Home  »  Don Quixote, Part 1  »  I. Wherein Is Rehearsed the Unfortunate Adventure Which Happened to Don Quixote, by Encountering with Certain Yanguesian Carriers

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

The Third Book

I. Wherein Is Rehearsed the Unfortunate Adventure Which Happened to Don Quixote, by Encountering with Certain Yanguesian Carriers

THE WISE Cid Hamet Benengeli recounteth that, as soon as Don Quixote had taken leave of the goatherds, his hosts the night before, and of all those that were present at the burial of the shepherd Chrysostom, he and his squire did presently enter into the same wood into which they had seen the beautiful shepherdess Marcela enter before. And, having travelled in it about the space of two hours without finding of her, they arrived in fine to a pleasant meadow, enriched with abundance of flourishing grass, near unto which runs a delightful and refreshing stream, which did invite, yea, constrain them thereby to pass over the heat of the day, which did then begin to enter with great fervour and vehemency. Don Quixote and Sancho alighted, and, leaving the ass and Rozinante to the spaciousness of these plains to feed on the plenty of grass that was there, they ransacked their wallet, where, without any ceremony, the master and man did eat, with good accord and fellowship, what they found therein. Sancho had neglected to tie Rozinante, sure that he knew him to be so sober and little wanton as all the mares of the pasture of Cordova could not make him to think the least sinister thought. But fortune did ordain, or rather the devil, who sleeps not at all hours, that a troop of Gallician mares, belonging to certain Yanguesian carriers, did feed up and down in the same valley; which carriers are wont, with their beasts, to pass over the heats in places situated near unto grass and water, and that wherein Don Quixote happened to be was very fit for their purpose. It therefore befel that Rozinante took a certain desire to solace himself with the lady mares, and therefore, as soon as he had smelt them, abandoning his natural pace and custom, without taking leave of his master, he began a little swift trot, and went to communicate his necessities to them. But they, who, as it seemed, had more desire to feed than to solace them, entertained him with their heels and teeth in such sort as they broke all this girths, and left him in his naked hair, having overthrown the saddle. But that which surely grieved him most was, that the carriers, perceiving the violence that was offered by him to their mares, repaired presently to their succours, with clubs and truncheons, and did so belabour him as they fairly laid him along. Now, in this season, Don Quixote and Sancho (which beheld the bombasting of Rozinante) approached breathless; and Don Quixote said to Sancho, ‘For as much as I can perceive, friend Sancho, these men are no knights, but base, rascally people of vile quality; I say it, because thou mayst help me to take due revenge for the outrage which they have done before our face to Rozinante.’ ‘What a devil’ quoth Sancho, ‘what revenge should we take, if these be more than twenty, and we but two, and peradventure but one and a half?’ ‘I am worth a hundred,’ replied Don Quixote; and, without making any longer discourse, he set hand to his sword, and flew upon the Yanguesians; and Sancho Panza, moved by his lord’s example, did the like; when, with the first blow, Don Quixote piercing a buff coat that one of them wore, wounded him grievously in the shoulder. The Yanguesians, seeing themselves so rudely handled by two men only, they being so many, ran to the stakes and truncheons of their carriage, and, hemming in their adversaries in the midst of them, they laid on them with admirable speed and vehemency. True it is, that at the second peal they struck Sancho down to the ground; and the like happened to Don Quixote, his dexterity and courage being nothing available in that trance, and, his fate so ordaining, he fell just at his courser’s feet, who had not yet gotten up; by which we may ponder the fury wherewithal truncheons batter, being placed in wrathful and rustical fists. The carriers perceiving the evil they had committed, trussing up their loading with all possible speed, followed on their way, leaving both the adventures in a bad fashion, and a worse talent.

The first that came to himself was Sancho Panza, who, seeing his lord near unto him, said, with a weak and pitiful voice, ‘Sir Don Quixote! oh, sir Don Quixote!’ ‘What wouldst thou have, brother Sancho?’ replied the knight, with the like effeminate and doleful tune, ‘I would,’ quoth Sancho, ‘have of your worship a draught or two of the liquor of Feoblas, if you have any of it at hand; perhaps it is good to cure broken bones as well as it helps wounds.’ ‘What would we want, unhappy that I am!’ replied Don Quixote, ‘if I had it here; but I swear unto thee, Sancho Panza, by the faith of a knight-errant, that before two days pass (if fortune dispose not otherwise), I will have it in my power, or it shall hardly escape my hands.’ ‘I pray you,’ quoth Sancho, ‘within how many days, think you, shall we be able to stir our feet?’ ‘I can say of myself,’ quoth the crushed knight, ‘that I cannot set a certain term to the days of our recovery; but I am in the fault of all, for I should not have drawn my sword against men that are not knights as well as I am; and therefore I believe that the god of battles hath permitted that this punishment should be given unto me, in pain of transgressing the laws of knighthood. Wherefore, brother Sancho, it is requisite that thou beest advertised of that which I shall say unto thee now, for it importeth both our goods very much; and is, that when thou beholdest that the like rascally rabble do us any wrong, do not wait till I set hand to my sword against them, for I will not do it in any sort; but draw thou thine, and chastise them at thy pleasure; and if any knights shall come to their assistance and succour, I shall know then how to defend thee, and offend them with all my force; for thou hast by this perceived, by a thousand signs and experiences, how far the valour of this mine invincible arm extendeth itself’:—so arrogant remained the poor knight, through the victory he had gotten of the hardy Biscaine. But this advice of his lord seemed not so good to Sancho Panza as that he would omit to answer unto him, saying, ‘Sir, I am a peaceable, quiet, and sober man, and can dissemble any injury, for I have wife and children to maintain and bring up; wherefore, let this likewise be an advice to you (seeing it cannot be a commandment), that I will not set hand to my sword in any wise, be it against clown or knight; and that, from this time forward, I do pardon, before God, all the wrongs that they have done, or shall do unto me, whether they were, be, or shall be done by high or low person, rich or poor, gentleman or churl, without excepting any state or condition.’ Which being heard by his lord, he said: ‘I could wish to have breath enough that I might answer thee with a little more ease, or that the grief which I feel in this rib were assuaged ever so little, that I might, Panza, make thee understand the error wherein thou art. Come here, poor fool! if the gale of fortune, hitherto so contrary, do turn in our favour, swelling the sails of our desire in such sort as we may securely and without any hindrance arrive at the haven of any of those islands which I have promised unto thee, what would become of thee if I, conquering it, did make thee lord thereof, seeing thou wouldst disable thyself, in respect thou art not a knight, nor desirest to be one, nor wouldst have valour or will to revenge thine injuries, or to defend thy lordship’s? For thou must understand that, in the kingdoms and provinces newly conquered, the minds of the inhabitants are never so thoroughly appeased or wedded to the affection of their new lord, that it is not to be feared that they will work some novelty to alter things again, and turn, as men say, afresh to try fortune; and it is therefore requisite that the new possessor have understanding to govern, and valour to offend, and defend himself in any adventure whatsoever.’ ‘In this last that hath befallen us,’ quoth Sancho, ‘I would I had had that understanding and valour of which you speak; but I vow unto you, by the faith of a poor man, that I am now fitter for plaisters than discourses. I pray you try whether you can arise, and we will help Rozinante, although he deserves it not; for he was the principal cause of all these troubles. I would never have believed the like before of Rozinante, whom I ever held to be as chaste and peaceable a person as myself. In fine, they say well, that one must have a long time to come to the knowledge of bodies, and that there’s nothing in this life secure. Who durst affirm that, after those mighty blows which you gave to that unfortunate knight-errant, would succeed so in post, and as it were in your pursuit, this so furious a tempest of staves, that hath discharged itself on our shoulders?’ ‘Thine, Sancho,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘are perhaps accustomed to bear the like showers, but mine, nursed between cottons and hollands, it is most evident that they must feel the grief of this disgrace. And were it not that I imagine (but why do I say imagine?) I know certainly that all these incommodities are annexed to the exercise of arms I would here die for very wrath and displeasure.’ To this the squire answered: ‘Sir seeing these disgraces are of the essence of knighthood I pray you whether they succeed very often, or whether they have certain times limited wherein they befall? For methinks, within two adventures more, we shall wholly remain disenabled for the third if the gods in mercy do not succour us.’

‘Know, friend Sancho,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘that the life of knights errant is subject to a thousand dangers and misfortunes; and it is also as well, in the next degree and power, to make them kings and emperors, as experience hath shown in sundry knights, of whose histories I have entire notice. And I could recount unto thee now (did the pain I suffer permit me) of some of them which have mounted to those high degrees which I have said only by the valour of their arm; and the very same men found them both before and after, in divers miseries and calamities. For the valorous Amadis of Gaul saw himself in the power of his moral enemy, Arcalaus the enchanter, of whom the opinion runs infallible, that he gave unto him, being his prisoner, more than two hundred stripes with his horse-bridle, after he had tied him to a pillar in his base-court. And there is, moreover, a secret author of no little credit, who says, that the Cavalier del Febo, being taken in a gin, like unto a snatch, that slipped under his feet in a certain castle, after the fall found himself in a deep dungeon under the earth, bound hands and feet; and there they gave unto him a clyster of snow-water and sand, which brought him almost to the end of his life; and were it not that he was succoured in that great distress by a wise man, his very great friend, it had gone ill with the poor knight, So that I may very well pass among so many worthy persons; for the dangers and disgraces they suffered were greater than those which we do now endure. For, Sancho, I would have thee to understand, that these wounds which are given to one with those instruments that are in one’s hand, by chance, do not disgrace a man. And it is written in the laws of single combat, in express terms, that if the shoemaker strike another with the last which he hath in his hand, although it be certainly of wood, yet cannot it be said that he who was striken had the bastinado. I say this, to the end thou mayst not think, although we remain bruised in this last conflict, that therefore we be disgraced; for the arms which those men bore, and wherewithal they laboured us, were none other than their pack-staves, and, as far as I can remember, never a one of them had a tuck, sword, or dagger.’ ‘They gave me no leisure,’ answered Sancho, ‘to look to them so nearly; for scarce had I laid hand on my truncheon, when they blessed my shoulders with their pins, in such sort as they wholly deprived me of my sight and the force of my feet together, striking me down on the place where I yet lie straight, and where the pain of the disgrace received by our cudgelling doth not so much pinch me as the grief of the blows, which shall remain as deeply imprinted in my memory as they do in my back.’

‘For all this, thou shalt understand, brother Panza,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘that there is no remembrance which time will not end, nor grief which death will not consume,’ ‘What greater misfortune,’ quoth Sancho, ‘can there be than that which only expecteth time and death to end and consume it? If this our disgrace were of that kind which might be cured by a pair or two of plaisters, it would not be so evil; but I begin to perceive that all the salves of an hospital will not suffice to bring them to any good terms.’ Leave off, Sancho, and gather strength out of weakness,’ said Don Quixote, ‘for so will I likewise do; and let us see how doth Rozinante, for methinks that the least part of this mishap hath not fallen to his lot.’ ‘You ought not to marvel at that,’ quoth Sancho, ‘seeing he is likewise a knight-errant; that whereat I wonder is that mine ass remains there without payment, where we are come away without ribs.’ “Fortune leaves always one door open in disasters,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘whereby to remedy them. I say it, because that little beast may supply Rozinante’s want, by carrying off me from hence unto some castle, wherein I may be cured of my wounds. Nor do I hold this kind of riding dishonourable; for I remember to have read that the good old Silenus, tutor of the merry god of laughter, when he entered into the city of the hundred gates, rode very fairly mounted on a goodly ass.’ ‘It is like, quoth Sancho, ‘that he rode, as you say, upon an ass; but there is great difference betwixt riding and being cast athwart upon one like a sack of rubbish.’ To this Don Quixote answered: ‘The wounds that are received in battle do rather give honour than deprive men of it; wherefore, friend Panza, do not reply any more unto me, but, as I have said, arise as well as thou canst, and lay me as thou pleaseth upon thy beast, and let us depart from hence before the night overtake us in these deserts.’ ‘Yet I have heard you say,’ quoth Panza, ‘that it was an ordinary custom of knights-errant to sleep in downs and deserts the most of the year, and that so to do they hold for very good hap.’ ‘That is,’ said Don Quixote, ‘when they have none other shift, or when they are in love; and this so true as that there hath been a knight that hath dwelth on a rock, exposed to the sun and the shadow, and other annoyances of heaven, for the space of two years, without his lady’s knowledge. And Amadis was one of that kind, when calling himself Beltenebros, he dwelt in the Poor Rock, nor do I know punctually eight years or eight months, for I do not remember the history well; let it suffice that there he dwelt doing of penance, for some disgust which I know not, that his lady, Oriana, did him. But, leaving that apart, Sancho, despatch and away before some other disgrace happen, like that of Rozinante, to the ass.’

‘Even there lurks the devil,’ quoth Sancho; and so, breathing thirty sobs and threescore sighs, and a hundred and twenty discontents and execrations against him that had brought him there, he arose, remaining bent in the midst of the way, like unto a Turkish bow, without being able to address himself; and, notwithstanding all this difficulty, he harnessed his ass (who had been also somewhat distracted by the overmuch liberty of that day), and after he hoisted up Rozinante, who, were he endowed with a tongue to complain, would certainly have borne his lord and Sanco company. In the end Sancho laid Don Quixote on the ass, and tied Rozinante unto him, and, leading the ass by the halter, travelled that way which he deemed might conduct him soonest toward the highway. And fortune, which guided his affairs from good to better, after he had travelled a little league, discovered it unto him, near unto which he saw an inn, which, in despite of him, and for Don Quixote’s pleasure, must needs be a castle. Sancho contended that it was an inn, and his lord that it was not; and their controversy endured so long as they had leisure, before they could decide it, to arrive at the lodging; into which Sancho, without further verifying of the dispute, entered with all his loading.