'In truth I do not dislike the title of this novel, and I have a mind to read it all.'
To which the innkeeper answered:
'Your reverence may well venture to read it; for I assure you that some of my guests, who have read it, liked it mightily, and begged it of me with great earnestness; but I would not give it them, designing to restore it to the person who forgot and left behind him this cloakbag, with these books and papers; for perhaps their owner may come this way again some time or other; and though I know I shall have a great want of the books, in faith I will restore them; for though I am an innkeeper, thank God I am a Christian.'
'You are much in the right, friend,' said the priest; 'nevertheless, if the novel please me, you must give me leave to take a copy of it.'
With all my heart,' answered the innkeeper.
While they two were thus talking, Cardenio had taken up the novel, and began to read it; and, being likewise pleased with it, he desired the priest to read it so as that they might all hear it.
'I will,' said the priest, 'if it be not better to spend our time in sleeping than in reading.'
'It will be as well for me,' said Dorothea, 'to pass the time in listening to some story; for my spirits are not yet so composed as to give me leave to sleep, though it were needful.'
'Well then,' said the priest, 'I will read it, if it were but for curiosity; perhaps it may contain something that is entertaining.'
Master Nicholas and Sancho joined in the same request: on which the priest, perceiving that he should give them all pleasure, and receive some himself, said:
'Be all attentive then, for the novel begins in the following manner:'
In which is recited 'The Novel of the Curious Impertinent'.*
IN Florence, a rich and famous city of Italy, in the province called Tuscany, lived Anselmo and Lothario, two gentlemen of fortune and quality, and such great friends that all who knew them styled them,