WHEREIN IS RELATED THE CRAFTY DEVICE SANCHO ADOPTED TO ENCHANT THE LADY DULCINEA, AND OTHER INCIDENTS AS LUDICROUS AS THEY ARE TRUE
When the author of this great history comes to relate what is set down in this chapter he says he would have preferred to pass it over in silence, fearing it would not be believed, because here Don Quixote's madness reaches the confines of the greatest that can be conceived, and even goes a couple of bowshots beyond the greatest. But after all, though still under the same fear and apprehension, he has recorded it without adding to the story or leaving out a particle of the truth, and entirely disregarding the charges of falsehood that might be brought against him; and he was right, for the truth may run fine but will not break, and always rises above falsehood as oil above water; and so, going on with his story, he says that as soon as Don Quixote had ensconced himself in the forest, oak grove, or wood near El Toboso, he bade Sancho return to the city, and not come into his presence again without having first spoken on his behalf to his lady, and begged of her that it might be her good pleasure to permit herself to be seen by her enslaved knight, and deign to bestow her blessing upon him, so that he might thereby hope for a happy issue in all his encounters and difficult enterprises. Sancho undertook to execute the task according to the instructions, and to bring back an answer as good as the one he brought back before.
"Go, my son," said Don Quixote, "and be not dazed when thou findest thyself exposed to the light of that sun of beauty thou art going to seek. Happy thou, above all the squires in the world! Bear in mind, and let it not escape thy memory, how she receives thee; if she changes colour while thou art giving her my message; if she is agitated and disturbed at hearing my name; if she cannot rest upon her cushion, shouldst thou haply find her seated in the sumptuous state chamber proper to her rank; and should she be standing, observe if she poises herself now on one foot, now on the other; if she repeats two or three times the reply she gives thee; if she passes from gentleness to austerity, from asperity to tenderness; if she raises her hand to smooth her hair though it be not disarranged. In short, my son, observe all her actions and motions, for if thou wilt report them to me as they were, I will gather what she hides in the recesses of her heart as regards my love; for I would have thee know, Sancho, if thou knowest it not, that with lovers the outward actions and motions they give way to when their loves are in question are the faithful messengers that carry the news of what is going on in the depths of their hearts. Go, my friend, may better fortune than mine attend thee, and bring thee a happier issue than that which I await in dread in this dreary solitude."
"I will go and return quickly," said Sancho; "cheer up that little heart of yours, master mine, for at the present moment you seem to have got one no bigger than a hazel nut; remember what they say, that a stout heart breaks bad luck, and that where there are no fletches there are no pegs; and moreover they say, the hare jumps up where it's not looked for. I say this because, if we could not find my lady's palaces or castles to-night, now that it is daylight I count upon finding them when I least expect it, and once found, leave it to me to manage her."
"Verily, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "thou dost always bring in thy proverbs happily, whatever we deal with; may God give me better luck in what I am anxious about."
With this, Sancho wheeled about and gave Dapple the stick, and Don Quixote remained behind, seated on his horse, resting in his stirrups and leaning on the end of his lance, filled with sad and troubled forebodings; and there we will leave him, and accompany Sancho, who went off no less serious and troubled than he left his master; so much so, that as soon as he had got out of the thicket, and looking round saw that Don Quixote was not within sight, he dismounted from his ass, and seating himself at the foot of a tree began to commune with himself, saying, "Now, brother Sancho, let us know where your worship is going. Are you going to look for some ass that has been lost? Not at all. Then what are you going to look for? I am going to look for a princess, that's all; and in her for the sun of beauty and the whole heaven at once. And where do you expect to find all this, Sancho? Where? Why, in the great city of El Toboso. Well, and for whom are you going to look for her? For the famous knight Don Quixote of La Mancha, who rights wrongs, gives food to those who thirst and drink to the hungry. That's all very well, but do you know her house, Sancho? My master says it will be some royal palace or grand castle. And have you ever seen her by any chance? Neither I nor my master ever saw her. And does it strike you that it would be just and right if the El Toboso people, finding out that you were here with the intention of going to tamper with their princesses and trouble their ladies, were to come and cudgel your ribs, and not leave a whole bone in you? They would, indeed, have very good reason, if they did not see that I am under orders, and that 'you are a messenger, my friend, no blame belongs to you.' Don't you trust to that, Sancho, for the Manchegan folk are as hot-tempered as they are honest, and won't put up with liberties from anybody. By the Lord, if they get scent of you, it will be worse for you, I promise you. Be off, you scoundrel! Let the bolt fall. Why should I go looking for three feet on a cat, to please another man; and what is more, when looking for Dulcinea will be looking for Marica in Ravena, or the bachelor in Salamanca? The devil, the devil and nobody else, has mixed me up in this business!"
Such was the soliloquy Sancho held with himself, and all the conclusion he could come to was to say to himself again, "Well, there's remedy for everything except death, under whose yoke we have all to pass, whether we like it or not, when life's finished. I have seen by a thousand signs that this master of mine is a madman fit to be tied, and for that matter, I too, am not behind him; for I'm a greater fool than he is when I follow him and serve him, if there's any truth in the proverb that says, 'Tell me what company thou keepest, and I'll tell thee what thou art,' or in that other, 'Not with whom thou art bred, but with whom thou art fed.' Well then, if he be mad, as he is, and with a madness that mostly takes one thing for another, and white for black, and black for white, as was seen when he said the windmills were giants, and the monks' mules dromedaries, flocks of sheep armies of enemies, and much more to the same tune, it will not be very hard to make him believe that some country girl, the first I come across here, is the lady Dulcinea; and if he does not believe it, I'll swear it; and if he should swear, I'll swear again; and if he persists I'll persist still more, so as, come what may, to have my quoit always over the peg. Maybe, by holding out in this way, I may put a stop to his sending me on messages of this kind another time; or maybe he will think, as I suspect he will, that one of those wicked enchanters, who he says have a spite against him, has changed her form for the sake of doing him an ill turn and injuring him."
With this reflection Sancho made his mind easy, counting the business as good as settled, and stayed there till the afternoon so as to make Don Quixote think he had time enough to go to El Toboso and return; and things turned out so luckily for him that as he got up to mount Dapple, he spied, coming from El Toboso towards the spot where he stood, three peasant girls on three colts, or fillies — for the author does not make the point clear, though it is more likely they were she-asses, the usual mount with village girls; but as it is of no great consequence, we need not stop to prove it.
To be brief, the instant Sancho saw the peasant girls, he returned full speed to seek his master, and found him sighing and uttering a thousand passionate lamentations. When Don Quixote saw him he exclaimed, "What news, Sancho, my friend? Am I to mark this day with a white stone or a black?"
"Your worship," replied Sancho, "had better mark it with ruddle, like the inscriptions on the walls of class rooms, that those who see it may see it plain."
"Then thou bringest good news," said Don Quixote.
"So good," replied Sancho, "that your worship has only to spur Rocinante and get out into the open field to see the lady Dulcinea del Toboso, who, with two others, damsels of hers, is coming to see your worship."
"Holy God! what art thou saying, Sancho, my friend?" exclaimed Don Quixote. "Take care thou art not deceiving me, or seeking by false joy to cheer my real sadness."
"What could I get by deceiving your worship," returned Sancho, "especially when it will so soon be shown whether I tell the truth or not? Come, senor, push on, and you will see the princess our mistress coming, robed and adorned — in fact, like what she is. Her damsels and she are all one glow of gold, all bunches of pearls, all diamonds, all rubies, all cloth of brocade of more than ten borders; with their hair loose on their shoulders like so many sunbeams playing with the wind; and moreover, they come mounted on three piebald cackneys, the finest sight ever you saw."
"Hackneys, you mean, Sancho," said Don Quixote.
"There is not much difference between cackneys and hackneys," said Sancho; "but no matter what they come on, there they are, the finest ladies one could wish for, especially my lady the princess Dulcinea, who staggers one's senses."
"Let us go, Sancho, my son," said Don Quixote, "and in guerdon of this news, as unexpected as it is good, I bestow upon thee the best spoil I shall win in the first adventure I may have; or if that does not satisfy thee, I promise thee the foals I shall have this year from my three mares that thou knowest are in foal on our village common."
"I'll take the foals," said Sancho; "for it is not quite certain that the spoils of the first adventure will be good ones."