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

The First Part

IV. Of That Which Befel to Our Knight After He Departed from the Inn

AURORA began to display her beauties about the time that Don Quixote issued out of the inn, so content, lively, and jocund to behold himself knighted, as his very horse-girths were ready to burst for joy. But calling to memory the counsels that his host had given him, touching the most needful implements that he was ever to carry about him, of money and clean shirts, he determined to return to his house, and to provide himself of them, and also of a squire; making account to entertain a certain labourer, his neighbour, who was poor and had children, but yet one very fit for this purpose and squirely function belonging to knighthood. With this determination he turned Rozinante towards the way of his own village, who, knowing in a manner his will, began to trot on with so good a pace as he seemed not to touch the ground. He had not travelled far, when he thought that he heard certain weak and delicate cries, like to those of one complained, to issue out from the thickest of a wood that stood on the right hand. And scarce had he heard them when he said: ‘I render infinite thanks to Heaven for the favour it doth me, by proffering me so soon occasion wherein I may accomplish the duty of my profession, and gather the fruits of my good desires. These plaints doubtlessly be of some distressed man on woman, who needeth my favour and aid.’ Then, turning the reins, he guided Rozinante towards the place from whence he thought the complaints sallied; and within a few paces after he had entered into the thicket, he saw a mare tied unto an holm oak, and to another was tied a young youth, all naked from the middle upward, of about the age of fifteen years, and was he that cried so pitifully: and not without cause; for a certain countryman of comely personage did whip him with a girdle, and accompanied every blow with a reprehension and counsel; for he said, ‘The tongue must peace, and the eyes be wary.’ And the boy answered, ‘I will never do it again, good master; for the passion of God, I will never do it again. And I promise to have more care of your things from henceforth.’

But Don Quixote, viewing all that passed, said, with an angry voice, ‘Discourteous knight, it is very uncomely to see thee deal thus with one that cannot defend himself. Mount, therefore, on horseback, and take thy lance’ (for the farmer had also a lance leaning to the very same tree whereunto his mare was tied), ‘for I will make thee know that it is the use of cowards to do that which thou dost.’ The other, beholding such an antic to hover him, all laden with arms, and brandishing of his lance towards his face, made full account that he should be slain, and therefore he answered, with very mild and submissive words, saying, ‘Sir knight, the boy which I chastise is mine own servant, and keepeth for me a flock of sheep in this commark; who is grown so negligent, as he loseth one of them every other day, and because I correct him for his carelessness and knavery, he says I do it through covetousness and pinching, as meaning to defraud him of his wages; but, before God, and in conscience, he belies me.’ ‘What! the lie in my presence, rascally clown? quoth Don Quixote. ‘By the sun that shines on us, I am about to run thee through and through with my lance, base carle! Pay him instantly, without more replying; or else, by that God which doth manage our sublunar affairs, I will conclude thee and annihilate thee in a moment! Loose him forthwith!’ The countryman, hanging down of his head, made no reply, but loosed his servant; of whom Don Quixote demanded how much did his master owe unto him. He said, nine months’ hire, at seven reals a month. Don Quixote made then the account, and found that all amounted to sixty-one reals, and therefore commanded the farmer to pay the money presently, if he meant not to die for it. The fearful countryman answered, that by the trance wherein he was then, and by the oath he had made (which was none at all, for he swore not), that he owed not so much; for there should be deducted out of the account three pairs of shoes he had given unto him, and a real for twice letting him blood, being sick. ‘All is well,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘but let the price of the shoes and letting blood go for the blows which thou hast given him without any desert; for if he have broken the leather of those shoes thou hast bestowed on him, thou hast likewise torn the skin of his body; and if the barber took away his blood, being sick, thou hast taken it out, he being in health; so as in that respect he owes thee nothing.’ ‘The damage is, sir knight,’ replied the boy’s master, ‘that I have no money here about me. Let Andrew come with me to my house, and I will pay him his wages, one real upon another.’ ‘I go with him!’ quoth the boy; evil befall me then! No, sir, I never meant it; for as soon as ever he were alone, he would flay me like St. Bartholomew.’ ‘He will not dare to do it,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘for my command is sufficient to make him respect me, and so that he will swear to me to observe it, by the order of knighthood which he hath received, I will set him free, and assure thee of the payment.’ ‘Good sir,’ quoth the youth, ‘mark well what you say; for this man, my master, is no knight, nor did ever receive any order of knighthood, for he is John Haldudo, the rich man, a dweller of Quintinar.’ ‘That makes no matter,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘for there may be knights of the Haldudos; and what is more, every one is son of his works.’ ‘That’s true,’ quoth Andrew; ‘but of what works can this my master be son, seeing he denies me my wages, and my sweat and labour?’ ‘I do not deny thy wages, friend Andrew’, quoth his master; ‘do me but the pleasure to come with me, and I swear, by all the orders of knighthood that are in the world, to pay thee as I have said, one real upon another—yea, and those also perfumed.’ ‘For the perfuming, I thank thee,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘give it him in reals, and with that I will rest satisfied; and see that thou fulfillest it as thou hast sworn: if not, I swear again to thee, by the same oath, to return and search thee, and chastise thee, and I will find thee out, though thou shouldst hide thyself better than a lizard; and if thou desirest to note who commands thee this, that thou mayst remain more firmly obliged to accomplish it, know that I am the valorous Don Quixote of the Mancha, the righter of wrongs and undoer of injuries; and so farewell, and do not forget what thou hast promised and sworn, on pain of the pains already pronounced.’ And, saying these words, he spurred Rozinante, and in short space was got far off from them. The countryman pursued him with his eye, and, perceiving that he was past the wood, and quite out of sight, he returned to his man Andrew, and said to him, ‘Come to me, child, for I will pay thee what I owe thee, as that righter of wrongs hath left me commanded.’ ‘That I swear,’ quoth Andrew; ‘and you shall deal discreetly in fulfilling that good knight’s commandment, who I pray God may live a thousand years; for, seeing he is so valorous and so just a judge, I swear by Rocque, that if you pay me not, he shall return and execute what he promised.’ ‘I also do swear he same,’ quoth the farmer; ‘but in respect of the great affection I bear unto thee, I will augment the debt, to increase the payment.’ And, catching the youth by the arm, he tied him again to the oak, where he gave him so may blows as he left him for dead. ‘Call now, Master Andrew,’ quoth he, ‘for the righter of wrongs, and thou shalt see that he cannot undo this, although I believe it is not yet ended to be done; for I have yet a desire to flay thee alive, as thou didst thyself fear.’ Notwithstanding all these threats, he untied him at last, and gave him leave to go seek out his judge, to the end he might execute the sentence pronounced. Andrew departed somewhat discontent, swearing to search for the valorous Don Quixote of the Mancha, and recount unto him, word for word, all that had passed, and that he should pay the abuse with usury; but, for all his threats, he departed weeping, and his master remained behind laughing: and in this manner the valorous Don Quixote redressed that wrong.

Who, glad above measure for his success, accounting himself to have given a most noble beginning to his feats of arms, did travel towards his village, with very great satisfaction of himself, and said, in a low tone, these words following: ‘Well mayst thou call thyself happy above all other women of the earth, O above all beauties, beautiful Dulcinea of Toboso! since thy good fortune was such, to hold subject and prostrate to thy will and desire so valiant and renowned a knight as is, and ever shall be, Don Quixote of the Mancha, who, as all the world knows, received the order to knighthood but yesterday, and hath destroyed to-day the greatest outrage and wrong that want of reason could form, or cruelty commit. To-day did he take away the whip out of that pitiless enemy’s hand, which did so cruelly scourge without occasion the delicate infant.’

In this discourse he came to a way that divided itself into four, and presently these thwarting cross-ways represented themselves to his imagination, which ofttimes held knights-errant in suspense which way they should take; and, that he might imitate them, he stood still a while, and, after he had bethought himself well, he let slip the reins to Rozinante, subjecting his will to that of his horse, who presently pursued his first design, which was to return home unto his own stable: and having travelled some two miles, Don Quixote discovered a great troop of people, who, as it was after known, were certain merchants of Toledo, that rode towards Murcia to buy silks. They were six in number, and came with their quitasoles, or shadows of the sun, four serving-men on horseback, and three lackeys. Scarce had Don Quixote perceived them, when he straight imagined them to be a new adventure. And because he would imitate as much as was possible the passages which he read in his books, he represented this to himself to be just such an adventure as he purposed to achieve. And so, with comely gesture and hardiness, settling himself well in the stirrups, he set his lance into his rest, and embraced his target, and, placing himself in the midst of the way, he stood awaiting when those knights-errant should arrive; for now he judged and took them for such. And when they were so near as they might hear and see him, he lifted up his voice, and said: ‘Let all the world stand and pass no further, if all the world will not confess that there is not in all the world a more beautiful damsel than the Empress of the Mancha, the peerless Dulcinea of Toboso!’ The merchants stayed at these words to behold the marvellous and ridiculous shape of him that spake them, and, by his fashion and them joined did incontinently gather his folly and distraction, and, notwithstanding, would leisurely behold to what tended that confession which he exacted of them; and therefore one of them, who was somewhat given to gibing, and was withal very discreet, said unto him. ‘Sir knight, we do not know that good lady of whom you speak; show her therefore to us, and if she be so beautiful as you affirm, we will willingly, and without any compulsion, confess the truth which you now demand of us.” ‘If I did show her to you,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘what mastery were it then for you to acknowledge a truth so notorious? The consequence of mine affairs consists in this, that, without beholding her, you do believe, confess, affirm, swear, and defend it; which if you refuse to perform, I challenge you all to battle, proud and unreasonable folk; and, whether you come one by one (as the order of knighthood requires), or all at once, as is the custom and dishonourable practice of men of your brood, here will I expect and await you all, trusting in the reason which I have on my side.’ ‘Sir knight,’ replied the merchant, ‘I request you, in all these princes’ names, as many as we be here, that to the end we may not burden our consciences, confessing a thing which we never beheld nor heard, and, chiefly, being so prejudicial to the empresses and queens of the kingdoms of Alcaria and Estremadura, you will please to show us some portraiture of that lady, although it be no bigger than a grain of wheat, for by one thread we may judge of the whole clew; and we will with this favour rest secure and satisfied, and you likewise remain content and apaid. And I do believe, moreover, that we are already so inclined to your side, that although her picture showed her to be blind of the one eye, and at the other than she ran fire and brimstone, yet would we, notwithstanding, to please you, say in her favour all that you listed.’ ‘There drops not, base scoundrels,’ quoth Don Quixote, all inflamed with choler,—‘there drops not, I say, from her that which thou sayst, but amber and civet among bombase; and she is not blind of an eye, or crook-backed, but is straighter than a spindle of Guadarama. But all of you together shall pay for the great blasphemy thou hast spoken against so immense a beauty as is that of my mistress.’ And, saying so, he abased his lance against him that had answered, with such fury and anger, as, if good fortune had not so ordained it that Rozinante should stumble and fall in the midst of the career, it had gone very ill with the bold merchant. Rozinante fell, in fine, and his master reeled over a good piece of the field; and though he attempted to rise, yet was he never able, he was so encumbered by his lance, target, spurs, helmet, and his weighty old armour. And in the meanwhile that he strove to arise, and could not, he cried: ‘Fly not, cowardly folk! abide, base people, abide! for I lie not her through mine own fault, but through the defect of my horse.’

One of the lackeys that came in the company, and seemed to be a man of none of the best intentions, hearing the poor overthrown knight speak such insolent words, could not forbear them without returning him an answer on his ribs; and with that intention approaching to him he took his lance, and, after he had broken it in pieces, he gave Don Quixote so many blows with one of them, that, in despite of his armour, he threshed him like a sheaf of wheat. His masters cried to him, commanding him not to beat him so much, but that he should leave him; but all would not serve, for the youth was angry, and would not leave off the play, until he had avoided the rest of his choler. And therefore, running for the other pieces of the broken lance, he broke them all on the miserable fallen knight; who, for all the tempest of blows that rained on him, did never shut his mouth, but threatened heaven and earth, and those murderers; for such they seemed to him. The lackey tired himself at last, and the merchants followed on their way, carrying with them occasion enough of talk of the poor belaboured knight; who, when he saw himself alone, turned again to make trial whether he might arise; but if he could not do it when he was whole and sound, how was it possible he being so bruised and almost destroyed? And yet he accounted himself very happy, persuading himself that his disgrace was proper and incident to knights-errant, and did attribute all to the fault of his horse, and could in no wise get up, all his body was so bruised and laden with blows.