A TEI Project

Chapter XXXVII

Which deals where the story of the famous princess Micomicona is continued, with other amusing adventures.

SANCHO OVERHEARD all of this with no little pain in his heart, seeing the hopes of his title vanish into smoke, and that the beautiful princess Micomicona had turned into Dorotea, and the giant into don Fernando. His master was sound asleep, unaware of anything that had happened. Dorotea couldn’t convince herself that her present happiness was not all a dream. Cardenio had the same thought, and Luscinda took the same path. Don Fernando gave thanks to heaven for the favor he’d received and for having extracted him from that intricate labyrinth, where he found himself on the point of losing his honor and his soul. Finally, all who were at the inn were happy, and rejoiced at the fortunate outcome of that difficult and desperate affair.

The priest fully appreciated the situation, as a sensible man, and he gave his congratulations to each one for the good that had come to him or her, but the person who was most jubilant and delighted with the outcome was the innkeeper’s wife, because of the promise that Cardenio and the priest had made to pay her for all the damage and losses that accrued due to don Quixote. Only Sancho, as has already been said, was distressed, unlucky, and sad. So, with a heavy heart he went to see his master, who had just woken up, and said: “Your grace, señor Woebegone, can sleep all you want, without worrying about killing the giant, nor restoring the princess to her kingdom, for it’s all over and done with.”

“I can well believe that,” responded don Quixote, “because I engaged with the giant in the most monstrous and hugest battle I ever expect to have in all the days of my life. With one backslash—thwack!—I chopped his head off and it tumbled to the ground. And there was so much blood that flowed forth that the streams ran along the ground as if they were water.”

“Like red wine, you might better say,” responded Sancho, “because I want your grace to know, if you don’t know already, that the giant was a punctured wineskin, the blood was fifty liters of wine from its belly, and the chopped off head was the whore who bore me, and may the devil take it all!”

“What are you talking about, you fool?” replied don Quixote. “Have you lost your wits?”

“Stand up,” said Sancho, “and you’ll see the results of your handiwork and what we’ll have to pay for, and you’ll see that the queen has been changed into an individual named Dorotea, and other things, which, if you come to understand them, will amaze you.”

“Nothing of all this will amaze me,” replied don Quixote, “because, if you remember, the last time we were here, I told you that everything here happened by enchantment, and it wouldn’t be hard to believe that the same thing is happening now.”

“I would believe it,” responded Sancho, “if my blanketing had been like that, but it wasn’t—it really and truly happened. I saw that the innkeeper who is here today, held one corner of the blanket, and he tossed me toward the sky with great mirth and energy, and with as much laughter as strength. And since I could recognize people, I think, although I’m a simpleton and a sinner, it’s not enchantment at all, but a lot of thwacks and bad luck.”

“All right—God will make it turn out right,” said don Quixote. “Help me get dressed and let me get out there. I want to find out what was going on and see the transformations you’re talking about.”

Sancho dressed him, and while he was being dressed, the priest told don Fernando and the others about don Quixote’s madness, and of the ruse they had used to lure him away from «Peña Pobre», where he imagined that the disdain of his lady had driven him. He also told them about almost all the adventures that Sancho had related, which both amazed them and made them laugh, for it seemed to them—as it seemed to everyone—that he had the strangest kind of madness that could lay hold of a muddled mind. The priest said in addition that since Dorotea’s good fortune prevented them from pursuing their original plan, it would be necessary to invent and devise another plan to take him home. Cardenio offered to continue what had been started, and Luscinda would take on and play Dorotea’s part.

“No,” said don Fernando, “it mustn’t be that way. I want Dorotea to keep her disguise—this good knight’s village isn’t very far from here and I’ll be pleased to help in his cure.”

“It’s not more than a two days’ journey from here.”

“Well, even if it were more, I’d be happy to make the trip for such a worthy purpose.”

Don Quixote came out at this moment, in full armor, with Mambrino’s helmet—although it was dented—on his head, clutching his shield and leaning on his massive lance. Don Fernando and the others were astonished at don Quixote’s extraordinary presence, seeing his dry, pale face, half a league long, his odd array of arms, and his grave and courtly manner.

They waited in silence to see what he would say, and he, with great dignity and tranquillity, with his eyes directed toward the beautiful Dorotea, said: “I understand, beautiful señora, from my squire that your greatness has been humbled and you’ve been transformed from the queen and great lady you had been, into an ordinary maiden. If this has been by order of the king-necromancer, your father, fearful that I couldn’t give you the necessary and deserved aid, I say that he didn’t know, nor does he know, half the mass, and that he was not well-versed in chivalresque histories. If he had read them as attentively and as carefully as I have, he would find at every turn how other knights of lesser fame than I had achieved more difficult outcomes. It’s no great feat to slay a little giant, no matter how arrogant he is, because just a few hours ago I was battling with one and… but it’s better not to say anything, so they won’t claim I’m lying. But time, which reveals all things, will make it known to me when least we expect it.”

“You were battling two wineskins, and not a giant,” said the innkeeper. Don Fernando told him to be silent and not interrupt don Quixote’s speech in any way. Don Quixote continued, saying: “I say, noble and disinherited señora, if for the reason I described, your father has performed this metamorphoseos on you, don’t trust him at all, for there is no danger on earth through which my sword won’t cleave a way, and with this same sword, once I’ve made your enemy’s head topple to the ground, in just a few days I’ll place the crown of your realm on your head.”

Don Quixote said no more, and waited for the princess to respond, and she, since she knew don Fernando’s decision that she should keep up the deception until they got to don Quixote’s village, responded with great grace and gravity: “Whoever told you, brave Woebegone Knight, that I’ve been transformed and changed, did not speak correctly, for I’m the same today as I was yesterday. It’s true that certain incidents of good fortune have made some changes in me, for they have given me the best of everything I desire. But I haven’t stopped being what I was on any account, and I still want to avail myself of the might of your invenerable arm, as I always have. So, señor mío, may your goodness again bring back the honor of the father who engendered me, and consider him wise and prudent, since with his knowledge he found such an easy and appropriate way to remedy my misfortune. And I believe that it if weren’t for you, señor, I never would have had the good fortune I now have. In this I speak the truth, and most of these people present are faithful witnesses to it. What remains is for us to get on the road tomorrow, since we cannot travel anymore today, and I’ll leave to God and your heart the completion of the deliverance I expect.”

The discreet Dorotea said this, and when don Quixote heard it, he turned to Sancho, and showing great anger, said: “I’m telling you now, Sanchuelo, that you’re the biggest rapscallion in Spain. Didn’t you just tell me, you thieving vagabond, that this princess has turned into a maiden named Dorotea, and that the head of the giant I thought I’d cut off was the whore that bore you, along with other nonsense that made me more confused than I ever have been in all the days of my life? I swear,” and here he looked toward heaven and gritted his teeth, “that I’m about to wreak havoc on you, so it might put some sense into all the lying squires of knights errant that there shall ever be.”

“Calm down, your grace, señor mío,” responded Sancho, “because it may easily be that I’ve been mistaken in regard to the transformation of the señora Princess Micomicona. But insofar as the giant’s head goes, or at least the puncturing of the skins, and the business of blood being red wine, I’m not mistaken. By God, the wounded wineskins are still lying there at the head of your bed, and the red wine is a lake in the middle of the room, and if you don’t believe me, «it’ll all come out in the wash». I mean, you’ll see when the innkeeper demands payment for the damage. As for the rest, about the señora queen still being the way she was, I’m gladdened in my heart since my share will come to me as to every neighbor’s son.”

“I tell you now, Sancho,” said don Quixote, “that you’re an idiot; pardon me, and that’s enough.”

“That is enough,” said don Fernando, “and let’s not talk about it anymore, and since this señora princess says we should leave tomorrow because it’s too late today, let it be done that way, and we can spend this evening in pleasant conversation until tomorrow, when we’ll accompany señor don Quixote, because we want to be witnesses to the brave and unheard-of exploits that he’ll do in the course of this great undertaking.”

“I’m the one who will serve and accompany you,” responded don Quixote, “and I thank you for the favor done to me, and the good opinion you have of me, and I shall endeavor to justify it, or it will cost me my life, and even more, if that’s possible.”

Many courteous words and many offers of service flowed between don Quixote and don Fernando. But a traveler who came into the inn at that moment made them stop talking. His costume showed that he was a Christian recently returned from Moorish territory, because he was dressed in a short tunic made of blue cloth, with half sleeves and no collar. His pants were also of blue cloth and his cap of the same color. He was wearing date-colored low boots and had a short, curved sword, Moorish style, hanging from a strap across his chest. Right after him, riding on a donkey, was a woman dressed in the Moorish style, her face veiled, and with a scarf on her head. She was wearing a brocaded cap and a cloak that covered her from head to foot.

The man was robust and well-proportioned, and he looked to be a little more than forty years old, his face somewhat dark-complected, with a long mustache and full beard. In short, if he’d been well dressed, he would have been thought to be a person of quality and good birth.

When he came in he asked for a room, and when they said that there was none at the inn, he seemed distressed, and going over to the woman who, by her dress appeared to be Moorish, he took her off her mount in his arms. Luscinda, Dorotea, the innkeeper’s wife and daughter, and Maritornes, intrigued by the novelty of her dress, which they had never seen before, surrounded the Moorish lady. Dorotea, who always was kindly, courteous, and quick-witted, seeing that she as well as the man accompanying her were distressed at not finding a room, said: “Don’t be grieved, señora mía, at the comfort that’s lacking here, since you rarely find it in inns. But if you wouldn’t mind spending the night with us,” pointing to Luscinda, “perhaps you’ll have found accommodations that are not as good in the course of your journey.”

The veiled lady said nothing, but just stood up, crossed both her arms on her chest, bowed her head and bent her body at the waist to show that she was giving thanks. By her silence, they figured that she doubtless must be Moorish and that she didn’t speak Spanish. The captive, who had been tending to other things until then, came up, and, seeing that all the women were surrounding the one who had come with him, and she didn’t respond to what they had said to her, said: “Señoras mías, this maiden hardly understands my language, nor can she speak any other that isn’t spoken in her country, and for this reason she didn’t respond, nor will she respond, to what’s asked her.”

“We aren’t asking her anything,” responded Luscinda, “but we’re offering her our company this night, and a share of the quarters we’ll occupy, where she’ll be made as comfortable as possible, with the good will we’re obliged to show all strangers who are in need of it, especially since it’s a woman who is to be served.”

“On her part, and on my own,” responded the captive, “señora mía, I kiss your hands, and I appreciate very much, as I should, the favor you’ve offered, because on such an occasion, and by such persons as you all appear to be, it’s easy to see that it’s surely a great favor.”

“Tell me, señor,” said Dorotea, “this señora, is she Christian or Moor? Her dress and her silence makes us think that she is what we hope she’s not.”

“She’s a Moor in her dress and in her body. But in her heart she’s a true Christian—at least she has a great desire to be one.”

“So, she hasn’t been baptized?” replied Luscinda.

“There was no opportunity to have it done,” responded the captive, “after she left Algiers—her hometown—and up to now she’s not been in an imminent risk of death that would make it necessary to baptize her before she’s been instructed in the ceremonies that our Mother the Holy Church dictates. But God will be pleased to see her baptized with the dignity her rank deserves, which is greater than her clothing and mine reflect.”

With these words he made everyone who was listening curious to find out who the Moorish woman and the captive were. No one wanted to ask them just then, seeing that it was better to get them some rest than ask about their lives. Dorotea took the Moorish woman by the hand and led her to a seat next to herself and asked her to take her veil off. She looked at the captive as if to ask him what they were saying and what she should do. He told her in Arabic that they were asking her to take off her veil and that she should do it. So she took it off, and revealed a face that was so beautiful that Dorotea thought she was more beautiful than Luscinda, and Luscinda thought she was more beautiful than Dorotea, and all the onlookers thought that if any face could compare with these two, it was the Moorish woman’s, and there were some who thought she was the most beautiful of the three. And since beauty has the power to inspire friendship and charm one’s will, very soon all yielded to the desire to serve the Moorish woman and treat her with compassion.

Don Fernando asked the captive what the Moorish woman’s name was, and he responded that it was lela Zoraida. As soon as she heard this, she understood what the Christian had asked, and she said instantly, filled with distress: “No, Zoraida no—María, María,” giving them to understand that her name was María and not Zoraida.

These words, coupled with the earnestness with which she said them, caused more than one tear from some of those present, especially the women, who by nature are tender and compassionate. Luscinda embraced her with great affection, saying: “Yes, yes—María, María.”

To which the Moorish woman responded: “Yes, yes, María—Zoraida macange!” which means NOT THAT.

Night had now fallen, and by the order of those who came with don Fernando, the innkeeper used diligence and care in cooking a dinner the best way he could. At dinner time they sat at a long table, like servants use, because there was no round or square one available at the inn, and they gave the head of the table and seat of honor, although he initially refused, to don Quixote, who wanted Dorotea to sit at his side, since he was her defender. Luscinda and Zoraida sat next to her, and across from them, don Fernando and Cardenio, and then the captive and the other men, and next to the women, the priest and barber. They ate with great contentment, and their pleasure was increased when they saw that don Quixote had stopped eating, moved by a similar spirit as when he spoke as he did to the goatherds, and he began to say: “Truly, when you consider it, señores míos, those who profess the order of knight errantry see great and unheard-of things. Who in the world, upon entering the door of this castle and saw us here as we are, would think that we are who we are? Who could say that this woman at my side is the great queen whom we all know, and that I’m that Woebegone Knight about whom so much is spoken by the mouth of fame? There is no doubt that this art and profession exceeds all those that man ever invented, and the more it’s subject to danger, the more it should be esteemed. Away with those who say that letters surpass arms, for I’ll tell them—no matter who they are—that they don’t know what they’re talking about. What they typically say and maintain is that the labors of the mind exceed those of the body, and the exercise of arms requires the use of the body alone, as if it were a profession of hod-carriers, needing physical strength and nothing more, and as if the profession of arms didn’t require acts of bravery that call for great intelligence to execute, or as if the warrior who commands an army or who defends a city under siege, didn’t use his mind as much as his body. How can one just use bodily strength to know and conjecture the enemy’s intent, designs, stratagems, and foresee the difficulties and dangers ahead—all of these are acts of intelligence in which the body plays no part.

“The fact is that arms require intelligence, as letters do. Let’s see now which of the two vocations—that of the man of letters or the warrior—is the most arduous. This will be known by the goal toward which each one leads, because that endeavor that has the nobler goal will be esteemed more. The goal of letters—and here I’m not talking about divine letters, whose goal is to lead souls to heaven, and such a sublime goal cannot be matched—rather I’m talking about humane letters, whose goal is to regulate distributive justice and give to everyone his due; and to understand and make sure that worthy laws are observed—something generous and noble and worthy of great praise, but not as much as the goal of arms, which is peace—the greatest good that men can desire in this life. Thus, the first good news that the world and mankind had was what the angels gave that night that is now our day, when they sang in the sky: «Glory in the highest, and peace on earth to men of good will», and the greeting that the Master of Heaven taught to his followers and chosen few when they entered a house was: «Peace to this house». And many other times He said: «My peace I leave with you, I give you my peace; peace be with you» —a precious reward given by such a Hand, a reward without which neither heaven nor earth can have happiness. This peace is the true goal of war, and by WAR and ARMS I mean the same thing. Given, then, this truth, that the goal of war is peace, and in this it’s better than the goal of letters, let’s now look at the bodily labors of the man of letters and the those of warrior, and see which is the more arduous.”

Don Quixote expressed his discourse in such a way and with such words that none of those listening could have thought him to be crazy. Rather, since most of them were themselves associated with arms, they listened to him with great pleasure; and he went on: “So, I say that the travails of the student are these: mainly poverty, not because they’re all poor, but rather to make their case as forceful as I can, and in saying that he suffers poverty, it seems to me that there is nothing more to say about his misfortune, because he who is poor has nothing that’s good. This poverty is suffered in various ways: sometimes in hunger, sometimes in cold and in nakedness, and sometimes all of them together. Yet this hunger is not so bad that he doesn’t eat, although it may be a bit later than he’s accustomed to, and it may be with the leftovers of the rich; and the worst humiliation there can be is for him to go to the soup kitchen. He never lacks a brasero or a fireplace which, if it doesn’t completely warm him, at least it tempers the cold, and finally at night he sleeps under a roof. I don’t want to talk about other trifles, such as lack of shirts, and the not-excessive number of shoes, the thin and threadbare clothing, nor the pleasurable gorging when good luck sets a banquet before him.

“But along this rough and difficult road, stumbling here, falling there, getting up over there, we’ve seen many of these who, having slid over the sandbars and through these Scyllas and Charybdises, as though propelled forward on the wings of favorable fortune, wind up commanding and governing the world from their chairs, exchanging their hunger for satiety, their cold for comfort, their nudity for fancy clothing, and their sleep on a mat for resting on fine fabrics and damasks, as a just reward for their righteousness. But comparing their travails with those of the soldier, he falls far short, as I’ll show now.”


Date: June 1, 2009
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