Home  »  Don Quixote, Part 1  »  XVII. Wherein Are Prosecuted the Wonderful Adventures of the Inn

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

The Fourth Book

XVII. Wherein Are Prosecuted the Wonderful Adventures of the Inn

SO many were the outcries which Don Quixote made, as the innkeeper opened the door very hastily and affrighted, to see who it was that so roared; and those that stood without did also the same. Maritornes, whom the cries had also awakened, imagining straight what it might be, went into the barn, and, unperceived of any, loosed the halter that sustained Don Quixote, and forthwith he fell to the ground in the presence of the innkeeper and the travellers, who, coming towards him, demanded the occasion why he did so unmeasurably roar. He, without making any answer, took off the halter from his wrist, and, getting up, he leaped upon Rozinante, embraced his target, set his lance into the rest, and, wheeling about a good apart of the field, returned with a halfgallop, saying, ‘Whosoever shall dare to affirm that I have not been with just title enchanted, if my lady the Princes Micomicona will give me leave to do it, I say that he lies, and I do presently challenge him to combat.’ The new travellers were amazed at Don Quixote’s words; but the host removed that wonder by informing them what he was, and that they should make no account of his words, for the man was bereft of his wits. Then they demanded of the innkeeper if there had arrived to his inn a young stripling of some fifteen years old or thereabouts, apparelled like a horseboy, and having such and such marks and tokens; and then gave the very signs of Donna Clara’s lover. The host made answer, that there were so many people in his inn as he had taken no notice of him for whom they demanded. But one of them having seen the coach wherein the judge came, said, ‘Questionlessly he must be here; for this is the coach that they say he hath followed. Let, therefore, one of us remain at the door, and the rest enter to seek him out; yea, and it will not be from the purpose if one of us ride about without the inn, lest he should make an escape from us by the walls of the yard.’ ‘We will do so,’ said another of them. And thus two of them entered into the house, one stayed at the door, and the other did compass the inn about. The innkeeper beheld all, but could never judge aright the reason why they used all this diligence, although he easily believed that they sought for the youth whose marks they had told unto him.

By this the day was grown clear, and as well by reason thereof, as through the outcries of Don Quixote, all the strangers were awake, and did get up, especially both the ladies, Clara and Dorothea; for the one through fear to have her lover so near, and the other with desire to see him, could sleep but very little all that night. Don Quixote perceiving that none of the four travellers made any account of him, or answered his challenge, was ready to burst with wrath and despite; and if he could any wise have found that it was tolerated by the statutes of chivalry that a knight-errant might have lawfully undertaken any enterprise, having plight his word and faith not to attempt any until he had finished that which he had first promised, he would have assailed them all, and made them maugre their teeth to have answered him. But because it seemed to him not so expedient nor honourable to begin any new adventure until he had installed Micomicona in her kingdom, he was forced to be quiet, expecting to see whereunto the endeavours and diligence of those four travellers tended: the one whereof found out the youth, that he searched, asleep by another lackey, little dreaming that anybody did look for him, and much less would find him out thus. The man drew him by the arm, and said, ‘Truly, Don Louis, the habit that you wear answers very well your calling; and the bed whereon you lie the care and tenderness wherewith your mother did nurse you.’ The youth hereat rubbed his drowsy eyes, and beheld very leisurely him that did hold him fast, and knew him forthwith to be one of his father’s servants, whereat he was so amazed as he could not speak a word for a great while. And the serving-man continuing his speech, said, “Here is nothing else to be done, Lord Louis, but that you be patient and depart again with us towards home, if you be not pleased to have your father and my lord depart out of this world to the other; for no less may be expected from the woe wherein he rests for your absence.’ ‘Why, how did my father know,’ said Don Louis, ‘that I came this way, and in this habit?’ ‘A student,’ answered the other, ‘to whom you betrayed your intention, did discover it, moved through the compassion he took to hear your father’s lamentations when he found you missing. And so he despatched four of his men in your search; and we are all at your service, more joyful than may be imagined for the good despatch wherewithal we shall return, and carry you to his sight which doth love you so much.’ ‘That shall be as I please or Heaven will dispose,’ said Don Louis. ‘What would you please, or what should Heaven dispose of, other than that you agree to return? For certainly you shall not do the contrary, nor is it possible you should.’ All these reasons that passed between them both did the lackey that lay by Don Louis hear; and, arising from thence, he went and told all that passed to Don Fernando, Cardenio, and all the rest that were gotten up; to whom he told how the man gave the title of Don to the boy, and recounted the speech he used, and how he would have him return to his father’s house, which the youth refused to do. Whereupon, and knowing already what a good voice the heavens had given him, they greatly desired to be more particularly informed what he was, and intended also to help him, if any violence were offered unto him, and therefore went unto the place where he was, and stood contending with his servant.

Dorothea issued by this out of her chamber, and in her company Donna Clara, all perplexed. Dorothea, calling Cardenio aside, told unto him succinctly all the history of the musician and Donna Clara. And he rehearsed to her again all that passed of the serving-men’s arrival that came in his pursuit, which he did not speak so low but that Donna Clara overheard him, whereat she endured such alteration as she had fallen to the ground, if Dorothea, running towards her, had not held her up. Cardenio entreated Dorothea to return with the other to her chamber, and he would endeavour to bring the matter to some good pass, which they presently performed. The four that were come in Don Louis his search were by this all of them entered into the inn, and had compassed him about, persuading him that he would, cutting off all delays, return to comfort his father. He answered that he could not do it in any sort until he had finished an adventure, which imported him no less than his life, his honour, and his soul. The servants urged him then, saying, that they would in no sort go back without him, and therefore would carry him home, whether he would or no. ‘That shall not you do,’ quoth Don Louis, ‘if it be not that you carry me home dead.’ And in this season all the other gentlemen were come into the contention, but chiefly Cardenio, Don Fernando, and his comrades, the judge, the curate, and the barber, and Don Quixote; for now it seemed to him needless to guard the castle any more. Cardenio, who knew already the history of the youth, demanded of those that would carry him away, what reason did move them to seek to take that lad away against his will. ‘We are moved unto it,’ answered one of them, ‘by this reason, that we shall thereby save his father’s life, who for his absence is like to lose it.’ To this said Don Louis, ‘It is to no end to make relation of mine affairs here. I am free, and will return if I please; and if not, no one shall constrain me to do it perforce.’ ‘Reason shall constrain you, good sir, to do it,’ quoth the man; ‘and when that cannot prevail with you, it shall with us, to put that in execution for which we be come and are bound to do.’ ‘Let us know this affair from the beginning,’ said the judge to those men. ‘Sir,’ quoth one of them, who knew him very well, as his master’s next neighbour, ‘Master Justice, doth not your worship know this gentleman who is your neighbour’s son, and hath absented himself from his father’s house, in an habit so undecent and discrepant from his calling, as you may perceive?’ The judge beheld him then somewhat more attentively, knew him, and embracing him, said, ‘What toys are these, Don Louis; or what cause hath been of efficacy sufficient to move you to come away in this manner and attire, which answers your calling so ill?’ The tears stuck then in the young gentleman’s eye, and he could not answer a word to the judge, who bade the four serving-men appease themselves, for all things should be done to their satisfaction; and then, taking Don Louis apart, he entreated him to tell him the occasion of that his departure.

And whilst he made this and other demands to the gentleman, they heard a great noise at the inn-door; the cause whereof was, that two guests which had lain there that night, seeing all the people busied to learn the cause of the four horsemen’s coming, had thought to have made an escape scot-free, without defraying their expenses; but the innkeeper, who attended his own affairs with more diligence than other men’s, did stay them at their going forth, and demanded his money, upbraiding their dishonest resolution with such words as moved them to return him an answer with their fists, which they did so roundly as the poor host was compelled to raise the cry and demand succour. The hostess and her daughter could see no man so free from occupation as Don Quixote; to whom the daughter said, ‘I request you, sir knight, by the virtue that God hath given you, to succour my poor father, whom two bad men are grinding like corn.’ To this Don Quixote answered very leisurely, and with great gravity, ‘Beautiful damsel, your petition cannot prevail at this time, forasmuch as I am hindered from undertaking any other adventure until I have finished one wherein my promise hath engaged me, and all that I can now do in your service is, that which I shall say now unto you: run unto your father, and bid him continue and maintain his conflict manfully, the best that he may, until I demand license of the Princess Micomicona to help him out of his distress; for if she will give it unto me, you may make full account that he is delivered.’ ‘Sinner that I am,’ quoth Maritorness, who was by, and heard what he said, ‘before you shall be able to obtain that license of which you speak, my master will be departed to the other world.’ ‘Work you so, lady,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘that I may have the license; for so that I may have it, it will make no great matter whether he be in the other world or no, even from thence would I bring him back again, in despite of the other world itself, if it durst contradict me; or at least I will take such a revenge of those that do send him to the other world, as you shall remain more than contented.’ And so, without replying any more, he went and fell on his knees before Dorothea, demanding of her, in knightly and errant phrases, that she would deign to license him to go and succour the constable of that castle, who was then plunged in a deep distress. The princess did grant him leave very willingly; and he presently, buckling on his target, and laying hold on his sword, ran to the inn-door, where yet the two guests stood handsomely tugging the innkeeper. But as soon as he arrived, he stopped and stood still, although Maritornes and the hostess demanded of him twice or thrice the cause of his restiness in not assisting her lord and husband. ‘I stay,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘because, according to the laws of arms, it is not permitted to me to lay hand to my sword against squire-like men that are not dubbed knights. But call to me here my squire Sancho, for this defence and revenge concerns him as his duty.’ This passed at the inn-door, where fists and blows were interchangeably given and taken in the best sort, although to the innkeeper’s cost, and to the rage and grief of Maritornes, the hostess, and her daughter, who were like to run wood, beholding Don Quixote’s cowardice, and the mischief their master, husband, and father endured. But here let us leave them; for there shall not want one to succour him; or if not, let him suffer, and all those that wittingly undertake things beyond their power and force; and let us turn backward to hear that which Don Louis answered the judge, whom we left somewhat apart with him, demanding the cause of his coming afoot, and in so base array; to which the youth, wringing him hard by the hands, as an argument that some extraordinary grief pinched his heart, and shedding many tears, answered in this manner:

‘I know not what else I may tell you, dear sir, but that from this instant that Heaven made us neighbours, and that I saw Donna Clara, your daughter and my lady, I made her commandress of my will; and if yours, my true lord and father, do not hinder it, she shall be my spouse this very day. For her sake have I abandoned my father’s house, and for her I donned this attire, to follow her wheresoever she went, as the arrow doth the mark, or the mariner the north star. She is as yet no further acquainted with my desires, than as much as she might understand sometimes by the tears which she saw mine eyes distil afar off. Now, sir, you know the riches and nobility of my descent, and how I am my father’s sole heir, and if it seem unto you that these be conditions whereupon you may venture to make me thoroughly happy, accept of me presently for your son-in-law; for if my father, borne away by other his designs, shall not like so well of this good which I have sought out for myself, yet time hath more force to undo and change the affairs than men’s will.’ Here the amorous gentleman held his peace, and the judge remained astonied as well at the grace and discretion wherewith Don Louis had discovered his affections unto him, as also to see himself in such a pass, that as he knew not what course he might best take in so sudden and unexpected a matter; and therefore he answered no other thing at that time, but only bade him to settle his mind, and entertain the time with his servants, and deal with them to expect that day, because he might have leisure to consider what might be most convenient for all. Don Louis did kiss his hands perforce, and did bathe them with tears, a thing able to move a heart of marble, and much more the judge’s, who (as a wise man) did presently perceive how beneficial and honourable was that preferment for his daughter; although he could have wished, if it had been possible, to effect it with the consent of Don Louis his father, who he knew did purpose to have his son made a nobleman of title.

By this time the innkeeper and his guests had agreed, having paid him all that they owed, more by Don Quixote’s persuasion and good reasons than by any menaces; and Don Louis his servants expected the end of the judge, his discourse, and his resolution; when the devil (who never sleeps) would have it, at that very time entered into the inn the barber from whom Don Quixote took away the helmet of Mambrino, and Sancho Panza the furniture of the ass, whereof he made an exchange for his own; which barber, leading his beast to the stable, saw Sancho Panza, who was mending some part of the pannel; and as soon as he had eyed him, he knew him, and presently set upon Sancho, saying, ‘Ah, sir thief, have I found you here, with all the furniture whereof you robbed me?’ Sancho, that saw himself thus assaulted unexpectedly, and had heard the disgraceful terms which the other used, laying fast hold on the pannel with the one hand, gave the barber such a buffet with the other, as he bathe all his teeth in blood. But yet, for all that, the barber held fast his grip of the pannel, and therewithal cried out so loud, as all those that were in the house came to the noise and conflict; and he said, ‘I call for the king and justice, for this thief and robber by the highways goeth about to kill me, because I seek to recover mine own goods.’ ‘Thou liest,’ quoth Sancho, ‘for I am not a robber by the highways; for my lord Don Quixote won those spoils in a good war.’ By this time Don Quixote himself was come thither, not a little proud to see how well his squire defended himself, and offended his adversary; and therefore he accounted him from thenceforth to be a man of valour, and purposed in his mind to dub him knight on the first occasion that should be offered, because he thought that the order of knighthood would be well employed by him.

Among other things that the barber said in the discourse of his contention, this was one: ‘Sirs, this pannel is as certainly mine as the death which I owe unto God, and I know it as well as if I had bred it; and there is my ass in the stable, who will not permit me to tell a lie; or otherwise, do but try the pannel on him, and if it fit him not justly I am content to remain infamous. And I can say more, that the very day wherein they took my pannel from me, they robbed me likewise of a new brazen basin, which was never used, and cost me a crown.’ Here Don Quixote could no longer contain himself from speaking; and so, thrusting himself between them two, and putting them asunder, and causing the pannel to be laid publicly on the ground until the truth were decided, he said, ‘To the end that you may perceive the clear and manifest error wherein this good squire lives, see how he calls that a basin which is, was, and shall be, the helmet of Mambrino, which I took away perforce from him in fair warm and made myself lord thereof in a lawful and warlike manner. About the pannel I will not contend; for that which I can say therein is, that my squire Sancho demanded leave of me to take away the furniture of this vanquished coward’s horse, that he might adorn his own withal. I gave him authority to do it, and he took them. And for his converting thereof from a horse’s furniture into a pannel, I can give none other reason than the ordinary one, to wit, that such transformations are usually seen in the successes of chivalry; for confirmation whereof, friend Sancho, run speedily and bring me out the helmet which this good man avoucheth to be a basin.’ ‘By my faith, sir,’ quoth Sancho, ‘if we have no better proof of our intention than that which you say, I say that the helmet of Mambrino is as arrant a basin as this good man’s furniture is a pannel.’ ‘Do what I command,’ said Don Quixote: ‘I cannot believe that all the things in this castle will be guided by enchantment.’ Sancho went for the basin, and brought it: and as soon as Don Quixote saw it, he took it in his hands, and said, ‘See, sirs, with what face can this impudent squire affirm that this is a basin, and not the helmet that I have mentioned? and I swear to you all, by the order of knighthood which I profess, that this is the very same helmet which I won from him, without having added or taken anything from it.’ ‘That it is, questionless,’ quoth Sancho; ‘for since the time that my lord won it until now, he never fought but one battle with it, when he delivered the unlucky chained men; and but for this basin-helmet, he had not escaped so free as he did, so thick a shower of stones rained all the time of that conflict.’