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The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha

Whether I be a knight errant or an errant shepherd


No

sooner were the curate and the bachelor gone, than the housekeeper and niece, who, according to custom, had been listening to all their discourse, came both upon Don Quixote. "Bless me, uncle," cried the niece, "what is here to do! What new maggot is got into your head! When we thought you were come to stay at home, and live like a sober, honest gentleman in your own house, are you hankering after new inventions, and running a wool-gathering after sheep, forsooth? By my troth, sir, you are somewhat of the latest. The corn is too old to make oaten pipes of." "Ah! sir," quoth the housekeeper, "how will your worship be able to endure the summer's sun and the winter's frost in the open fields? And then the howlings of the wolves, Heaven bless us! Pray, good sir, do not think of it; it is a business fit for nobody but those that are bred and born to it, and as strong as horses. Let the worst come to the worst, better be a knight-errant still than a keeper of sheep. Be ruled by me; stay at home, look after your concerns, go often to confession, do good to the poor; and, if aught goes ill with you, let it lie at my door." "Good girls," said Don Quixote, "hold your prating: I know best what I have to do. Do not trouble your heads; whether I be a knight-errant or an errant-shepherd, you shall always find that I will provide for you."

The niece and maid, who, without doubt, were good-natured creatures, made no answer, but brought him something to eat,

and tended him with all imaginable care.

CHAPTER XCVI.

_How Don Quixote fell sick, made his last will, and died._

As all human things, especially the lives of men, are transitory, their very beginnings being but steps to their dissolution; so Don Quixote, who was no way exempted from the common fate, was snatched away by death when he least expected it. He was seized with a violent fever that confined him to his bed for six days, during all which time his good friends, the curate, bachelor, and barber, came often to see him, and his trusty squire Sancho Panza never stirred from his bed-side.

They conjectured that his sickness proceeded only from the regret of his defeat, and his being disappointed of Dulcinea's disenchantment; and accordingly they left nothing unessayed to divert him. The bachelor begged him to pluck up a good heart, and rise, that they might begin their pastoral life; telling him, that he had already written an eclogue to that purpose, not inferior to those of Sanazaro; and that he had bought, with his own money, of a shepherd of Quintanar, two famous dogs to watch their flock, the one called Barcino, and the other Butron; but this had no effect on Don Quixote, for he still continued dejected. A physician was sent for, who, upon feeling his pulse, did not very well like it; and therefore desired him of all things to provide for his soul's health, for that of his body was in a dangerous condition. Don Quixote heard this with much more temper than those about him; for his niece, his housekeeper, and his squire, fell a weeping as bitterly as if he had been laid out already. The physician was of opinion that mere melancholy and vexation had brought him to his approaching end. Don Quixote desired them to leave him a little, because he found himself inclined to rest; they retired, and he had a hearty sleep of about six hours, which the maid and niece were afraid had been his last.

At length he awaked, and, with a loud voice, "Praised be the Almighty," cried he, "for this great benefit he has vouchsafed to me!" The niece, hearkening very attentively to these words of her uncle, and finding more sense in them than there was in his usual talk, at least


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