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CHAPTER II

WHICH TREATS OF THE FIRST SALLY THE INGENIOUS DON QUIXOTE MADE FROM HOME

These preliminaries settled, he did not care to put off any longer
the execution of his design, urged on to it by the thought of all
the world was losing by his delay, seeing what wrongs he intended to
right, grievances to redress, injustices to repair, abuses to
remove, and duties to discharge. So, without giving notice of his
intention to anyone, and without anybody seeing him, one morning
before the dawning of the day (which was one of the hottest of the
month of July) he donned his suit of armour, mounted Rocinante with
his patched-up helmet on, braced his buckler, took his lance, and by
the back door of the yard sallied forth upon the plain in the
highest contentment and satisfaction at seeing with what ease he had
made a beginning with his grand purpose. But scarcely did he find
himself upon the open plain, when a terrible thought struck him, one
all but enough to make him abandon the enterprise at the very
outset. It occurred to him that he had not been dubbed a knight, and
that according to the law of chivalry he neither could nor ought to
bear arms against any knight; and that even if he had been, still he
ought, as a novice knight, to wear white armour, without a device upon
the shield until by his prowess he had earned one. These reflections
made him waver in his purpose, but his craze being stronger than any
reasoning, he made up his mind to have himself dubbed a knight by
the first one he came across, following the example of others in the
same case, as he had read in the books that brought him to this
pass. As for white armour, he resolved, on the first opportunity, to
scour his until it was whiter than an ermine; and so comforting
himself he pursued his way, taking that which his horse chose, for
in this he believed lay the essence of adventures.

Thus setting out, our new-fledged adventurer paced along, talking to
himself and saying, "Who knows but that in time to come, when the
veracious history of my famous deeds is made known, the sage who
writes it, when he has to set forth my first sally in the early
morning, will do it after this fashion? 'Scarce had the rubicund
Apollo spread o'er the face of the broad spacious earth the golden
threads of his bright hair, scarce had the little birds of painted
plumage attuned their notes to hail with dulcet and mellifluous
harmony the coming of the rosy Dawn, that, deserting the soft couch of
her jealous spouse, was appearing to mortals at the gates and
balconies of the Manchegan horizon, when the renowned knight Don
Quixote of La Mancha, quitting the lazy down, mounted his celebrated
steed Rocinante and began to traverse the ancient and famous Campo
de Montiel;'" which in fact he was actually traversing. "Happy the
age, happy the time," he continued, "in which shall be made known my
deeds of fame, worthy to be moulded in brass, carved in marble, limned
in pictures, for a memorial for ever. And thou, O sage magician,
whoever thou art, to whom it shall fall to be the chronicler of this
wondrous history, forget not, I entreat thee, my good Rocinante, the
constant companion of my ways and wanderings." Presently he broke
out again, as if he were love-stricken in earnest, "O Princess
Dulcinea, lady of this captive heart, a grievous wrong hast thou
done me to drive me forth with scorn, and with inexorable obduracy
banish me from the presence of thy beauty. O lady, deign to hold in
remembrance this heart, thy vassal, that thus in anguish pines for
love of thee."

So he went on stringing together these and other absurdities, all in
the style of those his books had taught him, imitating their
language as well as he could; and all the while he rode so slowly
and the sun mounted so rapidly and with such fervour that it was
enough to melt his brains if he had any. Nearly all day he travelled
without anything remarkable happening to him, at which he was in
despair, for he was anxious to encounter some one at once upon whom to
try the might of his strong arm.

Writers there are who say the first adventure he met with was that
of Puerto Lapice; others say it was that of the windmills; but what
I have ascertained on this point, and what I have found written in the
annals of La Mancha, is that he was on the road all day, and towards
nightfall his hack and he found themselves dead tired and hungry,
when, looking all around to see if he could discover any castle or
shepherd's shanty where he might refresh himself and relieve his
sore wants, he perceived not far out of his road an inn, which was
as welcome as a star guiding him to the portals, if not the palaces,
of his redemption; and quickening his pace he reached it just as night
was setting in. At the door were standing two young women, girls of
the district as they call them, on their way to Seville with some
carriers who had chanced to halt that night at the inn; and as, happen
what might to our adventurer, everything he saw or imaged seemed to
him to be and to happen after the fashion of what he read of, the
moment he saw the inn he pictured it to himself as a castle with its
four turrets and pinnacles of shining silver, not forgetting the
drawbridge and moat and all the belongings usually ascribed to castles
of the sort. To this inn, which to him seemed a castle, he advanced,
and at a short distance from it he checked Rocinante, hoping that some
dwarf would show himself upon the battlements, and by sound of trumpet
give notice that a knight was approaching the castle. But seeing
that they were slow about it, and that Rocinante was in a hurry to
reach the stable, he made for the inn door, and perceived the two
gay damsels who were standing there, and who seemed to him to be two
fair maidens or lovely ladies taking their ease at the castle gate.

At this moment it so happened that a swineherd who was going through
the stubbles collecting a drove of pigs (for, without any apology,
that is what they are called) gave a blast of his horn to bring them
together, and forthwith it seemed to Don Quixote to be what he was
expecting, the signal of some dwarf announcing his arrival; and so
with prodigious satisfaction he rode up to the inn and to the
ladies, who, seeing a man of this sort approaching in full armour
and with lance and buckler, were turning in dismay into the inn,
when Don Quixote, guessing their fear by their flight, raising his
pasteboard visor, disclosed his dry dusty visage, and with courteous
bearing and gentle voice addressed them, "Your ladyships need not
fly or fear any rudeness, for that it belongs not to the order of
knighthood which I profess to offer to anyone, much less to highborn
maidens as your appearance proclaims you to be." The girls were
looking at him and straining their eyes to make out the features which
the clumsy visor obscured, but when they heard themselves called
maidens, a thing so much out of their line, they could not restrain
their laughter, which made Don Quixote wax indignant, and say,
"Modesty becomes the fair, and moreover laughter that has little cause
is great silliness; this, however, I say not to pain or anger you, for
my desire is none other than to serve you."

The incomprehensible language and the unpromising looks of our
cavalier only increased the ladies' laughter, and that increased his
irritation, and matters might have gone farther if at that moment
the landlord had not come out, who, being a very fat man, was a very
peaceful one. He, seeing this grotesque figure clad in armour that did
not match any more than his saddle, bridle, lance, buckler, or
corselet, was not at all indisposed to join the damsels in their
manifestations of amusement; but, in truth, standing in awe of such
a complicated armament, he thought it best to speak him fairly, so
he said, "Senor Caballero, if your worship wants lodging, bating the
bed (for there is not one in the inn) there is plenty of everything
else here." Don Quixote, observing the respectful bearing of the
Alcaide of the fortress (for so innkeeper and inn seemed in his eyes),
made answer, "Sir Castellan, for me anything will suffice, for

'My armour is my only wear,
My only rest the fray.'"

The host fancied he called him Castellan because he took him for a
"worthy of Castile," though he was in fact an Andalusian, and one from
the strand of San Lucar, as crafty a thief as Cacus and as full of
tricks as a student or a page. "In that case," said he,

"'Your bed is on the flinty rock,
Your sleep to watch alway;'

and if so, you may dismount and safely reckon upon any quantity of
sleeplessness under this roof for a twelvemonth, not to say for a
single night." So saying, he advanced to hold the stirrup for Don
Quixote, who got down with great difficulty and exertion (for he had
not broken his fast all day), and then charged the host to take
great care of his horse, as he was the best bit of flesh that ever ate
bread in this world. The landlord eyed him over but did not find him
as good as Don Quixote said, nor even half as good; and putting him up
in the stable, he returned to see what might be wanted by his guest,
whom the damsels, who had by this time made their peace with him, were
now relieving of his armour. They had taken off his breastplate and
backpiece, but they neither knew nor saw how to open his gorget or
remove his make-shift helmet, for he had fastened it with green
ribbons, which, as there was no untying the knots, required to be cut.
This, however, he would not by any means consent to, so he remained
all the evening with his helmet on, the drollest and oddest figure
that can be imagined; and while they were removing his armour,
taking the baggages who were about it for ladies of high degree
belonging to the castle, he said to them with great sprightliness:

Oh, never, surely, was there knight
So served by hand of dame,
As served was he, Don Quixote hight,
When from his town he came;
With maidens waiting on himself,
Princesses on his hack-

-or Rocinante, for that, ladies mine, is my horse's name, and Don
Quixote of La Mancha is my own; for though I had no intention of
declaring myself until my achievements in your service and honour
had made me known, the necessity of adapting that old ballad of
Lancelot to the present occasion has given you the knowledge of my
name altogether prematurely. A time, however, will come for your
ladyships to command and me to obey, and then the might of my arm will
show my desire to serve you."

The girls, who were not used to hearing rhetoric of this sort, had
nothing to say in reply; they only asked him if he wanted anything
to eat. "I would gladly eat a bit of something," said Don Quixote,
"for I feel it would come very seasonably." The day happened to be a
Friday, and in the whole inn there was nothing but some pieces of
the fish they call in Castile "abadejo," in Andalusia "bacallao,"
and in some places "curadillo," and in others "troutlet;" so they
asked him if he thought he could eat troutlet, for there was no
other fish to give him. "If there be troutlets enough," said Don
Quixote, "they will be the same thing as a trout; for it is all one to
me whether I am given eight reals in small change or a piece of eight;
moreover, it may be that these troutlets are like veal, which is
better than beef, or kid, which is better than goat. But whatever it
be let it come quickly, for the burden and pressure of arms cannot
be borne without support to the inside." They laid a table for him
at the door of the inn for the sake of the air, and the host brought
him a portion of ill-soaked and worse cooked stockfish, and a piece of
bread as black and mouldy as his own armour; but a laughable sight
it was to see him eating, for having his helmet on and the beaver
up, he could not with his own hands put anything into his mouth unless
some one else placed it there, and this service one of the ladies
rendered him. But to give him anything to drink was impossible, or
would have been so had not the landlord bored a reed, and putting
one end in his mouth poured the wine into him through the other; all
which he bore with patience rather than sever the ribbons of his
helmet.

While this was going on there came up to the inn a sowgelder, who,
as he approached, sounded his reed pipe four or five times, and
thereby completely convinced Don Quixote that he was in some famous
castle, and that they were regaling him with music, and that the
stockfish was trout, the bread the whitest, the wenches ladies, and
the landlord the castellan of the castle; and consequently he held
that his enterprise and sally had been to some purpose. But still it
distressed him to think he had not been dubbed a knight, for it was
plain to him he could not lawfully engage in any adventure without
receiving the order of knighthood.




Don Quixote by Migeul de Cervantes
Category:
Romance Literature - Spanish
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