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

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

The muledriver got tired, and the merchants went on their way, talking as they went about what had happened to the poor beaten fellow. And he, as soon as he saw himself alone, went back to trying to stand up, but if he couldn't do it when he was healthy and in one piece, how was he supposed to manage, thoroughly thrashed and exhausted? And yet he thought himself lucky, for it seemed to him that this was a fitting misfortune for a knight errant, and everything was his horse's fault, and still he couldn't stand up, his body was so bruised and battered.


Chapter Five

— which continues the tale of our knight's misfortune

Realizing, finally, that in fact he could not move, Don Quijote decided to fall back on his usual solution, which was to think of some passage from his books, and his madness brought to mind the tale of Valdovinos and the Marqués of Mantua, when Carloto left him wounded up on the mountain — a story all little boys know, young men haven't forgotten, and old men still celebrate and even believe, though for all that it's no truer than the ones about Mohammad's miracles. Don Quijote thought this was exactly the sort of situation in which he now found himself, and so, giving elaborate proof of his immense grief and sorrow, he began to roll around on the ground while declaiming, with all due weakness, exactly what the wounded knight said, as he lay on the wooded hillside:

— Where can you be, my lady,
And be unaware of my sorrow?
Oh, either you know nothing
Or your heart is false and untrue.

And then he went on reciting the ballad, as far as the lines:

—Oh noble Marqués of Mantua,
My uncle, my lord by blood! *

Now it happened that, as he reached this verse, a farmer from his own village, one of his neighbors, came by, travelling home after bringing a load of grain to the mill. And seeing a man stretched out on the road, he went over and asked him who he was and why he was groaning so miserably. Without any question, Don Quijote believed the farmer was his uncle, the Marqués of Mantua, so his only answer was to go declaiming the exact words of the ballad, which went on to tell of his misfortune and the love story of the Emperor and his wife.

The farmer was amazed, hearing all this nonsense and, removing Don Quijote's visor (already pretty well smashed to bits), cleaned off the dust and dirt that covered his face — and immediately recognized him. So he said:

"Mr. Quijana" — as he must have been known when he'd still had his wits about him, and before he'd transformed himself from a peaceful country

____________________
*
Deliberately misquoted; the original reads, "My lord, my uncle by blood."

-26-

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