WHICH DEALS WITH THE ADVENTURE OF THE ENCHANTED HEAD, TOGETHER
WITH OTHER TRIVIAL MATTERS WHICH CANNOT BE LEFT UNTOLD
Don Quixote's host was one Don Antonio Moreno by name, a gentleman
of wealth and intelligence, and very fond of diverting himself in
any fair and good-natured way; and having Don Quixote in his house
he set about devising modes of making him exhibit his mad points in
some harmless fashion; for jests that give pain are no jests, and no
sport is worth anything if it hurts another. The first thing he did
was to make Don Quixote take off his armour, and lead him, in that
tight chamois suit we have already described and depicted more than
once, out on a balcony overhanging one of the chief streets of the
city, in full view of the crowd and of the boys, who gazed at him as
they would at a monkey. The cavaliers in livery careered before him
again as though it were for him alone, and not to enliven the festival
of the day, that they wore it, and Sancho was in high delight, for
it seemed to him that, how he knew not, he had fallen upon another
Camacho's wedding, another house like Don Diego de Miranda's,
another castle like the duke's. Some of Don Antonio's friends dined
with him that day, and all showed honour to Don Quixote and treated
him as a knight-errant, and he becoming puffed up and exalted in
consequence could not contain himself for satisfaction. Such were
the drolleries of Sancho that all the servants of the house, and all
who heard him, were kept hanging upon his lips. While at table Don
Antonio said to him, "We hear, worthy Sancho, that you are so fond
of manjar blanco and forced-meat balls, that if you have any left, you
keep them in your bosom for the next day."
"No, senor, that's not true," said Sancho, "for I am more cleanly
than greedy, and my master Don Quixote here knows well that we two are
used to live for a week on a handful of acorns or nuts. To be sure, if
it so happens that they offer me a heifer, I run with a halter; I
mean, I eat what I'm given, and make use of opportunities as I find
them; but whoever says that I'm an out-of-the-way eater or not
cleanly, let me tell him that he is wrong; and I'd put it in a
different way if I did not respect the honourable beards that are at
"Indeed," said Don Quixote, "Sancho's moderation and cleanliness
in eating might be inscribed and graved on plates of brass, to be kept
in eternal remembrance in ages to come. It is true that when he is
hungry there is a certain appearance of voracity about him, for he
eats at a great pace and chews with both jaws; but cleanliness he is
always mindful of; and when he was governor he learned how to eat
daintily, so much so that he eats grapes, and even pomegranate pips,
with a fork."
"What!" said Don Antonio, "has Sancho been a governor?"
"Ay," said Sancho, "and of an island called Barataria. I governed it
to perfection for ten days; and lost my rest all the time; and learned
to look down upon all the governments in the world; I got out of it by
taking to flight, and fell into a pit where I gave myself up for dead,
and out of which I escaped alive by a miracle."
Don Quixote then gave them a minute account of the whole affair of
Sancho's government, with which he greatly amused his hearers.
On the cloth being removed Don Antonio, taking Don Quixote by the
hand, passed with him into a distant room in which there was nothing
in the way of furniture except a table, apparently of jasper,
resting on a pedestal of the same, upon which was set up, after the
fashion of the busts of the Roman emperors, a head which seemed to
be of bronze. Don Antonio traversed the whole apartment with Don
Quixote and walked round the table several times, and then said, "Now,
Senor Don Quixote, that I am satisfied that no one is listening to us,
and that the door is shut, I will tell you of one of the rarest
adventures, or more properly speaking strange things, that can be
imagined, on condition that you will keep what I say to you in the
remotest recesses of secrecy."
"I swear it," said Don Quixote, "and for greater security I will put
a flag-stone over it; for I would have you know, Senor Don Antonio"
(he had by this time learned his name), "that you are addressing one
who, though he has ears to hear, has no tongue to speak; so that you
may safely transfer whatever you have in your bosom into mine, and
rely upon it that you have consigned it to the depths of silence."
"In reliance upon that promise," said Don Antonio, "I will
astonish you with what you shall see and hear, and relieve myself of
some of the vexation it gives me to have no one to whom I can
confide my secrets, for they are not of a sort to be entrusted to
Don Quixote was puzzled, wondering what could be the object of
such precautions; whereupon Don Antonio taking his hand passed it over
the bronze head and the whole table and the pedestal of jasper on
which it stood, and then said, "This head, Senor Don Quixote, has been
made and fabricated by one of the greatest magicians and wizards the
world ever saw, a Pole, I believe, by birth, and a pupil of the famous
Escotillo of whom such marvellous stories are told. He was here in
my house, and for a consideration of a thousand crowns that I gave him
he constructed this head, which has the property and virtue of
answering whatever questions are put to its ear. He observed the
points of the compass, he traced figures, he studied the stars, he
watched favourable moments, and at length brought it to the perfection
we shall see to-morrow, for on Fridays it is mute, and this being
Friday we must wait till the next day. In the interval your worship
may consider what you would like to ask it; and I know by experience
that in all its answers it tells the truth."
Don Quixote was amazed at the virtue and property of the head, and
was inclined to disbelieve Don Antonio; but seeing what a short time
he had to wait to test the matter, he did not choose to say anything
except that he thanked him for having revealed to him so mighty a
secret. They then quitted the room, Don Antonio locked the door, and
they repaired to the chamber where the rest of the gentlemen were
assembled. In the meantime Sancho had recounted to them several of the
adventures and accidents that had happened his master.
That afternoon they took Don Quixote out for a stroll, not in his
armour but in street costume, with a surcoat of tawny cloth upon
him, that at that season would have made ice itself sweat. Orders were
left with the servants to entertain Sancho so as not to let him
leave the house. Don Quixote was mounted, not on Rocinante, but upon a
tall mule of easy pace and handsomely caparisoned. They put the
surcoat on him, and on the back, without his perceiving it, they
stitched a parchment on which they wrote in large letters, "This is
Don Quixote of La Mancha." As they set out upon their excursion the
placard attracted the eyes of all who chanced to see him, and as
they read out, "This is Don Quixote of La Mancha," Don Quixote was
amazed to see how many people gazed at him, called him by his name,
and recognised him, and turning to Don Antonio, who rode at his
side, he observed to him, "Great are the privileges knight-errantry
involves, for it makes him who professes it known and famous in
every region of the earth; see, Don Antonio, even the very boys of
this city know me without ever having seen me."
"True, Senor Don Quixote," returned Don Antonio; "for as fire cannot
be hidden or kept secret, virtue cannot escape being recognised; and
that which is attained by the profession of arms shines
distinguished above all others."
It came to pass, however, that as Don Quixote was proceeding amid
the acclamations that have been described, a Castilian, reading the
inscription on his back, cried out in a loud voice, "The devil take
thee for a Don Quixote of La Mancha! What! art thou here, and not dead
of the countless drubbings that have fallen on thy ribs? Thou art mad;
and if thou wert so by thyself, and kept thyself within thy madness,
it would not be so bad; but thou hast the gift of making fools and
blockheads of all who have anything to do with thee or say to thee.
Why, look at these gentlemen bearing thee company! Get thee home,
blockhead, and see after thy affairs, and thy wife and children, and
give over these fooleries that are sapping thy brains and skimming
away thy wits."
"Go your own way, brother," said Don Antonio, "and don't offer
advice to those who don't ask you for it. Senor Don Quixote is in
his full senses, and we who bear him company are not fools; virtue
is to be honoured wherever it may be found; go, and bad luck to you,
and don't meddle where you are not wanted."
"By God, your worship is right," replied the Castilian; "for to
advise this good man is to kick against the pricks; still for all that
it fills me with pity that the sound wit they say the blockhead has in
everything should dribble away by the channel of his
knight-errantry; but may the bad luck your worship talks of follow
me and all my descendants, if, from this day forth, though I should
live longer than Methuselah, I ever give advice to anybody even if
he asks me for it."
The advice-giver took himself off, and they continued their
stroll; but so great was the press of the boys and people to read
the placard, that Don Antonio was forced to remove it as if he were
taking off something else.
Night came and they went home, and there was a ladies' dancing
party, for Don Antonio's wife, a lady of rank and gaiety, beauty and
wit, had invited some friends of hers to come and do honour to her
guest and amuse themselves with his strange delusions. Several of them
came, they supped sumptuously, the dance began at about ten o'clock.
Among the ladies were two of a mischievous and frolicsome turn, and,
though perfectly modest, somewhat free in playing tricks for
harmless diversion sake. These two were so indefatigable in taking Don
Quixote out to dance that they tired him down, not only in body but in
spirit. It was a sight to see the figure Don Quixote made, long, lank,
lean, and yellow, his garments clinging tight to him, ungainly, and
above all anything but agile. The gay ladies made secret love to
him, and he on his part secretly repelled them, but finding himself
hard pressed by their blandishments he lifted up his voice and
exclaimed, "Fugite, partes adversae! Leave me in peace, unwelcome
overtures; avaunt, with your desires, ladies, for she who is queen
of mine, the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso, suffers none but hers to
lead me captive and subdue me;" and so saying he sat down on the floor
in the middle of the room, tired out and broken down by all this
exertion in the dance.
Don Antonio directed him to be taken up bodily and carried to bed,
and the first that laid hold of him was Sancho, saying as he did so,
"In an evil hour you took to dancing, master mine; do you fancy all
mighty men of valour are dancers, and all knights-errant given to
capering? If you do, I can tell you you are mistaken; there's many a
man would rather undertake to kill a giant than cut a caper. If it had
been the shoe-fling you were at I could take your place, for I can
do the shoe-fling like a gerfalcon; but I'm no good at dancing."
With these and other observations Sancho set the whole ball-room
laughing, and then put his master to bed, covering him up well so that
he might sweat out any chill caught after his dancing.
The next day Don Antonio thought he might as well make trial of
the enchanted head, and with Don Quixote, Sancho, and two others,
friends of his, besides the two ladies that had tired out Don
Quixote at the ball, who had remained for the night with Don Antonio's
wife, he locked himself up in the chamber where the head was. He
explained to them the property it possessed and entrusted the secret
to them, telling them that now for the first time he was going to
try the virtue of the enchanted head; but except Don Antonio's two
friends no one else was privy to the mystery of the enchantment, and
if Don Antonio had not first revealed it to them they would have
been inevitably reduced to the same state of amazement as the rest, so
artfully and skilfully was it contrived.
The first to approach the ear of the head was Don Antonio himself,
and in a low voice but not so low as not to be audible to all, he said
to it, "Head, tell me by the virtue that lies in thee what am I at
this moment thinking of?"
The head, without any movement of the lips, answered in a clear
and distinct voice, so as to be heard by all, "I cannot judge of
All were thunderstruck at this, and all the more so as they saw that
there was nobody anywhere near the table or in the whole room that
could have answered. "How many of us are here?" asked Don Antonio once
more; and it was answered him in the same way softly, "Thou and thy
wife, with two friends of thine and two of hers, and a famous knight
called Don Quixote of La Mancha, and a squire of his, Sancho Panza
Now there was fresh astonishment; now everyone's hair was standing
on end with awe; and Don Antonio retiring from the head exclaimed,
"This suffices to show me that I have not been deceived by him who
sold thee to me, O sage head, talking head, answering head,
wonderful head! Let some one else go and put what question he likes to
And as women are commonly impulsive and inquisitive, the first to
come forward was one of the two friends of Don Antonio's wife, and her
question was, "Tell me, Head, what shall I do to be very beautiful?"
and the answer she got was, "Be very modest."
"I question thee no further," said the fair querist.
Her companion then came up and said, "I should like to know, Head,
whether my husband loves me or not;" the answer given to her was,
"Think how he uses thee, and thou mayest guess;" and the married
lady went off saying, "That answer did not need a question; for of
course the treatment one receives shows the disposition of him from
whom it is received."
Then one of Don Antonio's two friends advanced and asked it, "Who am
I?" "Thou knowest," was the answer. "That is not what I ask thee,"
said the gentleman, "but to tell me if thou knowest me." "Yes, I
know thee, thou art Don Pedro Noriz," was the reply.
"I do not seek to know more," said the gentleman, "for this is
enough to convince me, O Head, that thou knowest everything;" and as
he retired the other friend came forward and asked it, "Tell me, Head,
what are the wishes of my eldest son?"
"I have said already," was the answer, "that I cannot judge of
wishes; however, I can tell thee the wish of thy son is to bury thee."
"That's 'what I see with my eyes I point out with my finger,'"
said the gentleman, "so I ask no more."
Don Antonio's wife came up and said, "I know not what to ask thee,
Head; I would only seek to know of thee if I shall have many years
of enjoyment of my good husband;" and the answer she received was,
"Thou shalt, for his vigour and his temperate habits promise many
years of life, which by their intemperance others so often cut short."
Then Don Quixote came forward and said, "Tell me, thou that
answerest, was that which I describe as having happened to me in the
cave of Montesinos the truth or a dream? Will Sancho's whipping be
accomplished without fail? Will the disenchantment of Dulcinea be
"As to the question of the cave," was the reply, "there is much to
be said; there is something of both in it. Sancho's whipping will
proceed leisurely. The disenchantment of Dulcinea will attain its
"I seek to know no more," said Don Quixote; "let me but see Dulcinea
disenchanted, and I will consider that all the good fortune I could
wish for has come upon me all at once."
The last questioner was Sancho, and his questions were, "Head, shall
I by any chance have another government? Shall I ever escape from
the hard life of a squire? Shall I get back to see my wife and
children?" To which the answer came, "Thou shalt govern in thy
house; and if thou returnest to it thou shalt see thy wife and
children; and on ceasing to serve thou shalt cease to be a squire."
"Good, by God!" said Sancho Panza; "I could have told myself that;
the prophet Perogrullo could have said no more."
"What answer wouldst thou have, beast?" said Don Quixote; "is it not
enough that the replies this head has given suit the questions put
"Yes, it is enough," said Sancho; "but I should have liked it to
have made itself plainer and told me more."
The questions and answers came to an end here, but not the wonder
with which all were filled, except Don Antonio's two friends who
were in the secret. This Cide Hamete Benengeli thought fit to reveal
at once, not to keep the world in suspense, fancying that the head had
some strange magical mystery in it. He says, therefore, that on the
model of another head, the work of an image maker, which he had seen
at Madrid, Don Antonio made this one at home for his own amusement and
to astonish ignorant people; and its mechanism was as follows. The
table was of wood painted and varnished to imitate jasper, and the
pedestal on which it stood was of the same material, with four eagles'
claws projecting from it to support the weight more steadily. The
head, which resembled a bust or figure of a Roman emperor, and was
coloured like bronze, was hollow throughout, as was the table, into
which it was fitted so exactly that no trace of the joining was
visible. The pedestal of the table was also hollow and communicated
with the throat and neck of the head, and the whole was in
communication with another room underneath the chamber in which the
head stood. Through the entire cavity in the pedestal, table, throat
and neck of the bust or figure, there passed a tube of tin carefully
adjusted and concealed from sight. In the room below corresponding
to the one above was placed the person who was to answer, with his
mouth to the tube, and the voice, as in an ear-trumpet, passed from
above downwards, and from below upwards, the words coming clearly
and distinctly; it was impossible, thus, to detect the trick. A nephew
of Don Antonio's, a smart sharp-witted student, was the answerer,
and as he had been told beforehand by his uncle who the persons were
that would come with him that day into the chamber where the head was,
it was an easy matter for him to answer the first question at once and
correctly; the others he answered by guess-work, and, being clever,
cleverly. Cide Hamete adds that this marvellous contrivance stood
for some ten or twelve days; but that, as it became noised abroad
through the city that he had in his house an enchanted head that
answered all who asked questions of it, Don Antonio, fearing it
might come to the ears of the watchful sentinels of our faith,
explained the matter to the inquisitors, who commanded him to break it
up and have done with it, lest the ignorant vulgar should be
scandalised. By Don Quixote, however, and by Sancho the head was still
held to be an enchanted one, and capable of answering questions,
though more to Don Quixote's satisfaction than Sancho's.
The gentlemen of the city, to gratify Don Antonio and also to do the
honours to Don Quixote, and give him an opportunity of displaying
his folly, made arrangements for a tilting at the ring in six days
from that time, which, however, for reason that will be mentioned
hereafter, did not take place.
Don Quixote took a fancy to stroll about the city quietly and on
foot, for he feared that if he went on horseback the boys would follow
him; so he and Sancho and two servants that Don Antonio gave him set
out for a walk. Thus it came to pass that going along one of the
streets Don Quixote lifted up his eyes and saw written in very large
letters over a door, "Books printed here," at which he was vastly
pleased, for until then he had never seen a printing office, and he
was curious to know what it was like. He entered with all his
following, and saw them drawing sheets in one place, correcting in
another, setting up type here, revising there; in short all the work
that is to be seen in great printing offices. He went up to one case
and asked what they were about there; the workmen told him, he watched
them with wonder, and passed on. He approached one man, among
others, and asked him what he was doing. The workman replied,
"Senor, this gentleman here" (pointing to a man of prepossessing
appearance and a certain gravity of look) "has translated an Italian
book into our Spanish tongue, and I am setting it up in type for the
"What is the title of the book?" asked Don Quixote; to which the
author replied, "Senor, in Italian the book is called Le Bagatelle."
"And what does Le Bagatelle import in our Spanish?" asked Don
"Le Bagatelle," said the author, "is as though we should say in
Spanish Los Juguetes; but though the book is humble in name it has
good solid matter in it."
"I," said Don Quixote, "have some little smattering of Italian,
and I plume myself on singing some of Ariosto's stanzas; but tell
me, senor- I do not say this to test your ability, but merely out of
curiosity- have you ever met with the word pignatta in your book?"
"Yes, often," said the author.
"And how do you render that in Spanish?"
"How should I render it," returned the author, "but by olla?"
"Body o' me," exclaimed Don Quixote, "what a proficient you are in
the Italian language! I would lay a good wager that where they say
in Italian piace you say in Spanish place, and where they say piu
you say mas, and you translate su by arriba and giu by abajo."
"I translate them so of course," said the author, "for those are
their proper equivalents."
"I would venture to swear," said Don Quixote, "that your worship
is not known in the world, which always begrudges their reward to rare
wits and praiseworthy labours. What talents lie wasted there! What
genius thrust away into corners! What worth left neglected! Still it
seems to me that translation from one language into another, if it
be not from the queens of languages, the Greek and the Latin, is
like looking at Flemish tapestries on the wrong side; for though the
figures are visible, they are full of threads that make them
indistinct, and they do not show with the smoothness and brightness of
the right side; and translation from easy languages argues neither
ingenuity nor command of words, any more than transcribing or
copying out one document from another. But I do not mean by this to
draw the inference that no credit is to be allowed for the work of
translating, for a man may employ himself in ways worse and less
profitable to himself. This estimate does not include two famous
translators, Doctor Cristobal de Figueroa, in his Pastor Fido, and Don
Juan de Jauregui, in his Aminta, wherein by their felicity they
leave it in doubt which is the translation and which the original. But
tell me, are you printing this book at your own risk, or have you sold
the copyright to some bookseller?"
"I print at my own risk," said the author, "and I expect to make a
thousand ducats at least by this first edition, which is to be of
two thousand copies that will go off in a twinkling at six reals
"A fine calculation you are making!" said Don Quixote; "it is
plain you don't know the ins and outs of the printers, and how they
play into one another's hands. I promise you when you find yourself
saddled with two thousand copies you will feel so sore that it will
astonish you, particularly if the book is a little out of the common
and not in any way highly spiced."
"What!" said the author, "would your worship, then, have me give
it to a bookseller who will give three maravedis for the copyright and
think he is doing me a favour? I do not print my books to win fame
in the world, for I am known in it already by my works; I want to make
money, without which reputation is not worth a rap."
"God send your worship good luck," said Don Quixote; and he moved on
to another case, where he saw them correcting a sheet of a book with
the title of "Light of the Soul;" noticing it he observed, "Books like
this, though there are many of the kind, are the ones that deserve
to be printed, for many are the sinners in these days, and lights
unnumbered are needed for all that are in darkness."
He passed on, and saw they were also correcting another book, and
when he asked its title they told him it was called, "The Second
Part of the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha," by one of
"I have heard of this book already," said Don Quixote, "and verily
and on my conscience I thought it had been by this time burned to
ashes as a meddlesome intruder; but its Martinmas will come to it as
it does to every pig; for fictions have the more merit and charm about
them the more nearly they approach the truth or what looks like it;
and true stories, the truer they are the better they are;" and so
saying he walked out of the printing office with a certain amount of
displeasure in his looks. That same day Don Antonio arranged to take
him to see the galleys that lay at the beach, whereat Sancho was in
high delight, as he had never seen any all his life. Don Antonio
sent word to the commandant of the galleys that he intended to bring
his guest, the famous Don Quixote of La Mancha, of whom the commandant
and all the citizens had already heard, that afternoon to see them;
and what happened on board of them will be told in the next chapter.