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Home -> Miguel de Cervantes -> Don Quixote -> Chapter 26

Don Quixote - Chapter 26

1. The Author's Preface

2. Dedication of Volume I

3. Chapter 1

4. Chapter 2

5. Chapter 3

6. Chapter 4

7. Chapter 5

8. Chapter 6

9. Chapter 7

10. Chapter 8

11. Chapter 9

12. Chapter 10

13. Chapter 11

14. Chapter 12

15. Chapter 13

16. Chapter 14

17. Chapter 15

18. Chapter 16

19. Chapter 17

20. Chapter 18

21. Chapter 19

22. Chapter 20

23. Chapter 21

24. Chapter 22

25. Chapter 23

26. Chapter 24

27. Chapter 25

28. Chapter 26

29. Chapter 27

30. Chapter 28

31. Chapter 29

32. Chapter 30

33. Chapter 31

34. Chapter 32

35. Chapter 33

36. Chapter 34

37. Chapter 35

38. Chapter 36

39. Chapter 37

40. Chapter 38

41. Chapter 39

42. Chapter 40

43. Chapter 41

44. Chapter 42

45. Chapter 43

46. Chapter 44

47. Chapter 45

48. Chapter 46

49. Chapter 47

50. Chapter 48

51. Chapter 49

52. Chapter 50

53. Chapter 51

54. Chapter 52

55. Dedication of Volume II

56. The Author's Preface

57. Chapter 1

58. Chapter 2

59. Chapter 3

60. Chapter 4

61. Chapter 5

62. Chapter 6

63. Chapter 7

64. Chapter 8

65. Chapter 9

66. Chapter 10

67. Chapter 11

68. Chapter 12

69. Chapter 13

70. Chapter 14

71. Chapter 15

72. Chapter 16

73. Chapter 17

74. Chapter 18

75. Chapter 19

76. Chapter 20

77. Chapter 21

78. Chapter 22

79. Chapter 23

80. Chapter 24

81. Chapter 25

82. Chapter 26

83. Chapter 27

84. Chapter 28

85. Chapter 29

86. Chapter 30

87. Chapter 31

88. Chapter 32

89. Chapter 33

90. Chapter 34

91. Chapter 35

92. Chapter 36

93. Chapter 37

94. Chapter 38

95. Chapter 39

96. Chapter 40

97. Chapter 41

98. Chapter 42

99. Chapter 43

100. Chapter 44

101. Chapter 45

102. Chapter 46

103. Chapter 47

104. Chapter 48

105. Chapter 49

106. Chapter 50

107. Chapter 51

108. Chapter 52

109. Chapter 53

110. Chapter 54

111. Chapter 55

112. Chapter 56

113. Chapter 57

114. Chapter 58

115. Chapter 59

116. Chapter 60

117. Chapter 61

118. Chapter 62

119. Chapter 63

120. Chapter 64

121. Chapter 65

122. Chapter 66

123. Chapter 67

124. Chapter 68

125. Chapter 69

126. Chapter 70

127. Chapter 71

128. Chapter 72

129. Chapter 73

130. Chapter 74



Returning to the proceedings of him of the Rueful Countenance when he
found himself alone, the history says that when Don Quixote had completed
the performance of the somersaults or capers, naked from the waist down
and clothed from the waist up, and saw that Sancho had gone off without
waiting to see any more crazy feats, he climbed up to the top of a high
rock, and there set himself to consider what he had several times before
considered without ever coming to any conclusion on the point, namely
whether it would be better and more to his purpose to imitate the
outrageous madness of Roland, or the melancholy madness of Amadis; and
communing with himself he said:

"What wonder is it if Roland was so good a knight and so valiant as
everyone says he was, when, after all, he was enchanted, and nobody could
kill him save by thrusting a corking pin into the sole of his foot, and
he always wore shoes with seven iron soles? Though cunning devices did
not avail him against Bernardo del Carpio, who knew all about them, and
strangled him in his arms at Roncesvalles. But putting the question of
his valour aside, let us come to his losing his wits, for certain it is
that he did lose them in consequence of the proofs he discovered at the
fountain, and the intelligence the shepherd gave him of Angelica having
slept more than two siestas with Medoro, a little curly-headed Moor, and
page to Agramante. If he was persuaded that this was true, and that his
lady had wronged him, it is no wonder that he should have gone mad; but
I, how am I to imitate him in his madness, unless I can imitate him in
the cause of it? For my Dulcinea, I will venture to swear, never saw a
Moor in her life, as he is, in his proper costume, and she is this day as
the mother that bore her, and I should plainly be doing her a wrong if,
fancying anything else, I were to go mad with the same kind of madness as
Roland the Furious. On the other hand, I see that Amadis of Gaul, without
losing his senses and without doing anything mad, acquired as a lover as
much fame as the most famous; for, according to his history, on finding
himself rejected by his lady Oriana, who had ordered him not to appear in
her presence until it should be her pleasure, all he did was to retire to
the Pena Pobre in company with a hermit, and there he took his fill of
weeping until Heaven sent him relief in the midst of his great grief and
need. And if this be true, as it is, why should I now take the trouble to
strip stark naked, or do mischief to these trees which have done me no
harm, or why am I to disturb the clear waters of these brooks which will
give me to drink whenever I have a mind? Long live the memory of Amadis
and let him be imitated so far as is possible by Don Quixote of La
Mancha, of whom it will be said, as was said of the other, that if he did
not achieve great things, he died in attempting them; and if I am not
repulsed or rejected by my Dulcinea, it is enough for me, as I have said,
to be absent from her. And so, now to business; come to my memory ye
deeds of Amadis, and show me how I am to begin to imitate you. I know
already that what he chiefly did was to pray and commend himself to God;
but what am I to do for a rosary, for I have not got one?"

And then it occurred to him how he might make one, and that was by
tearing a great strip off the tail of his shirt which hung down, and
making eleven knots on it, one bigger than the rest, and this served him
for a rosary all the time he was there, during which he repeated
countless ave-marias. But what distressed him greatly was not having
another hermit there to confess him and receive consolation from; and so
he solaced himself with pacing up and down the little meadow, and writing
and carving on the bark of the trees and on the fine sand a multitude of
verses all in harmony with his sadness, and some in praise of Dulcinea;
but, when he was found there afterwards, the only ones completely legible
that could be discovered were those that follow here:

Ye on the mountain side that grow,
Ye green things all, trees, shrubs, and bushes,
Are ye aweary of the woe
That this poor aching bosom crushes?
If it disturb you, and I owe
Some reparation, it may be a
Defence for me to let you know
Don Quixote's tears are on the flow,
And all for distant Dulcinea
Del Toboso.

The lealest lover time can show,
Doomed for a lady-love to languish,
Among these solitudes doth go,
A prey to every kind of anguish.
Why Love should like a spiteful foe
Thus use him, he hath no idea,
But hogsheads full--this doth he know--
Don Quixote's tears are on the flow,
And all for distant Dulcinea
Del Toboso.

Adventure-seeking doth he go
Up rugged heights, down rocky valleys,
But hill or dale, or high or low,
Mishap attendeth all his sallies:
Love still pursues him to and fro,
And plies his cruel scourge--ah me! a
Relentless fate, an endless woe;
Don Quixote's tears are on the flow,
And all for distant Dulcinea
Del Toboso.

The addition of "Del Toboso" to Dulcinea's name gave rise to no little
laughter among those who found the above lines, for they suspected Don
Quixote must have fancied that unless he added "del Toboso" when he
introduced the name of Dulcinea the verse would be unintelligible; which
was indeed the fact, as he himself afterwards admitted. He wrote many
more, but, as has been said, these three verses were all that could be
plainly and perfectly deciphered. In this way, and in sighing and calling
on the fauns and satyrs of the woods and the nymphs of the streams, and
Echo, moist and mournful, to answer, console, and hear him, as well as in
looking for herbs to sustain him, he passed his time until Sancho's
return; and had that been delayed three weeks, as it was three days, the
Knight of the Rueful Countenance would have worn such an altered
countenance that the mother that bore him would not have known him: and
here it will be well to leave him, wrapped up in sighs and verses, to
relate how Sancho Panza fared on his mission.

As for him, coming out upon the high road, he made for El Toboso, and the
next day reached the inn where the mishap of the blanket had befallen
him. As soon as he recognised it he felt as if he were once more living
through the air, and he could not bring himself to enter it though it was
an hour when he might well have done so, for it was dinner-time, and he
longed to taste something hot as it had been all cold fare with him for
many days past. This craving drove him to draw near to the inn, still
undecided whether to go in or not, and as he was hesitating there came
out two persons who at once recognised him, and said one to the other:

"Senor licentiate, is not he on the horse there Sancho Panza who, our
adventurer's housekeeper told us, went off with her master as esquire?"

"So it is," said the licentiate, "and that is our friend Don Quixote's
horse;" and if they knew him so well it was because they were the curate
and the barber of his own village, the same who had carried out the
scrutiny and sentence upon the books; and as soon as they recognised
Sancho Panza and Rocinante, being anxious to hear of Don Quixote, they
approached, and calling him by his name the curate said, "Friend Sancho
Panza, where is your master?"

Sancho recognised them at once, and determined to keep secret the place
and circumstances where and under which he had left his master, so he
replied that his master was engaged in a certain quarter on a certain
matter of great importance to him which he could not disclose for the
eyes in his head.

"Nay, nay," said the barber, "if you don't tell us where he is, Sancho
Panza, we will suspect as we suspect already, that you have murdered and
robbed him, for here you are mounted on his horse; in fact, you must
produce the master of the hack, or else take the consequences."

"There is no need of threats with me," said Sancho, "for I am not a man
to rob or murder anybody; let his own fate, or God who made him, kill
each one; my master is engaged very much to his taste doing penance in
the midst of these mountains;" and then, offhand and without stopping, he
told them how he had left him, what adventures had befallen him, and how
he was carrying a letter to the lady Dulcinea del Toboso, the daughter of
Lorenzo Corchuelo, with whom he was over head and ears in love. They were
both amazed at what Sancho Panza told them; for though they were aware of
Don Quixote's madness and the nature of it, each time they heard of it
they were filled with fresh wonder. They then asked Sancho Panza to show
them the letter he was carrying to the lady Dulcinea del Toboso. He said
it was written in a note-book, and that his master's directions were that
he should have it copied on paper at the first village he came to. On
this the curate said if he showed it to him, he himself would make a fair
copy of it. Sancho put his hand into his bosom in search of the note-book
but could not find it, nor, if he had been searching until now, could he
have found it, for Don Quixote had kept it, and had never given it to
him, nor had he himself thought of asking for it. When Sancho discovered
he could not find the book his face grew deadly pale, and in great haste
he again felt his body all over, and seeing plainly it was not to be
found, without more ado he seized his beard with both hands and plucked
away half of it, and then, as quick as he could and without stopping,
gave himself half a dozen cuffs on the face and nose till they were
bathed in blood.

Seeing this, the curate and the barber asked him what had happened him
that he gave himself such rough treatment.

"What should happen me?" replied Sancho, "but to have lost from one hand
to the other, in a moment, three ass-colts, each of them like a castle?"

"How is that?" said the barber.

"I have lost the note-book," said Sancho, "that contained the letter to
Dulcinea, and an order signed by my master in which he directed his niece
to give me three ass-colts out of four or five he had at home;" and he
then told them about the loss of Dapple.

The curate consoled him, telling him that when his master was found he
would get him to renew the order, and make a fresh draft on paper, as was
usual and customary; for those made in notebooks were never accepted or

Sancho comforted himself with this, and said if that were so the loss of
Dulcinea's letter did not trouble him much, for he had it almost by
heart, and it could be taken down from him wherever and whenever they

"Repeat it then, Sancho," said the barber, "and we will write it down

Sancho Panza stopped to scratch his head to bring back the letter to his
memory, and balanced himself now on one foot, now the other, one moment
staring at the ground, the next at the sky, and after having half gnawed
off the end of a finger and kept them in suspense waiting for him to
begin, he said, after a long pause, "By God, senor licentiate, devil a
thing can I recollect of the letter; but it said at the beginning,
'Exalted and scrubbing Lady.'"

"It cannot have said 'scrubbing,'" said the barber, "but 'superhuman' or

"That is it," said Sancho; "then, as well as I remember, it went on, 'The
wounded, and wanting of sleep, and the pierced, kisses your worship's
hands, ungrateful and very unrecognised fair one; and it said something
or other about health and sickness that he was sending her; and from that
it went tailing off until it ended with 'Yours till death, the Knight of
the Rueful Countenance."

It gave them no little amusement, both of them, to see what a good memory
Sancho had, and they complimented him greatly upon it, and begged him to
repeat the letter a couple of times more, so that they too might get it
by heart to write it out by-and-by. Sancho repeated it three times, and
as he did, uttered three thousand more absurdities; then he told them
more about his master but he never said a word about the blanketing that
had befallen himself in that inn, into which he refused to enter. He told
them, moreover, how his lord, if he brought him a favourable answer from
the lady Dulcinea del Toboso, was to put himself in the way of
endeavouring to become an emperor, or at least a monarch; for it had been
so settled between them, and with his personal worth and the might of his
arm it was an easy matter to come to be one: and how on becoming one his
lord was to make a marriage for him (for he would be a widower by that
time, as a matter of course) and was to give him as a wife one of the
damsels of the empress, the heiress of some rich and grand state on the
mainland, having nothing to do with islands of any sort, for he did not
care for them now. All this Sancho delivered with so much
composure--wiping his nose from time to time--and with so little
common-sense that his two hearers were again filled with wonder at the
force of Don Quixote's madness that could run away with this poor man's
reason. They did not care to take the trouble of disabusing him of his
error, as they considered that since it did not in any way hurt his
conscience it would be better to leave him in it, and they would have all
the more amusement in listening to his simplicities; and so they bade him
pray to God for his lord's health, as it was a very likely and a very
feasible thing for him in course of time to come to be an emperor, as he
said, or at least an archbishop or some other dignitary of equal rank.

To which Sancho made answer, "If fortune, sirs, should bring things about
in such a way that my master should have a mind, instead of being an
emperor, to be an archbishop, I should like to know what
archbishops-errant commonly give their squires?"

"They commonly give them," said the curate, some simple benefice or cure,
or some place as sacristan which brings them a good fixed income, not
counting the altar fees, which may be reckoned at as much more."

"But for that," said Sancho, "the squire must be unmarried, and must
know, at any rate, how to help at mass, and if that be so, woe is me, for
I am married already and I don't know the first letter of the A B C. What
will become of me if my master takes a fancy to be an archbishop and not
an emperor, as is usual and customary with knights-errant?"

"Be not uneasy, friend Sancho," said the barber, "for we will entreat
your master, and advise him, even urging it upon him as a case of
conscience, to become an emperor and not an archbishop, because it will
be easier for him as he is more valiant than lettered."

"So I have thought," said Sancho; "though I can tell you he is fit for
anything: what I mean to do for my part is to pray to our Lord to place
him where it may be best for him, and where he may be able to bestow most
favours upon me."

"You speak like a man of sense," said the curate, "and you will be acting
like a good Christian; but what must now be done is to take steps to coax
your master out of that useless penance you say he is performing; and we
had best turn into this inn to consider what plan to adopt, and also to
dine, for it is now time."

Sancho said they might go in, but that he would wait there outside, and
that he would tell them afterwards the reason why he was unwilling, and
why it did not suit him to enter it; but he begged them to bring him out
something to eat, and to let it be hot, and also to bring barley for
Rocinante. They left him and went in, and presently the barber brought
him out something to eat. By-and-by, after they had between them
carefully thought over what they should do to carry out their object, the
curate hit upon an idea very well adapted to humour Don Quixote, and
effect their purpose; and his notion, which he explained to the barber,
was that he himself should assume the disguise of a wandering damsel,
while the other should try as best he could to pass for a squire, and
that they should thus proceed to where Don Quixote was, and he,
pretending to be an aggrieved and distressed damsel, should ask a favour
of him, which as a valiant knight-errant he could not refuse to grant;
and the favour he meant to ask him was that he should accompany her
whither she would conduct him, in order to redress a wrong which a wicked
knight had done her, while at the same time she should entreat him not to
require her to remove her mask, nor ask her any question touching her
circumstances until he had righted her with the wicked knight. And he had
no doubt that Don Quixote would comply with any request made in these
terms, and that in this way they might remove him and take him to his own
village, where they would endeavour to find out if his extraordinary
madness admitted of any kind of remedy.

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