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The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha

Don Quixote smiled at Sancho's affected style


style="text-align: justify;"> CHAPTER XLIV.

_Of the strange adventure which befell the valorous Don Quixote with the brave Knight of the Mirrors._

Don Quixote and his squire passed the night following their encounter with Death under some tall, umbrageous trees; and as they were refreshing themselves, by Sancho's advice, from the store of provisions carried by Dapple, he said to his master, "What a fool, sir, should I have been had I chosen for my reward the spoils of your worship's first adventure, instead of the three ass-colts! It is a true saying, 'A sparrow in the hand is better than a vulture upon the wing.'" "However, Sancho," answered Don Quixote, "hadst thou suffered me to make the attack which I had premeditated, thy share of the booty would have been at least the emperor's crown of gold and Cupid's painted wings; for I would have plucked them off per force, and delivered them into thy hands." "The crowns and sceptres of your theatrical emperors," answered Sancho, "are never pure gold, but tinsel or copper." "That is true," replied Don Quixote; "nor would it be proper that the decorations of a play should be otherwise than counterfeit, like the drama itself, which I would have thee hold in due estimation, as well as the actors and authors; for they are all instruments of much benefit to the commonwealth, continually presenting a mirror before our eyes, in which we see lively representations of the

actions of human life; nothing, indeed, more truly portrays to us what we are, and what we should be, than the drama. Tell me, hast thou never seen a play in which kings, emperors, popes, lords, and ladies are introduced, with divers other personages; one acting the ruffian, another the knave; one the merchant, another the soldier; one a designing fool, another a foolish lover; and observed that, when the play is done, and the actors undressed, they are all again upon a level?" "Yes, marry have I," quoth Sancho. "The very same thing, then," said Don Quixote, "happens on the stage of this world, on which some play the part of emperors, others of popes--in short, every part that can be introduced in a comedy; but at the conclusion of this drama of life, death strips us of the robes which made the difference between man and man, and leaves us all on one level in the grave." "A brave comparison!" quoth Sancho; "though not so new but that I have heard it many times, as well as that of the game of chess; which is that, while the game is going, every piece has its office, and when it is ended, they are all huddled together, and put into a bag: just as we are put together into the ground when we are dead." "Sancho," said Don Quixote, "thou art daily improving in sense." "And so I ought," answered Sancho; "for some of your worship's wisdom must needs stick to me; as dry and barren soil, by well dunging and digging, comes at last to bear good fruit. My meaning is, that your worship's conversation has been the dung laid upon the barren soil of my poor wit, and the tillage has been the time I have been in your service and company; by which I hope to produce fruit like any blessing, and such as will not disparage my teacher, nor let me stray from the paths of good-breeding which your worship has made in my shallow understanding." Don Quixote smiled at Sancho's affected style; but he really did think him improved, and was frequently surprised by his observations, when he did not display his ignorance by soaring too high. His chief strength lay in proverbs, of which he had always abundance ready, though perhaps not always fitting the occasion, as may often have been remarked in the course of this history.


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