Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 108)

They now came in sight of some large water mills that stood in themiddle of the river, and the instant Don Quixote saw them he criedout, "Seest thou there, my friend? there stands the castle orfortress, where there is, no doubt, some knight in durance, orill-used queen, or infanta, or princess, in whose aid I am broughthither."

"What the devil city, fortress, or castle is your worship talkingabout, senor?" said Sancho; "don't you see that those are mills thatstand in the river to grind corn?"

"Hold thy peace, Sancho," said Don Quixote; "though they look likemills they are not so; I have already told thee that enchantmentstransform things and change their proper shapes; I do not mean tosay they really change them from one form into another, but that itseems as though they did, as experience proved in the transformationof Dulcinea, sole refuge of my hopes."

By this time, the boat, having reached the middle of the stream,began to move less slowly than hitherto. The millers belonging tothe mills, when they saw the boat coming down the river, and on thepoint of being sucked in by the draught of the wheels, ran out inhaste, several of them, with long poles to stop it, and being allmealy, with faces and garments covered with flour, they presented asinister appearance. They raised loud shouts, crying, "Devils ofmen, where are you going to? Are you mad? Do you want to drownyourselves, or dash yourselves to pieces among these wheels?"

"Did I not tell thee, Sancho," said Don Quixote at this, "that wehad reached the place where I am to show what the might of my armcan do? See what ruffians and villains come out against me; see whatmonsters oppose me; see what hideous countenances come to frighten us!You shall soon see, scoundrels!" And then standing up in the boat hebegan in a loud voice to hurl threats at the millers, exclaiming,"Ill-conditioned and worse-counselled rabble, restore to liberty andfreedom the person ye hold in durance in this your fortress or prison,high or low or of whatever rank or quality he be, for I am Don Quixoteof La Mancha, otherwise called the Knight of the Lions, for whom, bythe disposition of heaven above, it is reserved to give a happyissue to this adventure;" and so saying he drew his sword and beganmaking passes in the air at the millers, who, hearing but notunderstanding all this nonsense, strove to stop the boat, which wasnow getting into the rushing channel of the wheels. Sancho fell uponhis knees devoutly appealing to heaven to deliver him from suchimminent peril; which it did by the activity and quickness of themillers, who, pushing against the boat with their poles, stopped it,not, however, without upsetting and throwing Don Quixote and Sanchointo the water; and lucky it was for Don Quixote that he could swimlike a goose, though the weight of his armour carried him twice to thebottom; and had it not been for the millers, who plunged in andhoisted them both out, it would have been Troy town with the pair ofthem. As soon as, more drenched than thirsty, they were landed, Sanchowent down on his knees and with clasped hands and eyes raised toheaven, prayed a long and fervent prayer to God to deliver himevermore from the rash projects and attempts of his master. Thefishermen, the owners of the boat, which the mill-wheels had knockedto pieces, now came up, and seeing it smashed they proceeded tostrip Sancho and to demand payment for it from Don Quixote; but hewith great calmness, just as if nothing had happened him, told themillers and fishermen that he would pay for the bark mostcheerfully, on condition that they delivered up to him, free andunhurt, the person or persons that were in durance in that castle oftheirs.

"What persons or what castle art thou talking of, madman? Art thoufor carrying off the people who come to grind corn in these mills?"

"That's enough," said Don Quixote to himself, "it would be preachingin the desert to attempt by entreaties to induce this rabble to do anyvirtuous action. In this adventure two mighty enchanters must haveencountered one another, and one frustrates what the other attempts;one provided the bark for me, and the other upset me; God help us,this world is all machinations and schemes at cross purposes onewith the other. I can do no more." And then turning towards themills he said aloud, "Friends, whoe'er ye be that are immured inthat prison, forgive me that, to my misfortune and yours, I cannotdeliver you from your misery; this adventure is doubtless reserved anddestined for some other knight."

So saying he settled with the fishermen, and paid fifty reals forthe boat, which Sancho handed to them very much against the grain,saying, "With a couple more bark businesses like this we shall havesunk our whole capital."

The fishermen and the millers stood staring in amazement at thetwo figures, so very different to all appearance from ordinary men,and were wholly unable to make out the drift of the observations andquestions Don Quixote addressed to them; and coming to theconclusion that they were madmen, they left them and betookthemselves, the millers to their mills, and the fishermen to theirhuts. Don Quixote and Sancho returned to their beasts, and to theirlife of beasts, and so ended the adventure of the enchanted bark.



They reached their beasts in low spirits and bad humour enough,knight and squire, Sancho particularly, for with him what touchedthe stock of money touched his heart, and when any was taken fromhim he felt as if he was robbed of the apples of his eyes. In fine,without exchanging a word, they mounted and quitted the famousriver, Don Quixote absorbed in thoughts of his love, Sancho inthinking of his advancement, which just then, it seemed to him, he wasvery far from securing; for, fool as he was, he saw clearly enoughthat his master's acts were all or most of them utterly senseless; andhe began to cast about for an opportunity of retiring from his serviceand going home some day, without entering into any explanations ortaking any farewell of him. Fortune, however, ordered matters aftera fashion very much the opposite of what he contemplated.

It so happened that the next day towards sunset, on coming out ofa wood, Don Quixote cast his eyes over a green meadow, and at thefar end of it observed some people, and as he drew nearer saw thatit was a hawking party. Coming closer, he distinguished among them alady of graceful mien, on a pure white palfrey or hackneycaparisoned with green trappings and a silver-mounted side-saddle. Thelady was also in green, and so richly and splendidly dressed thatsplendour itself seemed personified in her. On her left hand shebore a hawk, a proof to Don Quixote's mind that she must be some greatlady and the mistress of the whole hunting party, which was thefact; so he said to Sancho, "Run Sancho, my son, and say to thatlady on the palfrey with the hawk that I, the Knight of the Lions,kiss the hands of her exalted beauty, and if her excellence will grantme leave I will go and kiss them in person and place myself at herservice for aught that may be in my power and her highness maycommand; and mind, Sancho, how thou speakest, and take care not tothrust in any of thy proverbs into thy message."

"You've got a likely one here to thrust any in!" said Sancho; "leaveme alone for that! Why, this is not the first time in my life I havecarried messages to high and exalted ladies."

"Except that thou didst carry to the lady Dulcinea," said DonQuixote, "I know not that thou hast carried any other, at least inmy service."

"That is true," replied Sancho; "but pledges don't distress a goodpayer, and in a house where there's plenty supper is soon cooked; Imean there's no need of telling or warning me about anything; forI'm ready for everything and know a little of everything."

"That I believe, Sancho," said Don Quixote; "go and good luck tothee, and God speed thee."

Sancho went off at top speed, forcing Dapple out of his regularpace, and came to where the fair huntress was standing, anddismounting knelt before her and said, "Fair lady, that knight thatyou see there, the Knight of the Lions by name, is my master, and I ama squire of his, and at home they call me Sancho Panza. This sameKnight of the Lions, who was called not long since the Knight of theRueful Countenance, sends by me to say may it please your highnessto give him leave that, with your permission, approbation, andconsent, he may come and carry out his wishes, which are, as he saysand I believe, to serve your exalted loftiness and beauty; and ifyou give it, your ladyship will do a thing which will redound toyour honour, and he will receive a most distinguished favour andhappiness."

"You have indeed, squire," said the lady, "delivered your messagewith all the formalities such messages require; rise up, for it is notright that the squire of a knight so great as he of the RuefulCountenance, of whom we have heard a great deal here, should remain onhis knees; rise, my friend, and bid your master welcome to theservices of myself and the duke my husband, in a country house we havehere."

Sancho got up, charmed as much by the beauty of the good lady asby her high-bred air and her courtesy, but, above all, by what she hadsaid about having heard of his master, the Knight of the RuefulCountenance; for if she did not call him Knight of the Lions it was nodoubt because he had so lately taken the name. "Tell me, brothersquire," asked the duchess (whose title, however, is not known), "thismaster of yours, is he not one of whom there is a history extant inprint, called 'The Ingenious Gentleman, Don Quixote of La Mancha,' whohas for the lady of his heart a certain Dulcinea del Toboso?"

"He is the same, senora," replied Sancho; "and that squire of hiswho figures, or ought to figure, in the said history under the name ofSancho Panza, is myself, unless they have changed me in the cradle,I mean in the press."

"I am rejoiced at all this," said the duchess; "go, brother Panza,and tell your master that he is welcome to my estate, and that nothingcould happen me that could give me greater pleasure."

Sancho returned to his master mightily pleased with thisgratifying answer, and told him all the great lady had said to him,lauding to the skies, in his rustic phrase, her rare beauty, hergraceful gaiety, and her courtesy. Don Quixote drew himself up brisklyin his saddle, fixed himself in his stirrups, settled his visor,gave Rocinante the spur, and with an easy bearing advanced to kiss thehands of the duchess, who, having sent to summon the duke her husband,told him while Don Quixote was approaching all about the message;and as both of them had read the First Part of this history, andfrom it were aware of Don Quixote's crazy turn, they awaited himwith the greatest delight and anxiety to make his acquaintance,meaning to fall in with his humour and agree with everything hesaid, and, so long as he stayed with them, to treat him as aknight-errant, with all the ceremonies usual in the books ofchivalry they had read, for they themselves were very fond of them.

Don Quixote now came up with his visor raised, and as he seemedabout to dismount Sancho made haste to go and hold his stirrup forhim; but in getting down off Dapple he was so unlucky as to hitchhis foot in one of the ropes of the pack-saddle in such a way thathe was unable to free it, and was left hanging by it with his face andbreast on the ground. Don Quixote, who was not used to dismountwithout having the stirrup held, fancying that Sancho had by this timecome to hold it for him, threw himself off with a lurch and broughtRocinante's saddle after him, which was no doubt badly girthed, andsaddle and he both came to the ground; not without discomfiture to himand abundant curses muttered between his teeth against the unluckySancho, who had his foot still in the shackles. The duke ordered hishuntsmen to go to the help of knight and squire, and they raised DonQuixote, sorely shaken by his fall; and he, limping, advanced asbest he could to kneel before the noble pair. This, however, theduke would by no means permit; on the contrary, dismounting from hishorse, he went and embraced Don Quixote, saying, "I am grieved, SirKnight of the Rueful Countenance, that your first experience on myground should have been such an unfortunate one as we have seen; butthe carelessness of squires is often the cause of worse accidents."

"That which has happened me in meeting you, mighty prince,"replied Don Quixote, "cannot be unfortunate, even if my fall had notstopped short of the depths of the bottomless pit, for the glory ofhaving seen you would have lifted me up and delivered me from it. Mysquire, God's curse upon him, is better at unloosing his tongue intalking impertinence than in tightening the girths of a saddle to keepit steady; but however I may be, allen or raised up, on foot or onhorseback, I shall always be at your service and that of my lady theduchess, your worthy consort, worthy queen of beauty and paramountprincess of courtesy."

"Gently, Senor Don Quixote of La Mancha," said the duke; "where mylady Dona Dulcinea del Toboso is, it is not right that otherbeauties should he praised."

Sancho, by this time released from his entanglement, was standingby, and before his master could answer he said, "There is nodenying, and it must be maintained, that my lady Dulcinea del Tobosois very beautiful; but the hare jumps up where one least expects it;and I have heard say that what we call nature is like a potter thatmakes vessels of clay, and he who makes one fair vessel can as wellmake two, or three, or a hundred; I say so because, by my faith, mylady the duchess is in no way behind my mistress the lady Dulcinea delToboso."

Don Quixote turned to the duchess and said, "Your highness mayconceive that never had knight-errant in this world a more talkativeor a droller squire than I have, and he will prove the truth of what Isay, if your highness is pleased to accept of my services for a fewdays."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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