Home  »  Don Quixote, Part 1  »  IX. Of That Which Befel the Famous Don Quixote in Sierra Morena Which Was One of the Most Rare Adventures That in This or Any Other So Authentic a History Is Recounted

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

The Third Book

IX. Of That Which Befel the Famous Don Quixote in Sierra Morena Which Was One of the Most Rare Adventures That in This or Any Other So Authentic a History Is Recounted

DON QUIXOTE, seeing himself in so ill plight, said to his squire, ‘Sancho, I have heard say ofttimes, that to do good to men unthankful is to cast water into the sea. If I had believed what thou saidst to me, I might well have prevented all this grief; but now that is past, patience, and be wiser another time.’ ‘You will take warning as much by this,’ quoth Sancho, ‘as I am a Turk. But since you say that if you had believed me you had avoided this grief, believe me now, and you shall eschew a greater; for you must wit that no knighthood nor chivalry is of any authority with the Holy Brotherhood; for it cares not two farthings for all the knights-errant in the world; and know that, methinks, I hear their arrows buzz about mine ears already.’ ‘Sancho, thou art a natural coward,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘but, because thou mayst not say that I am obstinate, and that I never follow thine advice, I will take thy counsel this time, and convey myself from that fury which now thou fearest so much: but it shall be on a condition-that thou never tell, alive nor dying, to any mortal creature, that I retired or withdrew myself out of this danger for fear, but only to satisfy thy requests; for if thou sayst any other thing thou shalt belie me most falsely, and even from this very time till that, and from thence until now, I give thee the lie herein; and I say thou liest, and shalt lie, as ofttimes as thou sayst or dost think the contrary. And do not reply to me, for in only thinking that I withdraw myself out of any peril, but principally this, which seems to carry with it some shadow of fear; I am about to remain and expect here alone, not only for the Holy Brotherhood, which thou namest and fearest, but also for the brethren of the Twelve Tribes, for the seven Maccabees, for Castor and Pollux, and for all the other brothers and brotherhoods in the world.’ ‘Sir,’ answered Sancho, ‘to retire is not to fly, and to expect is wisdom, when the danger exceedeth all hope; and it is the part of a wise man to keep himself safe to-day for to morrow, and not to adventure himself wholly in one day. And know that, although I be but a rude clown, yet do I, for all that, understand somewhat of that which men call good government; and therefore do not repent yourself for following mine advice, but mount on Rozinante if you be able, if not I will help you, and come after me; for my mind gives me that we shall now have more use of legs than hands.’

Don Quixote leaped on his horse without replying a word, and Sancho guiding him on his ass, they both entered into that part of Sierra Morena that was near unto them. Sancho had a secret design to cross over it all, and issue at Viso or Almodovar del Campo, and in the meantime to hide themselves for some days among those craggy and intricate rocks, to the end they might not be found by the Holy Brotherhood, if it did make after them. And he was the more encouraged to do this, because he saw their provision, which he carried on his ass, had escaped safely out of the skirmish of the galley-slaves; a thing which he accounted to be a miracle, considering the diligence that the slaves had used to search and carry away all things with them. They arrived that night into the very midst and bowels of the mountain, and there Sancho thought it fittest to spend that night, yea, and some other few days also, at least as long as their victuals endured; and with this resolution they took up their lodging among a number of cork-trees that grew between two rocks. But fatal chance, which, according to the opinion of those that have not the light of faith, guideth, directeth, and compoundeth all as it liketh, ordained that that famous cozener and thief, Gines de Passamonte, who was before delivered out of chains by Don Quixote’s force and folly, persuaded through fear he conceived of the Holy Brotherhood (whom he had just cause to fear), resolved to hide himself likewise in that mountain; and his fortune and fears led him just to the place where it had first addressed Don Quixote and his squire, just at such time as he might perceive them, and they both at that instant fallen asleep. And as evil men are evermore ungrateful, and that necessity forceth a man to attempt that which it urgeth, and likewise that the present redress prevents the expectation of a future, Gines, who was neither grateful nor gracious, resolved to steal away Sancho his ass, making no account of Rozinante, as a thing neither saleable nor pawnable. Sancho slept soundly, and so he stole his beast, and was before morning so far off from thence, as he feared not to be found.

Aurora sallied forth at last to refresh the earth, and affright Sancho with a most sorrowful accident, for he presently missed his ass; and so, seeing himself deprived of him, he began the most sad and doleful lamentation of the world, in such sort as he awaked Don Quixote with his outcries, who heard that he said thus: ‘O child of my bowels, born in mine own house, the sport of my children, the comfort of my wife, and the envy of my neighbours, the ease of my burdens, and finally, the sustainer of half of my person! for, with six-and-twenty marvedis that I gained daily by thee, I did defray half of mine expenses!’ Don Quixote, who heard the plaint, and knew also the cause, did comfort Sancho with the best words he could devise, and desired him to have patience, promising to give a letter of exchange, to the end that they of his house might deliver him three asses of five which he had left at home.

Sancho comforted himself again with this promise, and dried up his tears, moderated his sighs, and gave his lord thanks for so great a favour; and as they entered in farther among those mountains we cannot recount the joy of our knight, to whom those places seemed most accommodate to achieve the adventures he searched for. They reduced to his memory the marvellous accidents that had befallen knights-errant in like solitudes and deserts, and he rode so overwhelmed and transported by these thoughts as he remembered nothing else: nor Sancho had any other care (after he was out of fear to be taken) but how to fill his belly with some of the relics which yet remained of the clerical spoils; and so he followed his lord, taking now and then out of a basket (which Rozinante carried for want of the ass) some meat, lining therewithal his paunch; and, whilst he went thus employed, he would not have given a mite to encounter any other adventure, how honourable soever.

But whilst he was thus busied, he espied his master labouring to take up with the point of his javelin some bulk or other that lay on the ground, and went towards him to see whether he needed his help, just at the season that he lifted up a saddle-cushion and a portmanteau fast to it, which were half rotten, or rather wholly rotted, by the weather; yet they weighed so much that Sancho’s assistance was requisite to take them up: and straight his lord commanded him to see what was in the wallet. Sancho obeyed with expedition, and although it was shut with a chain and hanging lock, yet by the parts which were torn he saw what was within, to wit, four fine holland shirts, and other linens both curious and clean, and moreover, a handkerchief, wherein was a good quantity of gold; which he perceiving, said, ‘Blessed be Heaven, which hath once presented to us a beneficial adventure!’

And, searching for more, he found a tablet very costly bound. This Don Quixote took of him, commanding him to keep the gold with himself; for which rich favour Sancho did presently kiss his hands; and, after taking all the linen, he clapped it up in the bag of their victuals.

Don Quixote having noted all these things, said, ‘Methinks, Sancho (and it cannot be possible any other), that some traveller having left his way, passed through this mountain, and being encountered by thieves, they slew him, and buried him in this secret place.’ ‘It cannot be so,’ answered Sancho; ‘for, if they were thieves, they would not have left this money behind them.’ ‘Thou sayst true,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘and therefore I cannot conjecture what it might be: but stay a while, we will see whether there be anything written in these tablets by which we may vent and find out that which I desire.’

Then he opened it, and the first thing that he found written in it, as it were a first draft, but done with a very fair character, was a sonnet, which he read aloud, that Sancho might also hear it, and was this which ensues:

  • ‘Or Love of understanding quite is void:
  • Or he abounds in cruelty, or my pain
  • The occasion equals not; for which I bide
  • The torments dire he maketh me sustain.
  • ‘But if Love be a god, I dare maintain
  • He nought ignores; and reason aye decides
  • Gods should not cruel be: then who ordains
  • This pain I worship, which my heart divides?
  • ‘Filis! I err, if thou I say it is;
  • For so great ill and good cannot consist.
  • Nor doth this wrack from Heaven befall, but yet
  • That shortly I must die can no way miss.
  • For the evil whose cause is hardly well exprest,
  • By miracle alone true cure may get.’
  • ‘Nothing can be learned by that verse,’ quoth Sancho, ‘if by that hilo, or thread, which is said there, you gather not where lies the rest of the clue.’ ‘What hilo is here?’ quoth Don Quixote. ‘Methought,’ quoth Sancho, ‘that you read hilo there.’ ‘I did not, but Fili,’ said Don Quixote, ‘which is, without doubt, the name of the lady on whom the author of this sonnet complains, who in good truth seems to be a reasonable good poet, or else I know but little of that art.’

    ‘Why, then,’ quoth Sancho, ‘belike you do also understand poetry?’ ‘That I do, and more than thou thinkest,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘as thou shalt see when thou shalt carry a letter from me to my Lady Dulcinea del Toboso, written in verse from the one end to the other; for I would thou shouldst know, Sancho, that all, or the greater number of knights-errant, in times past, were great versifiers and musicians; for these two qualities, or graces, as I may better term them, are annexed to amorous knights-adventurers. True it is that the verses of the ancient knights are not so adorned with words as they are rich in conceits.’

    ‘I pray you, read more,’ quoth Sancho; ‘for perhaps you may find somewhat that may satisfy.’ Then Don Quixote turned the leaf, and said, ‘This is prose, and seems to be a letter.’ ‘What, sir, a missive letter?’ quoth Sancho. ‘No; but rather of love, according to the beginning,’ quoth Don Quixote. ‘I pray you, therefore,’ quoth Sancho, ‘read it loud enough; for I take great delight in these things of love.’ ‘I am content,’ quoth Don Quixote: and, reading it loudly, as Sancho had requested, it said as ensueth:

    ‘Thy false promise, and my certain misfortune, do carry me to such a place, as from thence thou shalt sooner receive news of my death than reasons of my just complaints. Thou hast disdained me, O ingrate! for one that hath more, but not for one that is worth more than I am; but if virtue were a treasure of estimation, I would not emulate other men’s fortunes, nor weep thus for mine own misfortunes. That which thy beauty erected, thy works have overthrown; by it I deemed thee to be an angel, and by these I certainly know thee to be but a woman. Rest in peace, O causer of my war! and let Heaven work so that thy spouse’s deceits remain still concealed, to the end thou mayst not repent what thou didst, and I be constrained to take revenge of that I desire not.’

    Having read the letter, Don Quixote said: ‘We can collect less by this than by the verses what the author is, other than that he is some disdained lover.’ And so, passing over all the book, he found other verses and letters, of which he could read some, others not at all; but the sum of them all were accusations, plaints, and mistrusts, pleasures, griefs, favours, and disdains, some solemnised, others deplored. And whilst Don Quixote passed over the book, Sancho passed over the malet, without leaving a corner of it or the cushion unsearched, or a seam unripped, nor a lock of wool uncarded, to the end that nothing might remain behind for want of diligence, or carelessness—the found gold, which passed a hundred crowns, had stirred in him such a greediness to have more. And though he got no more than that which he found at the first, yet did he account his flights in the coverlet, his vomiting of the drench, the benedictions of the pack-staves, the blows of the carrier, the loss of his wallet, the robbing of his cassock, and all the hunger, thirst, and weariness that he had passed in the service of his good lord and master, for well employed; accounting himself to be more than well paid by the gifts received of the money they found. The Knight of the Ill-favoured Face was the while possessed with a marvellous desire to know who was the owner of the malet, conjecturing, by the sonnet and letter, the gold and linen, that the enamoured was some man of worth, whom the disdain and rigour of his lady had conducted to some desperate terms. But by reason that nobody appeared through that inhabitable and desert place by whom he might be informed, he thought on it no more, but only rode on, without choosing any other way than that which pleased Rozinante to travel (who took the plainest and easiest to pass through), having still an imagination that there could not want some strange adventure amidst that forest.

    And as he rode on with this conceit, he saw a man on the top of a little mountain that stood just before his face, leap from rock to rock and tuff to tuff with wonderful dexterity; and, as he thought, he was naked; had a black and thick beard, the hairs many and confusedly mingled; his feet and legs bare; his thighs were covered with a pair of hose, which seemed to be of murrey velvet, but were so torn that they discovered his flesh in many places; his head was likewise bare: and although he passed by with the haste we have recounted, yet did the Knight of the Ill-favoured Face note all these particulars; and although he endeavoured, yet could not he follow him; for it was not in Rozinante’s power, in that weak state wherein he was, to travel so swiftly among those rocks, chiefly being naturally very slow and phlegmatic.

    Don Quixote, after espying him, did instantly imagine him to be the owner of the cushion and malet, and therefore resolved to go in his search, although he should spend a whole year therein among those mountains; and commanded Sancho to go about the one side of the mountain, and he would go the other. ‘And,’ quoth he, ‘it may befall that, by using this diligence, we may encounter with that man which vanished so suddenly out of our sight.’

    ‘I cannot do so,’ quoth Sancho; ‘for that, in parting one step from you, fear presently so assaults me with a thousand visions and affrightments; and let this serve you hereafter for a warning, to the end you may not henceforth part me the black of a nail from your presence.’ ‘It shall be so,’ answered the Knight of the Ill-favoured Face; ‘and I am very glad that thou dost thus build upon my valour, the which shall never fail thee, although thou didst want thy very soul: and, therefore, follow me by little and little, or as thou mayst, and make of thine eyes two lanterns; for we will give a turn about this little rock, and perhaps we may meet with this man whom we saw even now, who doubtlessly can be none other than the owner of our booty.’

    To which Sancho replied: ‘It were much better not to find him; for if we should meet him, and he were by chance the owner of this money, it is most evident that I must restore it to him; and therefore it is better, without using this unprofitable diligence, to let me possess it bona fide, until the true lord shall appear, by some way less curious and diligent; which, perhaps, may fall at such a time as it shall be all spent; and in that case I am free from all processes by privilege of the king.’

    ‘Thou deceivest thyself, Sancho, therein,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘for, seeing we are fallen already into suspicion of the owner, we are bound to search and restore it to him; and when we would not seek him out, yet the vehement presumption that we have of it hath made us possessors mala fide, and renders us as culpable as if he whom we surmise were verily the true lord. So that, friend Sancho, be not grieved to seek him, in respect of the grief whereof thou shalt free me if he be found.’ And, saying so, spurred Rozinante; and Sancho followed after afoot, animated by the hope of the young asses his master had promised unto him. And having compassed a part of the mountain, they found a little stream, wherein lay dead, and half devoured by dogs and crows, a mule saddled and bridled, all which confirmed more in them the suspicion that he which fled away was owner of the mule and cushion. And as they looked on it, they heard a whistle much like unto that which shepherds use as they keep their flocks; and presently appeared at their left hand a great number of goats, after whom the goatherd that kept them, who was an aged man, followed on the top of the mountain. And Don Quixote cried to him, requesting him to come down to them; who answered them again as loudly, demanding of them who had brought them to those deserts, rarely trodden by any other than goats, wolves, or other savage beasts which frequented those mountains. Sancho answered him, that if he would descend where they were, they would give him account thereof.

    With that the shepherd came down, and, arriving to the place where Don Quixote was, he said: ‘I dare wager that you look on the hired mule which lies dead there in that bottom; well, in good faith, he hath lain in that very place these six months. Say, I pray you, have not you met in the way with the master thereof?’ ‘We have encountered nobody but a cushion and a little malet, which we found not very far off from hence.’ ‘I did likewise find the same,’ replied the goatherd, ‘but I would never take it up nor approach to it, fearful of some misdemeanour, or that I should be hereafter demanded for it as for a stealth; for the devil is crafty, and now and then something ariseth, even from under a man’s feet, whereat he stumbles and falls, without knowing how or how not.’

    ‘That is the very same I say,’ quoth Sancho; ‘for I likewise found it, but would not approach it the cast of a stone. There I have left it, and there it remains as it was; for I would not have a dog with a bell.’ ‘Tell me, good fellow,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘dost thou know who is the owner of all these things?’

    ‘That which I can say,’ answered the goatherd, ‘is that, about some six months past, little more or less, there arrived at a certain sheepfold, some three leagues off, a young gentleman of comely personage and presence, mounted on that very mule which lies dead there, and with the same cushion and malet which you say you met but touched not. He demanded of us which was the most hidden and inaccessible part of the mountain. And we told him that this wherein we are now: and it is true; for if you did enter but half a league farther, perhaps you would not find the way out again so readily; and I do greatly marvel how you could find the way hither itself, for there is neither highway nor path that may address any to this place. I say, then, that the young man, as soon as he heard our answer, he turned the bridle, and travelled towards the place we showed to him, leaving us all with very great liking of his comeliness, and marvelled at his demand and speed, wherewith he departed and made towards the mountain; and after that time we did not see him a good many of days, until by chance one of our shepherds came by with our provision of victuals; to whom he drew near, without speaking a word, and spurned and beat him, well-favouredly, and after went to the ass which carried our victuals, and taking away all the bread and cheese that was there, he fled into the mountain with wonderful speed.

    ‘When we heard of this, some of us goatherds, we went to search for him, and spent therein almost two days in the most solitary places of this mountain, and in the end found him lurking in the hollow part of a very tall and great corktree; who, as soon as he perceived us, came forth to meet us with great staidness. His apparel was all torn; his visage disfigured, and toasted with the sun in such manner as we could scarce know him, if it were not that his attire, although rent, by the notice we had of it, did give us to understand that he was the man for whom we sought. He saluted us courteously, and in brief and very good reasons, he said, that we ought not to marvel seeing him go in that manner, for that it behoved to do so, that he might accomplish a certain penance enjoined to him, for the many sins he had committed. We prayed him to tell us what he was; but we could never persuade him to do it. We requested him likewise, that whensoever he had any need of meat (without which he could not live) he should tell us where we might find him, and we would bring it to him with great love and diligence; and that if he also did not like of this motion, that he would at leastwise come and ask it, and not take it violently, as he had done before, from our shepherds. He thanked us very much for our offer, and entreated pardon of the assaults passed, and promised to ask it from thence-forward for God’s sake, without giving annoyance to any one. And, touching his dwelling or place of abode, he said that he had none other than that where the night overtook him, and ended his discourse with so feeling laments, that we might well be accounted stones which heard him if therein we had not kept him company, considering the state wherein we had seen him first, and that wherein now he was; for, as I said, he was a very comely and gracious young man, and showed, by his courteous and orderly speech, that he was well born, and a court-like person; for, though we were all clowns such as did hear him, his gentility was such as could make itself known, even to rudeness itself. And being in the best of his discourse he stopped and grew silent, fixing his eyes on the ground a good while; wherein we likewise stood still suspended, expecting in what that distraction would end, with no little compassion to behold it; for we easily perceived that some accident of madness had surprised him, by his staring and beholding the earth so fixedly, without once moving the eyelid, and other times by the shutting of them, the biting of his lips, and bending of his brows. But very speedily after, he made us certain thereof himself; for, rising from the ground (whereon he had thrown himself a little before) with great fury, he set upon him that sat next unto him, with such courage and rage, that if we had not taken him away he would have slain him with blows and bites; and he did all this, saying, “O treacherous Fernando! here, here thou shalt pay me the injury that thou didst me; these hands shall rend out the heart, in which do harbour and are heaped all evils together, but principally fraud and deceit.” And to these he added other words, all addressed to the dispraise of that Fernando, and to attach him of treason and untruth.

    ‘We took from him at last, not without difficulty, our fellow; and he, without saying a word, departed from us, embushing himself presently among the bushes and brambles, leaving us wholly disabled to follow him in those rough and unhaunted places. By this we gathered that his madness comes to him at times, and that some one, called Fernando, had done some ill work of such weight, as the terms show, to which it hath brought him. All which hath after been yet confirmed as often (which were many times) as he came out to the fields, sometimes to demand meat of the shepherds, and other times to take it of them perforce; for when he is taken with this fit of madness, although the shepherds do offer him meat willingly, yet will not he receive, unless he take it with buffets; and when he is in his right sense, he asks it for God’s sake, with courtesy and humanity, and renders many thanks, and that not without tears. And in very truth, sirs, I say unto you,’ quoth the goatherd, ‘that I and four others, whereof two are my men, other two my friends, resolved yesterday to search until we found him, and being found, either by force or fair means, we will carry him to the town of Almodovar, which is but eight leagues from hence, and there will we have him cured, if his disease may be holpen; or at least we shall learn what he is, when he turns to his wits, and whether he hath any friends to whom notice of his misfortune may be given. This is, sirs, all that I can say concerning that of which you demand of me; and you shall understand that the owner of those things which you saw in the way, is the very same whom you saw pass by you so naked and nimble’;—for Don Quixote had told him by this, that he had seen that man go by, leaping among the rocks.

    Don Quixote rested marvelously admired at the goatherd’s tale; and, with greater desire to know who that unfortunate madman was, purposed with himself, as he had already resolved, to search him throughout the mountains, without leaving a corner or cave of it unsought until he had gotten him. But fortune disposed the matter better than he expected; for he appeared in that very instant in a cleft of a rock that answered to the place where they stood speaking; who came towards them, murmuring somewhat to himself, which could not be understood near at hand, and much less afar off. His apparel was such as we have delivered, only differing in this, as Don Quixote perceived when he drew nearer, that he wore on him, although torn, a leather jerkin, perfumed with amber; by which he thoroughly collected that the person which wore such attire was not of the least quality.

    When the young man came to the place where they discoursed, he saluted them with a hoarse voice, but with great courtesy; and Don Quixote returned him his greetings with no less compliment; and, alighting from Rozinante, he advanced to embrace him with very good carriage and countenance, and held him a good while straitly between his arms, as if he had known him of long time. The other, whom we may call the Unfortunate Knight of the Rock as well as Don Quixote the Knight of the Ill-favoured Face, after he had permitted himself to be embraced a while, did step a little off from our knight, and, laying his hands on his shoulders, began to behold him earnestly, as one desirous to call to mind whether he had ever seen him before; being, perhaps, no less admired to see Don Quixote’s figure, proportion, and arms, than Don Quixote was to view him. In resolution, the first that spoke after the embracing was the ragged knight, and said what we will presently recount.