WHICH TREATS OF WHAT BEFELL DON QUIXOTE'S PARTY AT THE INN
Their dainty repast being finished, they saddled at once, and
without any adventure worth mentioning they reached next day the
inn, the object of Sancho Panza's fear and dread; but though he
would have rather not entered it, there was no help for it. The
landlady, the landlord, their daughter, and Maritornes, when they
saw Don Quixote and Sancho coming, went out to welcome them with signs
of hearty satisfaction, which Don Quixote received with dignity and
gravity, and bade them make up a better bed for him than the last
time: to which the landlady replied that if he paid better than he did
the last time she would give him one fit for a prince. Don Quixote
said he would, so they made up a tolerable one for him in the same
garret as before; and he lay down at once, being sorely shaken and
in want of sleep.
No sooner was the door shut upon him than the landlady made at the
barber, and seizing him by the beard, said:
"By my faith you are not going to make a beard of my tail any
longer; you must give me back tail, for it is a shame the way that
thing of my husband's goes tossing about on the floor; I mean the comb
that I used to stick in my good tail."
But for all she tugged at it the barber would not give it up until
the licentiate told him to let her have it, as there was now no
further occasion for that stratagem, because he might declare
himself and appear in his own character, and tell Don Quixote that
he had fled to this inn when those thieves the galley slaves robbed
him; and should he ask for the princess's squire, they could tell
him that she had sent him on before her to give notice to the people
of her kingdom that she was coming, and bringing with her the
deliverer of them all. On this the barber cheerfully restored the tail
to the landlady, and at the same time they returned all the
accessories they had borrowed to effect Don Quixote's deliverance. All
the people of the inn were struck with astonishment at the beauty of
Dorothea, and even at the comely figure of the shepherd Cardenio.
The curate made them get ready such fare as there was in the inn,
and the landlord, in hope of better payment, served them up a
tolerably good dinner. All this time Don Quixote was asleep, and
they thought it best not to waken him, as sleeping would now do him
more good than eating.
While at dinner, the company consisting of the landlord, his wife,
their daughter, Maritornes, and all the travellers, they discussed the
strange craze of Don Quixote and the manner in which he had been
found; and the landlady told them what had taken place between him and
the carrier; and then, looking round to see if Sancho was there,
when she saw he was not, she gave them the whole story of his
blanketing, which they received with no little amusement. But on the
curate observing that it was the books of chivalry which Don Quixote
had read that had turned his brain, the landlord said:
"I cannot understand how that can be, for in truth to my mind
there is no better reading in the world, and I have here two or
three of them, with other writings that are the very life, not only of
myself but of plenty more; for when it is harvest-time, the reapers
flock here on holidays, and there is always one among them who can
read and who takes up one of these books, and we gather round him,
thirty or more of us, and stay listening to him with a delight that
makes our grey hairs grow young again. At least I can say for myself
that when I hear of what furious and terrible blows the knights
deliver, I am seized with the longing to do the same, and I would like
to be hearing about them night and day."
"And I just as much," said the landlady, "because I never have a
quiet moment in my house except when you are listening to some one
reading; for then you are so taken up that for the time being you
forget to scold."
"That is true," said Maritornes; "and, faith, I relish hearing these
things greatly too, for they are very pretty; especially when they
describe some lady or another in the arms of her knight under the
orange trees, and the duenna who is keeping watch for them half dead
with envy and fright; all this I say is as good as honey."
"And you, what do you think, young lady?" said the curate turning to
the landlord's daughter.
"I don't know indeed, senor," said she; "I listen too, and to tell
the truth, though I do not understand it, I like hearing it; but it is
not the blows that my father likes that I like, but the laments the
knights utter when they are separated from their ladies; and indeed
they sometimes make me weep with the pity I feel for them."
"Then you would console them if it was for you they wept, young
lady?" said Dorothea.
"I don't know what I should do," said the girl; "I only know that
there are some of those ladies so cruel that they call their knights
tigers and lions and a thousand other foul names: and Jesus! I don't
know what sort of folk they can be, so unfeeling and heartless, that
rather than bestow a glance upon a worthy man they leave him to die or
go mad. I don't know what is the good of such prudery; if it is for
honour's sake, why not marry them? That's all they want."
"Hush, child," said the landlady; "it seems to me thou knowest a
great deal about these things, and it is not fit for girls to know
or talk so much."
"As the gentleman asked me, I could not help answering him," said
"Well then," said the curate, "bring me these books, senor landlord,
for I should like to see them."
"With all my heart," said he, and going into his own room he brought
out an old valise secured with a little chain, on opening which the
curate found in it three large books and some manuscripts written in a
very good hand. The first that he opened he found to be "Don
Cirongilio of Thrace," and the second "Don Felixmarte of Hircania,"
and the other the "History of the Great Captain Gonzalo Hernandez de
Cordova, with the Life of Diego Garcia de Paredes."
When the curate read the two first titles he looked over at the
barber and said, "We want my friend's housekeeper and niece here now."
"Nay," said the barber, "I can do just as well to carry them to
the yard or to the hearth, and there is a very good fire there."
"What! your worship would burn my books!" said the landlord.
"Only these two," said the curate, "Don Cirongilio, and Felixmarte."
"Are my books, then, heretics or phlegmaties that you want to burn
them?" said the landlord.
"Schismatics you mean, friend," said the barber, "not phlegmatics."
"That's it," said the landlord; "but if you want to burn any, let it
be that about the Great Captain and that Diego Garcia; for I would
rather have a child of mine burnt than either of the others."
"Brother," said the curate, "those two books are made up of lies,
and are full of folly and nonsense; but this of the Great Captain is a
true history, and contains the deeds of Gonzalo Hernandez of
Cordova, who by his many and great achievements earned the title all
over the world of the Great Captain, a famous and illustrious name,
and deserved by him alone; and this Diego Garcia de Paredes was a
distinguished knight of the city of Trujillo in Estremadura, a most
gallant soldier, and of such bodily strength that with one finger he
stopped a mill-wheel in full motion; and posted with a two-handed
sword at the foot of a bridge he kept the whole of an immense army
from passing over it, and achieved such other exploits that if,
instead of his relating them himself with the modesty of a knight
and of one writing his own history, some free and unbiassed writer had
recorded them, they would have thrown into the shade all the deeds
of the Hectors, Achilleses, and Rolands."
"Tell that to my father," said the landlord. "There's a thing to
be astonished at! Stopping a mill-wheel! By God your worship should
read what I have read of Felixmarte of Hircania, how with one single
backstroke he cleft five giants asunder through the middle as if
they had been made of bean-pods like the little friars the children
make; and another time he attacked a very great and powerful army,
in which there were more than a million six hundred thousand soldiers,
all armed from head to foot, and he routed them all as if they had
been flocks of sheep. And then, what do you say to the good Cirongilio
of Thrace, that was so stout and bold; as may be seen in the book,
where it is related that as he was sailing along a river there came up
out of the midst of the water against him a fiery serpent, and he,
as soon as he saw it, flung himself upon it and got astride of its
scaly shoulders, and squeezed its throat with both hands with such
force that the serpent, finding he was throttling it, had nothing
for it but to let itself sink to the bottom of the river, carrying
with it the knight who would not let go his hold; and when they got
down there he found himself among palaces and gardens so pretty that
it was a wonder to see; and then the serpent changed itself into an
old ancient man, who told him such things as were never heard. Hold
your peace, senor; for if you were to hear this you would go mad
with delight. A couple of figs for your Great Captain and your Diego
Hearing this Dorothea said in a whisper to Cardenio, "Our landlord
is almost fit to play a second part to Don Quixote."
"I think so," said Cardenio, "for, as he shows, he accepts it as a
certainty that everything those books relate took place exactly as
it is written down; and the barefooted friars themselves would not
persuade him to the contrary."
"But consider, brother, said the curate once more, "there never
was any Felixmarte of Hircania in the world, nor any Cirongilio of
Thrace, or any of the other knights of the same sort, that the books
of chivalry talk of; the whole thing is the fabrication and
invention of idle wits, devised by them for the purpose you describe
of beguiling the time, as your reapers do when they read; for I
swear to you in all seriousness there never were any such knights in
the world, and no such exploits or nonsense ever happened anywhere."
"Try that bone on another dog," said the landlord; "as if I did
not know how many make five, and where my shoe pinches me; don't think
to feed me with pap, for by God I am no fool. It is a good joke for
your worship to try and persuade me that everything these good books
say is nonsense and lies, and they printed by the license of the Lords
of the Royal Council, as if they were people who would allow such a
lot of lies to be printed all together, and so many battles and
enchantments that they take away one's senses."
"I have told you, friend," said the curate, "that this is done to
divert our idle thoughts; and as in well-ordered states games of
chess, fives, and billiards are allowed for the diversion of those who
do not care, or are not obliged, or are unable to work, so books of
this kind are allowed to be printed, on the supposition that, what
indeed is the truth, there can be nobody so ignorant as to take any of
them for true stories; and if it were permitted me now, and the
present company desired it, I could say something about the
qualities books of chivalry should possess to be good ones, that would
be to the advantage and even to the taste of some; but I hope the time
will come when I can communicate my ideas to some one who may be
able to mend matters; and in the meantime, senor landlord, believe
what I have said, and take your books, and make up your mind about
their truth or falsehood, and much good may they do you; and God grant
you may not fall lame of the same foot your guest Don Quixote halts
"No fear of that," returned the landlord; "I shall not be so mad
as to make a knight-errant of myself; for I see well enough that
things are not now as they used to be in those days, when they say
those famous knights roamed about the world."
Sancho had made his appearance in the middle of this conversation,
and he was very much troubled and cast down by what he heard said
about knights-errant being now no longer in vogue, and all books of
chivalry being folly and lies; and he resolved in his heart to wait
and see what came of this journey of his master's, and if it did not
turn out as happily as his master expected, he determined to leave him
and go back to his wife and children and his ordinary labour.
The landlord was carrying away the valise and the books, but the
curate said to him, "Wait; I want to see what those papers are that
are written in such a good hand." The landlord taking them out
handed them to him to read, and he perceived they were a work of about
eight sheets of manuscript, with, in large letters at the beginning,
the title of "Novel of the Ill-advised Curiosity." The curate read
three or four lines to himself, and said, "I must say the title of
this novel does not seem to me a bad one, and I feel an inclination to
read it all." To which the landlord replied, "Then your reverence will
do well to read it, for I can tell you that some guests who have
read it here have been much pleased with it, and have begged it of
me very earnestly; but I would not give it, meaning to return it to
the person who forgot the valise, books, and papers here, for maybe he
will return here some time or other; and though I know I shall miss
the books, faith I mean to return them; for though I am an
innkeeper, still I am a Christian."
"You are very right, friend," said the curate; "but for all that, if
the novel pleases me you must let me copy it."
"With all my heart," replied the host.
While they were talking Cardenio had taken up the novel and begun to
read it, and forming the same opinion of it as the curate, he begged
him to read it so that they might all hear it.
"I would read it," said the curate, "if the time would not be better
spent in sleeping."
"It will be rest enough for me," said Dorothea, "to while away the
time by listening to some tale, for my spirits are not yet tranquil
enough to let me sleep when it would be seasonable."
"Well then, in that case," said the curate, "I will read it, if it
were only out of curiosity; perhaps it may contain something
Master Nicholas added his entreaties to the same effect, and
Sancho too; seeing which, and considering that he would give
pleasure to all, and receive it himself, the curate said, "Well
then, attend to me everyone, for the novel begins thus."