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The History of Don Quixote, Vol. II., Part 24 by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

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Volume II.

Part 24.

by Miguel de Cervantes

Translated by John Ormsby



While Don Quixote and Sancho were engaged in the discussion set forth the
last chapter, they heard loud shouts and a great noise, which were
uttered and made by the men on the mares as they went at full gallop,
shouting, to receive the bride and bridegroom, who were approaching with
musical instruments and pageantry of all sorts around them, and
accompanied by the priest and the relatives of both, and all the most
distinguished people of the surrounding villages. When Sancho saw the
bride, he exclaimed, "By my faith, she is not dressed like a country
girl, but like some fine court lady; egad, as well as I can make out, the
patena she wears rich coral, and her green Cuenca stuff is thirty-pile
velvet; and then the white linen trimming--by my oath, but it's satin!
Look at her hands--jet rings on them! May I never have luck if they're
not gold rings, and real gold, and set with pearls as white as a curdled
milk, and every one of them worth an eye of one's head! Whoreson baggage,
what hair she has! if it's not a wig, I never saw longer or fairer all
the days of my life. See how bravely she bears herself--and her shape!
Wouldn't you say she was like a walking palm tree loaded with clusters of
dates? for the trinkets she has hanging from her hair and neck look just
like them. I swear in my heart she is a brave lass, and fit 'to pass over
the banks of Flanders.'"

Don Quixote laughed at Sancho's boorish eulogies and thought that, saving
his lady Dulcinea del Toboso, he had never seen a more beautiful woman.
The fair Quiteria appeared somewhat pale, which was, no doubt, because of
the bad night brides always pass dressing themselves out for their
wedding on the morrow. They advanced towards a theatre that stood on one
side of the meadow decked with carpets and boughs, where they were to
plight their troth, and from which they were to behold the dances and
plays; but at the moment of their arrival at the spot they heard a loud
outcry behind them, and a voice exclaiming, "Wait a little, ye, as
inconsiderate as ye are hasty!" At these words all turned round, and
perceived that the speaker was a man clad in what seemed to be a loose
black coat garnished with crimson patches like flames. He was crowned (as
was presently seen) with a crown of gloomy cypress, and in his hand he
held a long staff. As he approached he was recognised by everyone as the
gay Basilio, and all waited anxiously to see what would come of his
words, in dread of some catastrophe in consequence of his appearance at
such a moment. He came up at last weary and breathless, and planting
himself in front of the bridal pair, drove his staff, which had a steel
spike at the end, into the ground, and, with a pale face and eyes fixed
on Quiteria, he thus addressed her in a hoarse, trembling voice:

"Well dost thou know, ungrateful Quiteria, that according to the holy law
we acknowledge, so long as live thou canst take no husband; nor art thou
ignorant either that, in my hopes that time and my own exertions would
improve my fortunes, I have never failed to observe the respect due to
thy honour; but thou, casting behind thee all thou owest to my true love,
wouldst surrender what is mine to another whose wealth serves to bring
him not only good fortune but supreme happiness; and now to complete it
(not that I think he deserves it, but inasmuch as heaven is pleased to
bestow it upon him), I will, with my own hands, do away with the obstacle
that may interfere with it, and remove myself from between you. Long live
the rich Camacho! many a happy year may he live with the ungrateful
Quiteria! and let the poor Basilio die, Basilio whose poverty clipped the
wings of his happiness, and brought him to the grave!"

And so saying, he seized the staff he had driven into the ground, and
leaving one half of it fixed there, showed it to be a sheath that
concealed a tolerably long rapier; and, what may be called its hilt being
planted in the ground, he swiftly, coolly, and deliberately threw himself
upon it, and in an instant the bloody point and half the steel blade
appeared at his back, the unhappy man falling to the earth bathed in his
blood, and transfixed by his own weapon.

His friends at once ran to his aid, filled with grief at his misery and
sad fate, and Don Quixote, dismounting from Rocinante, hastened to
support him, and took him in his arms, and found he had not yet ceased to
breathe. They were about to draw out the rapier, but the priest who was
standing by objected to its being withdrawn before he had confessed him,
as the instant of its withdrawal would be that of this death. Basilio,
however, reviving slightly, said in a weak voice, as though in pain, "If
thou wouldst consent, cruel Quiteria, to give me thy hand as my bride in
this last fatal moment, I might still hope that my rashness would find
pardon, as by its means I attained the bliss of being thine."

Hearing this the priest bade him think of the welfare of his soul rather
than of the cravings of the body, and in all earnestness implore God's
pardon for his sins and for his rash resolve; to which Basilio replied
that he was determined not to confess unless Quiteria first gave him her
hand in marriage, for that happiness would compose his mind and give him
courage to make his confession.

Don Quixote hearing the wounded man's entreaty, exclaimed aloud that what
Basilio asked was just and reasonable, and moreover a request that might
be easily complied with; and that it would be as much to Senor Camacho's
honour to receive the lady Quiteria as the widow of the brave Basilio as
if he received her direct from her father.

"In this case," said he, "it will be only to say 'yes,' and no
consequences can follow the utterance of the word, for the nuptial couch
of this marriage must be the grave."

Camacho was listening to all this, perplexed and bewildered and not
knowing what to say or do; but so urgent were the entreaties of Basilio's
friends, imploring him to allow Quiteria to give him her hand, so that
his soul, quitting this life in despair, should not be lost, that they
moved, nay, forced him, to say that if Quiteria were willing to give it
he was satisfied, as it was only putting off the fulfillment of his
wishes for a moment. At once all assailed Quiteria and pressed her, some
with prayers, and others with tears, and others with persuasive
arguments, to give her hand to poor Basilio; but she, harder than marble
and more unmoved than any statue, seemed unable or unwilling to utter a
word, nor would she have given any reply had not the priest bade her
decide quickly what she meant to do, as Basilio now had his soul at his
teeth, and there was no time for hesitation.

On this the fair Quiteria, to all appearance distressed, grieved, and
repentant, advanced without a word to where Basilio lay, his eyes already
turned in his head, his breathing short and painful, murmuring the name
of Quiteria between his teeth, and apparently about to die like a heathen
and not like a Christian. Quiteria approached him, and kneeling, demanded
his hand by signs without speaking. Basilio opened his eyes and gazing
fixedly at her, said, "O Quiteria, why hast thou turned compassionate at
a moment when thy compassion will serve as a dagger to rob me of life,
for I have not now the strength left either to bear the happiness thou
givest me in accepting me as thine, or to suppress the pain that is
rapidly drawing the dread shadow of death over my eyes? What I entreat of
thee, O thou fatal star to me, is that the hand thou demandest of me and
wouldst give me, be not given out of complaisance or to deceive me
afresh, but that thou confess and declare that without any constraint
upon thy will thou givest it to me as to thy lawful husband; for it is
not meet that thou shouldst trifle with me at such a moment as this, or
have recourse to falsehoods with one who has dealt so truly by thee."

While uttering these words he showed such weakness that the bystanders
expected each return of faintness would take his life with it. Then
Quiteria, overcome with modesty and shame, holding in her right hand the
hand of Basilio, said, "No force would bend my will; as freely,
therefore, as it is possible for me to do so, I give thee the hand of a
lawful wife, and take thine if thou givest it to me of thine own free
will, untroubled and unaffected by the calamity thy hasty act has brought
upon thee."

"Yes, I give it," said Basilio, "not agitated or distracted, but with
unclouded reason that heaven is pleased to grant me, thus do I give
myself to be thy husband."

"And I give myself to be thy wife," said Quiteria, "whether thou livest
many years, or they carry thee from my arms to the grave."

"For one so badly wounded," observed Sancho at this point, "this young
man has a great deal to say; they should make him leave off billing and
cooing, and attend to his soul; for to my thinking he has it more on his
tongue than at his teeth."

Basilio and Quiteria having thus joined hands, the priest, deeply moved
and with tears in his eyes, pronounced the blessing upon them, and
implored heaven to grant an easy passage to the soul of the newly wedded
man, who, the instant he received the blessing, started nimbly to his
feet and with unparalleled effrontery pulled out the rapier that had been
sheathed in his body. All the bystanders were astounded, and some, more
simple than inquiring, began shouting, "A miracle, a miracle!" But
Basilio replied, "No miracle, no miracle; only a trick, a trick!" The
priest, perplexed and amazed, made haste to examine the wound with both
hands, and found that the blade had passed, not through Basilio's flesh
and ribs, but through a hollow iron tube full of blood, which he had
adroitly fixed at the place, the blood, as was afterwards ascertained,
having been so prepared as not to congeal. In short, the priest and
Camacho and most of those present saw they were tricked and made fools
of. The bride showed no signs of displeasure at the deception; on the
contrary, hearing them say that the marriage, being fraudulent, would not
be valid, she said that she confirmed it afresh, whence they all
concluded that the affair had been planned by agreement and understanding
between the pair, whereat Camacho and his supporters were so mortified
that they proceeded to revenge themselves by violence, and a great number
of them drawing their swords attacked Basilio, in whose protection as
many more swords were in an instant unsheathed, while Don Quixote taking
the lead on horseback, with his lance over his arm and well covered with
his shield, made all give way before him. Sancho, who never found any
pleasure or enjoyment in such doings, retreated to the wine-jars from
which he had taken his delectable skimmings, considering that, as a holy
place, that spot would be respected.

"Hold, sirs, hold!" cried Don Quixote in a loud voice; "we have no right
to take vengeance for wrongs that love may do to us: remember love and
war are the same thing, and as in war it is allowable and common to make
use of wiles and stratagems to overcome the enemy, so in the contests and
rivalries of love the tricks and devices employed to attain the desired
end are justifiable, provided they be not to the discredit or dishonour
of the loved object. Quiteria belonged to Basilio and Basilio to Quiteria
by the just and beneficent disposal of heaven. Camacho is rich, and can
purchase his pleasure when, where, and as it pleases him. Basilio has but
this ewe-lamb, and no one, however powerful he may be, shall take her
from him; these two whom God hath joined man cannot separate; and he who
attempts it must first pass the point of this lance;" and so saying he
brandished it so stoutly and dexterously that he overawed all who did not
know him.

But so deep an impression had the rejection of Quiteria made on Camacho's
mind that it banished her at once from his thoughts; and so the counsels
of the priest, who was a wise and kindly disposed man, prevailed with
him, and by their means he and his partisans were pacified and
tranquillised, and to prove it put up their swords again, inveighing
against the pliancy of Quiteria rather than the craftiness of Basilio;
Camacho maintaining that, if Quiteria as a maiden had such a love for
Basilio, she would have loved him too as a married woman, and that he
ought to thank heaven more for having taken her than for having given

Camacho and those of his following, therefore, being consoled and
pacified, those on Basilio's side were appeased; and the rich Camacho, to
show that he felt no resentment for the trick, and did not care about it,
desired the festival to go on just as if he were married in reality.
Neither Basilio, however, nor his bride, nor their followers would take
any part in it, and they withdrew to Basilio's village; for the poor, if
they are persons of virtue and good sense, have those who follow, honour,
and uphold them, just as the rich have those who flatter and dance
attendance on them. With them they carried Don Quixote, regarding him as
a man of worth and a stout one. Sancho alone had a cloud on his soul, for
he found himself debarred from waiting for Camacho's splendid feast and
festival, which lasted until night; and thus dragged away, he moodily
followed his master, who accompanied Basilio's party, and left behind him
the flesh-pots of Egypt; though in his heart he took them with him, and
their now nearly finished skimmings that he carried in the bucket
conjured up visions before his eyes of the glory and abundance of the
good cheer he was losing. And so, vexed and dejected though not hungry,
without dismounting from Dapple he followed in the footsteps of


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