"Such were the words of her letter, and they caused me at once to set out on my journey without waiting for the despatch of Don Fernando's business, for now I knew that it was not a matter of buying horses, but the pursuit of his own wretched pleasure, that had led to my being sent to his brother. The rage which I felt for Don Fernando, joined to the fear I had of losing the jewel I had won by so many years of patient love, seemed to lend me wings, and I arrived at my native city as swiftly as though I had flown, just in time to see and speak with Lucinda. I entered the city secretly, and left my mule at the house of the honest man who had brought my letter, and went straight to the little iron gate where I had so often met Lucinda.
"There I found her, and as soon as she saw me she said in deep distress: 'Cardenio, I am attired in wedding garments, and in the hall there waits for me the traitor, Don Fernando, and my covetous father, with other witnesses, who shall see my death rather than my wedding.
Be not troubled, dear friend, for if I cannot persuade them to give me my freedom, I can at least end my life with this dagger.'
"I answered her in great distress, saying: 'Sweet lady, if thou carriest a dagger, I also carry a sword to defend thy life, or to kill myself, should fortune be against us.'
"I believe she did not hear all I said, for she was hastily called away, and I aroused myself from my grief, as best I could, and went into the house, for I knew well all the entrances and exits. Then, without being seen, I managed to place myself in a hollow formed by the window of the great hall, which was covered by two pieces of tapestry drawn together, whence I could see all that went on in the hall without any one seeing me.
"The bridegroom entered the hall, wearing his ordinary dress. His groomsman was a first cousin of Lucinda's, and no one else was in the room but the servants of the house. In a little while Lucinda came out of her dressing-room with her mother and two of her maids. My anxiety gave me no time to note what she wore. I was only able to mark the colours, which were crimson and white; and I remember the glimmer with which the jewels and precious stones shone in her head-dress. But all this was as nothing to the singular beauty of her fair golden hair.
"When they were all stood in the hall, the priest of the parish entered, and, taking each by the hand, asked: 'Will you, Lady Lucinda, take the Lord Don Fernando for your lawful husband?' I thrust my head and neck out of the tapestry to hear what Lucinda answered. The priest stood waiting for a long time before she gave it, and then, when I expected, nay, almost hoped, that she would take out the dagger to stab herself, or unloose her tongue to speak the truth, or make some confession of her love for me, I heard her say in a faint and languishing voice, 'I will.'
"Then Don Fernando said the same, and, giving her the ring, the knot was tied. But when the bridegroom approached to embrace her, she put her hand to her heart and fell fainting in her mother's arms.
"It remains only for me to tell in what a state I was, when in that 'Yes!' I saw all my hopes at an end. I burned with rage and jealousy.
All the house was in a tumult when Lucinda fainted, and, her mother unclasping her dress to give her air, found in her bosom a paper, which Fernando seized and went aside to read by the light of a torch.
Whilst he read it he fell into a chair and covered his face with his hands in melancholy discontent.
"Seeing every one was in confusion I ventured forth, not caring where I went, not having even a desire to take vengeance on my enemies. I left the house, and came to where I had left my mule, which I caused to be saddled. Then without a word of farewell to any one I rode out of the city, and never turned my head to look back at it again.
"All night I travelled, and about dawn I came to one of the entrances to these mountains, through which I wandered three days at random. I then left my mule, and such things as I had, and took to living in these wilds. My most ordinary dwelling is in the hollow of a cork-tree, which is large enough to shelter this wretched body. The goatherds who live among these mountains give me food out of charity.
They tell me, when they meet me in my wits, that at other times I rush out at them and seize with violence the food they would offer me in kindness.
"I know that I do a thousand mad things, but without Lucinda I shall never recover my reason, and I feel certain that my misery can only be ended by death."
THE STORY OF DOROTHEA
Retold by Judge Parry
As soon as Cardenio had finished his melancholy story, the curate was about to offer him some consolation, when he was stopped by hearing a mournful voice calling out: "Oh that I could find an end to this life of misery! Alas, how much more agreeable to me is the company of these rocks and thickets than the society of faithless man! Would that I had any one to advise me in difficulty, to comfort me in distress, or to avenge my wrongs!" This was overheard by the curate and all who were with him, and thinking that the person who spoke must be hard by, they went to search, and had not gone twenty paces when they saw behind a large rock a boy sitting under an ash-tree. He wore a peasant's dress, but as he was bending down to wash his feet in the brook, his head was turned from them. They approached softly and without speaking, while his whole attention was employed in bathing his legs in the stream.
They wondered at the whiteness and beauty of his feet, that did not seem formed to tread the furrows, or follow the cattle or the plough, as his dress seemed to suggest. The curate, who was ahead of the rest, made signs to them to crouch down, or hide themselves behind a rock.
This done, they all gazed at the beautiful youth, who was clad in a grey jacket, and wore breeches and hose of the same cloth, with a grey hunting-cap on his head. Having washed his delicate feet, he wiped them with a handkerchief which he took out of his cap, and in doing so he raised his head, showing to those who were looking at him a face of such exquisite beauty that Cardenio murmured: "Since this is not Lucinda, it can be no earthly but some celestial being."
The youth took off his cap, and, shaking his head, a wealth of hair, that Apollo might have envied, fell down upon his shoulders, and discovered to them all that the peasant was not only a woman, but one of the most delicate and handsome women they had ever seen. Even Cardenio had to admit to himself that only Lucinda could rival her in beauty. Her golden locks fell down in such length and quantity that they not only covered her shoulders, but concealed everything except her feet, and the bystanders more than ever desired to know who this mysterious beauty might be. Some one advanced, and at the noise the beauteous phantasy raised her head, and thrust aside her locks with both hands, to see what it was that had startled her. No sooner did she perceive them than she started up, and, without staying to put on her shoes or tie up her hair, seized her bundle, and took to flight full of alarm, but she had not run six yards when her delicate feet, unable to bear the roughness of the stones, failed her, and she fell to the ground.
They all ran to her assistance, and the curate, who was first, said: "Stay, madam, whosoever you are; those you see here have no desire to harm you, and there is therefore no necessity whatever for flight."
To this she made no reply, being ashamed and confused, but the curate, taking her hand, continued in a kindly manner: "Madam, it can be no slight cause that has hidden your beauty in such an unworthy disguise, and brought you to this lonely place where we have found you. Let us at least offer you our advice and counsel in your distress, for no sorrow can be so great that kind words may not be of service. Therefore, madam, tell us something of your good or evil fortune, that we may help you in your troubles as best we can."
At first, while the curate spoke, the disguised damsel stood rapt in attention, and gaped and gazed at them all as if she were some stupid villager, who did not understand what was said; but finding that the curate understood something of her secret, she sighed deeply, and said: "Since these mountains cannot conceal me, and my poor hair betrays my secret, it would be vain for me to pretend things which you could not be expected to believe. Therefore I thank you all, gentlemen, for your kindness and courtesy, and I will tell you something of my misfortunes, not to win your pity, but that you may know why it is I wander here alone and in this strange disguise."
All this was said in such a sweet voice, and in so sensible a manner, that they again assured her of their wish to serve her, and begged that she would tell them her story.
To this she replied by putting on her shoes and binding up her hair, and seating herself upon a rock in the midst of her three hearers.
Then, brushing away a few tears from her eyes, she began in a clear voice the story of her life.
"In the Province of Andalusia there is a certain town from which a great duke takes his name, which makes him one of our grandees, as they are called in Spain. He has two sons. The elder is heir to his estates, the younger is heir to I know not what, unless it be his father's evil qualities. To this nobleman my parents are vassals, of humble and low degree, but still so rich that if nature had gifted them with birth equal to their wealth, I should have been nobly born, nor should I now have suffered these strange misfortunes. They are but farmers and plain people, and what they mostly prized was their daughter, whom they thought to be the best treasure they had. As they had no other child, they were almost too affectionate and indulgent, and I was their spoilt child. And as I was the mistress of their affection, so also was I mistress of all their goods. I kept the reckoning of their oil-mills, their wine-presses, their cattle and sheep, their beehives--in a word, of all that a rich farmer like my father could possess. I engaged and dismissed the servants, and was the stewardess of the estate. The spare hours that were left from the management of the farm I spent with the needle, the lace cushion, and the distaff, or else I would read some good hook or practise upon my harp.
"This was the life that I led in my father's house. And though I seldom went abroad except to church, yet it seems I had attracted the eyes of the duke's younger son, Don Fernando, for so he was called."
No sooner did she mention the name of Don Fernando than Cardenio's face changed colour, and the curate and barber noticing it, feared that he would burst out into one of his mad fits. But he did nothing but tremble and remain silent, and the girl continued her story.
"No sooner, then, had Don Fernando seen me than he was smitten with love for me, and from that moment I had no peace. I could not sleep for his serenades. I had numerous letters from him, full of declarations of love, and at last at his earnest entreaty we had many meetings. But though he talked much of love, yet I knew that his father would not allow him to marry the daughter of one of his own vassals, and my parents both assured me that the duke would never consent to our marriage.
"One evening Don Fernando gave me a beautiful ring, and promised that he would always be true to me, and from that moment I felt that I was betrothed to him, and that he really intended, in spite of the duke's opposition, to make me his wife. For some days I lived in the greatest joy, and Don Fernando came constantly to see me, but after a while his visits grew less frequent, and at last ceased altogether, and I heard that he had gone on a visit to another city.
"I waited in hopes of receiving a letter from him, but none came. Ah, how sad and bitter those days and hours were to me, when I first began to doubt and even to disbelieve in my lover's faith! I had to keep watch on my tears, and wear a happy face for fear my parents should find out the reason of my unhappiness. All this time of doubt, however, came to an end at an instant. For at last it was announced in the town that Don Fernando had married, in the city where he was visiting, a damsel of exceeding beauty and of very noble birth called Lucinda, and there were many strange tales told of their wedding."
Cardenio, hearing the name of Lucinda, did nothing but shrug his shoulders, bow his head, and shed bitter tears. But yet, for all that, Dorothea, for such was the maiden's name, did not interrupt the thread of her story, but continued.
"When this doleful news reached my ears, I was inflamed with rage and fury. I ordered one of my father's shepherds to attend me, and without saying a word to my parents, I packed up some dresses and some money and jewels, and set off on foot for the city where Don Fernando had gone, that I might get from him at least some explanation of his wickedness. In two days and a half I arrived at my journey's end, and the first person I asked told me the whole story of Don Fernando's wedding. He told me that at the time of the wedding, after Lucinda had uttered her consent to be Fernando's wife, she had fainted, and there fell from her bosom a letter written in her own hand, in which she said that she could not be the wife of Don Fernando, because she was betrothed to Cardenio, a gentleman of that city. The letter went on to say that she intended to kill herself at the end of the ceremony, and upon her was found a dagger, which seemed to bear out what she said. Don Fernando seeing this, and thinking that Lucinda had mocked him, would have stabbed her with the dagger had her parents not prevented him. After this, I was told, Don Fernando fled, and I learned that this Cardenio had been present at the wedding, and, hearing her words, had vanished from the city in despair, leaving a letter behind, declaring the wrongs Lucinda had done to him. The whole city were talking of these terrible things, and they talked the more when it was known that Lucinda was missing from her father's house, and that her parents had almost lost their reason in their distress.
When I heard all these things I made up my mind I would find Don Fernando, married or unmarried. But before I left the city on my search, I was told there was a proclamation made by the public crier, offering a large reward for any one who should bring me back to my parents. Fearing that this might tempt the shepherd to betray my whereabouts, I made my escape from the city, and in this disguise came to the Brown Mountains, where I have lived for some months with an old goatherd, and I help him to tend his goats. Here I have managed to pass as a peasant lad until my hair betrayed me to you gentlemen as what I am, a distressed and unfortunate maiden. This is indeed the true story of my tragedy, for which consolation is in vain, and relief, I fear me, impossible."
THE END OF THE PENANCE
Retold by Judge Parry
When the unfortunate Dorothea had finished her story, she remained silent, her face flushed with sorrow; and as the priest was about to comfort her, Cardenio took her by the hand and said: "Lady, thou art the beautiful Dorothea, daughter unto rich Cleonardo."
Dorothea was amazed when she heard her father's name spoken by a person of such wretched appearance as Cardenio, and answered: "Who art thou, friend, that knowest so well my father's name? For, unless I am mistaken, I did not once name him throughout all my story."
"I am," said Cardenio, "the unlucky one to whom Lucinda was betrothed; and I, too, had thought that I was without hope of comfort. But now I hear that Lucinda will not marry Fernando because she is mine, and Fernando cannot marry Lucinda because he is yours, it seems to me that there is yet some consolation for both of us. And I vow, on the faith of a gentleman, not to forsake you until I see you in the possession of Don Fernando."
The curate now told them both the nature of his errand, and begged that they would join him in his travels, and stay as long as they pleased at his village. By this time they heard the voice of Sancho Panza, who, not finding them where he had left them, was calling out as loudly as he might.
They went to meet him, and asked for Don Quixote. Sancho told them that he had found him almost naked to his shirt, lean and yellow, half dead with hunger, and sighing for the Lady Dulcinea; and although he had told him that she commanded him to journey to Tohoso, yet he declared that he had made up his mind not to appear before her until he had done feats worthy of her great beauty.
The curate now returned and told Dorothea of their plan, and she at once offered to act the part of the distressed damsel, for she had a lady's dress in the bundle which she carried.
"The sooner, then, we set about our work the better," said the barber.
Dorothea retired to put on her robe of a fine rich woollen cloth, a short mantle of another green stuff, and a collar and many rich jewels which she took from a little casket. With these things she adorned herself so gorgeously that she appeared to be a princess at least. When Sancho saw her he was amazed, and asked the curate with great eagerness to tell him who the lady was, and what she was doing in these out of the way places.
"This beautiful lady, brother Sancho," replied the curate, "is the heiress in direct line of the mighty Kingdom of Micomicon, who has come in search of thy master, to ask of him a boon, which is to avenge her of a wrong done by a wicked giant. And, owing to the great fame of thy master which has spread through all lands, this beautiful princess has come to find him out."
"A happy searcher and a happy finding," cried Sancho; "my master shall soon slay the great lubber of a giant, unless he turn out to be a phantom, for he has no power over those things. And when this is done, my lord shall marry the princess, whose name, by the bye, you have not yet told me, and by this means shall he become an emperor, and have islands to give away."
"Her name," replied the curate, "is the Princess Micomicona, and as to your master's marriage, I will do what I can to help."
Sancho was quite satisfied with these answers, and, when Dorothea had mounted the mule, he guided them towards the spot where Don Quixote was to be found. And as they went along, the barber told Sancho he must in no way pretend to know who he was, for if he did, Don Quixote would never leave the mountains and would never become an emperor. The curate and Cardenio remained behind, promising to join them again on the first opportunity.
Having travelled about three-quarters of a league, they found Don Quixote clothed, though still unarmed, sitting amidst the rocks. No sooner did Sancho tell Dorothea that this was his master than she whipped up her palfrey, closely followed by the well-bearded barber, who jumped from his mule, and ran to help his lady alight.