Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

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Chapter LI. Which deals with what the goatherd told all those who were taking don Quixote home.
Three leagues from this valley there’s a small village that is among the wealthiest in this whole region. In it there lived a very rich farmer, and although being honored goes along with being rich, he was held in greater esteem for his virtue than for the riches he’d acquired. But what made him most fortunate, according to what he said, was that he had a daughter who was so beautiful, with such rare intelligence, charm, and virtue, that anyone who knew her and looked at her, marveled at the remarkable gifts that heaven and nature had bestowed upon her. As a child, she was pretty, and kept growing in her beauty. At age sixteen she was very beautiful. The fame of her beauty began to spread throughout the nearby villages. Why do I say just the nearby villages? It spread to distant cities, and even extended into the palace of the king and queen, and went into the ears of people of all walks of life who came from all over to see her, as if she were a rare thing or a miracle-working image.

Her father watched over her, and she watched over herself—for there are no padlocks, bolts, or locks that protect a maiden better than her own chastity. The wealth of her father and the beauty of the daughter moved many men from our village, as well as outsiders, to ask for her hand in marriage. But he—just like a person whose responsibility it was to place a fine jewel with the best person—was very perplexed, not knowing how to determine to whom he should award her from among the infinite number of suitors she had. I was one among those who had this worthy desire, and because her father knew who I was, born in the same village, clean in blood,510 in the flower of youth, with a large income, and no less endowed in intelligence, I had great hopes of success.

Another fellow from the same village, with similar qualities, also asked to marry her, and this was enough to cause her father to postpone his decision and let it hang in the balance, for it seemed to him that with either one of us his daughter would have a good marriage. To escape from this perplexing state, he resolved to tell Leandra—that’s the name of that rich girl who has left me in such poverty—that since we were equal, it was better to let his beloved daughter make the choice, which is what all fathers who want to marry off their children should do. I’m not saying that they should allow them to choose bad things, but rather should propose only good things, and have them choose what they want from among them. I don’t know what her choice was—I only know that her father put both of us off saying she was too young, among other things, which didn’t oblige him, and didn’t free us either. My rival is named Anselmo, and I’m Eugenio, so that you’ll know the names of the actors that have a role in this tragedy, whose ending is still up in the air, though it’s clearly destined to be disastrous.

At about that time, a certain Vicente de la Rosa came to our town, the son of a poor peasant of the same village. Now, this Vicente was coming back from Italy and other places where he was a soldier. When he was a child, maybe twelve years old, a captain—who happened to come through with his company of soldiers—took him off, and the young man came back twelve years later, in a soldier’s uniform, arrayed in a thousand colors and with a thousand trinkets of glass and fine steel chains. Today he’d be in one dress uniform and tomorrow in another, but all of them flimsy, showy, not very substantial, and of less worth. Peasants—who are mischievous by nature, and when they have nothing to do can be rascality itself—noticed everything and counted all his finery and trinkets, piece by piece, and found that he had just three different outfits of different colors, with their garters and stockings, but he made so many different arrangements and combinations, that if you didn’t count you’d swear that he had more than ten outfits and twenty feathered hats. And don’t think this business of his dress is beside the point or inconsequential, because it plays an important role in this story.

He would sit on a bench under a large poplar tree in our plaza, and there he’d keep us all agape, telling of his exploits—there was no country in the world he hadn’t seen, nor any battle he hadn’t engaged in. He’d killed more Moors than there are in Morocco and Tunisia combined, and had participated in more singular combats, according to him, than Gante y Luna, Diego García de Paredes,511 and a thousand others that he named, and he was victorious in all of them, without shedding a single drop of blood, but on the other hand, he showed us scars, which—although we couldn’t make them out—made us think that they were musket wounds received in different battles and actions. Finally, with incredible arrogance, he would address his equals, and anyone who knew him, as vos,512 and he said that his father was his right arm, his lineage was his deeds, and that, as a soldier, he owed nothing, even to the king himself. To these pretensions it should be added that he was something of a musician, and played the guitar with rasgueados513 in such a way that some said he made it speak. But his talents didn’t end there, for he was also something of a poet and wrote a romance514 a league and half long about every bit of nonsense that happened in the village.

This soldier that I’ve described, this Vicente de la Rosa, this brave, handsome man, this musician, this poet, was frequently seen and watched by Leandra from a window in her house that overlooked the plaza. She was enamored of the tinsel on his colorful outfits; his romances enchanted her—and he handed out twenty copies of every one he wrote; the deeds that he himself had related wafted up to her ears; and, in short—and the devil must have ordained it so—she fell in love with him before he’d conceived the presumption of wooing her, and since in cases of love there is none more easily concluded than the ones in which the woman has the desire, Leandra and Vicente came to an understanding easily, and before any of her many suitors realized what her desire was, she’d already carried it out, having left the house of her beloved father (since she had no mother), and leaving the town with this soldier, he fared better in this enterprise than any of the others he boasted of.

The whole town was amazed, as was everyone else who heard of the matter. I was aghast, Anselmo was astonished, her father sad, her relatives offended, the forces of justice were ready, the officers prepared. They took to the roads, they scoured the forests and everywhere else, and at the end of three days, they found the wayward Leandra in a mountain cave, wearing only a slip, and stripped of the money and precious jewels she’d taken from her house. They took her back to the presence of her despondent father and questioned her about her misfortune. She confessed without hesitation that Vicente de la Roca515 had deceived her, and on his word that he would become her husband, persuaded her to leave her father’s house, and he would take her to the richest and most luxurious city in the whole world, which was Naples, and she—ill-advised and worse deceived—had believed him. She stole from her father, and gave him everything the night she disappeared, and he took her to a desolate mountain and shut her up in that cave where they had found her. She also related how the soldier, without robbing her of her honor, took everything else and then left her in that cave and went away—somethi­ng that further astonished everyone.

It was hard for us to believe the restraint of the young man, but she confirmed it with such great sincerity that it helped to console her grief-stricken father, not caring about the valuables that had been taken, since his daughter still had that jewel that, once lost, has no hope of being recovered.

The same day Leandra came back, her father made her disappear from our eyes, and he had her placed in a convent in a town near here, hoping that time would wear away part of the disgrace that she’d brought upon herself. Leandra’s tender age served as an excuse for her failing, at least to those who didn’t care if she was good or bad. But those of us who knew of her shrewdness and great intelligence didn’t attribute her sin to ignorance, but rather to her frivolity and the natural inclination of women, who tend to be reckless and unbalanced.

Since Leandra was shut up, Anselmo’s eyes were blinded, at least, since he had nothing to look at that made him happy. My eyes were in darkness, without the light to lead them toward anything that gives pleasure. With Leandra’s absence, our sadness increased, our patience diminished, we cursed the soldier’s outfits, and condemned her father’s carelessness. Finally, Anselmo and I agreed to leave the village and come to this valley, where he, letting a large number of his own sheep graze, and I, a large flock of goats, also mine, spend our lives among the trees, giving vent to our passions, or singing together the praises or curses of the beautiful Leandra, or sighing alone, communicating our complaints to heaven.

Many others of Leandra’s suitors have imitated us and have come to this harsh place, adopting our same occupation, and there are so many of them, it seems like this area has been converted into a pastoral Arcadia, such is the number of shepherds and flocks, and there’s nowhere in this area where you won’t you hear the name of the beautiful Leandra. This one curses her and calls her capricious, indifferent, and immodest; that one condemns her as being frail and frivolous; another absolves and pardons her; one condemns and censures her, one celebrates her beauty, another complains about her character, and finally, all of them malign and all of them adore her; and their madness goes so far that some who have never even spoken to her complain of her scorn, and even some who lament and feel the raging illness of jealousy, which she never gave to anybody, because—as I already said—her sin was discovered before her passion was known. There is no nook among the boulders, nor the bank of a brook, nor the shade of a tree, which is not prowled by some shepherd who relates his misfortune to the wind. Wherever an echo can resonate, you hear the name of Leandra—Lean­dra resounds in the forests, Leandra murmurs in the brooks, and Leandra keeps us all bewildered and enchanted, hoping without hope, and afraid, not knowing what to fear.

Among all of these fools, the one who shows the least, and yet the most sense, is my competitor Anselmo, who, having so many things to complain about, only laments her absence; and accompanied by a rabel—which he plays admirably well—and in verses in which he shows his keen intelligence, sings his fate. I’ve taken an easier path, and to my way of looking at things, the best one, which is to curse the fickleness of women, their inconstancy, double-dealing, their worthless promises, and finally the little judgment they show in establishing their affections and inclinations. And this is what caused me, señores, to say the words I said to this goat when I came here—that is, since she’s a female, I hold her in little esteem, even though she’s the best one of my flock.

This is the story that I promised to tell you. If I’ve been long in telling it, I’ll not be short in serving you. Near here I have my hut, and in it I have fresh milk and very delicious cheese, which, with other various seasonal fruits, are no less pleasing to see than they are to eat.

Chapter LII. Of the quarrel that don Quixote had with the goatherd, with the strange adventure of the penitents, to which he gave a happy conclusion through his sweat.
The goatherd’s story gave great pleasure to all those who had listened to it, especially the canon, who noted with particular curiosity the way he’d told it—far from seeming to be a rustic goatherd, he seemed more to be a polished courtier. He said that the priest was very astute when he said that the forests bred scholars. Everyone offered their services to Eugenio, but the one who showed himself most liberal was don Quixote, who said to him: “I’ll say, brother goatherd, if I were free to initiate a fresh adventure, I’d get on the road right now to bring you good fortune, and would take Leandra from that monastery, where she’s doubtless being held captive against her will, in spite of the abbess and however many might try to stop me, and I’d place her in your hands so that you could do with her whatever you pleased, but always within the laws of chivalry, which dictate that no maiden be treated harshly. But I trust in God our Lord that the might of a malicious enchanter will not overpower that of another better-intentioned one, and until that time I promise you my favor and assistance, as I’m bound to do by my profession, which is none other than to help the weak and needy.”

The goatherd looked at him, and seeing don Quixote’s sorry appearance and aspect, was amazed, and asked the barber, who was near him: “Señor, who is this man who looks so odd and talks in this strange way?”

“Who else,” responded the barber, “but the famous don Quixote de La Mancha, the undoer of wrongs, the redresser of injuries, the rescuer of damsels, the dread of giants, and the winner of battles?”

“This looks to me,” responded the goatherd, “like what you read in those books about knights errant, who do all these things that you say this man does, although I’m convinced that either you’re joking or this gentleman must have some vacant rooms in his head.”

“You’re a great rapscallion,” don Quixote said, “and you’re the empty and wretched one, and I’m fuller than that bitch of a whore who bore you ever was.”516

And, matching his actions to his words, he took a loaf of bread that was next to him, and smashed it into the face of the goatherd with so much fury that he flattened his nose.517 But the goatherd, who knew nothing of jokes, seeing himself mistreated in earnest, without any respect to the carpet, tablecloth or those who were eating, sprang onto don Quixote, and grabbing him by the throat with both hands, would certainly have throttled him if Sancho Panza hadn’t come over right then and clutched him by the shoulders and threw him onto the table, smashing plates, breaking cups, and spilling and scattering everything that was on it. Don Quixote, who found himself free, ran back to jump on the goatherd, whose face was covered with blood, and mauled by Sancho’s kicks. He was on all fours looking for a knife with which to take bloody vengeance, but the priest and canon prevented him, and the barber fixed it so the goatherd could get on top of don Quixote and rained so many blows that the poor knight’s face streamed with blood as freely as his own.

The canon and the priest were bursting with laughter, the officers were dancing with joy, and several people were urging them on, like they do with fighting dogs. Only Sancho Panza was despairing, because he was being held back by a servant of the canon, and this prevented him from helping his master. Finally, with everyone rejoicing and enjoying it all, except for the two combatants who were mauling each other, they heard the sound of a trumpet, so sad that everyone turned their faces to see where the sound was coming from. But the one who was most aroused to hear it was don Quixote, who, although he was under the goatherd quite against his will, and more than somewhat beaten up, said: “Brother devil—you’ve got to be one since you’ve had the power and strength to subdue me—I beg you to make a truce for no more than an hour, because the doleful sound of that trumpet that has come to our ears seems to be a new adventure calling to me.”

The goatherd, who was already tired of beating up and of being beaten up, let him loose, and don Quixote stood up and turned his face toward where the sound was coming from, and he suddenly saw a number of men dressed like penitents, in white, coming down a hill. As it happened, that year the clouds had denied the earth their showers, and in the villages in that region there were many processions, prayers, and flagellations, asking God to open His hands of mercy and rain on them. For this reason the people of a village nearby were coming in a procession to a holy shrine on one side of that valley.

Don Quixote saw the strange garb of the penitents,518 without remembering he had to have seen them many times before, and imagined that it was going to be an adventure destined for him only—as a knight errant—to undertake, and this thought was further confirmed when he saw a statue covered in mourning that they were carrying, and that he thought was some lady of rank being abducted by those rogues and insolent brigands.

With this in his head, he quickly went over to Rocinante, who was grazing nearby, and took the bridle and his shield from the pommel, and in an instant bridled him, and got his sword from Sancho. He then mounted Rocinante, firmed his grip on the shield, and said in a loud voice to those present: “Now you’ll see, worthy friends, how important it is to have men who profess the order of knight errantry. Now, I say, you’ll see—when I free that lady held captive over there—if knights errant should be esteemed or not.”

And saying this, he squeezed his thighs against Rocinante (for he had no spurs), and at a good trot (because one never reads in this entire history that Rocinante was capable of a full gallop), went to confront the penitents. The priest, canon, and barber tried to prevent him, but that was not possible, and neither were the shouts that Sancho gave, saying: “Where are you going, señor don Quixote? What the devil do you have in your heart that incites you to go against our Catholic faith? Watch out—may I be damned!—that’s a procession of penitents, and that woman that they’re carrying on the litter is a statue of the Very Holy Virgin without blemish. Watch, señor, what you’re up to, because this time one could say you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Sancho did all this in vain, because his master was so determined to assault those sheet-wearing people and to liberate the woman in mourning that he didn’t hear a word, nor would he have gone back even if the king himself commanded him. He went to the front the procession and reined in Rocinan­te, who was eager to rest a bit, and with an angry and hoarse voice, said: “You—who hide your faces perhaps because you’re evil—come here and listen to what I want to tell you.”

The first ones who stopped were the statue bearers; and one of the four clerics who were singing litanies, seeing the strange aspect of don Quixote, the leanness of Rocinante, and other laugh-causing circumstances he saw and noted in don Quixote, responded, saying: “Señor brother, if you want to tell us something, do it quickly, because these brothers are scourging themselves, and we cannot, nor is it proper for us to listen to anything, unless you can say it in two words.”

“I’ll say it in one,” replied don Quixote, “and it’s this: immediately release that beautiful woman, whose tears519 and sad face clearly show that she’s being held against her will, and to whom you’ve done some terrible outrage. And I, who was born in the world to redress such wrongs, will not allow you to take a single step further without giving her the freedom she deserves.”

With these words, all those who heard don Quixote, realizing he must be a madman, burst out laughing, which was adding gunpowder to the anger that came over don Quixote, because without saying a single word, taking out his sword, he attacked the litter. One of those who was holding it up, giving his share of the weight to his companions, went out to meet don Quixote, brandishing a forked prop used to hold the litter up when they rested. Don Quixote slashed at the prop and cut it in two. With the remaining part his adversary still held, he gave don Quixote such a whack on the shoulder of his sword arm—because he couldn’t shield himself from the tremendous blow—that he fell to the ground in very bad shape.

Sancho Panza, who came up panting, trying to follow him, when he saw him on the ground, shouted to his assailant not to hit him anymore, because he was just a poor enchanted knight who had never done any harm to anybody in all the days of his life. But what really stopped the rustic wasn’t Sancho’s shouts, but rather seeing that don Quixote wasn’t moving either his hands or his feet. And thinking that he’d killed him, he quickly raised his habit to his waist and fled across the fields like a deer.

By this time, don Quixote’s companions went to where he was lying. But the people in the procession, seeing those others come running, and with them the officers with their muskets, surrounded the statue, fearing trouble. They raised their hoods, grasped their whips, and the clerics their candles, and waited for the assault, determined to defend themselves, or even strike their attackers offensively if they could, but Fortune made it turn out better than anyone expected, because Sancho only went over and threw himself on the body of his master, making the most pitiful and comical lament in the world, believing he was dead.

Our priest was recognized by the other one who was in the procession, and thus the fear of both squadrons was calmed. Our priest said to the other one in a few words who don Quixote was, and so he, like the rest of the penitents, went to see if the poor knight was dead, and they heard Sancho Panza, with tears in his eyes, saying: “Oh, flower of knighthood, with only one blow from a club you ended the course of your so well-spent years! Oh, honor of your lineage, honor and glory of all of La Mancha, and even the whole world, which, with you missing from it, will be filled with evil-doers who won’t fear being punished for their wicked deeds. Oh, more liberal than all the Alexanders, since with only eight months of service you had given me the best ínsula that the sea encircles and surrounds. Oh, you, humble with the proud, and arrogant with the humble; you welcome dangers, you withstand humiliation, you love without cause, you imitate the good, you whip the bad, you’re an enemy of the low-lives; that is, you’re a knight errant, and that’s all that can be said.”

At these loud cries and sighs by Sancho, don Quixote revived, and the first words he said were: “He who lives absent from you, sweetest Dulcinea, undergoes worse miseries than these. Help me, my friend Sancho, to get into the enchanted cart, for I cannot sit on Rocinante’s saddle because my shoulder is in pieces.”

“I’ll do that with great pleasure, señor mío,” responded Sancho, “and let’s go back to my village in the company of these men, who only wish you good, and there we’ll plan another expedition, which will be more profitable and will bring us more fame.”

“Well said, Sancho,” responded don Quixote, “and it would be a good idea to allow the bad influence of the stars currently in force to pass.”

The canon, priest, and barber told him it would do him good to do what he said, and, having gotten great pleasure from Sancho’s naïve remarks, they put don Quixote back in the cart, as he was before. The goatherd bade farewell to everyone. The officers didn’t want to go any farther. The canon asked the priest to write him with news of don Quixote—if he got cured of his madness, or was still mad—and with this, he left to continue his journey.

So they all went their separate ways, leaving only the priest and barber, don Quixote and Sancho Panza, and the good Rocinante, who, having witnessed everything, was as patient as his master. The ox-handler re-yoked his oxen and helped don Quixote get comfortable on a bed of hay, and with his usual slow pace, followed the road the priest wanted. Six days later they arrived at don Quixote’s village, where they entered at noon. It happened to be Sunday and the people were all in the plaza, through the middle of which don Quixote’s cart passed. Everyone came to see what was in the cart, and when they recognized their fellow villager, they were astonished. A boy ran to give the news to his housekeeper and niece that their uncle and master was coming home, thin and pale, stretched out on a pile of hay, and on an oxcart. It was a pitiful thing to hear the shouts that the two women raised to heaven, the cuffs they gave each other, the curses they once again leveled on those vexatious books of chivalry—all of which was repeated when they saw don Quixote enter through the gates.

At the news of the arrival of don Quixote, Sancho Panza’s wife came over, for she’d known that he’d gone with don Quixote as his squire, and as soon as she saw Sancho, the first thing she asked him was if the donkey was healthy. Sancho said he was in better shape than his master.

“Thanks be to God,” she replied, “for the good He’s done me. But tell me now, my friend, what good has come out of your squiring? What skirt are you bringing me? What shoes for your children?”

“I’m not bringing anything like that,” said Sancho, “my wife, but I have other things that are more important and worth more.”

“That pleases me,” responded the woman. “Show me these things that are more important and worth more, for I want to see them so that my heart can be happy, for it has been sad and upset during the centuries of your absence.”

“I’ll show you when we get home,” said Panza, “but for now be content, because, if God is pleased, we’ll go out once again seeking adventures, and you’ll soon see me a count or the governor of an ínsula—and not one of those run-of-the-mill ones, but the best one that can be found.”

“May heaven grant it, my husband, because we do need one. But tell me, what is this business of ínsulas, because I don’t understand?”

“«Honey was not intended for the mouths of donkeys»,” responded Sancho. “In time you’ll see, woman, and you’ll even be more amazed when you hear yourself being called ladyship by all your vassals.”

“What are you saying, Sancho, about ladyships, ínsulas, and vassals?” responded Juana Panza, for that was the name of Sancho’s wife, although they were not related, but in La Mancha, women customarily take the name of their husbands.

“Don’t be in such a hurry, Juana, to find out everything so quickly. It’s enough that I’m telling you the truth. Stitch your mouth closed. I can only tell you in passing that there is nothing more pleasurable in the world than for an honest man to be the squire of a knight errant, a seeker of adventures. It’s true that most of them don’t turn out as a man might like, because ninety-nine out of a hundred turn out bad and different from what you’d expect. I know from experience, because from some I’ve come out blanketed and from others mauled. But even so, it’s nice to wonder what will happen next, crossing mountains, searching forests, climbing on rocks, being lodged in inns at will, without paying a single maravedí.”

Sancho Panza and Juana Panza, his wife, had all this conversation while don Quixote’s housekeeper and niece received him, and undressed him, and put him in his old bed. He looked at them with squinting eyes, and didn’t know where he was. The priest charged the niece to take special care of her uncle, and to be careful that he not escape again, and related to them what they had had to do in order to bring him back home. The two raised new lamentations to heaven; there, they renewed their curses on the books of chivalry; there, they asked heaven to plunge the authors of such lies and foolishness into the bottom of the abyss. Finally, they became fearful that as soon as he was better they would once again be without their master and uncle, and it turned out the way they thought.

But the author of this history, although he searched assiduously and with diligence to learn of don Quixote’s deeds on his third expedition, has not been able to find anything, at least in authentic documents. There is only what tradition has preserved in the memories of La Mancha—that don Quixote, the third time he left his home, went to Zaragoza,520 where he took part in some famous jousts held in that city, and things happened to him there worthy of his bravery and resolute mind. About his end, he could find nothing, nor would he ever have, if good luck hadn’t presented him with an old doctor who had in his possession a leaden box that, according to what he said, had been found in the demolished foundation of an ancient hermitage that was being rebuilt. In this box there were some parchments written in Gothic letters521 but in Castilian verses, which contain many of his deeds and tell about the beauty of Dulcinea del Toboso, the figure of Rocinante, the faithfulness of Sancho Panza, and the sepulcher of don Quixote himself, with different epitaphs and praises of his life and character.

Those that they could read and make out were those that the trustworthy author of this original and never-before-seen history has included here. This author doesn’t ask anything of his readers in recompense for the immense amount of work it took him to investigate and search in all the Manchegan archives to bring it to light, except that they give him as much credence as sensible people do the books of chivalry that are so favored in the world, and with this he’ll consider himself well paid and satisfied. And he’ll be encouraged to find other histories, if not as true, at least as inventive and no less entertaining. The first words written on the parchment that was found in the lead box were these:

The Academicians of522

Argamasilla,523 a Village of La Mancha,

On the Life and Death

of don Quixote de La Mancha,

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