Home  »  Don Quixote, Part 1  »  IV. Of the Pleasant Discourses Continued between Don Quixote and His Squire Sancho Panza, with Other Adventures

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

The Fourth Book

IV. Of the Pleasant Discourses Continued between Don Quixote and His Squire Sancho Panza, with Other Adventures

‘ALL this liketh me well,’ said Don Quixote; ‘therefore say on. Thou arrivedst, and what was that queen of beauty doing then? I daresay that thou foundest her threading of pearls, or embroidering some curious device with Venice gold, for me her captive knight.’ No, that I did not,’ quoth Sancho; ‘but winnowing two bushels of wheat in the yard of her house.’

‘Why, then,’ said Don Quixote, ‘thou mayst make account that each corn of that wheat was a grain of pearl, seeing they were touched by her delicate hand. And, friend, didst thou note well what the wheat was, whether of the best or ordinary?’ ‘It was not, but red,’ said Sancho. ‘Well, then, I assure thee,’ answered Don Quixote, ‘that being sifted by her hands, it must needs make very fair bread and white. But pass forward. When thou didst deliver my letter, did she kiss it? Did she set it on her head? Did she use any ceremony worthy of such a letter? Or what did she?’ ‘When I went to give it unto her,’ said Sancho, ‘she was holding up of her arms with a good quantity of wheat that she had in her sieve, and therefore said unto me, “Friend, lay down that letter there on the sack, for I cannot read it until I have winnowed all that is here.”’ ‘O discreet lady,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘she surely did that because she might read it at leisure, and recreate herself therewithal. Forward, Sancho. And as long as she was thus busied, what discourses passed she with thee? What did she demand of thee concerning me? And thou, what didst thou answer? Say all, good Sancho, say all; recount to me every particularity, and let not the least [minuity] remain in the inkhorn.’

‘She demanded nothing of me,’ quoth Sancho; ‘but I recounted unto her the state I had left you in for her sake, doing of penance, all naked from the girdle upward, among these rocks, like a brute beast, sleeping on the ground, and eating your bread without tablecloths, and that you never combed your beard, but was weeping and cursing your fortune.’ ‘There thou saidst ill,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘for I do not curse my fortune, but rather bless it, and will bless it as long as I shall live, seeing it hath made me worthy to merit the love of so high a lady as Dulcinea of Toboso’. ‘She is in good faith so high,’ answered Sancho, ‘as she surpasseth me almost by a whole cubit’. ‘Why, how now, Sancho?’ said the knight; ‘hast thou measured thyself with her?’ ‘I did measure myself with her in this manner,’ replied Sancho, ‘that coming over to help her to lift up a sack of wheat on as ass, we joined so near as I well perceived that she was more than a great span higher than myself.’ ‘That is true,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘but thinkest thou not that the tallness of her extended stature is adorned with as thousand millions of graces and endowments of the soul? But, Sancho, thou canst not deny me one thing: when thou didst thus approach her, didst thou not feel a most odoriferous smell, an aromatical fragrancy, an—I cannot tell what, so pleasing as I know not how to term it—I say such a scent as if thou wert in some curious perfumer’s shop?’ ‘That which I know,’ quoth Sancho, ‘is that I felt a little unsavoury scent, somewhat rammish and man-like, and I think the reason was because she had sweat a little doing of that exercise.’ ‘It was not so,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘but either thou hadst the mur, or else did smell thyself; for I know very well how that rose among thorns dost scent, that lily of the field, and that chosen amber.’ ‘It may well be,’ said Sancho, ‘as you have said, for I have had many times such a smell as methought the Lady Dulcinea had then; and though she smelled too it were no marvel, for one devil is like another.’

‘And well’, quoth Don Quixote, ‘see here, she hath sifted her corn, and sent it to the mill; what did she after she had read the letter?’ ‘The letter?’ said Sancho. ‘She read it not, for she said she could neither read nor write; and therefore she tore it into small pieces, and would have no man to read it, lest those of the village should know her secrets, and [said] that what I had told her by word of mouth of your love and extraordinary penance, which you remained doing for her sake, was sufficient; and, finally, she concluded, commanding me to say unto you that she had her commended unto you, and that she remained with greater desire to see you than to write unto you, and therefore she requested and willed you, as you tendered her affection, that presently upon sight hereof you should abandon these shrubby groves, leave off your frenzy, and take presently the way of Toboso, if some matter of greater importance did not occur, for she had very great desire to see and talk with you. She laughed heartily when I told her that you named yourself “the Knight of the Ill-favoured Face.” I demanded of her whether the beaten Biscaine came there, and she answered that he did, and affirmed withal that he was a very honest man. I asked also for the galley-slaves, but she told me that she had seen none of them as yet.’

‘All goes well till this,’ said Don Quixote; ‘but tell me, I pray thee, what jewel did she bestow on thee at thy departure, for reward of the news thou carriedst it unto her of me? For it is an usual and ancient custom among knights and ladies errant, to bestow on squires, damsels, or dwarfs, which bring them any good tidings of their ladies, or servants, some rich jewel, as a reward and thanks of their welcome news.’

‘It may well be,’ quoth Sancho, ‘and I hold it for a very laudable custom; but I think it was only used in times past, for I think the manner of this our age is only to give a piece of bread and cheese; for this was all that my lady Dulcinea bestowed on me, and that over the yard walls, when I took my leave with her, and in sign thereof (well fare all good tokens) the cheese was made of sheep’s milk’. ‘She is marvellous liberal,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘and if she gave thee not a jewel of gold, it was, without doubt, because she had none then about her. But it is not lost that comes at last; I will see her, and then all things shall be amended. Knowest thou, Sancho, whereat I wonder? It is at this sudden return; for it seems to me thou wast gone and hast come back again in the air; for thou hast been away but a little more than three days, Toboso being more than thirty leagues from hence; and therefore I do believe that the wise enchanter who takes care of mine affairs, and is my friend (for there is such a one of force, and there must be, under pain that I else should not be a good knight-errant),—I say I verily think that wise man holp thee to trample unawares of thyself; for there are wise men of that condition which will take a knight-errant sleeping in his bed, and without knowing how or in what manner, he will wake the next day a thousand leagues from that place where he fell asleep; and were it not for this, knights-errant could not succour one another in their most dangerous exigents, as they do now at every step. For it ofttimes befals that a knight is fighting in the mountains of Armenia, with some devilish fauno, some dreadful shadow, or fierce knight, where he is like to have the worst, and in this point of death, when he least expects it, there appears there, on the top of a cloud or riding in a chariot of fire, another knight hid friend, who was but even then in England, and helps him, and delivers him from death; and returns again that night to his own lodging, where he sups with a very good appetite; and yet, for all that, is there wont to be two or three thousand leagues from the one to the other country. All which is compassed by the industry and wisdom of those skilful enchanters that take care of the said valorous knights. So that, friend Sancho. I am not hard of belief in giving thee credit that thou hast gone and returned in so short a time from this place to Toboso, seeing, as I have said, some wise man my friend hath (belike) transported thee thither by stealth, and unaware of thyself.’

‘I easily think it,’ replied Sancho; ‘for Rozinante travelled, in good faith, as lustily as if he were an Egyptian’s ass, with quicksilver in his ears.’ And thinkest thou not,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘that he had not quicksilver in his ears? yes, and a legion of devils also to help it? who are folk that do travel and make others go as much as they list without any weariness. But, leaving all this apart, what is thine opinion that I should do now concerning my lady’s commandment to go and see her? For, although I know that I am bound to obey her behests, yet do I find myself disabled at this time to accomplish them by reason of the grant I have made the princess that comes with us; and the law of arms doth compel me to accomplish my word rather than my will. On the one side, I am assaulted and urged by a desire to go and see my lady; on the other, my promised faith, and the glory I shall win in this enterprise, do incite and call me away. But that which I resolve to do is to travel with all speed, that I may quickly arrive to the place where that giant is, and will cut off his head at my coming; and when I have peaceably installed the princess in her kingdom, will presently return to see the light that doth lighten my senses; to whom I will yield such forcible reasons of my so long absence, as she shall easily condescend to excuse my stay, seeing all doth redound to her glory and fame; for all that I have gained, do win, or shall hereafter achieve, by force of arms in this life, proceeds wholly from the gracious favour she pleaseth to bestow upon me, and my being hers.’

‘O God!’ quoth Sancho, ‘I perceive that you are greatly diseased in the pate. I pray you, sir, tell me whether you mean to go this long voyage for nought, and let slip and lose so rich and so noble a preferment as this, where the dowry is a kingdom, which is in good faith, as I have heard say, twenty thousand leagues in compass, and most plentifully stored with all things necessary for the sustaining of human life, and that it is greater than Portugal and Castile joined together? Peace, for God’s love, and blush at your own words, and take my counsel, and marry presently in the first village that hath a parish priest; and if you will not do it there, can you wish a better commodity than to have our own master licentiate, who will do it most excellently? And note that I am old enough to give counsel, and that this which I now deliver is as fit for you as if it were expressly cast for you in a mould; for a sparrow in the fist is worth more than a flying bittor.

  • ‘“For he that can have good and evil doth choose,
  • For ill that betides him, must no patience lose”’
  • ‘Why, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘if thou givest me counsel to marry to the end I may become a king, after I have slain the giant, and have commodity thereby to promote thee, and give thee what I have promised, I let thee to understand that I may do all that most easily without marrying myself; for, before I enter into the battle, I will make this condition, that when I come away victor, although I marry not the princess, yet shall a part of the kingdom be at my disposition to bestow upon whom I please; and when I receive it, upon whom wouldst thou have me bestow it but on thyself?’. ‘That is manifest,’ said Sancho; ‘but I pray you, sir, have care to choose that part you would reserve towards the seaside, to the end that if the living do not please me, I may embark my black vassals, and make the benefit of them which I have said. And likewise I pray you not to trouble your mind thinking to go and see my Lady Dulcinea at this time, but travel towards the place where the giant is, and kill him, and conclude that business first; for I swear unto you that I am of opinion it will prove an adventure of very great honour and profit.’ ‘I assure thee, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘thou art in the right, and I will follow thy counsel in rather going first with the princess to visit Dulcinea. And I warn thee not to speak a word to anybody, no, not to those that ride with us, of that which we have here spoken and discoursed together; for, since Dulcinea is so wary and secret as she would not have her thoughts discovered, it is no reason that I, either by myself or any other, should detect them.’

    ‘If that be so,’ quoth Sancho, ‘why, then, do you send all those which you vanquish by virtue of your arm to present themselves to my Lady Dulcinea, seeing this is as good as subsignation of your handwriting, that you wish her well, and are enamoured on her? And seeing that those which go to her must forcibly lay them down on their knees before her presence, and say that they come from you to do her homage, how then can the thoughts of you both be hidden and concealed?’ ‘Oh, how great a fool art thou, and how simple!’ quoth Don Quixote. ‘Dost not thou perceive, Sancho, how all this results to her greater glory? For thou oughtest to wit that, in our knightly proceedings, it is great honour that one lady alone have many knights-errant for her servitors, without extending their thoughts any further than to serve her only for her high worths, without attending any other reward of their many and good desires, than that she will deign to accept them as her servants and knights.’ ‘I have heard preach,’ said Sancho, ‘that men should love our Saviour with that kind of love only for His own sake, without being moved thereunto either by the hope of glory or the fear of pain; although, for my part, I would love and serve Him for what He is able to do.’ ‘The devil take thee for a clown!’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘how sharp and pertinently dost thou speak now and then, able to make a man imagine that thou hast studied!’ ‘Now, by mine honesty,’ quoth Sancho, ‘I can neither read nor write.’

    Master Nicholas perceiving them drowned thus in their discourses, cried out to them to stay and drink of a little fountain that was by the way. Don Quixote rested, to Sancho’s very great contentment, who was already tired with telling him so many lies, and was afraid his master would entrap him in his own words; for, although he knew Dulcinea to be of Toboso, yet had he never seen her in his life. And Cardenio had by this time put on the apparel Dorothea wore when they found her in the mountains, which, though they were not very good, yet exceeded with great advantage those which he had himself before. And, alighting hard by the fountain, they satisfied with the provision the curate had brought with him from the inn, although it were but little, the great hunger that pressed them. And whilst they took their ease there, a certain young stripling that travelled past by, who, looking very earnestly on all those which sat about the fountain, he ran presently after to Don Quixote, and, embracing his legs, he said, weeping downright, ‘Oh, my lord, do not you know me? Look well upon me; for I am the youth Andrew whom you unloosed from the oak whereunto I was tied.’ Don Quixote presently knew him, and, taking him by the hands, he turned to those that were present and said, ‘Because you may see of how great importance it is that there be knights-errant in the world, to undo wrongs and injuries that are committed in it by the insolent and bad men which live therein, thou shall wit that a few days past, as I rode through a wood, I heard certain lamentable screeches and cries, as of some needful and afflicted person. I forthwith occurred, borne away by my profession, towards the place from whence the lamentable voice sounded, and I found tied to an oaken tree this boy whom you see here in our presence, for which I am marvellous glad, because if I shall not say the truth he may check me. I say that he was tied to the oak, stark naked from the middle upward, and a certain clown was opening his flesh with cruel blows that he gave him with the reins of a bridle, which clown, as I after understood, was his master. And so, as soon as I saw him, I demanded the cause of those cruel stripes. The rude fellow answered that he beat him because he was his servant, and that certain negligences of his proceeded rather from being a thief than of simplicity. To which this child answered, “Sir, he whips me for no other cause but by reason that I demand my wages of him.” His master replied I know not now what speeches and excuses, the which although I heard, yet were they not by me admitted. In resolution, I caused him to be loosed, and took the clown’s oath that he would take him home, and pay him there his wages, one real upon another—ay, and those also perfumed. Is it not true, son Andrew? Didst thou not note with what a domineering countenance I commanded it, and with what humility he promised to accomplish all that I imposed, commanded, and desired? Answer me; be not ashamed, nor stagger at all, but tell what passed to these gentlemen, to the end it may be manifestly seen how necessary it is, as I have said, to have knights-errant up and down the highways.’

    ‘All that which you have said,’ quoth the boy, ‘is very true; but the end of the matter succeeded altogether contrary to that which you imagined.’ ‘How contrary?’ quoth Don Quixote. ‘Why, hath not the peasant paid thee?’ ‘He not only hath not paid me,’ answered the boy, ‘but rather, as soon as you were past the wood, and that we remained both alone, he turned again and tied me to the same tree, and gave me afresh so many blows, as I remained another St. Bartholomew, all flayed; and at every blow he said some jest or other in derision of you; so that, if I had not felt the pain of the stripes so much as I did, I could have found it in my heart to have laughed very heartily. In fine, he left me in such pitiful case as I have been ever since curing myself in an hospital of the evil which the wicked peasant did then unto me. And you are in the fault of all this, for if you had ridden on your way, and not come to the place where you were not sought for, nor intermeddled yourself in other men’s affairs, perhaps my master had contented himself with giving me a dozen or two of strokes, and would presently after have loosed me and paid me my wages. But by reason you dishonoured him so much without cause, and said to him so many villains, his choler was inflamed, and, seeing he could not revenge it on you, finding himself alone, he disburdened the shower on me so heavily as I greatly fear that I shall never again be mine own man.’ ‘The hurt consisted in my departure,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘for I should not have gone from thence until I had seen thee paid; for I might have very well known, by many experiences, that there is no clown that will keep his word, if he see the keeping of it can turn any way to his damage. But yet, Andrew, thou dost remember how I swore that if he paid thee not, I would return and seek him out, and likewise find him, although he conveyed himself into a whale’s belly.’ ‘That’s true,’ quoth Andrew; ‘but all avails not.’ ‘Thou shalt see whether it avails or no presently,’ quoth Don Quixote; and, saying so, got up very hastily, and commanded Sancho to bridle Rozinante, who was feeding whilst they did eat. Dorothea demanded of him what he meant to do. He answered that he would go and find out the villain, and punish him for using such bad proceedings, and cause Andrew to be paid the last denier, in despite of as many peasants as lived in the world. To which she answered, entreating him to remember that he could not deal with any other adventure, according to his promise, until hers were achieved; and seeing that he himself knew it to be true better than any other, that he should pacify himself until his return from her kingdom.

    ‘You have reason,’ said Don Quixote, ‘and therefore Andrew must have patience perforce until my return, as you have said, madam; and, when I shall turn again, I do swear unto him, and likewise renew my promise, never to rest until he be satisfied and paid,’ ‘I believe not in such oaths’ quoth Andrew, ‘but would have as much money as might carry me to Seville, rather than all the revenges in the world. Give me some meat to eat, and carry away with me, and God be with you and all other knights-errant; and I pray God that they may prove as erring to themselves as they have been to me!’

    Sancho took out of his bag a piece of bread and cheese, and, giving it to the youth, said, ‘Hold, brother Andrew, for every one hath his part of your misfortune.’ ‘I pray you what part thereof have you?’ said Andrew. ‘This piece of bread and cheese that I bestow on thee,’ quoth Sancho; ‘for, God only knows whether I shall have need of it again or no; for thou must wit, friend, that we the squires of knights-errant are very subject to great hunger and evil luck; yea, and to other things, which are better felt than told.’ Andrew laid hold on his bread and cheese, and, seeing that nobody gave him any other thing, he bowed his head, and went on his way. True it is that he said to Don Quixote at his departure, ‘For God’s love, good sir knight-errant, if you shall ever meet me again in the plight you have done, although you should see me torn in pieces, yet do not succour or help me, but leave me in my disgrace; for it cannot be so great but that a greater will result from your help, upon whom, and all the other knights-errant that are born in the world, I pray God His curse may alight!’ Don Quixote thought to arise to chastise him, but he ran away so swiftly as no man durst follow him; and our knight remained marvelously ashamed as Andrew’s tale; wherefore the rest with much ado suppressed their desire to laugh, lest they should thoroughly confound him.