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CHAPTER I. (CONT'D)
"To all these words of the licentiate another madman in a cage opposite that of the furious one was listening; and raising himself up from an old mat on which he lay stark naked, he asked in a loud voice who it was that was going away cured and in his senses. The licentiate answered, 'It is I, brother, who am going; I have now no need to remain here any longer, for which I return infinite thanks to Heaven that has had so great mercy upon me.'
"'Mind what you are saying, licentiate; don't let the devil deceive you,' replied the madman. 'Keep quiet, stay where you are, and you will save yourself the trouble of coming back.'
"'I know I am cured,' returned the licentiate, 'and that I shall not have to go stations again.'
"'You cured!' said the madman; 'well, we shall see; God be with you; but I swear to you by Jupiter, whose majesty I represent on earth, that for this crime alone, which Seville is committing to-day in releasing you from this house, and treating you as if you were in your senses, I shall have to inflict such a punishment on it as will be remembered for ages and ages, amen. Dost thou not know, thou miserable little licentiate, that I can do it, being, as I say, Jupiter the Thunderer, who hold in my hands the fiery bolts with which I am able and am wont to threaten and lay waste the world? But in one way only will I punish this ignorant town, and that is by not raining upon it, nor on any part of its district or territory, for three whole years, to be reckoned from the day and moment when this threat is pronounced. Thou free, thou cured, thou in thy senses! and I mad, I disordered, I bound! I will as soon think of sending rain as of hanging myself.
"Those present stood listening to the words and exclamations of the madman; but our licentiate, turning to the chaplain and seizing him by the hands, said to him, 'Be not uneasy, senor; attach no importance to what this madman has said; for if he is Jupiter and will not send rain, I, who am Neptune, the father and god of the waters, will rain as often as it pleases me and may be needful.'
"The governor and the bystanders laughed, and at their laughter the chaplain was half ashamed, and he replied, 'For all that, Senor Neptune, it will not do to vex Senor Jupiter; remain where you are, and some other day, when there is a better opportunity and more time, we will come back for you.' So they stripped the licentiate, and he was left where he was; and that's the end of the story."
"So that's the story, master barber," said Don Quixote, "which came in so pat to the purpose that you could not help telling it? Master shaver, master shaver! how blind is he who cannot see through a sieve. Is it possible that you do not know that comparisons of wit with wit, valour with valour, beauty with beauty, birth with birth, are always odious and unwelcome? I, master barber, am not Neptune, the god of the waters, nor do I try to make anyone take me for an astute man, for I am not one. My only endeavour is to convince the world of the mistake it makes in not reviving in itself the happy time when the order of knight-errantry was in the field. But our depraved age does not deserve to enjoy such a blessing as those ages enjoyed when knights-errant took upon their shoulders the defence of kingdoms, the protection of damsels, the succour of orphans and minors, the chastisement of the proud, and the recompense of the humble.
With the knights of these days, for the most part, it is the damask, brocade, and rich stuffs they wear, that rustle as they go, not the chain mail of their armour; no knight now-a-days sleeps in the open field exposed to the inclemency of heaven, and in full panoply from head to foot; no one now takes a nap, as they call it, without drawing his feet out of the stirrups, and leaning upon his lance, as the knights-errant used to do; no one now, issuing from the wood, penetrates yonder mountains, and then treads the barren, lonely shore of the sea--mostly a tempestuous and stormy one--and finding on the beach a little bark without oars, sail, mast, or tackling of any kind, in the intrepidity of his heart flings himself into it and commits himself to the wrathful billows of the deep sea, that one moment lift him up to heaven and the next plunge him into the depths; and opposing his breast to the irresistible gale, finds himself, when he least expects it, three thousand leagues a
away from the place where he embarked; and leaping ashore in a remote and unknown land has adventures that deserve to be written, not on parchment, but on brass. But now sloth triumphs over energy, indolence over exertion, vice over virtue, arrogance over courage, and theory over practice in arms, which flourished and shone only in the golden ages and in knights-errant.
For tell me, who was more virtuous and more valiant than the famous Amadis of Gaul? Who more discreet than Palmerin of England? Who more gracious and easy than Tirante el Blanco? Who more courtly than Lisuarte of Greece? Who more slashed or slashing than Don Belianis? Who more intrepid than Perion of Gaul? Who more ready to face danger than Felixmarte of Hircania? Who more sincere than Esplandian? Who more impetuous than Don Cirongilio of Thrace? Who more bold than Rodamonte? Who more prudent than King Sobrino? Who more daring than Reinaldos? Who more invincible than Roland? and who more gallant and courteous than Ruggiero, from whom the dukes of Ferrara of the present day are descended, according to Turpin in his 'Cosmography.' All these knights, and many more that I could name, senor curate, were knights-errant, the light and glory of chivalry.
These, or such as these, I would have to carry out my plan, and in that case his Majesty would find himself well served and would save great expense, and the Turk would be left tearing his beard. And so I will stay where I am, as the chaplain does not take me away; and if Jupiter, as the barber has told us, will not send rain, here am I, and I will rain when I please. I say this that Master Basin may know that I understand him."
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