Home  »  Don Quixote, Part 1  »  IIWhich Treats of the Discretion of the Beautiful Dorothea, and the Artificial Manner Used to Dissuade the Amorous Knight from Continuing His Penance; and How He Was Gotten Away; with Many Other Delightful and Pleasant Occurrences

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

The Fourth Book

IIWhich Treats of the Discretion of the Beautiful Dorothea, and the Artificial Manner Used to Dissuade the Amorous Knight from Continuing His Penance; and How He Was Gotten Away; with Many Other Delightful and Pleasant Occurrences

‘THIS is, sirs, the true relation of my tragedy; see therefore, now, and judge, whether the sighs you heard, the words to which you listened, and the tears that gushed out at mine eyes, have not sufficient occasion to appear in greater abundance; and, having considered the quality of my disgrace, you shall perceive all comfort to be vain, seeing the remedy thereof is impossible. Only I will request at your hands one favour, which you ought and may easily grant, and is, that you will address me unto some place where I may live secure from the fear and suspicion I have to be found by those which I know do daily travel in my pursuit; for although I am sure that my parents’ great affection toward me doth warrant me to be kindly received and entertained by them, yet the shame is so great that possesseth me, only to think that I shall not return to their presence in that state which they expect, as I account it far better to banish myself from their sight for ever, than once to behold their face with the least suspicion that they again would behold mine, divorced from that honesty which whilom my modest behaviour promised.’ Here she ended, and her face, suddenly overrun by a lovely scarlet, perspicuously denoted the feeling and bashfulness of her soul.

The audients of her sad story felt great motions both of pity and admiration for her misfortunes; and although the curate thought to comfort and counsel her forthwith, yet was he prevented by Cardenio, who, taking her first by the hand, said at last, ‘Lady, thou art the beautiful Dorothea, daughter unto rich Clenardo.’ Dorothea rested admired when she heard her father’s name, and saw of how little value he seemed who had named him, for we have already recounted how raggedly Cardenio was clothed; and therefore she said unto him, And who art thou, friend, that knowest so well my father’s name? for until this hour (if I have not forgotten myself) I did not once name him throughout the whole discourse of my unfortunate tale.’

‘I am,’ answered Cardenio, ‘the unlucky knight whom Lucinda (as thou saidst) affirmed to be her husband. I am the disastrous Cardenio, whom the wicked proceeding of him that hath also brought thee to those terms wherein thou art, hath conducted me to the state in which I am, and thou mayst behold—ragged, naked, abandoned by all human comfort, and, what is worse, void of sense, seeing I only enjoy it but at some few short times, and that when Heaven pleaseth to lend it me. I am he, Dorothea, that was present at Don Fernando’s unreasonable wedding, and that heard the consent which Lucinda gave him to be his wife. I was he that had not the courage to stay and see the end of her trance, or what became of the paper found in her bosom; for my soul had not power or sufferance to behold so many misfortunes at once, and therefore abandoned the place and my patience together, and only left a letter with mine host, whom I entreated to deliver it into Lucinda her own hands, and then came into these deserts, with resolution to end in them my miserable life, which, since that hour, I have hated as my most mortal enemy; but fortune hath not pleased to deprive me of it, thinking it sufficient to have impaired my wit, perhaps reserving me for the good success befallen me now in finding of yourself; for, that being true (as I believe it is) which you have here discoursed, peradventure it may have reserved yet better hap for us both in our disasters than we expect.

‘For, presupposing that Lucinda cannot marry with Don Fernando, because she is mine, nor Don Fernando with her, because yours, and that she hath declared so manifestly the same, we may well hope that Heaven hath means to restore to every one that which is his own, seeing it yet consists in being not made away or annihilated. And seeing this comfort remains, not sprung from any very remote hope, nor founded on idle surmises, I request thee, fair lady, to take another resolution in thine honourable thought, seeing I mean to do it in mine, and let us accommodate ourselves to expect better success; for I do vow unto thee, by the faith of a gentleman and Christian, not to forsake thee until I see thee in Don Fernando’s possession; and when I shall not, by reasons, be able to induce him to acknowledge how far he rests indebted to thee, then will I use the liberty granted to me as a gentleman, and with just title challenge him to the field in respect of the wrong he hath done unto thee, forgetting wholly mine own injuries, whose revenge I will leave to Heaven, that I may be able to right yours on earth.’

Dorothea rested wonderfully admired, having known and heard Cardenio, and, ignoring what competent thanks she might return him in satisfaction of his large offers, she cast herself down at his feet to have kissed them, which Cardenio would not permit; and the licentiate answered for both, praising greatly Cardenio’s discourse, and chiefly entreated, prayed, and counselled them, that they would go with him to his village, where they might fit themselves with such things as they wanted, and also take order how to search out Don Fernando, or carry Dorothea to her father’s house, or do else what they deemed most convenient. Cardenio and Dorothea gratified his courtesies, and accepted the favour he preferred. The barber also, who had stood all the while silent and suspended, made them a pretty discourse, with as friendly an offer of himself and his service as master curate, and likewise did briefly relate the occasion of their coming thither with the extravagant kind of madness which Don Quixote had, and how they expected now his squire’s return, whom they had sent to search for him. Cardenio having heard him named, remembered presently, as in a dream, the conflict passed between them both, and recounted it unto them, but could not in any wise call to mind the occasion thereof.

By this time they heard one call for them, and knew by the voice that it was Sancho Panza’s, who, because he found them not in the place where he had left them, cried out for them as loudly as he might. They went to meet him, and demanding for Don Quixote, he answered that he found him all naked to his shirt, lean, yellow, almost dead for hunger, and sighing for his Lady Dulcinea; and although he had told him how she commanded him to repair presently to Toboso, where she expected him, yet notwithstanding, he answered that he was determined never to appear before her beauty until he had done feats that should make him worthy of her gracious favour. And then the squire affirmed, if that humour passed on any further, he feared his lord would be in danger never to become an emperor, as he was bound in honour, no, nor a cardinal, which was the least that could be expected of him

The licentiate bid him be of good cheer, for they would bring him from thence whether he would or no; and recounted to Cardenio and Dorothea what they had bethought for Don Quixote’s remedy, or, at least, for the carrying him home to his house. To that Dorothea answered that she would counterfeit the distressed lady better than the barber, and chiefly seeing she had apparel wherewithal to act it most naturally, and therefore desired them to leave to her charge the representing of all that which should be needful for the achieving of their design; for she had read many books of knighthood, and knew well the style that distressed damsels used when they requested any favour of knights-adventures. ‘And then need we nothing else,’ quoth the curate, ‘but only to put our purpose presently in execution; for, questionless, good success turns on our side, seeing it hath so unexpectedly begun already to open the gates of your remedy, and hath also facilitated for us that whereof we had most necessity in this exigent.’ Dorothea took forthwith out of her pillow-bear a whole gown of very rich stuff, and a short mantle of another green stuff, and a collar, and many other rich jewels out of a box, wherewithal she adorned herself in a trice so gorgeously as she seemed a very rich and goodly lady. All which, and much more, she had brought with her, as she said, from her house, to prevent what might happen, but never had any use of them until then. Her grace, gesture, and beauty liked them all extremely, and made them account Don Fernando to be a man of little understanding, seeing he contemned such feature. But he which was most of all admired was Sancho Panza, because, as he thought (and it was so indeed), that he had not in all the days of his life before seen so fair a creature; and he requested the curate, very seriously, to tell him who that beautiful lady was, and what she sought among those thoroughfares. ‘This fair lady, friend Sancho,’ answered the curate, ‘is (as if a man said nothing she is so great) heir-apparent, by direct line, of the mighty kingdom of Micomicon, and comes in the search of your lord, to demand a boon of him, which is, that he will destroy and undo a great wrong done unto her by a wicked giant; and, through the great fame which is spread over all Guinea of your lord’s prowess, this princess is come to find him out.’ ‘A happy searcher, and a fortunate finding!’ quoth Sancho; ‘and chiefly, if my master be so happy as to right that injury and redress that wrong by killing that, O! the mighty lubber of a giant whom you say. Yes, he will kill him, I am very certain, if he can once but meet him, and if he be not a spirit, for my master hath no kind of power over spirits. But I must request one favour of you among others most earnestly, good master licentiate, and it is, that to the end my lord may not take an humour of becoming a cardinal (which is the thing I fear most in this world), that you will give him counsel to marry this princess presently, and by that means he shall remain incapable of the dignity of a cardinal, and will come very easily by his empire, and I to the end of my desires; for I have thought well of the matter, and have found that it is in no wise expedient that my lord should become a cardinal; for I am wholly unfit for any ecclesiastical dignity, seeing I am a married man, and therefore, to trouble myself now with seeking of dispensations to enjoy church livings, having, as I have, both wife and children, were never to end. ‘So that all my good consists in that my lord do marry this princess instantly, whose name yet I know not, and therefore I have not said it.’ ‘She is hight,’ quoth the curate, ‘the Princess Micomicona; for her kingdom being called Micomicon, it is evident she must be termed so.’

‘That is questionless,’ quoth Sancho; ‘for I have known many to take their denomination and surname from the place of their birth, calling themselves Peter of Alcala, John of Ubeda, and James of Valladolid; and perhaps in Guinea princes and queens use the same custom, and call themselves by the names of their provinces.’

‘So I think,’ quoth the curate; ‘and as touching your master’s marriage with her, I will labour therein as much as lies in my power.’ Wherewithal Sancho remained as well satisfied as the curate admired at his simplicity, and to see how firmly he had fixed in his fantasy the very ravings of his master, seeing he did believe without doubt that his lord should become an emperor. Dorothea in this space had gotten upon the curate’s mule, and the barber had somewhat better fitted the beard which he made of the ox’s tail on his face, and did after entreat Sancho to guide them to the place where Don Quixote was, and advertised him withal that he should in no wise take any notice of the curate or barber, or confess in any sort that he knew them, for therein consisted all the means of bringing Don Quixote to the mind to become an emperor. Yet Cardenio would not go with them, fearing lest thereby Don Quixote might call to mind their contention; and the curate, thinking also that his presence was not expedient, remained with him, letting the others go before, and these followed afar off fair and softly on foot; and ere they departed, the curate instructed Dorothea anew what she should say, who bid him to fear nothing, for she would discharge her part to his satisfaction, and as books of chivalry required and laid down.

They travelled about three-quarters of a league, as they espied the knight, and at last they discovered him among a number of intricate rocks, all apparelled, but not armed; and as soon as Dorothea beheld him, she struck her palfrey, her well-bearded barber following her; and as they approached Don Quixote, the barber leaped lightly down from his mule and ran towards Dorothea to take her down between his arms, who, alighting, went with a very good grace towards Don Quixote, and kneeled before him. And although he strived to make her arise, yet she, remaining still on her knees, spake to him in this manner: ‘I will not arise from hence, thrice valorous and approved knight, until your bounty and courtesy shall grant unto me one boon, which shall much redound unto your honour and prize of your person, and to the profit of the most disconsolate and wronged damsel that the sun hath ever seen. And if it be so that the valour of your invincible arm be correspondent to the bruit of your immortal fame, you are obliged to succour this comfortless wight that comes from lands so remote, to the sound of your famous name, searching you for to remedy her mishaps.’

‘I will not answer you a word, fair lady,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘nor hear a jot of your affair, until you arise from the ground.’ ‘I will not get up from hence, my lord’ quoth the afflicted lady, ‘if first, of your wonted bounty, you do not grant to my request.’ ‘I do give and grant it,’ said Don Quixote, ‘so that it be not a thing that may turn to the damage or hindrance of my king, my country, or of her that keeps the key of my heart and liberty.’ ‘It shall not turn to the damage or hindrance of those you have said, good sir,’ replied the dolorous damsel; and, as she was saying this, Sancho Panza rounded his lord in the ear, saying softly to him, ‘Sir, you may very well grant the request she asketh, for it is a matter of nothing; it is only to kill a monstrous giant, and she that demands it is the mighty Princess Micomicona, queen of the great kingdom of Micomicon in Ethiopia.’ ‘Let her be what she will,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘for I will accomplish what I am bound, and my conscience shall inform me conformable to the state I have professed.’ And then, turning to the damsel, he said, ‘Let your great beauty arise; for I grant to you any boon which you shall please to ask of me.’ ‘Why, then,’ quoth the damsel, ‘that which I demand is that your magnanimous person come presently away with me to the place where I shall carry you, and do likewise make me a promise not to undertake any other adventure or demand until you revenge me upon a traitor who hath, against all laws, both divine and human, usurped my kingdom.’ ‘I say that I grant you all that,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘and therefore, lady, you may cast away from this day forward all the melancholy that troubles you, and labour that your languishing and dismayed hopes may recover again new strength and courage; for, by the help of God, and that of mine arm, you shall see yourself shortly restored to your kingdom, and enthroned in the chair of your ancient and great estate, in despite and maugre the traitors that shall dare gainsay it: and therefore, hands, to the work; for they say that danger always follows delay.’ The distressed damsel strove with much ado to kiss his hand, but Don Quixote, who was a most accomplished knight of courtesy, would never condescend thereunto; but, making her arise, he embraced her with great kindness and respect, and commanded Sancho to saddle Rozinante, and help him to arm himself.

Sancho took down the arms forthwith, which hung on a tree like trophies, and, searching the girths, armed his lord in a moment, who, seeing himself armed, said, ‘Let us, in God’s name, depart from hence to assist this great lady,’ The barber kneeled all this while, and could with much ado dissemble his laughter, or keep on his beard that threatened still to fall off, with whose fall, perhaps, they should all have remained without bringing their good purpose to pass. And seeing that the boon was granted, and noted the diligence wherewithal Don Quixote made himself ready to depart and accomplish the same, he arose and took his lady by the hand, and both of them together holp her upon her mule: and presently after Don Quixote leaped on Rozinante, and the barber got on his beast, Sancho only remaining afoot, where he afresh renewed the memory of the loss of his grey ass, with the want procured to him thereby; but all this he bore with very great patience, because he supposed that his lord was now in the way and next degree to be an emperor; for he made an infallible account that he would marry that princess, and at least be king of Micomicon. But yet it grieved him to think how that kingdom was in the country of black Moors, and that therefore the nation which should be given to him for his vassals should be all black, for which difficulty his imagination coined presently a good remedy, and he discoursed with himself in this manner: ‘Why should I care though my subjects be all black Moors? Is there any more to be done than to load them in a ship and bring them into Spain, where I may sell them, and receive the price of them in ready money? And with that money may I buy some title or office, wherein I may after live at mine ease all the days of my life. No! but sleep, and have no wit or ability to dispose of things; and to sell thirty or ten thousands vassals in the space that one would say, Give me those straws. I will despatch them all; they shall fly, the little with the great, or as I can best contrive the matter; and be they ever so black, I will transform them into white or yellow ones. Come near, and see whether I cannot suck well my fingers’ ends’. And thus he travelled, so solicitous and glad as he quite forgot his pain of travelling afoot. Cardenio and the curate stood in the meantime beholding all that passed from behind some brambles where they lay lurking, and were in doubt what means to use to issue and join in company with them. But the curate, who was an ingenious and prompt plotter, devised instantly what was to be done that they might attain their desire. Thus, he took out of his case a pair of shears, and cut off Cardenio’s beard therewithal in a trice, and then gave unto him to wear a riding capouch which he himself had on, and a black cloak, and himself walked in a doubles and hose. Cardenio, thus attired, looked so unlike that he was before, as he would not have known himself in a looking-glass. This being finished, and the others gone on before whilst they disguised themselves, they sallied out with facility to the highway before Don Quixote or his company; for the rocks and many other bad passages did not permit those that were a-horseback to make so speedy an end of their journey as they. And having thoroughly passed the mountain, they expected at the foot thereof for the knight and his company, who when he appeared, the curate looked on him very earnestly for a great space, with inkling that he began to know him. And after he had a good while beheld him, he ran towards him with his arms spread abroad, saying, ‘In a good hour be the mirror of all knighthood found, and my noble countryman, Don Quixote of the Mancha! the flower and cream of gentility, the shadow and remedy of the afflicted, and the quintessence of knights-errant!’ and, saying this, he held Don Quixote his left thigh embraced; who, admiring at that which he heard that man to say and do, did also review him with attention, and finally knew him, and, all amazed to see him, made much ado to alight; but the curate would not permit him. Wherefore Don Quixote said, ‘Good master licentiate, permit me to alight; for it is in no sort decent that I be a-horseback, and so reverend a person as you go on foot.’ ‘I will never consent thereunto,’ quoth the curate; ‘your highness must needs stay on horseback, seeing that thereon you are accustomed to achieve the greatest feasts of chivalry and adventures which were ever seen in our age. For it shall suffice me, who am an unworthy priest, to get up behind some one of these other gentlemen that ride in your company, if they will not take it in bad part; yea, and I will make account that I ride on Pegasus, or the zebra of the famous Moor Muzaraque, who lies yet enchanted in the steep rock of Zulema, near unto Alcala of Henares.’

‘Truly, I did not think upon it, good master licentiate,’ answered Don Quixote; ‘yet, I presume, my lady the princess will be well apaid, for my sake, to command her squire to lend you the use of his saddle, and to get up himself on the crupper, if so it be that the beast will bear double.’ ‘Yes, that it will,’ said the princess, ‘for aught I know; and likewise, I am sure, it will not be necessary to command my squire to alight, for he is of himself so courteous and courtly as he will in no wise condescend that an ecclesiastical man should go on foot when he may help him to a horse.’

‘That is most certain,’ quoth the barber; and, saying so, he alighted, and entreated the curate to take the saddle, to which courtesy he did easily condescend. But, by evil fortune, as the barber thought to leap up behind him, the mule, which was in effect a hired one, and that is sufficient to say it was unhappy, did lift a little her hinder quarters, and bestowed two or three flings on the air, which had they hit on Master his breast or pate, he would have bequeathed the quest of Don Quixote upon the devil. But, notwithstanding, the barber was so affrighted as he fell on the ground, with so little heed of his beard as it fell quite off and lay spread upon the ground; and, perceiving himself without it, he had no other shift but to cover his face with both his hands, and complain that all his cheek teeth were strucken out. Don Quixote, beholding such a great sheaf of a beard fallen away, without jaw or blood, from the face, he said, ‘I vow this is one of the greatest miracles that ever I saw in my life; it hath taken and plucked away his beard as smoothly as if it were done of purpose.’ The curate beholding the danger which their invention was like to incur if it were detected, went forthwith, and, taking up the beard, came to Master Nicholas, that lay still a-playing, and, with one push, bringing his head towards his own breast, he set it on again, murmuring the while over him certain words, which he said were a certain prayer appropriated to the setting on of fallen beards, as they should soon perceive; and so, having set it on handsomely, the squire remained as well bearded and whole as ever he was in his life. Whereat Don Quixote rested marvelously admired, and requested the curate to teach him that prayer when they were at leisure; for he supposed that the virtue thereof extended itself further than to the fastening on of beards, since it was manifest that the place whence the beard was torn must have remained without flesh, wounded, and ill dight, and, seeing it cured all, it must of force serve for more than the beard. ‘It is true,’ replied master curate; and then promised to instruct him with the secret with the first opportunity that was presented.

Then they agreed that the curate should ride first on the mule, and after him the other two, each one by turns until they arrived to the inn, which was about some two leagues thence. Three being thus mounted (to wit, Don Quixote, the princess, and curate), and the other three on foot (Cardenio, the barber, and Sancho Panza), Don Quixote said to the damsel, ‘Madam, let me entreat your highness to lead me the way that most pleaseth you.’ And before she could answer, the licentiate said, ‘Towards what kingdom would you travel? Is it, by fortune, towards that of Micomicon? I suppose it should be thitherwards, or else I know but little of kingdoms.’ She, who knew very well the curate’s meaning, and was herself no babe, answered, saying, ‘Yes, sir, my way lies towards the kingdom.’ ‘If it be so,’ quoth the curate, ‘you must pass through the village where I dwell, and from thence direct your course towards Carthagena, where you may luckily embark yourselves. And if you have a prosperous wind, and a quiet and calm sea, you may come within the space of nine years to the sight of the Lake Meona, I mean Meolidas, which stands on this side of your highness’ kingdom some hundred days’ journey, or more.’ ‘I take you to be deceived, good sir,’ quoth she, ‘for it is not yet fully two years since I departed from thence, and, truly, I never almost had any fair weather, and yet, notwithstanding, I have arrived, and come to see that which I so much longed for, to wit, the presence of the worthy Don Quixote of the Mancha, whose renown came to my notice as soon as I touched the earth of Spain with my foot, and moved me to search for him, to commend myself to his courtesy, and commit the justice of my cause to the valour of his invincible arm.’

‘No more,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘I cannot abide to hear myself praised, for I am a sworn enemy of all adulation; and although this be not such, yet notwithstanding the like discourses do offend my chaste ears. What I can say to you, fair princess, is that whether I have valour or not, that which I have, or have not, shall be employed in your service, even to the very loss of my life. And so, omitting that till this time, let me entreat good master licentiate to tell me the occasion which hath brought him here to these quarters, so alone, without attendants, and so slightly attired, as it strikes me in no little admiration?’ ‘To this I will answer with brevity,’ quote the curate. ‘You shall understand that Master Nicholas the barber, our very good friend, and myself, travelled towards Seville to recover certain sums of money which a kinsman of mine, who hath dwelt these many years in the Indies, hath sent unto me. The sum is not a little one, for it surmounted seventy thousand reals of eight, all good weight—see if it was not a rich gift. And passing yesterday through this way, we were set upon by four robbers, which despoiled us of all, even to our very beards, and that in such sort as the barber was forced to set on a counterfeit one; and this young man that goeth here with us’ (meaning Cardenio) ‘was transformed by them anew. And the best of it is that it is publicly bruited about all this commark that those which surprised us were galley-slaves who were set at liberty, as is reported, much about this same place, by so valiant a knight as, in despite of the commissary and the guard, he freed them all. And, questionless, he either was wood, or else as great a knave as themselves, or some one that wanted both soul and conscience, seeing he let slip the wolves amidst the sheep, the fox among the hens, and flies hard by honey, and did frustrate justice, rebel against his natural lord and king; for he did so by oppugning his just commandments; and hath deprived the galleys of their feet, and set all the holy brotherhood in an uproar, which hath reposed these many years past; and finally, would do an act by which he should lose his soul, and yet no gain his body.’ Sancho had rehearsed to the curate and barber the adventure of the slaves, which his lord had accomplished with such glory; and therefore the curate did use this vehemence as he repeated it, to see what Don Quixote would say or do, whose colour changed at every word, and durst not confess that he was himself the deliverer of that good people. ‘And these,’ quoth the curate, ‘were they that have robbed us. And God, of His infinite mercy, pardon him who hindered their going to receive the punishment they had so well deserved!’