WHICH TREATS OF THE EXALTED ADVENTURE AND RICH PRIZE OF MAMBRINO'S
HELMET, TOGETHER WITH OTHER THINGS THAT HAPPENED TO OUR INVINCIBLE
It now began to rain a little, and Sancho was for going into the
fulling mills, but Don Quixote had taken such an abhorrence to them on
account of the late joke that he would not enter them on any
account; so turning aside to right they came upon another road,
different from that which they had taken the night before. Shortly
afterwards Don Quixote perceived a man on horseback who wore on his
head something that shone like gold, and the moment he saw him he
turned to Sancho and said:
"I think, Sancho, there is no proverb that is not true, all being
maxims drawn from experience itself, the mother of all the sciences,
especially that one that says, 'Where one door shuts, another
opens.' I say so because if last night fortune shut the door of the
adventure we were looking for against us, cheating us with the fulling
mills, it now opens wide another one for another better and more
certain adventure, and if I do not contrive to enter it, it will be my
own fault, and I cannot lay it to my ignorance of fulling mills, or
the darkness of the night. I say this because, if I mistake not, there
comes towards us one who wears on his head the helmet of Mambrino,
concerning which I took the oath thou rememberest."
"Mind what you say, your worship, and still more what you do,"
said Sancho, "for I don't want any more fulling mills to finish off
fulling and knocking our senses out."
"The devil take thee, man," said Don Quixote; "what has a helmet
to do with fulling mills?"
"I don't know," replied Sancho, "but, faith, if I might speak as I
used, perhaps I could give such reasons that your worship would see
you were mistaken in what you say."
"How can I be mistaken in what I say, unbelieving traitor?" returned
Don Quixote; "tell me, seest thou not yonder knight coming towards
us on a dappled grey steed, who has upon his head a helmet of gold?"
"What I see and make out," answered Sancho, "is only a man on a grey
ass like my own, who has something that shines on his head."
"Well, that is the helmet of Mambrino," said Don Quixote; "stand
to one side and leave me alone with him; thou shalt see how, without
saying a word, to save time, I shall bring this adventure to an
issue and possess myself of the helmet I have so longed for."
"I will take care to stand aside," said Sancho; "but God grant, I
say once more, that it may be marjoram and not fulling mills."
"I have told thee, brother, on no account to mention those fulling
mills to me again," said Don Quixote, "or I vow- and I say no more-
I'll full the soul out of you."
Sancho held his peace in dread lest his master should carry out
the vow he had hurled like a bowl at him.
The fact of the matter as regards the helmet, steed, and knight that
Don Quixote saw, was this. In that neighbourhood there were two
villages, one of them so small that it had neither apothecary's shop
nor barber, which the other that was close to it had, so the barber of
the larger served the smaller, and in it there was a sick man who
required to be bled and another man who wanted to be shaved, and on
this errand the barber was going, carrying with him a brass basin; but
as luck would have it, as he was on the way it began to rain, and
not to spoil his hat, which probably was a new one, he put the basin
on his head, and being clean it glittered at half a league's distance.
He rode upon a grey ass, as Sancho said, and this was what made it
seem to Don Quixote to be a dapple-grey steed and a knight and a
golden helmet; for everything he saw he made to fall in with his crazy
chivalry and ill-errant notions; and when he saw the poor knight
draw near, without entering into any parley with him, at Rocinante's
top speed he bore down upon him with the pike pointed low, fully
determined to run him through and through, and as he reached him,
without checking the fury of his charge, he cried to him:
"Defend thyself, miserable being, or yield me of thine own accord
that which is so reasonably my due."
The barber, who without any expectation or apprehension of it saw
this apparition coming down upon him, had no other way of saving
himself from the stroke of the lance but to let himself fall off his
ass; and no sooner had he touched the ground than he sprang up more
nimbly than a deer and sped away across the plain faster than the
He left the basin on the ground, with which Don Quixote contented
himself, saying that the pagan had shown his discretion and imitated
the beaver, which finding itself pressed by the hunters bites and cuts
off with its teeth that for which, by its natural instinct, it knows
it is pursued.
He told Sancho to pick up the helmet, and he taking it in his
"By God the basin is a good one, and worth a real of eight if it
is worth a maravedis," and handed it to his master, who immediately
put it on his head, turning it round, now this way, now that, in
search of fitment, and not finding it he said, "Clearly the pagan to
whose measure this famous head-piece was first forged must have had
a very large head; but the worst of it is half of it is wanting."
When Sancho heard him call the basin a headpiece he was unable to
restrain his laughter, but remembering his master's wrath he checked
himself in the midst of it.
"What art thou laughing at, Sancho?" said Don Quixote.
"I am laughing," said he, "to think of the great head the pagan must
have had who owned this helmet, for it looks exactly like a regular
"Dost thou know what I suspect, Sancho?" said Don Quixote; "that
this wonderful piece of this enchanted helmet must by some strange
accident have come into the hands of some one who was unable to
recognise or realise its value, and who, not knowing what he did,
and seeing it to be of the purest gold, must have melted down one half
for the sake of what it might be worth, and of the other made this
which is like a barber's basin as thou sayest; but be it as it may, to
me who recognise it, its transformation makes no difference, for I
will set it to rights at the first village where there is a
blacksmith, and in such style that that helmet the god of smithies
forged for the god of battles shall not surpass it or even come up
to it; and in the meantime I will wear it as well as I can, for
something is better than nothing; all the more as it will be quite
enough to protect me from any chance blow of a stone."
"That is," said Sancho, "if it is not shot with a sling as they were
in the battle of the two armies, when they signed the cross on your
worship's grinders and smashed the flask with that blessed draught
that made me vomit my bowels up."
"It does not grieve me much to have lost it," said Don Quixote, "for
thou knowest, Sancho, that I have the receipt in my memory."
"So have I," answered Sancho, "but if ever I make it, or try it
again as long as I live, may this be my last hour; moreover, I have no
intention of putting myself in the way of wanting it, for I mean, with
all my five senses, to keep myself from being wounded or from wounding
anyone: as to being blanketed again I say nothing, for it is hard to
prevent mishaps of that sort, and if they come there is nothing for it
but to squeeze our shoulders together, hold our breath, shut our eyes,
and let ourselves go where luck and the blanket may send us."
"Thou art a bad Christian, Sancho," said Don Quixote on hearing
this, "for once an injury has been done thee thou never forgettest it:
but know that it is the part of noble and generous hearts not to
attach importance to trifles. What lame leg hast thou got by it,
what broken rib, what cracked head, that thou canst not forget that
jest? For jest and sport it was, properly regarded, and had I not seen
it in that light I would have returned and done more mischief in
revenging thee than the Greeks did for the rape of Helen, who, if
she were alive now, or if my Dulcinea had lived then, might depend
upon it she would not be so famous for her beauty as she is;" and here
he heaved a sigh and sent it aloft; and said Sancho, "Let it pass
for a jest as it cannot be revenged in earnest, but I know what sort
of jest and earnest it was, and I know it will never be rubbed out
of my memory any more than off my shoulders. But putting that aside,
will your worship tell me what are we to do with this dapple-grey
steed that looks like a grey ass, which that Martino that your worship
overthrew has left deserted here? for, from the way he took to his
heels and bolted, he is not likely ever to come back for it; and by my
beard but the grey is a good one."
"I have never been in the habit," said Don Quixote, "of taking spoil
of those whom I vanquish, nor is it the practice of chivalry to take
away their horses and leave them to go on foot, unless indeed it be
that the victor have lost his own in the combat, in which case it is
lawful to take that of the vanquished as a thing won in lawful war;
therefore, Sancho, leave this horse, or ass, or whatever thou wilt
have it to be; for when its owner sees us gone hence he will come back
"God knows I should like to take it," returned Sancho, "or at
least to change it for my own, which does not seem to me as good a
one: verily the laws of chivalry are strict, since they cannot be
stretched to let one ass be changed for another; I should like to know
if I might at least change trappings."
"On that head I am not quite certain," answered Don Quixote, "and
the matter being doubtful, pending better information, I say thou
mayest change them, if so be thou hast urgent need of them."
"So urgent is it," answered Sancho, "that if they were for my own
person I could not want them more;" and forthwith, fortified by this
licence, he effected the mutatio capparum, rigging out his beast to
the ninety-nines and making quite another thing of it. This done, they
broke their fast on the remains of the spoils of war plundered from
the sumpter mule, and drank of the brook that flowed from the
fulling mills, without casting a look in that direction, in such
loathing did they hold them for the alarm they had caused them; and,
all anger and gloom removed, they mounted and, without taking any
fixed road (not to fix upon any being the proper thing for true
knights-errant), they set out, guided by Rocinante's will, which
carried along with it that of his master, not to say that of the
ass, which always followed him wherever he led, lovingly and sociably;
nevertheless they returned to the high road, and pursued it at a
venture without any other aim.
As they went along, then, in this way Sancho said to his master,
"Senor, would your worship give me leave to speak a little to you? For
since you laid that hard injunction of silence on me several things
have gone to rot in my stomach, and I have now just one on the tip
of my tongue that I don't want to be spoiled."
"Say, on, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "and be brief in thy discourse,
for there is no pleasure in one that is long."
"Well then, senor," returned Sancho, "I say that for some days
past I have been considering how little is got or gained by going in
search of these adventures that your worship seeks in these wilds
and cross-roads, where, even if the most perilous are victoriously
achieved, there is no one to see or know of them, and so they must
be left untold for ever, to the loss of your worship's object and
the credit they deserve; therefore it seems to me it would be better
(saving your worship's better judgment) if we were to go and serve
some emperor or other great prince who may have some war on hand, in
whose service your worship may prove the worth of your person, your
great might, and greater understanding, on perceiving which the lord
in whose service we may be will perforce have to reward us, each
according to his merits; and there you will not be at a loss for
some one to set down your achievements in writing so as to preserve
their memory for ever. Of my own I say nothing, as they will not go
beyond squirely limits, though I make bold to say that, if it be the
practice in chivalry to write the achievements of squires, I think
mine must not be left out."
"Thou speakest not amiss, Sancho," answered Don Quixote, "but before
that point is reached it is requisite to roam the world, as it were on
probation, seeking adventures, in order that, by achieving some,
name and fame may be acquired, such that when he betakes himself to
the court of some great monarch the knight may be already known by his
deeds, and that the boys, the instant they see him enter the gate of
the city, may all follow him and surround him, crying, 'This is the
Knight of the Sun'-or the Serpent, or any other title under which he
may have achieved great deeds. 'This,' they will say, 'is he who
vanquished in single combat the gigantic Brocabruno of mighty
strength; he who delivered the great Mameluke of Persia out of the
long enchantment under which he had been for almost nine hundred
years.' So from one to another they will go proclaiming his
achievements; and presently at the tumult of the boys and the others
the king of that kingdom will appear at the windows of his royal
palace, and as soon as he beholds the knight, recognising him by his
arms and the device on his shield, he will as a matter of course
say, 'What ho! Forth all ye, the knights of my court, to receive the
flower of chivalry who cometh hither!' At which command all will issue
forth, and he himself, advancing half-way down the stairs, will
embrace him closely, and salute him, kissing him on the cheek, and
will then lead him to the queen's chamber, where the knight will
find her with the princess her daughter, who will be one of the most
beautiful and accomplished damsels that could with the utmost pains be
discovered anywhere in the known world. Straightway it will come to
pass that she will fix her eyes upon the knight and he his upon her,
and each will seem to the other something more divine than human, and,
without knowing how or why they will be taken and entangled in the
inextricable toils of love, and sorely distressed in their hearts
not to see any way of making their pains and sufferings known by
speech. Thence they will lead him, no doubt, to some richly adorned
chamber of the palace, where, having removed his armour, they will
bring him a rich mantle of scarlet wherewith to robe himself, and if
he looked noble in his armour he will look still more so in a doublet.
When night comes he will sup with the king, queen, and princess; and
all the time he will never take his eyes off her, stealing stealthy
glances, unnoticed by those present, and she will do the same, and
with equal cautiousness, being, as I have said, a damsel of great
discretion. The tables being removed, suddenly through the door of the
hall there will enter a hideous and diminutive dwarf followed by a
fair dame, between two giants, who comes with a certain adventure, the
work of an ancient sage; and he who shall achieve it shall be deemed
the best knight in the world.
"The king will then command all those present to essay it, and
none will bring it to an end and conclusion save the stranger
knight, to the great enhancement of his fame, whereat the princess
will be overjoyed and will esteem herself happy and fortunate in
having fixed and placed her thoughts so high. And the best of it is
that this king, or prince, or whatever he is, is engaged in a very
bitter war with another as powerful as himself, and the stranger
knight, after having been some days at his court, requests leave
from him to go and serve him in the said war. The king will grant it
very readily, and the knight will courteously kiss his hands for the
favour done to him; and that night he will take leave of his lady
the princess at the grating of the chamber where she sleeps, which
looks upon a garden, and at which he has already many times
conversed with her, the go-between and confidante in the matter
being a damsel much trusted by the princess. He will sigh, she will
swoon, the damsel will fetch water, much distressed because morning
approaches, and for the honour of her lady he would not that they were
discovered; at last the princess will come to herself and will present
her white hands through the grating to the knight, who will kiss
them a thousand and a thousand times, bathing them with his tears.
It will be arranged between them how they are to inform each other
of their good or evil fortunes, and the princess will entreat him to
make his absence as short as possible, which he will promise to do
with many oaths; once more he kisses her hands, and takes his leave in
such grief that he is well-nigh ready to die. He betakes him thence to
his chamber, flings himself on his bed, cannot sleep for sorrow at
parting, rises early in the morning, goes to take leave of the king,
queen, and princess, and, as he takes his leave of the pair, it is
told him that the princess is indisposed and cannot receive a visit;
the knight thinks it is from grief at his departure, his heart is
pierced, and he is hardly able to keep from showing his pain. The
confidante is present, observes all, goes to tell her mistress, who
listens with tears and says that one of her greatest distresses is not
knowing who this knight is, and whether he is of kingly lineage or
not; the damsel assures her that so much courtesy, gentleness, and
gallantry of bearing as her knight possesses could not exist in any
save one who was royal and illustrious; her anxiety is thus
relieved, and she strives to be of good cheer lest she should excite
suspicion in her parents, and at the end of two days she appears in
public. Meanwhile the knight has taken his departure; he fights in the
war, conquers the king's enemy, wins many cities, triumphs in many
battles, returns to the court, sees his lady where he was wont to
see her, and it is agreed that he shall demand her in marriage of
her parents as the reward of his services; the king is unwilling to
give her, as he knows not who he is, but nevertheless, whether carried
off or in whatever other way it may be, the princess comes to be his
bride, and her father comes to regard it as very good fortune; for
it so happens that this knight is proved to be the son of a valiant
king of some kingdom, I know not what, for I fancy it is not likely to
be on the map. The father dies, the princess inherits, and in two
words the knight becomes king. And here comes in at once the
bestowal of rewards upon his squire and all who have aided him in
rising to so exalted a rank. He marries his squire to a damsel of
the princess's, who will be, no doubt, the one who was confidante in
their amour, and is daughter of a very great duke."
"That's what I want, and no mistake about it!" said Sancho.
"That's what I'm waiting for; for all this, word for word, is in store
for your worship under the title of the Knight of the Rueful
"Thou needst not doubt it, Sancho," replied Don Quixote, "for in the
same manner, and by the same steps as I have described here,
knights-errant rise and have risen to be kings and emperors; all we
want now is to find out what king, Christian or pagan, is at war and
has a beautiful daughter; but there will be time enough to think of
that, for, as I have told thee, fame must be won in other quarters
before repairing to the court. There is another thing, too, that is
wanting; for supposing we find a king who is at war and has a
beautiful daughter, and that I have won incredible fame throughout the
universe, I know not how it can be made out that I am of royal
lineage, or even second cousin to an emperor; for the king will not be
willing to give me his daughter in marriage unless he is first
thoroughly satisfied on this point, however much my famous deeds may
deserve it; so that by this deficiency I fear I shall lose what my arm
has fairly earned. True it is I am a gentleman of known house, of
estate and property, and entitled to the five hundred sueldos mulct;
and it may be that the sage who shall write my history will so clear
up my ancestry and pedigree that I may find myself fifth or sixth in
descent from a king; for I would have thee know, Sancho, that there
are two kinds of lineages in the world; some there be tracing and
deriving their descent from kings and princes, whom time has reduced
little by little until they end in a point like a pyramid upside down;
and others who spring from the common herd and go on rising step by
step until they come to be great lords; so that the difference is that
the one were what they no longer are, and the others are what they
formerly were not. And I may be of such that after investigation my
origin may prove great and famous, with which the king, my
father-in-law that is to be, ought to be satisfied; and should he
not be, the princess will so love me that even though she well knew me
to be the son of a water-carrier, she will take me for her lord and
husband in spite of her father; if not, then it comes to seizing her
and carrying her off where I please; for time or death will put an end
to the wrath of her parents."
"It comes to this, too," said Sancho, "what some naughty people say,
'Never ask as a favour what thou canst take by force;' though it would
fit better to say, 'A clear escape is better than good men's prayers.'
I say so because if my lord the king, your worship's father-in-law,
will not condescend to give you my lady the princess, there is nothing
for it but, as your worship says, to seize her and transport her.
But the mischief is that until peace is made and you come into the
peaceful enjoyment of your kingdom, the poor squire is famishing as
far as rewards go, unless it be that the confidante damsel that is
to be his wife comes with the princess, and that with her he tides
over his bad luck until Heaven otherwise orders things; for his
master, I suppose, may as well give her to him at once for a lawful
"Nobody can object to that," said Don Quixote.
"Then since that may be," said Sancho, "there is nothing for it
but to commend ourselves to God, and let fortune take what course it
"God guide it according to my wishes and thy wants," said Don
Quixote, "and mean be he who thinks himself mean."
"In God's name let him be so," said Sancho: "I am an old
Christian, and to fit me for a count that's enough."
"And more than enough for thee," said Don Quixote; "and even wert
thou not, it would make no difference, because I being the king can
easily give thee nobility without purchase or service rendered by
thee, for when I make thee a count, then thou art at once a gentleman;
and they may say what they will, but by my faith they will have to
call thee 'your lordship,' whether they like it or not."
"Not a doubt of it; and I'll know how to support the tittle," said
"Title thou shouldst say, not tittle," said his master.
"So be it," answered Sancho. "I say I will know how to behave, for
once in my life I was beadle of a brotherhood, and the beadle's gown
sat so well on me that all said I looked as if I was to be steward
of the same brotherhood. What will it be, then, when I put a duke's
robe on my back, or dress myself in gold and pearls like a count? I
believe they'll come a hundred leagues to see me."
"Thou wilt look well," said Don Quixote, "but thou must shave thy
beard often, for thou hast it so thick and rough and unkempt, that
if thou dost not shave it every second day at least, they will see
what thou art at the distance of a musket shot."
"What more will it be," said Sancho, "than having a barber, and
keeping him at wages in the house? and even if it be necessary, I will
make him go behind me like a nobleman's equerry."
"Why, how dost thou know that noblemen have equerries behind
them?" asked Don Quixote.
"I will tell you," answered Sancho. "Years ago I was for a month
at the capital and there I saw taking the air a very small gentleman
who they said was a very great man, and a man following him on
horseback in every turn he took, just as if he was his tail. I asked
why this man did not join the other man, instead of always going
behind him; they answered me that he was his equerry, and that it
was the custom with nobles to have such persons behind them, and
ever since then I know it, for I have never forgotten it."
"Thou art right," said Don Quixote, "and in the same way thou mayest
carry thy barber with thee, for customs did not come into use all
together, nor were they all invented at once, and thou mayest be the
first count to have a barber to follow him; and, indeed, shaving one's
beard is a greater trust than saddling one's horse."
"Let the barber business be my look-out," said Sancho; "and your
worship's be it to strive to become a king, and make me a count."
"So it shall be," answered Don Quixote, and raising his eyes he
saw what will be told in the following chapter.