The History of That Ingenious Gentleman, Don Quijote de la Mancha

By Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra; Burton Raffel | Go to book overview

out they saw that his eyes were closed and he seemed to be sleeping. They laid him on the ground and untied the rope, but he still did not wake up, so they kept turning him first this way and then that, shaking him and poking at him, until finally, after a long time, he began to come to, stretching and yawning as if he'd just woken from some hard, deep sleep, and then looking around him in wonder he said:

"God forgive you, my friends, for you have deprived me of the most delightful existence, and the sweetest sights, that any human being has ever seen or experienced. As a matter of fact, I now truly understand that all the happiness we know, in these lives of ours, goes by like shadows and dreams, or simply withers like the flowers of the field. Oh miserable Montesinos! Oh sorely wounded Durandarte! Oh luckless Belerma! Oh tearful Guadiana, and you, Ruidera's miserable daughters, whose flowing waters show the tears pouring from your lovely eyes!"

The cousin and Sancho stood listening to Don Quijote, who spoke as if, in immense pain, he was pulling the words right out of his very entrails. They begged him to explain what he meant, and tell them what Hell he had seen.

"You call that Hell?" said Don Quijote. "Do not, for it does not deserve such a name, as you will soon see."

He asked them for some food, for he was ravenously hungry. They stretched the cousin's particolored mat on the green grass and offered Don Quijote the treasures of their saddlebags, after which they sat in great good fellowship, eating some of this and some of that, all of them dining most companionably. And when they took away the mat, Don Quijote de La Mancha declared:

"Let no one get up, and pay close attention to me, my sons."


Chapter Twenty-Three

— the remarkable things the incomparable Don Quijote said
he had seen in the depths of Montesinos' Cave, the sheer
implausibility and magnificence of which make this adventure
seem distinctly apocryphal

It was four in the afternoon when the sun, obscured behind clouds, its light dimmed and its rays moderated, allowed Don Quijote, untroubled by heat and discomfort, to tell the story of what he had seen in Montesinos' Cave to his two distinguished listeners. He began as follows:

"About seventy or eighty feet down into this dungeon, on the right-hand side, there's a large hollowed-out space, big enough to hold a cart and a team of mules. A bit of light filters into it, through some cracks and holes, which run all the way up to the surface of the earth. When I saw this place I was already tired, and fed up with dangling at the end of a rope and descending slowly into the darkness below, not knowing where I was going, so I decided to climb in and rest a bit. I shouted to you, saying you shouldn't let out any more rope until I told you to, but you must not have heard

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