Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Don Quixote 1.12



Just then another young man, one of those who fetched their
provisions from the village, came up and said, "Do you know what is
going on in the village, comrades?"

"How could we know it?" replied one of them.

"Well, then, you must know," continued the young man, "this
morning that famous student-shepherd called Chrysostom died, and it is
rumoured that he died of love for that devil of a village girl the
daughter of Guillermo the Rich, she that wanders about the wolds
here in the dress of a shepherdess."

"You mean Marcela?" said one.

"Her I mean," answered the goatherd; "and the best of it is, he
has directed in his will that he is to be buried in the fields like
a Moor, and at the foot of the rock where the Cork-tree spring is,
because, as the story goes (and they say he himself said so), that was
the place where he first saw her. And he has also left other
directions which the clergy of the village say should not and must not
be obeyed because they savour of paganism. To all which his great
friend Ambrosio the student, he who, like him, also went dressed as
a shepherd, replies that everything must be done without any
omission according to the directions left by Chrysostom, and about
this the village is all in commotion; however, report says that, after
all, what Ambrosio and all the shepherds his friends desire will be
done, and to-morrow they are coming to bury him with great ceremony
where I said. I am sure it will be something worth seeing; at least
I will not fail to go and see it even if I knew I should not return to
the village tomorrow."

"We will do the same," answered the goatherds, "and cast lots to see
who must stay to mind the goats of all."

"Thou sayest well, Pedro," said one, "though there will be no need
of taking that trouble, for I will stay behind for all; and don't
suppose it is virtue or want of curiosity in me; it is that the
splinter that ran into my foot the other day will not let me walk."

"For all that, we thank thee," answered Pedro.

Don Quixote asked Pedro to tell him who the dead man was and who the
shepherdess, to which Pedro replied that all he knew was that the dead
man was a wealthy gentleman belonging to a village in those mountains,
who had been a student at Salamanca for many years, at the end of
which he returned to his village with the reputation of being very
learned and deeply read. "Above all, they said, he was learned in
the science of the stars and of what went on yonder in the heavens and
the sun and the moon, for he told us of the cris of the sun and moon
to exact time."

"Eclipse it is called, friend, not cris, the darkening of those
two luminaries," said Don Quixote; but Pedro, not troubling himself
with trifles, went on with his story, saying, "Also he foretold when
the year was going to be one of abundance or estility."

"Sterility, you mean," said Don Quixote.

"Sterility or estility," answered Pedro, "it is all the same in
the end. And I can tell you that by this his father and friends who
believed him grew very rich because they did as he advised them,
bidding them 'sow barley this year, not wheat; this year you may sow
pulse and not barley; the next there will be a full oil crop, and
the three following not a drop will be got.'"

"That science is called astrology," said Don Quixote.

"I do not know what it is called," replied Pedro, "but I know that
he knew all this and more besides. But, to make an end, not many
months had passed after he returned from Salamanca, when one day he
appeared dressed as a shepherd with his crook and sheepskin, having
put off the long gown he wore as a scholar; and at the same time his
great friend, Ambrosio by name, who had been his companion in his
studies, took to the shepherd's dress with him. I forgot to say that
Chrysostom, who is dead, was a great man for writing verses, so much
so that he made carols for Christmas Eve, and plays for Corpus
Christi, which the young men of our village acted, and all said they
were excellent. When the villagers saw the two scholars so
unexpectedly appearing in shepherd's dress, they were lost in
wonder, and could not guess what had led them to make so extraordinary
a change. About this time the father of our Chrysostom died, and he
was left heir to a large amount of property in chattels as well as
in land, no small number of cattle and sheep, and a large sum of
money, of all of which the young man was left dissolute owner, and
indeed he was deserving of it all, for he was a very good comrade, and
kind-hearted, and a friend of worthy folk, and had a countenance
like a benediction. Presently it came to be known that he had
changed his dress with no other object than to wander about these
wastes after that shepherdess Marcela our lad mentioned a while ago,
with whom the deceased Chrysostom had fallen in love. And I must
tell you now, for it is well you should know it, who this girl is;
perhaps, and even without any perhaps, you will not have heard
anything like it all the days of your life, though you should live
more years than sarna."

"Say Sarra," said Don Quixote, unable to endure the goatherd's
confusion of words.

"The sarna lives long enough," answered Pedro; "and if, senor, you
must go finding fault with words at every step, we shall not make an
end of it this twelvemonth."

"Pardon me, friend," said Don Quixote; "but, as there is such a
difference between sarna and Sarra, I told you of it; however, you
have answered very rightly, for sarna lives longer than Sarra: so
continue your story, and I will not object any more to anything."

"I say then, my dear sir," said the goatherd, "that in our village
there was a farmer even richer than the father of Chrysostom, who
was named Guillermo, and upon whom God bestowed, over and above
great wealth, a daughter at whose birth her mother died, the most
respected woman there was in this neighbourhood; I fancy I can see her
now with that countenance which had the sun on one side and the moon
on the other; and moreover active, and kind to the poor, for which I
trust that at the present moment her soul is in bliss with God in
the other world. Her husband Guillermo died of grief at the death of
so good a wife, leaving his daughter Marcela, a child and rich, to the
care of an uncle of hers, a priest and prebendary in our village.
The girl grew up with such beauty that it reminded us of her mother's,
which was very great, and yet it was thought that the daughter's would
exceed it; and so when she reached the age of fourteen to fifteen
years nobody beheld her but blessed God that had made her so
beautiful, and the greater number were in love with her past
redemption. Her uncle kept her in great seclusion and retirement,
but for all that the fame of her great beauty spread so that, as
well for it as for her great wealth, her uncle was asked, solicited,
and importuned, to give her in marriage not only by those of our
town but of those many leagues round, and by the persons of highest
quality in them. But he, being a good Christian man, though he desired
to give her in marriage at once, seeing her to be old enough, was
unwilling to do so without her consent, not that he had any eye to the
gain and profit which the custody of the girl's property brought him
while he put off her marriage; and, faith, this was said in praise
of the good priest in more than one set in the town. For I would
have you know, Sir Errant, that in these little villages everything is
talked about and everything is carped at, and rest assured, as I am,
that the priest must be over and above good who forces his
parishioners to speak well of him, especially in villages."

"That is the truth," said Don Quixote; "but go on, for the story
is very good, and you, good Pedro, tell it with very good grace."

"May that of the Lord not be wanting to me," said Pedro; "that is
the one to have. To proceed; you must know that though the uncle put
before his niece and described to her the qualities of each one in
particular of the many who had asked her in marriage, begging her to
marry and make a choice according to her own taste, she never gave any
other answer than that she had no desire to marry just yet, and that
being so young she did not think herself fit to bear the burden of
matrimony. At these, to all appearance, reasonable excuses that she
made, her uncle ceased to urge her, and waited till she was somewhat
more advanced in age and could mate herself to her own liking. For,
said he- and he said quite right- parents are not to settle children
in life against their will. But when one least looked for it, lo and
behold! one day the demure Marcela makes her appearance turned
shepherdess; and, in spite of her uncle and all those of the town that
strove to dissuade her, took to going a-field with the other
shepherd-lasses of the village, and tending her own flock. And so,
since she appeared in public, and her beauty came to be seen openly, I
could not well tell you how many rich youths, gentlemen and
peasants, have adopted the costume of Chrysostom, and go about these
fields making love to her. One of these, as has been already said, was
our deceased friend, of whom they say that he did not love but adore
her. But you must not suppose, because Marcela chose a life of such
liberty and independence, and of so little or rather no retirement,
that she has given any occasion, or even the semblance of one, for
disparagement of her purity and modesty; on the contrary, such and
so great is the vigilance with which she watches over her honour, that
of all those that court and woo her not one has boasted, or can with
truth boast, that she has given him any hope however small of
obtaining his desire. For although she does not avoid or shun the
society and conversation of the shepherds, and treats them courteously
and kindly, should any one of them come to declare his intention to
her, though it be one as proper and holy as that of matrimony, she
flings him from her like a catapult. And with this kind of disposition
she does more harm in this country than if the plague had got into it,
for her affability and her beauty draw on the hearts of those that
associate with her to love her and to court her, but her scorn and her
frankness bring them to the brink of despair; and so they know not
what to say save to proclaim her aloud cruel and hard-hearted, and
other names of the same sort which well describe the nature of her
character; and if you should remain here any time, senor, you would
hear these hills and valleys resounding with the laments of the
rejected ones who pursue her. Not far from this there is a spot
where there are a couple of dozen of tall beeches, and there is not
one of them but has carved and written on its smooth bark the name
of Marcela, and above some a crown carved on the same tree as though
her lover would say more plainly that Marcela wore and deserved that
of all human beauty. Here one shepherd is sighing, there another is
lamenting; there love songs are heard, here despairing elegies. One
will pass all the hours of the night seated at the foot of some oak or
rock, and there, without having closed his weeping eyes, the sun finds
him in the morning bemused and bereft of sense; and another without
relief or respite to his sighs, stretched on the burning sand in the
full heat of the sultry summer noontide, makes his appeal to the
compassionate heavens, and over one and the other, over these and all,
the beautiful Marcela triumphs free and careless. And all of us that
know her are waiting to see what her pride will come to, and who is to
be the happy man that will succeed in taming a nature so formidable
and gaining possession of a beauty so supreme. All that I have told
you being such well-established truth, I am persuaded that what they
say of the cause of Chrysostom's death, as our lad told us, is the
same. And so I advise you, senor, fail not to be present to-morrow
at his burial, which will be well worth seeing, for Chrysostom had
many friends, and it is not half a league from this place to where
he directed he should be buried."

"I will make a point of it," said Don Quixote, "and I thank you
for the pleasure you have given me by relating so interesting a tale."

"Oh," said the goatherd, "I do not know even the half of what has
happened to the lovers of Marcela, but perhaps to-morrow we may fall
in with some shepherd on the road who can tell us; and now it will
be well for you to go and sleep under cover, for the night air may
hurt your wound, though with the remedy I have applied to you there is
no fear of an untoward result."

Sancho Panza, who was wishing the goatherd's loquacity at the devil,
on his part begged his master to go into Pedro's hut to sleep. He
did so, and passed all the rest of the night in thinking of his lady
Dulcinea, in imitation of the lovers of Marcela. Sancho Panza settled
himself between Rocinante and his ass, and slept, not like a lover
who had been discarded, but like a man who had been soundly kicked.

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