Don Quixote - Part II (Chapter I, page 1 of 8)


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OF THE INTERVIEW THE CURATE AND THE BARBER HAD WITH DON QUIXOTE ABOUT HIS
MALADY


Cide Hamete Benengeli, in the Second Part of this history, and third
sally of Don Quixote, says that the curate and the barber remained nearly
a month without seeing him, lest they should recall or bring back to his
recollection what had taken place. They did not, however, omit to visit
his niece and housekeeper, and charge them to be careful to treat him
with attention, and give him comforting things to eat, and such as were
good for the heart and the brain, whence, it was plain to see, all his
misfortune proceeded. The niece and housekeeper replied that they did so,
and meant to do so with all possible care and assiduity, for they could
perceive that their master was now and then beginning to show signs of
being in his right mind. This gave great satisfaction to the curate and
the barber, for they concluded they had taken the right course in
carrying him off enchanted on the ox-cart, as has been described in the
First Part of this great as well as accurate history, in the last chapter
thereof. So they resolved to pay him a visit and test the improvement in
his condition, although they thought it almost impossible that there
could be any; and they agreed not to touch upon any point connected with
knight-errantry so as not to run the risk of reopening wounds which were
still so tender.

They came to see him consequently, and found him sitting up in bed in a
green baize waistcoat and a red Toledo cap, and so withered and dried up
that he looked as if he had been turned into a mummy. They were very
cordially received by him; they asked him after his health, and he talked
to them about himself very naturally and in very well-chosen language. In
the course of their conversation they fell to discussing what they call
State-craft and systems of government, correcting this abuse and
condemning that, reforming one practice and abolishing another, each of
the three setting up for a new legislator, a modern Lycurgus, or a
brand-new Solon; and so completely did they remodel the State, that they
seemed to have thrust it into a furnace and taken out something quite
different from what they had put in; and on all the subjects they dealt
with, Don Quixote spoke with such good sense that the pair of examiners
were fully convinced that he was quite recovered and in his full senses.

The niece and housekeeper were present at the conversation and could not
find words enough to express their thanks to God at seeing their master
so clear in his mind; the curate, however, changing his original plan,
which was to avoid touching upon matters of chivalry, resolved to test
Don Quixote's recovery thoroughly, and see whether it were genuine or
not; and so, from one subject to another, he came at last to talk of the
news that had come from the capital, and, among other things, he said it
was considered certain that the Turk was coming down with a powerful
fleet, and that no one knew what his purpose was, or when the great storm
would burst; and that all Christendom was in apprehension of this, which
almost every year calls us to arms, and that his Majesty had made
provision for the security of the coasts of Naples and Sicily and the
island of Malta.

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