Thursday, July 1, 2010

Don Quixote 1.47



The history says that from the justice court they carried Sancho
to a sumptuous palace, where in a spacious chamber there was a table
laid out with royal magnificence. The clarions sounded as Sancho
entered the room, and four pages came forward to present him with
water for his hands, which Sancho received with great dignity. The
music ceased, and Sancho seated himself at the head of the table,
for there was only that seat placed, and no more than one cover
laid. A personage, who it appeared afterwards was a physician,
placed himself standing by his side with a whalebone wand in his hand.
They then lifted up a fine white cloth covering fruit and a great
variety of dishes of different sorts; one who looked like a student
said grace, and a page put a laced bib on Sancho, while another who
played the part of head carver placed a dish of fruit before him.
But hardly had he tasted a morsel when the man with the wand touched
the plate with it, and they took it away from before him with the
utmost celerity. The carver, however, brought him another dish, and
Sancho proceeded to try it; but before he could get at it, not to
say taste it, already the wand had touched it and a page had carried
it off with the same promptitude as the fruit. Sancho seeing this
was puzzled, and looking from one to another asked if this dinner
was to be eaten after the fashion of a jugglery trick.

To this he with the wand replied, "It is not to be eaten, senor
governor, except as is usual and customary in other islands where
there are governors. I, senor, am a physician, and I am paid a
salary in this island to serve its governors as such, and I have a
much greater regard for their health than for my own, studying day and
night and making myself acquainted with the governor's constitution,
in order to be able to cure him when he falls sick. The chief thing
I have to do is to attend at his dinners and suppers and allow him
to eat what appears to me to be fit for him, and keep from him what
I think will do him harm and be injurious to his stomach; and
therefore I ordered that plate of fruit to be removed as being too
moist, and that other dish I ordered to he removed as being too hot
and containing many spices that stimulate thirst; for he who drinks
much kills and consumes the radical moisture wherein life consists."

"Well then," said Sancho, "that dish of roast partridges there
that seems so savoury will not do me any harm."

To this the physician replied, "Of those my lord the governor
shall not eat so long as I live."

"Why so?" said Sancho.

"Because," replied the doctor, "our master Hippocrates, the polestar
and beacon of medicine, says in one of his aphorisms omnis saturatio
mala, perdicis autem pessima, which means 'all repletion is bad, but
that of partridge is the worst of all."

"In that case," said Sancho, "let senor doctor see among the
dishes that are on the table what will do me most good and least harm,
and let me eat it, without tapping it with his stick; for by the
life of the governor, and so may God suffer me to enjoy it, but I'm
dying of hunger; and in spite of the doctor and all he may say, to
deny me food is the way to take my life instead of prolonging it."

"Your worship is right, senor governor," said the physician; "and
therefore your worship, I consider, should not eat of those stewed
rabbits there, because it is a furry kind of food; if that veal were
not roasted and served with pickles, you might try it; but it is out
of the question."

"That big dish that is smoking farther off," said Sancho, "seems
to me to be an olla podrida, and out of the diversity of things in
such ollas, I can't fail to light upon something tasty and good for

"Absit," said the doctor; "far from us be any such base thought!
There is nothing in the world less nourishing than an olla podrida; to
canons, or rectors of colleges, or peasants' weddings with your
ollas podridas, but let us have none of them on the tables of
governors, where everything that is present should be delicate and
refined; and the reason is, that always, everywhere and by
everybody, simple medicines are more esteemed than compound ones,
for we cannot go wrong in those that are simple, while in the compound
we may, by merely altering the quantity of the things composing
them. But what I am of opinion the governor should cat now in order to
preserve and fortify his health is a hundred or so of wafer cakes
and a few thin slices of conserve of quinces, which will settle his
stomach and help his digestion."

Sancho on hearing this threw himself back in his chair and
surveyed the doctor steadily, and in a solemn tone asked him what
his name was and where he had studied.

He replied, "My name, senor governor, is Doctor Pedro Recio de
Aguero I am a native of a place called Tirteafuera which lies
between Caracuel and Almodovar del Campo, on the right-hand side,
and I have the degree of doctor from the university of Osuna."

To which Sancho, glowing all over with rage, returned, "Then let
Doctor Pedro Recio de Malaguero, native of Tirteafuera, a place that's
on the right-hand side as we go from Caracuel to Almodovar del
Campo, graduate of Osuna, get out of my presence at once; or I swear
by the sun I'll take a cudgel, and by dint of blows, beginning with
him, I'll not leave a doctor in the whole island; at least of those
I know to be ignorant; for as to learned, wise, sensible physicians,
them I will reverence and honour as divine persons. Once more I say
let Pedro Recio get out of this or I'll take this chair I am sitting
on and break it over his head. And if they call me to account for
it, I'll clear myself by saying I served God in killing a bad
doctor- a general executioner. And now give me something to eat, or
else take your government; for a trade that does not feed its master
is not worth two beans."

The doctor was dismayed when he saw the governor in such a
passion, and he would have made a Tirteafuera out of the room but that
the same instant a post-horn sounded in the street; and the carver
putting his head out of the window turned round and said, "It's a
courier from my lord the duke, no doubt with some despatch of

The courier came in all sweating and flurried, and taking a paper
from his bosom, placed it in the governor's hands. Sancho handed it to
the majordomo and bade him read the superscription, which ran thus: To
Don Sancho Panza, Governor of the Island of Barataria, into his own
hands or those of his secretary. Sancho when he heard this said,
"Which of you is my secretary?" "I am, senor," said one of those
present, "for I can read and write, and am a Biscayan." "With that
addition," said Sancho, "you might be secretary to the emperor
himself; open this paper and see what it says." The new-born secretary
obeyed, and having read the contents said the matter was one to be
discussed in private. Sancho ordered the chamber to be cleared, the
majordomo and the carver only remaining; so the doctor and the
others withdrew, and then the secretary read the letter, which was
as follows:

It has come to my knowledge, Senor Don Sancho Panza, that certain
enemies of mine and of the island are about to make a furious attack
upon it some night, I know not when. It behoves you to be on the alert
and keep watch, that they surprise you not. I also know by trustworthy
spies that four persons have entered the town in disguise in order
to take your life, because they stand in dread of your great capacity;
keep your eyes open and take heed who approaches you to address you,
and eat nothing that is presented to you. I will take care to send you
aid if you find yourself in difficulty, but in all things you will act
as may be expected of your judgment. From this place, the Sixteenth of
August, at four in the morning.

Your friend,


Sancho was astonished, and those who stood by made believe to be
so too, and turning to the majordomo he said to him, "What we have got
to do first, and it must be done at once, is to put Doctor Recio in
the lock-up; for if anyone wants to kill me it is he, and by a slow
death and the worst of all, which is hunger."

"Likewise," said the carver, "it is my opinion your worship should
not eat anything that is on this table, for the whole was a present
from some nuns; and as they say, 'behind the cross there's the

"I don't deny it," said Sancho; "so for the present give me a
piece of bread and four pounds or so of grapes; no poison can come
in them; for the fact is I can't go on without eating; and if we are
to be prepared for these battles that are threatening us we must be
well provisioned; for it is the tripes that carry the heart and not
the heart the tripes. And you, secretary, answer my lord the duke
and tell him that all his commands shall be obeyed to the letter, as
he directs; and say from me to my lady the duchess that I kiss her
hands, and that I beg of her not to forget to send my letter and
bundle to my wife Teresa Panza by a messenger; and I will take it as a
great favour and will not fail to serve her in all that may lie within
my power; and as you are about it you may enclose a kiss of the hand
to my master Don Quixote that he may see I am grateful bread; and as a
good secretary and a good Biscayan you may add whatever you like and
whatever will come in best; and now take away this cloth and give me
something to eat, and I'll be ready to meet all the spies and
assassins and enchanters that may come against me or my island."

At this instant a page entered saying, "Here is a farmer on
business, who wants to speak to your lordship on a matter of great
importance, he says."

"It's very odd," said Sancho, "the ways of these men on business; is
it possible they can be such fools as not to see that an hour like
this is no hour for coming on business? We who govern and we who are
judges- are we not men of flesh and blood, and are we not to be
allowed the time required for taking rest, unless they'd have us
made of marble? By God and on my conscience, if the government remains
in my hands (which I have a notion it won't), I'll bring more than one
man on business to order. However, tell this good man to come in;
but take care first of all that he is not some spy or one of my

"No, my lord," said the page, "for he looks like a simple fellow,
and either I know very little or he is as good as good bread."

"There is nothing to be afraid of," said the majordomo, "for we
are all here."

"Would it be possible, carver," said Sancho, "now that Doctor
Pedro Recio is not here, to let me eat something solid and
substantial, if it were even a piece of bread and an onion?"

"To-night at supper," said the carver, "the shortcomings of the
dinner shall be made good, and your lordship shall be fully

"God grant it," said Sancho.

The farmer now came in, a well-favoured man that one might see a
thousand leagues off was an honest fellow and a good soul. The first
thing he said was, "Which is the lord governor here?"

"Which should it be," said the secretary, "but he who is seated in
the chair?"

"Then I humble myself before him," said the farmer; and going on his
knees he asked for his hand, to kiss it. Sancho refused it, and bade
him stand up and say what he wanted. The farmer obeyed, and then said,
"I am a farmer, senor, a native of Miguelturra, a village two
leagues from Ciudad Real."

"Another Tirteafuera!" said Sancho; "say on, brother; I know
Miguelturra very well I can tell you, for it's not very far from my
own town."

"The case is this, senor," continued the farmer, "that by God's
mercy I am married with the leave and licence of the holy Roman
Catholic Church; I have two sons, students, and the younger is
studying to become bachelor, and the elder to be licentiate; I am a
widower, for my wife died, or more properly speaking, a bad doctor
killed her on my hands, giving her a purge when she was with child;
and if it had pleased God that the child had been born, and was a boy,
I would have put him to study for doctor, that he might not envy his
brothers the bachelor and the licentiate."

"So that if your wife had not died, or had not been killed, you
would not now be a widower," said Sancho.

"No, senor, certainly not," said the farmer.

"We've got that much settled," said Sancho; "get on, brother, for
it's more bed-time than business-time."

"Well then," said the farmer, "this son of mine who is going to be a
bachelor, fell in love in the said town with a damsel called Clara
Perlerina, daughter of Andres Perlerino, a very rich farmer; and
this name of Perlerines does not come to them by ancestry or
descent, but because all the family are paralytics, and for a better
name they call them Perlerines; though to tell the truth the damsel is
as fair as an Oriental pearl, and like a flower of the field, if you
look at her on the right side; on the left not so much, for on that
side she wants an eye that she lost by small-pox; and though her
face is thickly and deeply pitted, those who love her say they are not
pits that are there, but the graves where the hearts of her lovers are
buried. She is so cleanly that not to soil her face she carries her
nose turned up, as they say, so that one would fancy it was running
away from her mouth; and with all this she looks extremely well, for
she has a wide mouth; and but for wanting ten or a dozen teeth and
grinders she might compare and compete with the comeliest. Of her lips
I say nothing, for they are so fine and thin that, if lips might be
reeled, one might make a skein of them; but being of a different
colour from ordinary lips they are wonderful, for they are mottled,
blue, green, and purple- let my lord the governor pardon me for
painting so minutely the charms of her who some time or other will
be my daughter; for I love her, and I don't find her amiss."

"Paint what you will," said Sancho; "I enjoy your painting, and if I
had dined there could be no dessert more to my taste than your

"That I have still to furnish," said the farmer; "but a time will
come when we may be able if we are not now; and I can tell you, senor,
if I could paint her gracefulness and her tall figure, it would
astonish you; but that is impossible because she is bent double with
her knees up to her mouth; but for all that it is easy to see that
if she could stand up she'd knock her head against the ceiling; and
she would have given her hand to my bachelor ere this, only that she
can't stretch it out, for it's contracted; but still one can see its
elegance and fine make by its long furrowed nails."

"That will do, brother," said Sancho; "consider you have painted her
from head to foot; what is it you want now? Come to the point
without all this beating about the bush, and all these scraps and

"I want your worship, senor," said the farmer, "to do me the
favour of giving me a letter of recommendation to the girl's father,
begging him to be so good as to let this marriage take place, as we
are not ill-matched either in the gifts of fortune or of nature; for
to tell the truth, senor governor, my son is possessed of a devil, and
there is not a day but the evil spirits torment him three or four
times; and from having once fallen into the fire, he has his face
puckered up like a piece of parchment, and his eyes watery and
always running; but he has the disposition of an angel, and if it
was not for belabouring and pummelling himself he'd be a saint."

"Is there anything else you want, good man?" said Sancho.

"There's another thing I'd like," said the farmer, "but I'm afraid
to mention it; however, out it must; for after all I can't let it be
rotting in my breast, come what may. I mean, senor, that I'd like your
worship to give me three hundred or six hundred ducats as a help to my
bachelor's portion, to help him in setting up house; for they must, in
short, live by themselves, without being subject to the
interferences of their fathers-in-law."

"Just see if there's anything else you'd like," said Sancho, "and
don't hold back from mentioning it out of bashfulness or modesty."

"No, indeed there is not," said the farmer.

The moment he said this the governor started to his feet, and
seizing the chair he had been sitting on exclaimed, "By all that's
good, you ill-bred, boorish Don Bumpkin, if you don't get out of
this at once and hide yourself from my sight, I'll lay your head
open with this chair. You whoreson rascal, you devil's own painter,
and is it at this hour you come to ask me for six hundred ducats!
How should I have them, you stinking brute? And why should I give them
to you if I had them, you knave and blockhead? What have I to do
with Miguelturra or the whole family of the Perlerines? Get out I say,
or by the life of my lord the duke I'll do as I said. You're not
from Miguelturra, but some knave sent here from hell to tempt me. Why,
you villain, I have not yet had the government half a day, and you
want me to have six hundred ducats already!"

The carver made signs to the farmer to leave the room, which he
did with his head down, and to all appearance in terror lest the
governor should carry his threats into effect, for the rogue knew very
well how to play his part.

But let us leave Sancho in his wrath, and peace be with them all;
and let us return to Don Quixote, whom we left with his face
bandaged and doctored after the cat wounds, of which he was not
cured for eight days; and on one of these there befell him what Cide
Hamete promises to relate with that exactitude and truth with which he
is wont to set forth everything connected with this great history,
however minute it may be.

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