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CHAPTER IV

OF WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR KNIGHT WHEN HE LEFT THE INN

Day was dawning when Don Quixote quitted the inn, so happy, so
gay, so exhilarated at finding himself now dubbed a knight, that his
joy was like to burst his horse-girths. However, recalling the
advice of his host as to the requisites he ought to carry with him,
especially that referring to money and shirts, he determined to go
home and provide himself with all, and also with a squire, for he
reckoned upon securing a farm-labourer, a neighbour of his, a poor man
with a family, but very well qualified for the office of squire to a
knight. With this object he turned his horse's head towards his
village, and Rocinante, thus reminded of his old quarters, stepped out
so briskly that he hardly seemed to tread the earth.

He had not gone far, when out of a thicket on his right there seemed
to come feeble cries as of some one in distress, and the instant he
heard them he exclaimed, "Thanks be to heaven for the favour it
accords me, that it so soon offers me an opportunity of fulfilling the
obligation I have undertaken, and gathering the fruit of my
ambition. These cries, no doubt, come from some man or woman in want
of help, and needing my aid and protection;" and wheeling, he turned
Rocinante in the direction whence the cries seemed to proceed. He
had gone but a few paces into the wood, when he saw a mare tied to
an oak, and tied to another, and stripped from the waist upwards, a
youth of about fifteen years of age, from whom the cries came. Nor
were they without cause, for a lusty farmer was flogging him with a
belt and following up every blow with scoldings and commands,
repeating, "Your mouth shut and your eyes open!" while the youth
made answer, "I won't do it again, master mine; by God's passion I
won't do it again, and I'll take more care of the flock another time."

Seeing what was going on, Don Quixote said in an angry voice,
"Discourteous knight, it ill becomes you to assail one who cannot
defend himself; mount your steed and take your lance" (for there was a
lance leaning against the oak to which the mare was tied), "and I will
make you know that you are behaving as a coward." The farmer, seeing
before him this figure in full armour brandishing a lance over his
head, gave himself up for dead, and made answer meekly, "Sir Knight,
this youth that I am chastising is my servant, employed by me to watch
a flock of sheep that I have hard by, and he is so careless that I
lose one every day, and when I punish him for his carelessness and
knavery he says I do it out of niggardliness, to escape paying him the
wages I owe him, and before God, and on my soul, he lies."

"Lies before me, base clown!" said Don Quixote. "By the sun that
shines on us I have a mind to run you through with this lance. Pay him
at once without another word; if not, by the God that rules us I
will make an end of you, and annihilate you on the spot; release him
instantly."

The farmer hung his head, and without a word untied his servant,
of whom Don Quixote asked how much his master owed him.

He replied, nine months at seven reals a month. Don Quixote added it
up, found that it came to sixty-three reals, and told the farmer to
pay it down immediately, if he did not want to die for it.

The trembling clown replied that as he lived and by the oath he
had sworn (though he had not sworn any) it was not so much; for
there were to be taken into account and deducted three pairs of
shoes he had given him, and a real for two blood-lettings when he
was sick.

"All that is very well," said Don Quixote; "but let the shoes and
the blood-lettings stand as a setoff against the blows you have
given him without any cause; for if he spoiled the leather of the
shoes you paid for, you have damaged that of his body, and if the
barber took blood from him when he was sick, you have drawn it when he
was sound; so on that score he owes you nothing."

"The difficulty is, Sir Knight, that I have no money here; let
Andres come home with me, and I will pay him all, real by real."

"I go with him!" said the youth. "Nay, God forbid! No, senor, not
for the world; for once alone with me, he would ray me like a Saint
Bartholomew."

"He will do nothing of the kind," said Don Quixote; "I have only
to command, and he will obey me; and as he has sworn to me by the
order of knighthood which he has received, I leave him free, and I
guarantee the payment."

"Consider what you are saying, senor," said the youth; "this
master of mine is not a knight, nor has he received any order of
knighthood; for he is Juan Haldudo the Rich, of Quintanar."

"That matters little," replied Don Quixote; "there may be Haldudos
knights; moreover, everyone is the son of his works."

"That is true," said Andres; "but this master of mine- of what works
is he the son, when he refuses me the wages of my sweat and labour?"

"I do not refuse, brother Andres," said the farmer, "be good
enough to come along with me, and I swear by all the orders of
knighthood there are in the world to pay you as I have agreed, real by
real, and perfumed."

"For the perfumery I excuse you," said Don Quixote; "give it to
him in reals, and I shall be satisfied; and see that you do as you
have sworn; if not, by the same oath I swear to come back and hunt you
out and punish you; and I shall find you though you should lie
closer than a lizard. And if you desire to know who it is lays this
command upon you, that you be more firmly bound to obey it, know
that I am the valorous Don Quixote of La Mancha, the undoer of
wrongs and injustices; and so, God be with you, and keep in mind
what you have promised and sworn under those penalties that have
been already declared to you."

So saying, he gave Rocinante the spur and was soon out of reach. The
farmer followed him with his eyes, and when he saw that he had cleared
the wood and was no longer in sight, he turned to his boy Andres,
and said, "Come here, my son, I want to pay you what I owe you, as
that undoer of wrongs has commanded me."

"My oath on it," said Andres, "your worship will be well advised
to obey the command of that good knight- may he live a thousand years-
for, as he is a valiant and just judge, by Roque, if you do not pay
me, he will come back and do as he said."

"My oath on it, too," said the farmer; "but as I have a strong
affection for you, I want to add to the debt in order to add to the
payment;" and seizing him by the arm, he tied him up again, and gave
him such a flogging that he left him for dead.

"Now, Master Andres," said the farmer, "call on the undoer of
wrongs; you will find he won't undo that, though I am not sure that
I have quite done with you, for I have a good mind to flay you alive."
But at last he untied him, and gave him leave to go look for his judge
in order to put the sentence pronounced into execution.

Andres went off rather down in the mouth, swearing he would go to
look for the valiant Don Quixote of La Mancha and tell him exactly
what had happened, and that all would have to be repaid him sevenfold;
but for all that, he went off weeping, while his master stood
laughing.

Thus did the valiant Don Quixote right that wrong, and, thoroughly
satisfied with what had taken place, as he considered he had made a
very happy and noble beginning with his knighthood, he took the road
towards his village in perfect self-content, saying in a low voice,
"Well mayest thou this day call thyself fortunate above all on
earth, O Dulcinea del Toboso, fairest of the fair! since it has fallen
to thy lot to hold subject and submissive to thy full will and
pleasure a knight so renowned as is and will be Don Quixote of La
Mancha, who, as all the world knows, yesterday received the order of
knighthood, and hath to-day righted the greatest wrong and grievance
that ever injustice conceived and cruelty perpetrated: who hath to-day
plucked the rod from the hand of yonder ruthless oppressor so wantonly
lashing that tender child."

He now came to a road branching in four directions, and
immediately he was reminded of those cross-roads where
knights-errant used to stop to consider which road they should take.
In imitation of them he halted for a while, and after having deeply
considered it, he gave Rocinante his head, submitting his own will
to that of his hack, who followed out his first intention, which was
to make straight for his own stable. After he had gone about two miles
Don Quixote perceived a large party of people, who, as afterwards
appeared, were some Toledo traders, on their way to buy silk at
Murcia. There were six of them coming along under their sunshades,
with four servants mounted, and three muleteers on foot. Scarcely
had Don Quixote descried them when the fancy possessed him that this
must be some new adventure; and to help him to imitate as far as he
could those passages he had read of in his books, here seemed to
come one made on purpose, which he resolved to attempt. So with a
lofty bearing and determination he fixed himself firmly in his
stirrups, got his lance ready, brought his buckler before his
breast, and planting himself in the middle of the road, stood
waiting the approach of these knights-errant, for such he now
considered and held them to be; and when they had come near enough
to see and hear, he exclaimed with a haughty gesture, "All the world
stand, unless all the world confess that in all the world there is
no maiden fairer than the Empress of La Mancha, the peerless
Dulcinea del Toboso."

The traders halted at the sound of this language and the sight of
the strange figure that uttered it, and from both figure and
language at once guessed the craze of their owner; they wished,
however, to learn quietly what was the object of this confession
that was demanded of them, and one of them, who was rather fond of a
joke and was very sharp-witted, said to him, "Sir Knight, we do not
know who this good lady is that you speak of; show her to us, for,
if she be of such beauty as you suggest, with all our hearts and
without any pressure we will confess the truth that is on your part
required of us."

"If I were to show her to you," replied Don Quixote, "what merit
would you have in confessing a truth so manifest? The essential
point is that without seeing her you must believe, confess, affirm,
swear, and defend it; else ye have to do with me in battle,
ill-conditioned, arrogant rabble that ye are; and come ye on, one by
one as the order of knighthood requires, or all together as is the
custom and vile usage of your breed, here do I bide and await you
relying on the justice of the cause I maintain."

"Sir Knight," replied the trader, "I entreat your worship in the
name of this present company of princes, that, to save us from
charging our consciences with the confession of a thing we have
never seen or heard of, and one moreover so much to the prejudice of
the Empresses and Queens of the Alcarria and Estremadura, your worship
will be pleased to show us some portrait of this lady, though it be no
bigger than a grain of wheat; for by the thread one gets at the
ball, and in this way we shall be satisfied and easy, and you will
be content and pleased; nay, I believe we are already so far agreed
with you that even though her portrait should show her blind of one
eye, and distilling vermilion and sulphur from the other, we would
nevertheless, to gratify your worship, say all in her favour that
you desire."

"She distils nothing of the kind, vile rabble," said Don Quixote,
burning with rage, "nothing of the kind, I say, only ambergris and
civet in cotton; nor is she one-eyed or humpbacked, but straighter
than a Guadarrama spindle: but ye must pay for the blasphemy ye have
uttered against beauty like that of my lady."

And so saying, he charged with levelled lance against the one who
had spoken, with such fury and fierceness that, if luck had not
contrived that Rocinante should stumble midway and come down, it would
have gone hard with the rash trader. Down went Rocinante, and over
went his master, rolling along the ground for some distance; and
when he tried to rise he was unable, so encumbered was he with
lance, buckler, spurs, helmet, and the weight of his old armour; and
all the while he was struggling to get up he kept saying, "Fly not,
cowards and caitiffs! stay, for not by my fault, but my horse's, am
I stretched here."

One of the muleteers in attendance, who could not have had much good
nature in him, hearing the poor prostrate man blustering in this
style, was unable to refrain from giving him an answer on his ribs;
and coming up to him he seized his lance, and having broken it in
pieces, with one of them he began so to belabour our Don Quixote that,
notwithstanding and in spite of his armour, he milled him like a
measure of wheat. His masters called out not to lay on so hard and
to leave him alone, but the muleteers blood was up, and he did not
care to drop the game until he had vented the rest of his wrath, and
gathering up the remaining fragments of the lance he finished with a
discharge upon the unhappy victim, who all through the storm of sticks
that rained on him never ceased threatening heaven, and earth, and the
brigands, for such they seemed to him. At last the muleteer was tired,
and the traders continued their journey, taking with them matter for
talk about the poor fellow who had been cudgelled. He when he found
himself alone made another effort to rise; but if he was unable when
whole and sound, how was he to rise after having been thrashed and
well-nigh knocked to pieces? And yet he esteemed himself fortunate, as
it seemed to him that this was a regular knight-errant's mishap, and
entirely, he considered, the fault of his horse. However, battered
in body as he was, to rise was beyond his power.




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