OF THE ARRIVAL OF CLAVILENO AND THE END OF THIS PROTRACTED ADVENTURE
And now night came, and with it the appointed time for the arrival of the famous horse Clavileno, the non-appearance of which was already beginning to make Don Quixote uneasy, for it struck him that, as Malambruno was so long about sending it, either he himself was not the knight for whom the adventure was reserved, or else Malambruno did not dare to meet him in single combat. But lo! suddenly there came into the garden four wild-men all clad in green ivy bearing on their shoulders a great wooden horse. They placed it on its feet on the ground, and one of the wild-men said, "Let the knight who has heart for it mount this machine."
Here Sancho exclaimed, "I don't mount, for neither have I the heart nor am I a knight."
"And let the squire, if he has one," continued the wild-man, "take his seat on the croup, and let him trust the valiant Malambruno; for by no sword save his, nor by the malice of any other, shall he be assailed. It is but to turn this peg the horse has in his neck, and he will bear them through the air to where Malambruno awaits them; but lest the vast elevation of their course should make them giddy, their eyes must be covered until the horse neighs, which will be the sign of their having completed their journey."
With these words, leaving Clavileno behind them, they retired with easy dignity the way they came. As soon as the Distressed One saw the horse, almost in tears she exclaimed to Don Quixote, "Valiant knight, the promise of Malambruno has proved trustworthy; the horse has come, our beards are growing, and by every hair in them all of us implore thee to shave and shear us, as it is only mounting him with thy squire and making a happy beginning with your new journey."
"That I will, Senora Countess Trifaldi," said Don Quixote, "most gladly and with right goodwill, without stopping to take a cushion or put on my spurs, so as not to lose time, such is my desire to see you and all these duennas shaved clean."
"That I won't," said Sancho, "with good-will or bad-will, or any way at all; and if this shaving can't be done without my mounting on the croup, my master had better look out for another squire to go with him, and these ladies for some other way of making their faces smooth; I'm no witch to have a taste for travelling through the air. What would my islanders say when they heard their governor was going, strolling about on the winds? And another thing, as it is three thousand and odd leagues from this to Kandy, if the horse tires, or the giant takes huff, we'll be half a dozen years getting back, and there won't be isle or island in the world that will know me: and so, as it is a common saying 'in delay there's danger,' and 'when they offer thee a heifer run with a halter,' these ladies' beards must excuse me; 'Saint Peter is very well in Rome;' I mean I am very well in this house where so much is made of me, and I hope for such a good thing from the master as to see myself a governor."
"Friend Sancho," said the duke at this, "the island that I have promised you is not a moving one, or one that will run away; it has roots so deeply buried in the bowels of the earth that it will be no easy matter to pluck it up or shift it from where it is; you know as well as I do that there is no sort of office of any importance that is not obtained by a bribe of some kind, great or small; well then, that which I look to receive for this government is that you go with your master Don Quixote, and bring this memorable adventure to a conclusion; and whether you return on Clavileno as quickly as his speed seems to promise, or adverse fortune brings you back on foot travelling as a pilgrim from hostel to hostel and from inn to inn, you will always find your island on your return where you left it, and your islanders with the same eagerness they have always had to receive you as their governor, and my good-will will remain the same; doubt not the truth of this, Senor Sancho, for that would be grievously wronging my disposition to serve you."
"Say no more, senor," said Sancho; "I am a poor squire and not equal to carrying so much courtesy; let my master mount; bandage my eyes and commit me to God's care, and tell me if I may commend myself to our Lord or call upon the angels to protect me when we go towering up there."
To this the Trifaldi made answer, "Sancho, you may freely commend yourself to God or whom you will; for Malambruno though an enchanter is a Christian, and works his enchantments with great circumspection, taking very good care not to fall out with anyone."
"Well then," said Sancho, "God and the most holy Trinity of Gaeta give me help!"
"Since the memorable adventure of the fulling mills," said Don Quixote, "I have never seen Sancho in such a fright as now; were I as superstitious as others his abject fear would cause me some little trepidation of spirit. But come here, Sancho, for with the leave of these gentles I would say a word or two to thee in private;" and drawing Sancho aside among the trees of the garden and seizing both his hands he said, "Thou seest, brother Sancho, the long journey we have before us, and God knows when we shall return, or what leisure or opportunities this business will allow us; I wish thee therefore to retire now to thy chamber, as though thou wert going to fetch something required for the road, and in a trice give thyself if it be only five hundred lashes on account of the three thousand three hundred to which thou art bound; it will be all to the good, and to make a beginning with a thing is to have it half finished."
"By God," said Sancho, "but your worship must be out of your senses! This is like the common saying, 'You see me with child, and you want me a virgin.' Just as I'm about to go sitting on a bare board, your worship would have me score my backside! Indeed, your worship is not reasonable. Let us be off to shave these duennas; and on our return I promise on my word to make such haste to wipe off all that's due as will satisfy your worship; I can't say more."
"Well, I will comfort myself with that promise, my good Sancho," replied Don Quixote, "and I believe thou wilt keep it; for indeed though stupid thou art veracious."
"I'm not voracious," said Sancho, "only peckish; but even if I was a little, still I'd keep my word."
With this they went back to mount Clavileno, and as they were about to do so Don Quixote said, "Cover thine eyes, Sancho, and mount; for one who sends for us from lands so far distant cannot mean to deceive us for the sake of the paltry glory to be derived from deceiving persons who trust in him; though all should turn out the contrary of what I hope, no malice will be able to dim the glory of having undertaken this exploit."
"Let us be off, senor," said Sancho, "for I have taken the beards and tears of these ladies deeply to heart, and I shan't eat a bit to relish it until I have seen them restored to their former smoothness. Mount, your worship, and blindfold yourself, for if I am to go on the croup, it is plain the rider in the saddle must mount first."
"That is true," said Don Quixote, and, taking a handkerchief out of his pocket, he begged the Distressed One to bandage his eyes very carefully; but after having them bandaged he uncovered them again, saying, "If my memory does not deceive me, I have read in Virgil of the Palladium of Troy, a wooden horse the Greeks offered to the goddess Pallas, which was big with armed knights, who were afterwards the destruction of Troy; so it would be as well to see, first of all, what Clavileno has in his stomach."
"There is no occasion," said the Distressed One; "I will be bail for him, and I know that Malambruno has nothing tricky or treacherous about him; you may mount without any fear, Senor Don Quixote; on my head be it if any harm befalls you."
Don Quixote thought that to say anything further with regard to his safety would be putting his courage in an unfavourable light; and so, without more words, he mounted Clavileno, and tried the peg, which turned easily; and as he had no stirrups and his legs hung down, he looked like nothing so much as a figure in some Roman triumph painted or embroidered on a Flemish tapestry.