HomeAboutArchives

Don Quixote

By Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

In the previous episode, Don QuixoteLoading... put on his armor, mounted his steed RocinanteLoading..., and left his home through the back door and onto the barren plains of La Mancha, in armor on the hottest day of July. His goal is to go on a knight-errant to win the love of a woman he has given the name DulcineaLoading....

He is just on his way when he realizes that he is not yet a knight. Determined to become one, he decides to have himself dubbed a knight by the first person he comes across.

Satisfied with this plan, he continues on his way. As he dreams of winning DulcineaLoading...'s love, Don QuixoteLoading... proceeds through the day in search for a heroic deed he can perform, but he finds none.

At the end of the day, he looks for a place to stay, and he finds an inn and reaches it just as night sets in. As he imagines himself to be in one of the adventures he read about, he believes the inn a castle.

Two ladies at the door welcome him. They laugh at his appearance and help him out of his armor. They can't take off his helmet as it is strapped onto his head with a green ribbon, and he refuses to let the ladies cut it.

He is welcomed in by the landlord, who serves him poorly prepared old moldy food which the ladies help him eat through the helmet — a funny sight.

He worries that he has not yet been dubbed a knight.

Don QuixoteLoading... manages to find an innkeeper willing to declare him a knight

D
isturbed by the thought that he had not been dubbed a knight yet, he made haste with his scanty supper, and after finishing it, he called the landlord and shut himself into the stable with him.

There, Don QuixoteLoading... fell on his knees before him, and said, “From this spot, I rise not, valiant knight, until your courtesy grants me the blessing I seek, one that will result in your praise and the benefit of the human race.”

They began to shower stones on Don QuixoteLoading....

The landlord, seeing his guest at his feet and hearing a speech of this kind, stood staring at him in bewilderment, not knowing what to do or say. He entreated him to rise, but it was all in vain until he had agreed to grant the blessing demanded of him.

“I expect no less from your High Magnificence, noble sir,” Don QuixoteLoading... replied, “and I have to tell you that the blessing I ask, and which you will grant me liberally, is that you shall dub me knight tomorrow morning, and that tonight I shall watch my arms in the chapel of this your castle. Thus tomorrow, as I have said, will be accomplished what I so much desire, enabling me lawfully to roam through all the four quarters of the world seeking adventures on behalf of those in distress, as is the duty of chivalry and of knights-errant like myself, whose ambition is directed to such deeds.”

The landlord, who, as I said, was a sharp fellow, and had already had a shrewd suspicion of the disorder in his guest's understanding, was now entirely convinced of it, after hearing the talk that came from him. And to have fun that night, he decided to humor him in his desires.

So he told him he was highly to be commended for his choice of such an employment, which was altogether worthy of a knight of the first order, such as his gallant conduct showed him to be, and that he himself, in his younger days, had followed the same honorable calling, roaming in quest of adventures in various parts of the world, among others the Curing-grounds of Malaga, the Isles of Riaran, the Precinct of Seville, the Little Market of Segovia, the Olivera of Valencia, the Rondilla of Granada, the Strand of San Lucar, the Colt of Cordova, the Taverns of Toledo, and diverse other quarters, where he had proved the nimbleness of his feet and the lightness of his fingers, doing many wrongs, cheating many widows, ruining maids and swindling minors, and, in short, bringing himself under the notice of almost every tribunal and court of justice in Spain; until at last he had retired to this castle of his, where he was living upon his property and upon that of others, and where he received all knights-errant of whatever rank or condition they might be, all for the great love he bore them and so they might share their substance with him in return for his benevolence.

He told him, moreover, that in this castle of his there was no chapel in which he could watch his armor, as it had been pulled down to be rebuilt, but that in a case of necessity it might, he knew, be watched anywhere, and that he might watch it that night in a courtyard of the castle, and that in the morning, God willing, the requisite ceremonies might be performed so as to have him dubbed a knight, and in that so thoroughly dubbed that nobody could be more so.

He asked if he had any money with him, to which Don QuixoteLoading... replied that he had not even a coin, as in the histories of knights-errant he had never read of any of them carrying any.

On this point, the landlord told him he was mistaken.

Because, though not recorded in the histories — as, in the author's opinion, there was no need to mention anything so obvious and necessary as money and clean shirts — it was not to be supposed, therefore, that they did not carry them, and he might regard it as inevitable and established that all knights-errant — about whom there were so many full and unimpeachable books — carried well-furnished purses in case of emergency, and likewise carried shirts and a little box of ointment to cure the wounds they received.

And in those plains and deserts where they engaged in combat and came out wounded, it was not always true that there was someone to cure them, unless indeed they had for a friend some sage magician to assist them immediately by fetching through the air upon a cloud some damsel or dwarf with a vial of water of such virtue that by tasting one drop of it they were cured of their hurts and wounds in an instant and left as sound as if they had not received any damage whatsoever. But in case this should not occur, the knights of old took care to see that their squires were provided with money and other requisites, such as bandages and ointments for healing purposes; and when it happened that knights had no squires (which was rarely and seldom the case) they themselves carried everything in cunning saddle-bags that were hardly seen on the horse's croup, as if it was something else of more importance, because, unless for some reason, carrying saddle-bags was not very favorably regarded among knights-errant.

He, therefore, advised him — and, as his godson so soon to be, he might even command him — never from that time on to go forth without money and the usual requirements, as he would find the advantage and good use for them when he least expected it.

He fell on his knees before the landlord.

Don QuixoteLoading... promised to follow his advice scrupulously, and it was arranged at the same time that he should watch his armor in a large yard at one side of the inn.

So, collecting all his armor together, Don QuixoteLoading... placed it on a trough that stood by the side of a well, and bracing his shield on his arm, he grasped his lance and began with a stately air to march up and down in front of the trough.

And as he began his march, the night began to fall.

The landlord stood staring at Don quixote in bewilderment.

The landlord told all the people who were in the inn about the craze of his guest, the watching of the armor, and the dubbing ceremony he contemplated.

Full of wonder at so strange a form of madness, they flocked to see it from a distance and observed with what composure he sometimes paced up and down, or sometimes, leaning on his lance, gazed on his armor without taking his eyes off of it for very long.

And as the night closed in with light from the moon which was so brilliant that it might vie with the luminary that lent it to her, everything the novice knight did could be clearly seen by all.

On this point the landlord told him he was mistaken.

Meanwhile, one of the carriers who were in the inn thought it fit to water his mules. This he could not do without removing Don QuixoteLoading...'s armor from the trough.

Don QuixoteLoading..., who saw the carrier come toward him, cried to him out loud, “oh you, whoever you are, rash knight that comes to lay hands on the armor of the most valorous errant that ever wore a sword, have a care what you do. Touch it not unless you would lay down your life as the penalty of your rashness.”

The carrier gave no heed to these words — and he would have done better to heed them if he had been heedful of his health — but, seizing it by the straps, flung the armor some distance from him.

Seeing this, Don QuixoteLoading... raised his eyes to heaven, and fixing his thoughts, apparently, upon his lady DulcineaLoading..., he exclaimed, “Aid me, lady mine, in this the first encounter that presents itself to this breast which holds you in subjection. Let not your favor and protection fail me in this first jeopardy.”

And with these words, and others to the same effect, he dropped his shield and lifted his lance with both hands, and with it, he hit the carrier with such a blow on his head that he stretched him on the ground. And had he backed that blow with another one, that fellow would certainly have had no need for a surgeon.

This done, he picked up his armor and returned to the horse-trough, and resumed walking backward and forward with the same serenity as he had done before.

He began to march up and down in front of the trough.

Soon after this, another carrier, not knowing what had happened — because the first carrier still lay on the ground — came to also give water to his mules.

As he was proceeding to remove the armor to clear the trough, Don QuixoteLoading..., without uttering a word or imploring aid from anyone, once more dropped his shield and once more lifted his lance, and without breaking his lance, broke the second carrier's head in two or three places.

His outcry soon brought all the people of the inn running to the spot and among them the landlord.

Seeing this, Don QuixoteLoading... braced his shield on his arm, and with his hand on his sword exclaimed, “oh Lady of Beauty, strength, and support of my faint heart, it is time for you to turn the eyes of your greatness on this your captive knight on the brink of so mighty an adventure.”

By this, he felt so inspired that he would not have flinched if all the carriers in the world had assailed him.

The comrades of the wounded saw the plight they were in and began to shower stones on Don QuixoteLoading... from a distance. Don QuixoteLoading... screened himself as best he could with his shield, not daring to quit the trough and leave his armor unprotected.

The landlord shouted to them to leave him alone because he had already told them that he was mad, and as a madman, he would not be accountable even if he killed them all.

Don QuixoteLoading... shouted even louder, calling them knaves and traitors, and the lord of the castle, who allowed knights-errant to be treated in this fashion, a villain and a low-born knight whom, had he received the order of knighthood, he would call to account for his betrayal.

“But of you,” he cried, “base and vile rabble, I make no account, Fling, strike, come on, do all ye can against me, ye shall see what the reward of your folly and insolence will be.”

This he uttered with so much spirit and boldness that he filled his assailants with a terrible fear, and as much for this reason as at the persuasion of the landlord, they stopped stoning him, and he allowed them to carry off the wounded, and with the same calmness and composure as before, he resumed the watch over his armor.

He lung the armor some distance from him.

But these crazy tricks of his guest were not so much to the liking of the landlord, and so he determined to cut matters short and to confer upon Don QuixoteLoading... at once the unlucky order of knighthood before any further misadventure could occur.

So, going up to him, he apologized for the rudeness which, without his knowledge, had been offered to him by these low people, who, however, had been well punished for their audacity.

As he had already told him, he said, there was no chapel in the castle, nor was it needed. All that remained to be done was to dub him a knight.

Because, as he understood the ceremonial of the order, the whole point of being dubbed a knight lay in the accolade and in the slap on the shoulder, and that could be administered in the middle of a field. And he had now done all that was necessary to watch the armor because all the requirements were satisfied by a watch of only just two hours, and Don QuixoteLoading... had already done even more than four hours.

Don QuixoteLoading... believed it all and told him he stood there ready to obey him and to make an end of it with as much speed as possible.

Because, if he were again attacked, and felt himself to be dubbed knight, he would not, he thought, leave a soul alive in the castle, except such as out of respect he might spare at his bidding.

He would not, he thought, leave a soul alive in the castle.

Thus warned, the castellan quickly brought out a book in which he usually entered the straw and barley he served out to the carriers, and, with a boy carrying a candle, and the two damsels already mentioned, he returned to where Don QuixoteLoading... stood, and bade him kneel down.

Then, he read from his account book. In the middle of his delivery he raised his hand and gave him a sturdy blow on the neck, and then, with his own sword, a smart slap on the shoulder, all the while muttering between his teeth as if he was repeating some devout prayer.

Having done this, he directed one of the ladies to gird the sword around the knight's waist, which she did with solemnity and, I may add, discretion, considering how hard it was to not start laughing at any point in the ceremony.

But what they had already seen of the novice knight's prowess kept their laughter within bounds.

On girding him with the sword, the worthy lady said to him, “May God make you a very fortunate knight, and grant you success in battle.”

Don QuixoteLoading... asked her name so that he might from that time forward know to whom he was beholden for the favor he had received, as he meant to confer upon her some portion of the honor he acquired by the might of his arm.

She answered with great humility that she was called La Tolosa, and that she was the daughter of a cobbler of Toledo who lived in the stalls of Sanchobienaya, and that wherever she might be, she would serve and esteem him as her lord.

Don QuixoteLoading... replied that she could do him more of a favor than if from that moment on she assumed the “Don” and called herself Dona Tolosa.

She promised she would, and then the other girl buckled on his spur, and with her followed almost the same conversation as with the lady of the sword.

He asked her name, and she said it was La Molinera, and that she was the daughter of a respectable miller of Antequera; and of her likewise, Don QuixoteLoading... requested that she would adopt the “Don” and call herself Dona Molinera, making offers to her further services and favors.

Not a little was required to prevent a burst of laughter at each stage of the ceremony.

Having thus, with much haste and speed, brought to a conc