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CHAPTER XXXV. (CONT'D)
As soon as Sancho had done speaking the nymph in silver that was at the side of Merlin's ghost stood up, and removing the thin veil from her face disclosed one that seemed to all something more than exceedingly beautiful; and with a masculine freedom from embarrassment and in a voice not very like a lady's, addressing Sancho directly, said, "Thou wretched squire, soul of a pitcher, heart of a cork tree, with bowels of flint and pebbles; if, thou impudent thief, they bade thee throw thyself down from some lofty tower; if, enemy of mankind, they asked thee to swallow a dozen of toads, two of lizards, and three of adders; if they wanted thee to slay thy wife and children with a sharp murderous scimitar, it would be no wonder for thee to show thyself stubborn and squeamish.
But to make a piece of work about three thousand three hundred lashes, what every poor little charity-boy gets every month--it is enough to amaze, astonish, astound the compassionate bowels of all who hear it, nay, all who come to hear it in the course of time. Turn, O miserable, hard-hearted animal, turn, I say, those timorous owl's eyes upon these of mine that are compared to radiant stars, and thou wilt see them weeping trickling streams and rills, and tracing furrows, tracks, and paths over the fair fields of my cheeks. Let it move thee, crafty, ill-conditioned monster, to see my blooming youth--still in its teens, for I am not yet twenty--wasting and withering away beneath the husk of a rude peasant wench; and if I do not appear in that shape now, it is a special favour Senor Merlin here has granted me, to the sole end that my beauty may soften thee; for the tears of beauty in distress turn rocks into cotton and tigers into ewes.
Lay on to that hide of thine, thou great untamed brute, rouse up thy lusty vigour that only urges thee to eat and eat, and set free the softness of my flesh, the gentleness of my nature, and the fairness of my face. And if thou wilt not relent or come to reason for me, do so for the sake of that poor knight thou hast beside thee; thy master I mean, whose soul I can this moment see, how he has it stuck in his throat not ten fingers from his lips, and only waiting for thy inflexible or yielding reply to make its escape by his mouth or go back again into his stomach."
Don Quixote on hearing this felt his throat, and turning to the duke he said, "By God, senor, Dulcinea says true, I have my soul stuck here in my throat like the nut of a crossbow."
"What say you to this, Sancho?" said the duchess.
"I say, senora," returned Sancho, "what I said before; as for the lashes, abernuncio!"
"Abrenuncio, you should say, Sancho, and not as you do," said the duke.
"Let me alone, your highness," said Sancho. "I'm not in a humour now to look into niceties or a letter more or less, for these lashes that are to be given me, or I'm to give myself, have so upset me, that I don't know what I'm saying or doing. But I'd like to know of this lady, my lady Dulcinea del Toboso, where she learned this way she has of asking favours. She comes to ask me to score my flesh with lashes, and she calls me soul of a pitcher, and great untamed brute, and a string of foul names that the devil is welcome to. Is my flesh brass? or is it anything to me whether she is enchanted or not? Does she bring with her a basket of fair linen, shirts, kerchiefs, socks-not that wear any--to coax me? No, nothing but one piece of abuse after another, though she knows the proverb they have here that 'an ass loaded with gold goes lightly up a mountain,' and that 'gifts break rocks,' and 'praying to God and plying the hammer,' and that 'one "take" is better than two "I'll give t
"' Then there's my master, who ought to stroke me down and pet me to make me turn wool and carded cotton; he says if he gets hold of me he'll tie me naked to a tree and double the tale of lashes on me. These tender-hearted gentry should consider that it's not merely a squire, but a governor they are asking to whip himself; just as if it was 'drink with cherries.' Let them learn, plague take them, the right way to ask, and beg, and behave themselves; for all times are not alike, nor are people always in good humour. I'm now ready to burst with grief at seeing my green coat torn, and they come to ask me to whip myself of my own free will, I having as little fancy for it as for turning cacique."
"Well then, the fact is, friend Sancho," said the duke, "that unless you become softer than a ripe fig, you shall not get hold of the government. It would be a nice thing for me to send my islanders a cruel governor with flinty bowels, who won't yield to the tears of afflicted damsels or to the prayers of wise, magisterial, ancient enchanters and sages. In short, Sancho, either you must be whipped by yourself, or they must whip you, or you shan't be governor."
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