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.
Don QuixoteLoading... stays at an inn where MaritornesLoading... causes a bit of a stir at night. Don QuixoteLoading... believes the inn to be a castle and the daughter of the landlady to be a princess who is in love with him.
Later, Don QuixoteLoading... stays at an inn again with SanchoLoading..., but this time also with the PreacherLoading... and the BarberLoading... from his village, and CardenioLoading... and Don FernandoLoading... and DorotheaLoading... and LuscindaLoading... whom they met in previous adventures and a captive and ZoraidaLoading... and the captive's brother, a judge.
There is a lot of happiness because the two brothers hadn't seen each other for a long time.
Eventually, they all go to sleep while Don QuixoteLoading... promises to stay on guard, but then they hear singing outside, and DorotheaLoading... is about to say the words of the song.
Ah me, Love's mariner am I
On Love's deep ocean sailing;
I know not where the haven lies,
I dare not hope to gain it.
One solitary distant star
Is all I have to guide me,
A brighter orb than those of old
That Palinurus lighted.
And vaguely drifting am I borne,
I know not where it leads me;
I fix my gaze on it alone,
Of all beside it heedless.
But over-cautious prudery,
And coyness cold and cruel,
When most I need it, these, like clouds,
Its longed-for light refuse me.
Bright star, goal of my yearning eyes
As you above me beam,
When you shall hide you from my sight
I'll know that death is near me.
The singer had got this far when it struck DorotheaLoading... that it was not fair to let Clara miss hearing such a sweet voice, and so, shaking her from side to side, she woke her, saying:
“Forgive me, child, for waking you, but I do, so that you may have the pleasure of hearing the best voice you have ever heard, perhaps, in your entire life.”
Clara awoke quite drowsily and, not immediately understanding what DorotheaLoading... was telling her, she asked her what it was. DorotheaLoading... repeated what she had said, and Clara became attentive at once.
But as the singer continued, she had hardly heard two lines when a strange trembling seized her, and she threw her arms around as if she were suffering from a severe attack of malarial fever, and then she said to DorotheaLoading...:
I would not marry without my father's knowledge.
“Ah, dear lady of my soul and life! Why did you wake me? The greatest kindness fortune could do me now would be to close my eyes and ears so as neither to see or hear that unhappy musician.”
“What are you talking about, child?” DorotheaLoading... said. “Why, they say this singer is a muleteer!”
“Nay, he is the lord of many places,” Clara replied, “and that one in my heart which he holds so firmly shall never be taken from him unless he is willing to surrender it.”
DorotheaLoading... was amazed at the ardent language of the girl because it seemed to be far beyond such experience of life as her tender years gave any promise of, so she said to her:
He imagined the enormous loss the world would sustain because of his absence.
“I do not understand you, Senora Clara. Please explain yourself more clearly and tell me what is this you are saying about hearts and places and this musician whose voice has so moved you?
“But do not tell me now because I do not want to lose the pleasure I get from listening to the singer by giving my attention to your transports, because I see he is beginning to sing a new strain and a new air.”
“Let him, in Heaven's name,” Clara replied, and to not hear him, she covered both ears with her hands. This again greatly surprised DorotheaLoading..., but she decided to turn her attention to the song, and she found that it ran in this fashion:
Sweet Hope, my stay,
That onward to the goal of your intent
Do make your way,
Heedless of hindrance or impediment,
Have you no fear
If at each step you find death is near.
No joy of triumph does the faint heart know;
Unblest is he
That a bold front to Fortune dares not show,
But soul and sense
In bondage yieldeth up to indolence.
If Love his wares
Do dearly sell, his right must be contest;
What gold compares
With that whereon his stamp he has imprest?
And all men know
What costeth little that we rate but low.
Knows not the word “impossibility,”
And though my suit
Beset by endless obstacles I see,
Yet no despair
Shall hold me bound to earth while heaven is there.
At this point, the voice ceased to sing, and Clara began to sob again. This incited in DorotheaLoading... a curiosity to know what could be the cause of singing so sweet and weeping so bitter, so she again asked her what it was she was going to say earlier.
Afraid that LuscindaLoading... might overhear her, Clara wound her arms tightly round DorotheaLoading..., and she put her mouth so close to her ear that she could speak without fear of being heard by anyone else, and said:
“This singer you hear, dear Senora, is the son of a gentleman of Aragon, lord of two villages, who lives opposite my father's house at Madrid.
And though my father had curtains in front of the windows of his house in winter, and lattice-work in summer, this gentleman, who was pursuing his studies, somehow — I do not know how — saw me, whether in church or elsewhere, I cannot tell, and he fell in love with me and he let me know through the windows of his house with so many signs and tears that I was forced to believe him, and even to love him, without knowing what it was he wanted of me.
One of the signs he used to make to me was to link one hand in the other, to show me he wished to marry me.
And though I should have been glad if that was so, me being alone and motherless, I did not know who to turn to, to discuss this, and so I left it at that and showed him no favor, except when my father, and his too, were away from home.
Then, I would raise the curtain or the lattice a little and let him look at me.
Four men on horseback came up to the inn with firelock guns across their saddle-bows.
In response, he would show so much delight that he seemed as if he were going mad.
Meanwhile, the day for me and my father's departure arrived. He became aware of this, but not through me, because I had never been able to tell him about it.
He fell ill from grief, I believe, and so, on the day we were going away, I could not see him and say farewell to him, even if only with our eyes.
But after we had been on the road for two days, we entered the inn of a village that was a day's journey from here.
There, I saw him at the door of the inn, dressed like a muleteer and disguised so well that if I did not carry his image graven on my heart, it would have been impossible for me to recognize him.
But I recognized him, and I was glad, and surprised, to see him.
He watched me, and my father — from whom he always hides when he crosses my path on the street or in inns where we halt — did not suspect anything.
And as I know him and consider that, because of his love for me, he had made this journey on foot in all this hardship, I am now ready to die of sorrow.
And wherever he sets foot, there I set my eyes. I know not with what goal he has come, or how he could have got away from his father, who loves him more than anything as he has no other heir, and because he deserves it, as you will realize when you see meet.
And moreover, I can tell you, everything he sings is from his own imagination because I have heard them say that he is a great student and poet.
And what is more, every time I see him or hear him sing, I tremble all over, and I am terrified lest my father should recognize him and come to discover that we love each other.
I have never spoken a word to him in my entire life, and yet, I love him so much that I could not live without him.
This, dear Senora, is all I have to tell you about the musician whose voice has delighted you so much. And from it alone you might easily see he is no muleteer, but a lord of hearts and towns, as I told you already.”
“Say no more, Dona Clara,” DorotheaLoading... said in response as she kissed her a thousand times, “say no more, and wait until daylight comes, when I trust God will arrange this affair of yours so that it may have the happy ending such an innocent beginning deserves.”
“Ah, senora,” Dona Clara said, “what end can be hoped for when his father is of such a lofty position, and so wealthy, that he would think I was not fit to be even a servant to his son much less wife?
And as to marrying without my father's knowledge, I would not do it for all the world.
I would not ask for anything more than that this young man should go back and leave me alone. Perhaps if I don't see him because of long distance that we would have to travel, the pain I suffer now may become easier to bear, though I daresay the remedy I propose will do me very little good.
I don't know how the hell this has come about, or how this love I have for him got in, me just being such a young girl and him such a mere boy, because I truly believe we are both too young still. I am not even sixteen yet, because I will be sixteen by next Michaelmas Day, September 29th, my father says.”
DorotheaLoading... could not help but laugh when she heard Dona Clara speak like a child. “Let us go to sleep now, Senora,” she said, “because I fancy little of the night is left to us. God will soon send us daylight, and we will set everything right, or I will be angry at myself.”
With this, they fell asleep, and deep silence reigned all through the inn.
The only persons not asleep were the landlady's daughter and her servant MaritornesLoading..., who, knowing the weak point of Don QuixoteLoading...'s humor, and that he was outside the inn standing guard in armor and on horseback, decided, the two of them together, to play some trick with him, or at any rate to amuse themselves for a while by listening to his nonsense.
As it so happened, there was not a window in the whole inn that looked outwards except for a hole in the wall of a straw-loft through which they used to throw out the straw.
At this hole, the two demi-damsels posted themselves and watched Don QuixoteLoading... on his horse, leaning on his lance and from time to time sending forth such deep and doleful sighs, that he seemed to pluck up his soul by the roots with each of them.
And they could hear him, too, saying in a soft, tender, loving tone, “oh my lady DulcineaLoading... from El TobosoLoading..., perfection of all beauty, summit and crown of discretion, treasure house of grace, depositary of virtue, and finally, ideal of all that is good, honorable, and delectable in this world!
“What is your grace doing now?
“Are you, perchance, mindful of your enslaved knight who of his own free will has exposed himself to such great perils, and all to serve you?
“Give me tidings of her, oh luminary of the three faces!
“Perhaps, at this moment, envious of hers, you are regarding her, either as she paces to and fro some gallery of her sumptuous palaces, or leans over some balcony, meditating how, whilst preserving her purity and greatness, she may mitigate the tortures this wretched heart of mine endures for her sake, what glory should recompense my sufferings, what repose my toil, and lastly what death my life, and what reward my services?
“And thou, oh sun, that are now doubtless harnessing your steeds in haste to rise betimes and come forth to see my lady, when you see her, I ask of you to salute her on my behalf: but have a care, when you shall see her and salute her, that you kiss not her face, because I shall be more jealous of you than you were of that light-footed ingrate that made you sweat and run so on the plains of Thessaly, or on the banks of the Peneus — because I do not exactly recollect where it was you did run on that occasion — in your jealousy and love.”
Don QuixoteLoading... had got this far in his delusional speech when the landlady's daughter began to signal to him, saying, “Sir, come over here, please.”
Don QuixoteLoading... turned his head toward these signals and the voice, and he saw by the light of the moon — which then was at its brightest — that someone was calling to him from the hole in the wall which appeared to him to be a window, and one even with a gilt grating such as expensive castles — which is what he believed the inn to be — ought to have.
And it immediately suggested itself to his imagination that, as on the former occasion, the beautiful damsel, the daughter of the lady of the castle, overcome by love for him, was once more endeavoring to win his affections.
And with this idea, and to not show himself discourteous or ungrateful, he turned RocinanteLoading...'s head and approached the hole, and as he saw the two wenches he said:
“I pity you, beauteous lady, that you should have directed your thoughts of love to a direction from where it is impossible that such a return can be made to you as is due to your great merit and gentle birth, for which you must not blame this unhappy knight-errant whom love renders incapable of submission to any other than her whom, the first moment his eyes beheld her, he made absolute mistress of his soul.
“Forgive me, noble lady, and retire to your room, and do not, by any further declaration of your passion, compel me to show myself even more ungrateful.
“And if, of the love you bear me, you should find that there is anything else in my power wherein I can gratify you, provided it is not love itself, demand it of me, because I swear to you by that sweet, absent enemy of mine to grant it this instant, though it be that you require of me a lock of Medusa's hair, which was all snakes, or even the very beams of the sun held in a vial.”
“My mistress wants nothing of that sort, sir knight,” MaritornesLoading... said in response.
“What then, discreet dame, is it that your mistress wants?” Don QuixoteLoading... replied.
“Only your strong arm and sword,” MaritornesLoading... said, “to enable her to vent the great passion which has brought her to this loophole, so much to the risk of her honor, because if the lord, her father, had heard her, the least slice he would cut off her would be her ear.”
“I should like to see him try that,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “he had better be aware of that if he does not want to meet the most disastrous end that ever a father in the world met for having laid hands on the tender limbs of a love-stricken daughter.”
MaritornesLoading... understood that Don QuixoteLoading... was about to present the hand she had asked for and, making up her mind what to do, she got down from the hole and went into the stable where she took the halter of SanchoLoading... Panza's ass, and she returned to the window hole in all haste, just as Don QuixoteLoading... had planted his feet on RocinanteLoading...'s saddle, standing on it to reach the grated window where he supposed the lovelorn damsel to be.
He gave her his hand and said, “Lady, take this hand, or rather this scourge of the evil-doers of the earth. Take, I say, this hand which no other hand of any woman has ever touched, not even the hand of the woman who has complete possession of my entire body.
“I present it to you, not that you may kiss it, but that you may observe the contexture of the sinews, the close network of the muscles, the breadth and capacity of the veins, from which you may infer what must be the strength of the arm that has such a hand.”
“That we shall see presently,” MaritornesLoading... said, and, making a running knot on the halter, she passed it over his wrist and, coming down from the hole, she tied the other end very firmly to the bolt of the door of the straw-loft.
Don QuixoteLoading..., feeling the roughness of the rope on his wrist, exclaimed, “Your grace seems to be grating rather than caressing my hand. Treat it not so harshly, because it is not to blame for the offense my resolution has given you, nor is it just to wreak all your vengeance on so small a part. Remember that one who loves so well should not revenge herself so cruelly.”
But there was nobody now to listen to these words of Don QuixoteLoading...'s, because as soon as MaritornesLoading... had tied him she and the other made off, ready to die laughing, leaving him fastened in such a way that it was impossible for him to release himself.
He was, as mentioned earlier, standing on RocinanteLoading..., with his arm passed through the hole and his wrist tied to the bolt of the door, he was in mighty fear and dread of being left hanging by the arm if RocinanteLoading... were to move to one side or the other, and so he did not dare to make the least movement, although from the patience and imperturbable disposition of RocinanteLoading..., he had good reason to expect that he would stand for a whole century without budging an inch.
Finding himself fastened, then, and realizing that the ladies had retired, he began to fancy that all this had been done through witchcraft, as on the former occasion when in that same castle that bewitched Moor of a carrier had belabored him.
He cursed in his heart and his own lack of sense and judgment in venturing to enter the castle again, after having come off so badly the previous time, it is a settled point with knights-errant that when they have tried an adventure, and have not succeeded in it, it is a sign that it is not reserved for them but for others, and that, therefore, they need not try it again.
Nevertheless, he pulled his arm to see if he could release himself, but it had been tied so tightly that all his efforts were in vain.
It is true that he pulled it gently, lest RocinanteLoading... should move, but try, as he might, to seat himself in the saddle, he had no other choice than to either stand upright or pull his hand off.
He then wished for the sword of Amadis, against which no witchcraft had ever had any power, and he cursed his ill fortune.
He imagined the enormous loss the world would sustain because of his absence while he remained there in that inn — bewitched, because that he believed he was beyond a shadow of a doubt.
He then once more took to thinking of his beloved DulcineaLoading... from El TobosoLoading....
Then he called to his worthy squire SanchoLoading... Panza, who, buried in sleep and stretched upon the pack-saddle of his ass, was oblivious, at that moment, of the mother that bore him.
In desperation, Don QuixoteLoading... then called upon the sages Lirgandeo and Alquife to come to his aid. Then he invoked his good friend Urganda to assist him.
And then, finally, morning found him in such a state of desperation and perplexity that he was bellowing like a bull because he had no hope that day would bring any relief to his suffering, which he believed would last forever since he was bewitched.
And of this he was convinced, because he noticed that RocinanteLoading... had not moved, even a little, and he felt convinced that he and his horse were going to remain in this state — without eating or drinking or sleeping — until the malign influence of the stars had passed over, or until some other more sage bewitcher should break his spell.
But he was very much deceived by this conclusion, because daylight had hardly begun to appear when four men on horseback came up to the inn, well equipped and accoutred, with firelock guns across their saddle-bows.
They called out and knocked loudly at the gate of the inn, which was still shut.
On seeing this, Don QuixoteLoading..., even there where he was, did not forget to act as sentinel, and said in a loud and imperious tone, “Knights, or squires, or whatever ye be, ye have no right to knock at the gates of this castle, because it is plain enough that they who are within are either asleep, or else are not in the habit of throwing open the fortress until the sun's rays are spread over the whole surface of the earth.
“Withdraw to a distance, and wait until it is broad daylight, and then we shall see whether it will be proper or not to open the gates for you.”
“What the hell kind of fortress or castle is this,” one of the men said, “to require us to hold to such a ceremony?
“If you are the innkeeper, then bid them open to us. We are travelers who only want to feed our horses and then move on because we are in haste.”
“Do you think, gentlemen, that I look like an innkeeper?” Don Quixote said.
“I don't know what you look like,” the other replied, “but I know that you are talking nonsense when you call this inn a castle.”
“A castle it is,” Don QuixoteLoading... replied, “nay, more, one of the best in this whole province, and it has within it people who have had the scepter in hand and the crown on the head.”
“It would be better if it were the other way,” the traveler said, “the scepter on the head and the crown in hand.
“But if it is so, maybe there is some company of actors inside, with whom it is a common thing to have those crowns and scepters you speak of, because in such a small inn as this one, and where such silence is kept, I do not believe any people entitled to crowns and scepters can have taken up their quarters.”
“You know but little of the world,” Don QuixoteLoading... replied, “since you are ignorant of what commonly occurs in knight-errantry.”
But the comrades of the spokesman, growing weary of the dialogue with Don QuixoteLoading..., renewed their knocks with great vehemence, so much so that the host, and not only he but everybody in the inn, awoke, and he got up to ask who knocked.
At that moment, one of the horses of the four who were seeking admittance went to smell RocinanteLoading... who stood there, motionless, melancholically, dejected, and with drooping ears and supporting his sorely stretched master.
And as he was, after all, flesh, though he looked as if he were made of wood, he could not help giving way and in return smelling the one who had come to offer him attention.
But he had hardly moved at all when Don QuixoteLoading... lost his footing.
He slipped off the saddle and would have come to the ground if he had not been suspended by the arm. This caused him such agony and pain that he believed that either his wrist would be cut through or his arm torn off.
He hung so close to the ground that he could just barely touch it with his feet, which was all the worse for him, because, finding how little was needed to enable him to plant his feet firmly, he struggled and stretched himself as much as he could to gain a footing, just like those who undergo the torture of the strappado when they are fixed at a point where they could almost touch the ground, and therefore aggravate their own suffering through their violent efforts to stretch themselves, deceived by the hope which makes them fancy that with a very little more they will reach the ground.