Home  »  Don Quixote, Part 1  »  X. Wherein Is Prosecuted the History of the Famous Princess Micomicona, with Other Delightful Adventures

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

The Fourth Book

X. Wherein Is Prosecuted the History of the Famous Princess Micomicona, with Other Delightful Adventures

SANCHO gave ear to all this with no small grief of mind, seeing that all the hopes of his lordship vanished away like smoke, and that the fair Princess Micomicona was turned into Dorothea, and the giant into Don Fernando, and that his master slept so soundly, and careless of all that had happened. Dorothea could not yet assure herself whether the happiness that she possessed was a dream or no. Cardenio was in the very same taking, and also Lucinda’s thoughts ran the same race.

Don Fernando yielded many thanks to Heaven for having dealt with him so propitiously, and unwinding him out of the intricate labyrinth, wherein straying, he was at the point to have at once lost his soul and credit. And finally, as many as were in the inn were very glad and joyful of the success of so thwart, intricate, and desperate affairs. The curate compounded and ordered all things through his discretion, and congratulated every one of the good he obtained. But she that kept greatest jubilee and joy was the hostess, for the promise that Cardenio and the curate had made, to pay her the damages and harms committed by Don Quixote; only Sancho, as we have said, was afflicted, unfortunate, and sorrowful. And thus he entered with melancholy semblance to his lord, who did but then awake, and said unto him,—

‘Well and securely may you sleep, sir knight of the heavy countenance, as long as it shall please yourself, without troubling yourself with any care of killing any giant, or of restoring the queen to her kingdom; for all is concluded and done already.’ ‘I believe thee very easily,’ replied Don Quixote; ‘for I have had the monstrousest and most terrible battle with that giant that ever I think to have all the days of my life with any; and yet with one thwart blow, thwack I overthrew his head to the ground, and there issued so much blood as the streams thereof ran along the earth as if they were of water.’ ‘As if they were of red wine, you might better have said,’ replied Sancho Panza; ‘for I would let you to understand, if you know it not already, that the dead giant is a bored wine-bag, and the blood six-and-thirty gallons of red wine, which it contained in its belly. The head that was slashed off so neatly is the whore my mother; and let the devil take all away for me!’ ‘And what is this thou sayst, madman?’ quoth Don Quixote. ‘Art thou in thy right wits?’ ‘Get up, sir,’ quoth Sancho, ‘and you yourself shall see the fair stuff you have made, and what we have to pay; and you shall behold the queen transformed into a particular lady, called Dorothea, with other successes, which if you may once conceive them aright will strike you into admiration.’ ‘I would marvel at nothing,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘for if thou beest well remembered, I told thee the other time that we were here, how all that succeeded in this place was done by enchantment. And what wonder, then, if now the like should eftsoons befall?’ ‘I could easily be induced to believe all,’ replied Sancho, ‘if my canvassing in the coverlet were of that nature. But indeed it was not, but most real and certain. And I saw well how the innkeeper that is here yet this very day alive, held one end of the coverlet, and did toss me up towards heaven with very good grace and strength, no less merrily than lightly. And where the notice of parties intercurs, I do believe, although I am a simple man and a sinner, that there is no kind of enchantment, but rather much trouble, bruising, and misfortune.’ ‘Well, God will remedy all,’ said Don Quixote. ‘And give me mine apparel; for I will get up and go forth, and see those successes and transformations which thou speakest of.’ Sancho gave him his clothes; and whilst he was a-making of him ready, the curate recounted to Don Fernando and to the rest Don Quixote’s mad pranks, and the guile he had used to bring him away out of the Poor Rock, wherein he imagined that he lived exiled through the disdain of his lady. He told them, moreover, all the other adventures which Sancho had discovered, whereat they did laugh not a little, and wonder withal, because it seemed to them all to be one of the extravagantest kinds of madness that ever befell a distracted brain. The curate also added, that seeing the good success of the Lady Dorothea did impeach the further prosecuting of their design, that it was requisite to invent and find some other way how to carry him home to his own village. Cardenio offered himself to prosecute the adventure, and Lucinda should represent Dorothea’s person. ‘No,’ quoth Don Fernando, ‘it shall not be so; for I will have Dorothea to prosecute her own invention: for so that the village of this good gentleman be not very far off from hence, I will be very glad to procure his remedy.’ ‘It is no more than two days’ journey from hence,’ said the curate. ‘Well, though it were more,’ replied Don Fernando, ‘I would be pleased to travel them, in exchange of doing so good a work.’ Don Quixote sallied out at this time completely armed with Mambrino’s helmet (although with a great hole in it) on his head, his target on his arm, and leaned on his trunk or javelin. His strange countenance and gait amazed Don Fernando and his companions very much, seeing his ill-favoured visage so withered and yellow, the inequality and unsuitability of his arms, and his grave manner of proceeding; and stood all silent to see what he would; who, casting his eyes on the beautiful Dorothea, with very great gravity and staidness, said,—

‘I am informed, beautiful lady, by this my squire, that your greatness is annihilated, and your being destroyed; for of a queen and mighty princess which you were wont to be, you are now become a particular damsel; which if it hath been done by particular order of the magical king your father, dreading that I would not be able to give you the necessary and requisite help for your restitution, I say that he neither knew nor doth know the one half of the enterprise, and that he was very little acquainted with histories of chivalry; for if he had read them, or passed them over with so great attention and leisure as I have done, and read them, he should have found at every other step, how other knights of a great deal less fame than myself have ended more desperate adventures, seeing it is not so great a matter to kill a giant, be he ever so arrogant; for it is not many hours since I myself fought with one, and what ensued I will not say, lest they should tell me that I do lie; but time, the detector of all things, will disclose it, when we do least think thereof.’

‘Thou foughtest with two wine-bags, and not with a giant,’ quoth the host at this season. But Don Fernando commanded him to be silent and not interrupt Don Quixote in any wise, who prosecuted his speech, saying, ‘In fine, I say, high and disinherited lady, that if your father hath made this metamorphosis in your person for the causes related, give him no credit; for there is no peril so great on earth but my sword shall open a way through it, wherewithal I, overthrowing your enemy’s head to the ground, will set your crown on your own head within a few days.’ Here Don Quixote held his peace, and awaited the princess her answer, who, knowing Don Fernando’s determination and will that she should continue the commenced guile until Don Quixote were carried home again, answered, with a very good grace and countenance, in this manner: ‘Whosoever informed you, valorous Knight of the Ill-favoured Face, that I have altered and changed my being, hath not told you the truth, for I am the very same to-day that I was yesterday; true it is, that some unexpected yet fortunate successes have wrought some alteration in me, by bestowing on me better hap than I hoped for, or could wish myself; but yet for all that I have not left off to be that which [I was] before, or to have the very same thoughts which I ever had, to help myself by the valour of your most valorous and invincible arm. And therefore I request you, good my lord, of your accustomed bounty, to return my father his honour again, and account of him as of a very discreet and prudent man, seeing that he found by this skill so easy and so infallible a way to redress my disgraces; for I do certainly believe, that if it had not been by your means, I should never have happened to attain to the good fortune which now I posses, as all those noblemen present may witness; what therefore rests is, that to-morrow morning we do set forward, for to-day is now already so overgone as we should not be able to travel very far from hence. As for the conclusion of the good success that I do hourly expect, I refer that to God and the valour of your invincible arm.’

Thus much the discreet Dorothea said; and Don Quixote having heard her, he turned him to Sancho, with very manifest tokens of indignation, and said, ‘Now I say unto thee, little Sancho, that thou art the veriest rascal that is in all Spain. Tell me, thief and vagabond, didst not thou but even very now say unto me that this princess was turned into a damsel, and that called Dorothea? and that the head which I thought I had slashed from a giant’s shoulders was the whore that bore thee? with a thousand other follies, which did plunge me into the greatest confusion that ever I was in my life? I vow’ (and then he looked upon heaven, and did crash his teeth together) ‘that I am about to make such a wreck on thee, as shall beat wit into the pates of all the lying squires that shall ever hereafter serve knights-errant in this world.’ ‘I pray you have patience, good my lord,’ answered Sancho, ‘for it may very well befall me to be deceived in that which toucheth the transmutation of the lady and Princess Micomicona; but in that which concerneth the giant’s head, or at least the boring of the wine-bags, and that the blood was but red wine I am not deceived, I swear; for the bags lie yet wounded there within at your own bed’s head, and the red wine hath made a lake in the chamber; and if it be not so, it shall be perceived at the frying of the eggs, I mean that you shall see it when master innkeeper’s worship, who is here present, shall demand the loss and damage.’ ‘I say thee, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘that thou art a madcap; pardon me, and so it is enough.’ ‘It is enough indeed,’ quoth Don Fernando, ‘and therefore let me entreat you to say no more of this, and seeing my lady the princess says she will go away to-morrow, seeing it is now too late to depart to-day, let it be so agreed on, and we will spend this night in pleasant discourses, until the approach of the ensuing day, wherein we will all accompany and attend on the worthy knight Sir Don Quixote, because we would be eye-witnesses of the valorous and unmatchable feats of arms which he shall do in the pursuit of this weighty enterprise which he hath taken upon him.’ ‘I am he that will serve and accompany you, good my lord,’ replied Don Quixote; ‘and I do highly gratify the honour that is done me, and the good opinion that is held of me, the which I will endeavour to verify and approve, or it shall cost me my life, or more, if more it might cost me.’

Many other words of compliment and gratification passed between Don Quixote and Don Fernando, but a certain passenger imposed silence to them all, by his arrival to the inn in that very season, who by his attire showed that he was a Christian newly returned from among the Moors, for he was apparelled with a short-skirted cassock of blue cloth, sleeves reaching down half the arm, and without a collar; his breeches were likewise of blue linen, and he wore a bonnet of the same colour, a pair of date-coloured buskins, and a Turkish scimitar hanging at his neck in a scarf, which went athwart his breast. There entered after him, riding on an ass, a woman clad like a Moor, and her face covered with a piece of the veil of her head; she wore on her head a little cap of cloth of gold, and was covered with a little Turkish mantle from the shoulders down to the feet. The man was of strong and comely making, of the age of forty years or thereabouts; his face was somewhat tanned, he had long mustachios and a very handsome beard; to conclude, his making was such as, if he were well attired, men would take him to be a person of quality and good birth. He demanded a chamber as soon as he had entered, and being answered that there was no one vacant in the inn, he seemed to be grieved, and coming to her which in her attire denoted herself to be a Moor, he took her down from her ass. Lucinda, Dorothea, the hostess, her daughter and Maritornes, allured to behold the new and strange attire of the Moor, compassed her about; and Dorothea, who was always most gracious, courteous, and discreet, deeming that both she and he that had brought her were discontented for the want of a lodging, she said, ‘Lady, be not grieved for the trouble you are here like to endure for want of means to refresh yourself, seeing it is an universal vice of all inns to be defective herein; yet notwithstanding, if it shall please you to pass away the time among us’ (pointing to Lucinda), ‘perhaps you have met in the discourse of your travels other worse places of entertainment than this shall prove.’ The disguised lady made none answer, nor other thing than arising from the place wherein she sat, and setting both her arms across on her bosom, she inclined her head and bowed her body, in sign that she rendered them thanks; by her silence they doubtlessly conjectured her to be a Moor, and that she could not speak the Castilian tongue. On this the Captive arrived, who was otherwise employed until then, and, seeing that they all had environed her that came with him, and that she made no answer to their speech, he said, ‘Ladies, this maiden scarce understands my tongue yet, nor doth she know any other than that of her own country, and therefore she hath not, nor can make any answer to your demands.’ ‘We demand nothing of her,’ quoth Lucinda, ‘but only do make her an offer of our companies for this night, and part of the room where we ourselves are to be accommodated, where she shall be cherished up as much as the commodity of this place, and the obligation wherein we be tied to show courtesies to strangers that may want it, do bind us; especially she being a woman to whom we may do this service.’ ‘Sweet lady, I kiss your hands both for her and myself,’ replied the Captive; ‘and I do highly prize, as it deserveth, the favour you have proffered, which in such an occasion, and offered by such persons as you seem to be, doth very plainly show how great it is,’ ‘Tell me, good sir,’ quoth Dorothea, ‘whether is this lady a Christian or a Moor? for by her attire and silence she makes us suspect that she is that we would not wish she were.’ ‘A Moor she is in attire and body,’ answered the Captive; ‘but in mind she is a very fervent Christian, for she hath very expressly desired to become one.’ ‘Then she is not yet baptised?’ said Lucinda. ‘There hath been no opportunity offered to us,’ quoth the Captive, ‘to christen her, since she departed from Algiers, which is her town and country; and since that time she was not in any so eminent a danger of death as might oblige her to be baptised before she were first instructed in all the ceremonies which our holy mother, the Church, commandeth; but I hope shortly (if it shall please God) to see her baptised with that decency which her quality and calling deserves, which is greater than her attire or mine makes show of.’

These words inflamed all the hearers with a great desire to know who the Moor and her captive were, yet none of them would at that time entreat him to satisfy their longing, because the season rather invited them to take some order how they might rest after their travels, than to demand of them the discourse of their lives. Dorothea, then, taking her by the hand, caused her to sit down by herself, and prayed her to take off the veil from her face. She instantly beheld the Captive, as if she demanded of him what they said, and he in the Arabical language told her how they desired her to discover her face, and bade her to do it; which presently she did, and discovered so beautiful a visage as Dorothea esteemed her to be fairer than Lucinda, and Lucinda prized her to excel Dorothea; and all the beholders perceived that if any one could surpass them both in beauty, it was the Moor; and there were some that thought she excelled them both in some respects. And as beauty hath evermore the prerogative and grace to reconcile men’s minds and attract their wills to it, so all of them forthwith dedicated their desires to serve, and make much of the lovely Moor. Don Fernando demanded of the Captive how she was called, and he answered that her name was Lela Zoraida; and as soon as she heard him, and understood what they had demanded, she suddenly answered with anguish, but yet with a very good grace, ‘No, not Zoraida, but Maria,’ giving them to understand that she was called Maria, and not Zoraida.

These words, and the great effect and vehemency wherewithal the Moor delivered them, extorted more than one tear from the hearers, especially from the women, who are naturally tender-hearted and compassive. Lucinda embraced her then with great love, and said, ‘Ay, ay, Maria, Maria.’ To which she answered, ‘Ay, ay, Maria, Zoraida mancange;’ that is, ‘and not Zoraida.’ By this it was grown some four of the clock in the afternoon; and by order of those which were Don Fernando’s companions, the innkeeper had provided for them as good a beaver as the inn could in any wise afford unto them. Therefore, it being the hour, they sat down altogether at a long table (for there was never a square or round one in all the house), and they gave the first and principal end (although he refused it as much as he could) to Don Quixote, who commanded that the Lady Micomicona should sit at his elbow, seeing he was her champion. Presently were placed Lucinda and Zoraida, and Don Fernando and Cardenio right over against them, and after the Captive and other gentlemen, and on the other side the curate and barber. And thus they made their drinking with very great recreation, which was the more augmented to see Don Quixote leaving of his meat, and, moved by the like spirit of that which had made him once before talk so much to the goatherds, begin to offer them an occasion of speech in this manner:

‘Truly, good sirs, if it be well considered, those which profess the order of knighthood do see many great and unexpected things. If it be not so, say what mortal man alive is there that, entering in at this castle gate, and seeing of us all in the manner we be now present here, can judge or believe that we are those which we be? Who is it that can say that this lady which sits here at my sleeve is the great queen that we all know her to be, and that I am that Knight of the Heavy Countenance that am so much blabbed of abroad by the mouth of fame? therefore it cannot be now doubted, but that this art and exercise excelleth all the others which ever human wit, the underminer of nature, invented; and it is the more to be prized, by how much it exposeth itself, more than other trades, to dangers and inconveniences. Away with those that shall affirm learning to surpass arms; for I will say unto them, be they what they list, that they know not what they say; for the reason which such men do most urge, and to which they do most rely, is, that the travails of the spirit do far exceed those of the body; and that the use of arms are only exercised by the body, as if it were an office fit for porters, for which nothing were requisite but bodily forces; or as if in that which we that profess it do call arms, were not included the acts of fortitude which require deep understanding to execute them; or as if the warrior’s mind did not labour as well as his body, who had a great army to lead and command, or the defence of a besieged city. If not, see if he can arrive by his corporal strength to know or sound the intent of his enemy, the designs, stratagems, and difficulties, how to prevent imminent dangers, all these being operations of the understanding wherein the body hath no meddling at all. It being therefore so, that the exercise of arms requires spirit as well as those of learning, let us now examine which of the two spirits, that of the scholar or soldier, do take most pains; and this may be best understood by the end to which both of them are addressed; for that intention is most to be esteemed which hath for object the most noble end. The end and conclusion of learning is—I speak not now of divinity, whose scope is to lead and address souls to heaven; for to an end so much without end as this, no other may be compared—I mean of human sciences or arts, to maintain distributive justice in his perfection, and give to every one that which is his own; to endeavour and cause good laws to be religiously observed-an end most certainly generous, high, and worthy of great praise, but not of so much as that to which the exercise of arms is annexed, which hath for his object and end peace, which is the greatest good men can desire in this life. And therefore the first good news that ever the world had or men received, were those which the angels brought on that night which was our day, when they sang in the skies, “Glory be in the heights, and peace on earth to men of good minds.” And the salutation which the best Master that ever was on earth or in heaven taught to His disciples and favourites was, that when they entered into any house they should say, “Peace be to this house”; and many other times He said, “I give unto you My peace; I leave My peace unto you; peace be amongst you.” It is a good, as precious as a jewel, and a gift given, and left by such a hand; a jewel, without which neither on earth nor in heaven can there be any perfect good. This peace is the true end of war; for arms and war are one and the selfsame things. This truth being therefore presupposed, that the end of war is peace, and that herein it doth excel the end of learning, let us descend to the corporal labours of the scholar, and to those of him which professeth arms, and consider which of them are more toilsome.’

Don Quixote did prosecute his discourse in such sort, and with so pleasing terms, as he had almost induced his audience to esteem him to be, at that time at least, exempt from his frenzy; and therefore, by reason that the greater number of them were gentlemen, to whom the use of arms is in a manner essential and proper, they did willingly listen to him; and therefore he continued on with his discourse in this manner:

‘I say, then, that the pains of the student are commonly these: principally poverty (not that I would maintain that all students are poor, but that I may put the case in greatest extremity it can have), and by saying that he may be poor, methinks there may be no greater aggravation of his misery; for he that is poor is destitute of every good thing; and this poverty is suffered by him sundry ways, sometimes by hunger, other times by cold or nakedness, and many times by all of them together; yet it is never so extreme but that he doth eat, although it be somewhat later than the custom, or of the scraps and reversion of the rich man; and the greatest misery of the student is that which they term to live by sops and pottage: and though they want fire of their own, yet may they have recourse to their neighbour’s chimney, which if it do not warm, yet will it weaken the cold: and finally, they sleep at eight under a roof. I will not descend to other trifles—to wit, the want of shirts and shoes, the bareness of their clothes, or the overloading of their stomachs with meat when good fortune lends them as good a meal—for by this day, which I have deciphered so rough and difficult, stumbling here, falling there; getting up again on the other side, and refalling on this, they attain the degree which they have desired so much; which many having compassed, as we have seen, which having passed through these difficulties, and sailed by Scylla and Charybdis (borne away flying, in a manner, by favourable fortune), they command and govern all the world from a chair, turning their hunger into satiety, their nakedness into pomp, and their sleeping on a mat into a sweet repose among hollands and damask-a reward justly merited by their virtue. But their labours, confronted and compared to those of the militant soldier, remain very far behind, as I will presently declare.’