Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 10)

Oh, never, surely, was there knightSo served by hand of dame,As served was he, Don Quixote hight,When from his town he came;With maidens waiting on himself,Princesses on his hack-

-or Rocinante, for that, ladies mine, is my horse's name, and DonQuixote of La Mancha is my own; for though I had no intention ofdeclaring myself until my achievements in your service and honourhad made me known, the necessity of adapting that old ballad ofLancelot to the present occasion has given you the knowledge of myname altogether prematurely. A time, however, will come for yourladyships to command and me to obey, and then the might of my arm willshow my desire to serve you."

The girls, who were not used to hearing rhetoric of this sort, hadnothing to say in reply; they only asked him if he wanted anythingto eat. "I would gladly eat a bit of something," said Don Quixote,"for I feel it would come very seasonably." The day happened to be aFriday, and in the whole inn there was nothing but some pieces ofthe fish they call in Castile "abadejo," in Andalusia "bacallao,"and in some places "curadillo," and in others "troutlet;" so theyasked him if he thought he could eat troutlet, for there was noother fish to give him. "If there be troutlets enough," said DonQuixote, "they will be the same thing as a trout; for it is all one tome whether I am given eight reals in small change or a piece of eight;moreover, it may be that these troutlets are like veal, which isbetter than beef, or kid, which is better than goat. But whatever itbe let it come quickly, for the burden and pressure of arms cannotbe borne without support to the inside." They laid a table for himat the door of the inn for the sake of the air, and the host broughthim a portion of ill-soaked and worse cooked stockfish, and a piece ofbread as black and mouldy as his own armour; but a laughable sightit was to see him eating, for having his helmet on and the beaverup, he could not with his own hands put anything into his mouth unlesssome one else placed it there, and this service one of the ladiesrendered him. But to give him anything to drink was impossible, orwould have been so had not the landlord bored a reed, and puttingone end in his mouth poured the wine into him through the other; allwhich he bore with patience rather than sever the ribbons of hishelmet.

While this was going on there came up to the inn a sowgelder, who,as he approached, sounded his reed pipe four or five times, andthereby completely convinced Don Quixote that he was in some famouscastle, and that they were regaling him with music, and that thestockfish was trout, the bread the whitest, the wenches ladies, andthe landlord the castellan of the castle; and consequently he heldthat his enterprise and sally had been to some purpose. But still itdistressed him to think he had not been dubbed a knight, for it wasplain to him he could not lawfully engage in any adventure withoutreceiving the order of knighthood.



Harassed by this reflection, he made haste with his scantypothouse supper, and having finished it called the landlord, andshutting himself into the stable with him, fell on his knees beforehim, saying, "From this spot I rise not, valiant knight, until yourcourtesy grants me the boon I seek, one that will redound to yourpraise and the benefit of the human race." The landlord, seeing hisguest at his feet and hearing a speech of this kind, stood staringat him in bewilderment, not knowing what to do or say, andentreating him to rise, but all to no purpose until he had agreed togrant the boon demanded of him. "I looked for no less, my lord, fromyour High Magnificence," replied Don Quixote, "and I have to tellyou that the boon I have asked and your liberality has granted is thatyou shall dub me knight to-morrow morning, and that to-night I shallwatch my arms in the chapel of this your castle; thus tomorrow, as Ihave said, will be accomplished what I so much desire, enabling melawfully to roam through all the four quarters of the world seekingadventures on behalf of those in distress, as is the duty ofchivalry and of knights-errant like myself, whose ambition is directedto such deeds."

The landlord, who, as has been mentioned, was something of a wag,and had already some suspicion of his guest's want of wits, wasquite convinced of it on hearing talk of this kind from him, and tomake sport for the night he determined to fall in with his humour.So he told him he was quite right in pursuing the object he had inview, and that such a motive was natural and becoming in cavaliersas distinguished as he seemed and his gallant bearing showed him tobe; and that he himself in his younger days had followed the samehonourable calling, roaming in quest of adventures in various parts ofthe world, among others the Curing-grounds of Malaga, the Isles ofRiaran, the Precinct of Seville, the Little Market of Segovia, theOlivera of Valencia, the Rondilla of Granada, the Strand of San Lucar,the Colt of Cordova, the Taverns of Toledo, and divers other quarters,where he had proved the nimbleness of his feet and the lightness ofhis fingers, doing many wrongs, cheating many widows, ruining maidsand swindling minors, and, in short, bringing himself under the noticeof almost every tribunal and court of justice in Spain; until atlast he had retired to this castle of his, where he was living uponhis property and upon that of others; and where he received allknights-errant of whatever rank or condition they might be, all forthe great love he bore them and that they might share theirsubstance with him in return for his benevolence. He told him,moreover, that in this castle of his there was no chapel in which hecould watch his armour, as it had been pulled down in order to berebuilt, but that in a case of necessity it might, he knew, be watchedanywhere, and he might watch it that night in a courtyard of thecastle, and in the morning, God willing, the requisite ceremoniesmight be performed so as to have him dubbed a knight, and sothoroughly dubbed that nobody could be more so. He asked if he had anymoney with him, to which Don Quixote replied that he had not afarthing, as in the histories of knights-errant he had never read ofany of them carrying any. On this point the landlord told him he wasmistaken; for, though not recorded in the histories, because in theauthor's opinion there was no need to mention anything so obviousand necessary as money and clean shirts, it was not to be supposedtherefore that they did not carry them, and he might regard it ascertain and established that all knights-errant (about whom there wereso many full and unimpeachable books) carried well-furnished purses incase of emergency, and likewise carried shirts and a little box ofointment to cure the wounds they received. For in those plains anddeserts where they engaged in combat and came out wounded, it wasnot always that there was some one to cure them, unless indeed theyhad for a friend some sage magician to succour them at once byfetching through the air upon a cloud some damsel or dwarf with a vialof water of such virtue that by tasting one drop of it they were curedof their hurts and wounds in an instant and left as sound as if theyhad not received any damage whatever. But in case this should notoccur, the knights of old took care to see that their squires wereprovided with money and other requisites, such as lint and ointmentsfor healing purposes; and when it happened that knights had no squires(which was rarely and seldom the case) they themselves carriedeverything in cunning saddle-bags that were hardly seen on the horse'scroup, as if it were something else of more importance, because,unless for some such reason, carrying saddle-bags was not veryfavourably regarded among knights-errant. He therefore advised him(and, as his godson so soon to be, he might even command him) neverfrom that time forth to travel without money and the usualrequirements, and he would find the advantage of them when he leastexpected it.

Don Quixote promised to follow his advice scrupulously, and it wasarranged forthwith that he should watch his armour in a large yardat one side of the inn; so, collecting it all together, Don Quixoteplaced it on a trough that stood by the side of a well, and bracinghis buckler on his arm he grasped his lance and began with a statelyair to march up and down in front of the trough, and as he began hismarch night began to fall.

The landlord told all the people who were in the inn about the crazeof his guest, the watching of the armour, and the dubbing ceremonyhe contemplated. Full of wonder at so strange a form of madness,they flocked to see it from a distance, and observed with whatcomposure he sometimes paced up and down, or sometimes, leaning on hislance, gazed on his armour without taking his eyes off it for everso long; and as the night closed in with a light from the moon sobrilliant that it might vie with his that lent it, everything thenovice knight did was plainly seen by all.

Meanwhile one of the carriers who were in the inn thought fit towater his team, and it was necessary to remove Don Quixote's armour asit lay on the trough; but he seeing the other approach hailed him in aloud voice, "O thou, whoever thou art, rash knight that comest tolay hands on the armour of the most valorous errant that ever girton sword, have a care what thou dost; touch it not unless thou wouldstlay down thy life as the penalty of thy rashness." The carrier gave noheed to these words (and he would have done better to heed them ifhe had been heedful of his health), but seizing it by the straps flungthe armour some distance from him. Seeing this, Don Quixote raised hiseyes to heaven, and fixing his thoughts, apparently, upon his ladyDulcinea, exclaimed, "Aid me, lady mine, in this the first encounterthat presents itself to this breast which thou holdest in subjection;let not thy favour and protection fail me in this first jeopardy;"and, with these words and others to the same purpose, dropping hisbuckler he lifted his lance with both hands and with it smote such ablow on the carrier's head that he stretched him on the ground, sostunned that had he followed it up with a second there would have beenno need of a surgeon to cure him. This done, he picked up his armourand returned to his beat with the same serenity as before.

Shortly after this, another, not knowing what had happened (forthe carrier still lay senseless), came with the same object ofgiving water to his mules, and was proceeding to remove the armourin order to clear the trough, when Don Quixote, without uttering aword or imploring aid from anyone, once more dropped his buckler andonce more lifted his lance, and without actually breaking the secondcarrier's head into pieces, made more than three of it, for he laid itopen in four. At the noise all the people of the inn ran to thespot, and among them the landlord. Seeing this, Don Quixote braced hisbuckler on his arm, and with his hand on his sword exclaimed, "OLady of Beauty, strength and support of my faint heart, it is time forthee to turn the eyes of thy greatness on this thy captive knight onthe brink of so mighty an adventure." By this he felt himself soinspired that he would not have flinched if all the carriers in theworld had assailed him. The comrades of the wounded perceiving theplight they were in began from a distance to shower stones on DonQuixote, who screened himself as best he could with his buckler, notdaring to quit the trough and leave his armour unprotected. Thelandlord shouted to them to leave him alone, for he had already toldthem that he was mad, and as a madman he would not be accountable evenif he killed them all. Still louder shouted Don Quixote, callingthem knaves and traitors, and the lord of the castle, who allowedknights-errant to be treated in this fashion, a villain and a low-bornknight whom, had he received the order of knighthood, he would call toaccount for his treachery. "But of you," he cried, "base and vilerabble, I make no account; fling, strike, come on, do all ye canagainst me, ye shall see what the reward of your folly and insolencewill be." This he uttered with so much spirit and boldness that hefilled his assailants with a terrible fear, and as much for thisreason as at the persuasion of the landlord they left off stoning him,and he allowed them to carry off the wounded, and with the samecalmness and composure as before resumed the watch over his armour.

But these freaks of his guest were not much to the liking of thelandlord, so he determined to cut matters short and confer upon him atonce the unlucky order of knighthood before any further misadventurecould occur; so, going up to him, he apologised for the rudenesswhich, without his knowledge, had been offered to him by these lowpeople, who, however, had been well punished for their audacity. As hehad already told him, he said, there was no chapel in the castle,nor was it needed for what remained to be done, for, as heunderstood the ceremonial of the order, the whole point of beingdubbed a knight lay in the accolade and in the slap on the shoulder,and that could be administered in the middle of a field; and that hehad now done all that was needful as to watching the armour, for allrequirements were satisfied by a watch of two hours only, while he hadbeen more than four about it. Don Quixote believed it all, and toldhim he stood there ready to obey him, and to make an end of it with asmuch despatch as possible; for, if he were again attacked, and felthimself to be dubbed knight, he would not, he thought, leave a soulalive in the castle, except such as out of respect he might spare athis bidding.

Thus warned and menaced, the castellan forthwith brought out abook in which he used to enter the straw and barley he served out tothe carriers, and, with a lad carrying a candle-end, and the twodamsels already mentioned, he returned to where Don Quixote stood, andbade him kneel down. Then, reading from his account-book as if he wererepeating some devout prayer, in the middle of his delivery heraised his hand and gave him a sturdy blow on the neck, and then, withhis own sword, a smart slap on the shoulder, all the while mutteringbetween his teeth as if he was saying his prayers. Having done this,he directed one of the ladies to gird on his sword, which she did withgreat self-possession and gravity, and not a little was required toprevent a burst of laughter at each stage of the ceremony; but whatthey had already seen of the novice knight's prowess kept theirlaughter within bounds. On girding him with the sword the worthylady said to him, "May God make your worship a very fortunateknight, and grant you success in battle." Don Quixote asked her namein order that he might from that time forward know to whom he wasbeholden for the favour he had received, as he meant to confer uponher some portion of the honour he acquired by the might of his arm.She answered with great humility that she was called La Tolosa, andthat she was the daughter of a cobbler of Toledo who lived in thestalls of Sanchobienaya, and that wherever she might be she wouldserve and esteem him as her lord. Don Quixote said in reply that shewould do him a favour if thenceforward she assumed the "Don" andcalled herself Dona Tolosa. She promised she would, and then the otherbuckled on his spur, and with her followed almost the sameconversation as with the lady of the sword. He asked her name, and shesaid it was La Molinera, and that she was the daughter of arespectable miller of Antequera; and of her likewise Don Quixoterequested that she would adopt the "Don" and call herself DonaMolinera, making offers to her further services and favours.

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
Viewed 140724 times


Page generation 0.001 seconds