Home  »  Don Quixote, Part 1  »  III. Of Many Pleasant Discourses Passed between Don Quixote and Those of His Company, After He Had Abandoned the Rigorous Place of His Penance

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616). Don Quixote, Part 1.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

The Fourth Book

III. Of Many Pleasant Discourses Passed between Don Quixote and Those of His Company, After He Had Abandoned the Rigorous Place of His Penance

SCARCE had the curate finished his speech thoroughly, when Sancho said, ‘By my faith, master licentiate, he that did that feat was my lord, and that not for want of warning, for I told him beforehand, and advised him that he should see well what he did, and that it was a sin to deliver them, because they were all sent to the galleys for very great villanies they had played.’

‘You bottlehead,’ replied Don Quixote, hearing him speak, ‘it concerneth not knights-errant to examine whether the afflicted, the enchained, and oppressed, which they encounter by the way, be carried in that fashion, or are plunged in that distress, through their own default or disgrace, but only are obliged to assist them as needy and oppressed, setting their eyes upon their pains, and not on their crimes. I met with a rosary or beads of inserted people, sorrowful and unfortunate, and I did for them that which my religion exacts; as for the rest, let them verify it elsewhere: and to whosoever else, the holy dignity and honourable person of master licentiate excepted, it shall seem evil, I say he knows but slightly what belongs to chivalry, and he lies like a whoreson and a villain born, and this will I make him know with the broad side of my sword.’ These words he said, settling himself in his stirrups, and addressing his morion (for the barber’s basin, which he accounted to be Mambrino’s helmet, he carried hanging at the pommel of his saddle, until he might have it repaired of the crazings the galley-slave had wrought in it). Dorothea, who was very discreet and pleasant, and that was by this well acquainted with Don Quixote’s faulty humour, and saw all the rest make a jest of him, Sancho Panza excepted, would also show her conceit to be as good as some others, and therefore said unto him, ‘Sir knight, remember yourself of the boon you have promised unto me, whereunto conforming yourself, you cannot intermeddle in any other adventure, be it ever so urgent. Therefore, assuage your stomach; for if master licentiate had known that the galley-slaves were delivered by your invincible arm, he would rather have given unto himself three blows on the mouth, and also bit his tongue thrice, than have spoken any word whence might result your indignation.’ ‘That I dare swear,’ quoth the curate; ‘yea, and besides torn away one of my moustaches.’

‘Madam,’ said Don Quixote, ‘I will hold my peace, and suppress the just choler already enkindled in my breast, and will ride quietly and peaceably, until I have accomplished the thing I have promised; and I request you, in recompense of this my good desire, if it be not displeasing to you, to tell me your grievance, and how many, which, and what the persons be, of whom I must take due, sufficient, and entire revenge.’ ‘I will promptly perform your will herein,’ answered Dorothea, ‘if it will not be irksome to you to listen to disasters.’ ‘In no sort, good madam,’ said Don Quixote. To which Dorothea answered thus: ‘Be then attentive to my relation.’ Scarce had she said so, when Cardenio and the barber came by her side, desirous to hear how the discreet Dorothea would feign her tale; and the same did Sancho, which was so much deceived in her person as his lord Don Quixote. And she, after dressing herself well in the saddle, bethought and provided herself whilst she coughed and used other gestures, and then began to speak on this manner:

‘First of all, good sirs, I would have you note that I am called’-And here she stood suspended a while, by reason she had forgotten the name that the curate had given unto her. But he presently occurred to her succour, understanding the cause, and said, ‘It is no wonder, great lady, that you be troubled and stagger whilst you recount your misfortunes, seeing it is the ordinary custom of disasters to deprive those whom they torment and distract their memory in such sort as they cannot remember themselves even of their own very names, as now it proves done in your highness, which forgets itself that you are called the Princess Micomicona, lawful inheritrix of the great kingdom of Micomicon. And with this note, you may easily reduce into your doleful memory all that which you shall please to rehearse.’

‘It is very true,’ quoth the damsel, ‘and from henceforth I think it will not be needful to prompt me any more, for I will arrive into a safe port with the narration of my authentic history; which is, that my father, who was called the wise Tinacrio, was very expert in that which was called art magic, and he knew by his science that my mother, who was called Queen Xaramilla, should die before he deceased, and that he should also pass from this life within a while after, and leave me an orphan; but he was wont to say how that did not afflict his mind so much, as that he was very certain that a huge giant, lord of a great island near unto my kingdom, called Pandafilando of the Dusky Sight (because, although his eyes stood in their right places, yet do they still look asquint, which he doth to terrify the beholders), I say that my father knew that this giant, when he should hear of his death, would pass with a main power into my land, and deprive me thereof, not leaving me the least village wherein I might hide my head; yet might all this be excused if I would marry with him. But, as he found out by his science, he knew I would never condescend thereunto, or incline mine affection to so unequal a marriage; and herein he said nothing but truth, for it never passed once my thought to espouse that giant, nor with any other, were he ever so unreasonable, and great, and mighty. My father likewise added then, that after his death I should see Pandafilando usurp my kingdom, and that I should in no wise stand to my defence, for that would prove my destruction; but, leaving to him the kingdom freely without troubles, if I meant to excuse mine own death, and the total ruin of my good and loyal subjects (for it would be impossible to defend myself from the devilish force of the giant), I should presently direct my course towards Spain, where I should find a redress of my harms by encountering with a knight-errant whose fame should extend itself much about that time throughout that kingdom, and his name should be, if I forgot not myself, Don Azote or Don Gigote.’

‘Lady, you would say Don Quixote,’ quoth Sancho Panza, ‘or, as he is called by another name, the Knight of the Ill-favoured Face.’ ‘You have reason,’ replied Dorothea. ‘He said, moreover, that he should be high of stature, have a withered face, and that on the right side, a little under the left shoulder, or thereabouts, he should have a tawny spot with certain hairs like to bristles.’ Don Quixote, hearing this, said to his squire, ‘Hold my horse here, son Sancho, and help me to take off mine apparel; for I will see whether I be the knight of whom the wise king hath prophesied.’ ‘Why would you now put off your clothes?’ quoth Dorothea. ‘To see whether I have that spot which your father mentioned,’ answered Don Quixote. ‘You need not undo your apparel for that purpose,’ said Sancho, ‘for I know already that you have a spot with the tokens she named on the very ridges of your back, and argues you to be a very strong man.’ ‘That is sufficient,’ quoth Dorothea; ‘for we must not look too near, or be over-curious in our friends’ affairs; and whether it be on the shoulder, or ridge of the back, it imports but little, for the substance consists only in having such a mark, and not wheresoever it shall be, seeing all is one and the self-same flesh; and, doubtlessly, my good father did aim well at all, and I likewise in commending myself to Don Quixote; for surely he is the man of whom my father spoke, seeing the signs of his face agree with those of the great renown that is spread abroad of this knight, not only in Spain, but also in Ethiopia; for I had no sooner landed in Osuna, when I heard so many of his prowesses recounted, as my mind gave me presently that he was the man in whose search I travelled.’ ‘But how did you land in Osuna, good madam,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘seeing it is no sea town?’ ‘Marry, sir,’ quoth the curate, anticipating Dorothea’s answer, ‘the princess would say that after she had landed in Malaga, but the first place wherein she heard tidings of you was at Osuna.’ ‘So I would have said,’ quoth Dorothea. ‘And it may be very well,’ quoth the curate; ‘and I desire your majesty to continue your discourse.’ ‘There needs no further continuation,’ quoth Dorothea, ‘but that, finally, my fortune hath been so favourable in finding of Don Quixote, as I do already hold and account myself for queen and lady of all mine estate, seeing that he, of his wonted bounty and magnificence, hath promised me the boon to accompany me wheresoever I shall guide him, which shall be to none other place than to set him before Pandafilando of the dusky sight, to the end you may slay him, and restore me to that which he hath so wrongfully usurped; for all will succeed in the twinkling of an eye, as the wise Tinacrio, my good father, hath already foretold, who said moreover, and also left it written in Chaldaical or Greek characters (for I cannot read them), that if the knight of the prophecy, after having beheaded the giant, would take me to wife, that I should in no sort refuse him, but instantly admitting him for my spouse, make him at once possessor of myself and my kingdom.’

‘What thinkest thou of this, friend Sancho?’ quoth Don Quixote then, when he heard her say so. ‘How likest thou this point? Did not I tell thee thus much before? See now, whether we have not a kingdom to command, and a queen whom we may marry.’ ‘I swear as much,’ quoth Sancho. ‘A pox on the knave that will not marry as soon as Master Pandahilado his windpipes are cut! Mount, then, and see whether the queen be ill or no. I would to God all the fleas of my bed were turned to be such!’ And, saying so, he gave two or three friskles in the air, with very great signs of contentment, and presently went to Dorothea, and, taking her mule by the bridle, he withheld it, and, laying himself down on his knees before her, requested her very submissively to give him her hands to kiss them, in sign that he received her for his queen and lady. Which of the beholders could abstain from laughter, perceiving the master’s madness and the servant’s simplicity? To be brief, Dorothea must needs give them unto him, and promised to make him a great lord in her kingdom, when Heaven became so propitious to her as to let her once recover and possess it peaceably. And Sancho returned her thanks with such words as made them all laugh anew.

‘This is my history, noble sirs,’ quoth Dorothea, ‘whereof only rests untold that none of all the train which I brought out of my kingdom to attend on me is now extant but this well-bearded squire; for all of them were drowned in a great storm that overtook us in the very sight of the harbour, whence he and I escaped, and came to land by the help of two planks, on which we laid hold, almost by miracle; as also the whole discourse and mystery of my life seems none other than a miracle, as you might have noted. And if in any part of the relation I have exceeded, or not observed a due decorum, you must impute it to that which master licentiate said to the first of my history, that continual pains and afflictions of mind deprives them that suffer the like of their memory.’ ‘That shall not hinder me, O high and valorous lady!’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘from enduring as many as I shall suffer in your service, be they never so great or difficult; and therefore I do anew ratify and confirm the promise I have made, and do swear to go with you to the end of the world, until I find out your fierce enemy, whose proud head I mean to slice off, by the help of God and my valorous arm, with the edge of this (I will not say a good) sword, thanks be to Gines of Passamonte, which took away mine own.’ This he said murmuring to himself, and then prosecuted, saying, ‘And after I have cut it off, and left you peaceably in the possession of your state, it shall rest in your own will to dispose to your person as you like best; for as long as I shall have my memory possessed, and my will captivated, and my understanding yielded to her——I will say no more; it is not possible that ever I may induce myself to marry any other, although she were a Phoenix.’

That which Don Quixote had said last of all, of not marrying, disliked Sancho so much, as, lifting his voice with great anger, he said, ‘I vow and swear by myself that you are not in your right wits, Sir Don Quixote; for how is it possible that you can call the matter of contracting so high a princess as this is in doubt? Do you think that fortune will offer you, at every corner’s end, the like hap of this which is now proffered? Is my Lady Dulcinea, perhaps, more beautiful? No, certainly, nor half so fair; nay, I am rather about to say that she comes not to her shoe that is here present. In an ill hour shall I arrive to possess that unfortunate earldom which I expect, if you go thus seeking for mushrubs in the bottom of the sea. Marry, marry yourself presently, the devil take you for me, and take that kingdom comes into your hands, and being a king, make me presently a marquis or admiral, and instantly after let the devil take all if he pleaseth.’

Don Quixote, who heard such blasphemies spoken against his Lady Dulcinea, could not bear them any longer; and therefore, lifting up his javelin, without speaking any word to Sancho, gave him therewithal two such blows as he overthrew him to the earth; and had not Dorothea cried to him to hold his hand, he had doubtlessly slain him in the place.

‘Thinkest thou,’ quoth he after a while, ‘base peasant! that I shall have always leisure and disposition to thrust my hand into my pouch, and that there be nothing else but thou still erring and I pardoning? And dost not thou think of it, excommunicated rascal! for certainly thou art excommunicated, seeing thou hast talked so broadly of the peerless Dulcinea! And dost not thou know, base slave! vagabond! that if it were not for the valour she infuseth into mine arm, that I should not have sufficient forces to kill a flea? Say, scoffer with the viper’s tongue! who dost thou think hath gained this kingdom, and cut the head off this giant, and made thee a marquis (for I give all this for done already, and for a matter ended and judged), but the worths and valour of Dulcinea, using mine arm as the instrument of her act? She fights under my person, and overcomes in me; and I live and breathe in her, and from her I hold my life and being. O whoreson villain! how ungrateful art thou, that seest thyself exalted out from the dust of the earth to be a nobleman, and yet dost repay so great a benefit with detracting the person that bestowed it on thee!’

Sancho was not so sore hurt but that he could hear all his master’s reasons very well; wherefore, arising somewhat hastily, he ran behind Dorothea her palfrey, and from thence said to his lord, ‘Tell me, sir, if you be not determined to marry with this princess, it is most clear that the kingdom shall not be yours; and if it be not, what favours can you be able to do to me? It is of this that I complain me. Marry yourself one for one with this princess, now that we have her here as it were rained to us down from heaven, and you may after turn to my Lady Dulcinea; for I think there be kings in the world that keep lemans. As for beauty, I will not intermeddle; for, if I must say the truth, each of both is very fair, although I have never seen the Lady Dulcinea.’ ‘How! hast thou not seen her, blasphemous traitor?’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘As if thou didst but even now bring me a message from her!’ ‘I say,’ quoth Sancho, ‘I have not seen her so leisurely as I might particularly note her beauty and good parts one by one, but yet in a clap, as I saw them, they liked me very well.’ ‘I do excuse thee now,’ said Don Quixote, ‘and pardon me the displeasure which I have given unto thee, for the first motions are not in our hands.’ ‘I see that well,’ quoth Sancho, ‘and that is the reason why talk is in me of one of those first motions, and I cannot omit to speak once, at least, that which comes to my tongue.’ ‘For all that, Sancho,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘see well what thou speakest; for “the earthen pitcher goes so oft to the water”—I will say no more.’

‘Well, then,’ answered Sancho, ‘God is in heaven, who seeth all these guiles, and shall be one day judge of him that sins most—of me in not speaking well, or of you by not doing well.’ ‘Let there be no more,’ quoth Dorothea, ‘but run, Sancho, and kiss your lord’s hand, and ask him forgiveness, and from henceforth take more heed how you praise or dispraise anybody, and speak no ill of that Lady Toboso, whom I do not know otherwise than to do her service; and have confidence in God, for thou shalt not want a lordship wherein thou mayst live like a king.’ Sancho went with his head hanging downward, and demanded his lord’s hand, which he gave unto him with a grave countenance; and after he had kissed it, he gave him his blessing, and said to him that he had somewhat to say unto him, and therefore bade him to come somewhat forward, that he might speak unto him. Sancho obeyed; and both of them going a little aside, Don Quixote said unto him, ‘I have not had leisure after thy coming to demand of thee in particular concerning the ambassage that thou carriedst, and the answer that thou broughtst back; and therefore, now fortune lends us some opportunity and leisure, do not deny me the happiness which thou mayst give me by thy good news.’

‘Demand what you please,’ quoth Sancho, ‘and I will answer you; and I request you, good my lord, that you be not from henceforth so wrathful.’ ‘Why dost thou say so, Sancho?’ quoth Don Quixote. ‘I say it,’ replied Sancho, ‘because that these blows which you bestowed now, were rather given in revenge of the dissension which the devil stirred between us two the other night, than for anything I said against my Lady Dulcinea, whom I do honour and reverence as a relique, although she be none, only because she is yours.’ ‘I pray thee, good Sancho,’ said Don Quixote, ‘fall not again into those discourses, for they offend me. I did pardon thee then, and thou knowest that a new offence must have a new penance.’

As they talked thus, they espied a gallant coming towards them, riding on an ass, and when he drew near he seemed to be an Egyptian; but Sancho Panza, who, whensoever he met any asses, followed them with his eyes and his heart, as one that thought still on his own, had scarce eyed him when he knew that it was Gines of Passamonte, and, by the look of the Egyptian, found out the fleece of his ass, as in truth it was; for Gines came riding on his grey ass, who, to the end he might not be known, and also have commodity to sell his beast, attired himself like an Egyptian, whose language and many others he could speak as well as if they were his mother tongue. Sancho saw him and knew him; and scarce had he seen and taken notice of him, when he cried out aloud, ‘Ah! thief, Ginesillo! leave my goods behind thee, set my life loose, and do not intermeddle with my ease! Leave mine ass, leave my comfort! Fly, villain! absent thyself, thief! and abandon that which is none of thine!’ He needed not to have used so many words and frumps, for Gines leaped down at the very first, and beginning a trot, that seemed rather to be a gallop, he absented himself, and fled far enough from them in a moment. Sancho went then to his ass, and, embracing him, said, ‘How hast thou done hitherto, my darling and treasure, grey ass of mine eyes, and my dearest companion?’ and with that stroked and kissed him as if it were a reasonable creature. The ass held his peace, and permitted Sancho to kiss and cherish him, without answering a word. All the rest arrived, and congratulated with Sancho for the finding of his ass, but chiefly Don Quixote, who said unto him that notwithstanding that he found his ass, yet would not he therefore annul his warrant for the three colts; for which Sancho returned him very great thanks.

Whilst they two travelled together discoursing thus, the curate said to Dorothea that she had very discreetly discharged herself, as well in the history as in her brevity and imitation thereof to the phrase and conceits of books of knighthood. She answered that she did ofttimes read books of that subject, but that she knew not where the provinces lay, nor seaports, and therefore did only say at random that she had landed in Osuna. ‘I knew it was so,’ quoth the curate, ‘and therefore I said what you heard, wherewithal the matter was soldered. But is it not a marvellous thing to see with what facility the unfortunate gentleman believes all these inventions and lies, only because they bear the style and manner of the follies laid down in his books?’ ‘It is,’ quoth Cardenio, ‘and that so rare and beyond all conceit, as I believe, if the like were to be invented, scarce could the sharpest wits devise such another.’

‘There is yet,’ quoth the curate, ‘as marvellous a matter as that; for, leaving apart the simplicities which this good gentleman speaks concerning his frenzy, if you will commune with him of any other subject whatsoever, he will discourse on it with an excellent method, and show himself to have a clear and pleasing understanding; so that, if he be not touched by matters of chivalry, there is no man but will deem him to be of a sound and excellent judgment.’

Don Quixote on the other side prosecuted his conversing with his squire whilst the others talked together, and said to Sancho, ‘Let us two, friend Panza, forget old injuries, and say unto me now, without any rancour or anger, where, how, and when didst thou find my Lady Dulcinea? What did she when thou camest? What saidst thou to her? What answered she? What countenance showed she as she read my letter? And who writ it out fairly for thee? And every other thing that thou shalt think worthy of notice in this affair to be demanded or answered, without either addition or lying, or soothing adulation; and on the other side do not abbreviate it, lest thou shouldst defraud me thereby of expected delight.’ ‘Sir,’ answered Sancho, ‘if I must say the truth, none copied out the letter for me; for I carried no letter at all.’

‘Thou sayst true,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘for I found the tablets wherein it was written with myself two days after thy departure, which did grieve me exceedingly, because I knew not what thou wouldst do when thou didst perceive the want of the letter, and I always made full account that thou wouldst return again from the place where thou shouldst first miss it.’ ‘I had done so,’ quoth Sancho, ‘if I had not borne it away in memory, when you read it to me, in such sort as I said to a clerk of a vestry, who did copy it out of my understanding so point by point, as he said that he never in all the days of his life, although he had read many a letter of excommunication, read or seen so fine a letter as it was.’ ‘And dost thou hold it yet in memory, Sancho?’ quoth Don Quixote.

‘No sir,’ said Sancho; ‘for after I gave it, seeing it served for none other purpose, I did willingly forget is; and if I remember anything, it is that of the “mouldy”—I would say “sovereign lady”; and the end, “yours until death, the Knight of the Ill-favoured Face”; and I put between these two things in the letter three hundred souls, and lives, and sweet eyes.’