|Miguel de Cervantes|
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616). Don Quixote, Part 1.
Slayer of windmills, rescuer of fair damsels in distress, eccentric Don Quixote, scores of years behind his time, set out on a mad quest of knight-errantry. Worlds of fun and killing satire are in this absorbing story of Cervantes.
VIII. Of the Good Success Don Quixote Had, in the Dreadful and Never-Imagined Adventure of the Windmills, with Other Accidents Worthy to Be Recorded
AS they discoursed, they discovered some thirty or forty windmills, that are in that field; and as soon as Don Quixote espied them, he said to his squire, ‘Fortune doth address our affairs better than we ourselves could desire; for behold there, friend Sancho Panza, how there appears thirty or forty monstrous giants, with whom I mean to fight, and deprive them all of their lives, with whose spoils we will begin to be rich; for this is a good war, and a great service unto God, to take away so bad a seed from the face of the earth.’ ‘What giants?’ quoth Sancho Panza. ‘Those that thou seest there,’ quoth his lord, ‘with the long arms; and some there are of that race whose arms are almost who leagues long.’ ‘I pray you understand,’ quoth Sancho Panza, ‘that those which appear there are no giants, but windmills; and that which seems in them to be arms, are their sails, that, swung about by the wind, do also make the mill go.’ ‘It seems well,’ quoth Don Quixote ‘that thou art not yet acquainted with matter of adventures. They are giants; and, if thou beest afraid, go aside and pray, whilst I enter into cruel and unequal battle with them.’ And, saying so, he spurred his horse Rozinante, without taking heed to his squire Sancho’s cries, advertising him how they were doubtless windmills that he did assault, and no giants; but he went so fully persuaded that they were giants as he neither heard his squire’s outcries, nor did discern what they were, although he drew very near to them, but rather said, so loud as he could, ‘Fly not, ye cowards and vile creatures! for it is only one knight that assaults you.’
With this the wind increased, and the mill sails began to turn about; which Don Quixote espying, said, ‘Although thou movest more arms than the giant Briareus thou shalt stoop to me.’ And, after saying this, and commending himself most devoutly to his Lady Dulcinea, desiring her to succor him in that trance, covering himself well with his buckler, and setting his lance on his rest, he spurred on Rozinante, and encountered with the first mill that was before him, and, striking his lance into the sail, the wind swung it about with such fury, that it broke his lance into shivers, carrying him and his horse after it, and finally tumbled him a good way off from it on the field in evil plight. Sancho Panza repaired presently to succor him as fast as his ass could drive; and when he arrived he found him not able to stir, he had gotten such a crush with Rozinante. ‘Good God!’ quoth Sancho, ‘did I not foretell unto you that you should look well what you did, for they were none other than windmills? nor could any think otherwise, unless he had also windmills in his brains.’ ‘Peace, Sancho,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘for matters of war are more subject than any other thing to continual change; how much more, seeing I do verily persuade myself, that the wise Frestron, who robbed my study and books, hath transformed these giants into mills, to deprive me of the glory of the victory, such in the enmity he bears towards me. But yet, in fine, all his bad arts shall but little prevail against the goodness of my sword.’ ‘God grant it as he may!’ said Sancho Panza, and then helped him to arise; and presently he mounted on Rozinante, who was half shoulder-pitched by rough encounter; and, discoursing upon that adventure, they followed on the way which guided towards the passage or gate of Lapice; for there, as Don Quixote avouched, it was not possible but to find many adventures, because it was a thoroughfare much frequented; and yet he affirmed that he went very much grieved, because he wanted a lance; and, telling it to his squire, he said, ‘I remember how I have read that a certain Spanish knight, called Diego Peres of Vargas, having broken his sword in a battle, tore off a great branch or stock from an oak-tree, and did such marvels with it that day, and battered so many Moors, as he remained with the surname of Machuca, which signifies a stump, and as well he as all his progeny were ever after that day called Vargas and Machuca. I tell thee this, because I mean to tear another branch, such, or as good as that at least, from the first oak we shall encounter, and I mean to achieve such adventures therewithal, as thou wilt account thyself fortunate for having merited to behold them, and be a witness of things almost incredible.’ ‘In God’s name!’ quoth Sancho, ‘I do believe every word you said. But, I pray you, sit right in your saddle; for you ride sideling, which proceeds, as I suppose of the bruising you got by your fall.’ ‘Thou sayst true,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘and if I do not complain of the grief, the reason is, because knights-errant use not to complain of any wound, although their guts did issue out thereof.’ ‘If it be so,’ quoth Sancho, ‘I know not what to say; but God knows that I would be glad to hear you to complain when anything grieves you. Of myself I dare affirm, that I must complain of the least grief that I have, if it be not likewise meant that the squires of knights-errant must not complain of any harm.’ Don Quixote could not refrain laughter, hearing the simplicity of his squire; and after showed unto him that he might lawfully complain, both when he pleased, and as much as he listed with desire, or without it; for he had never yet read anything to the contrary in the order of knighthood. Then Sancho said unto him that it was dinner-time. To whom he answered, that he needed no repast; but if he had will to eat, he might begin when he pleased. Sancho, having obtained his license, did accommodate himself on his ass’ back the best he might. Taking out of his wallet some belly-munition, he rode after his master, travelling and eating at once, and that with great leisure; and ever and anon he lifted up his bottle with such pleasure as the best-fed victualler of Malaga might envy his state; and whilst he rode, multiplying of quaffs in that manner, he never remembered any of the promises his master had made him, nor did he hold the fetch of adventures to be a labour, but rather a great recreation and ease, were they never so dangerous. In conclusion, they passed over that night under certain trees, from one of which Don Quixote tore a withered branch, which might serve him in some sort for a lance; and therefore he set thereon the iron of his own, which he had reserved when it was broken.
All that night Don Quixote slept not one wink, but thought upon his Lady Dulcinea, that he might conform himself to what he had read in his books of adventures, when knights passed over many nights without sleep in forests and fields, only entertained by the memory of their mistresses. But Sancho spent not his time so vainly; for, having his stomach well stuffed, and that not with succory water, he carried smoothly away the whole night in one sleep; and if his master had not called him up, neither the sunbeams which struck on his visage, nor the melody of the birds, which were many, and did cheerfully welcome the approach of the new day, could have been able to awake him. At his arising he gave one essay to the bottle, which he found to be somewhat more weak than it was the night before, whereat his heart was somewhat grieved; for he mistrusted that they took not a course to remedy that defect so soon as he wished. Nor could Don Quixote break his fast, who, as we have said, meant only to sustain himself with pleasant remembrances.
Then did they return to their commenced way towards the port of Lapice, which they discovered about three of the clock in the afternoon. ‘Here,’ said Don Quixote, as soon as he kenned it, ‘may we, friend Sancho, thrust our hands up to the very elbows in that which is called adventures. But observe well this caveat which I shall give thee, that, although thou seest me in the greatest dangers of the world, thou must no set hand to thy sword in my defence, if thou dost not see that those which assault me be base and vile vulgar people; for in such a case thou mayst assist me. Marry, if they be knights, thou mayst not do so in anywise, nor is it permitted, by the laws of arms, that thou mayst help me, until thou beest likewise dubbed knight thyself.’ ‘I do assure you, sir,’ quoth Sancho, ‘that herein you shall be most punctually obeyed; and therefore chiefly in respect that I am of mine own nature a quiet and peaceable man, and a mortal enemy of thrusting myself into stirs or quarrels; yet it is true that, touching the defence of mine own person, I will not be altogether so observant of those laws, seeing that both divine and human allow every man to defend himself from any one that would wrong him.’ ‘I say no less,’ answered Don Quixote; ‘but in this of aiding me against any knight, thou must set bounds to thy natural impulses.’ ‘I say I will do so,’ quoth Sancho; ‘and I will observe this commandment as punctually as that of keeping holy the Sabbath day.’
Whilst thus they reasoned, there appeared in the way two monks of St. Benet’s order, mounted on two dromedaries; for the mules whereon they rode were but little less. They wore masks with spectacles in them, to keep away dust from their faces; and each of them besides bore their umbrills. After them came a coach, and four or five a-horseback accompanying it, and two lackeys that ran hard by it. There came therein, as it was after known, a certain Biscaine lady, which travelled towards Seville, where her husband sojourned at the present, and was going to the Indies with an honorable charge. The monks rode not with her, although they travelled the same way. Scarce had Don Quixote perceived them, when he said to his squire, ‘Either I am deceived, or else this will prove the most famous adventure that ever hath been seen; for these two great black bulks, which appear there, are, questionless, enchanters, that steal, or carry away perforce, some princess in that coach; and therefore I must, with all my power, undo that wrong.’ ‘This will be worse than the adventure of the windmills,’ quoth Sancho. ‘Do not you see, sir, that those are friars of St. Benet’s order? and the coach can be none other than of some travellers. Therefore, listen to mine advice, and see well what you do, lest the devil deceive you.’ ‘I have said already to thee, Sancho, that thou art very ignorant in matter of adventures. What I say is true, as now thou shalt see.’ And, saying so, he spurred on his horse, and placed himself just in the midst of the way by which the friars came; and when they approached so near as he supposed they might hear him, he said, with a loud voice, ‘Devilish and wicked people! leave presently those high princesses which you violently carry away with you in that coach; or, if you will not, prepare yourselves to receive sudden death, as a just punishment of your bad works.’ The friars held their horses, and were amazed both at the shape and works of Don Quixote; to whom they answered: ‘Sir knight, we are neither devilish nor wicked, but religious men of St. Benet’s order, that travel about our affairs; and we know not whether or no there come any princesses forced in this coach.’ ‘With me fair words take no effect,’ quoth Don Quixote; ‘for I know you very well, treacherous knaves!’ And then, without expecting their reply, he set spurs to Rozinante, and, laying his lance on the thigh, charged the first friar with such fury and rage, that if he had not suffered himself willingly to fall off his mule, he would not only have overthrown him against his will, but likewise have slain, or at least wounded him very ill with the blow. The second religious man, seeing how ill his companion was used, made no words; but setting spurs to that castle his mule, did fly away through the field, as swift as the wind itself. Sancho Panza, seeing the monk overthrown, dismounted very speedily off his ass, and ran over, and would have ransacked his habits. In this arrived the monks’ two lackeys, and demanded of him why he thus despoiled the friar. Sancho replied that it was his due, by the law of arms, as lawful spoils gained in battle by his lord, Don Quixote. The lackeys, which understood not the jest, nor knew not what words of battle or spoils meant, seeing that Don Quixote was now out of the way, speaking with those that came in the coach, set both at once upon Sancho, and left him not a hair in his beard but they plucked, and did so trample him under their feet, as they left him stretched on the ground without either breath or feeling. The monk, cutting off all delays, mounted again on horseback, all affrighted, having scarce any drop of blood left in his face through fear; and, being once up, he spurred after his fellow, who expected him a good way off, staying to see the success of that assault; and, being unwilling to attend the end of that strange adventure, they did, prosecute their journey, blessing and crossing themselves as if the devil did pursue them.
Don Quixote, as is rehearsed, was in this season speaking to the lady of the coach, to whom he said: ‘Your beauty, dear lady, may dispose from henceforth of your person as best ye liketh; for the pride of your robbers lies now prostrated on the ground, by this my invincible arm. And because you may not be troubled to know your deliverer his name, know that I am called Don Quixote de la Mancha, a knight-errant and adventurer, and captive to the peerless and beautiful Lady Dulcinea of Toboso. And, in reward of the benefit which you have received at my hands, I demand nothing else but that you return to Toboso, and there present yourselves, in my name, before my lady, and recount unto her what I have done to obtain your liberty.’ To all these words which Don Quixote said, a certain Biscaine squire, that accompanied the coach, gave ear; who, seeing that Don Quixote suffered not the coach to pass onward, but said that it must presently turn back to Toboso, he drew near to him, and, laying hold on his lance, he said, in his bad Spanish and worse Basquish: ‘Get thee away, knight, in an ill hour. By the God that created me, if thou leave not the coach, I will kill thee, as sure as I am a Biscaine.’ Don Quixote, understanding him, did answer, with great staidness: ‘If you were a knight, as thou art not, I would by this have punished thy folly and presumption, caitiff creature!’ The Biscaine replied, with great fury: ‘Not I a gentleman! I swear God thou liest, as well as I am a Christian, If thou cast away thy lance, and draw thy sword, thou shalt see the water as soon as thou shalt carry away the cat: a Biscaine by land, and a gentleman by sea, a gentleman in spite of the devil; and thou liest, if other things thou sayst!’ ‘“Straight thou shalt see that,” said Agrages,’ replied Don Quixote; and, throwing his lance to the ground, he out with his sword, and took his buckler, and set on the Biscaine, with resolution to kill him. The Biscaine, seeing him approach in that manner, although he desired to alight off his mule, which was not to be trusted, being one of those naughty ones which are wont to be hired, yet had he no leisure to do any other thing than to draw out his sword; but it befel him happily to be near to the coach, out of which be snatched a cushion, that served him for a shield; and presently the one made upon the other like mortal enemies. Those that were present laboured all that they might, but in vain, to compound the matter between them; for the Biscaine swore, in his bad language, that if they hindered him from ending the battle, he would put his lady, and all the rest that dared to disturb him, to the sword.
The lady, astonished and fearful of that which she beheld, commanded the coachman to go a little out of the way, and sat aloof, beholding the rigorous conflict; in the progress whereof the Biscaine gave Don Quixote over the target a mighty blow on one of the shoulders, where, if it had not found resistance in his armour, it would doubtlessly have cleft him down to the girdle. Don Quixote, feeling the weight of that unmeasurable blow, cried, with a loud voice, saying, ‘O Dulcinea! lady of my soul! the flower of all beauty! succor this thy knight, who to set forth thy worth, finds himself in this dangerous trance!’ The saying of these words, the gripping fast of his sword, the covering of himself well with his buckler, and the assailing of the Biscaine, was done all in one instant, resolving to venture all the success of the battle on that one only blow. The Biscaine, who perceived him come in that manner, perceived, by his doughtiness, his intention, and resolved to do the like; and therefore expected him very well, covered with his cushion, not being able to manage his mule as he wished from one part to another, who was not able to go a step, it was so wearied, as a beast never before used to the like toys. Don Quixote, as we have said, came against the wary Biscaine with his sword lifted aloft, with full resolution to part him in two; and all the beholders stood, with great fear suspended, to see the success of those monstrous blows wherewithal they threatened one another. And the lady of the coach, with her gentlewomen, made a thousand vows and offerings to all the devout places of Spain, to the end that God might deliver the squire and themselves out of that great danger wherein they were.
But it is to be deplored how, in this very point and term, the author of this history leaves his battle depending, excusing himself that he could find no more written of the acts of Don Quixote than those which he hath already recounted. True it is, that the second writer of this work would not believe that so curious a history was drowned in the jaws of oblivion, or that the wits of the Mancha were so little curious as not to reserve among their treasures or records some papers treating of this famous knight; and therefore, encouraged by this presumption, he did not despair to find the end of this pleasant history; which, Heaven being propitious to him, he got at last, after the manner that shall be recounted in the Second Part.