The History of Don Quixote, Vol. II., Part 20
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Produced by David Widger
by Miguel de Cervantes
Translated by John Ormsby
OF WHAT TOOK PLACE BETWEEN DON QUIXOTE AND HIS NIECE AND HOUSEKEEPER; ONE
OF THE MOST IMPORTANT CHAPTERS IN THE WHOLE HISTORY
While Sancho Panza and his wife, Teresa Cascajo, held the above
irrelevant conversation, Don Quixote's niece and housekeeper were not
idle, for by a thousand signs they began to perceive that their uncle and
master meant to give them the slip the third time, and once more betake
himself to his, for them, ill-errant chivalry. They strove by all the
means in their power to divert him from such an unlucky scheme; but it
was all preaching in the desert and hammering cold iron. Nevertheless,
among many other representations made to him, the housekeeper said to
him, "In truth, master, if you do not keep still and stay quiet at home,
and give over roaming mountains and valleys like a troubled spirit,
looking for what they say are called adventures, but what I call
misfortunes, I shall have to make complaint to God and the king with loud
supplication to send some remedy."
To which Don Quixote replied, "What answer God will give to your
complaints, housekeeper, I know not, nor what his Majesty will answer
either; I only know that if I were king I should decline to answer the
numberless silly petitions they present every day; for one of the
greatest among the many troubles kings have is being obliged to listen to
all and answer all, and therefore I should be sorry that any affairs of
mine should worry him."
Whereupon the housekeeper said, "Tell us, senor, at his Majesty's court
are there no knights?"
"There are," replied Don Quixote, "and plenty of them; and it is right
there should be, to set off the dignity of the prince, and for the
greater glory of the king's majesty."
"Then might not your worship," said she, "be one of those that, without
stirring a step, serve their king and lord in his court?"
"Recollect, my friend," said Don Quixote, "all knights cannot be
courtiers, nor can all courtiers be knights-errant, nor need they be.
There must be all sorts in the world; and though we may be all knights,
there is a great difference between one and another; for the courtiers,
without quitting their chambers, or the threshold of the court, range the
world over by looking at a map, without its costing them a farthing, and
without suffering heat or cold, hunger or thirst; but we, the true
knights-errant, measure the whole earth with our own feet, exposed to the
sun, to the cold, to the air, to the inclemencies of heaven, by day and
night, on foot and on horseback; nor do we only know enemies in pictures,
but in their own real shapes; and at all risks and on all occasions we
attack them, without any regard to childish points or rules of single
combat, whether one has or has not a shorter lance or sword, whether one
carries relics or any secret contrivance about him, whether or not the
sun is to be divided and portioned out, and other niceties of the sort
that are observed in set combats of man to man, that you know nothing
about, but I do. And you must know besides, that the true knight-errant,
though he may see ten giants, that not only touch the clouds with their
heads but pierce them, and that go, each of them, on two tall towers by
way of legs, and whose arms are like the masts of mighty ships, and each
eye like a great mill-wheel, and glowing brighter than a glass furnace,
must not on any account be dismayed by them. On the contrary, he must
attack and fall upon them with a gallant bearing and a fearless heart,
and, if possible, vanquish and destroy them, even though they have for
armour the shells of a certain fish, that they say are harder than
diamonds, and in place of swords wield trenchant blades of Damascus
steel, or clubs studded with spikes also of steel, such as I have more
than once seen. All this I say, housekeeper, that you may see the
difference there is between the one sort of knight and the other; and it
would be well if there were no prince who did not set a higher value on
this second, or more properly speaking first, kind of knights-errant;
for, as we read in their histories, there have been some among them who
have been the salvation, not merely of one kingdom, but of many."
"Ah, senor," here exclaimed the niece, "remember that all this you are
saying about knights-errant is fable and fiction; and their histories, if
indeed they were not burned, would deserve, each of them, to have a
sambenito put on it, or some mark by which it might be known as infamous
and a corrupter of good manners."
"By the God that gives me life," said Don Quixote, "if thou wert not my
full niece, being daughter of my own sister, I would inflict a
chastisement upon thee for the blasphemy thou hast uttered that all the
world should ring with. What! can it be that a young hussy that hardly
knows how to handle a dozen lace-bobbins dares to wag her tongue and
criticise the histories of knights-errant? What would Senor Amadis say if
he heard of such a thing? He, however, no doubt would forgive thee, for
he was the most humble-minded and courteous knight of his time, and
moreover a great protector of damsels; but some there are that might have
heard thee, and it would not have been well for thee in that case; for
they are not all courteous or mannerly; some are ill-conditioned
scoundrels; nor is it everyone that calls himself a gentleman, that is so
in all respects; some are gold, others pinchbeck, and all look like
gentlemen, but not all can stand the touchstone of truth. There are men
of low rank who strain themselves to bursting to pass for gentlemen, and
high gentlemen who, one would fancy, were dying to pass for men of low
rank; the former raise themselves by their ambition or by their virtues,
the latter debase themselves by their lack of spirit or by their vices;
and one has need of experience and discernment to distinguish these two
kinds of gentlemen, so much alike in name and so different in conduct."
"God bless me!" said the niece, "that you should know so much,
uncle--enough, if need be, to get up into a pulpit and go preach in the
streets--and yet that you should fall into a delusion so great and a
folly so manifest as to try to make yourself out vigorous when you are
old, strong when you are sickly, able to put straight what is crooked
when you yourself are bent by age, and, above all, a caballero when you
are not one; for though gentlefolk may be so, poor men are nothing of the
"There is a great deal of truth in what you say, niece," returned Don
Quixote, "and I could tell you somewhat about birth that would astonish
you; but, not to mix up things human and divine, I refrain. Look you, my
dears, all the lineages in the world (attend to what I am saying) can be
reduced to four sorts, which are these: those that had humble beginnings,
and went on spreading and extending themselves until they attained
surpassing greatness; those that had great beginnings and maintained
them, and still maintain and uphold the greatness of their origin; those,
again, that from a great beginning have ended in a point like a pyramid,
having reduced and lessened their original greatness till it has come to
nought, like the point of a pyramid, which, relatively to its base or
foundation, is nothing; and then there are those--and it is they that are
the most numerous--that have had neither an illustrious beginning nor a
remarkable mid-course, and so will have an end without a name, like an
ordinary plebeian line. Of the first, those that had an humble origin and
rose to the greatness they still preserve, the Ottoman house may serve as
an example, which from an humble and lowly shepherd, its founder, has
reached the height at which we now see it. For examples of the second
sort of lineage, that began with greatness and maintains it still without
adding to it, there are the many princes who have inherited the dignity,
and maintain themselves in their inheritance, without increasing or
diminishing it, keeping peacefully within the limits of their states. Of
those that began great and ended in a point, there are thousands of
examples, for all the Pharaohs and Ptolemies of Egypt, the Caesars of
Rome, and the whole herd (if I may such a word to them) of countless
princes, monarchs, lords, Medes, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and
barbarians, all these lineages and lordships have ended in a point and
come to nothing, they themselves as well as their founders, for it would
be impossible now to find one of their descendants, and, even should we
find one, it would be in some lowly and humble condition. Of plebeian
lineages I have nothing to say, save that they merely serve to swell the
number of those that live, without any eminence to entitle them to any
fame or praise beyond this. From all I have said I would have you gather,
my poor innocents, that great is the confusion among lineages, and that
only those are seen to be great and illustrious that show themselves so
by the virtue, wealth, and generosity of their possessors. I have said
virtue, wealth, and generosity, because a great man who is vicious will
be a great example of vice, and a rich man who is not generous will be
merely a miserly beggar; for the possessor of wealth is not made happy by
possessing it, but by spending it, and not by spending as he pleases, but
by knowing how to spend it well. The poor gentleman has no way of showing
that he is a gentleman but by virtue, by being affable, well-bred,
courteous, gentle-mannered, and kindly, not haughty, arrogant, or
censorious, but above all by being charitable; for by two maravedis given
with a cheerful heart to the poor, he will show himself as generous as he
who distributes alms with bell-ringing, and no one that perceives him to
be endowed with the virtues I have named, even though he know him not,
will fail to recognise and set him down as one of good blood; and it
would be strange were it not so; praise has ever been the reward of
virtue, and those who are virtuous cannot fail to receive commendation.
There are two roads, my daughters, by which men may reach wealth and
honours; one is that of letters, the other that of arms. I have more of
arms than of letters in my composition, and, judging by my inclination to
arms, was born under the influence of the planet Mars. I am, therefore,
in a measure constrained to follow that road, and by it I must travel in
spite of all the world, and it will be labour in vain for you to urge me
to resist what heaven wills, fate ordains, reason requires, and, above
all, my own inclination favours; for knowing as I do the countless toils
that are the accompaniments of knight-errantry, I know, too, the infinite
blessings that are attained by it; I know that the path of virtue is very
narrow, and the road of vice broad and spacious; I know their ends and
goals are different, for the broad and easy road of vice ends in death,
and the narrow and toilsome one of virtue in life, and not transitory
life, but in that which has no end; I know, as our great Castilian poet
It is by rugged paths like these they go
That scale the heights of immortality,
Unreached by those that falter here below."
"Woe is me!" exclaimed the niece, "my lord is a poet, too! He knows
everything, and he can do everything; I will bet, if he chose to turn
mason, he could make a house as easily as a cage."
"I can tell you, niece," replied Don Quixote, "if these chivalrous
thoughts did not engage all my faculties, there would be nothing that I
could not do, nor any sort of knickknack that would not come from my
hands, particularly cages and tooth-picks."
At this moment there came a knocking at the door, and when they asked who
was there, Sancho Panza made answer that it was he. The instant the
housekeeper knew who it was, she ran to hide herself so as not to see
him; in such abhorrence did she hold him. The niece let him in, and his
master Don Quixote came forward to receive him with open arms, and the
pair shut themselves up in his room, where they had another conversation
not inferior to the previous one.
OF WHAT PASSED BETWEEN DON QUIXOTE AND HIS SQUIRE, TOGETHER WITH OTHER
VERY NOTABLE INCIDENTS
The instant the housekeeper saw Sancho Panza shut himself in with her
master, she guessed what they were about; and suspecting that the result
of the consultation would be a resolve to undertake a third sally, she
seized her mantle, and in deep anxiety and distress, ran to find the
bachelor Samson Carrasco, as she thought that, being a well-spoken man,
and a new friend of her master's, he might be able to persuade him to
give up any such crazy notion. She found him pacing the patio of his
house, and, perspiring and flurried, she fell at his feet the moment she
Carrasco, seeing how distressed and overcome she was, said to her, "What
is this, mistress housekeeper? What has happened to you? One would think
"Nothing, Senor Samson," said she, "only that my master is breaking out,
plainly breaking out."
"Whereabouts is he breaking out, senora?" asked Samson; "has any part of
his body burst?"
"He is only breaking out at the door of his madness," she replied; "I
mean, dear senor bachelor, that he is going to break out again (and this
will be the third time) to hunt all over the world for what he calls
ventures, though I can't make out why he gives them that name. The first
time he was brought back to us slung across the back of an ass, and
belaboured all over; and the second time he came in an ox-cart, shut up
in a cage, in which he persuaded himself he was enchanted, and the poor
creature was in such a state that the mother that bore him would not have
known him; lean, yellow, with his eyes sunk deep in the cells of his
skull; so that to bring him round again, ever so little, cost me more
than six hundred eggs, as God knows, and all the world, and my hens too,
that won't let me tell a lie."
"That I can well believe," replied the bachelor, "for they are so good
and so fat, and so well-bred, that they would not say one thing for
another, though they were to burst for it. In short then, mistress
housekeeper, that is all, and there is nothing the matter, except what it
is feared Don Quixote may do?"
"No, senor," said she.
"Well then," returned the bachelor, "don't be uneasy, but go home in
peace; get me ready something hot for breakfast, and while you are on the
way say the prayer of Santa Apollonia, that is if you know it; for I will
come presently and you will see miracles."
"Woe is me," cried the housekeeper, "is it the prayer of Santa Apollonia
you would have me say? That would do if it was the toothache my master
had; but it is in the brains, what he has got."
"I know what I am saying, mistress housekeeper; go, and don't set
yourself to argue with me, for you know I am a bachelor of Salamanca, and
one can't be more of a bachelor than that," replied Carrasco; and with
this the housekeeper retired, and the bachelor went to look for the
curate, and arrange with him what will be told in its proper place.
While Don Quixote and Sancho were shut up together, they had a discussion
which the history records with great precision and scrupulous exactness.
Sancho said to his master, "Senor, I have educed my wife to let me go
with your worship wherever you choose to take me."
"Induced, you should say, Sancho," said Don Quixote; "not educed."
"Once or twice, as well as I remember," replied Sancho, "I have begged of
your worship not to mend my words, if so be as you understand what I mean
by them; and if you don't understand them to say 'Sancho,' or 'devil,' 'I
don't understand thee; and if I don't make my meaning plain, then you may
correct me, for I am so focile-"
"I don't understand thee, Sancho," said Don Quixote at once; "for I know
not what 'I am so focile' means."
"'So focile' means I am so much that way," replied Sancho.
"I understand thee still less now," said Don Quixote.
"Well, if you can't understand me," said Sancho, "I don't know how to put
it; I know no more, God help me."
"Oh, now I have hit it," said Don Quixote; "thou wouldst say thou art so
docile, tractable, and gentle that thou wilt take what I say to thee, and
submit to what I teach thee."
"I would bet," said Sancho, "that from the very first you understood me,
and knew what I meant, but you wanted to put me out that you might hear
me make another couple of dozen blunders."
"May be so," replied Don Quixote; "but to come to the point, what does
"Teresa says," replied Sancho, "that I should make sure with your
worship, and 'let papers speak and beards be still,' for 'he who binds
does not wrangle,' since one 'take' is better than two 'I'll give
thee's;' and I say a woman's advice is no great thing, and he who won't
take it is a fool."
"And so say I," said Don Quixote; "continue, Sancho my friend; go on; you
talk pearls to-day."
"The fact is," continued Sancho, "that, as your worship knows better than
I do, we are all of us liable to death, and to-day we are, and to-morrow
we are not, and the lamb goes as soon as the sheep, and nobody can
promise himself more hours of life in this world than God may be pleased
to give him; for death is deaf, and when it comes to knock at our life's
door, it is always urgent, and neither prayers, nor struggles, nor
sceptres, nor mitres, can keep it back, as common talk and report say,
and as they tell us from the pulpits every day."
"All that is very true," said Don Quixote; "but I cannot make out what
thou art driving at."
"What I am driving at," said Sancho, "is that your worship settle some
fixed wages for me, to be paid monthly while I am in your service, and
that the same he paid me out of your estate; for I don't care to stand on
rewards which either come late, or ill, or never at all; God help me with
my own. In short, I would like to know what I am to get, be it much or
little; for the hen will lay on one egg, and many littles make a much,
and so long as one gains something there is nothing lost. To be sure, if
it should happen (what I neither believe nor expect) that your worship
were to give me that island you have promised me, I am not so ungrateful
nor so grasping but that I would be willing to have the revenue of such
island valued and stopped out of my wages in due promotion."
"Sancho, my friend," replied Don Quixote, "sometimes proportion may be as
good as promotion."
"I see," said Sancho; "I'll bet I ought to have said proportion, and not
promotion; but it is no matter, as your worship has understood me."
"And so well understood," returned Don Quixote, "that I have seen into
the depths of thy thoughts, and know the mark thou art shooting at with
the countless shafts of thy proverbs. Look here, Sancho, I would readily
fix thy wages if I had ever found any instance in the histories of the
knights-errant to show or indicate, by the slightest hint, what their
squires used to get monthly or yearly; but I have read all or the best
part of their histories, and I cannot remember reading of any
knight-errant having assigned fixed wages to his squire; I only know that
they all served on reward, and that when they least expected it, if good
luck attended their masters, they found themselves recompensed with an
island or something equivalent to it, or at the least they were left with
a title and lordship. If with these hopes and additional inducements you,
Sancho, please to return to my service, well and good; but to suppose
that I am going to disturb or unhinge the ancient usage of
knight-errantry, is all nonsense. And so, my Sancho, get you back to your
house and explain my intentions to your Teresa, and if she likes and you
like to be on reward with me, bene quidem; if not, we remain friends; for
if the pigeon-house does not lack food, it will not lack pigeons; and
bear in mind, my son, that a good hope is better than a bad holding, and
a good grievance better than a bad compensation. I speak in this way,
Sancho, to show you that I can shower down proverbs just as well as
yourself; and in short, I mean to say, and I do say, that if you don't
like to come on reward with me, and run the same chance that I run, God
be with you and make a saint of you; for I shall find plenty of squires
more obedient and painstaking, and not so thickheaded or talkative as you
When Sancho heard his master's firm, resolute language, a cloud came over
the sky with him and the wings of his heart drooped, for he had made sure
that his master would not go without him for all the wealth of the world;
and as he stood there dumbfoundered and moody, Samson Carrasco came in
with the housekeeper and niece, who were anxious to hear by what
arguments he was about to dissuade their master from going to seek
adventures. The arch wag Samson came forward, and embracing him as he had
done before, said with a loud voice, "O flower of knight-errantry! O
shining light of arms! O honour and mirror of the Spanish nation! may God
Almighty in his infinite power grant that any person or persons, who
would impede or hinder thy third sally, may find no way out of the
labyrinth of their schemes, nor ever accomplish what they most desire!"
And then, turning to the housekeeper, he said, "Mistress housekeeper may
just as well give over saying the prayer of Santa Apollonia, for I know
it is the positive determination of the spheres that Senor Don Quixote
shall proceed to put into execution his new and lofty designs; and I
should lay a heavy burden on my conscience did I not urge and persuade
this knight not to keep the might of his strong arm and the virtue of his
valiant spirit any longer curbed and checked, for by his inactivity he is
defrauding the world of the redress of wrongs, of the protection of
orphans, of the honour of virgins, of the aid of widows, and of the
support of wives, and other matters of this kind appertaining, belonging,
proper and peculiar to the order of knight-errantry. On, then, my lord
Don Quixote, beautiful and brave, let your worship and highness set out
to-day rather than to-morrow; and if anything be needed for the execution
of your purpose, here am I ready in person and purse to supply the want;
and were it requisite to attend your magnificence as squire, I should
esteem it the happiest good fortune."
At this, Don Quixote, turning to Sancho, said, "Did I not tell thee,
Sancho, there would be squires enough and to spare for me? See now who
offers to become one; no less than the illustrious bachelor Samson
Carrasco, the perpetual joy and delight of the courts of the Salamancan
schools, sound in body, discreet, patient under heat or cold, hunger or
thirst, with all the qualifications requisite to make a knight-errant's
squire! But heaven forbid that, to gratify my own inclination, I should
shake or shatter this pillar of letters and vessel of the sciences, and
cut down this towering palm of the fair and liberal arts. Let this new
Samson remain in his own country, and, bringing honour to it, bring
honour at the same time on the grey heads of his venerable parents; for I
will be content with any squire that comes to hand, as Sancho does not
deign to accompany me."
"I do deign," said Sancho, deeply moved and with tears in his eyes; "it
shall not be said of me, master mine," he continued, "'the bread eaten
and the company dispersed.' Nay, I come of no ungrateful stock, for all
the world knows, but particularly my own town, who the Panzas from whom I
am descended were; and, what is more, I know and have learned, by many
good words and deeds, your worship's desire to show me favour; and if I
have been bargaining more or less about my wages, it was only to please
my wife, who, when she sets herself to press a point, no hammer drives
the hoops of a cask as she drives one to do what she wants; but, after
all, a man must be a man, and a woman a woman; and as I am a man anyhow,
which I can't deny, I will be one in my own house too, let who will take
it amiss; and so there's nothing more to do but for your worship to make
your will with its codicil in such a way that it can't be provoked, and
let us set out at once, to save Senor Samson's soul from suffering, as he
says his conscience obliges him to persuade your worship to sally out
upon the world a third time; so I offer again to serve your worship
faithfully and loyally, as well and better than all the squires that
served knights-errant in times past or present."
The bachelor was filled with amazement when he heard Sancho's phraseology
and style of talk, for though he had read the first part of his master's
history he never thought that he could be so droll as he was there
described; but now, hearing him talk of a "will and codicil that could
not be provoked," instead of "will and codicil that could not be
revoked," he believed all he had read of him, and set him down as one of
the greatest simpletons of modern times; and he said to himself that two
such lunatics as master and man the world had never seen. In fine, Don
Quixote and Sancho embraced one another and made friends, and by the
advice and with the approval of the great Carrasco, who was now their
oracle, it was arranged that their departure should take place three days
thence, by which time they could have all that was requisite for the
journey ready, and procure a closed helmet, which Don Quixote said he
must by all means take. Samson offered him one, as he knew a friend of
his who had it would not refuse it to him, though it was more dingy with
rust and mildew than bright and clean like burnished steel.
The curses which both housekeeper and niece poured out on the bachelor
were past counting; they tore their hair, they clawed their faces, and in
the style of the hired mourners that were once in fashion, they raised a
lamentation over the departure of their master and uncle, as if it had
been his death. Samson's intention in persuading him to sally forth once
more was to do what the history relates farther on; all by the advice of
the curate and barber, with whom he had previously discussed the subject.
Finally, then, during those three days, Don Quixote and Sancho provided
themselves with what they considered necessary, and Sancho having
pacified his wife, and Don Quixote his niece and housekeeper, at
nightfall, unseen by anyone except the bachelor, who thought fit to
accompany them half a league out of the village, they set out for El
Toboso, Don Quixote on his good Rocinante and Sancho on his old Dapple,
his alforjas furnished with certain matters in the way of victuals, and
his purse with money that Don Quixote gave him to meet emergencies.
Samson embraced him, and entreated him to let him hear of his good or
evil fortunes, so that he might rejoice over the former or condole with
him over the latter, as the laws of friendship required. Don Quixote
promised him he would do so, and Samson returned to the village, and the
other two took the road for the great city of El Toboso.
WHEREIN IS RELATED WHAT BEFELL DON QUIXOTE ON HIS WAY TO SEE HIS LADY
DULCINEA DEL TOBOSO
"Blessed be Allah the all-powerful!" says Hamete Benengeli on beginning
this eighth chapter; "blessed be Allah!" he repeats three times; and he
says he utters these thanksgivings at seeing that he has now got Don
Quixote and Sancho fairly afield, and that the readers of his delightful
history may reckon that the achievements and humours of Don Quixote and
his squire are now about to begin; and he urges them to forget the former
chivalries of the ingenious gentleman and to fix their eyes on those that
are to come, which now begin on the road to El Toboso, as the others
began on the plains of Montiel; nor is it much that he asks in
consideration of all he promises, and so he goes on to say:
Don Quixote and Sancho were left alone, and the moment Samson took his
departure, Rocinante began to neigh, and Dapple to sigh, which, by both
knight and squire, was accepted as a good sign and a very happy omen;
though, if the truth is to be told, the sighs and brays of Dapple were
louder than the neighings of the hack, from which Sancho inferred that
his good fortune was to exceed and overtop that of his master, building,
perhaps, upon some judicial astrology that he may have known, though the
history says nothing about it; all that can be said is, that when he
stumbled or fell, he was heard to say he wished he had not come out, for
by stumbling or falling there was nothing to be got but a damaged shoe or
a broken rib; and, fool as he was, he was not much astray in this.
Said Don Quixote, "Sancho, my friend, night is drawing on upon us as we
go, and more darkly than will allow us to reach El Toboso by daylight;
for there I am resolved to go before I engage in another adventure, and
there I shall obtain the blessing and generous permission of the peerless
Dulcinea, with which permission I expect and feel assured that I shall
conclude and bring to a happy termination every perilous adventure; for
nothing in life makes knights-errant more valorous than finding
themselves favoured by their ladies."
"So I believe," replied Sancho; "but I think it will be difficult for
your worship to speak with her or see her, at any rate where you will be
able to receive her blessing; unless, indeed, she throws it over the wall
of the yard where I saw her the time before, when I took her the letter
that told of the follies and mad things your worship was doing in the
heart of Sierra Morena."
"Didst thou take that for a yard wall, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "where
or at which thou sawest that never sufficiently extolled grace and
beauty? It must have been the gallery, corridor, or portico of some rich
and royal palace."
"It might have been all that," returned Sancho, "but to me it looked like
a wall, unless I am short of memory."
"At all events, let us go there, Sancho," said Don Quixote; "for, so that
I see her, it is the same to me whether it be over a wall, or at a
window, or through the chink of a door, or the grate of a garden; for any
beam of the sun of her beauty that reaches my eyes will give light to my
reason and strength to my heart, so that I shall be unmatched and
unequalled in wisdom and valour."
"Well, to tell the truth, senor," said Sancho, "when I saw that sun of
the lady Dulcinea del Toboso, it was not bright enough to throw out beams
at all; it must have been, that as her grace was sifting that wheat I
told you of, the thick dust she raised came before her face like a cloud
and dimmed it."
"What! dost thou still persist, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "in saying,
thinking, believing, and maintaining that my lady Dulcinea was sifting
wheat, that being an occupation and task entirely at variance with what
is and should be the employment of persons of distinction, who are
constituted and reserved for other avocations and pursuits that show
their rank a bowshot off? Thou hast forgotten, O Sancho, those lines of
our poet wherein he paints for us how, in their crystal abodes, those
four nymphs employed themselves who rose from their loved Tagus and
seated themselves in a verdant meadow to embroider those tissues which
the ingenious poet there describes to us, how they were worked and woven
with gold and silk and pearls; and something of this sort must have been
the employment of my lady when thou sawest her, only that the spite which
some wicked enchanter seems to have against everything of mine changes
all those things that give me pleasure, and turns them into shapes unlike
their own; and so I fear that in that history of my achievements which
they say is now in print, if haply its author was some sage who is an
enemy of mine, he will have put one thing for another, mingling a
thousand lies with one truth, and amusing himself by relating
transactions which have nothing to do with the sequence of a true
history. O envy, root of all countless evils, and cankerworm of the
virtues! All the vices, Sancho, bring some kind of pleasure with them;
but envy brings nothing but irritation, bitterness, and rage."
"So I say too," replied Sancho; "and I suspect in that legend or history
of us that the bachelor Samson Carrasco told us he saw, my honour goes
dragged in the dirt, knocked about, up and down, sweeping the streets, as
they say. And yet, on the faith of an honest man, I never spoke ill of
any enchanter, and I am not so well off that I am to be envied; to be
sure, I am rather sly, and I have a certain spice of the rogue in me; but
all is covered by the great cloak of my simplicity, always natural and
never acted; and if I had no other merit save that I believe, as I always
do, firmly and truly in God, and all the holy Roman Catholic Church holds
and believes, and that I am a mortal enemy of the Jews, the historians
ought to have mercy on me and treat me well in their writings. But let
them say what they like; naked was I born, naked I find myself, I neither
lose nor gain; nay, while I see myself put into a book and passed on from
hand to hand over the world, I don't care a fig, let them say what they
like of me."
"That, Sancho," returned Don Quixote, "reminds me of what happened to a
famous poet of our own day, who, having written a bitter satire against
all the courtesan ladies, did not insert or name in it a certain lady of
whom it was questionable whether she was one or not. She, seeing she was
not in the list of the poet, asked him what he had seen in her that he
did not include her in the number of the others, telling him he must add
to his satire and put her in the new part, or else look out for the
consequences. The poet did as she bade him, and left her without a shred
of reputation, and she was satisfied by getting fame though it was
infamy. In keeping with this is what they relate of that shepherd who set
fire to the famous temple of Diana, by repute one of the seven wonders of
the world, and burned it with the sole object of making his name live in
after ages; and, though it was forbidden to name him, or mention his name
by word of mouth or in writing, lest the object of his ambition should be
attained, nevertheless it became known that he was called Erostratus. And
something of the same sort is what happened in the case of the great
emperor Charles V and a gentleman in Rome. The emperor was anxious to see
that famous temple of the Rotunda, called in ancient times the temple 'of
all the gods,' but now-a-days, by a better nomenclature, 'of all the
saints,' which is the best preserved building of all those of pagan
construction in Rome, and the one which best sustains the reputation of
mighty works and magnificence of its founders. It is in the form of a
half orange, of enormous dimensions, and well lighted, though no light
penetrates it save that which is admitted by a window, or rather round
skylight, at the top; and it was from this that the emperor examined the
building. A Roman gentleman stood by his side and explained to him the
skilful construction and ingenuity of the vast fabric and its wonderful
architecture, and when they had left the skylight he said to the emperor,
'A thousand times, your Sacred Majesty, the impulse came upon me to seize
your Majesty in my arms and fling myself down from yonder skylight, so as
to leave behind me in the world a name that would last for ever.' 'I am
thankful to you for not carrying such an evil thought into effect,' said
the emperor, 'and I shall give you no opportunity in future of again
putting your loyalty to the test; and I therefore forbid you ever to
speak to me or to be where I am; and he followed up these words by
bestowing a liberal bounty upon him. My meaning is, Sancho, that the
desire of acquiring fame is a very powerful motive. What, thinkest thou,
was it that flung Horatius in full armour down from the bridge into the
depths of the Tiber? What burned the hand and arm of Mutius? What
impelled Curtius to plunge into the deep burning gulf that opened in the
midst of Rome? What, in opposition to all the omens that declared against
him, made Julius Caesar cross the Rubicon? And to come to more modern
examples, what scuttled the ships, and left stranded and cut off the
gallant Spaniards under the command of the most courteous Cortes in the
New World? All these and a variety of other great exploits are, were and
will be, the work of fame that mortals desire as a reward and a portion
of the immortality their famous deeds deserve; though we Catholic
Christians and knights-errant look more to that future glory that is
everlasting in the ethereal regions of heaven than to the vanity of the
fame that is to be acquired in this present transitory life; a fame that,
however long it may last, must after all end with the world itself, which
has its own appointed end. So that, O Sancho, in what we do we must not
overpass the bounds which the Christian religion we profess has assigned
to us. We have to slay pride in giants, envy by generosity and nobleness
of heart, anger by calmness of demeanour and equanimity, gluttony and
sloth by the spareness of our diet and the length of our vigils, lust and
lewdness by the loyalty we preserve to those whom we have made the
mistresses of our thoughts, indolence by traversing the world in all
directions seeking opportunities of making ourselves, besides Christians,
famous knights. Such, Sancho, are the means by which we reach those
extremes of praise that fair fame carries with it."
"All that your worship has said so far," said Sancho, "I have understood
quite well; but still I would be glad if your worship would dissolve a
doubt for me, which has just this minute come into my mind."
"Solve, thou meanest, Sancho," said Don Quixote; "say on, in God's name,
and I will answer as well as I can."
"Tell me, senor," Sancho went on to say, "those Julys or Augusts, and all
those venturous knights that you say are now dead--where are they now?"
"The heathens," replied Don Quixote, "are, no doubt, in hell; the
Christians, if they were good Christians, are either in purgatory or in
"Very good," said Sancho; "but now I want to know--the tombs where the
bodies of those great lords are, have they silver lamps before them, or
are the walls of their chapels ornamented with crutches, winding-sheets,
tresses of hair, legs and eyes in wax? Or what are they ornamented with?"
To which Don Quixote made answer: "The tombs of the heathens were
generally sumptuous temples; the ashes of Julius Caesar's body were
placed on the top of a stone pyramid of vast size, which they now call in
Rome Saint Peter's needle. The emperor Hadrian had for a tomb a castle as
large as a good-sized village, which they called the Moles Adriani, and
is now the castle of St. Angelo in Rome. The queen Artemisia buried her
husband Mausolus in a tomb which was reckoned one of the seven wonders of
the world; but none of these tombs, or of the many others of the
heathens, were ornamented with winding-sheets or any of those other
offerings and tokens that show that they who are buried there are
"That's the point I'm coming to," said Sancho; "and now tell me, which is
the greater work, to bring a dead man to life or to kill a giant?"
"The answer is easy," replied Don Quixote; "it is a greater work to bring
to life a dead man."
"Now I have got you," said Sancho; "in that case the fame of them who
bring the dead to life, who give sight to the blind, cure cripples,
restore health to the sick, and before whose tombs there are lamps
burning, and whose chapels are filled with devout folk on their knees
adoring their relics be a better fame in this life and in the other than
that which all the heathen emperors and knights-errant that have ever
been in the world have left or may leave behind them?"
"That I grant, too," said Don Quixote.
"Then this fame, these favours, these privileges, or whatever you call
it," said Sancho, "belong to the bodies and relics of the saints who,
with the approbation and permission of our holy mother Church, have
lamps, tapers, winding-sheets, crutches, pictures, eyes and legs, by
means of which they increase devotion and add to their own Christian
reputation. Kings carry the bodies or relics of saints on their
shoulders, and kiss bits of their bones, and enrich and adorn their
oratories and favourite altars with them."
"What wouldst thou have me infer from all thou hast said, Sancho?" asked
"My meaning is," said Sancho, "let us set about becoming saints, and we
shall obtain more quickly the fair fame we are striving after; for you
know, senor, yesterday or the day before yesterday (for it is so lately
one may say so) they canonised and beatified two little barefoot friars,
and it is now reckoned the greatest good luck to kiss or touch the iron
chains with which they girt and tortured their bodies, and they are held
in greater veneration, so it is said, than the sword of Roland in the
armoury of our lord the King, whom God preserve. So that, senor, it is
better to be an humble little friar of no matter what order, than a
valiant knight-errant; with God a couple of dozen of penance lashings are
of more avail than two thousand lance-thrusts, be they given to giants,
or monsters, or dragons."
"All that is true," returned Don Quixote, "but we cannot all be friars,
and many are the ways by which God takes his own to heaven; chivalry is a
religion, there are sainted knights in glory."
"Yes," said Sancho, "but I have heard say that there are more friars in
heaven than knights-errant."
"That," said Don Quixote, "is because those in religious orders are more
numerous than knights."
"The errants are many," said Sancho.
"Many," replied Don Quixote, "but few they who deserve the name of
With these, and other discussions of the same sort, they passed that
night and the following day, without anything worth mention happening to
them, whereat Don Quixote was not a little dejected; but at length the
next day, at daybreak, they descried the great city of El Toboso, at the
sight of which Don Quixote's spirits rose and Sancho's fell, for he did
not know Dulcinea's house, nor in all his life had he ever seen her, any
more than his master; so that they were both uneasy, the one to see her,
the other at not having seen her, and Sancho was at a loss to know what
he was to do when his master sent him to El Toboso. In the end, Don
Quixote made up his mind to enter the city at nightfall, and they waited
until the time came among some oak trees that were near El Toboso; and
when the moment they had agreed upon arrived, they made their entrance
into the city, where something happened them that may fairly be called
WHEREIN IS RELATED WHAT WILL BE SEEN THERE
'Twas at the very midnight hour--more or less--when Don Quixote and
Sancho quitted the wood and entered El Toboso. The town was in deep
silence, for all the inhabitants were asleep, and stretched on the broad
of their backs, as the saying is. The night was darkish, though Sancho
would have been glad had it been quite dark, so as to find in the
darkness an excuse for his blundering. All over the place nothing was to
be heard except the barking of dogs, which deafened the ears of Don
Quixote and troubled the heart of Sancho. Now and then an ass brayed,
pigs grunted, cats mewed, and the various noises they made seemed louder
in the silence of the night; all which the enamoured knight took to be of
evil omen; nevertheless he said to Sancho, "Sancho, my son, lead on to
the palace of Dulcinea, it may be that we shall find her awake."
"Body of the sun! what palace am I to lead to," said Sancho, "when what I
saw her highness in was only a very little house?"
"Most likely she had then withdrawn into some small apartment of her
palace," said Don Quixote, "to amuse herself with damsels, as great
ladies and princesses are accustomed to do."
"Senor," said Sancho, "if your worship will have it in spite of me that
the house of my lady Dulcinea is a palace, is this an hour, think you, to
find the door open; and will it be right for us to go knocking till they
hear us and open the door; making a disturbance and confusion all through
the household? Are we going, do you fancy, to the house of our wenches,
like gallants who come and knock and go in at any hour, however late it
"Let us first of all find out the palace for certain," replied Don
Quixote, "and then I will tell thee, Sancho, what we had best do; but
look, Sancho, for either I see badly, or that dark mass that one sees
from here should be Dulcinea's palace."
"Then let your worship lead the way," said Sancho, "perhaps it may be so;
though I see it with my eyes and touch it with my hands, I'll believe it
as much as I believe it is daylight now."
Don Quixote took the lead, and having gone a matter of two hundred paces
he came upon the mass that produced the shade, and found it was a great
tower, and then he perceived that the building in question was no palace,
but the chief church of the town, and said he, "It's the church we have
lit upon, Sancho."
"So I see," said Sancho, "and God grant we may not light upon our graves;
it is no good sign to find oneself wandering in a graveyard at this time
of night; and that, after my telling your worship, if I don't mistake,
that the house of this lady will be in an alley without an outlet."
"The curse of God on thee for a blockhead!" said Don Quixote; "where hast
thou ever heard of castles and royal palaces being built in alleys
without an outlet?"
"Senor," replied Sancho, "every country has a way of its own; perhaps
here in El Toboso it is the way to build palaces and grand buildings in
alleys; so I entreat your worship to let me search about among these
streets or alleys before me, and perhaps, in some corner or other, I may
stumble on this palace--and I wish I saw the dogs eating it for leading
us such a dance."
"Speak respectfully of what belongs to my lady, Sancho," said Don
Quixote; "let us keep the feast in peace, and not throw the rope after
"I'll hold my tongue," said Sancho, "but how am I to take it patiently
when your worship wants me, with only once seeing the house of our
mistress, to know always, and find it in the middle of the night, when
your worship can't find it, who must have seen it thousands of times?"
"Thou wilt drive me to desperation, Sancho," said Don Quixote. "Look
here, heretic, have I not told thee a thousand times that I have never
once in my life seen the peerless Dulcinea or crossed the threshold of
her palace, and that I am enamoured solely by hearsay and by the great
reputation she bears for beauty and discretion?"
"I hear it now," returned Sancho; "and I may tell you that if you have
not seen her, no more have I."
"That cannot be," said Don Quixote, "for, at any rate, thou saidst, on
bringing back the answer to the letter I sent by thee, that thou sawest
her sifting wheat."
"Don't mind that, senor," said Sancho; "I must tell you that my seeing
her and the answer I brought you back were by hearsay too, for I can no
more tell who the lady Dulcinea is than I can hit the sky."
"Sancho, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "there are times for jests and times
when jests are out of place; if I tell thee that I have neither seen nor
spoken to the lady of my heart, it is no reason why thou shouldst say
thou hast not spoken to her or seen her, when the contrary is the case,
as thou well knowest."
While the two were engaged in this conversation, they perceived some one
with a pair of mules approaching the spot where they stood, and from the
noise the plough made, as it dragged along the ground, they guessed him
to be some labourer who had got up before daybreak to go to his work, and
so it proved to be. He came along singing the ballad that says--
Ill did ye fare, ye men of France, In Roncesvalles chase--
"May I die, Sancho," said Don Quixote, when he heard him, "if any good
will come to us tonight! Dost thou not hear what that clown is singing?"
"I do," said Sancho, "but what has Roncesvalles chase to do with what we
have in hand? He might just as well be singing the ballad of Calainos,
for any good or ill that can come to us in our business."
By this time the labourer had come up, and Don Quixote asked him, "Can
you tell me, worthy friend, and God speed you, whereabouts here is the
palace of the peerless princess Dona Dulcinea del Toboso?"
"Senor," replied the lad, "I am a stranger, and I have been only a few
days in the town, doing farm work for a rich farmer. In that house
opposite there live the curate of the village and the sacristan, and both
or either of them will be able to give your worship some account of this
lady princess, for they have a list of all the people of El Toboso;
though it is my belief there is not a princess living in the whole of it;
many ladies there are, of quality, and in her own house each of them may
be a princess."
"Well, then, she I am inquiring for will be one of these, my friend,"
said Don Quixote.
"May be so," replied the lad; "God be with you, for here comes the
daylight;" and without waiting for any more of his questions, he whipped
on his mules.
Sancho, seeing his master downcast and somewhat dissatisfied, said to
him, "Senor, daylight will be here before long, and it will not do for us
to let the sun find us in the street; it will be better for us to quit
the city, and for your worship to hide in some forest in the
neighbourhood, and I will come back in the daytime, and I won't leave a
nook or corner of the whole village that I won't search for the house,
castle, or palace, of my lady, and it will be hard luck for me if I don't
find it; and as soon as I have found it I will speak to her grace, and
tell her where and how your worship is waiting for her to arrange some
plan for you to see her without any damage to her honour and reputation."
"Sancho," said Don Quixote, "thou hast delivered a thousand sentences
condensed in the compass of a few words; I thank thee for the advice thou
hast given me, and take it most gladly. Come, my son, let us go look for
some place where I may hide, while thou dost return, as thou sayest, to
seek, and speak with my lady, from whose discretion and courtesy I look
for favours more than miraculous."
Sancho was in a fever to get his master out of the town, lest he should
discover the falsehood of the reply he had brought to him in the Sierra
Morena on behalf of Dulcinea; so he hastened their departure, which they
took at once, and two miles out of the village they found a forest or
thicket wherein Don Quixote ensconced himself, while Sancho returned to
the city to speak to Dulcinea, in which embassy things befell him which
demand fresh attention and a new chapter.
WHEREIN IS RELATED THE CRAFTY DEVICE SANCHO ADOPTED TO ENCHANT THE LADY
DULCINEA, AND OTHER INCIDENTS AS LUDICROUS AS THEY ARE TRUE
When the author of this great history comes to relate what is set down in
this chapter he says he would have preferred to pass it over in silence,
fearing it would not be believed, because here Don Quixote's madness
reaches the confines of the greatest that can be conceived, and even goes
a couple of bowshots beyond the greatest. But after all, though still
under the same fear and apprehension, he has recorded it without adding
to the story or leaving out a particle of the truth, and entirely
disregarding the charges of falsehood that might be brought against him;
and he was right, for the truth may run fine but will not break, and
always rises above falsehood as oil above water; and so, going on with
his story, he says that as soon as Don Quixote had ensconced himself in
the forest, oak grove, or wood near El Toboso, he bade Sancho return to
the city, and not come into his presence again without having first
spoken on his behalf to his lady, and begged of her that it might be her
good pleasure to permit herself to be seen by her enslaved knight, and
deign to bestow her blessing upon him, so that he might thereby hope for
a happy issue in all his encounters and difficult enterprises. Sancho
undertook to execute the task according to the instructions, and to bring
back an answer as good as the one he brought back before.
"Go, my son," said Don Quixote, "and be not dazed when thou findest
thyself exposed to the light of that sun of beauty thou art going to
seek. Happy thou, above all the squires in the world! Bear in mind, and
let it not escape thy memory, how she receives thee; if she changes
colour while thou art giving her my message; if she is agitated and
disturbed at hearing my name; if she cannot rest upon her cushion,
shouldst thou haply find her seated in the sumptuous state chamber proper
to her rank; and should she be standing, observe if she poises herself
now on one foot, now on the other; if she repeats two or three times the
reply she gives thee; if she passes from gentleness to austerity, from
asperity to tenderness; if she raises her hand to smooth her hair though
it be not disarranged. In short, my son, observe all her actions and
motions, for if thou wilt report them to me as they were, I will gather
what she hides in the recesses of her heart as regards my love; for I
would have thee know, Sancho, if thou knowest it not, that with lovers
the outward actions and motions they give way to when their loves are in
question are the faithful messengers that carry the news of what is going
on in the depths of their hearts. Go, my friend, may better fortune than
mine attend thee, and bring thee a happier issue than that which I await
in dread in this dreary solitude."
"I will go and return quickly," said Sancho; "cheer up that little heart
of yours, master mine, for at the present moment you seem to have got one
no bigger than a hazel nut; remember what they say, that a stout heart
breaks bad luck, and that where there are no fletches there are no pegs;
and moreover they say, the hare jumps up where it's not looked for. I say
this because, if we could not find my lady's palaces or castles to-night,
now that it is daylight I count upon finding them when I least expect it,
and once found, leave it to me to manage her."
"Verily, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "thou dost always bring in thy
proverbs happily, whatever we deal with; may God give me better luck in
what I am anxious about."
With this, Sancho wheeled about and gave Dapple the stick, and Don
Quixote remained behind, seated on his horse, resting in his stirrups and
leaning on the end of his lance, filled with sad and troubled
forebodings; and there we will leave him, and accompany Sancho, who went
off no less serious and troubled than he left his master; so much so,
that as soon as he had got out of the thicket, and looking round saw that
Don Quixote was not within sight, he dismounted from his ass, and seating
himself at the foot of a tree began to commune with himself, saying,
"Now, brother Sancho, let us know where your worship is going. Are you
going to look for some ass that has been lost? Not at all. Then what are
you going to look for? I am going to look for a princess, that's all; and
in her for the sun of beauty and the whole heaven at once. And where do
you expect to find all this, Sancho? Where? Why, in the great city of El
Toboso. Well, and for whom are you going to look for her? For the famous
knight Don Quixote of La Mancha, who rights wrongs, gives food to those
who thirst and drink to the hungry. That's all very well, but do you know
her house, Sancho? My master says it will be some royal palace or grand
castle. And have you ever seen her by any chance? Neither I nor my master
ever saw her. And does it strike you that it would be just and right if
the El Toboso people, finding out that you were here with the intention
of going to tamper with their princesses and trouble their ladies, were
to come and cudgel your ribs, and not leave a whole bone in you? They
would, indeed, have very good reason, if they did not see that I am under
orders, and that 'you are a messenger, my friend, no blame belongs to
you.' Don't you trust to that, Sancho, for the Manchegan folk are as
hot-tempered as they are honest, and won't put up with liberties from
anybody. By the Lord, if they get scent of you, it will be worse for you,
I promise you. Be off, you scoundrel! Let the bolt fall. Why should I go
looking for three feet on a cat, to please another man; and what is more,
when looking for Dulcinea will be looking for Marica in Ravena, or the
bachelor in Salamanca? The devil, the devil and nobody else, has mixed me
up in this business!"
Such was the soliloquy Sancho held with himself, and all the conclusion
he could come to was to say to himself again, "Well, there's remedy for
everything except death, under whose yoke we have all to pass, whether we
like it or not, when life's finished. I have seen by a thousand signs
that this master of mine is a madman fit to be tied, and for that matter,
I too, am not behind him; for I'm a greater fool than he is when I follow
him and serve him, if there's any truth in the proverb that says, 'Tell
me what company thou keepest, and I'll tell thee what thou art,' or in
that other, 'Not with whom thou art bred, but with whom thou art fed.'
Well then, if he be mad, as he is, and with a madness that mostly takes
one thing for another, and white for black, and black for white, as was
seen when he said the windmills were giants, and the monks' mules
dromedaries, flocks of sheep armies of enemies, and much more to the same
tune, it will not be very hard to make him believe that some country
girl, the first I come across here, is the lady Dulcinea; and if he does
not believe it, I'll swear it; and if he should swear, I'll swear again;
and if he persists I'll persist still more, so as, come what may, to have
my quoit always over the peg. Maybe, by holding out in this way, I may
put a stop to his sending me on messages of this kind another time; or
maybe he will think, as I suspect he will, that one of those wicked
enchanters, who he says have a spite against him, has changed her form
for the sake of doing him an ill turn and injuring him."
With this reflection Sancho made his mind easy, counting the business as
good as settled, and stayed there till the afternoon so as to make Don
Quixote think he had time enough to go to El Toboso and return; and
things turned out so luckily for him that as he got up to mount Dapple,
he spied, coming from El Toboso towards the spot where he stood, three
peasant girls on three colts, or fillies--for the author does not make
the point clear, though it is more likely they were she-asses, the usual
mount with village girls; but as it is of no great consequence, we need
not stop to prove it.
To be brief, the instant Sancho saw the peasant girls, he returned full
speed to seek his master, and found him sighing and uttering a thousand
passionate lamentations. When Don Quixote saw him he exclaimed, "What
news, Sancho, my friend? Am I to mark this day with a white stone or a
"Your worship," replied Sancho, "had better mark it with ruddle, like the
inscriptions on the walls of class rooms, that those who see it may see
"Then thou bringest good news," said Don Quixote.
"So good," replied Sancho, "that your worship has only to spur Rocinante
and get out into the open field to see the lady Dulcinea del Toboso, who,
with two others, damsels of hers, is coming to see your worship."
"Holy God! what art thou saying, Sancho, my friend?" exclaimed Don
Quixote. "Take care thou art not deceiving me, or seeking by false joy to
cheer my real sadness."
"What could I get by deceiving your worship," returned Sancho,
"especially when it will so soon be shown whether I tell the truth or
not? Come, senor, push on, and you will see the princess our mistress
coming, robed and adorned--in fact, like what she is. Her damsels and she
are all one glow of gold, all bunches of pearls, all diamonds, all
rubies, all cloth of brocade of more than ten borders; with their hair
loose on their shoulders like so many sunbeams playing with the wind; and
moreover, they come mounted on three piebald cackneys, the finest sight
ever you saw."
"Hackneys, you mean, Sancho," said Don Quixote.
"There is not much difference between cackneys and hackneys," said
Sancho; "but no matter what they come on, there they are, the finest
ladies one could wish for, especially my lady the princess Dulcinea, who
staggers one's senses."
"Let us go, Sancho, my son," said Don Quixote, "and in guerdon of this
news, as unexpected as it is good, I bestow upon thee the best spoil I
shall win in the first adventure I may have; or if that does not satisfy
thee, I promise thee the foals I shall have this year from my three mares
that thou knowest are in foal on our village common."
"I'll take the foals," said Sancho; "for it is not quite certain that the
spoils of the first adventure will be good ones."
By this time they had cleared the wood, and saw the three village lasses
close at hand. Don Quixote looked all along the road to El Toboso, and as
he could see nobody except the three peasant girls, he was completely
puzzled, and asked Sancho if it was outside the city he had left them.
"How outside the city?" returned Sancho. "Are your worship's eyes in the
back of your head, that you can't see that they are these who are coming
here, shining like the very sun at noonday?"
"I see nothing, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "but three country girls on
"Now, may God deliver me from the devil!" said Sancho, "and can it be
that your worship takes three hackneys--or whatever they're called-as
white as the driven snow, for jackasses? By the Lord, I could tear my
beard if that was the case!"
"Well, I can only say, Sancho, my friend," said Don Quixote, "that it is
as plain they are jackasses--or jennyasses--as that I am Don Quixote, and
thou Sancho Panza: at any rate, they seem to me to be so."
"Hush, senor," said Sancho, "don't talk that way, but open your eyes, and
come and pay your respects to the lady of your thoughts, who is close
upon us now;" and with these words he advanced to receive the three
village lasses, and dismounting from Dapple, caught hold of one of the
asses of the three country girls by the halter, and dropping on both
knees on the ground, he said, "Queen and princess and duchess of beauty,
may it please your haughtiness and greatness to receive into your favour
and good-will your captive knight who stands there turned into marble
stone, and quite stupefied and benumbed at finding himself in your
magnificent presence. I am Sancho Panza, his squire, and he the vagabond
knight Don Quixote of La Mancha, otherwise called 'The Knight of the
Don Quixote had by this time placed himself on his knees beside Sancho,
and, with eyes starting out of his head and a puzzled gaze, was regarding
her whom Sancho called queen and lady; and as he could see nothing in her
except a village lass, and not a very well-favoured one, for she was
platter-faced and snub-nosed, he was perplexed and bewildered, and did
not venture to open his lips. The country girls, at the same time, were
astonished to see these two men, so different in appearance, on their
knees, preventing their companion from going on. She, however, who had
been stopped, breaking silence, said angrily and testily, "Get out of the
way, bad luck to you, and let us pass, for we are in a hurry."
To which Sancho returned, "Oh, princess and universal lady of El Toboso,
is not your magnanimous heart softened by seeing the pillar and prop of
knight-errantry on his knees before your sublimated presence?"
On hearing this, one of the others exclaimed, "Woa then! why, I'm rubbing
thee down, she-ass of my father-in-law! See how the lordlings come to
make game of the village girls now, as if we here could not chaff as well
as themselves. Go your own way, and let us go ours, and it will be better
"Get up, Sancho," said Don Quixote at this; "I see that fortune, 'with
evil done to me unsated still,' has taken possession of all the roads by
which any comfort may reach 'this wretched soul' that I carry in my
flesh. And thou, highest perfection of excellence that can be desired,
utmost limit of grace in human shape, sole relief of this afflicted heart
that adores thee, though the malign enchanter that persecutes me has
brought clouds and cataracts on my eyes, and to them, and them only,
transformed thy unparagoned beauty and changed thy features into those of
a poor peasant girl, if so be he has not at the same time changed mine
into those of some monster to render them loathsome in thy sight, refuse
not to look upon me with tenderness and love; seeing in this submission
that I make on my knees to thy transformed beauty the humility with which
my soul adores thee."
"Hey-day! My grandfather!" cried the girl, "much I care for your
love-making! Get out of the way and let us pass, and we'll thank you."
Sancho stood aside and let her go, very well pleased to have got so well
out of the hobble he was in. The instant the village lass who had done
duty for Dulcinea found herself free, prodding her "cackney" with a spike
she had at the end of a stick, she set off at full speed across the
field. The she-ass, however, feeling the point more acutely than usual,
began cutting such capers, that it flung the lady Dulcinea to the ground;
seeing which, Don Quixote ran to raise her up, and Sancho to fix and
girth the pack-saddle, which also had slipped under the ass's belly. The
pack-saddle being secured, as Don Quixote was about to lift up his
enchanted mistress in his arms and put her upon her beast, the lady,
getting up from the ground, saved him the trouble, for, going back a
little, she took a short run, and putting both hands on the croup of the
ass she dropped into the saddle more lightly than a falcon, and sat
astride like a man, whereat Sancho said, "Rogue! but our lady is lighter
than a lanner, and might teach the cleverest Cordovan or Mexican how to
mount; she cleared the back of the saddle in one jump, and without spurs
she is making the hackney go like a zebra; and her damsels are no way
behind her, for they all fly like the wind;" which was the truth, for as
soon as they saw Dulcinea mounted, they pushed on after her, and sped
away without looking back, for more than half a league.
Don Quixote followed them with his eyes, and when they were no longer in
sight, he turned to Sancho and said, "How now, Sancho? thou seest how I
am hated by enchanters! And see to what a length the malice and spite
they bear me go, when they seek to deprive me of the happiness it would
give me to see my lady in her own proper form. The fact is I was born to
be an example of misfortune, and the target and mark at which the arrows
of adversity are aimed and directed. Observe too, Sancho, that these
traitors were not content with changing and transforming my Dulcinea, but
they transformed and changed her into a shape as mean and ill-favoured as
that of the village girl yonder; and at the same time they robbed her of
that which is such a peculiar property of ladies of distinction, that is
to say, the sweet fragrance that comes of being always among perfumes and
flowers. For I must tell thee, Sancho, that when I approached to put
Dulcinea upon her hackney (as thou sayest it was, though to me it
appeared a she-ass), she gave me a whiff of raw garlic that made my head
reel, and poisoned my very heart."
"O scum of the earth!" cried Sancho at this, "O miserable, spiteful
enchanters! O that I could see you all strung by the gills, like sardines
on a twig! Ye know a great deal, ye can do a great deal, and ye do a
great deal more. It ought to have been enough for you, ye scoundrels, to
have changed the pearls of my lady's eyes into oak galls, and her hair of
purest gold into the bristles of a red ox's tail, and in short, all her
features from fair to foul, without meddling with her smell; for by that
we might somehow have found out what was hidden underneath that ugly
rind; though, to tell the truth, I never perceived her ugliness, but only
her beauty, which was raised to the highest pitch of perfection by a mole
she had on her right lip, like a moustache, with seven or eight red hairs
like threads of gold, and more than a palm long."
"From the correspondence which exists between those of the face and those
of the body," said Don Quixote, "Dulcinea must have another mole
resembling that on the thick of the thigh on that side on which she has
the one on her ace; but hairs of the length thou hast mentioned are very
long for moles."
"Well, all I can say is there they were as plain as could be," replied
"I believe it, my friend," returned Don Quixote; "for nature bestowed
nothing on Dulcinea that was not perfect and well-finished; and so, if
she had a hundred moles like the one thou hast described, in her they
would not be moles, but moons and shining stars. But tell me, Sancho,
that which seemed to me to be a pack-saddle as thou wert fixing it, was
it a flat-saddle or a side-saddle?"
"It was neither," replied Sancho, "but a jineta saddle, with a field
covering worth half a kingdom, so rich is it."
"And that I could not see all this, Sancho!" said Don Quixote; "once more
I say, and will say a thousand times, I am the most unfortunate of men."
Sancho, the rogue, had enough to do to hide his laughter, at hearing the
simplicity of the master he had so nicely befooled. At length, after a
good deal more conversation had passed between them, they remounted their
beasts, and followed the road to Saragossa, which they expected to reach
in time to take part in a certain grand festival which is held every year
in that illustrious city; but before they got there things happened to
them, so many, so important, and so strange, that they deserve to be
recorded and read, as will be seen farther on.
Back to Full Books