Home  »  Don Quixote, Part 1  »  V. Wherein Is Prosecuted Former Narration of Our Knight’s Misfortunes

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

The First Part

V. Wherein Is Prosecuted Former Narration of Our Knight’s Misfortunes

BUT seeing, in effect, that he could not stir himself, he resolved to have recourse to his ordinary remedy, which was to think on some passage of his histories; and in the instant his folly presented to his memory that of Valdovinos and the Marquis of Mantua, then when Carloto had left him wounded on the mountain: a history known by children, not hidden to young men, much celebrated, yea, and believed by many old men; and is yet for all that no more authentical than are Mahomet’s miracles. This history, as it seemed to him, was most fit for the trance wherein he was; and therefore he began, with signs of great pain, to tumble up and down, and pronounce, with a languishing breath, the same that they feign the wounded knight to have said in the wood:

  • “Where art thou, lady dear! that griev’st not at my smart?
  • Or thou dost it not know, or thou disloyal art.”
  • And after this manner he did prosecute the old song, until these verses that say: ‘O noble Marquis of Mantua, my carnal lord and uncle!’ And it befel by chance, that at the very same time there passed by the place where he lay a man of his own village, who was his neighbour, and returned after having carried a load of wheat to the mill; who beholding a man stretched on the ground, he came over to him, and demanded what he was, and what was it that caused him to complain so dolefully. Don Quixote did verily believe that it was his uncle, the Marquis of Mantua, and so gave him no other answer, but only followed on in the repetition of his old romance, wherein he gave him account of his misfortune, and of the love the emperor’s son bore to his spouse all in the very same manner that the ballad recounts it. The labourer remained much astonished, hearing those follies. And, taking off his visor, which with the lackey’s blows was broken all to pieces, he wiped his face that was full of dust, and scarce had he done it when he knew him; to whom he said: ‘Master Quixada’ (for so he was probably called when he had his wits, before he left the state of a staid yeoman to become a wandering knight), ‘who hath used you after this manner?’ But he continued his romance, answering out of it to every question that was put to him; which the good man perceiving, disarmed him the best he could, to see whether he had any wound; but he could see no blood, or any token on him of hurt. Afterward he endeavoured to raise him from the ground, which he did at the last with much ado, and mounted him on his ass, as a beast of easiest carriage. He gathered then together all his arms, and left not behind so much as the splinters of the lance, and tied them altogether upon Rozinante, whom he took by the bridle, and the ass by his halter, and led them both in that equipage fair and easily towards his village, being very pensative to hear the follies that Don Quixote spoke. And Don Quixote was no less melancholy, who was so beaten and bruised as he could very hardly hold himself upon the ass; and ever and anon he breathed forth such grievous sighs, as he seemed to fix them in heaven; which moved his neighbour to entreat him again to declare unto him the cause of his grief. And it seems none other but that the very devil himself did call to his memory histories accommodated to his successes; for in that instant, wholly forgetting Valdovinos, he remembered the Moor Abindarraez, then, when the constable of Antequera, Roderick Narvaez, had taken him, and carried him prisoner to his castle. So that, when his neighbour turned again to ask of him how he did, and what ailed him, he answered the very same words and speech that captive Abindarraez said to Narvaez, just as he had read them in Diana of Montemayor, where the history is written; applying it so properly to his purpose, that the labourer grew almost mad for anger to hear that machina of follies, by which he collected that his neighbour was distracted; and therefore he hied as fast as possible he could to the village, that so he might free himself from the vexation that Don Quixote’s idle and prolix discourse gave unto him. At the end whereof the knight said: ‘Don Roderick of Narvaez, you shall understand that this beautiful Xarifa, of whom I spoke, is now the fair Dulcinea of Toboso; for whom I have done, I do, and will do, such famous acts of knighthood as ever have been, are, and shall be seen in all the world.’ To this his neighbour answered: ‘Do not you perceive, sir, (sinner that I am!) how I am neither Don Roderick de Narvaez nor the Marquis of Mantua, but Peter Alonso, your neighbour? nor are you Valdovinos nor Abindarraez, but the honest gentleman, Master Quixada.’ ‘I know very well who I am,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘and also I know that I may not only be those whom I have named, but also all the twelve Peers of France, yea, and the nine Worthies; since mine acts shall surpass all those that ever they did together, or every one of them apart.’

    With these and such other discourses, they arrived at last at their village about sunset: but the labourer awaited until it waxed somewhat dark, because folk should not view the knight so simply mounted. And when he saw his time he entered into the town, and went to Don Quixote’s house, which he found full of confusion. There was the curate and the barber of the village, both of them Don Quixote’s great friends; to whom the old woman of the house said, in a lamentable manner: ‘What do you think, Master Licentiate Pero Perez’ (for so the curate was called), ‘of my master’s misfortune? These six days neither he nor his horse have appeared, nor the target, lance, or armour. Unfortunate woman that I am! I do suspect, and I am as sure it is true as that I shall die, how those accursed books of knighthood, which he hath, and is wont to read ordinarily, have turned his judgment; for now I remember that I have heard him say oftentimes, speaking to himself, that he would become a knight-errant, and go seek adventures throughout the world. Let such books be recommended to Satan and Barabbas, which have destroyed in this sort the most delicate understanding of all the Mancha.’ His niece affirmed the same, and did add: ‘Moreover, you shall understand, good Master Nicholas’ (for so hight the barber), ‘that it many times befel my uncle to continue the lecture of those unhappy books of disventures two days and two nights together, at the end of which, throwing the book away from him, he would lay hand on his sword, and would fall a-slashing of the walls; and when he were wearied, he would say that he had slain four giants as great as four towers, and the sweat that dropped down, through the labour he took, he would say was blood that gushed out of those wounds which he had received in the conflict, and then would he quaff off a great pot full of cold water, and straight he did become whole and quiet; saying that water was a most precious drink, which the wise man Esquife, a great enchanter or sorcerer, and his friend, had brought unto him. But I am in the fault of all this, who never advertised you both of mine uncle’s raving, to the end you might have redressed it ere it came to these terms, and burnt all those excommunicated books; for he had many that deserved the fire as much as if they were heretical.’ ‘That do I likewise affirm,’ quoth Master Curate; ‘and, in sooth, to-morrow shall not pass over us without making a public process against them, and condemn them to be burnt in the fire, that they may not minister occasion again to such as may read them, to do that which I fear my good friend hath done.’

    The labourer and Don Quixote stood hearing all that which was said, and then he perfectly understood the disease of his neighbour, and therefore he began to cry aloud: ‘Open the doors to Lord Valdovinos and to the Lord Marquis of Mantua, who comes very sore wounded and hurt, and to the Lord Moor, Abindarraez, whom the valorous Roderick of Narvaez, Constable of Antequera, brings as his prisoner!’ All the household ran out, hearing these cries; and, some knowing their friend, the others their master and uncle, who had not yet alighted from the ass, because he was not able, they ran to embrace him; but he forbade them, saying, ‘Stand still and touch me not, for I return very sore wounded and hurt, through default of my horse: carry me to my bed, and, if it be possible, send for the wise Urganda, that she may cure and look to my hurt.’ ‘See, in an ill hour,’ quoth the old woman straightway, ‘if my heart did not very well foretell me on which foot my master halted. Come up in good time, for we shall know how to cure you well enough without sending for that Urganda you have mentioned. Accursed, say I once again, and a hundred times accursed, may those books of knighthood be, which have brought you to such estate!’ With that they bore him up to his bed, and searching for his wounds, could not find any; and then he said all was but bruising, by reason of a great fall he had with his horse Rozinante, as he fought with ten giants, the most unmeasurable and boldest that might be found in a great part of the earth. ‘Hearken,’ quoth the curate, ‘we have also giants in the dance; by mine honesty, I will burn them all before to-morrow at night.’ Then did they ask a thousand questions of Don Quixote; but he would answer to none of them, and only requested them to give him some meat, and suffer him to sleep, seeing rest was most behooveful for him. All which was done; and the curate informed himself at large of the labouring man, in what sort he had found Don Quixote, which he recounted to him, and also the follies he said, both at his finding and bringing to town; which did kindle more earnestly the licentiate’s desire to do what he had resolved the next day; which was to call his friend the barber, Master Nicholas, with whom he came to Don Quixote’s house.