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, looking for a place to stay, Don QuixoteLoading... and SanchoLoading... are welcomed by goatherders who share their meals and wine with them while Don QuixoteLoading... tells them incomprehensible stories of knight-errantry.
“What news?” one of the goatherds replied.
The girl grew up with such beauty, that the greater number were in love with her past redemption.
“Well,” the young man continued, “that fine shepherd and student ChrysostomLoading... died this morning, and it is rumored that he died of love for that terrible village girl who is the daughter of Guillermo the Rich. You know, that girl who wanders up and down the country dressed as a shepherdess.”
“Do you know what is going on in the village, comrades?”
“You mean MarcelaLoading...?” one of them said.
“Yes, her,” the goatherd answered. “And the best part of it is that he has specified in his will that he is to be buried in the fields like a Moor, and at the foot of the rock where the Cork-tree spring is, because, as the story goes — and they say he said so himself — that that was the place where he first saw her. And he has also left other directions in his will which the clergy of the village say should not and must not be obeyed because they smell of heathenism. To all of this, his great friend Ambrosio the student, who, like him, also went dressed as a shepherd, replies that everything must be done without any omission according to the directions left by ChrysostomLoading.... The entire village is in commotion about this. However, reports say that what Ambrosio and all his shepherd friends want will be done after all. Tomorrow they are coming to bury him with great ceremony at the location I mentioned. I am sure it will be something worth seeing. At least, I will not fail to go and see it even if it means I can't get back to the village on time after the ceremony.”
“We will all go,” the goatherds answered, “and we will pull straws to see who will stay to look after all the goats.”
“Well said, Pedro,” one of them said, “but as for pulling straws, I will save you that trouble because I will stay behind on behalf of everyone. And I am not doing it so much out of kindness to you all, or lack of curiosity on my part, but because of that thorn that stuck into my foot the other day which will not let me walk.”
“We all thank you anyway,” Pedro answered.
Then the villagers saw the two students so unexpectedly appearing in shepherd's dress.
Don QuixoteLoading... asked Pedro to tell him who the dead man was and who the shepherdess was, to which Pedro replied that all he knew was that the dead man was a wealthy gentleman belonging to a village in those mountains, who had been a student at Salamanca for many years. After his education, he returned to his village with the reputation of being very learned and deeply read. “Above all, they said, he was learned in the science of the stars and of what went on over there in the heavens and the sun and the moon, because he told us the precise moment of the clip of the sun and moon.”
Her uncle kept her in great seclusion and retirement, but for all that the fame of her great beauty spread.
“Eclipse it is called, friend, not clip, the darkening of those two luminaries,” Don QuixoteLoading... said. But Pedro, not troubling himself with trivialities, went on with his story, saying, “Also he foretold when the year was going to be one of abundance or estility.”
“Austerity, you mean,” Don QuixoteLoading... said.
“Austerity or estility,” Pedro answered, “it is all the same in the end. And I can tell you that because of this his father and friends who believed him became very rich because they did as he advised them, as he told them to ‘sow barley this year, not wheat. This year you may sow pulse and not barley. The next there will be a full oil crop, and the three following, not a drop will be got.’ ”
She never gave any other answer than that she had no desire to marry just yet.
“That science is called astrology,” Don QuixoteLoading... said.
“I do not know what it is called,” Pedro replied, “but I know that he knew all of this and even more. But, to draw this story to an end, not many months had passed after he returned from Salamanca, when one day he appeared dressed as a shepherd with his shepherd's staff and sheepskin, having put off the long gown he wore as a student. And at the same time, his great friend, who was called Ambrosio and who had been his companion during his studies, took to wearing shepherd's clothes together with him. I forgot to mention that ChrysostomLoading..., who is dead, was great at writing verses, so much so that he made carols for Christmas Eve, and plays for Corpus Christi, which the young men of our village acted out, and everyone said the plays were excellent. When the villagers saw the two students so unexpectedly appearing in shepherd's clothes, they were flabbergasted, and could not figure out what had led them to make so extraordinary a change. About that time, the father of our ChrysostomLoading... died, and ChrysostomLoading... ended up the heir to a large amount of property when it came to personal belongings as well as land, cattle and sheep, and a large sum of money. All of this the uninhibited young man inherited, and indeed he was deserving of it all, because he was a good man, kind-hearted to the poor, a friend to all honest people, and with the face of an angel. At last, it became known that he had changed his clothes with no other goal in mind than to walk around these wastelands after that shepherdess MarcelaLoading... our lad mentioned a while ago, with whom the deceased ChrysostomLoading... had fallen in love. And I must tell you her story now because it is best if you know who this girl is. I assure you that you have never heard of anything like it all of your life, even if you had lived longer than Sarna.”
One day the demure MarcelaLoading... makes her appearance turned shepherdess.
“Say Sarah,” Don QuixoteLoading... cried, unable to endure the goatherd's confusion of words much longer.
“The Sarna — or the itch as we call it — lives long also,” Pedro answered. “But sir, if you must insist on finding fault with my words and interrupt me at every step, we shall not end this discussion in a year.”
“Pardon me, friend,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “I only spoke to make you understand that there is a difference between Sarna and Sarah. However, you are right, because indeed Sarna lives even longer than Sarah. So please continue your story, and I will not interrupt you anymore.”
Her beauty came to be seen openly.
“Well then,” the goatherd said, “you must know, good master, that there lived near us a farmer who was even richer than the father of ChrysostomLoading.... This farmer was named Guillermo, and upon him, God bestowed a daughter at whose birth her mother died. This mother was the most respected woman of this area. I fancy I can see her now with that beautiful face of hers, and moreover, she was active in her community and kind and generous to the poor. For that, I trust she is now in Paradise. Her husband Guillermo died of grief at the death of so good a wife. This left his daughter child MarcelaLoading... rich, and in the care of an uncle of hers, a priest in our village. The girl grew up with such beauty that it reminded us of her mother's, which was very great, and yet it was thought that the daughter's beauty would exceed it. And so when she reached the age of fourteen to fifteen years, no man set his eyes on her that did not bless Heaven for having made her so handsome. And so most men fell in love with her past redemption. Her uncle kept her in great seclusion and retirement, but for all that the fame of her great beauty spread, so that, as well for her beauty as for her great wealth, her uncle was asked, solicited, and begged, to give her in marriage not only by those of our town but from many miles around them, whole droves of suitors flocked toward them — and among them the very best in the country, too. But though he'd been glad to have been rid of her as soon as she was old enough to marry, being a good Christian man, he was unwilling to marry her against her will. He did not consider the gain and profit which the custody of the girl's property brought him while he put off her marriage at all. And this was said in praise of the good priest more than once. For I would have you know, Sir Errant, that in these little villages people will talk and find fault. And so rest assured, that the priest must be beyond reproach if he manages to get his parishioners to speak well of him, especially in villages in the countryside.”
And with this she does more harm in this country than if the plague had got into it.
“That is the truth,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “but go on, because the story is very good, and you, Pedro, tell it very well.”
“Oh I how I wish I could live up to that, sir. But to proceed,” Pedro said, “you must know that though the uncle put before his niece and described to her the qualities of each one in particular of the many who had asked her in marriage, begging her to marry and make a choice according to her own taste, she never gave any other answer than that she had no desire to marry just yet, and that being so young she did not think herself fit to bear the burden of matrimony. At these to all appearance reasonable excuses that she made, her uncle ceased to urge her and waited until she was somewhat more advanced in age and could mate herself to her own liking. For, he said — and rightly so — parents are not to settle children in life against their will. But when one least expected it, lo and behold! One day the demure MarcelaLoading... turns herself into a shepherdess. And, in spite of her uncle and all those of the town that strove to dissuade her, she took to going out in the field with the other shepherd-girls of the village, tending her own flock. And so, since she appeared in public, and her beauty came to be seen openly. I can't tell you how many rich young men, gentlemen and peasants, have adopted the same clothes as ChrysostomLoading..., and who go about these fields professing their love to her. One of these, as has been already said, was our deceased friend, of whom they say that he did not just love, but utterly worshipped her. However, I don't want you to think that, because MarcelaLoading... chose a life of such liberty and independence, and of so little or rather no retirement, that she has not given any reason ever for questioning her purity and modesty. On the contrary, such and so great is the vigilance with which she watches over her honor, that of all those that court and woo her not one has boasted, or can with truth boast, that she has given him any hope however small of obtaining his desire. For although she does not avoid or shun the society and conversation of the shepherds, and treats them courteously and kindly, should any one of them come to declare his intention to her, even if it was one as proper and holy as that of matrimony, she flings him from her like a catapult. And with this kind of disposition she does more harm in this country than if the plague had got into it, because her affability and her beauty draw on the hearts of those that associate with her to love her and to court her, but her scorn and her frankness bring them to the brink of despair and makes them ready to hang themselves. And so they don't know what to say but to proclaim out loud that she is cruel and cold-hearted, and all it does is show what a sad state they are in. Were you to say here a bit longer, sir, you would hear from these hills and valleys the loud moans of those who pursue her and who she has rejected. Not far from this there is a spot where there are a couple of dozen tall beeches, and there is not one of them but which does not have carved and written on its smooth bark the name of MarcelaLoading..., and above some a crown carved on the same tree as though her lover wanted to say more clearly that MarcelaLoading... wore and deserved to be crowned the most beautiful woman of all mankind. Here one shepherd is sighing, there another is lamenting; there love songs are heard, here despairing elegies. One will pass all the hours of the night seated at the foot of some oak or rock, and there, without having closed his weeping eyes, the sun finds him in the morning bemused and bereft of his senses, and there is another one without relief or respite to his sighs, stretched on the burning sand in the full heat of the sultry summer noontide, who makes his appeal to the compassionate heavens, and over one and all of them, the beautiful MarcelaLoading... triumphs free and careless. And all of us who know her are waiting to see what her pride will come to, and who is to be the happy man that will succeed in taming a nature so formidable and gaining possession of beauty so supreme. All that I have told you being such well-established truth, I am convinced that what they say of the cause of ChrysostomLoading...'s death, as our lad told us, is the same. And so I advise you, sir, fail not to be present tomorrow at his burial, which will be well worth seeing, because ChrysostomLoading... had many friends, and he wanted to be buried less than a mile from where we are now.”
“I will make a point of it,” Don QuixoteLoading... said, “and I thank you for the pleasure you have given me by relating so interesting a tale.”
“Oh,” the goatherd said, “I do not know even the half of what has happened to the lovers of MarcelaLoading..., but perhaps tomorrow we may fall in with some shepherd on the road who can tell us. And now it will be well for you to go and sleep under cover, because the night air may hurt your wound, though with the remedy I have applied to you there is no fear of an untoward result.”
SanchoLoading... Panza, who was cursing the goatherd's wordiness, on his part begged his master to go into Pedro's hut to sleep. He did, and he passed the rest of the night thinking of his lady DulcineaLoading..., in imitation of the lovers of MarcelaLoading.... SanchoLoading... Panza settled himself between RocinanteLoading... and his ass, and slept, not like a lover who had been discarded, but like a man who had been soundly kicked.