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WHEREIN IS CONTINUED THE INSTRUCTION GIVEN TO DON QUIXOTE TOUCHING THE DISENCHANTMENT OF DULCINEA, TOGETHER WITH OTHER MARVELLOUS INCIDENTS
They saw advancing towards them, to the sound of this pleasing music, what they call a triumphal car, drawn by six grey mules with white linen housings, on each of which was mounted a penitent, robed also in white, with a large lighted wax taper in his hand. The car was twice or, perhaps, three times as large as the former ones, and in front and on the sides stood twelve more penitents, all as white as snow and all with lighted tapers, a spectacle to excite fear as well as wonder; and on a raised throne was seated a nymph draped in a multitude of silver-tissue veils with an embroidery of countless gold spangles glittering all over them, that made her appear, if not richly, at least brilliantly, apparelled.
She had her face covered with thin transparent sendal, the texture of which did not prevent the fair features of a maiden from being distinguished, while the numerous lights made it possible to judge of her beauty and of her years, which seemed to be not less than seventeen but not to have yet reached twenty. Beside her was a figure in a robe of state, as they call it, reaching to the feet, while the head was covered with a black veil. But the instant the car was opposite the duke and duchess and Don Quixote the music of the clarions ceased, and then that of the lutes and harps on the car, and the figure in the robe rose up, and flinging it apart and removing the veil from its face, disclosed to their eyes the shape of Death itself, fleshless and hideous, at which sight Don Quixote felt uneasy, Sancho frightened, and the duke and duchess displayed a certain trepidation.
Having risen to its feet, this living death, in a sleepy voice and with a tongue hardly awake, held forth as follows:
I am that Merlin who the legends say The devil had for father, and the lie Hath gathered credence with the lapse of time. Of magic prince, of Zoroastric lore Monarch and treasurer, with jealous eye I view the efforts of the age to hide The gallant deeds of doughty errant knights, Who are, and ever have been, dear to me.
Enchanters and magicians and their kind
Are mostly hard of heart; not so am I; For mine is tender, soft, compassionate, And its delight is doing good to all. In the dim caverns of the gloomy Dis, Where, tracing mystic lines and characters, My soul abideth now, there came to me The sorrow-laden plaint of her, the fair, The peerless Dulcinea del Toboso. I knew of her enchantment and her fate, From high-born dame to peasant wench transformed And touched with pity, first I turned the leaves Of countless volumes of my devilish craft, And then, in this grim grisly skeleton Myself encasing, hither have I come To show where lies the fitting remedy To give relief in such a piteous case.
O thou, the pride and pink of all that wear
The adamantine steel! O shining light, O beacon, polestar, path and guide of all Who, scorning slumber and the lazy down, Adopt the toilsome life of bloodstained arms! To thee, great hero who all praise transcends, La Mancha's lustre and Iberia's star, Don Quixote, wise as brave, to thee I say-- For peerless Dulcinea del Toboso Her pristine form and beauty to regain, 'T is needful that thy esquire Sancho shall, On his own sturdy buttocks bared to heaven, Three thousand and three hundred lashes lay, And that they smart and sting and hurt him well. Thus have the authors of her woe resolved. And this is, gentles, wherefore I have come.
"By all that's good," exclaimed Sancho at this, "I'll just as soon give myself three stabs with a dagger as three, not to say three thousand, lashes. The devil take such a way of disenchanting! I don't see what my backside has got to do with enchantments. By God, if Senor Merlin has not found out some other way of disenchanting the lady Dulcinea del Toboso, she may go to her grave enchanted."
"But I'll take you, Don Clown stuffed with garlic," said Don Quixote, "and tie you to a tree as naked as when your mother brought you forth, and give you, not to say three thousand three hundred, but six thousand six hundred lashes, and so well laid on that they won't be got rid of if you try three thousand three hundred times; don't answer me a word or I'll tear your soul out."
On hearing this Merlin said, "That will not do, for the lashes worthy Sancho has to receive must be given of his own free will and not by force, and at whatever time he pleases, for there is no fixed limit assigned to him; but it is permitted him, if he likes to commute by half the pain of this whipping, to let them be given by the hand of another, though it may be somewhat weighty."
"Not a hand, my own or anybody else's, weighty or weighable, shall touch me," said Sancho. "Was it I that gave birth to the lady Dulcinea del Toboso, that my backside is to pay for the sins of her eyes? My master, indeed, that's a part of her--for, he's always calling her 'my life' and 'my soul,' and his stay and prop--may and ought to whip himself for her and take all the trouble required for her disenchantment. But for me to whip myself! Abernuncio!"
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