Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616). Don Quixote, Part 1.
The First Part
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.
II. Of the First Sally That Don Quixote Made to Seek Adventures
THINGS being thus ordered, he would defer the execution of his designs no longer, being spurred on the more vehemently by the want which he esteemed his delays wrought in the world, according to the wrongs that he resolved to right, the harms he meant to redress, the excesses he would amend, the abuses that he would better, and the debts he would satisfy. And therefore, without acquainting any living creature with his intentions, he, unseen of any, upon a certain morning, somewhat before the day (being one of the warmest of July), armed himself cap-a-pie, mounted on Rozinante, laced on his ill-contrived helmet, embraced his target, took his lance, and by a postern door of his base-court issued out to the field, marvellous jocund and content to see with what facility he had commenced his good desires. But scarce had he sallied to the fields, when he was suddenly assaulted by a terrible thought, and such a one as did well-nigh overthrow his former good purposes; which was, he remembered he was not yet dubbed knight, and therefore, by the laws of knighthood, neither could nor ought to combat with any knight: and though he were one, yet ought he to wear white armour like a new knight, without any device in his shield until he did win it by force of arms.
These thoughts did make him stagger in his purposes; but his follies prevailing more than any other reason, he purposed to cause himself to be knighted by the first he met, to the imitation of many others that did the same, as he had read in the books which distracted him. As touching white armour, he resolved, with the first opportunity, to scour his own so well, that they should rest whiter than ermines. And thus he pacified his mind and prosecuted his journey, without choosing any other way than that which his horse pleased, believing that therein consisted the vigour of knightly adventures. Our burnished adventurer, travelling thus onward, did parley with himself in this manner: ‘Who doubts, in the ensuing ages, when the true history of my famous acts shall come to light, but that the wise man who shall write it, will begin it, when he comes to declare this my first sally so early in the morning, after this manner?—“Scarce had the ruddy Apollo spread over the face of the vast and spacious earth the golden twists of his beautiful hairs, and scarce had the little enamelled birds with their naked tongues saluted with sweet and mellifluous harmony the arrival of rosy Aurora, when, abandoning her jealous husband’s soft couch, she shows herself to mortal wights through the gates and windows of the Manchegall horizon; when the famous knight, Don Quixote of the Mancha, abandoning the slothful plumes, did mount upon his renowned horse Rozinante, and began to travel through the ancient and known fields of Montiel”’ (as indeed he did). And following still on with his discourse, he said: ‘Oh, happy the age, and fortunate the time, wherein my famous feats shall be revealed, feats worthy to be graven in brass, carved in marble, and delivered with most curious art in tables, for a future instruction and memory. And, thou wise enchanter, whosoever thou beest, whom it shall concern to be the chronicler of this strange history, I desire thee not to forget my good horse Rozinante, mine eternal and inseparable companion in all my journeys and courses.’ And then, as if he were verily enamoured, he said: ‘O Princess Dulcinea! lady of this captive heart! much wrong hast thou done me by dismissing me, and reproaching me with the rigorous decree and commandment, not to appear before thy beauty. I pray thee, sweet lady, deign to remember thee of this poor subjected heart, that for thy love suffers so many tortures!’ And with these words he inserted a thousand other ravings, all after the same manner that his books taught him, imitating as near as he could their very phrase and language, and did ride therewithal so slow a pace, and the sun did mount so swiftly, and with so great heat, as it was sufficient to melt his brains, if he had had any left.
He travelled almost all that day without encountering anything worthy the recital, which made him to fret for anger; for he desired to encounter presently some one upon whom he might make trial of his invincible strength. Some authors write that his first adventure was that of the Lapicean straits; others, that of the Windmills: but what I could only find out in this affair, and which I have found written in the annals of the Mancha, is that he travelled all that day long, and at night both he and his horse were tired, and marvelously pressed by hunger; and, looking about him on every side to see whether he could discover any castle or sheepfold wherein he might retire himself for that night, and remedy his wants, he perceived an inn near unto the highway wherein he travelled, which was as welcome a sight to him as if he had seen a star that did address him to the porch, if not to the palace, of his redemption. Then, spurring his horse, he hied all he might towards it, and arrived much about nightfall. There stood by chance at the inn door two young women, adventurers likewise, which travelled toward Seville with certain carriers, and did by chance take up their lodging in that inn the same evening; and, forasmuch as our knight-errant esteemed all which he thought, saw, or imagined, was done or did really pass in the very same form as he had read the like in his books, forthwith, as soon as he espied the vent, he feigned to himself that it was a castle with four turrets, whereof the pinnacles were of glistening silver, without omitting the drawbridge, deep fosse, and other adherents belonging to the like places. And approaching by little and little to the vent, when he drew near to it, checking Rozinante with the bridle, he rested a while to see whether any dwarf would mount on the battlements to give warning with the sound of a trumpet how some knight did approach the castle; but seeing they stayed so long, and also, that Rozinante kept a coil to go to his stable, he went to the inn door, and there beheld the two loose baggages that stood at it, whom he presently supposed to be two beautiful damsels or lovely ladies, that did solace themselves before the castle gates. And in this space it befel by chance, that a certain swineherd, as he gathered together his hogs, blew the horn whereat they are wont to come together; and instantly Don Quixote imagined it was what he desired, to wit, some dwarf who gave notice of his arrival; and therefore, with marvellous satisfaction of mind he approached to the inn and ladies; who beholding one armed in that manner to draw so near, with his lance and target they made much haste, being greatly affrighted, to get to their lodging. But Don Quixote perceiving their fear by their flight, lifting up his pasted beaver, and discovering his withered and dusty countenance, did accost them with gentle demeanour and grave words in this manner: ‘Let not your ladyships flee, nor fear any outrage; for to the order of knighthood which I do profess, it toucheth nor appertaineth not to wrong anybody, and least of all such worthy damsels as your presence denote you to be.’ The wenches looked on him very earnestly, and did search with their eyes for the visage, which his ill-fashioned beaver did conceal; but when they heard themselves termed damsels, a thing so far from their profession, they could not contain their laughter, which was so loud, as Don Quixote waxed ashamed thereat; and therefore said to them: ‘Modesty is a comely ornament of the beautiful, and the excessive laughter that springs from a light occasion must be reputed great folly. But I do not object this unto you to make you the more ashamed, or that you should take it in ill part; for my desire is none other than to do you all the honour and service I may.’ This he spake unto them in such uncouth words as they could not understand him, which was an occasion, joined with his own uncomeliness, to increase their laughter and his wrath, which would have passed the bounds of reason, if the innkeeper had not come out at the instant, being a man who, by reason of his exceeding fatness, must needs have been of a very peaceable condition; how, beholding that counterfeit figure, all armed in so unsuitable armour as were his bridle, lance, target, and corslet, was very near to have kept the damsels company in the pleasant shows of his merriment, but fearing in effect the machina and bulk contrived of so various furnitures, he determined to speak him fairly; and therefore began to him in this manner: ‘If your worship, sir knight, do seek for lodging, you may chalk yourself a bed for there is none in this inn, wherein you shall find all other things in abundance.’ Don Quixote, noting the lowliness of the constable of that fortress (for such the inn and innkeeper seemed unto him), answered, ‘Anything, sir constable, may serve me; for mine arms are mine ornaments, and battles mine ease, etc.’ The host thought he had called him a castellano or constable, because he esteemed him to be one of the sincere and honest men of Castile, whereas he was indeed an Andalusian, and of the commark of St. Lucars, no less thievish than Cacus, nor less malicious and crafty than a student or page; and therefore he answered him thus: ‘If that be so, your bed must be hard rocks, and your sleep a perpetual watching; and being such, you may boldly alight, and shall find certainly here occasion and opportunity to hold you waking this twelvemonth more, for one night.’ And, saying so, laid hold on Don Quixote’s stirrup, who did forthwith alight, though it was with great difficulty and pain (as one that had not eaten all the day one crumb), and then he requested his host to have special care of his horse, saying, he was one of the best pieces that ever ate bread. The innkeeper viewed and reviewed him, to whom he did not seem half so good as Don Quixote valued him, and, setting him up in the stable, he turned to see what his guest would command, who was a-disarming by both the damsels (which were by this time reconciled to him), who, though they had taken off his breastplate and back parts, yet knew they not how, nor could anywise undo his gorget, nor take off his counterfeit beaver, which he had fastened on with green ribbons; and by reason the knots were so intricate, it was requisite they should be cut, whereunto he would not in anywise agree; and therefore remained all the night with his helmet on, and was the strangest and pleasantest figure thereby that one might behold. And as he was a-disarming (imagining those light wenches that helped him to be certain principal ladies and dames of that castle), he said unto them, with a very good grace: ‘Never was any knight so well attended on and served by ladies as was Don Quixote: when he departed from his village, damsels attended on him, and princesses on his horse. O Rozinante!—for, ladies, that is the name of my horse, and Don Quixote de la Mancha is mine own. For although I meant at the first not to have discovered myself, until the acts done in your service and benefit should manifest me; yet the necessity of accommodating to our present purpose the old romance of Sir Launcelot, hath been an occasion that you should know my name before the right season. But the time will come wherein your ladyships may command me, and I obey, and then the valour of mine arm shall discover the desire I have to do you service.’
The wenches being unaccustomed to hear so rhetorical terms, answered never a word to him, but only demanded whether he would eat anything. “That I would,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘forasmuch as I think the taking of a little meat would be very behooveful for me.’ It chanced by hap to be on Friday, and therefore there was no other meat in the inn than a few pieces of a fish called in Castile abadexo, in Andalusia bacallao, and in some places curadillo, and in others truchuela, and is but poor-john.
They demanded of him, therefore, whether he would eat thereof, giving it the name, used in that place, of truchuela, or little trout; for there was no other fish in all the inn to present unto him but such. ‘Why, then,’ quoth Don Quixote, ‘bring it in; for if there be many little trouts they may serve me instead of a great one; it being all one to me, to be paid my money (if I were to receive any) in eight single reals, or to be paid the same in one real of eight. And, moreover, those little trouts are perhaps like unto veal, which is much more delicate flesh than beef; or the kid, which is better than the goat; but be it what it list, let it be brought in presently; for the labour and weight of arms cannot be well borne without the well-supplying of the guts.’ Then was there straight laid a table at the inn door, that he mought take the air; and the host brought him a portion of evil-watered and worse-boiled poor-john, and a loaf as black and hoary as his harness. But the only sport was to behold him eat; for by reason his helmet was on, and his beaver lifted, he could put nothing into his mouth himself if others did not help him to find the way, and therefore one of those ladies served his turn in that; but it was altogether impossible to give him drink after that manner, and would have remained so for ever, if the innkeeper had not bored a cane, and setting the one end in his mouth, poured down the wine at the other: all which he suffered most patiently, because he would not break the ribbons of his helmet. And as he sat at supper, there arrived by chance a sowgelder, who, as soon as he came to the inn, did sound four or five times a whistle of canes, the which did confirm Don Quixote that he was in some famous castle, where he was served with music; and that the poor-john was trouts; the bread of the finest flour; the whores, ladies; and the innkeeper, constable of that castle; wherefore he accounted his resolution and departure from his own house very well employed. But that which did most afflict him was, that he was not yet dubbed knight, forasmuch as he was fully persuaded that he could not lawfully enterprise, or follow any adventure, until he received the order of knighthood.