Home  »  Don Quixote, Part 1  »  III. Wherein Are Rehearsed the Innumerable Misfortunes Which Don Quixote and His Good Squire Sancho Suffered in the Inn, Which He, to His Harm, Thought to Be a Castle

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

The Third Book

III. Wherein Are Rehearsed the Innumerable Misfortunes Which Don Quixote and His Good Squire Sancho Suffered in the Inn, Which He, to His Harm, Thought to Be a Castle

BY this time Don Quixote was come to himself again out of his trance, and, with the like lamentable notes as that wherewithal he had called his squire the day before, when he was overthrown in the vale of the pack staves, he called to him, saying, ‘Friend Sancho, art thou asleep? sleepest thou, friend Sancho?’ ‘What! I asleep? I renounce myself,’ quoth Sancho, full of grief and despite, ‘if I think not all the devils in hell have been visiting of me here this night!’ ‘Thou mayst certainly believe it,’ replied Don Quixote; ‘for either I know very little, or else this castle is enchanted. For I let thee to wit—but thou must first swear to keep secret that which I mean to tell thee now, until after my death.’ ‘So I swear,’ quoth Sancho. ‘I say it.’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘because I cannot abide to take away anybody’s honour.’ ‘Why,’ quoth Sancho again, ‘I swear that I will conceal it until after your worships days; and I pray God that I may discover it to-morrow.’ ‘Have I wrought thee such harm, Sancho,’ replied the knight, ‘as thou wouldst desire to see me end so soon?’ ‘It is not for that, sir,’ quoth Sancho; ‘but because I cannot abide to keep things long, lest they should rot in my custody.’ ‘Let it be for what thou pleasest,’ said Don Quixote; ‘for I do trust greater matters than that to thy love and courtesy. And that I may rehearse it unto thee briefly, know that, a little while since, the lord of this castle’s daughter came unto me, who is the most fair and beautiful damsel that can be found in a great part of the earth. What could I say unto thee of the ornaments of her person? what of her excellent wit? what of other secret things? which, that I may preserve the faith due unto my Lady Dulcinea of Toboso, I pass over in silence. I will only tell thee that Heaven, envious of the inestimable good that fortune had put in my hands; or perhaps (and that is most probable) this castle, as I have said, is enchanted, just at the time when we were in most sweet and amorous speech, I being not able to see or know from whence it came, there arrived a hand, joined to the arm of some mighty giant, and gave me such a blow on the jaws as they remain all bathed in blood, and did after so thump and bruise me as I feel myself worse now than yesterday, when the carriers, through Rozinantes madness, did used us thou knowest how. By which I conjecture that the treasure of this damsel’s beauty is kept by some enchanted Moor, and is not reserved for me.’ ‘Nor for me.,’ quoth Sancho; ‘for I have been bombasted by more than four hundred Moors, which have hammered me in such sort as the bruising of the pack-staves was gilded bread and spice-cakes in comparison of it. But, sir, I pray you tell me, how can you call this a good and rare adventure, seeing we remain so pitifully used after it? And yet your harms may be accounted less, in respect you have held, as you said, that incomparable beauty between your arms. But I, what have I had other than the greatest blows that I shall ever have in my life? Unfortunate that I am, and the mother that bare me! that neither am an errant-knight, nor ever means to be any, and yet the greatest part of our mishaps still falls to my lot.’ ‘It seems that thou wast likewise beaten,’ replied Don Quixote. ‘Evil befal my lineage!’ quoth Sancho; ‘have not I told you I was? ‘Be not grieved, friend,’ replied the knight; ‘for I will now compound the precious balsam, which will cure us in the twinkling of an eye.’

The officer having by this time lighted his lamp, entered into the room to see him whom he accounted to be dead; and as soon as Sancho saw him, seeing him come in in his shirt, his head wrapped up in a kerchief, the lamp in his hand, having withal a very evil-favoured countenance, he demanded of his lord,—‘Sir, is this by chance the enchanted Moor, that turns anew to torment us for somewhat that is yet unpunished?’ ‘He cannot be the Moor,’ answered Don Quixote; ‘for necromancers suffer not themselves to be seen by any.’ ‘If they suffer not themselves to be seen,’ quoth Sancho, ‘they suffer themselves at least to felt; if not, let my shoulders bear witness.’ ‘So might mine also,’ said Don Quixote; ‘but, notwithstanding, this is no sufficient argument to prove him whom we see to be the enchanted Moor.’ As thus they discoursed, the officer arrived, and, finding them to commune in so peaceable and quiet manner, he rested admired. Yet Don Quixote lay with his face upward as he had left him, and was not able to stir himself, he was so beaten and beplaistered. The officer approaching, demanded of him, ‘Well, how dost thou, good fellow?’ ‘I would speak more mannerly,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘if I were but such a one as thou art. Is it the custom of this country, you bottle-head! to talk after so rude a manner to knights-errant?’ The other, impatient to see one of so vile presence use him with that bad language, could not endure it; but, lifting up the lamp, oil and all, gave Don Quixote such a blow on the pate with it as he broke his head in one or two places, and, leaving all in darkness behind him, departed presently out of the chamber. ‘Without doubt,’ quoth Sancho, seeing this accident, ‘sir, that was the enchanted Moor; and I think he keepeth the treasure for others, and reserveth only for us fists and lampblows.’ ‘It is as thou sayst,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘and therefore we are not to make account of these enchantments, or be wroth and angry at them; for, in respect that they are invisible and fantastical, we shall not find him on whom we may take revenge, though we labour ever so much to do it. Arise, therefore, Sancho, if thou beest able, and call to the constable of this fortress, and procure me some oil, wine, salt, and vinegar, that I make the wholesome balsam; for verily I believe that I do need it very much at this time, the blood runneth so fast out of the wound which the spirit gave me even now.’ Sancho then got up, with grief enough of his bones, and went without light towards the innkeeper’s, and encountered on the way the officer of the holy brotherhood, who stood harkening what did become of his enemy; to whom he said, ‘Sir, whosoever thou beest, I desire thee, do us the favour and benefit to give me a little rosemary, oil, wine, and salt, to cure one of the best knights-errant that is in the earth, who lieth now in that bed, sorely wounded by the hands of an enchanted Moor that is in this inn.’ When the officer heard him speak in that manner, he held him to be out of his wits; and because the dawning began, he opened the inn-door, and told unto the host that which Sancho demanded. The innkeeper presently provided all that he wanted, and Sancho carried it to his master, who held his head between both his hands, and complained much of the grief that the blow of his head caused, which did him no other hurt than to raise up two blisters somewhat great, and that which he supposed to be blood was only the humour which the anxiety and labour of mind he passed in this last dark adventure had made him to sweat.

In resolution, Don Quixote took his simples, of which he made a compound, mixing them all together, and then boiling of them a good while, until they came (as he thought) to their perfection. He asked for a vial wherein he might lay this precious liquor; but, the inn being unable to afford him any such, he resolved at last to put it into a tin oil-pot, which the host did freely give him, and forthwith he said over the pot eighty paternosters, and as many aves, salves, and creeds, and accompanied every word with a cross, in form of benediction; at all which ceremonies, Sancho, the innkeeper, and the officer of the holy brotherhood were present; for the carrier went very soberly to dress and make ready his mules.

The liquor being made, he himself would presently make experience of the virtue of that precious balsam, as he did imagine it to be, and so did drink a good draught of the overplus that could not enter into his pot, being a quart or thereabouts; and scarce had he done it when he began to vomit so extremely as he left nothing uncast up in his stomach; and, through the pain and agitation caused by his vomits, he fell into a very abundant and great sweat, and therefore commanded himself to be well covered, and left alone to take his ease. Which was done forthwith and he slept three hours, and then, awaking, found himself so wonderfully eased and free from all bruising and pain, as he doubted not but that he was thoroughly whole; and therefore did verily persuade himself that he had happened on the right manner of compounding the Balsam of Fierabras; and that, having that medicine, he might boldly from thenceforth undertake any ruins, battles, conflicts, or adventures, how dangerous soever.

Sancho Panza, who likewise attributed the sudden cure of his master to miracle, requested that it would please him to give him leave to sup up the remainder of the balsam which rested in the kettle, and was no small quantity; which Don Quixote granted; and he, lifting up between both hands, did, with a good faith and better talent, quaff it off all, being little less than his master had drunk. The success, then, of the history is, that poor Sancho’s stomach was not so delicate as his lord’s, wherefore, before he could cast, he was tormented with so many cruel pangs, loathings, sweats, and dismays, as he did verily persuade himself that his last hour was come; and, perceiving himself to be so afflicted and troubled, he cursed the balsam, and the thief which had given it to him. Don Quixote, seeing of him in that pitiful taking, said: ‘I believe, Sancho, all this evil befalleth thee because thou art not dubbed knight; for I persuade myself that this liquor cannot help any one that is not.’ ‘If your worship knew that,’ quoth Sancho,—‘evil befall me and all my lineage!—why did you therefore consent that I should taste it?’

In this time the drench had made his operation, and the poor squire did so swift and vehemently discharge himself by both channels, as neither his mat or canvas covering could serve after to any use. He sweat and sweat again, with such excessive swoonings, as not only himself, but likewise all the beholders, did verily deem that his life was ending. This storm and mishap endured about some two hours, after which he remained not cured as his master, but so weary and indisposed as he was not able to stand.

But Don Quixote, who, as we have said, felt himself eased and cured, would presently depart to seek adventures, it seeming unto him that all the time which he abode there was no other than a depriving both of the world and needful people of his favour and assistance; and more, through the security and confidence that he had in his balsam. And carried thus away by this desire, he himself saddled his horse Rozinante, and did empannel his squire’s beast, whom he likewise helped to apparel himself and to mount upon his ass; and presently, getting a-horseback, he rode over to a corner of the inn, and laid hand on a javelin that was there, to make it serve him instead of a lance. All the people that were in the inn stood beholding him, which were above twenty in number.

The innkeeper’s daughter did also look upon him, and he did never withdraw his eye from her, and would ever and anon breathe forth so doleful a sigh as if he had plucked it out of the bottom of his heart; which all the beholders took to proceed from the grief of his ribs, but especially such as had seen him plaistered the night before. And, being both mounted thus a horseback, he called the innkeeper, and said unto him, with a grave and staid voice: ‘Many and great are the favours, sir constable, which I have received in this your castle, and do remain most obliged to gratify you for them all the days of my life. And if I may pay or recompense them by revenging of you upon any proud miscreant that hath done you any wrongs, know that it is mine office to help the weak, to revenge the wronged, and to chastise traitors. Call therefore to memory, and if you find anything of this kind to commend to my correction, you need not but once to say it; for I do promise you, by the order of knighthood which I have received, to satisfy and apay you according to your own desire.’

The innkeeper answered him again, with like gravity and staidness, saying, ‘Sir knight, I shall not need your assistance when any wrong is done to me; for I know very well myself how to take the revenge that I shall think good, when the injury is offered. That only which I require is, that you defray the charges whereat you have been here in the inn this night, as well for the straw and barley given to your horses, as also for both your beds.’ ‘This, then, is an inn?’ quoth Don Quixote. ‘That it is, and an honourable one too,’ replied the innkeeper. ‘Then have I hitherto lived in an error,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘for, in very good sooth, I took it till now to be a castle, and that no mean one neither. But since that it is no castle, but an inn, that which you may do for the present time is, to forgive me those expenses; for I cannot do aught against the custom of knights-errant; of all which I most certainly know (without ever having read until this present anything to the contrary) that they never paid for their lodging, or other thing, in any inn wheresoever they lay; for, by all law and right, any good entertainment that is given unto them is their due, in recompense of the insupportable travels they endure, seeking of adventures both day and night, in summer and winter, a-foot and a-horseback, with thirst and hunger, in heat and cold, being subject to all the distemperatures of heaven and all the discommodities of the earth.’ ‘All that concerns me nothing,’ replied the innkeeper. ‘Pay unto me my due, and leave these tales and knighthoods apart; for I care for nothing else but how I may come by mine own.’ ‘Thou art a mad and a bad host,’ quoth Don Quixote. And, saying so, he spurred Rozinante, and, flourishing with his javelin, he issued out of the inn in despite of them all, and, without looking behind him to see once whether his squire followed, he rode a good way off from it.

The innkeeper, seeing he departed without satisfying him, came to Sancho Panza to get his money of him, who answered that, since his lord would not pay, he would likewise give nothing; for being, as he was, squire to a knight-errant, the very same rules and reason that exempted his master from payments in inns and taverns ought also to serve and be understood as well of him. The innkeeper grew wroth at these words, and threatened him that, if he did not pay him speedily, he would recover it in manner that would grieve him. Sancho replied, swearing by the order of knighthood which his lord had received, that he would not pay one denier, though it cost him his life; for the good and ancient customs of knights-errant should never, through his default, be infringed; nor should their squires which are yet to come into the world ever complain on him, or upbraid him for transgressing or breaking so just a duty. But his bad fortune ordained that there were at the very time in the same inn four clothiers of Segovia, and three point-makers of the stews of Cordova, and two neighbours of the market of Seville, all pleasant folk, well-minded, malicious, and playsome; all which, pricked and in a manner moved all at one time, and by the very same spirit, came near to Sancho, and, pulling him down off his ass, one of them ran in for the innkeeper’s coverlet, and, casting him into it, they looked up, and, seeing the house was somewhat too low for their intended business, they determined to go into the base court, which was overhead only limited by heaven; and then, Sancho being laid in the midst of the blanket, they began to toss him aloft and sport themselves with him, in the manner they were wont to use dogs at Shrovetide.

The outcries of the miserable betossed squire were so many and so loud as they arrived at last to his lord’s hearing, who, standing awhile to listen attentively what it was, believed that some new adventure did approach, until he perceived at last that he which cried was his squire; wherefore, turning the reins, he made towards the inn with a loathsome gallop, and, finding it shut, he rode all about it to see whether he might enter into it. But scarce was he arrived at the walls of the base-court, which were not very high, when he perceived the foul play that was used toward his squire; for he saw him descend and ascend into the air again, with such grace and agility, that, did his choler permit, I certainly persuade myself, he would have burst for laughter. He assayed to mount the wall from his horse, but he was so bruised and broken as he could not do so much as alight from his back; wherefore, from his back, he used such reproachful and vile language to those which tossed Sancho, as it is impossible to lay them down in writing. And, notwithstanding all his scornful speech, yet did not they cease from their laughter and labour; nor the flying Sancho from his complaints, now and then meddled with threats, now and then with entreaties; but availed very little, nor could prevail, until they were constrained by weariness to give him over. Then did they bring him his ass again, and, helping him up upon it, they lapped him in his mantle; and the compassionate Maritornes, beholding him so afflicted and o’erlaboured, thought it needful to help him to a draught of water, and so brought it him from the well, because the water thereof was coolest. Sancho took the pot, and, laying it to his lips, he abstained from drinking by his lord’s persuasion, who cried to him aloud, saying, ‘Son Sancho, drink not water; drink it not, son; for it will kill thee. Behold, I have here with me the most holy balsam’ (and showed him the oil-pot of the drenches he had compounded); ‘for, with only two drops that thou drinkest, thou shalt, without all doubt, remain whole and sound.’ At those words, Sancho, looking behind him, answered his master, with a louder voice: ‘Have you forgotten so soon how that I am no knight, or do you desire that I vomit the remnant of the poor bowels that remain in me since yesternight? Keep your liquor for yourself, in the devil’s name, and permit me to live in peace.’ And the conclusion of this speech and his beginning to drink was done all in one instant; but, finding at the first draught that it was water, he would not state it any more, but requested Maritornes that she would give him some wine, which she did straight with a very good will, and likewise paid for it out her own purse; for in effect it is written of her, that though she followed that trade, yet had she some shadows and lineaments in her of Christianity. As soon as Sancho had drunken, he visited his ass’ ribs with his heels twice or thrice; and, the inn being opened, he issued out of it, very glad that he had paid nothing, and gotten his desire, although it were to the cost of his ordinary sureties, to wit, his shoulders. Yet did the innkeeper remain possessed of his wallets, as a payment for that he owed him; but Sancho was so distracted when he departed as he never missed them. After he departed, the innkeeper thought to have shut up the inn-door again; but the gentlemen-tossers would not permit, being such folk that, if Don Quixote were verily one of the knights of the Round Table, yet would not they esteem him two chips.