Page:Don Quixote (Cervantes, Ormsby) Volume 2.djvu/51

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29
CHAPTER IV.

to refuse it; for they say, too, 'when they offer thee a heifer, run with a halter;' and 'when good luck comes to thee, take it in.' "[1]

"Brother Sancho," said Carrasco, "you have spoken like a professor; but, for all that, put your trust in God and in Señor Don Quixote, for he will give you a kingdom, not to say an island."

"It is all the same, be it more or be it less," replied Sancho; "though I can tell Señor Carrasco that my master would not throw the kingdom he might give me into a sack all in holes; for I have felt my own pulse and I find myself sound enough to rule kingdoms and govern islands; and I have before now told my master as much."

"Take care, Sancho," said Samson; "honors change manners,"[2] and perhaps when you find yourself a governor you won't know the mother that bore you."

"That may hold good of those that are born in the ditches," said Sancho,[3] "not of those who have the fat of an old Christian four fingers deep on their souls, as I have. Nay, only look at my disposition, is that likely to show ingratitude to any one?"

"God grant it," said Don Quixote; "we shall see when the government comes; and I seem to see it already."

He then begged the bachelor, if he were a poet, to do him the favor of composing some verses for him conveying the farewell he meant to take of his lady Dulcinea del Toboso, and to see that a letter of her name was placed at the beginning of each line, so that, at the end of the verses, " Dulcinea del Toboso " might be read by putting together the first letters. The bachelor replied that although he was not one of the famous poets of Spain, who were, they said, only three and a half,[4] he would not fail to compose the required verses; though he saw a great difficulty in the task, as the letters which made up the name were seventeen; so, if he made four ballad stanzas of four lines each, there would be a letter over, and if he made them of five, what they called decimas or redondillas,[5] there were three let-

  1. Provs. 236 and 22.
  2. Prov. 158.
  3. Literally, "among the mallows."
  4. There is some difference of opinion as to who were the three poets and a half allowed to be famous by Samson Carrasco; but probably Cervantes only intended a malicious little joke at the expense of the whole swarm of poets of his day, and their mutual admiration cliques.
  5. The decima is properly a stanza of ten eight-syllable lines; in the redondilla which is more commonly a four-line stanza, the last line rhymes with the first. The acrostic was one of the poetical frivolities of the day.