WHICH RELATES HOW THEY LEARNED THE WAY IN WHICH THEY WERE TO DISENCHANT THE PEERLESS DULCINEA DEL TOBOSO, WHICH IS ONE OF THE RAREST ADVENTURES IN THIS BOOK
Great was the pleasure the duke and duchess took in the conversation of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza; and, more bent than ever upon the plan they had of practising some jokes upon them that should have the look and appearance of adventures, they took as their basis of action what Don Quixote had already told them about the cave of Montesinos, in order to play him a famous one. But what the duchess marvelled at above all was that Sancho's simplicity could be so great as to make him believe as absolute truth that Dulcinea had been enchanted, when it was he himself who had been the enchanter and trickster in the business. Having, therefore, instructed their servants in everything they were to do, six days afterwards they took him out to hunt, with as great a retinue of huntsmen and beaters as a crowned king.
They presented Don Quixote with a hunting suit, and Sancho with another of the finest green cloth; but Don Quixote declined to put his on, saying that he must soon return to the hard pursuit of arms, and could not carry wardrobes or stores with him. Sancho, however, took what they gave him, meaning to sell it the first opportunity.
The appointed day having arrived, Don Quixote armed himself, and Sancho arrayed himself, and mounted on his Dapple (for he would not give him up though they offered him a horse), he placed himself in the midst of the troop of huntsmen. The duchess came out splendidly attired, and Don Quixote, in pure courtesy and politeness, held the rein of her palfrey, though the duke wanted not to allow him; and at last they reached a wood that lay between two high mountains, where, after occupying various posts, ambushes, and paths, and distributing the party in different positions, the hunt began with great noise, shouting, and hallooing, so that, between the baying of the hounds and the blowing of the horns, they could not hear one another. The duchess dismounted, and with a sharp boar-spear in her hand posted herself where she knew the wild boars were in the habit of passing. The duke and Don Quixote likewise dismounted and placed themselves one at each side of her. Sancho took up a position in the rear of all without dismounting from Dapple, whom he dared not desert lest some mischief should befall him. Scarcely had they taken their stand in a line with several of their servants, when they saw a huge boar, closely pressed by the hounds and followed by the huntsmen, making towards them, grinding his teeth and tusks, and scattering foam from his mouth. As soon as he saw him Don Quixote, bracing his shield on his arm, and drawing his sword, advanced to meet him; the duke with boar-spear did the same; but the duchess would have gone in front of them all had not the duke prevented her. Sancho alone, deserting Dapple at the sight of the mighty beast, took to his heels as hard as he could and strove in vain to mount a tall oak. As he was clinging to a branch, however, half-way up in his struggle to reach the top, the bough, such was his ill-luck and hard fate, gave way, and caught in his fall by a broken limb of the oak, he hung suspended in the air unable to reach the ground. Finding himself in this position, and that the green coat was beginning to tear, and reflecting that if the fierce animal came that way he might be able to get at him, he began to utter such cries, and call for help so earnestly, that all who heard him and did not see him felt sure he must be in the teeth of some wild beast. In the end the tusked boar fell pierced by the blades of the many spears they held in front of him; and Don Quixote, turning round at the cries of Sancho, for he knew by them that it was he, saw him hanging from the oak head downwards, with Dapple, who did not forsake him in his distress, close beside him; and Cide Hamete observes that he seldom saw Sancho Panza without seeing Dapple, or Dapple without seeing Sancho Panza; such was their attachment and loyalty one to the other. Don Quixote went over and unhooked Sancho, who, as soon as he found himself on the ground, looked at the rent in his huntingcoat and was grieved to the heart, for he thought he had got a patrimonial estate in that suit.
Meanwhile they had slung the mighty boar across the back of a mule, and having covered it with sprigs of rosemary and branches of myrtle, they bore it away as the spoils of victory to some large field-tents which had been pitched in the middle of the wood, where they found the tables laid and dinner served, in such grand and sumptuous style that it was easy to see the rank and magnificence of those who had provided it. Sancho, as he showed the rents in his torn suit to the duchess, observed, "If we had been hunting hares, or after small birds, my coat would have been safe from being in the plight it's in; I don't know what pleasure one can find in lying in wait for an animal that may take your life with his tusk if he gets at you. I recollect having heard an old ballad sung that says,
By bears be thou devoured, as erst
Was famous Favila."
"That," said Don Quixote, "was a Gothic king, who, going a-hunting, was devoured by a bear."
"Just so," said Sancho; "and I would not have kings and princes expose themselves to such dangers for the sake of a pleasure which, to my mind, ought not to be one, as it consists in killing an animal that has done no harm whatever."
"Quite the contrary, Sancho; you are wrong there," said the duke; "for hunting is more suitable and requisite for kings and princes than for anybody else. The chase is the emblem of war; it has stratagems, wiles, and crafty devices for overcoming the enemy in safety; in it extreme cold and intolerable heat have to be borne, indolence and sleep are despised, the bodily powers are invigorated, the limbs of him who engages in it are made supple, and, in a word, it is a pursuit which may be followed without injury to anyone and with enjoyment to many; and the best of it is, it is not for everybody, as field-sports of other sorts are, except hawking, which also is only for kings and great lords. Reconsider your opinion therefore, Sancho, and when you are governor take to hunting, and you will find the good of it."
"Nay," said Sancho, "the good governor should have a broken leg and keep at home;" it would be a nice thing if, after people had been at the trouble of coming to look for him on business, the governor were to be away in the forest enjoying himself; the government would go on badly in that fashion. By my faith, senor, hunting and amusements are more fit for idlers than for governors; what I intend to amuse myself with is playing all fours at Eastertime, and bowls on Sundays and holidays; for these huntings don't suit my condition or agree with my conscience."
"God grant it may turn out so," said the duke; "because it's a long step from saying to doing."
"Be that as it may," said Sancho, "'pledges don't distress a good payer,' and 'he whom God helps does better than he who gets up early,' and 'it's the tripes that carry the feet and not the feet the tripes;' I mean to say that if God gives me help and I do my duty honestly, no doubt I'll govern better than a gerfalcon. Nay, let them only put a finger in my mouth, and they'll see whether I can bite or not."
"The curse of God and all his saints upon thee, thou accursed Sancho!" exclaimed Don Quixote; "when will the day come — as I have often said to thee — when I shall hear thee make one single coherent, rational remark without proverbs? Pray, your highnesses, leave this fool alone, for he will grind your souls between, not to say two, but two thousand proverbs, dragged in as much in season, and as much to the purpose as — may God grant as much health to him, or to me if I want to listen to them!"
"Sancho Panza's proverbs," said the duchess, "though more in number than the Greek Commander's, are not therefore less to be esteemed for the conciseness of the maxims. For my own part, I can say they give me more pleasure than others that may be better brought in and more seasonably introduced."