Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

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Chapter V. Where the narration of the misfortune of our knight continues.
Seeing that he could indeed not stir, he decided to resort to his usual remedy, which was to dredge up some passage from one of his books, and his madness brought to mind the one about Valdovinos and the Marqués de Mantua when Carloto left Valdovinos wounded in the forest,119 a story that’s known to children, not unfamiliar to young people, venerated and even believed by the older generation, and, for all that, is no truer than the miracles of Muhammad. He thought this would fit just right in his current situation, so, in a lot of pain, he began to wallow around on the ground and say with a debilitated voice the same thing that the wounded Knight of the Wood said:
Where canst thou be, beloved heart

That for my plight thou dost not grieve

Either in ignorance thou art

Or thou art false and dost deceive.

In this way he continued as far as the lines:
Oh, noble Marqués de Mantua

Mine uncle and lord in the flesh.120

As luck would have it, when he got to this verse, a peasant from his own village, a neighbor of his who was returning home after taking a load of wheat to the mill, happened to be passing by, and seeing that man stretched out, he approached him and asked him who he was and what had happened that made him lament so sadly.

Don Quixote believed without a doubt this fellow was the Marqués de Mantua, his uncle, and so he responded only by continuing the ballad where it told of his misfortune and of the affair between his wife and the emperor’s son, word for word as the ballad relates. The peasant was amazed hearing this foolishness, and removing his visor—which was already in pieces because of the blows—clean­ed his face, which was covered with dirt,121 and he’d hardly done so when he recognized him, and said: “Señor Quijana!”— for that must have been his name when he was sane and hadn’t yet changed from a peaceful hidalgo to a knight errant—“How did your grace get into this condition?”

But he just kept on reciting his ballad to everything that he was asked.

When the good man heard this, he took don Quijote’s breastplate and backplate off to see if there were any wounds, but he saw no blood or bruises. He tried to lift him off the ground, and with no little struggle put him onto his donkey because it seemed like a calmer mount. He gathered all the armor, and even the splintered fragments of the lance, tied it all up, and put it all on Rocinante. He then took the reins of the horse and the donkey and headed toward their village, troubled by the nonsense that don Quixote was uttering. And don Quixote was no less troubled; since he was so beaten up and pounded, he couldn’t sit up on the donkey. From time to time he heaved sighs that must have reached heaven; and once again this compelled the peasant to ask him to say what ailed him. And it seems that the devil brought stories to his mind that fit what had happened to him, because at that very moment he forgot about Valdovinos and remembered the Moor Abindarráez, when the governor of Antequera, Rodrigo de Narváez, arrested him and took him captive to his fortress. So, when the peasant asked him how he was and how he felt, don Quixote now responded with the same words that the captive Abencerraje used with Rodrigo de Narváez, in the same way he’d read the history in La Diana by Jorge de Montemayor, where it’s written.122 And he applied it so aptly to his own situation that the peasant went along cursing his fate for having to hear such a lot of nonsense, and through all this he came to realize that his neighbor was crazy, and he hurried to get to the village so that he wouldn’t be further vexed by the long tirade. Finally don Quixote said: “I want your grace to know, señor don Rodrigo de Narváez, that this beautiful Jarifa I mentioned is now the beauteous Dulcinea del Toboso, for whom I’ve performed, do perform, and will perform the most famous deeds of chivalry that have ever been, are being, and will ever be seen in the world.”

To this the peasant responded: “Look, your grace, señor, sinner that I am, I’m not don Rodrigo de Narváez nor the Marqués de Mantua, but rather Pedro Alonso, your neighbor. And you’re neither Valdovinos nor Abindarrá­ez, but rather the honorable hidalgo señor Quijana.”

“I know who I am,” responded don Quixote, “and I know that I can be not only those whom I’ve mentioned, but also the twelve peers of France123 and the Nine Worthies,124 since my deeds will surpass all of theirs put together and of each one individually.”

Engaged in these and similar conversations, they arrived at their village as night was falling, but the peasant waited until it was dark so that the villagers wouldn’t see the beaten-up hidalgo sorrily mounted on a donkey. When the time came, they went into the village and to don Quixote’s house, which they found in an uproar. The priest and village barber—don Quixote’s great friends —were there and the housekeeper was saying to them in a loud voice: “What does your grace think, señor licenciado125 Pero Pérez,” for that was the name of the priest, “of my master’s misfortune? It’s been three days and we haven’t seen hide nor hair of him, his nag, shield, lance, or armor! Woe is me! I’m beginning to understand—and it’s the truth, just as I was born to die—that these cursed books of chivalry he’s been and is constantly reading have made him go crazy. Now I remember having heard him say to himself many times that he wanted to become a knight errant and seek adventures in the world. May these books that have caused the ruination of the most sensitive mind that there was in all of La Mancha, be commended to satan and Barabbas.”126

The niece said the same thing and added: “Believe me, maese Nico­lás”— for this was the name of the barber—“that my uncle would frequently read those soulless books of misadventures two days and nights straight through, after which he’d throw the book down and grab his sword and go around stabbing at the walls, and when he was tired, he’d say that he’d killed four giants as tall as towers, and that the sweat caused by his labors was the blood from wounds he’d received in battle. Then he’d drink a pitcher of cold water, which made him feel better and calmed him down, and he’d say that the water was a most precious brew that had been brought to him by the wise Esquife,127 an enchanter and great friend of his. But I’m to blame for all of this, since I didn’t tell your graces of my uncle’s foolish acts earlier, so that you could have prevented him from getting into his present condition, and burned all those excommunicated books. He has lots of them that deserve to be burned as if they were heretics.”

“That’s what I say as well,” said the priest. “In truth, tomorrow we’ll condemn those books to the inquisitorial fire so that what happened to my good friend won’t happen to whoever else might read them.”

The peasant and don Quixote were listening to all of this, and the peasant finally understood the nature of his neighbor’s illness, and so he began to shout: “Open up, your graces, to señor Valdovinos and señor Marqués de Mantua, who is coming badly wounded; and also to señor Moor Abindarrá­ez, who the governor of Antequera, the brave Rodrigo de Narváez, is bringing as a prisoner.”

At these shouts everyone went out, and as soon as some recognized their friend and others their uncle and master—who still hadn’t gotten off the donkey because he couldn’t—they ran to take him in their arms.

Don Quixote said: “Everyone stop! I’ve come badly injured through the fault of my horse. Take me to bed, and summon the wise Urganda, if you can, who will take care of my wounds.”128

“May I be cursed,” exclaimed the housekeeper, “if I didn’t know in my heart what foot my master limped on! Let’s get you upstairs in a hurry, señor, and without that señora Hurgada129 we’ll know how to fix you up. Damn those books a hundred more times I say, which have put your grace in such a state!”

They took him to bed, and trying to find his wounds, they saw none. He said he got a pounding from a tumble he took with Rocinante, his horse, while battling ten of the hugest and most fearless giants that could be found in this part of the world.

“Aha!” said the priest, “so there are giants in the dance? By the sign of the cross, I’ll burn those books tomorrow before nightfall.”

They asked don Quixote a thousand questions, which he refused to answer, but rather asked for something to eat and to be allowed to sleep because that was what was most important. That’s what they did; and the peasant told the priest in great detail how he’d found don Quixote. He told him everything, including the foolish things he said when he found him and while he brought him back home. All this increased the priest’s wish to do what he did the next day, which was to fetch Nicolás, the barber, who went with him to don Quixote’s house.

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