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The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha

In the profundity of this cavern


At

last he began to stretch his limbs, as if he had waked out of the most profound sleep; and staring wildly about him, "Heaven forgive you, friends!" cried he, "for you have raised me from one of the sweetest lives that ever mortal led, and most delightful sights that ever eyes beheld. Now I perceive how fleeting are all the joys of this transitory life; they are but an imperfect dream, they fade like a flower, and vanish like a shadow. O ill-fated Montesinos! O Durandarte, unfortunately wounded! O unhappy Belerma! O deplorable Guadiana! and you the distressed daughters of Ruydera, whose flowing waters shew what streams of tears once trickled from your lovely eyes!" These expressions, uttered with great passion and concern, surprised the scholar and Sancho, and they desired to know his meaning, and what he had seen in that horrid dungeon. "Call it not so," answered Don Quixote, "for it deserves a better name, as I shall soon let you know. But first give me something to eat, for I am prodigiously hungry." They then spread the scholar's coarse saddle-cloth for a carpet; and examining their old cupboard, the knapsack, they all three sat down on the grass, and eat heartily together, like men that were a meal or two behindhand. When they had done, "Let no man stir," said Don Quixote; "sit still, and hear me with attention."

CHAPTER LV.

_Of the wonderful things which the unparalleled

Don Quixote declared he had seen in the deep cave of Montesinos, the greatness and impossibility of which make this adventure pass for apocryphal._

It was now past four in the afternoon, and the sun was opportunely hid behind the clouds, which, interposing between his rays, invited Don Quixote, without heat or trouble, to relate the wonders he had seen in Montesinos' cave.

"About twelve or fourteen men's depth," said he, "in the profundity of this cavern, on the right hand, there is a concavity wide enough to contain a large waggon, mules and all. This place is not wholly dark, for through some chinks and narrow holes, that reach to the distant surface of the earth, there comes a glimmering light. I discovered this recess, being already weary of hanging by the loins, discouraged by the profound darkness of the region below me, destitute of a guide, and not knowing whither I went: resolving therefore to rest myself there a while, I called to you to give me no more rope, but it seems you did not hear me. I therefore entered, and coiling up the cord, sat upon it very melancholy, and thinking how I should most conveniently get down to the bottom, having nobody to guide or support me. While I thus sat pensive, and lost in thought, insensibly, without any previous drowsiness, I found myself surprised by sleep; and after that, not knowing how, nor which way I wakened, I unexpectedly found myself in the finest and most delightful meadow, that ever nature adorned with her beauties, or the most inventive fancy could ever imagine. Now, that I might be sure this was neither a dream nor an allusion, I rubbed my eyes, felt several parts of my body, and convinced myself that I was really awake, with the use of all my senses, and all the faculties of my understanding sound and active as at this moment.

"Presently I discovered a sumptuous palace, of which the walls seemed all of transparent crystal. The spacious gates opening, there came out towards me a venerable old man, clad in a sad-coloured robe, so long that it swept the ground; on his breast and shoulders he had a green satin tippet, after the manner of those worn in colleges. On his head he wore a black Milan cap, and his broad hoary beard reached down below his middle. He had no kind of weapon in his hands, but a rosary of beads about the bigness of walnuts, and his credo beads appeared as large as ordinary ostrich-eggs. The awful and grave aspect, the pace, the port and goodly presence of this old man, each of them apart, and much more altogether, struck me with veneration and astonishment. He came up to me, and, without any previous ceremony, embracing me close, 'It is a long time,' said he, 'most renowned knight, Don Quixote de la Mancha, that we who dwell in this enchanted solitude have hoped to see you here; that you may inform the upper world of the surprising prodigies concealed from human knowledge in this subterranean hollow, called the cave of Montesinos,--an enterprise reserved alone for your insuperable heart, and stupendous resolution. Go with me then, thou most illustrious knight, and behold the wonders enclosed within the transparent castle, of which I am the perpetual governor and chief warden, being the same individual Montesinos from whom this cavern took its name.'


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