NewLibraryNewsletterAbout
Don Quixote

By Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Don QuixoteLoading... 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 RocinanteLoading..., 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... meet a goatherder, and then they meet CardenioLoading..., a mad man who lives in the black mountains. CardenioLoading... tells them a story about his love for a certain LuscindaLoading..., but before he can finish his story, the men end up in a fight over the fictional character Queen Madasima from a book of chivalry, and CardenioLoading... disappears.

Also, in earlier episodes, Don QuixoteLoading... captured a brass basin from a barber because he believed it to be a Golden HelmetLoading..., and he had ordered SanchoLoading... to not say a thing to him if it wasn't a compliment, and also, he had promised to order three of his five young asses to be given to SanchoLoading... when he returned.

Don QuixoteLoading... decides to go mad to impress DulcineaLoading...

S
o Don QuixoteLoading... once again mounted RocinanteLoading... and left the goatherder behind. He ordered SanchoLoading... to follow him, and SanchoLoading... — having no ass — did so very discontentedly.

They proceeded slowly, making their way into the most rugged part of the mountain.

All the while, SanchoLoading... was dying to have a talk with his master, and longing for him to begin, so that there should be no breach of the injunction laid upon him. But unable to keep silence any longer, he said to him:

“Now I have to knock my head against these rocks, which you must witness,” Don QuixoteLoading... said.

“Sir Don QuixoteLoading..., please give me your blessing and allow me to leave, because I would like to immediately go home to my wife and children with whom I can talk and converse as much as I want, because to want me to go through these solitudes day and night and not speak to you when I have so many things on my mind is killing me.

“If only animals could speak as they did in the days of Aesop, it would not be so bad, because I could then talk to RocinanteLoading... about whatever came into my head, and that way I could stop thinking about my ill fortune, even if only for a short time.

“To walk on in this fashion, seeking adventure for the rest of my life with nothing in return but kicks and being thrown into the air with a blanketLoading..., rocks and punches to the head, and with all of that, to have to sew up one's mouth without daring to say what is in one's heart, just as if one were dumb, is more than any living soul can endure.”

“I'd like to go home immediately to my wife and children,” SanchoLoading... said.

“I hear what you're saying, SanchoLoading...,” Don QuixoteLoading... replied. “You are dying to have the restraint I placed upon your tongue removed. Well, I am willing to free your tongue from this restraint that so cruelly pains you. So consider it removed, but only on the one condition that your license shall not extend beyond us wandering in these mountains.”

“Your plan does not seem to me a bad one,” Don QuixoteLoading... said.

“That, I can live with!” SanchoLoading... said. “Then let me speak now because God knows what else will happen to us soon.

“And to immediately take advantage of the permit, I would like to ask you, sir, what made you stand up for that Queen Majimasa, or whatever her name is? Or what did it matter whether that abbot was a friend of hers or not?

“Because if you had let that pass — and you were not a judge in the matter — it is my belief the madman would have gone on with his story, and the blow of the stone, and the kicks, and more than half a dozen punches would have been avoided.”

“In truth, SanchoLoading...,” Don QuixoteLoading... answered, “if you knew as well as I do what an honorable and illustrious lady Queen Madasima was, I know you would say I had great patience that I did not smash the mouth that uttered such blasphemies, because a very great blasphemy it is to say or imagine that a queen has made off with a mere surgeon.

“The truth of the story is that that Master Elisabad, whom the madman mentioned, was a man of great prudence and sound judgment, and served as governor and physician to the queen, but to suppose that she was his mistress is nonsense that deserves very severe punishment.

“And as a proof that CardenioLoading... did not know what he was talking about, remember that when he said it, he was out of his mind.”

“It is the loftiest thing I ever heard,” SanchoLoading... said.

“Well, there you go!” SanchoLoading... said. “Who but a madman would have minded what a madman said?

“And if good luck had not helped you, sir, and if he had sent that stone at your head instead of at your breast, a fine pickle we would have found ourselves in for standing up for my lady over there! And would CardenioLoading... then not have gone unpunished because he was a madman?”

SanchoLoading...,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “we knights-errant are obliged to vindicate the honor of women of any quality, and to do so against any man, sane of mind or otherwise, and to do so much more so even the honor of queens of such grand magnitude and extraordinary worth as Queen Madasima — for whose rare endowments I have a peculiar adoration, because, besides being extremely beautiful, she was very wise, and very patient under her misfortunes, of which she had many.

“And the counsel and society of the Master Elisabad were a great help and support to her in helping her endure her afflictions with wisdom and resignation.

“Therefore, the ignorant and ill-disposed vulgar people took occasion to say and think that she was his mistress. But I will say once more that they lie, and if they repeat it a thousand times more, they are lying a thousand times more.”

“Well,” SanchoLoading... said, “I neither say nor think so, one way or the other. Let them who say that eat their lies and swallow it with their bread. They have rendered account to God whether they misbehaved or not.

“I come from my vineyard, I know nothing. I am not fond of prying into other men's lives. He who buys and lies feels it in his purse. Moreover, naked I came into this world, naked must I go out. But if they did, what is that to me? Many find streaks of bacon without finding racks to lay them on. There is no pad-locking of people's mouths. Because a closed mouth catches no flies. And little said is soon mended. It is a sin to misrepresent the devil. Misunderstandings bring lies to town. Moreover, they said of God — ”

“God bless me,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “what a set of absurdities you are stringing together! What has what we are talking about got to do with the proverbs you are threading one after the other?

“For God's sake, hold your tongue, SanchoLoading..., and from now on keep to prodding your ass and don't meddle in what does not concern you.

“And understand this with the limited wit you have, that everything I have done, am doing or shall do, is well founded on reason and in conformity with the rules of chivalry because I understand them better than all the knights that have ever claimed to understand them.”

“Sir,” SanchoLoading... replied, “is it a good rule of chivalry that we should go astray through these mountains without path or road, looking for a madman who, when he is found, will perhaps take a fancy to finish what he began, not his story, but your head and my ribs, and end up breaking them altogether for us?”

“Calm down, SanchoLoading...,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “because let me tell you, it is not so much the desire of finding that madman that leads me into these regions as much as that I have a desire to perform among them an achievement wherewith I shall win eternal name and fame throughout the known world.

“And it shall be such that I shall thereby set the standard for what makes a knight-errant perfect and famous.”

“And is it very perilous, this achievement?”

“No,” he of the Sorrowful Glance replied, “though it may be in the dice that we may throw deuce-ace instead of sixes. But all will depend on your diligence.”

“On my diligence!” SanchoLoading... said.

“Yes,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “because if you do return soon from the place where I mean to send you, my penance will soon be over, and my glory will soon begin. And because I do not doubt your zeal for advancing your master's quest, I will no longer conceal my plan for you as it is not right to keep you in suspense for much longer, waiting to see what comes of my words.

“I would have you know, SanchoLoading..., that the famous Amadis of Gaul was one of the most perfect knights-errant. No, I am wrong to say that he was one of them because he stood alone. He was the first, the one and only, the lord of all the knights in the world at that time.

“And let not Don Belianis, or any other knight for that matter, pretend to compete with him for the honor of that title because everyone who thinks is deceiving himself!

“I must also inform you, that when a painter desires to become famous in his art, he endeavors to copy the originals of the best painters that he knows. And the same rule holds good for all of the most important crafts and callings.

“Thus, he who wants to gain the reputation of being an esteemed prudent and patient man must imitate Ulysses, in whose person and labors Homer presents to us a lively picture of prudence and patience.

“In similar fashion, Virgil, too, shows us the virtue of a pious son and the sagacity of a brave and skillful captain in the person of AEneas.

“Both the Greek and Roman poets represented or described their heroes not as they were, but as they ought to be, to hold them up as examples of their virtues for the ensuing ages.

“In the same way, Amadis was the polestar, the day-star, the bright sun of valiant and devoted knights, whom all we who fight under the banner of love and chivalry are obligated to imitate.

“This, then, being so, I consider, friend SanchoLoading..., that the knight-errant who shall imitate him most closely will come nearest to reaching the perfection of chivalry.

“Now, one of the instances in which this knight most conspicuously showed his prudence, worth, valor, endurance, fortitude, and love, was when he withdrew — rejected by the Lady Oriana — to do penance upon the Poor Rock, changing his name into the Lovely Obscure, a name assuredly significant and appropriate to the life which he had voluntarily adopted.

“So, as it is easier for me to imitate him in this than in cleaving giants asunder, cutting off serpents' heads, slaying dragons, routing armies, destroying fleets, and breaking bewitchments, and as this place is so well suited for a similar purpose, I must not allow the opportunity to escape which now so conveniently offers me a lock of hair.”

“What is it in reality,” SanchoLoading... said, “that you mean to do in such an out-of-the-way place as this?”

“Have I not made it sufficiently clear to you, SanchoLoading...,” Don QuixoteLoading... answered, “that I mean to imitate Amadis here, playing the victim of despair, the madman, the maniac, so as at the same time to emulate the valiant Don Roland, when at the fountain he had evidence of the beautiful Angelica having disgraced herself with Medoro and through grief thereat went mad, and plucked up trees, troubled the waters of the clear springs, slew destroyed flocks, burned down huts, leveled houses, dragged mares after him, and perpetrated a hundred thousand other outrages worthy of everlasting renown and record?

“And though I have no intention of imitating Roland, or Orlando, or Rotolando — because he went by all these names — step by step in all the mad things he did, said, and thought, I will make a rough copy to the best of my power of all that seems to me most essential.

“But perhaps I shall content myself with the simple imitation of Amadis, who, without giving way to any mischievous madness but merely to tears and sorrow, gained as much fame as the most famous.”

“It seems to me,” SanchoLoading... said, “that the knights who behaved in this way had provocation and cause for those follies and penances. But what cause have you for going mad? What lady has rejected you, or what evidence have you found to prove that the lady DulcineaLoading... from El TobosoLoading... did anything other than was expected of her?”

“And that's the point!” Don QuixoteLoading... replied. “In this lies the beauty of my undertaking, SanchoLoading..., because for a knight-errant to go mad when he has a cause is neither strange nor meritorious.

“The trick is to turn crazy without any provocation at all, without a cause and without the least bit of necessity.

“That, my friend, is a refined and exquisite passion for you!

“Because this would let my mistress know that if I do this without provocation, then imagine what I am capable of when there is a reason for it.

“Moreover, I do have abundant cause to go mad because of the long separation I have endured from my lady-until-death, DulcineaLoading... from El TobosoLoading..., because, as you did hear that shepherd Ambrosio say the other day, in absence, all ills are felt and feared.

“And so, friend SanchoLoading..., waste no time in advising me against so rare, so happy, and so unheard-of an imitation. Mad I am, and mad I must be until you return with the answer to a letter which I will have you carry to my lady DulcineaLoading....

“And her reply is as favorable as my unshaken constancy deserves, my insanity and penance will come to an end. But if I discover that she answers my vows and services with ungrateful disdain, then I shall rightfully become mad in earnest, and, being so, I shall suffer no more.

“Thus, in whatever way she may answer, I shall escape from the struggle and affliction in which you will leave me, enjoying in my imagination the blessing you bear me, or as a madman not feeling the evil you bring me.

“But tell me, SanchoLoading..., have you got MambrinoLoading...'s helmet safe? for I saw you take it up from the ground when that ungrateful scoundrel tried to break it into pieces but could not, which makes it clear that it was of the finest temper of the metal.”

“For the love of God, already, Sir Knight of the Sorrowful Glance,” SanchoLoading... answered, “I can no longer bear to hear the things you say.

“Why, this would be enough to make any man believe that all your bragging about your knight-errantry, your winning of kingdoms and empires, and your giving away islands and bestowing other rewards and dignities upon your squire as is custom of knights-errant, are merely flim-flam stories and nothing but shams and lies.

“Because, who can hear a man call a barber's basin a Golden HelmetLoading..., and what would anyone think who hears you calling a BarberLoading...'s basin MambrinoLoading...'s helmet, no, demand it and vouch for it for days on end, and not conceive him who says this to be completely stark-raving mad?

“I have the dented basin safely in my sack, and I am taking it home to have it mended for my own use, to trim my beard in it, if, by God's grace, I am allowed to see my wife and children again one day.”

“Now look here, SanchoLoading...,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “ I swear you have the most limited understanding that any squire in the world ever had!

“Is it possible that, while you have been going along with me all this time, you never found out that all things belonging to knights-errant seem like illusions and nonsense and ravings, and that they always seem implausible?

“And not because it really is so, but because there is always a swarm of bewitchers around us who change and alter everything about us and our surroundings and who change things as they please, depending on whether they want to help or destroy us.

“Thus what may seem to you a BarberLoading...'s basin, may seem to me MambrinoLoading...'s helmet. And to someone else, it may appear to be something else again entirely.

“I can never admire enough the wisdom of the sage who acts in my best interests, and who for example makes that gold helmet look like a BarberLoading...'s basin to everyone but me.

“Because, as it is held in such high esteem as it is, all the world would pursue me to rob me of it. But when everybody sees it as only a BarberLoading...'s basin, they don't take the trouble to obtain it, as was clearly shown by him who tried to break it, and who then left it on the ground without taking it.

“Because I believe that, had he known it, he would never have left it behind.

“Keep it safe, my friend, because just now I have no need for it. Indeed, I have to take off all of this armor and remain as naked as I was born, if I really want to imitate Roland's fury rather than Amadis' penance.”

This discussion brought them to the foot of a high mountain which stood like an isolated peak among the others that surrounded it.

Past its base, a gentle brook flowed, and all around it spread a meadow so green and luxuriant that it was a delight to the eyes to look upon it, and forest trees in abundance, and shrubs and flowers, added to the charms of the spot. Upon this place, the Knight of the Sorrowful Glance fixed his choice for the performance of his penance, and as he beheld it, he exclaimed in a loud voice as if he were out of his mind:

“This is the place, oh, ye heavens, that I select and choose for bewailing the misfortune in which ye yourselves have plunged me: this is the spot where the overflowings of mine eyes shall swell the waters of yon little brook, and my deep and endless sighs shall stir the leaves of these mountain trees unceasingly, in testimony and token of the pain my persecuted heart is suffering. Oh, ye rural deities, whoever ye be that haunt this abandoned spot, give ear to the complaint of a wretched lover whom long absence and brooding jealousy have driven to bewail his fate among these wilds and complain of the hard heart of that beautiful and ungrateful one, the end and limit of all human beauty! Oh, ye wood nymphs and dryads, that dwell in the thickets of the forest, so may the nimble wanton satyrs by whom ye are vainly wooed never disturb your sweet repose, help me to lament my hard fate or at least weary not at listening to it! Oh, DulcineaLoading... from El TobosoLoading..., day of my night, glory of my pain, guide of my path, star of my fortune, so may Heaven grant you in full all you seek of it, bethink you of the place and condition to which absence from you has brought me, and make that return in kindness that is due to my fidelity! Oh, lonely trees, that from this day forward shall bear me company in my solitude, give me some sign by the gentle movement of your boughs that my presence is not distasteful to you! Oh, thou, my squire, pleasant companion in my prosperous and adverse fortunes, fix well in your memory what you shall see me do here, so that you may relate and report it to the sole cause of all.”

And after saying that, he dismounted from RocinanteLoading..., quickly relieved his horse of saddle and leash and gave him a slap on the behind, and then he said, “He gives you freedom who is bereft of it himself, oh steed, as excellent as you are in your deeds as you are unfortunate in your lot. Begone where you will, because you bear written on your forehead that neither Astolfo's hippogriff, nor the famed Frontino that cost Bradamante so dear, could equal you in speed.”

Seeing this, SanchoLoading... said, “Good luck to him who has saved us the trouble of stripping the pack-saddle off Dapple! I believe he would not have gone without a slap on the behind and something said in his praise.

“But come to think of it, Sir Knight of the Sorrowful Glance, if my departure and your madness are to be taken seriously, it will be best to saddle RocinanteLoading... again so that he may replace the Dapple, because it will save me time returning from the round-trip, because if I go on foot, I don't know when I will get there or when I will get back, as I am, in truth, a bad hiker.”

“I declare, SanchoLoading...,” Don QuixoteLoading... replied, “that it shall be as you will, because your plan does not seem to me to be a bad one, and three days from now you will depart, because until then I want you to observe what I am going to do and say for her sake, so that you may be able to tell her.”

“But what more do I have to see besides what I have already seen?” SanchoLoading... said.

“You have seen nothing yet!” Don QuixoteLoading... said. “Now I have to tear up my garments, to scatter about my armor, knock my head against these rocks, and more of the same sort of things. And these things, you must witness.”

“For the love of God,” SanchoLoading... said, “be careful, Sir, of how you give yourself those knocks on the head, because you may come across a sharp rock, and hit your head against it in such a way, that the very first blow may put an end to the whole contrivance of this penance.

“And I should think that, if knocks on the head do indeed seem necessary to you, and this business cannot be done without them, then you might be content — as the whole thing is feigned, and counterfeit, and fake — with giving them to yourself in the water, or against something soft, like cotton, and to then leave the rest to me, because I'll tell my lady that you knocked your head against a point of a sharp rock that was harder than a diamond.”

“I thank you for your good intentions, friend SanchoLoading...,” Don QuixoteLoading... answered, “but I would have you know that all these things I am doing are not fake, but very much real, because anything else would be a transgression of the ordinances of chivalry, which forbid us to tell any lie whatsoever under the penalties due to apostasy. And to do one thing while saying you are doing something else is just the same as lying. So my knocks on the head must be real, solid, and valid, without anything sophisticated or fanciful about them, and it will be needful to leave me some bandages to dress my wounds since fortune has compelled us to do without the balsam we lost.”

“It was worse to lose the ass,” SanchoLoading... replied, “because, with him, we also lost all the bandages and everything else.

“But I beg you not to remind me of that cursed liquor again, because my soul, not to say my stomach, turns at hearing the very name of it.

“And I beg of you, too, to consider the three days you want me to observe your crazy behavior as already over, because I am perfectly happy to take your tricks as already been done by you and seen by me, and I will tell wonderful stories to my lady.

“So please write the letter and send me off immediately, because I long to return and take you out of this purgatory where I am leaving you.”

“Purgatory do you call it, SanchoLoading...?” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “rather call it hell, or even worse if there is anything worse.”

“For one who is in hell,” SanchoLoading... said, “nulla est retentio, as I have heard say.”

“I do not understand what retentio means,” Don QuixoteLoading... said.

“Retentio,” SanchoLoading... answered, “means that whoever finds himself in hell, can never come out of it, which will, of course, be the opposite in your case, unless my legs don't move or I have no spurs to enliven RocinanteLoading....

“So let me go to El TobosoLoading... and into the presence of my lady DulcineaLoading... immediately and I will tell her about all of your follies and madnesses — because, in truth, they are — that you have done and are still doing, so that I will manage to make her softer than a glove even if at first I find her to be harder than a cork tree.

“And with her sweet and honeyed answer, I will fly back through the air like a witch and take you out of this purgatory that seems to be hell but is not because there is hope of getting out of it.

“Because, as I have said, those in hell have no hope of getting out, and I believe you do and that you will not say anything to the contrary.”

“That is true,” he of the Sorrowful Glance said, “but how shall we manage to write the letter?”

“And the order for the three young asses too,” SanchoLoading... added.

“Everything shall be included,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “and as there is no paper, it is best if I write it on the leaves of trees, as the ancients did, or on tablets of wax, though that would be as hard to find just now as paper.

“But it has just occurred to me that I may conveniently write it in the notebook that belonged to CardenioLoading..., so you can take care to have it copied on paper, in good handwriting, at the first village you come to where there is a schoolmaster.

“Or if not, the clerk of the parish will copy it. But see to it that you don't give it to any notary or scrivener to copy, because they generally write such poor handwriting that even Satan could not read it.”

“But what is to be done about the signature?” SanchoLoading... said.

“The letters of Amadis were never signed,” Don QuixoteLoading... said.

“That is all very well,” SanchoLoading... said, “but the order has to be signed, and if it is copied, they will say the signature is false, and I shall be left without the young asses.”

“The order shall be signed in the book,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “and on seeing it, my niece will have no difficulty obeying it. As for the love letter, you can write, by way of a signature, 'Yours until death, the Knight of the Sorrowful Glance.'

“It will not be vital that it is written in some other person's handwriting, because, if I remember well, DulcineaLoading... can neither read nor write, nor has she ever seen my handwriting or lettering in the course of her whole life, because my love and hers have always been platonic, not going beyond a modest look, and even that so seldom that I can safely swear that I have not seen her more than four times in all these twelve years and that she was even more dear to me than the sight in my eyes.

“And perhaps even those four times that I did see her, she probably did not once see that I was looking at her.

“So much did her father Lorenzo Corchuelo and her mother Aldonza Nogales hold her in hiding and seclusion as they raised her.”

“Udsniggers!” SanchoLoading... said, “Lorenzo Corchuelo's daughter — otherwise called Aldonza Lorenzo — is the lady DulcineaLoading... from El TobosoLoading...?”

“Yes, she is,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “and she it is that is worthy to be the lady of the whole universe.”

“I know her well,” SanchoLoading... said, “and let me tell you, she can fling a crowbar as well as the lustiest lad in all of the town. She is a good person! But as for her posture, she is a notably strong-built, sizable, sturdy, manly woman, a brave girl, and a right and stout one and fit to be the helpmate of any knight-errant that is or is to be and who may make her his lady.

“But my oh my, what a pair of lungs and voice she has when she opens up her throat!

“I can tell you that she once posted herself on the top of the tower of the village church to call some laborers of theirs that were in a plowed field of her father's.

“And though they were more than a mile away from her, they could hear her as clearly as if they had been at the foot of the tower.

“And the best part of her is that she is not the least bit prudish, because she has plenty of affabilities and has fun with everybody, and jibes and jokes at everyone.

“So, Sir Knight of the Sorrowful Glance, I can say that you not only may and ought to do crazy things to win her love, but that you have a good reason to give up in despair and hang yourself. Everyone who knows about this will say you did the right thing, even if that means the devil will take you.

“I wish I were on my road already, just so I could see her, because it has been many days since I last saw her, and she must have changed a lot by now because always going about in the fields and the sun and the air spoils women's looks considerably.

“But I must own the truth to you, Sir Don QuixoteLoading.... Until now, I have been greatly mistaken, because I truly and honestly believed that the lady DulcineaLoading... must be some princess you were in love with, or some person great enough to deserve the rich presents you have sent her, such as the Biscayan and the galley slaves, and many more no doubt, because you must have won many victories in the time when I was not yet your squire.

“But all things considered, what good can it do the lady Aldonza Lorenzo — I mean the lady DulcineaLoading... from El TobosoLoading... — to have the men you defeated and sent to her going down on their knees before her?

“Because maybe they came when she'd be pulling cotton or threshing grains on the threshing floor, and they'd be ashamed to see her, and she'd laugh, or she would resent the gift you sent her.”

SanchoLoading..., I have told you many times now,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “that you are a mighty great chit-chatter, and that — even with your low mental capacity — you are always trying to act smart.

“But to show you what a fool you are and how rational I am, I will have you listen to a short story.

“You must know that a certain widow, beautiful, young, independent, and rich, and above all free and easy, fell in love with a sturdy strapping young lay-brother. His superior came to know of it, and one day, he told the worthy widow by way of a brotherly protest, 'I am surprised, senora, and not without good reason, that a woman of such high standing, so beautiful, and so rich as you are, should have fallen in love with such a mean, low, stupid fellow as So-and-so, when there are so many masters in this house, graduates, and divinity students from which you could choose among them as if they were just pears, deciding to take this one and that one but that one not.'

“She replied to him in a spirited manner and with great liveliness and honesty, 'My dear sir, you are very much mistaken. If you think that I have made a bad choice in So-and-so because he seems like a fool, then your ideas are very old-fashioned, because, for everything I want to do with him, he knows as much about philosophy as he needs to know.'

“Similarly, SanchoLoading..., for all the things I want to do with DulcineaLoading... from El TobosoLoading..., she is just as good as the most exalted princess on earth.

“Do you think the poets who — each and every one of them — celebrated the praises of some lady or other, all had real mistresses? Or do you think that the Amarillises, the Phillises, the Sylvias, the Dianas, the Galateas, the Filidas, and all the rest of them — which the books, the ballads, the BarberLoading...'s shops, the theatres are filled with — were really and truly ladies of flesh and blood and that they were mistresses of those that glorified them?

“Nothing of the kind!

“They invented these mistresses for the most part to provide a subject for their verses and so that they may pass for lovers, or for men brave enough to be so.

“And so that suffices for me to think and believe that the good Aldonza Lorenzo is beautiful and virtuous, and as to her pedigree, it is not important, because no one will look into it for the purpose of conferring any order upon her, and I, for my part, reckon her to be the most exalted princess in the world.

“Because you should know, SanchoLoading... — if you don't know already — that two things above all are incentives to love, and these two things are being a great beauty and having a good name. Both of these two things are to be found in DulcineaLoading... in the highest degree because in beauty no one equals her and in good name, few approach her.

“In a nutshell, I convince myself that everything is as I say, no more nor less, and I picture her in my imagination as I want her to be, in beauty as well as in condition. Helen does not come anywhere near her, nor does Lucretia come close, nor any other of the famous women of the past, whether Greek, Barbarian or Latin.

“Let anyone say what they want because if I am taken to task for this by the ignorant, I shall allow myself to be censored by the critical.”

“I say that you are entirely right,” SanchoLoading... said, “and that I am an ass. But I don't know how the word 'ass' came into my mouth, because a rope is not to be mentioned in the house of him who has been hanged. But let us get back to the letter, and then — may God be with you — I am off.”

Don QuixoteLoading... took out the notebook, and, moving to one side, he began to write the letter very deliberately. When he had finished it, he called to SanchoLoading..., saying he wished to read it to him so that he might commit it to memory in case of losing it on the road, because with his bad fortune, anything might happen.

SanchoLoading... replied, “Write it down in the book two or three times and then give it to me and I will carry it very carefully. Expecting me to memorize it is a dumb idea because I have such a bad memory that I often forget my own name. But yet, for all that, please do read it out to me, because I would very much like to hear it. Surely, it will be as good as if it was in print.”

“Listen,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “this is what it says:

Letter from Don QuixoteLoading... de La Mancha to DulcineaLoading... from El TobosoLoading....

Sovereign and exalted Lady! —

He who is pierced by the point of absence, and wounded to the heart's core, sends you, sweetest DulcineaLoading... from El TobosoLoading..., the health that he enjoys not.

If your beauty rejects me, if your virtue refuses to raise my fainting hopes, if your disdain excludes me from relief, if your scorn is my affliction — even if I am suffering for a sufficiently long time — hardly shall I endure this anxiety, because my pains are not only too violent, but also too long-lasting.

My trusted squire SanchoLoading... will give you an exact account of the condition to which love and you have reduced me, too beautiful and ungrateful as you are, my dear enemy.

I am reduced on your account. If you relent at last and pity my distress, and if it is your pleasure to give me relief, then I may live, and I will be yours forever.

If not, do as may be pleasing to you, because by ending my life, I shall satisfy your cruelty and my desire.

Yours until death,

The Knight of the Sorrowful Glance.

“By the life of my father,” SanchoLoading... said when he heard the letter, “it is the loftiest thing I have ever heard! How you call it as you see it! And how well you managed to fit 'The Knight of the Sorrowful Glance' into the signature. And I say again in all seriousness, that there is nothing in the whole world you that you can not do and that there is nothing you don't know.”

“A man ought to have knowledge of everything,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “if he is to be duly qualified for the employment I profess.”

“Well, then,” SanchoLoading... said, “please put the order for the three young asses on the other side, and sign it very clearly so that they may recognize it at first sight.”

“With all my heart,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, and as he had written it, he read it out loud, and it said:

Sovereign and exalted Lady! —

“Mistress my dear Niece, —

From the first group of young asses, please pay to SanchoLoading... Panza, my squire, three of the five I left at home in your charge. Said three young asses are to be paid and delivered for the same number received here in toil, which upon this and upon his receipt shall be duly paid. Given in the heart of the Sierra Morena, the twenty-seventh of August of this present year.”

“That will do,” SanchoLoading... said, “now please sign it.”

“There is no need to sign it,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “but merely to put down the first two letters with my flourish, and that should be the same as a signature and enough for three asses or even three hundred.”

“I can trust you,” SanchoLoading... replied. “Let me go and saddle RocinanteLoading..., and be ready to give me your blessing because I want to go as soon as possible without seeing the foolish things you are going to do. I will say that I saw you do so many that she will not want to hear of one more.”

“At any rate, SanchoLoading...,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “I should like yo — and there is reason for it — to see me stripped to the skin and performing a dozen or two of my insanities, which I can get done in less than half an hour, because if you see them with your own eyes, you can then safely swear to others that you have seen me perform a thousand more. And I can assure you that, in your report, you will not be able to exceed the number of follies I mean to perform before you.”

“For the love of God, master,” SanchoLoading... said, “please don't let me see you naked, because it will so sorely grieve me that I shall cry my eyes out. My head aches so much from all the tears I shed last night for my Dapple that I am not fit to begin weeping again.

“But if it is your pleasure that I should see some insanities, do them in your clothes, and let them be short ones, and ones that are ready at hand, because I would really prefer not to see any of it, and, as I have said, the sooner I go, the sooner I shall return with the news you desire and deserve. or to let the lady DulcineaLoading... see to it that you receive the news.

“Because if she does not answer reasonably, I swear as solemnly as I can that I will fetch a fair answer out of her stomach with kicks and punches, because why should it be borne that a knight-errant as famous as you should go mad without rhyme or reason for a — odsbobs?

“Her ladyship had better not provoke me to speak out, because, by God, I will say out loud all the things I know about her, no matter how bad. I am pretty good at that! She doesn't know me. In truth, if she knew me, she'd be in awe of me.”

“In truth, SanchoLoading...,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “it appears that you are as out of your mind as I am.”

“I am not as crazy as you are,” SanchoLoading... answered, “but I am more easily angered.

“But enough of that. What do you have to eat until I come back? Will you venture out onto the road like CardenioLoading... to force it from the shepherds?”

“Let that concern not trouble you,” Don QuixoteLoading... replied, “because even if I had exquisite food, I would not eat anything but the herbs and the fruits which this meadow and these trees may yield to me. The beauty of this business of mine lies in not eating, and in performing other humiliations.”

“Do you know what I am afraid of?” SanchoLoading... said in reply, “that I shall not be able to find my way back to this spot where I am leaving you, as it is such an out-of-the-way place.”

“Observe the landmarks well,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “because I will try not to go far from this area, and I will even take care to mount the highest of these rocks to see if I can see you returning. However, to not to miss me or get lost, it is best if you cut some branches of the trees that are so abundant about here, and, as you go, to lay them at intervals until you have come out upon the plains. These will serve you, after the fashion of the clue in the labyrinth of Theseus, as marks and signs for finding me on your way back.”

“So I will,” SanchoLoading... Panza said.

And having cut some branches, he asked his master's blessing, and, not without many tears on both sides, he took his leave of him, mounted RocinanteLoading... — of whom Don QuixoteLoading... ordered him earnestly to have as much care as of his own person — and set out for the plain, strewing the branches of trees at intervals as his master had recommended.

And so he went his way, though Don QuixoteLoading... still begged him to see him do even only a couple of his mad acts.

SanchoLoading... had not gone a hundred paces, however, when he returned and said:

“I must say, sir, that you are right. To be able to swear without a weight on my conscience that I have seen you do crazy things, it would be well for me to actually see even only one, even though in you remaining here I have already seen a very great act of madness.”

“Didn't I tell you so?” Don QuixoteLoading... said.

“Wait, SanchoLoading..., and I will do them faster than you can say what you're seeing.”

And taking off his trousers in all haste, he stripped himself to his bare skin and his shirt, and then, without more ado, he cut a couple of leaps in the air, and a couple of somersaults, heels over head, making such a display of it that, not to see it a second time, SanchoLoading... turned RocinanteLoading... round. His mind was now at rest as he felt satisfied that he could now honestly swear he had left his master in a complete state of madness.

And so we will leave him here to follow his road until his return, which was a quick one.