Don Quixote read one book too many about chivalry. One day, he decides to apply what he learned from the books. With his steed, which he names Rocinante, he leaves his home wearing his grandfather's armor, delusionally believing that he is a knight who is on a knight-errant. The purpose is to impress a woman he calls Dulcinea and whom he is in love with — something she does not know.
His loyal companion Sancho had joined him after Don Quixote had promised that their adventures would eventually lead to Sancho becoming a governor of his island.
In the previous episode, Don QuixoteLoading... and SanchoLoading... run into two monks, a coach, and muleteers. Don QuixoteLoading... believes the monks are holding a princess captive in the coach and starts to fight them to free the princess. The first monk is able to get out of the way of Don QuixoteLoading...'s lance, the second one flees. While SanchoLoading... takes the fallen monk's possessions because he believed he is entitled to them, two muleteers approach SanchoLoading..., and they beat him up. Don QuixoteLoading... talks to the ladies in the coach and asks them to return to El TobosoLoading..., the village Don QuixoteLoading... came from, to tell DulcineaLoading..., the woman he loves, about how Don QuixoteLoading... saved them in the name of DulcineaLoading.... A Biscayan on the coach realizes that Don QuixoteLoading... is ordering them to go back. A sword fight is about to start between them when the story ends.
And at this so critical point the delightful history came to a stop and stood cut short without any intimation from the author as to where we might find the remaining part of the story.
The fiery Biscayan was the first to strike a blow.
This distressed me greatly because the pleasure derived from having read such a small portion turned to annoyance at the thought of the little chance that presented itself of finding the large part that, so it seemed to me, was missing of such an interesting tale.
It appeared to me to be a thing impossible and contrary to all precedent that so good a knight should have been without some sage to undertake the task of writing his marvelous achievements, something that was never lacking to any of those knights-errant who, they say, went after adventures.
Grasping his sword more firmly with both hands, he came down on the Biscayan with fury.
Because every one of them had one or two wise men, who not only recorded their deeds but described their most trifling thoughts and follies, no matter how secret they were.
Such a good knight could not have been so unfortunate as not to have what Platir and others like him had in abundance. And so I could not bring myself to believe that such a gallant tale had been left maimed and mutilated, and I laid the blame on Time, the devourer and destroyer of all things, that had either concealed or consumed it.
On the other hand, it struck me that, since Don QuixoteLoading... had many recent books, I had reason to think that maybe the story was recent too and that even though the story may not have been written down, it might very well exist in the memory of the people of his village and of those in the neighborhood.
I was so mesmerized by this fantasy that I now decided to make it my business to extensively inquire about the whole life and wondrous deeds of our famous Spaniard, Don QuixoteLoading... of La Mancha, light and mirror of Manchegan chivalry, and the first that in our age and in these so evil days devoted himself to the labor and exercise of the arms of knight-errantry, righting wrongs, assisting widows, and protecting damsels of that sort that used to ride about, whip in hand, on their small saddled horses, with all their virginity about them, from mountain to mountain and valley to valley — for, if it was not for some thug, or peasant with a hood and hatchet, or monstrous giant, that forced them, there were in days of yore damsels that at the end of eighty years, in all which time they had never slept a day under a roof, went to their graves as much maids as the mothers that bore them.
I say, then, that in these and other respects our gallant Don QuixoteLoading... is worthy of everlasting and notable praise.
His stories should also not be withheld even from me because of all the labor and pains I spent in search of the conclusion of this delightful history.
I do know that if Heaven, chance and good fortune had not helped me, the world would have remained deprived of an entertainment and pleasure that for a couple of hours or so may well occupy him who shall read it attentively.
The discovery of it occurred in this way.
He began to bleed from nose, mouth, and ears.
One day, as I was in the Alcana of Toledo, a boy came up to sell some pamphlets and old papers to a shopkeeper.
I am fond of reading even the very scraps of paper in the streets and so, led by this natural bent of mine, I took up one of the pamphlets the boy had for sale, and I saw that it was in characters which I recognized as Arabic.
As I was unable to read them though I could recognize them, I looked about to see if there were any Spanish-speaking Morisco at hand to read them for me.
I had no great difficulty in finding such an interpreter, because even if I had tried to find one for an even older language, I would have found one.
In short, chance provided me with one, who when I told him what I wanted and put the book into his hands, opened it in the middle and after reading a little in it began to laugh.
I asked him what he was laughing at, and he replied that it was at something the book had written in the margin by way of a note.
I bade him tell it to me, and he, still laughing said, “In the margin, as I told you, this is written: 'This DulcineaLoading... from El TobosoLoading... so often mentioned in this history, had, they say, the best hand of any woman in all La Mancha for salting pigs.'”
When I heard DulcineaLoading... from El TobosoLoading... named, I was struck with surprise and amazement, because it occurred to me immediately that these pamphlets contained the history of Don QuixoteLoading....
With this thought, I pressed him to read from the beginning. He did, and in doing so, he turned the Arabic into Castilian on-the-fly.
He told me it meant, “History of Don QuixoteLoading... of La Mancha, written by Cide Hamete Benengeli, an Arab historian.”
It took me a lot of effort to hide the joy I felt when the title of the book reached my ears.
I snatched it from the shopkeeper and bought all the papers and pamphlets from the boy for half a real.
If he had been a bit smarter, and if he had known how eager I was to have them, he might have easily counted on making more than six reals in the transaction.
I withdrew immediately with the Morisco into the cloister of the cathedral and begged him to turn all these pamphlets that related to Don QuixoteLoading... into Castilian, without omitting or adding anything to them.
I offered to pay him whatever he wanted. He was satisfied with two arrobas of raisins and two bushels of wheat and promised to translate them faithfully and quickly.
To make matters easier, and not to let such a precious find out of my hands, I took him to my house, where in little more than a month and a half he translated the whole body of text just as it is presented here.
Don QuixoteLoading... bade him surrender, or he would cut his head off.
In the first pamphlet, the battle between Don QuixoteLoading... and the Biscayan were drawn in a sketch in the very same pose in which the first part had ended: with their swords raised, and Don QuixoteLoading... protected by his shield and the Biscayan by his cushion, and the Biscayan's mule was drawn so true to life that it was obviously a rented one.
The Biscayan had an inscription under his feet which said, “Don SanchoLoading... de Azpeitia,” which no doubt must have been his name.
At the feet of RocinanteLoading... was another that said, “Don QuixoteLoading....”
RocinanteLoading... was marvelously portrayed, so long and thin, so lank and lean, with so much backbone and altogether so like one wasted with incurable tuberculosis, that he showed plainly with what judgment and propriety the name of RocinanteLoading... had been bestowed upon him.
Near him was SanchoLoading... Panza holding the halter of his ass, at whose feet was another label that said, “SanchoLoading... Zancas,” and according to the picture, he must have had a big belly, a short body, and long “shanks” — underlegs. For this reason, no doubt, he is called both Panza and Zancas. Several times, the documents call him by both of these two names.
Some other frivolous particulars might be mentioned, but they're not essential to the telling of the story, and no account can be wrong so long as it is true.
If against the present story, any objection can be raised when it comes to its truthfulness, in my opinion, it is conceivable that omissions rather than additions were made in the course writing down the story.
Because, where he could and should have given freedom to his pen to praise so worthy a knight, he seems to me to have deliberately not done so. This is unfortunate, because it is the business and duty of historians to be exact, truthful, and wholly free from passion, and neither interest nor fear, hatred nor love, should make them swerve from the path of truth, whose mother is history, rival of time, storehouse of deeds, witness for the past, example and counsel for the present, and warning for the future.
In the text, I know all the desired pleasantness will be found, and if the story is found in want of any good quality, I maintain that is must be the fault of the historian and not the fault of the subject. To be brief, the Second Part of the story, according to the translation, began in the following way:
With sharp swords raised and poised to come down, it seemed as though the two valiant and wrathful combatants stood threatening heaven, and earth, and hell. With such resolution and determination did they bear themselves.
The fiery Biscayan was the first to strike a blow, which was delivered with such force and fury that had not the sword turned in its course, that single stroke would have sufficed to put an end to the bitter struggle and to all the adventures of our knight.
But that good fortune which reserved him for greater things, turned aside the sword of his adversary, so that although it came down on his left shoulder, it did no more harm than strip that side of its armor, carrying away a big part of his helmet with half of his ear, all of which fell with fearful ruin to the ground, leaving him in a sorry state.
Good grief! Who could adequately describe the rage that filled the heart of our Manchegan when he saw himself dealt with in this fashion?
All that can be said is that it was such that he again raised himself in his stirrups, and, grasping his sword more firmly with both hands, he came down on the Biscayan with such fury, hitting him over the cushion and over the head, that — even so good a shield proving useless — as if a mountain had fallen on him, the Biscayan began to bleed from his nose, mouth, and ears. He reeled as if he was about to fall backward from his mule, and no doubt he would have done so had he not flung his arms around its neck.
At that same moment, however, he slipped his feet out of the stirrups and then unclasped his arms, and the mule, who was frightened because of the terrible blow, made off across the plain, and with a few plunges flung its master to the ground.
Don QuixoteLoading... stood looking on very calmly, and, when he saw him fall, he leaped from his horse, and he ran to him with great briskness. He presented the point of his sword to his eyes, bade him surrender, or he would cut his head off.
The Biscayan was so bewildered that he was unable to say a word. And so blind with fury was Don QuixoteLoading... that it would have ended badly for the Biscayan, if the ladies in the coach — who until now had been watching the combat in great terror — had not rushed up to where he stood and implored him with earnest entreaties to grant them the great grace and favor of sparing their squire's life.
To this, Don QuixoteLoading... replied with much gravity and dignity, “In truth, beautiful ladies, I am well content to do what ye ask of me; but it must be on one condition and understanding, which is that this knight promise me to go to the village of El TobosoLoading..., and on my behalf present himself before the peerless lady DulcineaLoading..., so that she may deal with him as shall be most pleasing to her.”
The terrified and desperate ladies, without discussing Don QuixoteLoading...'s demand or asking who DulcineaLoading... might be, immediately promised that their squire should do all that had been commanded.
“Then, on the faith of that promise,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “I shall do him no further harm, though he well deserves it of me.”