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Don Quixote
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Seeing himself served in this way, Don Quixote said to his squire, "I have always heard it said, Sancho, that to do good to boors is to throw water into the sea. If I had believed thy words, I should have avoided this trouble; but it is done now, it is only to have patience and take warning for the future."

"Your worship will take warning as much as I am a Turk," returned Sancho; "but, as you say this mischief might have been avoided if you had believed me, believe me now, and a still greater one will be avoided; for I tell you chivalry is of no account with the Holy Brotherhood, and they don't care two maravedis for all the knights-errant in the world; and I can tell you I fancy I hear their arrows whistling past my ears this minute."

"Thou art a coward by nature, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "but lest thou shouldst say I am obstinate, and that I never do as thou dost advise, this once I will take thy advice, and withdraw out of reach of that fury thou so dreadest; but it must be on one condition, that never, in life or in death, thou art to say to anyone that I retired or withdrew from this danger out of fear, but only in compliance with thy entreaties; for if thou sayest otherwise thou wilt lie therein, and from this time to that, and from that to this, I give thee lie, and say thou liest and wilt lie every time thou thinkest or sayest it; and answer me not again; for at the mere thought that I am withdrawing or retiring from any danger, above all from this, which does seem to carry some little shadow of fear with it, I am ready to take my stand here and await alone, not only that Holy Brotherhood you talk of and dread, but the brothers of the twelve tribes of Israel, and the Seven Maccabees, and Castor and Pollux, and all the brothers and brotherhoods in the world."

"Senor," replied Sancho, "to retire is not to flee, and there is no wisdom in waiting when danger outweighs hope, and it is the part of wise men to preserve themselves to-day for to-morrow, and not risk all in one day; and let me tell you, though I am a clown and a boor, I have got some notion of what they call safe conduct; so repent not of having taken my advice, but mount Rocinante if you can, and if not I will help you; and follow me, for my mother-wit tells me we have more need of legs than hands just now."

Don Quixote mounted without replying, and, Sancho leading the way on his ass, they entered the side of the Sierra Morena, which was close by, as it was Sancho's design to cross it entirely and come out again at El Viso or Almodovar del Campo, and hide for some days among its crags so as to escape the search of the Brotherhood should they come to look for them. He was encouraged in this by perceiving that the stock of provisions carried by the ass had come safe out of the fray with the galley slaves, a circumstance that he regarded as a miracle, seeing how they pillaged and ransacked.

That night they reached the very heart of the Sierra Morena, where it seemed prudent to Sancho to pass the night and even some days, at least as many as the stores he carried might last, and so they encamped between two rocks and among some cork trees; but fatal destiny, which, according to the opinion of those who have not the light of the true faith, directs, arranges, and settles everything in its own way, so ordered it that Gines de Pasamonte, the famous knave and thief who by the virtue and madness of Don Quixote had been released from the chain, driven by fear of the Holy Brotherhood, which he had good reason to dread, resolved to take hiding in the mountains; and his fate and fear led him to the same spot to which Don Quixote and Sancho Panza had been led by theirs, just in time to recognise them and leave them to fall asleep: and as the wicked are always ungrateful, and necessity leads to evildoing, and immediate advantage overcomes all considerations of the future, Gines, who was neither grateful nor well-principled, made up his mind to steal Sancho Panza's ass, not troubling himself about Rocinante, as being a prize that was no good either to pledge or sell. While Sancho slept he stole his ass, and before day dawned he was far out of reach.

Aurora made her appearance bringing gladness to the earth but sadness to Sancho Panza, for he found that his Dapple was missing, and seeing himself bereft of him he began the saddest and most doleful lament in the world, so loud that Don Quixote awoke at his exclamations and heard him saying, "O son of my bowels, born in my very house, my children's plaything, my wife's joy, the envy of my neighbours, relief of my burdens, and lastly, half supporter of myself, for with the six-and-twenty maravedis thou didst earn me daily I met half my charges."

Don Quixote, when he heard the lament and learned the cause, consoled Sancho with the best arguments he could, entreating him to be patient, and promising to give him a letter of exchange ordering three out of five ass-colts that he had at home to be given to him. Sancho took comfort at this, dried his tears, suppressed his sobs, and returned thanks for the kindness shown him by Don Quixote. He on his part was rejoiced to the heart on entering the mountains, as they seemed to him to be just the place for the adventures he was in quest of. They brought back to his memory the marvellous adventures that had befallen knights-errant in like solitudes and wilds, and he went along reflecting on these things, so absorbed and carried away by them that he had no thought for anything else. Nor had Sancho any other care (now that he fancied he was travelling in a safe quarter) than to satisfy his appetite with such remains as were left of the clerical spoils, and so he marched behind his master laden with what Dapple used to carry, emptying the sack and packing his paunch, and so long as he could go that way, he would not have given a farthing to meet with another adventure.

While so engaged he raised his eyes and saw that his master had halted, and was trying with the point of his pike to lift some bulky object that lay upon the ground, on which he hastened to join him and help him if it were needful, and reached him just as with the point of the pike he was raising a saddle-pad with a valise attached to it, half or rather wholly rotten and torn; but so heavy were they that Sancho had to help to take them up, and his master directed him to see what the valise contained. Sancho did so with great alacrity, and though the valise was secured by a chain and padlock, from its torn and rotten condition he was able to see its contents, which were four shirts of fine holland, and other articles of linen no less curious than clean; and in a handkerchief he found a good lot of gold crowns, and as soon as he saw them he exclaimed:

"Blessed be all Heaven for sending us an adventure that is good for something!"

Searching further he found a little memorandum book richly bound; this Don Quixote asked of him, telling him to take the money and keep it for himself. Sancho kissed his hands for the favour, and cleared the valise of its linen, which he stowed away in the provision sack. Considering the whole matter, Don Quixote observed:

"It seems to me, Sancho- and it is impossible it can be otherwise- that some strayed traveller must have crossed this sierra and been attacked and slain by footpads, who brought him to this remote spot to bury him."

"That cannot be," answered Sancho, "because if they had been robbers they would not have left this money."

"Thou art right," said Don Quixote, "and I cannot guess or explain what this may mean; but stay; let us see if in this memorandum book there is anything written by which we may be able to trace out or discover what we want to know."

He opened it, and the first thing he found in it, written roughly but in a very good hand, was a sonnet, and reading it aloud that Sancho might hear it, he found that it ran as follows:

Or Love is lacking in intelligence,

Or to the height of cruelty attains,
Or else it is my doom to suffer pains
Beyond the measure due to my offence.
But if Love be a God, it follows thence
That he knows all, and certain it remains
No God loves cruelty; then who ordains
This penance that enthrals while it torments?
It were a falsehood, Chloe, thee to name;
Such evil with such goodness cannot live;
And against Heaven I dare not charge the blame,
I only know it is my fate to die.
To him who knows not whence his malady
A miracle alone a cure can give.

"There is nothing to be learned from that rhyme," said Sancho, "unless by that clue there's in it, one may draw out the ball of the whole matter."

"What clue is there?" said Don Quixote.

"I thought your worship spoke of a clue in it," said Sancho.

"I only said Chloe," replied Don Quixote; "and that no doubt, is the name of the lady of whom the author of the sonnet complains; and, faith, he must be a tolerable poet, or I know little of the craft."

"Then your worship understands rhyming too?"

"And better than thou thinkest," replied Don Quixote, "as thou shalt see when thou carriest a letter written in verse from beginning to end to my lady Dulcinea del Toboso, for I would have thee know, Sancho, that all or most of the knights-errant in days of yore were great troubadours and great musicians, for both of these accomplishments, or more properly speaking gifts, are the peculiar property of lovers-errant: true it is that the verses of the knights of old have more spirit than neatness in them."

"Read more, your worship," said Sancho, "and you will find something that will enlighten us."

Don Quixote turned the page and said, "This is prose and seems to be a letter."

"A correspondence letter, senor?"

"From the beginning it seems to be a love letter," replied Don Quixote.

"Then let your worship read it aloud," said Sancho, "for I am very fond of love matters."

"With all my heart," said Don Quixote, and reading it aloud as Sancho had requested him, he found it ran thus:

Thy false promise and my sure misforutne carry me to a place whence the news of my death will reach thy ears before the words of my complaint. Ungrateful one, thou hast rejected me for one more wealthy, but not more worthy; but if virtue were esteemed wealth I should neither envy the fortunes of others nor weep for misfortunes of my own. What thy beauty raised up thy deeds have laid low; by it I believed thee to be an angel, by them I know thou art a woman. Peace be with thee who hast sent war to me, and Heaven grant that the deceit of thy husband be ever hidden from thee, so that thou repent not of what thou hast done, and I reap not a revenge I would not have.
When he had finished the letter, Don Quixote said, "There is less to be gathered from this than from the verses, except that he who wrote it is some rejected lover;" and turning over nearly all the pages of the book he found more verses and letters, some of which he could read, while others he could not; but they were all made up of complaints, laments, misgivings, desires and aversions, favours and rejections, some rapturous, some doleful. While Don Quixote examined the book, Sancho examined the valise, not leaving a corner in the whole of it or in the pad that he did not search, peer into, and explore, or seam that he did not rip, or tuft of wool that he did not pick to pieces, lest anything should escape for want of care and pains; so keen was the covetousness excited in him by the discovery of the crowns, which amounted to near a hundred; and though he found no more booty, he held the blanket flights, balsam vomits, stake benedictions, carriers' fisticuffs, missing alforjas, stolen coat, and all the hunger, thirst, and weariness he had endured in the service of his good master, cheap at the price; as he considered himself more than fully indemnified for all by the payment he received in the gift of the treasure-trove.

The Knight of the Rueful Countenance was still very anxious to find out who the owner of the valise could be, conjecturing from the sonnet and letter, from the money in gold, and from the fineness of the shirts, that he must be some lover of distinction whom the scorn and cruelty of his lady had driven to some desperate course; but as in that uninhabited and rugged spot there was no one to be seen of whom he could inquire, he saw nothing else for it but to push on, taking whatever road Rocinante chose--which was where he could make his way--firmly persuaded that among these wilds he could not fail to meet some rare adventure. As he went along, then, occupied with these thoughts, he perceived on the summit of a height that rose before their eyes a man who went springing from rock to rock and from tussock to tussock with marvellous agility. As well as he could make out he was unclad, with a thick black beard, long tangled hair, and bare legs and feet, his thighs were covered by breeches apparently of tawny velvet but so ragged that they showed his skin in several places. He was bareheaded, and notwithstanding the swiftness with which he passed as has been described, the Knight of the Rueful Countenance observed and noted all these trifles, and though he made the attempt, he was unable to follow him, for it was not granted to the feebleness of Rocinante to make way over such rough ground, he being, moreover, slow-paced and sluggish by nature. Don Quixote at once came to the conclusion that this was the owner of the saddle-pad and of the valise, and made up his mind to go in search of him, even though he should have to wander a year in those mountains before he found him, and so he directed Sancho to take a short cut over one side of the mountain, while he himself went by the other, and perhaps by this means they might light upon this man who had passed so quickly out of their sight.

"I could not do that," said Sancho, "for when I separate from your worship fear at once lays hold of me, and assails me with all sorts of panics and fancies; and let what I now say be a notice that from this time forth I am not going to stir a finger's width from your presence."

"It shall be so," said he of the Rueful Countenance, "and I am very glad that thou art willing to rely on my courage, which will never fail thee, even though the soul in thy body fail thee; so come on now behind me slowly as well as thou canst, and make lanterns of thine eyes; let us make the circuit of this ridge; perhaps we shall light upon this man that we saw, who no doubt is no other than the owner of what we found."

To which Sancho made answer, "Far better would it be not to look for him, for, if we find him, and he happens to be the owner of the money, it is plain I must restore it; it would be better, therefore, that without taking this needless trouble, I should keep possession of it until in some other less meddlesome and officious way the real owner may be discovered; and perhaps that will be when I shall have spent it, and then the king will hold me harmless."

"Thou art wrong there, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "for now that we have a suspicion who the owner is, and have him almost before us, we are bound to seek him and make restitution; and if we do not see him, the strong suspicion we have as to his being the owner makes us as guilty as if he were so; and so, friend Sancho, let not our search for him give thee any uneasiness, for if we find him it will relieve mine."

And so saying he gave Rocinante the spur, and Sancho followed him on foot and loaded, and after having partly made the circuit of the mountain they found lying in a ravine, dead and half devoured by dogs and pecked by jackdaws, a mule saddled and bridled, all which still further strengthened their suspicion that he who had fled was the owner of the mule and the saddle-pad.

As they stood looking at it they heard a whistle like that of a shepherd watching his flock, and suddenly on their left there appeared a great number of goats and behind them on the summit of the mountain the goatherd in charge of them, a man advanced in years. Don Quixote called aloud to him and begged him to come down to where they stood. He shouted in return, asking what had brought them to that spot, seldom or never trodden except by the feet of goats, or of the wolves and other wild beasts that roamed around. Sancho in return bade him come down, and they would explain all to him.

The goatherd descended, and reaching the place where Don Quixote stood, he said, "I will wager you are looking at that hack mule that lies dead in the hollow there, and, faith, it has been lying there now these six months; tell me, have you come upon its master about here?"

"We have come upon nobody," answered Don Quixote, "nor on anything except a saddle-pad and a little valise that we found not far from this."

"I found it too," said the goatherd, "but I would not lift it nor go near it for fear of some ill-luck or being charged with theft, for the devil is crafty, and things rise up under one's feet to make one fall without knowing why or wherefore."

"That's exactly what I say," said Sancho; "I found it too, and I would not go within a stone's throw of it; there I left it, and there it lies just as it was, for I don't want a dog with a bell."

"Tell me, good man," said Don Quixote, "do you know who is the owner of this property?"

"All I can tell you," said the goatherd, "is that about six months ago, more or less, there arrived at a shepherd's hut three leagues, perhaps, away from this, a youth of well-bred appearance and manners, mounted on that same mule which lies dead here, and with the same saddle-pad and valise which you say you found and did not touch. He asked us what part of this sierra was the most rugged and retired; we told him that it was where we now are; and so in truth it is, for if you push on half a league farther, perhaps you will not be able to find your way out; and I am wondering how you have managed to come here, for there is no road or path that leads to this spot. I say, then, that on hearing our answer the youth turned about and made for the place we pointed out to him, leaving us all charmed with his good looks, and wondering at his question and the haste with which we saw him depart in the direction of the sierra; and after that we saw him no more, until some days afterwards he crossed the path of one of our shepherds, and without saying a word to him, came up to him and gave him several cuffs and kicks, and then turned to the ass with our provisions and took all the bread and cheese it carried, and having done this made off back again into the sierra with extraordinary swiftness. When some of us goatherds learned this we went in search of him for about two days through the most remote portion of this sierra, at the end of which we found him lodged in the hollow of a large thick cork tree. He came out to meet us with great gentleness, with his dress now torn and his face so disfigured and burned by the sun, that we hardly recognised him but that his clothes, though torn, convinced us, from the recollection we had of them, that he was the person we were looking for. He saluted us courteously, and in a few well-spoken words he told us not to wonder at seeing him going about in this guise, as it was binding upon him in order that he might work out a penance which for his many sins had been imposed upon him. We asked him to tell us who he was, but we were never able to find out from him: we begged of him too, when he was in want of food, which he could not do without, to tell us where we should find him, as we would bring it to him with all good-will and readiness; or if this were not to his taste, at least to come and ask it of us and not take it by force from the shepherds. He thanked us for the offer, begged pardon for the late assault, and promised for the future to ask it in God's name without offering violence to anybody. As for fixed abode, he said he had no other than that which chance offered wherever night might overtake him; and his words ended in an outburst of weeping so bitter that we who listened to him must have been very stones had we not joined him in it, comparing what we saw of him the first time with what we saw now; for, as I said, he was a graceful and gracious youth, and in his courteous and polished language showed himself to be of good birth and courtly breeding, and rustics as we were that listened to him, even to our rusticity his gentle bearing sufficed to make it plain.

"But in the midst of his conversation he stopped and became silent, keeping his eyes fixed upon the ground for some time, during which we stood still waiting anxiously to see what would come of this abstraction; and with no little pity, for from his behaviour, now staring at the ground with fixed gaze and eyes wide open without moving an eyelid, again closing them, compressing his lips and raising his eyebrows, we could perceive plainly that a fit of madness of some kind had come upon him; and before long he showed that what we imagined was the truth, for he arose in a fury from the ground where he had thrown himself, and attacked the first he found near him with such rage and fierceness that if we had not dragged him off him, he would have beaten or bitten him to death, all the while exclaiming, 'Oh faithless Fernando, here, here shalt thou pay the penalty of the wrong thou hast done me; these hands shall tear out that heart of thine, abode and dwelling of all iniquity, but of deceit and fraud above all; and to these he added other words all in effect upbraiding this Fernando and charging him with treachery and faithlessness.

"We forced him to release his hold with no little difficulty, and without another word he left us, and rushing off plunged in among these brakes and brambles, so as to make it impossible for us to follow him; from this we suppose that madness comes upon him from time to time, and that some one called Fernando must have done him a wrong of a grievous nature such as the condition to which it had brought him seemed to show. All this has been since then confirmed on those occasions, and they have been many, on which he has crossed our path, at one time to beg the shepherds to give him some of the food they carry, at another to take it from them by force; for when there is a fit of madness upon him, even though the shepherds offer it freely, he will not accept it but snatches it from them by dint of blows; but when he is in his senses he begs it for the love of God, courteously and civilly, and receives it with many thanks and not a few tears. And to tell you the truth, sirs," continued the goatherd, "it was yesterday that we resolved, I and four of the lads, two of them our servants, and the other two friends of mine, to go in search of him until we find him, and when we do to take him, whether by force or of his own consent, to the town of Almodovar, which is eight leagues from this, and there strive to cure him (if indeed his malady admits of a cure), or learn when he is in his senses who he is, and if he has relatives to whom we may give notice of his misfortune. This, sirs, is all I can say in answer to what you have asked me; and be sure that the owner of the articles you found is he whom you saw pass by with such nimbleness and so naked."

For Don Quixote had already described how he had seen the man go bounding along the mountain side, and he was now filled with amazement at what he heard from the goatherd, and more eager than ever to discover who the unhappy madman was; and in his heart he resolved, as he had done before, to search for him all over the mountain, not leaving a corner or cave unexamined until he had found him. But chance arranged matters better than he expected or hoped, for at that very moment, in a gorge on the mountain that opened where they stood, the youth he wished to find made his appearance, coming along talking to himself in a way that would have been unintelligible near at hand, much more at a distance. His garb was what has been described, save that as he drew near, Don Quixote perceived that a tattered doublet which he wore was amber-tanned, from which he concluded that one who wore such garments could not be of very low rank.

Approaching them, the youth greeted them in a harsh and hoarse voice but with great courtesy. Don Quixote returned his salutation with equal politeness, and dismounting from Rocinante advanced with well-bred bearing and grace to embrace him, and held him for some time close in his arms as if he had known him for a long time. The other, whom we may call the Ragged One of the Sorry Countenance, as Don Quixote was of the Rueful, after submitting to the embrace pushed him back a little and, placing his hands on Don Quixote's shoulders, stood gazing at him as if seeking to see whether he knew him, not less amazed, perhaps, at the sight of the face, figure, and armour of Don Quixote than Don Quixote was at the sight of him. To be brief, the first to speak after embracing was the Ragged One, and he said what will be told farther on.

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Don Quixote
Next (Chapter XXIV)


De lo que le aconteció al famoso don Quijote en Sierra Morena, que fue una de las más raras aventuras que en esta verdadera historia se cuentan

Viéndose tan malparado don Quijote, dijo a su escudero:

-Siempre, Sancho, lo he oído decir, que el hacer bien a villanos es echar agua en la mar. Si yo hubiera creído lo que me dijiste, yo hubiera escusado esta pesadumbre; pero ya está hecho: paciencia, y escarmentar para desde aquí adelante.

-Así escarmentará vuestra merced -respondió Sancho- como yo soy turco; pero, pues dice que si me hubiera creído se hubiera escusado este daño, créame ahora y escusará otro mayor; porque le hago saber que con la Santa Hermandad no hay usar de caballerías, que no se le da a ella por cuantos caballeros andantes hay dos maravedís; y sepa que ya me parece que sus saetas me zumban por los oídos.

-Naturalmente eres cobarde, Sancho -dijo don Quijote-, pero, porque no digas que soy contumaz y que jamás hago lo que me aconsejas, por esta vez quiero tomar tu consejo y apartarme de la furia que tanto temes; mas ha de ser con una condición: que jamás, en vida ni en muerte, has de decir a nadie que yo me retiré y aparté deste peligro de miedo, sino por complacer a tus ruegos; que si otra cosa dijeres, mentirás en ello, y desde ahora para entonces, y desde entonces para ahora, te desmiento, y digo que mientes y mentirás todas las veces que lo pensares o lo dijeres. Y no me repliques más, que en sólo pensar que me aparto y retiro de algún peligro, especialmente déste, que parece que lleva algún es no es de sombra de miedo, estoy ya para quedarme, y para aguardar aquí solo, no solamente a la Santa Hermandad que dices y temes, sino a los hermanos de los doce tribus de Israel, y a los siete Macabeos, y a Cástor y a Pólux, y aun a todos los hermanos y hermandades que hay en el mundo.

-Señor -respondió Sancho-, que el retirar no es huir, ni el esperar es cordura, cuando el peligro sobrepuja a la esperanza, y de sabios es guardarse hoy para mañana y no aventurarse todo en un día. Y sepa que, aunque zafio y villano, todavía se me alcanza algo desto que llaman buen gobierno; así que, no se arrepienta de haber tomado mi consejo, sino suba en Rocinante, si puede, o si no yo le ayudaré, y sígame, que el caletre me dice que hemos menester ahora más los pies que las manos.

Subió don Quijote, sin replicarle más palabra, y, guiando Sancho sobre su asno, se entraron por una parte de Sierra Morena, que allí junto estaba, llevando Sancho intención de atravesarla toda e ir a salir al Viso, o a Almodóvar del Campo, y esconderse algunos días por aquellas asperezas, por no ser hallados si la Hermandad los buscase. Animóle a esto haber visto que de la refriega de los galeotes se había escapado libre la despensa que sobre su asno venía, cosa que la juzgó a milagro, según fue lo que llevaron y buscaron los galeotes.

Así como don Quijote entró por aquellas montañas, se le alegró el corazón, pareciéndole aquellos lugares acomodados para las aventuras que buscaba. Reducíansele a la memoria los maravillosos acaecimientos que en semejantes soledades y asperezas habían sucedido a caballeros andantes. Iba pensando en estas cosas, tan embebecido y trasportado en ellas que de ninguna otra se acordaba. Ni Sancho llevaba otro cuidado -después que le pareció que caminaba por parte segura- sino de satisfacer su estómago con los relieves que del despojo clerical habían quedado; y así, iba tras su amo sentado a la mujeriega sobre su jumento, sacando de un costal y embaulando en su panza; y no se le diera por hallar otra ventura, entretanto que iba de aquella manera, un ardite.

En esto, alzó los ojos y vio que su amo estaba parado, procurando con la punta del lanzón alzar no sé qué bulto que estaba caído en el suelo, por lo cual se dio priesa a llegar a ayudarle si fuese menester; y cuando llegó fue a tiempo que alzaba con la punta del lanzón un cojín y una maleta asida a él, medio podridos, o podridos del todo, y deshechos; mas, pesaba tanto, que fue necesario que Sancho se apease a tomarlos, y mandóle su amo que viese lo que en la maleta venía.

Hízolo con mucha presteza Sancho, y, aunque la maleta venía cerrada con una cadena y su candado, por lo roto y podrido della vio lo que en ella había, que eran cuatro camisas de delgada holanda y otras cosas de lienzo, no menos curiosas que limpias, y en un pañizuelo halló un buen montoncillo de escudos de oro; y, así como los vio, dijo:

-¡Bendito sea todo el cielo, que nos ha deparado una aventura que sea de provecho!

Y buscando más, halló un librillo de memoria, ricamente guarnecido. Éste le pidió don Quijote, y mandóle que guardase el dinero y lo tomase para él. Besóle las manos Sancho por la merced, y, desvalijando a la valija de su lencería, la puso en el costal de la despensa. Todo lo cual visto por don Quijote, dijo:

-Paréceme, Sancho, y no es posible que sea otra cosa, que algún caminante descaminado debió de pasar por esta sierra, y, salteándole malandrines, le debieron de matar, y le trujeron a enterrar en esta tan escondida parte. -No puede ser eso -respondió Sancho-, porque si fueran ladrones, no se dejaran aquí este dinero.

-Verdad dices -dijo don Quijote-, y así, no adivino ni doy en lo que esto pueda ser; mas, espérate: veremos si en este librillo de memoria hay alguna cosa escrita por donde podamos rastrear y venir en conocimiento de lo que deseamos.

Abrióle, y lo primero que halló en él escrito, como en borrador, aunque de muy buena letra, fue un soneto, que, leyéndole alto porque Sancho también lo oyese, vio que decía desta manera:

O le falta al Amor conocimiento,
o le sobra crueldad, o no es mi pena
igual a la ocasión que me condena
al género más duro de tormento.
Pero si Amor es dios, es argumento

que nada ignora, y es razón muy buena
que un dios no sea cruel. Pues, ¿quién ordena
el terrible dolor que adoro y siento?
Si digo que sois vos, Fili, no acierto;
que tanto mal en tanto bien no cabe,
ni me viene del cielo esta rüina.
Presto habré de morir, que es lo más cierto;
que al mal de quien la causa no se sabe
milagro es acertar la medicina.

-Por esa trova -dijo Sancho- no se puede saber nada, si ya no es que por ese hilo que está ahí se saque el ovillo de todo.

-¿Qué hilo está aquí? -dijo don Quijote.

-Paréceme -dijo Sancho- que vuestra merced nombró ahí hilo.

-No dije sino Fili -respondió don Quijote-, y éste, sin duda, es el nombre de la dama de quien se queja el autor deste soneto; y a fe que debe de ser razonable poeta, o yo sé poco del arte.

-Luego, ¿también -dijo Sancho- se le entiende a vuestra merced de trovas?

-Y más de lo que tú piensas -respondió don Quijote-, y veráslo cuando lleves una carta, escrita en verso de arriba abajo, a mi señora Dulcinea del Toboso. Porque quiero que sepas, Sancho, que todos o los más caballeros andantes de la edad pasada eran grandes trovadores y grandes músicos; que estas dos habilidades, o gracias, por mejor decir, son anexas a los enamorados andantes. Verdad es que las coplas de los pasados caballeros tienen más de espíritu que de primor.

-Lea más vuestra merced -dijo Sancho-, que ya hallará algo que nos satisfaga.

Volvió la hoja don Quijote y dijo:

-Esto es prosa, y parece carta.

-¿Carta misiva, señor? -preguntó Sancho.

-En el principio no parece sino de amores -respondió don Quijote.

-Pues lea vuestra merced alto -dijo Sancho-, que gusto mucho destas cosas de amores.

-Que me place -dijo don Quijote.

Y, leyéndola alto, como Sancho se lo había rogado, vio que decía desta manera:

Tu falsa promesa y mi cierta desventura me llevan a parte donde antes volverán a tus oídos las nuevas de mi muerte que las razones de mis quejas. Desechásteme, ¡oh ingrata!, por quien tiene más, no por quien vale más que yo; mas si la virtud fuera riqueza que se estimara, no envidiara yo dichas ajenas ni llorara desdichas propias. Lo que levantó tu hermosura han derribado tus obras: por ella entendí que eras ángel, y por ellas conozco que eres mujer. Quédate en paz, causadora de mi guerra, y haga el cielo que los engaños de tu esposo estén siempre encubiertos, porque tú no quedes arrepentida de lo que heciste y yo no tome venganza de lo que no deseo.

Acabando de leer la carta, dijo don Quijote:

-Menos por ésta que por los versos se puede sacar más de que quien la escribió es algún desdeñado amante.

Y, hojeando casi todo el librillo, halló otros versos y cartas, que algunos pudo leer y otros no; pero lo que todos contenían eran quejas, lamentos, desconfianzas, sabores y sinsabores, favores y desdenes, solenizados los unos y llorados los otros.

En tanto que don Quijote pasaba el libro, pasaba Sancho la maleta, sin dejar rincón en toda ella, ni en el cojín, que no buscase, escudriñase e inquiriese, ni costura que no deshiciese, ni vedija de lana que no escarmenase, porque no se quedase nada por diligencia ni mal recado: tal golosina habían despertado en él los hallados escudos, que pasaban de ciento. Y, aunque no halló mas de lo hallado, dio por bien empleados los vuelos de la manta, el vomitar del brebaje, las bendiciones de las estacas, las puñadas del arriero, la falta de las alforjas, el robo del gabán y toda la hambre, sed y cansancio que había pasado en servicio de su buen señor, pareciéndole que estaba más que rebién pagado con la merced recebida de la entrega del hallazgo.

Con gran deseo quedó el Caballero de la Triste Figura de saber quién fuese el dueño de la maleta, conjeturando, por el soneto y carta, por el dinero en oro y por las tan buenas camisas, que debía de ser de algún principal enamorado, a quien desdenes y malos tratamientos de su dama debían de haber conducido a algún desesperado término. Pero, como por aquel lugar inhabitable y escabroso no parecía persona alguna de quien poder informarse, no se curó de más que de pasar adelante, sin llevar otro camino que aquel que Rocinante quería, que era por donde él podía caminar, siempre con imaginación que no podía faltar por aquellas malezas alguna estraña aventura.

Yendo, pues, con este pensamiento, vio que, por cima de una montañuela que delante de los ojos se le ofrecía, iba saltando un hombre, de risco en risco y de mata en mata, con estraña ligereza. Figurósele que iba desnudo, la barba negra y espesa, los cabellos muchos y rabultados, los pies descalzos y las piernas sin cosa alguna; los muslos cubrían unos calzones, al parecer de terciopelo leonado, mas tan hechos pedazos que por muchas partes se le descubrían las carnes. Traía la cabeza descubierta, y, aunque pasó con la ligereza que se ha dicho, todas estas menudencias miró y notó el Caballero de la Triste Figura; y, aunque lo procuró, no pudo seguille, porque no era dado a la debilidad de Rocinante andar por aquellas asperezas, y más siendo él de suyo pisacorto y flemático. Luego imaginó don Quijote que aquél era el dueño del cojín y de la maleta, y propuso en sí de buscalle, aunque supiese andar un año por aquellas montañas hasta hallarle; y así, mandó a Sancho que se apease del asno y atajase por la una parte de la montaña, que él iría por la otra y podría ser que topasen, con esta diligencia, con aquel hombre que con tanta priesa se les había quitado de delante.

-No podré hacer eso -respondió Sancho-, porque, en apartándome de vuestra merced, luego es conmigo el miedo, que me asalta con mil géneros de sobresaltos y visiones. Y sírvale esto que digo de aviso, para que de aquí adelante no me aparte un dedo de su presencia.

-Así será -dijo el de la Triste Figura-, y yo estoy muy contento de que te quieras valer de mi ánimo, el cual no te ha de faltar, aunque te falte el ánima del cuerpo. Y vente ahora tras mí poco a poco, o como pudieres, y haz de los ojos lanternas; rodearemos esta serrezuela: quizá toparemos con aquel hombre que vimos, el cual, sin duda alguna, no es otro que el dueño de nuestro hallazgo.

A lo que Sancho respondió: -Harto mejor sería no buscalle, porque si le hallamos y acaso fuese el dueño del dinero, claro está que lo tengo de restituir; y así, fuera mejor, sin hacer esta inútil diligencia, poseerlo yo con buena fe hasta que, por otra vía menos curiosa y diligente, pareciera su verdadero señor; y quizá fuera a tiempo que lo hubiera gastado, y entonces el rey me hacía franco.

-Engáñaste en eso, Sancho -respondió don Quijote-; que, ya que hemos caído en sospecha de quién es el dueño, cuasi delante, estamos obligados a buscarle y volvérselos; y, cuando no le buscásemos, la vehemente sospecha que tenemos de que él lo sea nos pone ya en tanta culpa como si lo fuese. Así que, Sancho amigo, no te dé pena el buscalle, por la que a mí se me quitará si le hallo.

Y así, picó a Rocinante, y siguióle Sancho con su acostumbrado jumento; y, habiendo rodeado parte de la montaña, hallaron en un arroyo, caída, muerta y medio comida de perros y picada de grajos, una mula ensillada y enfrenada; todo lo cual confirmó en ellos más la sospecha de que aquel que huía era el dueño de la mula y del cojín.

Estándola mirando, oyeron un silbo como de pastor que guardaba ganado, y a deshora, a su siniestra mano, parecieron una buena cantidad de cabras, y tras ellas, por cima de la montaña, pareció el cabrero que las guardaba, que era un hombre anciano. Diole voces don Quijote, y rogóle que bajase donde estaban. Él respondió a gritos que quién les había traído por aquel lugar, pocas o ningunas veces pisado sino de pies de cabras o de lobos y otras fieras que por allí andaban. Respondióle Sancho que bajase, que de todo le darían buena cuenta. Bajó el cabrero, y, en llegando adonde don Quijote estaba, dijo:

-Apostaré que está mirando la mula de alquiler que está muerta en esa hondonada. Pues a buena fe que ha ya seis meses que está en ese lugar. Díganme: ¿han topado por ahí a su dueño?

-No hemos topado a nadie -respondió don Quijote-, sino a un cojín y a una maletilla que no lejos deste lugar hallamos.

-También la hallé yo -respondió el cabrero-, mas nunca la quise alzar ni llegar a ella, temeroso de algún desmán y de que no me la pidiesen por de hurto; que es el diablo sotil, y debajo de los pies se levanta allombre cosa donde tropiece y caya, sin saber cómo ni cómo no.

-Eso mesmo es lo que yo digo -respondió Sancho-: que también la hallé yo, y no quise llegar a ella con un tiro de piedra; allí la dejé y allí se queda como se estaba, que no quiero perro con cencerro.

-Decidme, buen hombre -dijo don Quijote-, ¿sabéis vos quién sea el dueño destas prendas?

-Lo que sabré yo decir -dijo el cabrero- es que «habrá al pie de seis meses, poco más a menos, que llegó a una majada de pastores, que estará como tres leguas deste lugar, un mancebo de gentil talle y apostura, caballero sobre esa mesma mula que ahí está muerta, y con el mesmo cojín y maleta que decís que hallastes y no tocastes. Preguntónos que cuál parte desta sierra era la más áspera y escondida; dijímosle que era esta donde ahora estamos; y es ansí la verdad, porque si entráis media legua más adentro, quizá no acertaréis a salir; y estoy maravillado de cómo habéis podido llegar aquí, porque no hay camino ni senda que a este lugar encamine. Digo, pues, que, en oyendo nuestra respuesta el mancebo, volvió las riendas y encaminó hacia el lugar donde le señalamos, dejándonos a todos contentos de su buen talle, y admirados de su demanda y de la priesa con que le víamos caminar y volverse hacia la sierra; y desde entonces nunca más le vimos, hasta que desde allí a algunos días salió al camino a uno de nuestros pastores, y, sin decille nada, se llegó a él y le dio muchas puñadas y coces, y luego se fue a la borrica del hato y le quitó cuanto pan y queso en ella traía; y, con estraña ligereza, hecho esto, se volvió a emboscar en la sierra. Como esto supimos algunos cabreros, le anduvimos a buscar casi dos días por lo más cerrado desta sierra, al cabo de los cuales le hallamos metido en el hueco de un grueso y valiente alcornoque. Salió a nosotros con mucha mansedumbre, ya roto el vestido, y el rostro disfigurado y tostado del sol, de tal suerte que apenas le conocíamos, sino que los vestidos, aunque rotos, con la noticia que dellos teníamos, nos dieron a entender que era el que buscábamos. Saludónos cortésmente, y en pocas y muy buenas razones nos dijo que no nos maravillásemos de verle andar de aquella suerte, porque así le convenía para cumplir cierta penitencia que por sus muchos pecados le había sido impuesta. Rogámosle que nos dijese quién era, mas nunca lo pudimos acabar con él. Pedímosle también que, cuando hubiese menester el sustento, sin el cual no podía pasar, nos dijese dónde le hallaríamos, porque con mucho amor y cuidado se lo llevaríamos; y que si esto tampoco fuese de su gusto, que, a lo menos, saliese a pedirlo, y no a quitarlo a los pastores. Agradeció nuestro ofrecimiento, pidió perdón de los asaltos pasados, y ofreció de pedillo de allí adelante por amor de Dios, sin dar molestia alguna a nadie. En cuanto lo que tocaba a la estancia de su habitación, dijo que no tenía otra que aquella que le ofrecía la ocasión donde le tomaba la noche; y acabó su plática con un tan tierno llanto, que bien fuéramos de piedra los que escuchado le habíamos, si en él no le acompañáramos, considerándole cómo le habíamos visto la vez primera, y cuál le veíamos entonces. Porque, como tengo dicho, era un muy gentil y agraciado mancebo, y en sus corteses y concertadas razones mostraba ser bien nacido y muy cortesana persona; que, puesto que éramos rústicos los que le escuchábamos, su gentileza era tanta, que bastaba a darse a conocer a la mesma rusticidad. Y, estando en lo mejor de su plática, paró y enmudecióse; clavó los ojos en el suelo por un buen espacio, en el cual todos estuvimos quedos y suspensos, esperando en qué había de parar aquel embelesamiento, con no poca lástima de verlo; porque, por lo que hacía de abrir los ojos, estar fijo mirando al suelo sin mover pestaña gran rato, y otras veces cerrarlos, apretando los labios y enarcando las cejas, fácilmente conocimos que algún accidente de locura le había sobrevenido. Mas él nos dio a entender presto ser verdad lo que pensábamos, porque se levantó con gran furia del suelo, donde se había echado, y arremetió con el primero que halló junto a sí, con tal denuedo y rabia que, si no se le quitáramos, le matara a puñadas y a bocados; y todo esto hacía, diciendo: ''¡Ah, fementido Fernando! ¡Aquí, aquí me pagarás la sinrazón que me heciste: estas manos te sacarán el corazón, donde albergan y tienen manida todas las maldades juntas, principalmente la fraude y el engaño!'' Y a éstas añadía otras razones, que todas se encaminaban a decir mal de aquel Fernando y a tacharle de traidor y fementido. Quitámossele, pues, con no poca pesadumbre, y él, sin decir más palabra, se apartó de nosotros y se emboscó corriendo por entre estos jarales y malezas, de modo que nos imposibilitó el seguille. Por esto conjeturamos que la locura le venía a tiempos, y que alguno que se llamaba Fernando le debía de haber hecho alguna mala obra, tan pesada cuanto lo mostraba el término a que le había conducido. Todo lo cual se ha confirmado después acá con las veces, que han sido muchas, que él ha salido al camino, unas a pedir a los pastores le den de lo que llevan para comer y otras a quitárselo por fuerza; porque cuando está con el accidente de la locura, aunque los pastores se lo ofrezcan de buen grado, no lo admite, sino que lo toma a puñadas; y cuando está en su seso, lo pide por amor de Dios, cortés y comedidamente, y rinde por ello muchas gracias, y no con falta de lágrimas. Y en verdad os digo, señores -prosiguió el cabrero-, que ayer determinamos yo y cuatro zagales, los dos criados y los dos amigos míos, de buscarle hasta tanto que le hallemos, y, después de hallado, ya por fuerza ya por grado, le hemos de llevar a la villa de Almodóvar, que está de aquí ocho leguas, y allí le curaremos, si es que su mal tiene cura, o sabremos quién es cuando esté en sus seso, y si tiene parientes a quien dar noticia de su desgracia». Esto es, señores, lo que sabré deciros de lo que me habéis preguntado; y entended que el dueño de las prendas que hallastes es el mesmo que vistes pasar con tanta ligereza como desnudez -que ya le había dicho don Quijote cómo había visto pasar aquel hombre saltando por la sierra.

El cual quedó admirado de lo que al cabrero había oído, y quedó con más deseo de saber quién era el desdichado loco; y propuso en sí lo mesmo que ya tenía pensado: de buscalle por toda la montaña, sin dejar rincón ni cueva en ella que no mirase, hasta hallarle. Pero hízolo mejor la suerte de lo que él pensaba ni esperaba, porque en aquel mesmo instante pareció, por entre una quebrada de una sierra que salía donde ellos estaban, el mancebo que buscaba, el cual venía hablando entre sí cosas que no podían ser entendidas de cerca, cuanto más de lejos. Su traje era cual se ha pintado, sólo que, llegando cerca, vio don Quijote que un coleto hecho pedazos que sobre sí traía era de ámbar; por donde acabó de entender que persona que tales hábitos traía no debía de ser de ínfima calidad.

En llegando el mancebo a ellos, les saludó con una voz desentonada y bronca, pero con mucha cortesía. Don Quijote le volvió las saludes con no menos comedimiento, y, apeándose de Rocinante, con gentil continente y donaire, le fue a abrazar y le tuvo un buen espacio estrechamente entre sus brazos, como si de luengos tiempos le hubiera conocido. El otro, a quien podemos llamar el Roto de la Mala Figura -como a don Quijote el de la Triste-, después de haberse dejado abrazar, le apartó un poco de sí, y, puestas sus manos en los hombros de don Quijote, le estuvo mirando, como que quería ver si le conocía; no menos admirado quizá de ver la figura, talle y armas de don Quijote, que don Quijote lo estaba de verle a él. En resolución, el primero que habló después del abrazamiento fue el Roto, y dijo lo que se dirá adelante.

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