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The History of Don Quixote, Vol. I, Complete by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Part 7 out of 10

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having made me worthy of aspiring to love so lofty a lady as Dulcinea del

"And so lofty she is," said Sancho, "that she overtops me by more than a

"What! Sancho," said Don Quixote, "didst thou measure with her?"

"I measured in this way," said Sancho; "going to help her to put a sack
of wheat on the back of an ass, we came so close together that I could
see she stood more than a good palm over me."

"Well!" said Don Quixote, "and doth she not of a truth accompany and
adorn this greatness with a thousand million charms of mind! But one
thing thou wilt not deny, Sancho; when thou camest close to her didst
thou not perceive a Sabaean odour, an aromatic fragrance, a, I know not
what, delicious, that I cannot find a name for; I mean a redolence, an
exhalation, as if thou wert in the shop of some dainty glover?"

"All I can say is," said Sancho, "that I did perceive a little odour,
something goaty; it must have been that she was all in a sweat with hard

"It could not be that," said Don Quixote, "but thou must have been
suffering from cold in the head, or must have smelt thyself; for I know
well what would be the scent of that rose among thorns, that lily of the
field, that dissolved amber."

"Maybe so," replied Sancho; "there often comes from myself that same
odour which then seemed to me to come from her grace the lady Dulcinea;
but that's no wonder, for one devil is like another."

"Well then," continued Don Quixote, "now she has done sifting the corn
and sent it to the mill; what did she do when she read the letter?"

"As for the letter," said Sancho, "she did not read it, for she said she
could neither read nor write; instead of that she tore it up into small
pieces, saying that she did not want to let anyone read it lest her
secrets should become known in the village, and that what I had told her
by word of mouth about the love your worship bore her, and the
extraordinary penance you were doing for her sake, was enough; and, to
make an end of it, she told me to tell your worship that she kissed your
hands, and that she had a greater desire to see you than to write to you;
and that therefore she entreated and commanded you, on sight of this
present, to come out of these thickets, and to have done with carrying on
absurdities, and to set out at once for El Toboso, unless something else
of greater importance should happen, for she had a great desire to see
your worship. She laughed greatly when I told her how your worship was
called The Knight of the Rueful Countenance; I asked her if that Biscayan
the other day had been there; and she told me he had, and that he was an
honest fellow; I asked her too about the galley slaves, but she said she
had not seen any as yet."

"So far all goes well," said Don Quixote; "but tell me what jewel was it
that she gave thee on taking thy leave, in return for thy tidings of me?
For it is a usual and ancient custom with knights and ladies errant to
give the squires, damsels, or dwarfs who bring tidings of their ladies to
the knights, or of their knights to the ladies, some rich jewel as a
guerdon for good news,' and acknowledgment of the message."

"That is very likely," said Sancho, "and a good custom it was, to my
mind; but that must have been in days gone by, for now it would seem to
be the custom only to give a piece of bread and cheese; because that was
what my lady Dulcinea gave me over the top of the yard-wall when I took
leave of her; and more by token it was sheep's-milk cheese."

"She is generous in the extreme," said Don Quixote, "and if she did not
give thee a jewel of gold, no doubt it must have been because she had not
one to hand there to give thee; but sleeves are good after Easter; I
shall see her and all shall be made right. But knowest thou what amazes
me, Sancho? It seems to me thou must have gone and come through the air,
for thou hast taken but little more than three days to go to El Toboso
and return, though it is more than thirty leagues from here to there.
From which I am inclined to think that the sage magician who is my
friend, and watches over my interests (for of necessity there is and must
be one, or else I should not be a right knight-errant), that this same, I
say, must have helped thee to travel without thy knowledge; for some of
these sages will catch up a knight-errant sleeping in his bed, and
without his knowing how or in what way it happened, he wakes up the next
day more than a thousand leagues away from the place where he went to
sleep. And if it were not for this, knights-errant would not be able to
give aid to one another in peril, as they do at every turn. For a knight,
maybe, is fighting in the mountains of Armenia with some dragon, or
fierce serpent, or another knight, and gets the worst of the battle, and
is at the point of death; but when he least looks for it, there appears
over against him on a cloud, or chariot of fire, another knight, a friend
of his, who just before had been in England, and who takes his part, and
delivers him from death; and at night he finds himself in his own
quarters supping very much to his satisfaction; and yet from one place to
the other will have been two or three thousand leagues. And all this is
done by the craft and skill of the sage enchanters who take care of those
valiant knights; so that, friend Sancho, I find no difficulty in
believing that thou mayest have gone from this place to El Toboso and
returned in such a short time, since, as I have said, some friendly sage
must have carried thee through the air without thee perceiving it."

"That must have been it," said Sancho, "for indeed Rocinante went like a
gipsy's ass with quicksilver in his ears."

"Quicksilver!" said Don Quixote, "aye and what is more, a legion of
devils, folk that can travel and make others travel without being weary,
exactly as the whim seizes them. But putting this aside, what thinkest
thou I ought to do about my lady's command to go and see her? For though
I feel that I am bound to obey her mandate, I feel too that I am debarred
by the boon I have accorded to the princess that accompanies us, and the
law of chivalry compels me to have regard for my word in preference to my
inclination; on the one hand the desire to see my lady pursues and
harasses me, on the other my solemn promise and the glory I shall win in
this enterprise urge and call me; but what I think I shall do is to
travel with all speed and reach quickly the place where this giant is,
and on my arrival I shall cut off his head, and establish the princess
peacefully in her realm, and forthwith I shall return to behold the light
that lightens my senses, to whom I shall make such excuses that she will
be led to approve of my delay, for she will see that it entirely tends to
increase her glory and fame; for all that I have won, am winning, or
shall win by arms in this life, comes to me of the favour she extends to
me, and because I am hers."

"Ah! what a sad state your worship's brains are in!" said Sancho. "Tell
me, senor, do you mean to travel all that way for nothing, and to let
slip and lose so rich and great a match as this where they give as a
portion a kingdom that in sober truth I have heard say is more than
twenty thousand leagues round about, and abounds with all things
necessary to support human life, and is bigger than Portugal and Castile
put together? Peace, for the love of God! Blush for what you have said,
and take my advice, and forgive me, and marry at once in the first
village where there is a curate; if not, here is our licentiate who will
do the business beautifully; remember, I am old enough to give advice,
and this I am giving comes pat to the purpose; for a sparrow in the hand
is better than a vulture on the wing, and he who has the good to his hand
and chooses the bad, that the good he complains of may not come to him."

"Look here, Sancho," said Don Quixote. "If thou art advising me to marry,
in order that immediately on slaying the giant I may become king, and be
able to confer favours on thee, and give thee what I have promised, let
me tell thee I shall be able very easily to satisfy thy desires without
marrying; for before going into battle I will make it a stipulation that,
if I come out of it victorious, even I do not marry, they shall give me a
portion portion of the kingdom, that I may bestow it upon whomsoever I
choose, and when they give it to me upon whom wouldst thou have me bestow
it but upon thee?"

"That is plain speaking," said Sancho; "but let your worship take care to
choose it on the seacoast, so that if I don't like the life, I may be
able to ship off my black vassals and deal with them as I have said;
don't mind going to see my lady Dulcinea now, but go and kill this giant
and let us finish off this business; for by God it strikes me it will be
one of great honour and great profit."

"I hold thou art in the right of it, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "and I
will take thy advice as to accompanying the princess before going to see
Dulcinea; but I counsel thee not to say anything to any one, or to those
who are with us, about what we have considered and discussed, for as
Dulcinea is so decorous that she does not wish her thoughts to be known
it is not right that I or anyone for me should disclose them."

"Well then, if that be so," said Sancho, "how is it that your worship
makes all those you overcome by your arm go to present themselves before
my lady Dulcinea, this being the same thing as signing your name to it
that you love her and are her lover? And as those who go must perforce
kneel before her and say they come from your worship to submit themselves
to her, how can the thoughts of both of you be hid?"

"O, how silly and simple thou art!" said Don Quixote; "seest thou not,
Sancho, that this tends to her greater exaltation? For thou must know
that according to our way of thinking in chivalry, it is a high honour to
a lady to have many knights-errant in her service, whose thoughts never
go beyond serving her for her own sake, and who look for no other reward
for their great and true devotion than that she should be willing to
accept them as her knights."

"It is with that kind of love," said Sancho, "I have heard preachers say
we ought to love our Lord, for himself alone, without being moved by the
hope of glory or the fear of punishment; though for my part, I would
rather love and serve him for what he could do."

"The devil take thee for a clown!" said Don Quixote, "and what shrewd
things thou sayest at times! One would think thou hadst studied."

"In faith, then, I cannot even read."

Master Nicholas here called out to them to wait a while, as they wanted
to halt and drink at a little spring there was there. Don Quixote drew
up, not a little to the satisfaction of Sancho, for he was by this time
weary of telling so many lies, and in dread of his master catching him
tripping, for though he knew that Dulcinea was a peasant girl of El
Toboso, he had never seen her in all his life. Cardenio had now put on
the clothes which Dorothea was wearing when they found her, and though
they were not very good, they were far better than those he put off. They
dismounted together by the side of the spring, and with what the curate
had provided himself with at the inn they appeased, though not very well,
the keen appetite they all of them brought with them.

While they were so employed there happened to come by a youth passing on
his way, who stopping to examine the party at the spring, the next moment
ran to Don Quixote and clasping him round the legs, began to weep freely,
saying, "O, senor, do you not know me? Look at me well; I am that lad
Andres that your worship released from the oak-tree where I was tied."

Don Quixote recognised him, and taking his hand he turned to those
present and said: "That your worships may see how important it is to have
knights-errant to redress the wrongs and injuries done by tyrannical and
wicked men in this world, I may tell you that some days ago passing
through a wood, I heard cries and piteous complaints as of a person in
pain and distress; I immediately hastened, impelled by my bounden duty,
to the quarter whence the plaintive accents seemed to me to proceed, and
I found tied to an oak this lad who now stands before you, which in my
heart I rejoice at, for his testimony will not permit me to depart from
the truth in any particular. He was, I say, tied to an oak, naked from
the waist up, and a clown, whom I afterwards found to be his master, was
scarifying him by lashes with the reins of his mare. As soon as I saw him
I asked the reason of so cruel a flagellation. The boor replied that he
was flogging him because he was his servant and because of carelessness
that proceeded rather from dishonesty than stupidity; on which this boy
said, 'Senor, he flogs me only because I ask for my wages.' The master
made I know not what speeches and explanations, which, though I listened
to them, I did not accept. In short, I compelled the clown to unbind him,
and to swear he would take him with him, and pay him real by real, and
perfumed into the bargain. Is not all this true, Andres my son? Didst
thou not mark with what authority I commanded him, and with what humility
he promised to do all I enjoined, specified, and required of him? Answer
without hesitation; tell these gentlemen what took place, that they may
see that it is as great an advantage as I say to have knights-errant

"All that your worship has said is quite true," answered the lad; "but
the end of the business turned out just the opposite of what your worship

"How! the opposite?" said Don Quixote; "did not the clown pay thee then?"

"Not only did he not pay me," replied the lad, "but as soon as your
worship had passed out of the wood and we were alone, he tied me up again
to the same oak and gave me a fresh flogging, that left me like a flayed
Saint Bartholomew; and every stroke he gave me he followed up with some
jest or gibe about having made a fool of your worship, and but for the
pain I was suffering I should have laughed at the things he said. In
short he left me in such a condition that I have been until now in a
hospital getting cured of the injuries which that rascally clown
inflicted on me then; for all which your worship is to blame; for if you
had gone your own way and not come where there was no call for you, nor
meddled in other people's affairs, my master would have been content with
giving me one or two dozen lashes, and would have then loosed me and paid
me what he owed me; but when your worship abused him so out of measure,
and gave him so many hard words, his anger was kindled; and as he could
not revenge himself on you, as soon as he saw you had left him the storm
burst upon me in such a way, that I feel as if I should never be a man

"The mischief," said Don Quixote, "lay in my going away; for I should not
have gone until I had seen thee paid; because I ought to have known well
by long experience that there is no clown who will keep his word if he
finds it will not suit him to keep it; but thou rememberest, Andres, that
I swore if he did not pay thee I would go and seek him, and find him
though he were to hide himself in the whale's belly."

"That is true," said Andres; "but it was of no use."

"Thou shalt see now whether it is of use or not," said Don Quixote; and
so saying, he got up hastily and bade Sancho bridle Rocinante, who was
browsing while they were eating. Dorothea asked him what he meant to do.
He replied that he meant to go in search of this clown and chastise him
for such iniquitous conduct, and see Andres paid to the last maravedi,
despite and in the teeth of all the clowns in the world. To which she
replied that he must remember that in accordance with his promise he
could not engage in any enterprise until he had concluded hers; and that
as he knew this better than anyone, he should restrain his ardour until
his return from her kingdom.

"That is true," said Don Quixote, "and Andres must have patience until my
return as you say, senora; but I once more swear and promise not to stop
until I have seen him avenged and paid."

"I have no faith in those oaths," said Andres; "I would rather have now
something to help me to get to Seville than all the revenges in the
world; if you have here anything to eat that I can take with me, give it
me, and God be with your worship and all knights-errant; and may their
errands turn out as well for themselves as they have for me."

Sancho took out from his store a piece of bread and another of cheese,
and giving them to the lad he said, "Here, take this, brother Andres, for
we have all of us a share in your misfortune."

"Why, what share have you got?"

"This share of bread and cheese I am giving you," answered Sancho; "and
God knows whether I shall feel the want of it myself or not; for I would
have you know, friend, that we squires to knights-errant have to bear a
great deal of hunger and hard fortune, and even other things more easily
felt than told."

Andres seized his bread and cheese, and seeing that nobody gave him
anything more, bent his head, and took hold of the road, as the saying
is. However, before leaving he said, "For the love of God, sir
knight-errant, if you ever meet me again, though you may see them cutting
me to pieces, give me no aid or succour, but leave me to my misfortune,
which will not be so great but that a greater will come to me by being
helped by your worship, on whom and all the knights-errant that have ever
been born God send his curse."

Don Quixote was getting up to chastise him, but he took to his heels at
such a pace that no one attempted to follow him; and mightily chapfallen
was Don Quixote at Andres' story, and the others had to take great care
to restrain their laughter so as not to put him entirely out of



Their dainty repast being finished, they saddled at once, and without any
adventure worth mentioning they reached next day the inn, the object of
Sancho Panza's fear and dread; but though he would have rather not
entered it, there was no help for it. The landlady, the landlord, their
daughter, and Maritornes, when they saw Don Quixote and Sancho coming,
went out to welcome them with signs of hearty satisfaction, which Don
Quixote received with dignity and gravity, and bade them make up a better
bed for him than the last time: to which the landlady replied that if he
paid better than he did the last time she would give him one fit for a
prince. Don Quixote said he would, so they made up a tolerable one for
him in the same garret as before; and he lay down at once, being sorely
shaken and in want of sleep.

No sooner was the door shut upon him than the landlady made at the
barber, and seizing him by the beard, said:

"By my faith you are not going to make a beard of my tail any longer; you
must give me back tail, for it is a shame the way that thing of my
husband's goes tossing about on the floor; I mean the comb that I used to
stick in my good tail."

But for all she tugged at it the barber would not give it up until the
licentiate told him to let her have it, as there was now no further
occasion for that stratagem, because he might declare himself and appear
in his own character, and tell Don Quixote that he had fled to this inn
when those thieves the galley slaves robbed him; and should he ask for
the princess's squire, they could tell him that she had sent him on
before her to give notice to the people of her kingdom that she was
coming, and bringing with her the deliverer of them all. On this the
barber cheerfully restored the tail to the landlady, and at the same time
they returned all the accessories they had borrowed to effect Don
Quixote's deliverance. All the people of the inn were struck with
astonishment at the beauty of Dorothea, and even at the comely figure of
the shepherd Cardenio. The curate made them get ready such fare as there
was in the inn, and the landlord, in hope of better payment, served them
up a tolerably good dinner. All this time Don Quixote was asleep, and
they thought it best not to waken him, as sleeping would now do him more
good than eating.

While at dinner, the company consisting of the landlord, his wife, their
daughter, Maritornes, and all the travellers, they discussed the strange
craze of Don Quixote and the manner in which he had been found; and the
landlady told them what had taken place between him and the carrier; and
then, looking round to see if Sancho was there, when she saw he was not,
she gave them the whole story of his blanketing, which they received with
no little amusement. But on the curate observing that it was the books of
chivalry which Don Quixote had read that had turned his brain, the
landlord said:

"I cannot understand how that can be, for in truth to my mind there is no
better reading in the world, and I have here two or three of them, with
other writings that are the very life, not only of myself but of plenty
more; for when it is harvest-time, the reapers flock here on holidays,
and there is always one among them who can read and who takes up one of
these books, and we gather round him, thirty or more of us, and stay
listening to him with a delight that makes our grey hairs grow young
again. At least I can say for myself that when I hear of what furious and
terrible blows the knights deliver, I am seized with the longing to do
the same, and I would like to be hearing about them night and day."

"And I just as much," said the landlady, "because I never have a quiet
moment in my house except when you are listening to some one reading; for
then you are so taken up that for the time being you forget to scold."

"That is true," said Maritornes; "and, faith, I relish hearing these
things greatly too, for they are very pretty; especially when they
describe some lady or another in the arms of her knight under the orange
trees, and the duenna who is keeping watch for them half dead with envy
and fright; all this I say is as good as honey."

"And you, what do you think, young lady?" said the curate turning to the
landlord's daughter.

"I don't know indeed, senor," said she; "I listen too, and to tell the
truth, though I do not understand it, I like hearing it; but it is not
the blows that my father likes that I like, but the laments the knights
utter when they are separated from their ladies; and indeed they
sometimes make me weep with the pity I feel for them."

"Then you would console them if it was for you they wept, young lady?"
said Dorothea.

"I don't know what I should do," said the girl; "I only know that there
are some of those ladies so cruel that they call their knights tigers and
lions and a thousand other foul names: and Jesus! I don't know what sort
of folk they can be, so unfeeling and heartless, that rather than bestow
a glance upon a worthy man they leave him to die or go mad. I don't know
what is the good of such prudery; if it is for honour's sake, why not
marry them? That's all they want."

"Hush, child," said the landlady; "it seems to me thou knowest a great
deal about these things, and it is not fit for girls to know or talk so

"As the gentleman asked me, I could not help answering him," said the

"Well then," said the curate, "bring me these books, senor landlord, for
I should like to see them."

"With all my heart," said he, and going into his own room he brought out
an old valise secured with a little chain, on opening which the curate
found in it three large books and some manuscripts written in a very good
hand. The first that he opened he found to be "Don Cirongilio of Thrace,"
and the second "Don Felixmarte of Hircania," and the other the "History
of the Great Captain Gonzalo Hernandez de Cordova, with the Life of Diego
Garcia de Paredes."

When the curate read the two first titles he looked over at the barber
and said, "We want my friend's housekeeper and niece here now."

"Nay," said the barber, "I can do just as well to carry them to the yard
or to the hearth, and there is a very good fire there."

"What! your worship would burn my books!" said the landlord.

"Only these two," said the curate, "Don Cirongilio, and Felixmarte."

"Are my books, then, heretics or phlegmaties that you want to burn them?"
said the landlord.

"Schismatics you mean, friend," said the barber, "not phlegmatics."

"That's it," said the landlord; "but if you want to burn any, let it be
that about the Great Captain and that Diego Garcia; for I would rather
have a child of mine burnt than either of the others."

"Brother," said the curate, "those two books are made up of lies, and are
full of folly and nonsense; but this of the Great Captain is a true
history, and contains the deeds of Gonzalo Hernandez of Cordova, who by
his many and great achievements earned the title all over the world of
the Great Captain, a famous and illustrious name, and deserved by him
alone; and this Diego Garcia de Paredes was a distinguished knight of the
city of Trujillo in Estremadura, a most gallant soldier, and of such
bodily strength that with one finger he stopped a mill-wheel in full
motion; and posted with a two-handed sword at the foot of a bridge he
kept the whole of an immense army from passing over it, and achieved such
other exploits that if, instead of his relating them himself with the
modesty of a knight and of one writing his own history, some free and
unbiassed writer had recorded them, they would have thrown into the shade
all the deeds of the Hectors, Achilleses, and Rolands."

"Tell that to my father," said the landlord. "There's a thing to be
astonished at! Stopping a mill-wheel! By God your worship should read
what I have read of Felixmarte of Hircania, how with one single
backstroke he cleft five giants asunder through the middle as if they had
been made of bean-pods like the little friars the children make; and
another time he attacked a very great and powerful army, in which there
were more than a million six hundred thousand soldiers, all armed from
head to foot, and he routed them all as if they had been flocks of sheep.

"And then, what do you say to the good Cirongilio of Thrace, that was so
stout and bold; as may be seen in the book, where it is related that as
he was sailing along a river there came up out of the midst of the water
against him a fiery serpent, and he, as soon as he saw it, flung himself
upon it and got astride of its scaly shoulders, and squeezed its throat
with both hands with such force that the serpent, finding he was
throttling it, had nothing for it but to let itself sink to the bottom of
the river, carrying with it the knight who would not let go his hold; and
when they got down there he found himself among palaces and gardens so
pretty that it was a wonder to see; and then the serpent changed itself
into an old ancient man, who told him such things as were never heard.
Hold your peace, senor; for if you were to hear this you would go mad
with delight. A couple of figs for your Great Captain and your Diego

Hearing this Dorothea said in a whisper to Cardenio, "Our landlord is
almost fit to play a second part to Don Quixote."

"I think so," said Cardenio, "for, as he shows, he accepts it as a
certainty that everything those books relate took place exactly as it is
written down; and the barefooted friars themselves would not persuade him
to the contrary."

"But consider, brother," said the curate once more, "there never was any
Felixmarte of Hircania in the world, nor any Cirongilio of Thrace, or any
of the other knights of the same sort, that the books of chivalry talk
of; the whole thing is the fabrication and invention of idle wits,
devised by them for the purpose you describe of beguiling the time, as
your reapers do when they read; for I swear to you in all seriousness
there never were any such knights in the world, and no such exploits or
nonsense ever happened anywhere."

"Try that bone on another dog," said the landlord; "as if I did not know
how many make five, and where my shoe pinches me; don't think to feed me
with pap, for by God I am no fool. It is a good joke for your worship to
try and persuade me that everything these good books say is nonsense and
lies, and they printed by the license of the Lords of the Royal Council,
as if they were people who would allow such a lot of lies to be printed
all together, and so many battles and enchantments that they take away
one's senses."

"I have told you, friend," said the curate, "that this is done to divert
our idle thoughts; and as in well-ordered states games of chess, fives,
and billiards are allowed for the diversion of those who do not care, or
are not obliged, or are unable to work, so books of this kind are allowed
to be printed, on the supposition that, what indeed is the truth, there
can be nobody so ignorant as to take any of them for true stories; and if
it were permitted me now, and the present company desired it, I could say
something about the qualities books of chivalry should possess to be good
ones, that would be to the advantage and even to the taste of some; but I
hope the time will come when I can communicate my ideas to some one who
may be able to mend matters; and in the meantime, senor landlord, believe
what I have said, and take your books, and make up your mind about their
truth or falsehood, and much good may they do you; and God grant you may
not fall lame of the same foot your guest Don Quixote halts on."

"No fear of that," returned the landlord; "I shall not be so mad as to
make a knight-errant of myself; for I see well enough that things are not
now as they used to be in those days, when they say those famous knights
roamed about the world."

Sancho had made his appearance in the middle of this conversation, and he
was very much troubled and cast down by what he heard said about
knights-errant being now no longer in vogue, and all books of chivalry
being folly and lies; and he resolved in his heart to wait and see what
came of this journey of his master's, and if it did not turn out as
happily as his master expected, he determined to leave him and go back to
his wife and children and his ordinary labour.

The landlord was carrying away the valise and the books, but the curate
said to him, "Wait; I want to see what those papers are that are written
in such a good hand." The landlord taking them out handed them to him to
read, and he perceived they were a work of about eight sheets of
manuscript, with, in large letters at the beginning, the title of "Novel
of the Ill-advised Curiosity." The curate read three or four lines to
himself, and said, "I must say the title of this novel does not seem to
me a bad one, and I feel an inclination to read it all." To which the
landlord replied, "Then your reverence will do well to read it, for I can
tell you that some guests who have read it here have been much pleased
with it, and have begged it of me very earnestly; but I would not give
it, meaning to return it to the person who forgot the valise, books, and
papers here, for maybe he will return here some time or other; and though
I know I shall miss the books, faith I mean to return them; for though I
am an innkeeper, still I am a Christian."

"You are very right, friend," said the curate; "but for all that, if the
novel pleases me you must let me copy it."

"With all my heart," replied the host.

While they were talking Cardenio had taken up the novel and begun to read
it, and forming the same opinion of it as the curate, he begged him to
read it so that they might all hear it.

"I would read it," said the curate, "if the time would not be better
spent in sleeping."

"It will be rest enough for me," said Dorothea, "to while away the time
by listening to some tale, for my spirits are not yet tranquil enough to
let me sleep when it would be seasonable."

"Well then, in that case," said the curate, "I will read it, if it were
only out of curiosity; perhaps it may contain something pleasant."

Master Nicholas added his entreaties to the same effect, and Sancho too;
seeing which, and considering that he would give pleasure to all, and
receive it himself, the curate said, "Well then, attend to me everyone,
for the novel begins thus."



In Florence, a rich and famous city of Italy in the province called
Tuscany, there lived two gentlemen of wealth and quality, Anselmo and
Lothario, such great friends that by way of distinction they were called
by all that knew them "The Two Friends." They were unmarried, young, of
the same age and of the same tastes, which was enough to account for the
reciprocal friendship between them. Anselmo, it is true, was somewhat
more inclined to seek pleasure in love than Lothario, for whom the
pleasures of the chase had more attraction; but on occasion Anselmo would
forego his own tastes to yield to those of Lothario, and Lothario would
surrender his to fall in with those of Anselmo, and in this way their
inclinations kept pace one with the other with a concord so perfect that
the best regulated clock could not surpass it.

Anselmo was deep in love with a high-born and beautiful maiden of the
same city, the daughter of parents so estimable, and so estimable
herself, that he resolved, with the approval of his friend Lothario,
without whom he did nothing, to ask her of them in marriage, and did so,
Lothario being the bearer of the demand, and conducting the negotiation
so much to the satisfaction of his friend that in a short time he was in
possession of the object of his desires, and Camilla so happy in having
won Anselmo for her husband, that she gave thanks unceasingly to heaven
and to Lothario, by whose means such good fortune had fallen to her. The
first few days, those of a wedding being usually days of merry-making,
Lothario frequented his friend Anselmo's house as he had been wont,
striving to do honour to him and to the occasion, and to gratify him in
every way he could; but when the wedding days were over and the
succession of visits and congratulations had slackened, he began
purposely to leave off going to the house of Anselmo, for it seemed to
him, as it naturally would to all men of sense, that friends' houses
ought not to be visited after marriage with the same frequency as in
their masters' bachelor days: because, though true and genuine friendship
cannot and should not be in any way suspicious, still a married man's
honour is a thing of such delicacy that it is held liable to injury from
brothers, much more from friends. Anselmo remarked the cessation of
Lothario's visits, and complained of it to him, saying that if he had
known that marriage was to keep him from enjoying his society as he used,
he would have never married; and that, if by the thorough harmony that
subsisted between them while he was a bachelor they had earned such a
sweet name as that of "The Two Friends," he should not allow a title so
rare and so delightful to be lost through a needless anxiety to act
circumspectly; and so he entreated him, if such a phrase was allowable
between them, to be once more master of his house and to come in and go
out as formerly, assuring him that his wife Camilla had no other desire
or inclination than that which he would wish her to have, and that
knowing how sincerely they loved one another she was grieved to see such
coldness in him.

To all this and much more that Anselmo said to Lothario to persuade him
to come to his house as he had been in the habit of doing, Lothario
replied with so much prudence, sense, and judgment, that Anselmo was
satisfied of his friend's good intentions, and it was agreed that on two
days in the week, and on holidays, Lothario should come to dine with him;
but though this arrangement was made between them Lothario resolved to
observe it no further than he considered to be in accordance with the
honour of his friend, whose good name was more to him than his own. He
said, and justly, that a married man upon whom heaven had bestowed a
beautiful wife should consider as carefully what friends he brought to
his house as what female friends his wife associated with, for what
cannot be done or arranged in the market-place, in church, at public
festivals or at stations (opportunities that husbands cannot always deny
their wives), may be easily managed in the house of the female friend or
relative in whom most confidence is reposed. Lothario said, too, that
every married man should have some friend who would point out to him any
negligence he might be guilty of in his conduct, for it will sometimes
happen that owing to the deep affection the husband bears his wife either
he does not caution her, or, not to vex her, refrains from telling her to
do or not to do certain things, doing or avoiding which may be a matter
of honour or reproach to him; and errors of this kind he could easily
correct if warned by a friend. But where is such a friend to be found as
Lothario would have, so judicious, so loyal, and so true?

Of a truth I know not; Lothario alone was such a one, for with the utmost
care and vigilance he watched over the honour of his friend, and strove
to diminish, cut down, and reduce the number of days for going to his
house according to their agreement, lest the visits of a young man,
wealthy, high-born, and with the attractions he was conscious of
possessing, at the house of a woman so beautiful as Camilla, should be
regarded with suspicion by the inquisitive and malicious eyes of the idle
public. For though his integrity and reputation might bridle slanderous
tongues, still he was unwilling to hazard either his own good name or
that of his friend; and for this reason most of the days agreed upon he
devoted to some other business which he pretended was unavoidable; so
that a great portion of the day was taken up with complaints on one side
and excuses on the other. It happened, however, that on one occasion when
the two were strolling together outside the city, Anselmo addressed the
following words to Lothario.

"Thou mayest suppose, Lothario my friend, that I am unable to give
sufficient thanks for the favours God has rendered me in making me the
son of such parents as mine were, and bestowing upon me with no niggard
hand what are called the gifts of nature as well as those of fortune, and
above all for what he has done in giving me thee for a friend and Camilla
for a wife--two treasures that I value, if not as highly as I ought, at
least as highly as I am able. And yet, with all these good things, which
are commonly all that men need to enable them to live happily, I am the
most discontented and dissatisfied man in the whole world; for, I know
not how long since, I have been harassed and oppressed by a desire so
strange and so unusual, that I wonder at myself and blame and chide
myself when I am alone, and strive to stifle it and hide it from my own
thoughts, and with no better success than if I were endeavouring
deliberately to publish it to all the world; and as, in short, it must
come out, I would confide it to thy safe keeping, feeling sure that by
this means, and by thy readiness as a true friend to afford me relief, I
shall soon find myself freed from the distress it causes me, and that thy
care will give me happiness in the same degree as my own folly has caused
me misery."

The words of Anselmo struck Lothario with astonishment, unable as he was
to conjecture the purport of such a lengthy preamble; and though be
strove to imagine what desire it could be that so troubled his friend,
his conjectures were all far from the truth, and to relieve the anxiety
which this perplexity was causing him, he told him he was doing a
flagrant injustice to their great friendship in seeking circuitous
methods of confiding to him his most hidden thoughts, for he well knew he
might reckon upon his counsel in diverting them, or his help in carrying
them into effect.

"That is the truth," replied Anselmo, "and relying upon that I will tell
thee, friend Lothario, that the desire which harasses me is that of
knowing whether my wife Camilla is as good and as perfect as I think her
to be; and I cannot satisfy myself of the truth on this point except by
testing her in such a way that the trial may prove the purity of her
virtue as the fire proves that of gold; because I am persuaded, my
friend, that a woman is virtuous only in proportion as she is or is not
tempted; and that she alone is strong who does not yield to the promises,
gifts, tears, and importunities of earnest lovers; for what thanks does a
woman deserve for being good if no one urges her to be bad, and what
wonder is it that she is reserved and circumspect to whom no opportunity
is given of going wrong and who knows she has a husband that will take
her life the first time he detects her in an impropriety? I do not
therefore hold her who is virtuous through fear or want of opportunity in
the same estimation as her who comes out of temptation and trial with a
crown of victory; and so, for these reasons and many others that I could
give thee to justify and support the opinion I hold, I am desirous that
my wife Camilla should pass this crisis, and be refined and tested by the
fire of finding herself wooed and by one worthy to set his affections
upon her; and if she comes out, as I know she will, victorious from this
struggle, I shall look upon my good fortune as unequalled, I shall be
able to say that the cup of my desire is full, and that the virtuous
woman of whom the sage says 'Who shall find her?' has fallen to my lot.
And if the result be the contrary of what I expect, in the satisfaction
of knowing that I have been right in my opinion, I shall bear without
complaint the pain which my so dearly bought experience will naturally
cause me. And, as nothing of all thou wilt urge in opposition to my wish
will avail to keep me from carrying it into effect, it is my desire,
friend Lothario, that thou shouldst consent to become the instrument for
effecting this purpose that I am bent upon, for I will afford thee
opportunities to that end, and nothing shall be wanting that I may think
necessary for the pursuit of a virtuous, honourable, modest and
high-minded woman. And among other reasons, I am induced to entrust this
arduous task to thee by the consideration that if Camilla be conquered by
thee the conquest will not be pushed to extremes, but only far enough to
account that accomplished which from a sense of honour will be left
undone; thus I shall not be wronged in anything more than intention, and
my wrong will remain buried in the integrity of thy silence, which I know
well will be as lasting as that of death in what concerns me. If,
therefore, thou wouldst have me enjoy what can be called life, thou wilt
at once engage in this love struggle, not lukewarmly nor slothfully, but
with the energy and zeal that my desire demands, and with the loyalty our
friendship assures me of."

Such were the words Anselmo addressed to Lothario, who listened to them
with such attention that, except to say what has been already mentioned,
he did not open his lips until the other had finished. Then perceiving
that he had no more to say, after regarding him for awhile, as one would
regard something never before seen that excited wonder and amazement, he
said to him, "I cannot persuade myself, Anselmo my friend, that what thou
hast said to me is not in jest; if I thought that thou wert speaking
seriously I would not have allowed thee to go so far; so as to put a stop
to thy long harangue by not listening to thee I verily suspect that
either thou dost not know me, or I do not know thee; but no, I know well
thou art Anselmo, and thou knowest that I am Lothario; the misfortune is,
it seems to me, that thou art not the Anselmo thou wert, and must have
thought that I am not the Lothario I should be; for the things that thou
hast said to me are not those of that Anselmo who was my friend, nor are
those that thou demandest of me what should be asked of the Lothario thou
knowest. True friends will prove their friends and make use of them, as a
poet has said, usque ad aras; whereby he meant that they will not make
use of their friendship in things that are contrary to God's will. If
this, then, was a heathen's feeling about friendship, how much more
should it be a Christian's, who knows that the divine must not be
forfeited for the sake of any human friendship? And if a friend should go
so far as to put aside his duty to Heaven to fulfil his duty to his
friend, it should not be in matters that are trifling or of little
moment, but in such as affect the friend's life and honour. Now tell me,
Anselmo, in which of these two art thou imperilled, that I should hazard
myself to gratify thee, and do a thing so detestable as that thou seekest
of me? Neither forsooth; on the contrary, thou dost ask of me, so far as
I understand, to strive and labour to rob thee of honour and life, and to
rob myself of them at the same time; for if I take away thy honour it is
plain I take away thy life, as a man without honour is worse than dead;
and being the instrument, as thou wilt have it so, of so much wrong to
thee, shall not I, too, be left without honour, and consequently without
life? Listen to me, Anselmo my friend, and be not impatient to answer me
until I have said what occurs to me touching the object of thy desire,
for there will be time enough left for thee to reply and for me to hear."

"Be it so," said Anselmo, "say what thou wilt."

Lothario then went on to say, "It seems to me, Anselmo, that thine is
just now the temper of mind which is always that of the Moors, who can
never be brought to see the error of their creed by quotations from the
Holy Scriptures, or by reasons which depend upon the examination of the
understanding or are founded upon the articles of faith, but must have
examples that are palpable, easy, intelligible, capable of proof, not
admitting of doubt, with mathematical demonstrations that cannot be
denied, like, 'If equals be taken from equals, the remainders are equal:'
and if they do not understand this in words, and indeed they do not, it
has to be shown to them with the hands, and put before their eyes, and
even with all this no one succeeds in convincing them of the truth of our
holy religion. This same mode of proceeding I shall have to adopt with
thee, for the desire which has sprung up in thee is so absurd and remote
from everything that has a semblance of reason, that I feel it would be a
waste of time to employ it in reasoning with thy simplicity, for at
present I will call it by no other name; and I am even tempted to leave
thee in thy folly as a punishment for thy pernicious desire; but the
friendship I bear thee, which will not allow me to desert thee in such
manifest danger of destruction, keeps me from dealing so harshly by thee.
And that thou mayest clearly see this, say, Anselmo, hast thou not told
me that I must force my suit upon a modest woman, decoy one that is
virtuous, make overtures to one that is pure-minded, pay court to one
that is prudent? Yes, thou hast told me so. Then, if thou knowest that
thou hast a wife, modest, virtuous, pure-minded and prudent, what is it
that thou seekest? And if thou believest that she will come forth
victorious from all my attacks--as doubtless she would--what higher
titles than those she possesses now dost thou think thou canst upon her
then, or in what will she be better then than she is now? Either thou
dost not hold her to be what thou sayest, or thou knowest not what thou
dost demand. If thou dost not hold her to be what thou why dost thou seek
to prove her instead of treating her as guilty in the way that may seem
best to thee? but if she be as virtuous as thou believest, it is an
uncalled-for proceeding to make trial of truth itself, for, after trial,
it will but be in the same estimation as before. Thus, then, it is
conclusive that to attempt things from which harm rather than advantage
may come to us is the part of unreasoning and reckless minds, more
especially when they are things which we are not forced or compelled to
attempt, and which show from afar that it is plainly madness to attempt

"Difficulties are attempted either for the sake of God or for the sake of
the world, or for both; those undertaken for God's sake are those which
the saints undertake when they attempt to live the lives of angels in
human bodies; those undertaken for the sake of the world are those of the
men who traverse such a vast expanse of water, such a variety of
climates, so many strange countries, to acquire what are called the
blessings of fortune; and those undertaken for the sake of God and the
world together are those of brave soldiers, who no sooner do they see in
the enemy's wall a breach as wide as a cannon ball could make, than,
casting aside all fear, without hesitating, or heeding the manifest peril
that threatens them, borne onward by the desire of defending their faith,
their country, and their king, they fling themselves dauntlessly into the
midst of the thousand opposing deaths that await them. Such are the
things that men are wont to attempt, and there is honour, glory, gain, in
attempting them, however full of difficulty and peril they may be; but
that which thou sayest it is thy wish to attempt and carry out will not
win thee the glory of God nor the blessings of fortune nor fame among
men; for even if the issue he as thou wouldst have it, thou wilt be no
happier, richer, or more honoured than thou art this moment; and if it be
otherwise thou wilt be reduced to misery greater than can be imagined,
for then it will avail thee nothing to reflect that no one is aware of
the misfortune that has befallen thee; it will suffice to torture and
crush thee that thou knowest it thyself. And in confirmation of the truth
of what I say, let me repeat to thee a stanza made by the famous poet
Luigi Tansillo at the end of the first part of his 'Tears of Saint
Peter,' which says thus:

The anguish and the shame but greater grew In Peter's heart as morning
slowly came; No eye was there to see him, well he knew, Yet he himself
was to himself a shame; Exposed to all men's gaze, or screened from view,
A noble heart will feel the pang the same; A prey to shame the sinning
soul will be, Though none but heaven and earth its shame can see.

Thus by keeping it secret thou wilt not escape thy sorrow, but rather
thou wilt shed tears unceasingly, if not tears of the eyes, tears of
blood from the heart, like those shed by that simple doctor our poet
tells us of, that tried the test of the cup, which the wise Rinaldo,
better advised, refused to do; for though this may be a poetic fiction it
contains a moral lesson worthy of attention and study and imitation.
Moreover by what I am about to say to thee thou wilt be led to see the
great error thou wouldst commit.

"Tell me, Anselmo, if Heaven or good fortune had made thee master and
lawful owner of a diamond of the finest quality, with the excellence and
purity of which all the lapidaries that had seen it had been satisfied,
saying with one voice and common consent that in purity, quality, and
fineness, it was all that a stone of the kind could possibly be, thou
thyself too being of the same belief, as knowing nothing to the contrary,
would it be reasonable in thee to desire to take that diamond and place
it between an anvil and a hammer, and by mere force of blows and strength
of arm try if it were as hard and as fine as they said? And if thou
didst, and if the stone should resist so silly a test, that would add
nothing to its value or reputation; and if it were broken, as it might
be, would not all be lost? Undoubtedly it would, leaving its owner to be
rated as a fool in the opinion of all. Consider, then, Anselmo my friend,
that Camilla is a diamond of the finest quality as well in thy estimation
as in that of others, and that it is contrary to reason to expose her to
the risk of being broken; for if she remains intact she cannot rise to a
higher value than she now possesses; and if she give way and be unable to
resist, bethink thee now how thou wilt be deprived of her, and with what
good reason thou wilt complain of thyself for having been the cause of
her ruin and thine own. Remember there is no jewel in the world so
precious as a chaste and virtuous woman, and that the whole honour of
women consists in reputation; and since thy wife's is of that high
excellence that thou knowest, wherefore shouldst thou seek to call that
truth in question? Remember, my friend, that woman is an imperfect
animal, and that impediments are not to be placed in her way to make her
trip and fall, but that they should be removed, and her path left clear
of all obstacles, so that without hindrance she may run her course freely
to attain the desired perfection, which consists in being virtuous.
Naturalists tell us that the ermine is a little animal which has a fur of
purest white, and that when the hunters wish to take it, they make use of
this artifice. Having ascertained the places which it frequents and
passes, they stop the way to them with mud, and then rousing it, drive it
towards the spot, and as soon as the ermine comes to the mud it halts,
and allows itself to be taken captive rather than pass through the mire,
and spoil and sully its whiteness, which it values more than life and
liberty. The virtuous and chaste woman is an ermine, and whiter and purer
than snow is the virtue of modesty; and he who wishes her not to lose it,
but to keep and preserve it, must adopt a course different from that
employed with the ermine; he must not put before her the mire of the
gifts and attentions of persevering lovers, because perhaps--and even
without a perhaps--she may not have sufficient virtue and natural
strength in herself to pass through and tread under foot these
impediments; they must be removed, and the brightness of virtue and the
beauty of a fair fame must be put before her. A virtuous woman, too, is
like a mirror, of clear shining crystal, liable to be tarnished and
dimmed by every breath that touches it. She must be treated as relics
are; adored, not touched. She must be protected and prized as one
protects and prizes a fair garden full of roses and flowers, the owner of
which allows no one to trespass or pluck a blossom; enough for others
that from afar and through the iron grating they may enjoy its fragrance
and its beauty. Finally let me repeat to thee some verses that come to my
mind; I heard them in a modern comedy, and it seems to me they bear upon
the point we are discussing. A prudent old man was giving advice to
another, the father of a young girl, to lock her up, watch over her and
keep her in seclusion, and among other arguments he used these:

Woman is a thing of glass;
But her brittleness 'tis best
Not too curiously to test:
Who knows what may come to pass?

Breaking is an easy matter,
And it's folly to expose
What you cannot mend to blows;
What you can't make whole to shatter.

This, then, all may hold as true,
And the reason's plain to see;
For if Danaes there be,
There are golden showers too.

"All that I have said to thee so far, Anselmo, has had reference to what
concerns thee; now it is right that I should say something of what
regards myself; and if I be prolix, pardon me, for the labyrinth into
which thou hast entered and from which thou wouldst have me extricate
thee makes it necessary.

"Thou dost reckon me thy friend, and thou wouldst rob me of honour, a
thing wholly inconsistent with friendship; and not only dost thou aim at
this, but thou wouldst have me rob thee of it also. That thou wouldst rob
me of it is clear, for when Camilla sees that I pay court to her as thou
requirest, she will certainly regard me as a man without honour or right
feeling, since I attempt and do a thing so much opposed to what I owe to
my own position and thy friendship. That thou wouldst have me rob thee of
it is beyond a doubt, for Camilla, seeing that I press my suit upon her,
will suppose that I have perceived in her something light that has
encouraged me to make known to her my base desire; and if she holds
herself dishonoured, her dishonour touches thee as belonging to her; and
hence arises what so commonly takes place, that the husband of the
adulterous woman, though he may not be aware of or have given any cause
for his wife's failure in her duty, or (being careless or negligent) have
had it in his power to prevent his dishonour, nevertheless is stigmatised
by a vile and reproachful name, and in a manner regarded with eyes of
contempt instead of pity by all who know of his wife's guilt, though they
see that he is unfortunate not by his own fault, but by the lust of a
vicious consort. But I will tell thee why with good reason dishonour
attaches to the husband of the unchaste wife, though he know not that she
is so, nor be to blame, nor have done anything, or given any provocation
to make her so; and be not weary with listening to me, for it will be for
thy good.

"When God created our first parent in the earthly paradise, the Holy
Scripture says that he infused sleep into Adam and while he slept took a
rib from his left side of which he formed our mother Eve, and when Adam
awoke and beheld her he said, 'This is flesh of my flesh, and bone of my
bone.' And God said 'For this shall a man leave his father and his
mother, and they shall be two in one flesh; and then was instituted the
divine sacrament of marriage, with such ties that death alone can loose
them. And such is the force and virtue of this miraculous sacrament that
it makes two different persons one and the same flesh; and even more than
this when the virtuous are married; for though they have two souls they
have but one will. And hence it follows that as the flesh of the wife is
one and the same with that of her husband the stains that may come upon
it, or the injuries it incurs fall upon the husband's flesh, though he,
as has been said, may have given no cause for them; for as the pain of
the foot or any member of the body is felt by the whole body, because all
is one flesh, as the head feels the hurt to the ankle without having
caused it, so the husband, being one with her, shares the dishonour of
the wife; and as all worldly honour or dishonour comes of flesh and
blood, and the erring wife's is of that kind, the husband must needs bear
his part of it and be held dishonoured without knowing it. See, then,
Anselmo, the peril thou art encountering in seeking to disturb the peace
of thy virtuous consort; see for what an empty and ill-advised curiosity
thou wouldst rouse up passions that now repose in quiet in the breast of
thy chaste wife; reflect that what thou art staking all to win is little,
and what thou wilt lose so much that I leave it undescribed, not having
the words to express it. But if all I have said be not enough to turn
thee from thy vile purpose, thou must seek some other instrument for thy
dishonour and misfortune; for such I will not consent to be, though I
lose thy friendship, the greatest loss that I can conceive."

Having said this, the wise and virtuous Lothario was silent, and Anselmo,
troubled in mind and deep in thought, was unable for a while to utter a
word in reply; but at length he said, "I have listened, Lothario my
friend, attentively, as thou hast seen, to what thou hast chosen to say
to me, and in thy arguments, examples, and comparisons I have seen that
high intelligence thou dost possess, and the perfection of true
friendship thou hast reached; and likewise I see and confess that if I am
not guided by thy opinion, but follow my own, I am flying from the good
and pursuing the evil. This being so, thou must remember that I am now
labouring under that infirmity which women sometimes suffer from, when
the craving seizes them to eat clay, plaster, charcoal, and things even
worse, disgusting to look at, much more to eat; so that it will be
necessary to have recourse to some artifice to cure me; and this can be
easily effected if only thou wilt make a beginning, even though it be in
a lukewarm and make-believe fashion, to pay court to Camilla, who will
not be so yielding that her virtue will give way at the first attack:
with this mere attempt I shall rest satisfied, and thou wilt have done
what our friendship binds thee to do, not only in giving me life, but in
persuading me not to discard my honour. And this thou art bound to do for
one reason alone, that, being, as I am, resolved to apply this test, it
is not for thee to permit me to reveal my weakness to another, and so
imperil that honour thou art striving to keep me from losing; and if
thine may not stand as high as it ought in the estimation of Camilla
while thou art paying court to her, that is of little or no importance,
because ere long, on finding in her that constancy which we expect, thou
canst tell her the plain truth as regards our stratagem, and so regain
thy place in her esteem; and as thou art venturing so little, and by the
venture canst afford me so much satisfaction, refuse not to undertake it,
even if further difficulties present themselves to thee; for, as I have
said, if thou wilt only make a beginning I will acknowledge the issue

Lothario seeing the fixed determination of Anselmo, and not knowing what
further examples to offer or arguments to urge in order to dissuade him
from it, and perceiving that he threatened to confide his pernicious
scheme to some one else, to avoid a greater evil resolved to gratify him
and do what he asked, intending to manage the business so as to satisfy
Anselmo without corrupting the mind of Camilla; so in reply he told him
not to communicate his purpose to any other, for he would undertake the
task himself, and would begin it as soon as he pleased. Anselmo embraced
him warmly and affectionately, and thanked him for his offer as if he had
bestowed some great favour upon him; and it was agreed between them to
set about it the next day, Anselmo affording opportunity and time to
Lothario to converse alone with Camilla, and furnishing him with money
and jewels to offer and present to her. He suggested, too, that he should
treat her to music, and write verses in her praise, and if he was
unwilling to take the trouble of composing them, he offered to do it
himself. Lothario agreed to all with an intention very different from
what Anselmo supposed, and with this understanding they returned to
Anselmo's house, where they found Camilla awaiting her husband anxiously
and uneasily, for he was later than usual in returning that day. Lothario
repaired to his own house, and Anselmo remained in his, as well satisfied
as Lothario was troubled in mind; for he could see no satisfactory way
out of this ill-advised business. That night, however, he thought of a
plan by which he might deceive Anselmo without any injury to Camilla. The
next day he went to dine with his friend, and was welcomed by Camilla,
who received and treated him with great cordiality, knowing the affection
her husband felt for him. When dinner was over and the cloth removed,
Anselmo told Lothario to stay there with Camilla while he attended to
some pressing business, as he would return in an hour and a half. Camilla
begged him not to go, and Lothario offered to accompany him, but nothing
could persuade Anselmo, who on the contrary pressed Lothario to remain
waiting for him as he had a matter of great importance to discuss with
him. At the same time he bade Camilla not to leave Lothario alone until
he came back. In short he contrived to put so good a face on the reason,
or the folly, of his absence that no one could have suspected it was a

Anselmo took his departure, and Camilla and Lothario were left alone at
the table, for the rest of the household had gone to dinner. Lothario saw
himself in the lists according to his friend's wish, and facing an enemy
that could by her beauty alone vanquish a squadron of armed knights;
judge whether he had good reason to fear; but what he did was to lean his
elbow on the arm of the chair, and his cheek upon his hand, and, asking
Camilla's pardon for his ill manners, he said he wished to take a little
sleep until Anselmo returned. Camilla in reply said he could repose more
at his ease in the reception-room than in his chair, and begged of him to
go in and sleep there; but Lothario declined, and there he remained
asleep until the return of Anselmo, who finding Camilla in her own room,
and Lothario asleep, imagined that he had stayed away so long as to have
afforded them time enough for conversation and even for sleep, and was
all impatience until Lothario should wake up, that he might go out with
him and question him as to his success. Everything fell out as he wished;
Lothario awoke, and the two at once left the house, and Anselmo asked
what he was anxious to know, and Lothario in answer told him that he had
not thought it advisable to declare himself entirely the first time, and
therefore had only extolled the charms of Camilla, telling her that all
the city spoke of nothing else but her beauty and wit, for this seemed to
him an excellent way of beginning to gain her good-will and render her
disposed to listen to him with pleasure the next time, thus availing
himself of the device the devil has recourse to when he would deceive one
who is on the watch; for he being the angel of darkness transforms
himself into an angel of light, and, under cover of a fair seeming,
discloses himself at length, and effects his purpose if at the beginning
his wiles are not discovered. All this gave great satisfaction to
Anselmo, and he said he would afford the same opportunity every day, but
without leaving the house, for he would find things to do at home so that
Camilla should not detect the plot.

Thus, then, several days went by, and Lothario, without uttering a word
to Camilla, reported to Anselmo that he had talked with her and that he
had never been able to draw from her the slightest indication of consent
to anything dishonourable, nor even a sign or shadow of hope; on the
contrary, he said she would inform her husband of it.

"So far well," said Anselmo; "Camilla has thus far resisted words; we
must now see how she will resist deeds. I will give you to-morrow two
thousand crowns in gold for you to offer or even present, and as many
more to buy jewels to lure her, for women are fond of being becomingly
attired and going gaily dressed, and all the more so if they are
beautiful, however chaste they may be; and if she resists this
temptation, I will rest satisfied and will give you no more trouble."

Lothario replied that now he had begun he would carry on the undertaking
to the end, though he perceived he was to come out of it wearied and
vanquished. The next day he received the four thousand crowns, and with
them four thousand perplexities, for he knew not what to say by way of a
new falsehood; but in the end he made up his mind to tell him that
Camilla stood as firm against gifts and promises as against words, and
that there was no use in taking any further trouble, for the time was all
spent to no purpose.

But chance, directing things in a different manner, so ordered it that
Anselmo, having left Lothario and Camilla alone as on other occasions,
shut himself into a chamber and posted himself to watch and listen
through the keyhole to what passed between them, and perceived that for
more than half an hour Lothario did not utter a word to Camilla, nor
would utter a word though he were to be there for an age; and he came to
the conclusion that what his friend had told him about the replies of
Camilla was all invention and falsehood, and to ascertain if it were so,
he came out, and calling Lothario aside asked him what news he had and in
what humour Camilla was. Lothario replied that he was not disposed to go
on with the business, for she had answered him so angrily and harshly
that he had no heart to say anything more to her.

"Ah, Lothario, Lothario," said Anselmo, "how ill dost thou meet thy
obligations to me, and the great confidence I repose in thee! I have been
just now watching through this keyhole, and I have seen that thou has not
said a word to Camilla, whence I conclude that on the former occasions
thou hast not spoken to her either, and if this be so, as no doubt it is,
why dost thou deceive me, or wherefore seekest thou by craft to deprive
me of the means I might find of attaining my desire?"

Anselmo said no more, but he had said enough to cover Lothario with shame
and confusion, and he, feeling as it were his honour touched by having
been detected in a lie, swore to Anselmo that he would from that moment
devote himself to satisfying him without any deception, as he would see
if he had the curiosity to watch; though he need not take the trouble,
for the pains he would take to satisfy him would remove all suspicions
from his mind. Anselmo believed him, and to afford him an opportunity
more free and less liable to surprise, he resolved to absent himself from
his house for eight days, betaking himself to that of a friend of his who
lived in a village not far from the city; and, the better to account for
his departure to Camilla, he so arranged it that the friend should send
him a very pressing invitation.

Unhappy, shortsighted Anselmo, what art thou doing, what art thou
plotting, what art thou devising? Bethink thee thou art working against
thyself, plotting thine own dishonour, devising thine own ruin. Thy wife
Camilla is virtuous, thou dost possess her in peace and quietness, no one
assails thy happiness, her thoughts wander not beyond the walls of thy
house, thou art her heaven on earth, the object of her wishes, the
fulfilment of her desires, the measure wherewith she measures her will,
making it conform in all things to thine and Heaven's. If, then, the mine
of her honour, beauty, virtue, and modesty yields thee without labour all
the wealth it contains and thou canst wish for, why wilt thou dig the
earth in search of fresh veins, of new unknown treasure, risking the
collapse of all, since it but rests on the feeble props of her weak
nature? Bethink thee that from him who seeks impossibilities that which
is possible may with justice be withheld, as was better expressed by a
poet who said:

'Tis mine to seek for life in death,
Health in disease seek I,
I seek in prison freedom's breath,
In traitors loyalty.
So Fate that ever scorns to grant
Or grace or boon to me,
Since what can never be I want,
Denies me what might be.

The next day Anselmo took his departure for the village, leaving
instructions with Camilla that during his absence Lothario would come to
look after his house and to dine with her, and that she was to treat him
as she would himself. Camilla was distressed, as a discreet and
right-minded woman would be, at the orders her husband left her, and bade
him remember that it was not becoming that anyone should occupy his seat
at the table during his absence, and if he acted thus from not feeling
confidence that she would be able to manage his house, let him try her
this time, and he would find by experience that she was equal to greater
responsibilities. Anselmo replied that it was his pleasure to have it so,
and that she had only to submit and obey. Camilla said she would do so,
though against her will.

Anselmo went, and the next day Lothario came to his house, where he was
received by Camilla with a friendly and modest welcome; but she never
suffered Lothario to see her alone, for she was always attended by her
men and women servants, especially by a handmaid of hers, Leonela by
name, to whom she was much attached (for they had been brought up
together from childhood in her father's house), and whom she had kept
with her after her marriage with Anselmo. The first three days Lothario
did not speak to her, though he might have done so when they removed the
cloth and the servants retired to dine hastily; for such were Camilla's
orders; nay more, Leonela had directions to dine earlier than Camilla and
never to leave her side. She, however, having her thoughts fixed upon
other things more to her taste, and wanting that time and opportunity for
her own pleasures, did not always obey her mistress's commands, but on
the contrary left them alone, as if they had ordered her to do so; but
the modest bearing of Camilla, the calmness of her countenance, the
composure of her aspect were enough to bridle the tongue of Lothario. But
the influence which the many virtues of Camilla exerted in imposing
silence on Lothario's tongue proved mischievous for both of them, for if
his tongue was silent his thoughts were busy, and could dwell at leisure
upon the perfections of Camilla's goodness and beauty one by one, charms
enough to warm with love a marble statue, not to say a heart of flesh.
Lothario gazed upon her when he might have been speaking to her, and
thought how worthy of being loved she was; and thus reflection began
little by little to assail his allegiance to Anselmo, and a thousand
times he thought of withdrawing from the city and going where Anselmo
should never see him nor he see Camilla. But already the delight he found
in gazing on her interposed and held him fast. He put a constraint upon
himself, and struggled to repel and repress the pleasure he found in
contemplating Camilla; when alone he blamed himself for his weakness,
called himself a bad friend, nay a bad Christian; then he argued the
matter and compared himself with Anselmo; always coming to the conclusion
that the folly and rashness of Anselmo had been worse than his
faithlessness, and that if he could excuse his intentions as easily
before God as with man, he had no reason to fear any punishment for his

In short the beauty and goodness of Camilla, joined with the opportunity
which the blind husband had placed in his hands, overthrew the loyalty of
Lothario; and giving heed to nothing save the object towards which his
inclinations led him, after Anselmo had been three days absent, during
which he had been carrying on a continual struggle with his passion, he
began to make love to Camilla with so much vehemence and warmth of
language that she was overwhelmed with amazement, and could only rise
from her place and retire to her room without answering him a word. But
the hope which always springs up with love was not weakened in Lothario
by this repelling demeanour; on the contrary his passion for Camilla
increased, and she discovering in him what she had never expected, knew
not what to do; and considering it neither safe nor right to give him the
chance or opportunity of speaking to her again, she resolved to send, as
she did that very night, one of her servants with a letter to Anselmo, in
which she addressed the following words to him.



"It is commonly said that an army looks ill without its general and a
castle without its castellan, and I say that a young married woman looks
still worse without her husband unless there are very good reasons for
it. I find myself so ill at ease without you, and so incapable of
enduring this separation, that unless you return quickly I shall have to
go for relief to my parents' house, even if I leave yours without a
protector; for the one you left me, if indeed he deserved that title,
has, I think, more regard to his own pleasure than to what concerns you:
as you are possessed of discernment I need say no more to you, nor indeed
is it fitting I should say more."

Anselmo received this letter, and from it he gathered that Lothario had
already begun his task and that Camilla must have replied to him as he
would have wished; and delighted beyond measure at such intelligence he
sent word to her not to leave his house on any account, as he would very
shortly return. Camilla was astonished at Anselmo's reply, which placed
her in greater perplexity than before, for she neither dared to remain in
her own house, nor yet to go to her parents'; for in remaining her virtue
was imperilled, and in going she was opposing her husband's commands.
Finally she decided upon what was the worse course for her, to remain,
resolving not to fly from the presence of Lothario, that she might not
give food for gossip to her servants; and she now began to regret having
written as she had to her husband, fearing he might imagine that Lothario
had perceived in her some lightness which had impelled him to lay aside
the respect he owed her; but confident of her rectitude she put her trust
in God and in her own virtuous intentions, with which she hoped to resist
in silence all the solicitations of Lothario, without saying anything to
her husband so as not to involve him in any quarrel or trouble; and she
even began to consider how to excuse Lothario to Anselmo when he should
ask her what it was that induced her to write that letter. With these
resolutions, more honourable than judicious or effectual, she remained
the next day listening to Lothario, who pressed his suit so strenuously
that Camilla's firmness began to waver, and her virtue had enough to do
to come to the rescue of her eyes and keep them from showing signs of a
certain tender compassion which the tears and appeals of Lothario had
awakened in her bosom. Lothario observed all this, and it inflamed him
all the more. In short he felt that while Anselmo's absence afforded time
and opportunity he must press the siege of the fortress, and so he
assailed her self-esteem with praises of her beauty, for there is nothing
that more quickly reduces and levels the castle towers of fair women's
vanity than vanity itself upon the tongue of flattery. In fact with the
utmost assiduity he undermined the rock of her purity with such engines
that had Camilla been of brass she must have fallen. He wept, he
entreated, he promised, he flattered, he importuned, he pretended with so
much feeling and apparent sincerity, that he overthrew the virtuous
resolves of Camilla and won the triumph he least expected and most longed
for. Camilla yielded, Camilla fell; but what wonder if the friendship of
Lothario could not stand firm? A clear proof to us that the passion of
love is to be conquered only by flying from it, and that no one should
engage in a struggle with an enemy so mighty; for divine strength is
needed to overcome his human power. Leonela alone knew of her mistress's
weakness, for the two false friends and new lovers were unable to conceal
it. Lothario did not care to tell Camilla the object Anselmo had in view,
nor that he had afforded him the opportunity of attaining such a result,
lest she should undervalue his love and think that it was by chance and
without intending it and not of his own accord that he had made love to

A few days later Anselmo returned to his house and did not perceive what
it had lost, that which he so lightly treated and so highly prized. He
went at once to see Lothario, and found him at home; they embraced each
other, and Anselmo asked for the tidings of his life or his death.

"The tidings I have to give thee, Anselmo my friend," said Lothario, "are
that thou dost possess a wife that is worthy to be the pattern and crown
of all good wives. The words that I have addressed to her were borne away
on the wind, my promises have been despised, my presents have been
refused, such feigned tears as I shed have been turned into open
ridicule. In short, as Camilla is the essence of all beauty, so is she
the treasure-house where purity dwells, and gentleness and modesty abide
with all the virtues that can confer praise, honour, and happiness upon a
woman. Take back thy money, my friend; here it is, and I have had no need
to touch it, for the chastity of Camilla yields not to things so base as
gifts or promises. Be content, Anselmo, and refrain from making further
proof; and as thou hast passed dryshod through the sea of those doubts
and suspicions that are and may be entertained of women, seek not to
plunge again into the deep ocean of new embarrassments, or with another
pilot make trial of the goodness and strength of the bark that Heaven has
granted thee for thy passage across the sea of this world; but reckon
thyself now safe in port, moor thyself with the anchor of sound
reflection, and rest in peace until thou art called upon to pay that debt
which no nobility on earth can escape paying."

Anselmo was completely satisfied by the words of Lothario, and believed
them as fully as if they had been spoken by an oracle; nevertheless he
begged of him not to relinquish the undertaking, were it but for the sake
of curiosity and amusement; though thenceforward he need not make use of
the same earnest endeavours as before; all he wished him to do was to
write some verses to her, praising her under the name of Chloris, for he
himself would give her to understand that he was in love with a lady to
whom he had given that name to enable him to sing her praises with the
decorum due to her modesty; and if Lothario were unwilling to take the
trouble of writing the verses he would compose them himself.

"That will not be necessary," said Lothario, "for the muses are not such
enemies of mine but that they visit me now and then in the course of the
year. Do thou tell Camilla what thou hast proposed about a pretended
amour of mine; as for the verses will make them, and if not as good as
the subject deserves, they shall be at least the best I can produce." An
agreement to this effect was made between the friends, the ill-advised
one and the treacherous, and Anselmo returning to his house asked Camilla
the question she already wondered he had not asked before--what it was
that had caused her to write the letter she had sent him. Camilla replied
that it had seemed to her that Lothario looked at her somewhat more
freely than when he had been at home; but that now she was undeceived and
believed it to have been only her own imagination, for Lothario now
avoided seeing her, or being alone with her. Anselmo told her she might
be quite easy on the score of that suspicion, for he knew that Lothario
was in love with a damsel of rank in the city whom he celebrated under
the name of Chloris, and that even if he were not, his fidelity and their
great friendship left no room for fear. Had not Camilla, however, been
informed beforehand by Lothario that this love for Chloris was a
pretence, and that he himself had told Anselmo of it in order to be able
sometimes to give utterance to the praises of Camilla herself, no doubt
she would have fallen into the despairing toils of jealousy; but being
forewarned she received the startling news without uneasiness.

The next day as the three were at table Anselmo asked Lothario to recite
something of what he had composed for his mistress Chloris; for as
Camilla did not know her, he might safely say what he liked.

"Even did she know her," returned Lothario, "I would hide nothing, for
when a lover praises his lady's beauty, and charges her with cruelty, he
casts no imputation upon her fair name; at any rate, all I can say is
that yesterday I made a sonnet on the ingratitude of this Chloris, which
goes thus:


At midnight, in the silence, when the eyes
Of happier mortals balmy slumbers close,
The weary tale of my unnumbered woes
To Chloris and to Heaven is wont to rise.
And when the light of day returning dyes
The portals of the east with tints of rose,
With undiminished force my sorrow flows
In broken accents and in burning sighs.
And when the sun ascends his star-girt throne,
And on the earth pours down his midday beams,
Noon but renews my wailing and my tears;
And with the night again goes up my moan.
Yet ever in my agony it seems
To me that neither Heaven nor Chloris hears."

The sonnet pleased Camilla, and still more Anselmo, for he praised it and
said the lady was excessively cruel who made no return for sincerity so
manifest. On which Camilla said, "Then all that love-smitten poets say is

"As poets they do not tell the truth," replied Lothario; "but as lovers
they are not more defective in expression than they are truthful."

"There is no doubt of that," observed Anselmo, anxious to support and
uphold Lothario's ideas with Camilla, who was as regardless of his design
as she was deep in love with Lothario; and so taking delight in anything
that was his, and knowing that his thoughts and writings had her for
their object, and that she herself was the real Chloris, she asked him to
repeat some other sonnet or verses if he recollected any.

"I do," replied Lothario, "but I do not think it as good as the first
one, or, more correctly speaking, less bad; but you can easily judge, for
it is this.


I know that I am doomed; death is to me
As certain as that thou, ungrateful fair,
Dead at thy feet shouldst see me lying, ere
My heart repented of its love for thee.
If buried in oblivion I should be,
Bereft of life, fame, favour, even there
It would be found that I thy image bear
Deep graven in my breast for all to see.
This like some holy relic do I prize
To save me from the fate my truth entails,
Truth that to thy hard heart its vigour owes.
Alas for him that under lowering skies,
In peril o'er a trackless ocean sails,
Where neither friendly port nor pole-star shows."

Anselmo praised this second sonnet too, as he had praised the first; and
so he went on adding link after link to the chain with which he was
binding himself and making his dishonour secure; for when Lothario was
doing most to dishonour him he told him he was most honoured; and thus
each step that Camilla descended towards the depths of her abasement, she
mounted, in his opinion, towards the summit of virtue and fair fame.

It so happened that finding herself on one occasion alone with her maid,
Camilla said to her, "I am ashamed to think, my dear Leonela, how lightly
I have valued myself that I did not compel Lothario to purchase by at
least some expenditure of time that full possession of me that I so
quickly yielded him of my own free will. I fear that he will think ill of
my pliancy or lightness, not considering the irresistible influence he
brought to bear upon me."

"Let not that trouble you, my lady," said Leonela, "for it does not take
away the value of the thing given or make it the less precious to give it
quickly if it be really valuable and worthy of being prized; nay, they
are wont to say that he who gives quickly gives twice."

"They say also," said Camilla, "that what costs little is valued less."

"That saying does not hold good in your case," replied Leonela, "for
love, as I have heard say, sometimes flies and sometimes walks; with this
one it runs, with that it moves slowly; some it cools, others it burns;
some it wounds, others it slays; it begins the course of its desires, and
at the same moment completes and ends it; in the morning it will lay
siege to a fortress and by night will have taken it, for there is no
power that can resist it; so what are you in dread of, what do you fear,
when the same must have befallen Lothario, love having chosen the absence
of my lord as the instrument for subduing you? and it was absolutely
necessary to complete then what love had resolved upon, without affording
the time to let Anselmo return and by his presence compel the work to be
left unfinished; for love has no better agent for carrying out his
designs than opportunity; and of opportunity he avails himself in all his
feats, especially at the outset. All this I know well myself, more by
experience than by hearsay, and some day, senora, I will enlighten you on
the subject, for I am of your flesh and blood too. Moreover, lady
Camilla, you did not surrender yourself or yield so quickly but that
first you saw Lothario's whole soul in his eyes, in his sighs, in his
words, his promises and his gifts, and by it and his good qualities
perceived how worthy he was of your love. This, then, being the case, let
not these scrupulous and prudish ideas trouble your imagination, but be
assured that Lothario prizes you as you do him, and rest content and
satisfied that as you are caught in the noose of love it is one of worth
and merit that has taken you, and one that has not only the four S's that
they say true lovers ought to have, but a complete alphabet; only listen
to me and you will see how I can repeat it by rote. He is to my eyes and
thinking, Amiable, Brave, Courteous, Distinguished, Elegant, Fond, Gay,
Honourable, Illustrious, Loyal, Manly, Noble, Open, Polite, Quickwitted,
Rich, and the S's according to the saying, and then Tender, Veracious: X
does not suit him, for it is a rough letter; Y has been given already;
and Z Zealous for your honour."

Camilla laughed at her maid's alphabet, and perceived her to be more
experienced in love affairs than she said, which she admitted, confessing
to Camilla that she had love passages with a young man of good birth of
the same city. Camilla was uneasy at this, dreading lest it might prove
the means of endangering her honour, and asked whether her intrigue had
gone beyond words, and she with little shame and much effrontery said it
had; for certain it is that ladies' imprudences make servants shameless,
who, when they see their mistresses make a false step, think nothing of
going astray themselves, or of its being known. All that Camilla could do
was to entreat Leonela to say nothing about her doings to him whom she
called her lover, and to conduct her own affairs secretly lest they
should come to the knowledge of Anselmo or of Lothario. Leonela said she
would, but kept her word in such a way that she confirmed Camilla's
apprehension of losing her reputation through her means; for this
abandoned and bold Leonela, as soon as she perceived that her mistress's
demeanour was not what it was wont to be, had the audacity to introduce
her lover into the house, confident that even if her mistress saw him she
would not dare to expose him; for the sins of mistresses entail this
mischief among others; they make themselves the slaves of their own
servants, and are obliged to hide their laxities and depravities; as was
the case with Camilla, who though she perceived, not once but many times,
that Leonela was with her lover in some room of the house, not only did
not dare to chide her, but afforded her opportunities for concealing him
and removed all difficulties, lest he should be seen by her husband. She
was unable, however, to prevent him from being seen on one occasion, as
he sallied forth at daybreak, by Lothario, who, not knowing who he was,
at first took him for a spectre; but, as soon as he saw him hasten away,
muffling his face with his cloak and concealing himself carefully and
cautiously, he rejected this foolish idea, and adopted another, which
would have been the ruin of all had not Camilla found a remedy. It did
not occur to Lothario that this man he had seen issuing at such an
untimely hour from Anselmo's house could have entered it on Leonela's
account, nor did he even remember there was such a person as Leonela; all
he thought was that as Camilla had been light and yielding with him, so
she had been with another; for this further penalty the erring woman's
sin brings with it, that her honour is distrusted even by him to whose
overtures and persuasions she has yielded; and he believes her to have
surrendered more easily to others, and gives implicit credence to every
suspicion that comes into his mind. All Lothario's good sense seems to
have failed him at this juncture; all his prudent maxims escaped his
memory; for without once reflecting rationally, and without more ado, in
his impatience and in the blindness of the jealous rage that gnawed his
heart, and dying to revenge himself upon Camilla, who had done him no
wrong, before Anselmo had risen he hastened to him and said to him,
"Know, Anselmo, that for several days past I have been struggling with
myself, striving to withhold from thee what it is no longer possible or
right that I should conceal from thee. Know that Camilla's fortress has
surrendered and is ready to submit to my will; and if I have been slow to
reveal this fact to thee, it was in order to see if it were some light
caprice of hers, or if she sought to try me and ascertain if the love I
began to make to her with thy permission was made with a serious
intention. I thought, too, that she, if she were what she ought to be,
and what we both believed her, would have ere this given thee information
of my addresses; but seeing that she delays, I believe the truth of the
promise she has given me that the next time thou art absent from the
house she will grant me an interview in the closet where thy jewels are
kept (and it was true that Camilla used to meet him there); but I do not
wish thee to rush precipitately to take vengeance, for the sin is as yet
only committed in intention, and Camilla's may change perhaps between
this and the appointed time, and repentance spring up in its place. As
hitherto thou hast always followed my advice wholly or in part, follow
and observe this that I will give thee now, so that, without mistake, and
with mature deliberation, thou mayest satisfy thyself as to what may seem
the best course; pretend to absent thyself for two or three days as thou
hast been wont to do on other occasions, and contrive to hide thyself in
the closet; for the tapestries and other things there afford great
facilities for thy concealment, and then thou wilt see with thine own
eyes and I with mine what Camilla's purpose may be. And if it be a guilty
one, which may be feared rather than expected, with silence, prudence,
and discretion thou canst thyself become the instrument of punishment for
the wrong done thee."

Anselmo was amazed, overwhelmed, and astounded at the words of Lothario,
which came upon him at a time when he least expected to hear them, for he
now looked upon Camilla as having triumphed over the pretended attacks of
Lothario, and was beginning to enjoy the glory of her victory. He
remained silent for a considerable time, looking on the ground with fixed
gaze, and at length said, "Thou hast behaved, Lothario, as I expected of
thy friendship: I will follow thy advice in everything; do as thou wilt,
and keep this secret as thou seest it should be kept in circumstances so
unlooked for."

Lothario gave him his word, but after leaving him he repented altogether
of what he had said to him, perceiving how foolishly he had acted, as he
might have revenged himself upon Camilla in some less cruel and degrading
way. He cursed his want of sense, condemned his hasty resolution, and
knew not what course to take to undo the mischief or find some ready
escape from it. At last he decided upon revealing all to Camilla, and, as
there was no want of opportunity for doing so, he found her alone the
same day; but she, as soon as she had the chance of speaking to him,
said, "Lothario my friend, I must tell thee I have a sorrow in my heart
which fills it so that it seems ready to burst; and it will be a wonder
if it does not; for the audacity of Leonela has now reached such a pitch
that every night she conceals a gallant of hers in this house and remains
with him till morning, at the expense of my reputation; inasmuch as it is
open to anyone to question it who may see him quitting my house at such
unseasonable hours; but what distresses me is that I cannot punish or
chide her, for her privity to our intrigue bridles my mouth and keeps me
silent about hers, while I am dreading that some catastrophe will come of

As Camilla said this Lothario at first imagined it was some device to
delude him into the idea that the man he had seen going out was Leonela's
lover and not hers; but when he saw how she wept and suffered, and begged
him to help her, he became convinced of the truth, and the conviction
completed his confusion and remorse; however, he told Camilla not to
distress herself, as he would take measures to put a stop to the
insolence of Leonela. At the same time he told her what, driven by the
fierce rage of jealousy, he had said to Anselmo, and how he had arranged
to hide himself in the closet that he might there see plainly how little
she preserved her fidelity to him; and he entreated her pardon for this
madness, and her advice as to how to repair it, and escape safely from
the intricate labyrinth in which his imprudence had involved him. Camilla
was struck with alarm at hearing what Lothario said, and with much anger,
and great good sense, she reproved him and rebuked his base design and
the foolish and mischievous resolution he had made; but as woman has by
nature a nimbler wit than man for good and for evil, though it is apt to
fail when she sets herself deliberately to reason, Camilla on the spur of
the moment thought of a way to remedy what was to all appearance
irremediable, and told Lothario to contrive that the next day Anselmo
should conceal himself in the place he mentioned, for she hoped from his
concealment to obtain the means of their enjoying themselves for the
future without any apprehension; and without revealing her purpose to him
entirely she charged him to be careful, as soon as Anselmo was concealed,
to come to her when Leonela should call him, and to all she said to him
to answer as he would have answered had he not known that Anselmo was
listening. Lothario pressed her to explain her intention fully, so that
he might with more certainty and precaution take care to do what he saw
to be needful.

"I tell you," said Camilla, "there is nothing to take care of except to
answer me what I shall ask you;" for she did not wish to explain to him
beforehand what she meant to do, fearing lest he should be unwilling to
follow out an idea which seemed to her such a good one, and should try or
devise some other less practicable plan.

Lothario then retired, and the next day Anselmo, under pretence of going
to his friend's country house, took his departure, and then returned to
conceal himself, which he was able to do easily, as Camilla and Leonela
took care to give him the opportunity; and so he placed himself in hiding
in the state of agitation that it may be imagined he would feel who
expected to see the vitals of his honour laid bare before his eyes, and
found himself on the point of losing the supreme blessing he thought he
possessed in his beloved Camilla. Having made sure of Anselmo's being in
his hiding-place, Camilla and Leonela entered the closet, and the instant
she set foot within it Camilla said, with a deep sigh, "Ah! dear Leonela,
would it not be better, before I do what I am unwilling you should know
lest you should seek to prevent it, that you should take Anselmo's dagger
that I have asked of you and with it pierce this vile heart of mine? But
no; there is no reason why I should suffer the punishment of another's
fault. I will first know what it is that the bold licentious eyes of
Lothario have seen in me that could have encouraged him to reveal to me a
design so base as that which he has disclosed regardless of his friend
and of my honour. Go to the window, Leonela, and call him, for no doubt
he is in the street waiting to carry out his vile project; but mine,
cruel it may be, but honourable, shall be carried out first."

"Ah, senora," said the crafty Leonela, who knew her part, "what is it you
want to do with this dagger? Can it be that you mean to take your own
life, or Lothario's? for whichever you mean to do, it will lead to the
loss of your reputation and good name. It is better to dissemble your
wrong and not give this wicked man the chance of entering the house now
and finding us alone; consider, senora, we are weak women and he is a
man, and determined, and as he comes with such a base purpose, blind and
urged by passion, perhaps before you can put yours into execution he may
do what will be worse for you than taking your life. Ill betide my
master, Anselmo, for giving such authority in his house to this shameless
fellow! And supposing you kill him, senora, as I suspect you mean to do,
what shall we do with him when he is dead?"

"What, my friend?" replied Camilla, "we shall leave him for Anselmo to
bury him; for in reason it will be to him a light labour to hide his own
infamy under ground. Summon him, make haste, for all the time I delay in
taking vengeance for my wrong seems to me an offence against the loyalty
I owe my husband."

Anselmo was listening to all this, and every word that Camilla uttered
made him change his mind; but when he heard that it was resolved to kill
Lothario his first impulse was to come out and show himself to avert such
a disaster; but in his anxiety to see the issue of a resolution so bold
and virtuous he restrained himself, intending to come forth in time to
prevent the deed. At this moment Camilla, throwing herself upon a bed
that was close by, swooned away, and Leonela began to weep bitterly,
exclaiming, "Woe is me! that I should be fated to have dying here in my
arms the flower of virtue upon earth, the crown of true wives, the
pattern of chastity!" with more to the same effect, so that anyone who
heard her would have taken her for the most tender-hearted and faithful
handmaid in the world, and her mistress for another persecuted Penelope.

Camilla was not long in recovering from her fainting fit and on coming to
herself she said, "Why do you not go, Leonela, to call hither that
friend, the falsest to his friend the sun ever shone upon or night
concealed? Away, run, haste, speed! lest the fire of my wrath burn itself
out with delay, and the righteous vengeance that I hope for melt away in
menaces and maledictions."

"I am just going to call him, senora," said Leonela; "but you must first
give me that dagger, lest while I am gone you should by means of it give
cause to all who love you to weep all their lives."

"Go in peace, dear Leonela, I will not do so," said Camilla, "for rash
and foolish as I may be, to your mind, in defending my honour, I am not
going to be so much so as that Lucretia who they say killed herself
without having done anything wrong, and without having first killed him
on whom the guilt of her misfortune lay. I shall die, if I am to die; but
it must be after full vengeance upon him who has brought me here to weep
over audacity that no fault of mine gave birth to."

Leonela required much pressing before she would go to summon Lothario,
but at last she went, and while awaiting her return Camilla continued, as
if speaking to herself, "Good God! would it not have been more prudent to
have repulsed Lothario, as I have done many a time before, than to allow
him, as I am now doing, to think me unchaste and vile, even for the short
time I must wait until I undeceive him? No doubt it would have been
better; but I should not be avenged, nor the honour of my husband
vindicated, should he find so clear and easy an escape from the strait
into which his depravity has led him. Let the traitor pay with his life
for the temerity of his wanton wishes, and let the world know (if haply
it shall ever come to know) that Camilla not only preserved her
allegiance to her husband, but avenged him of the man who dared to wrong
him. Still, I think it might be better to disclose this to Anselmo. But
then I have called his attention to it in the letter I wrote to him in
the country, and, if he did nothing to prevent the mischief I there
pointed out to him, I suppose it was that from pure goodness of heart and
trustfulness he would not and could not believe that any thought against
his honour could harbour in the breast of so stanch a friend; nor indeed
did I myself believe it for many days, nor should I have ever believed it
if his insolence had not gone so far as to make it manifest by open
presents, lavish promises, and ceaseless tears. But why do I argue thus?
Does a bold determination stand in need of arguments? Surely not. Then
traitors avaunt! Vengeance to my aid! Let the false one come, approach,
advance, die, yield up his life, and then befall what may. Pure I came to
him whom Heaven bestowed upon me, pure I shall leave him; and at the
worst bathed in my own chaste blood and in the foul blood of the falsest
friend that friendship ever saw in the world;" and as she uttered these
words she paced the room holding the unsheathed dagger, with such
irregular and disordered steps, and such gestures that one would have
supposed her to have lost her senses, and taken her for some violent
desperado instead of a delicate woman.

Anselmo, hidden behind some tapestries where he had concealed himself,
beheld and was amazed at all, and already felt that what he had seen and
heard was a sufficient answer to even greater suspicions; and he would
have been now well pleased if the proof afforded by Lothario's coming
were dispensed with, as he feared some sudden mishap; but as he was on
the point of showing himself and coming forth to embrace and undeceive
his wife he paused as he saw Leonela returning, leading Lothario. Camilla
when she saw him, drawing a long line in front of her on the floor with
the dagger, said to him, "Lothario, pay attention to what I say to thee:
if by any chance thou darest to cross this line thou seest, or even
approach it, the instant I see thee attempt it that same instant will I
pierce my bosom with this dagger that I hold in my hand; and before thou
answerest me a word desire thee to listen to a few from me, and
afterwards thou shalt reply as may please thee. First, I desire thee to
tell me, Lothario, if thou knowest my husband Anselmo, and in what light
thou regardest him; and secondly I desire to know if thou knowest me too.
Answer me this, without embarrassment or reflecting deeply what thou wilt
answer, for they are no riddles I put to thee."

Lothario was not so dull but that from the first moment when Camilla
directed him to make Anselmo hide himself he understood what she intended
to do, and therefore he fell in with her idea so readily and promptly
that between them they made the imposture look more true than truth; so
he answered her thus: "I did not think, fair Camilla, that thou wert
calling me to ask questions so remote from the object with which I come;
but if it is to defer the promised reward thou art doing so, thou mightst
have put it off still longer, for the longing for happiness gives the
more distress the nearer comes the hope of gaining it; but lest thou
shouldst say that I do not answer thy questions, I say that I know thy
husband Anselmo, and that we have known each other from our earliest
years; I will not speak of what thou too knowest, of our friendship, that
I may not compel myself to testify against the wrong that love, the
mighty excuse for greater errors, makes me inflict upon him. Thee I know
and hold in the same estimation as he does, for were it not so I had not
for a lesser prize acted in opposition to what I owe to my station and
the holy laws of true friendship, now broken and violated by me through
that powerful enemy, love."

"If thou dost confess that," returned Camilla, "mortal enemy of all that
rightly deserves to be loved, with what face dost thou dare to come
before one whom thou knowest to be the mirror wherein he is reflected on
whom thou shouldst look to see how unworthily thou him? But, woe is me, I
now comprehend what has made thee give so little heed to what thou owest
to thyself; it must have been some freedom of mine, for I will not call
it immodesty, as it did not proceed from any deliberate intention, but
from some heedlessness such as women are guilty of through inadvertence
when they think they have no occasion for reserve. But tell me, traitor,
when did I by word or sign give a reply to thy prayers that could awaken
in thee a shadow of hope of attaining thy base wishes? When were not thy
professions of love sternly and scornfully rejected and rebuked? When
were thy frequent pledges and still more frequent gifts believed or
accepted? But as I am persuaded that no one can long persevere in the
attempt to win love unsustained by some hope, I am willing to attribute
to myself the blame of thy assurance, for no doubt some thoughtlessness
of mine has all this time fostered thy hopes; and therefore will I punish
myself and inflict upon myself the penalty thy guilt deserves. And that
thou mayest see that being so relentless to myself I cannot possibly be
otherwise to thee, I have summoned thee to be a witness of the sacrifice
I mean to offer to the injured honour of my honoured husband, wronged by
thee with all the assiduity thou wert capable of, and by me too through
want of caution in avoiding every occasion, if I have given any, of
encouraging and sanctioning thy base designs. Once more I say the
suspicion in my mind that some imprudence of mine has engendered these
lawless thoughts in thee, is what causes me most distress and what I
desire most to punish with my own hands, for were any other instrument of
punishment employed my error might become perhaps more widely known; but
before I do so, in my death I mean to inflict death, and take with me one
that will fully satisfy my longing for the revenge I hope for and have;
for I shall see, wheresoever it may be that I go, the penalty awarded by
inflexible, unswerving justice on him who has placed me in a position so

As she uttered these words, with incredible energy and swiftness she flew
upon Lothario with the naked dagger, so manifestly bent on burying it in
his breast that he was almost uncertain whether these demonstrations were
real or feigned, for he was obliged to have recourse to all his skill and
strength to prevent her from striking him; and with such reality did she
act this strange farce and mystification that, to give it a colour of
truth, she determined to stain it with her own blood; for perceiving, or
pretending, that she could not wound Lothario, she said, "Fate, it seems,
will not grant my just desire complete satisfaction, but it will not be
able to keep me from satisfying it partially at least;" and making an
effort to free the hand with the dagger which Lothario held in his grasp,
she released it, and directing the point to a place where it could not
inflict a deep wound, she plunged it into her left side high up close to
the shoulder, and then allowed herself to fall to the ground as if in a

Leonela and Lothario stood amazed and astounded at the catastrophe, and
seeing Camilla stretched on the ground and bathed in her blood they were
still uncertain as to the true nature of the act. Lothario, terrified and
breathless, ran in haste to pluck out the dagger; but when he saw how
slight the wound was he was relieved of his fears and once more admired
the subtlety, coolness, and ready wit of the fair Camilla; and the better
to support the part he had to play he began to utter profuse and doleful
lamentations over her body as if she were dead, invoking maledictions not
only on himself but also on him who had been the means of placing him in
such a position: and knowing that his friend Anselmo heard him he spoke
in such a way as to make a listener feel much more pity for him than for
Camilla, even though he supposed her dead. Leonela took her up in her
arms and laid her on the bed, entreating Lothario to go in quest of some
one to attend to her wound in secret, and at the same time asking his
advice and opinion as to what they should say to Anselmo about his lady's
wound if he should chance to return before it was healed. He replied they
might say what they liked, for he was not in a state to give advice that
would be of any use; all he could tell her was to try and stanch the
blood, as he was going where he should never more be seen; and with every
appearance of deep grief and sorrow he left the house; but when he found
himself alone, and where there was nobody to see him, he crossed himself
unceasingly, lost in wonder at the adroitness of Camilla and the
consistent acting of Leonela. He reflected how convinced Anselmo would be
that he had a second Portia for a wife, and he looked forward anxiously
to meeting him in order to rejoice together over falsehood and truth the
most craftily veiled that could be imagined.

Leonela, as he told her, stanched her lady's blood, which was no more
than sufficed to support her deception; and washing the wound with a
little wine she bound it up to the best of her skill, talking all the
time she was tending her in a strain that, even if nothing else had been
said before, would have been enough to assure Anselmo that he had in
Camilla a model of purity. To Leonela's words Camilla added her own,
calling herself cowardly and wanting in spirit, since she had not enough
at the time she had most need of it to rid herself of the life she so
much loathed. She asked her attendant's advice as to whether or not she
ought to inform her beloved husband of all that had happened, but the
other bade her say nothing about it, as she would lay upon him the
obligation of taking vengeance on Lothario, which he could not do but at
great risk to himself; and it was the duty of a true wife not to give her
husband provocation to quarrel, but, on the contrary, to remove it as far
as possible from him.

Camilla replied that she believed she was right and that she would follow
her advice, but at any rate it would be well to consider how she was to
explain the wound to Anselmo, for he could not help seeing it; to which
Leonela answered that she did not know how to tell a lie even in jest.

"How then can I know, my dear?" said Camilla, "for I should not dare to
forge or keep up a falsehood if my life depended on it. If we can think
of no escape from this difficulty, it will be better to tell him the
plain truth than that he should find us out in an untrue story."

"Be not uneasy, senora," said Leonela; "between this and to-morrow I will
think of what we must say to him, and perhaps the wound being where it is
it can be hidden from his sight, and Heaven will be pleased to aid us in
a purpose so good and honourable. Compose yourself, senora, and endeavour
to calm your excitement lest my lord find you agitated; and leave the
rest to my care and God's, who always supports good intentions."

Anselmo had with the deepest attention listened to and seen played out
the tragedy of the death of his honour, which the performers acted with
such wonderfully effective truth that it seemed as if they had become the
realities of the parts they played. He longed for night and an
opportunity of escaping from the house to go and see his good friend
Lothario, and with him give vent to his joy over the precious pearl he
had gained in having established his wife's purity. Both mistress and
maid took care to give him time and opportunity to get away, and taking
advantage of it he made his escape, and at once went in quest of
Lothario, and it would be impossible to describe how he embraced him when
he found him, and the things he said to him in the joy of his heart, and
the praises he bestowed upon Camilla; all which Lothario listened to
without being able to show any pleasure, for he could not forget how
deceived his friend was, and how dishonourably he had wronged him; and
though Anselmo could see that Lothario was not glad, still he imagined it
was only because he had left Camilla wounded and had been himself the
cause of it; and so among other things he told him not to be distressed
about Camilla's accident, for, as they had agreed to hide it from him,
the wound was evidently trifling; and that being so, he had no cause for
fear, but should henceforward be of good cheer and rejoice with him,
seeing that by his means and adroitness he found himself raised to the
greatest height of happiness that he could have ventured to hope for, and
desired no better pastime than making verses in praise of Camilla that
would preserve her name for all time to come. Lothario commended his
purpose, and promised on his own part to aid him in raising a monument so

And so Anselmo was left the most charmingly hoodwinked man there could be
in the world. He himself, persuaded he was conducting the instrument of
his glory, led home by the hand him who had been the utter destruction of
his good name; whom Camilla received with averted countenance, though
with smiles in her heart. The deception was carried on for some time,
until at the end of a few months Fortune turned her wheel and the guilt
which had been until then so skilfully concealed was published abroad,
and Anselmo paid with his life the penalty of his ill-advised curiosity.



There remained but little more of the novel to be read, when Sancho Panza
burst forth in wild excitement from the garret where Don Quixote was
lying, shouting, "Run, sirs! quick; and help my master, who is in the
thick of the toughest and stiffest battle I ever laid eyes on. By the
living God he has given the giant, the enemy of my lady the Princess
Micomicona, such a slash that he has sliced his head clean off as if it
were a turnip."

"What are you talking about, brother?" said the curate, pausing as he was
about to read the remainder of the novel. "Are you in your senses,
Sancho? How the devil can it be as you say, when the giant is two
thousand leagues away?"

Here they heard a loud noise in the chamber, and Don Quixote shouting
out, "Stand, thief, brigand, villain; now I have got thee, and thy
scimitar shall not avail thee!" And then it seemed as though he were
slashing vigorously at the wall.

"Don't stop to listen," said Sancho, "but go in and part them or help my
master: though there is no need of that now, for no doubt the giant is
dead by this time and giving account to God of his past wicked life; for
I saw the blood flowing on the ground, and the head cut off and fallen on
one side, and it is as big as a large wine-skin."

"May I die," said the landlord at this, "if Don Quixote or Don Devil has
not been slashing some of the skins of red wine that stand full at his
bed's head, and the spilt wine must be what this good fellow takes for
blood;" and so saying he went into the room and the rest after him, and
there they found Don Quixote in the strangest costume in the world. He
was in his shirt, which was not long enough in front to cover his thighs
completely and was six fingers shorter behind; his legs were very long
and lean, covered with hair, and anything but clean; on his head he had a
little greasy red cap that belonged to the host, round his left arm he
had rolled the blanket of the bed, to which Sancho, for reasons best
known to himself, owed a grudge, and in his right hand he held his
unsheathed sword, with which he was slashing about on all sides, uttering
exclamations as if he were actually fighting some giant: and the best of
it was his eyes were not open, for he was fast asleep, and dreaming that
he was doing battle with the giant. For his imagination was so wrought
upon by the adventure he was going to accomplish, that it made him dream
he had already reached the kingdom of Micomicon, and was engaged in
combat with his enemy; and believing he was laying on the giant, he had
given so many sword cuts to the skins that the whole room was full of
wine. On seeing this the landlord was so enraged that he fell on Don
Quixote, and with his clenched fist began to pummel him in such a way,
that if Cardenio and the curate had not dragged him off, he would have
brought the war of the giant to an end. But in spite of all the poor
gentleman never woke until the barber brought a great pot of cold water
from the well and flung it with one dash all over his body, on which Don
Quixote woke up, but not so completely as to understand what was the
matter. Dorothea, seeing how short and slight his attire was, would not
go in to witness the battle between her champion and her opponent. As for
Sancho, he went searching all over the floor for the head of the giant,
and not finding it he said, "I see now that it's all enchantment in this
house; for the last time, on this very spot where I am now, I got ever so
many thumps without knowing who gave them to me, or being able to see
anybody; and now this head is not to be seen anywhere about, though I saw
it cut off with my own eyes and the blood running from the body as if
from a fountain."

"What blood and fountains are you talking about, enemy of God and his
saints?" said the landlord. "Don't you see, you thief, that the blood and
the fountain are only these skins here that have been stabbed and the red
wine swimming all over the room?--and I wish I saw the soul of him that
stabbed them swimming in hell."

"I know nothing about that," said Sancho; "all I know is it will be my
bad luck that through not finding this head my county will melt away like
salt in water;"--for Sancho awake was worse than his master asleep, so
much had his master's promises addled his wits.

The landlord was beside himself at the coolness of the squire and the
mischievous doings of the master, and swore it should not be like the
last time when they went without paying; and that their privileges of
chivalry should not hold good this time to let one or other of them off
without paying, even to the cost of the plugs that would have to be put
to the damaged wine-skins. The curate was holding Don Quixote's hands,
who, fancying he had now ended the adventure and was in the presence of
the Princess Micomicona, knelt before the curate and said, "Exalted and
beauteous lady, your highness may live from this day forth fearless of
any harm this base being could do you; and I too from this day forth am
released from the promise I gave you, since by the help of God on high
and by the favour of her by whom I live and breathe, I have fulfilled it
so successfully."

Book of the day: