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CHAPTER I. (CONT'D)
"Indeed, Senor Don Quixote," said the barber, "I did not mean it in that way, and, so help me God, my intention was good, and your worship ought not to be vexed."
"As to whether I ought to be vexed or not," returned Don Quixote, "I myself am the best judge."
Hereupon the curate observed, "I have hardly said a word as yet; and I would gladly be relieved of a doubt, arising from what Don Quixote has said, that worries and works my conscience."
"The senor curate has leave for more than that," returned Don Quixote, "so he may declare his doubt, for it is not pleasant to have a doubt on one's conscience."
"Well then, with that permission," said the curate, "I say my doubt is that, all I can do, I cannot persuade myself that the whole pack of knights-errant you, Senor Don Quixote, have mentioned, were really and truly persons of flesh and blood, that ever lived in the world; on the contrary, I suspect it to be all fiction, fable, and falsehood, and dreams told by men awakened from sleep, or rather still half asleep."
"That is another mistake," replied Don Quixote, "into which many have fallen who do not believe that there ever were such knights in the world, and I have often, with divers people and on divers occasions, tried to expose this almost universal error to the light of truth.
Sometimes I have not been successful in my purpose, sometimes I have, supporting it upon the shoulders of the truth; which truth is so clear that I can almost say I have with my own eyes seen Amadis of Gaul, who was a man of lofty stature, fair complexion, with a handsome though black beard, of a countenance between gentle and stern in expression, sparing of words, slow to anger, and quick to put it away from him; and as I have depicted Amadis, so I could, I think, portray and describe all the knights-errant that are in all the histories in the world; for by the perception I have that they were what their histories describe, and by the deeds they did and the dispositions they displayed, it is possible, with the aid of sound philosophy, to deduce their features, complexion, and stature."
"How big, in your worship's opinion, may the giant Morgante have been, Senor Don Quixote?" asked the barber.
"With regard to giants," replied Don Quixote, "opinions differ as to whether there ever were any or not in the world; but the Holy Scripture, which cannot err by a jot from the truth, shows us that there were, when it gives us the history of that big Philistine, Goliath, who was seven cubits and a half in height, which is a huge size. Likewise, in the island of Sicily, there have been found leg-bones and arm-bones so large that their size makes it plain that their owners were giants, and as tall as great towers; geometry puts this fact beyond a doubt. But, for all that, I cannot speak with certainty as to the size of Morgante, though I suspect he cannot have been very tall; and I am inclined to be of this opinion because I find in the history in which his deeds are particularly mentioned, that he frequently slept under a roof and as he found houses to contain him, it is clear that his bulk could not have been anything excessive."
"That is true," said the curate, and yielding to the enjoyment of hearing such nonsense, he asked him what was his notion of the features of Reinaldos of Montalban, and Don Roland and the rest of the Twelve Peers of France, for they were all knights-errant.
"As for Reinaldos," replied Don Quixote, "I venture to say that he was broad-faced, of ruddy complexion, with roguish and somewhat prominent eyes, excessively punctilious and touchy, and given to the society of thieves and scapegraces. With regard to Roland, or Rotolando, or Orlando (for the histories call him by all these names), I am of opinion, and hold, that he was of middle height, broad-shouldered, rather bow-legged, swarthy-complexioned, red-bearded, with a hairy body and a severe expression of countenance, a man of few words, but very polite and well-bred."
"If Roland was not a more graceful person than your worship has described," said the curate, "it is no wonder that the fair Lady Angelica rejected him and left him for the gaiety, liveliness, and grace of that budding-bearded little Moor to whom she surrendered herself; and she showed her sense in falling in love with the gentle softness of Medoro rather than the roughness of Roland."
"That Angelica, senor curate," returned Don Quixote, "was a giddy damsel, flighty and somewhat wanton, and she left the world as full of her vagaries as of the fame of her beauty. She treated with scorn a thousand gentlemen, men of valour and wisdom, and took up with a smooth-faced sprig of a page, without fortune or fame, except such reputation for gratitude as the affection he bore his friend got for him. The great poet who sang her beauty, the famous Ariosto, not caring to sing her adventures after her contemptible surrender (which probably were not over and above creditable), dropped her where he says:
How she received the sceptre of Cathay, Some bard of defter quill may sing some day;
and this was no doubt a kind of prophecy, for poets are also called vates, that is to say diviners; and its truth was made plain; for since then a famous Andalusian poet has lamented and sung her tears, and another famous and rare poet, a Castilian, has sung her beauty."
"Tell me, Senor Don Quixote," said the barber here, "among all those who praised her, has there been no poet to write a satire on this Lady Angelica?"
"I can well believe," replied Don Quixote, "that if Sacripante or Roland had been poets they would have given the damsel a trimming; for it is naturally the way with poets who have been scorned and rejected by their ladies, whether fictitious or not, in short by those whom they select as the ladies of their thoughts, to avenge themselves in satires and libels--a vengeance, to be sure, unworthy of generous hearts; but up to the present I have not heard of any defamatory verse against the Lady Angelica, who turned the world upside down."
"Strange," said the curate; but at this moment they heard the housekeeper and the niece, who had previously withdrawn from the conversation, exclaiming aloud in the courtyard, and at the noise they all ran out.
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