Alone with Don Francisco
After all, this land is fertile in happiness and vices, where bag and man get fat and the freewill is big enough.
Through the multiple paths of the Campo de Montiel where the heat is at its greatest, in the ancient route of Andalusia, I went to stop at a pleasant inn, where I bumped with don Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas, to pry into his secrets and remove his memories.
He waits me, already man going to God and turning all with that particular notice of the cautious men, withdrawn in the peace of these deserts, “with few, but learned books”, whose reading keeps him –it is his style- “in a conversation with the deceased persons, listening with his eyes to the dead.
There, sitting, silent, frayed, lost in his thoughts, pondering memories mixed with sighs, I can see the greatest man on the limit of two centuries. I cough, without any cough, discreetly, so that he raises his head and looks me, rather than with his eyes, with the reflections of those goggles which are known by his surname.
I start the conversation with courtesy. We speak a bit of health of the man who has tried better the rich language of Castile, of whom was and remains the greatest ingenuity, together don Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, who has walked these kingdoms.
-How do you find?
-I’m feeling that the speech hurts me, and the shadow weighs me.
-But you go living.
-I came to this town more dead than alive. But with the warm stillness of this place and the present of hunting, I am much better and more encouraged. The walks, the solitude and the leisure are the medicine to recover me of all I suffered in the Court. Believe me, here one live for oneself all day, but in Madrid neither for oneself nor for another.
-We are in full Campo de Montiel. Can you describe me the life in these lands?
-Here the days pass slowly, the hours are endless, we value the price of time, the foods are abundant and cheap, and we enjoy remorselessly of the pleasures of Nature for almost nothing. Finally, this land is fertile in happiness and vices, where bag and man get fat and the freewill is big enough.
The hour is coming to the end. A shadow enters, without age or time, with a pottery jar and some vessels. He leaves them on the table, silently and goes out as phantom as he came in. Don Francisco serves me a new red wine, the same that smells all over the room. I thank him for the honor. I lift my glass and drink to his precarious health.
José María Lozano Cabezuelo