Home  »  Don Quixote, Part 1  »  V. Of the Discreet Discourse Passed between Sancho and His Lord; with the Adventure Succeeding of a Dead Body; and Other Notable Occurrences

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

The Third Book

V. Of the Discreet Discourse Passed between Sancho and His Lord; with the Adventure Succeeding of a Dead Body; and Other Notable Occurrences

‘METHINKS, good sir, that all the mishaps that befel us these days past, are, without any doubt, punishment of the sin you committed against the order of knighthood, by not performing the oath you swore, not to eat bread on table-cloths, nor to sport with the queen, with all the rest which ensueth, and you vowed to accomplish, until you had won the helmet of Malandrino, or I know not how the Moor is called, for I have forgotten his name.’ ‘Thou sayst right, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘but, to tell the truth, indeed I did wholly forget it; and thou mayst likewise think certainly, that because thou didst not remember it to me in time, that of the coverlet was inflicted as a punishment on thee. But I will make amends; for we have also manners of reconciliation for all things in the order of knighthood.’ ‘Why, did I by chance swear anything?’ quoth Sancho. ‘It little imports,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘that thou hast not sworn; let it suffice that I know thou art not very clear from the fault of an accessory; and therefore, at all adventures it will not be ill to provide a remedy.’ ‘If it be so,’ quoth Sancho, ‘beware you do not forget this again, as you did that of the oath; for if you should, perhaps those spirits will take again a fancy to solace themselves with me, and peradventure with you yourself, if they see you obstinate.’

Being in these and other such discourses, the night overtook them in the way, before they could discover any lodgings, and that which was worst of all they were almost famished with hunger; for, by the loss of their wallets, they lost at once both their provision and warder-house; and, to accomplish wholly this disgrace, there succeeded a certain adventure, which certainly happened as we lay it down, without any addition in the world, and was this. The night did shut up with some darkness, yet notwithstanding they travelled on still, Sancho believing that, since that was the highway, there must be within a league or two, in all reason, some inn. Travelling therefore, as I have said, in a dark night, the squire being hungry, and the master having a good stomach, they saw coming towards them in the very way they travelled a great multitude of lights, resembling nothing so well as wandering stars. Sancho, beholding them, was struck into a wonderful amazement, and his lord was not much better. The one drew his ass’s halter, the other held his horse, and both of them stood still, beholding attentively what that might be; and they perceived that the lights drew still nearer unto them, and the more they approached, they appeared the greater. At the sight Sancho did tremble, like one infected by the savour of quicksilver; and Don Quixote’s hair stood up like bristles, who, animating himself a little, said: ‘Sancho, this must be, questionless, a great and most dangerous adventure, wherein it is requisite that I show all my valour and strength.’ ‘Unfortunate I!’ quoth Sancho; ‘if by chance this adventure were of ghosts, as it seemeth to me that it is, where will there be ribs to suffer it?’ ‘Be they never so great ghosts,’ said Don Quixote, ‘I will not consent that they touch one hair of thy garments: for if they jested with thee the other time, it was because I could not leap over the walls of the yard; but now we are in plain field, where I may brandish my sword as I please.’ ‘And if they enchant and benumb you, as they did the other time,’ quoth Sancho, ‘what will it then avail us to be in open field or no?’ ‘For all that,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘I pray thee, Sancho, be of good courage; for experience shall show thee how great my valour is.’ ‘I will, and please God,’ quoth Sancho. And so, departing somewhat out of the way, they began again to view earnestly what that of the travelling lights might be; and after a very little space they espied many white things, whose dreadful visions did in that very instant abate Sancho Panza his courage, and now began to chatter with his teeth like one that had the cold of a quartan; and when they did distinctly perceive what it was, then did his beating and chattering of teeth increase: for they discovered about some twenty, all covered with white, a horseback, with tapers lighted in their hands; after which followed a litter covered over with black, and then ensued other six a-horseback, attired in mourning, and likewise their mules, even to the very ground; for they perceived that they were not horses by the quietness of their pace. The white folk rode murmuring somewhat among themselves, with a low and compassive voice; which strange vision, at such an hour, and in places not inhabited, was very sufficient to strike fear into Sancho’s heart, and even in his master’s, if it had been any other than Don Quixote; but Sancho tumbled here and there, being quite overthrown with terror. The contrary happened to his lord, to whom in that same hour his imagination represented unto him most lively, the adventure wherein he was to be such a one as he ofttimes had read in his books of chivalry; for it figured unto him that the litter was a bier, wherein was carried some grievously wounded or dead knight, whose revenge was only reserved for him. And, without making any other discourse, he set his lance in the rest, seated himself surely in his saddle, and put himself in the midst of the way by which the white folk must forcibly pass, with great spirit and courage. And when he saw them draw near, he said, with a loud voice, ‘Stand, sir knight, whosoever you be, and render me account what you are, from whence you come, where you go, and what that is which you carry in that bier; for, according as you show, either you have done to others or others to you some injury; and it is convenient and needful that I know it, either to chastise you for the ill you have committed, or else to revenge you of the wrong which you have suffered.’ ‘We are in haste,’ quoth one of the white men, ‘and the inn is far off, and therefore cannot expect to give so full a relation as you request’; and with that, spurring his mule, passed forward. Don Quixote, highly disdaining at the answer, took him by the bridle, and held him, saying, ‘Stay, proud knight, and be better-mannered another time, and give me account of that which I demanded; if not, I defy you all to mortal battle.’ The mule whereon the white man rode was somewhat fearful and skittish; and, being taken thus rudely by the bridle, she took such a fright, that, rising up on her hinder legs, she unhorsed her rider. One of the lackeys that came with them, seeing him fallen, began to revile Don Quixote, who, being by this thoroughly enraged, without any more ado, putting his lance in the rest, ran upon one of the mourners, and threw him to the ground very sore wounded. And, turning upon the rest, it was a thing worthy the noting with what dexterity he did assault, break upon them, and put them all to flight; and it seemed none other but that Rozinante had gotten then wings, he bestirred himself so nimbly and courageously.

All those white men were fearful people, and unarmed, and therefore fled away from the skirmish in a trice, and began to traverse that field with their tapers burning, that they seemed to be maskers that used to run up and down in nights of Jove and recreation. The mourners likewise were so lapped up and muffled by their mourning weeds, as they could scarce stir them; so that Don Quixote did, without any danger of his person, give them all the bastinado, and caused them to forsake their rooms whether they would or no; for all of them did verily think that he was no man, but a devil of hell, that met them to take away the dead body which they carried in the litter. All this did Sancho behold, marvellously admiring at his master’s boldness, which made him say to himself, ‘My master is infallibly as strong and valiant as he said.’

There lay on the ground by him whom his mule had overthrown, a wax taper still burning, by whose light Don Quixote perceived him, and, coming over to him, he laid the point of his lance upon his face, saying, that he should render himself, or else he would slay him. To which the other answered: ‘I am already rendered more than enough, seeing I cannot stir me out of the place, for one of my legs is broken. And if you be a Christian, I desire you not to kill me; for therein you would commit a great sacrilege, I being a licentiate, and have received the first orders.’ ‘Well, then,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘what devil brought thee hither, being a Churchman?’ ‘Who, sir,’ replied the overthrown, ‘but my misfortune?’ ‘Yet doth a greater threaten thee,’ said Don Quixote, ‘if thou dost not satisfy me in all that which I first demanded of thee.’ ‘You shall easily be satisfied,’ quoth the licentiate, ‘and therefore you shall wit that, although first of all I said I was a licentiate, I am none but a bachelor, and am called Alonso Lopez, born at Alcovendas; and I came from the city of Baeza, with eleven other priests, which are those that fled away with the tapers. We travel towards Segovia, accompanying the dead body that lies in the litter, of a certain gentleman who died in Baeza, and was there deposited for a while, and now, as I say, we carry his bones to his place of burial, which is Segovia, the place of his birth.’ ‘And who killed him?’ quoth Don Quixote. ‘God,’ quoth the bachelor, ‘with certain pestilential fevers that he took.’ ‘In that manner,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘our Lord hath delivered me from the pains I would have taken to revenge his death, if any other had slain him. He having killed him that did, there is no other remedy but silence, and to lift up the shoulders; for the same I must myself have done, if He were likewise pleased to slay me. And I would have your reverence to understand that I am a knight of the Mancha, called Don Quixote; and mine office and exercise is, to go throughout the world righting of wrongs and undoing of injuries.’ ‘I cannot understand how that can be, of righting wrongs,’ quoth the bachelor, ‘seeing you have made me, who was right before, now very crooked by breaking of my leg, which can never be righted again as long as I live; and the injury which you have undone in me, is none other but to leave me so injured as I shall remain injured for ever. And it was very great disventure to have encountered with you that go about to seek adventures.’ ‘All things,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘succeed not of one fashion. The hurt was, Master Bachelor Alonso Lopez, that you travelled thus by night covered with those surplices, with burning tapers, and covered with weeds of dole, so that you appeared most properly some bad thing, and of the other world; and so I could not omit to fulfil my duty by assaulting you, which I would have done although I verily knew you to be the satans themselves of hell; for, for such I judged and accounted you ever till now.’

‘Then, since my bad fortune hath so disposed it,’ quoth the bachelor, ‘I desire you, good sir knight-errant (who hath given me so evil an errand) that you will help me to get up from under this mule, who holds still my leg betwixt the stirrup and saddle.’ ‘I would have stayed talking until tomorrow morning,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘and why did you expect so long to declare your grief to me?’ He presently called for Sancho Panza to come over; but he had little mind to do, for he was otherwise employed ransacking of a sumptermule, which those good folk brought with them, well furnished with belly-ware. Sancho made a bag of his cassock, and, catching all that he might or could contain, he laid it on his beast, and then presently after repaired to his master, and helped to deliver the good bachelor from the oppression of his mule; and, mounting him again on it, he gave him his taper; and Don Quixote bade him to follow his fellows, of whom he should desire pardon, in his name, for the wrong he had done them; for it lay not in his hands to have done the contrary. Sancho said to him also: ‘If those gentlemen would by chance know who the valorous knight is that hath used them thus, you may say unto them that he is the famous Don Quixote of Mancha, otherwise called the Knight of the Ill-favoured Face.’

With this the bachelor departed, and Don Quixote demanded of Sancho what had moved him to call him the Knight of the Ill-favoured Face, more at that time than at any other. ‘I will tell you that,’ quoth Sancho: ‘I stood beholding of you a pretty while by the taper light which that unlucky man carrieth, and truly you have one of the evil-favouredest countenances of late that ever I saw, which either proceedeth of your being tired after this battle, or else through the loss of your teeth.’ ‘That is not the reason,’ said Don Quixote; ‘but rather, it hath seemed fit to the wise man, to whose charge is left the writing of my history, that I take some appellative name, all the other knights of yore have done; for one called himself the Knight of the Burning Sword; another that of the Unicorn; this, him the Phoenix; the other, that of the Damsels; another, the Knight of the Griffin; and some other, the Knight of Death; and by these names and devices they were known throughout the compass of the earth. And so I say, that the wise man whom I mentioned set in thy mind and tongue the thought to call me the Knight of the Ill-favoured Face, as I mean to call myself from henceforth; and that the name may become me better, I will, upon the first occasion, cause to be painted in my shield a most ill-favoured countenance.’ ‘You need not,’ quoth Sancho, ‘spend so much time and money in having the like countenance painted; but that which you may more easily do is to discover your own and look directly on those that behold you; and I will warrant you, that without any more ado, or new painting in your shield, they will call you “him of the ill favoured face.” And let this be said in jest, that hunger and the want of your teeth have given you, as I have said, so ill-favoured a face, as you may well excuse all other heavy portraitures.’ Don Quixote laughed at his squire’s conceit, and yet, nevertheless, he purposed to call himself by that name as soon as ever he should have commodity to paint his shield and buckler.

And after a pause he said to Sancho; ‘I believe I am excommunicated for having laid violent hands upon a consecrated thing, “Juxta illud, siquis suadente diabolo,” etc.; although I am certain I laid not may hands upon him, but only this javelin; and besides, I did not in any way suspect that I offended priests or Churchmen, which I do respect and honour as a Catholic and faithful Christian; but rather, that they were shadows and spirits of the other worlds. And if the worst happened, I remember well that which befel the Cid Ruy Diaz, when he broke that other king’s ambassador’s chair before the pope’s holiness, for which he excommunicated him; and yet, for all that, the good Roderick Vivar behaved himself that day like an honourable and valiant knight.’

About this time the bachelor departed, as is said, without speaking a word, and Don Quixote would fain have seen whether the corpse that came in the litter was bones or no; but Sancho would not permit him, saying, ‘Sir, you have finished this perilous adventure most with your safety of any of those I have seen. This people, although overcome and scattered, might perhaps fall in the consideration that he who hath overcome them is but one person alone, and, growing ashamed thereof, would perhaps join and unite themselves, and turn upon us, and give us enough business to do. The ass is in good plight according to my desire, and the mountain at hand, and hunger oppresseth us; therefore, we have nothing else to do at this time but retire ourselves with a good pace, and, as it is said, “To the grave with the dead, and them that live to the bread.”’ And, pricking on his ass, he requested his master to follow him; who, seeing that Sancho spoke not without reason, he spurred after him without replying; and, having travelled a little way between two small mountains, they found a large and hidden valley, where they alighted; and Sancho lightening his beast, and lying both along upon the green grass, holpen by the source of hunger, they broke their fasts, dined, ate their beaver and supper all at one time; satisfying their appetites with more than one dish of cold meat, which the dead gentleman’s chaplains (which knew how to make much of themselves) had brought for their provision. But here succeeded another discommodity, which Sancho accounted not as the least, and was, that they had no wine to drink; no, nor so much as a drop of water to rinse their mouths; and, being scorched with drought, Sancho, perceiving the field where they were full of thick and green grass, said that which shall ensue in the chapter following.