curate stood expecting Lucinda’s answer a good while ere she gave it; and in the end, when I hoped that she would take out the poniard to stab herself, or would unloose her tongue to say some truth, or use some reason or persuasion that might redound to my benefit, I heard her instead thereof answer, with a dismayed and languishing voice, the word “I will.” And then Don Fernando said the same; and, giving her the ring, they remained tied with an indissoluble knot. Then the bridegroom coming to kiss his spouse, she set her hand upon her heart, and fell in a trance between her mother’s arms.
‘Now only remains untold the case wherein I was, seeing in that Yea, which I had heard, my hopes deluded, Lucinda’s words and promises falsified, and myself wholly disabled to recover in any time the good which I lost in that instant. I rested void of counsel, abandoned (in mine opinion) by Heaven, proclaimed an enemy to the earth which upheld me, the air denying breath enough for my sighs, and the water humour sufficient to mine eyes; only the fire increased in such manner as I burned thoroughly with rage and jealousy. All the house was in a tumult for this sudden amazement of Lucinda; and as her mother unclasped her bosom to give her the air, there appeared in it a paper, folded up, which Don Fernando presently seized on, and went aside to read it by the light of a torch; and after he had read it, he sat down in a chair, laying his hands on his cheek, with manifest signs of melancholy discontent, without bethinking himself of the remedies that were applied to his spouse to bring her again to herself. I, seeing all the folk of the house thus in an uproar, did adventure myself to issue, not weighing much whether I were seen or no, bearing withal a resolution (if I were perceived) to play such a rash part, as all the world should understand the just indignation of my breast, by the revenge I would take on false Don Fernando and the mutable and dismayed traitress. But my destiny, which hath reserved me for greater evils (if possibly there be any greater than mine own), ordained that instant my wit should abound, whereof ever since I have so great want; and therefore, without will to take revenge of my greatest enemies (of whom I might have taken it with all facility, by reason they suspected so little my being there), I determined to take it on myself, and execute in myself the pain which they deserved, and that perhaps with more rigour than I would have used toward them if I had slain them at that time, seeing that the sudden death finisheth presently the pain; but that which doth lingeringly torment, kills always, without ending the life.
‘To be short, I went out of the house, and came to the other where I had left my mule, which I caused to be saddled; and, without bidding mine host adieu, I mounted on her, and rode out of the city, without daring, like another Lot, to turn back and behold it; and then, seeing myself alone in the fields, and that the darkness of the night did cover me, and the silence thereof invite me to complain, without respect or fear to be heard or known, I did let slip my voice, and untied my tongue with so many curses of Lucinda and Don Fernando, as if thereby I might satisfy the wrong they had done me. I gave her the title of cruel, ungrateful, false, and scornful, but especially of covetous, seeing the riches of mine enemy had shut up the eyes of her affection, to deprive me thereof, and render it to him with whom fortune had dealt more frankly and liberally; and in the midst of this tune of maledictions and scorns, I did excuse her, saying, That it was no marvel that a maiden kept close in her parents’ house, made and accustomed always to obey them, should at last condescend to their will, specially seeing they bestowed upon her for husband so noble, so rich, and proper a gentleman, as to refuse him would be reputed in her to proceed either from want of judgment, or from having bestowed her affections elsewhere, which things must of force greatly prejudice her good opinion and renown. Presently would I turn again to say, that though she had told them that I was her spouse, they might easily perceive that in choosing me she had not made so ill an election that she might not be excused, seeing that before Don Fernando offered himself, they themselves could not happen to desire, if their wishes were guided by reason, so fit a match for their daughter as myself; and she might easily have said, before she put herself in that last and forcible pass of giving her hand, that I had already given her mine, which I would come out to confess, and confirm all that she could any way feign in this case; and concluded in the end, that little love, less judgment, much ambition, and desire of greatness caused her to forget the words wherewithal she had deceived, entertained, and sustained me in my firm hopes and honest desires.
‘Using these words, and feeling this unquietness in my breast, I travelled all the rest of the night, and struck about dawn into one of the entries of these mountains, through which I travelled three days at random, without following or finding any path or way, until I arrived at last to certain meadows and fields, that lie I know not in which part of these mountains; and finding there certain herds, I demanded of them which way lay the most craggy and inaccessible places of these rocks, and they directed me hither; and presently I travelled towards it, with purpose here to end my life; and, entering in among those deserts, my mule, through weariness and hunger, fell dead under me, or rather, as I may better suppose, to disburden himself of so vile and unprofitable a burden as he carried of me. I remained afoot, overcome by nature, and pierced through and through by hunger, without having any help, or knowing who might succour me, and remained after that manner I know not how long, prostrate on the ground, and then I rose again without any hunger, and I found near unto me certain goatherds, who were those doubtlessly that fed me in my hunger; for they told me in what manner they found me, and how I spake so many foolish and mad words as gave certain argument that I was devoid of judgment; and I have felt in myself since that time that I enjoy not my wits perfectly, but rather perceive them to be so weakened and impaired, as I commit a hundred follies, tearing mine apparel, crying loudly through these deserts, cursing my fates, and idly repeating the abhorred name of mine enemy, without having any other intent or discourse at that time than to endeavour to finish my life are long; and when I turn to myself, I am so broken and tired as I am scarce able to stir me. My most ordinary mansion-place is in the hollowness of a cork-tree, sufficiently able to cover this wretched carcase. The cowherds and the goatherds that feed their cattle here in these mountains, moved by charity, gave me sustenance, leaving meat for me by the ways and on the rocks which they suppose I frequent, and where they think I may find it; and so, although I do then want the use of reason, yet doth natural necessity induce me to know my meat, and stirreth my appetite to covet, and my will to take it. They tell me, when they meet me in my wits, that I do other times come out to the highways and take it from them violently, even when they themselves do offer it unto me willingly. After this manner do I pass my miserable life, until Heaven shall be pleased to conduct it to the last period, or so change my memory as I may no more remember the beauty and treachery of Lucinda or the injury done by Don Fernando; for, if it do me this favour, without depriving my life, then will I convert my thoughts to better discourses; if not, there is no other remedy but to pray God to receive my soul into His mercy, for I neither find valour nor strength in myself to rid my body out of the straits wherein for my pleasure I did at first willingly intrude it.
‘This is, sirs, the bitter relation of my disasters; wherefore judge if it be such as may be celebrated with less feeling and compassion than that which you may by this time have perceived in myself; and do not in vain labour to persuade or counsel me that which reason should afford you may be good for my remedy, for it will work no other effect in me than a medicine prescribed by a skilful physician to a patient that will in no sort receive it. I will have no health without Lucinda; and since she pleaseth to alienate herself, being or seeing she ought to be mine, so do I also take delight to be of the retinue of mishap, although I might be a retainer to good fortune. She hath ordained that her changing shall establish my perdition; and I will labour, by procuring mine own loss, to please and satisfy her will. And it shall be an example to ensuing ages, that I alone wanted that wherewith all other wretches abounded, to whom the impossibility of receiving comfort proved sometimes a cure; but in me it is an occasion of greater feeling and harm, because I am persuaded that my harms cannot end even with very death itself.’
Here Cardenio finished his large discourse and unfortunate and amorous history; and just about the time that the curate was be-thinking himself of some comfortable reasons to answer and persuade him, he was suspended by a voice arrived to his hearing, which with pitiful accents said what shall be recounted in the Fourth Part of this narration; for in this very point the wise and most absolute historiographer, Cid Hamet Benengeli, finished the Third Book of this history.