Home  »  Don Quixote, Part 1  »  XXV. Of the Falling out of Don Quixote and the Goatherd; with the Adventure of the Disciplinants, to Which the Knight Gave End to His Cost

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

The Fourth Book

XXV. Of the Falling out of Don Quixote and the Goatherd; with the Adventure of the Disciplinants, to Which the Knight Gave End to His Cost

THE GOATHERD’S tale bred a general delight in all the hearers, but specially in the canon, who did exactly note the manner wherewithal he delivered it, as different from the style or discourse of a rude goatherd, and approaching to the discretion of a perfect courtier; and therefore he said that the curate had spoken very judiciously in affirming that the woods bred learned men. All of them made bountiful tenders of their friendship and service to Eugenio, but he that enlarged himself more than the rest was Don Quixote, who said unto him, ‘Certes, friend goatherd, if I were at this time able to undertake any adventure, I would presently set forward, and fall in hand with it to do you a good turn; and I would take Leandra out of the monastery (wherein, without doubt, she is restrained against her will), in despite of the lady abbess, and all those that should take her part; and would put her into your hands, to the end you might dispose of her at your pleasure, yet still observing the laws of knighthood, which command that no man do any wrong and offer violence unto a damsel. Yet I hope in our Lord God, that the skill of a malicious enchanter shall not be of such force, but that the science of a better-meaning wizard shall prevail against him; and whensoever that shall befall, I do promise you my help and favour, as I am bound, by my profession, which chiefly consists in assisting the weak and distressed.’

The goatherd beheld him, and, seeing the knight so ill arrayed, and of so evil-favoured a countenance, he wondered, and questioned the barber, who sat near to him, thus: ‘I pray you, sir, who is this man of so strange a figure, and that speaks so oddly?’ ‘Who else should he be,’ answered the barber, ‘but the famous Don Quixote of the Mancha, the righter of wrongs, the redresser of injuries, the protector of damsels, the affrighter of giants, and the overcomer of battles?’

‘That which you say of this man,’ answered the goatherd, ‘is very like that which in books of chivalry is written of knights-errant, who did all those things which you apply to this man; and yet I believe that either you jest, or else that this gentleman’s head is void of brains.’

‘Thou art a great villain,’ said Don Quixote, and thou art he whose pate wants brains; for mine is fuller than the very, very whore’s that bore thee’; and, saying so, and snatching up a loaf of bread that stood by him, he raught the goatherd so furious a blow withal, as it beat his nose flat to his face; but the other, who was not acquainted with such jests, and saw how ill he was handled, without having respect to the carpet, napkins, or those that were eating, he leaped upon Don Quixote, and, taking hold of his collar with both the hands, would certainly have strangled him, if Sancho Panza had not arrived at that very instant, and, taking him fast behind, had not thrown him back on the table, crushing dishes, breaking glasses, and shedding and overthrowing all that did lie upon it. Don Quixote, seeing himself free, returned to get upon the goatherd, who, all besmeared with blood, and trampled to pieces under Sancho’s feet, groped here and there, grovelling as he was, for some knife or other, to take a bloody revenge withal, but the canon and curate prevented his purpose; and yet, by the barber’s assistance, he got under him Don Quixote, on whom he rained such a shower of buffets, as he poured as much blood from the poor knight’s face as had done from his own. The canon and curate were ready to burst for laughter; the troopers danced for sport; every one hissed, as men use to do when dogs fall out, and quarrel together; only Sancho Panza was wood, because he could not get from one of the canon’s serving-men, who withheld him from going to help his master. In conclusion, all being very merry save the two buffetants, that tugged one another extremely, they heard the sound of a trumpet, so doleful as it made them turn their faces towards that part from whence it seemed to come. But he that was most troubled at the noise thereof was Don Quixote, who, although he was under the goatherd full sore against his will, and by him exceedingly bruised and battered, yet said unto him, ‘Brother devil (for it is impossible that thou canst be any other, seeing that thou hast had valour and strength to subject my forces), I pray thee, let us make truce for one only hour; for the dolorous sound of that trumpet, which toucheth our ears, doth, methinks, invite me to some new adventure.’ The goatherd, who was weary of buffeting, and being beaten, left him off incontinently; and Don Quixote stood up, and turned himself towards the place from whence he imagined the noise to proceed; and presently he espied, descending from a certain height, many men apparelled in white, like disciplinants. The matter indeed was, that the clouds had that year denied to bestow their dew on the earth, and therefore they did institute rogations, processions, and disciplines throughout all that country, to desire Almighty God to open the hands of His mercy, and to bestow some rain upon them; and to this effect, the people of a village near unto that place, came in procession to a devout hermitage, built upon one of the hills that environed that valley.

Don Quixote, noting the strange attire of the disciplinants, without any calling to memory how he had often seen the like before, did forthwith imagine that it was some new adventure, and that the trial thereof only appertained to him, as to a knight-errant; and this his presumption was fortified the more, by believing that an image which they carried, all covered over with black, was some principal lady whom those miscreants and discourteous knights did bear away perforce. And as soon as this fell into his brain, he leaped lightly towards Rozinante, that went feeding up and down the plains, and dismounting from his pommel the bridle and his target that hanged thereat he bridled him in a trice; and, taking his sword from Sancho, got instantly upon his horse, and then, embracing his target, said in a loud voice to all those that were present: ‘You shall now see, O valorous company, how important a thing it is to have in the world such knights as profess the order of chivalry-errant. Now, I say, you shall discern, by the freeing of that good lady, who is there carried captive away, whether knights-adventurous are to be held in price’; and, saying so, he struck Rozinante with his heels (for spurs he had none), and making him to gallop (for it is not read in any part of this true history that Rozinante did ever pass one formal or full career), he posted to encounter the disciplinants, although the curate, canon, and barber did what they might to withhold him; but all was not possible, and much less could he be detained by these outcries of Sancho, saying, ‘Whither do you go, Sir Don Quixote? What devils do ye bear in your breast, that incite you to run thus against the Catholic faith? See, sir, unfortunate that I am! how that is a procession of disciplinants, and that the lady whom they bear is the blessed image of the immaculate Virgin. Look, sir, what you do; for at this time it may well be said that you are not you know what.’ But Sancho laboured in vain; for his lord rode with so greedy a desire to encounter the white men, and deliver the mourning lady, as he heard not a word, and although he had, yet would he not then have returned back at the king’s commandment. Being come at last near to the procession, and stopping Rozinante (who had already a great desire to rest himself a while), he said, with a troubled and hoarse voice, ‘O you that cover your faces, perhaps because you are not good men, give ear and listen to what I shall say.’ The first that stood at this alarm were those which carried the image; and one of the four priests which sung the litanies, beholding the strange shape of Don Quixote, the leanness of Rozinante, and other circumstances worthy of laughter, which he noted in our knight, returned him quickly this answer: ‘Good sir, if you would say anything to us, say it instantly; for these honest men, as you see, are toiled extremely, and therefore we cannot, nor is it reason we should, stand lingering to hear anything, if it be not so brief as it may be delivered in two words.’ ‘I will say it in one,’ said Don Quixote, ‘and it is this: that you do forthwith give liberty to that beautiful lady, whose tears and pitiful semblance clearly denote that you carry her away against her will, and have done her some notable injury; and I, who was born to right such wrongs, will not permit her to pass one step forward, until she be wholly possessed of the freedom she doth so much desire and deserve.’ All those that overheard Don Quixote gathered by his words that he was some distracted man, and therefore began to laugh very heartily, which laughing seemed to add gunpowder to his choler; for, laying his hand on his sword, without any more words, he presently assaulted the image-carriers; one whereof, leaving the charge of the burden to his fellows, came out to encounter the knight with a wooden fork (whereon he supported the bier whensoever they made a stand), and receiving upon it a great blow which Don Quixote discharged at him, it parted the fork in two; and yet he with the piece that remained in his hand, returned the knight such a thwack upon the shoulder, on the sword side, as his target not being able to make resistance against that rustic force, poor Don Quixote was overthrown to the ground, and extremely bruised.

Sancho Panza, who had followed him puffing and blowing as fast as he could, seeing him overthrown, cried to his adversary that he should strike no more; for he was a poor enchanted knight, that had never all the days of his life done any man harm; but that which detained the swain was not Sancho’s outcries, but to see that Don Quixote stirred neither hand nor foot; and therefore, believing that he had slain him, he tucked up his coat to his girdle as soon as he could, and fled away through the fields like a deer. In the meanwhile Don Quixote’s companions did hasten to the place where he lay, when those of the procession seeing them (but principally the troopers of the Holy Brotherhood, with their crossbows) run towards them, did fear some disastrous success; and therefore they gathered together in a troop about the image, and, lifting up their hoods and laying fast hold on their whips, and the priests on their tapers, they awaited the assault, with resolution both to defend themselves, and offend the assailants if they might. But fortune disposed the matter better than they expected; for Sancho did nothing else than throw himself on his lord’s body, making over him the most dolorous and ridiculous lamentation of the world, and believing that he was dead. The curate was known by the other curate that came in the procession, and their acquaintance appeased the conceived fear of the two squadrons. The first curate, in two words, told the other what Don Quixote was; and therefore he, and all the crew of the disciplinants, went over to see whether the poor knight were dead or alive; and then might hear Sancho Panza, with the tears in his eyes, bewailing him in this manner: ‘O flower of chivalry, who hast with one blow alone ended the career of thy so well bestowed peers! O renown of this lineage, the honour and glory of all the Mancha! yea, and of all the world beside! which, seeing it wanteth thee, shall remain full of miscreants, secure from being punished for their misdeeds! O liberal beyond all Alexanders, seeing thou hast given me only for eight months’ service the best island that the sea doth compass or engirt! O humbler of the proud, and stately to the humbled, undertaker of perils, endurer of affronts, enamoured without cause, imitator of good men, whip of the evil, enemy of the wicked, and, in conclusion, knight-errant than which no greater thing may be said!’

Don Quixote was called again to himself by Sancho his outcries, and then the first word that ever he spake was: ‘He that lives absented from thee, most sweet Dulcinea, is subject to greater miseries than this! Help me, friend Sancho, to get up into the enchanted chariot again; for I am not in plight to oppress Rozinante’s saddle, having this shoulder broken all into pieces.’ ‘That I will do with a very good will, my dear lord,’ replied the squire; ‘and let us return to my village with those gentlemen, which desire your welfare so much; and there we will take order for some other voyage, which may be more profitable and famous than this hath been.’ ‘Thou speakest reasonable, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘and it will be a great wisdom to let overpass the cross aspect of those planets that reign at this present.’ The canon, curate, and barber commended his resolution; and so, having taken delight enough in Sancho Panza’s simplicity, they placed Don Quixote, as before, in the team. The processioners returning into their former order, did prosecute their way. The goatherd took leave of them all. The troopers would not ride any farther; and therefore the curate satisfied them for the pains they had taken. The canon entreated the curate to let him understand all that succeeded of Don Quixote, to wit, whether he amended of his frenzy or grew more distracted; and then he took leave to continue his journey. Lastly, all of them departed; the curate, barber, Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, and the good Rozinante only remaining behind. Then the wainman yoked his oxen, and accommodated the knight on a bottle of hay, and afterwards followed on in his wonted [s]low manner, that way which the curate directed. At the end of two days they arrived to Don Quixote’s village, into which they entered about noon. This befel on a Sunday, when all the people were in the market-sted, through the middle whereof Don Quixote’s cart did pass: all of them drew near to see what came in it, and when they knew their countryman they were marvellously astonished; the whilst a little boy ran home before, to tell the old wife and the knight’s niece that their lord and uncle was returned, very lean, pale, disfigured, and stretched all along on a bundle of hay.

It would have moved one to compassion to have heard the lamentations and outcries then raised by the two good women, the blows they gave themselves, and the curses and execrations which they poured out against all books of knighthood; all which was again renewed when they saw Don Quixote himself entered in at their doors. At the news of this his arrival, Sancho Panza’s wife repaired also to get some tidings of her goodman; for she had learned that he was gone away with the knight, to serve him as his squire; and as soon as ever she saw her husband, the question she asked him was, whether the ass were in health or no? Sancho answered that he was come in better health than his master. ‘God be thanked,’ quoth she, ‘who hath done me so great a favour; but tell me now, friend, what profit hast thou reaped by this thy squireship? What petticoat hast thou brought me home? What shoes for thy little boys? ‘I bring none of these things, good wife,’ quoth Sancho; ‘although I bring other things of more moment and estimation.’ ‘I am very glad of that,’ quoth his wife: ‘show me those things of more moment and estimation, good friend; for I would fain see them, to the end that this heart of mine may be cheered, which hath been so swollen and sorrowful all the time of thine absence.’ ‘Thou shalt see them at home,’ quoth Sancho, ‘and therefore rest satisfied for this time; for and it please God that we travel once again to seek adventures, thou shalt see me shortly after an earl or governor of an island, and that not of every ordinary one neither, but of one of the best in the world.’ ‘I pray God, husband, it may be so,’ replied she, ‘for we have very great need of it. But what means that island? for I understand not the word.’ ‘Honey is not made for the ass’ mouth,’ quoth Sancho; ‘wife, thou shalt know it in good time, yea and shalt wonder to hear the title of ladyship given thee by all thy vassals.’ ‘What is that thou speakest, Sancho, of lordships, islands, and vassals?’ answered Joan Panza (for so was she called, although her husband and she were not kinsfolk, but by reason that in the Mancha the wives are usually called after their husband’s surname). ‘Do not busy thyself, Joan,’ quoth Sancho, ‘to know these things on such a sudden; let it suffice that I tell thee the truth, and therewithal sew up thy mouth. I will only say thus much unto thee, as it were by the way, that there is nothing in the world so pleasant as for an honest man to be the squire of a knight-errant that seeks adventures. It is very true that the greatest number of adventures found out succeeded not to a man’s satisfaction so much as he would desire; for of a hundred that are encountered, the ninety-and-nine are wont to be cross and untoward ones. I know it by experience, for I have come away myself out of some of them well canvassed, and out of others well beaten. But yet, for all that, it is a fine thing to expect events, traverse groves, search woods, tread on rocks, visit castles, and lodge in inns at a man’s pleasure, without paying the devil a cross.’

All these discourses passed between Sancho Panza and his wife Joan Panza, whilst the old woman and Don Quixote’s niece did receive him, put off his clothes, and lay him down in his ancient bed: he looked upon them very earnestly, and could not conjecture where he was. The curate charged the niece to cherish her uncle very carefully, and that they should look well that he made not the third escape, relating at large all the ado that they had to bring him home. Here both the women renewed their exclamations; their execrations of all books of knighthood here came to be reiterated; here they besought Heaven to throw down, into the very centre of the bottomless pit, the authors of so many lies and ravings; finally, they remained perplexed and timorous that they should lose again their master and uncle, as soon as he was anything recovered: and it befel just as they suspected; but the author of this history, although he have with all diligence and curiosity inquired after the acts achieved by Don Quixote in his third sally to seek adventures, yet could he never attain, at least by authentic writings, to any notice of them; only fame hath left in the memories of the Mancha, that Don Quixote after his third escape was at Saragossa, and present at certain famous joust made in that city, and that therein befel him events most worthy of his valour and good wit; but of his end he could find nothing, nor ever should have known aught, if good fortune had not offered to his view an old physician, who had in his custody a leaden box, which, as he affirmed, was found in the ruins of an old hermitage as it was a-repairing; in which box were certain scrolls of parchment written with Gothical characters, but containing Castilian verses, which comprehended many of his acts, and specified Dulcinea of Toboso her beauty, deciphered Rozinante, and entreated of Sancho Panza’s fidelity, as also of Don Quixote’s sepulchre, with sundry epitaphs and elogies of his life and manners; and those that could be read and copied out thoroughly were those that are here set down by the faithful author of this new and unmatched relation; which author demands of the readers no other guerdon in regard of his huge travel spent in the search of all the old records of the Mancha, for the bringing thereof unto light, but that they will deign to afford it as much credit as discreet men are wont to give unto books of knighthood, which are of so great reputation now-a-days in the world; for herewith he will rest most fully contended and satisfied, and withal encouraged to publish and seek out for other discourses, if not altogether so true as this, at least of as great both invention and recreation. The first words written in the scroll of parchment, that was found in the leaden box, were these.