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CHAPTER VII. (CONT'D)
"And so say I," said Don Quixote; "continue, Sancho my friend; go on; you talk pearls to-day."
"The fact is," continued Sancho, "that, as your worship knows better than I do, we are all of us liable to death, and to-day we are, and to-morrow we are not, and the lamb goes as soon as the sheep, and nobody can promise himself more hours of life in this world than God may be pleased to give him; for death is deaf, and when it comes to knock at our life's door, it is always urgent, and neither prayers, nor struggles, nor sceptres, nor mitres, can keep it back, as common talk and report say, and as they tell us from the pulpits every day."
"All that is very true," said Don Quixote; "but I cannot make out what thou art driving at."
"What I am driving at," said Sancho, "is that your worship settle some fixed wages for me, to be paid monthly while I am in your service, and that the same he paid me out of your estate; for I don't care to stand on rewards which either come late, or ill, or never at all; God help me with my own. In short, I would like to know what I am to get, be it much or little; for the hen will lay on one egg, and many littles make a much, and so long as one gains something there is nothing lost. To be sure, if it should happen (what I neither believe nor expect) that your worship were to give me that island you have promised me, I am not so ungrateful nor so grasping but that I would be willing to have the revenue of such island valued and stopped out of my wages in due promotion."
"Sancho, my friend," replied Don Quixote, "sometimes proportion may be as good as promotion."
"I see," said Sancho; "I'll bet I ought to have said proportion, and not promotion; but it is no matter, as your worship has understood me."
"And so well understood," returned Don Quixote, "that I have seen into the depths of thy thoughts, and know the mark thou art shooting at with the countless shafts of thy proverbs. Look here, Sancho, I would readily fix thy wages if I had ever found any instance in the histories of the knights-errant to show or indicate, by the slightest hint, what their squires used to get monthly or yearly; but I have read all or the best part of their histories, and I cannot remember reading of any knight-errant having assigned fixed wages to his squire; I only know that they all served on reward, and that when they least expected it, if good luck attended their masters, they found themselves recompensed with an island or something equivalent to it, or at the least they were left with a title and lordship.
If with these hopes and additional inducements you, Sancho, please to return to my service, well and good; but to suppose that I am going to disturb or unhinge the ancient usage of knight-errantry, is all nonsense. And so, my Sancho, get you back to your house and explain my intentions to your Teresa, and if she likes and you like to be on reward with me, bene quidem; if not, we remain friends; for if the pigeon-house does not lack food, it will not lack pigeons; and bear in mind, my son, that a good hope is better than a bad holding, and a good grievance better than a bad compensation. I speak in this way, Sancho, to show you that I can shower down proverbs just as well as yourself; and in short, I mean to say, and I do say, that if you don't like to come on reward with me, and run the same chance that I run, God be with you and make a saint of you; for I shall find plenty of squires more obedient and painstaking, and not so thickheaded or talkative as you are."
When Sancho heard his master's firm, resolute language, a cloud came over the sky with him and the wings of his heart drooped, for he had made sure that his master would not go without him for all the wealth of the world; and as he stood there dumbfoundered and moody, Samson Carrasco came in with the housekeeper and niece, who were anxious to hear by what arguments he was about to dissuade their master from going to seek adventures.
The arch wag Samson came forward, and embracing him as he had done before, said with a loud voice, "O flower of knight-errantry! O shining light of arms! O honour and mirror of the Spanish nation! may God Almighty in his infinite power grant that any person or persons, who would impede or hinder thy third sally, may find no way out of the labyrinth of their schemes, nor ever accomplish what they most desire!
" And then, turning to the housekeeper, he said, "Mistress housekeeper may just as well give over saying the prayer of Santa Apollonia, for I know it is the positive determination of the spheres that Senor Don Quixote shall proceed to put into execution his new and lofty designs; and I should lay a heavy burden on my conscience did I not urge and persuade this knight not to keep the might of his strong arm and the virtue of his valiant spirit any longer curbed and checked, for by his inactivity he is defrauding the world of the redress of wrongs, of the protection of orphans, of the honour of virgins, of the aid of widows, and of the support of wives, and other matters of this kind appertaining, belonging, proper and peculiar to the order of knight-errantry.
On, then, my lord Don Quixote, beautiful and brave, let your worship and highness set out to-day rather than to-morrow; and if anything be needed for the execution of your purpose, here am I ready in person and purse to supply the want; and were it requisite to attend your magnificence as squire, I should esteem it the happiest good fortune."
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