In which is finished the notable Adventures of our good Knight

The Curate and Don Fernando now took the Innkeeper aside and settled
all his claims against Don Quixote, for he had sworn that neither
Rozinante nor Sancho’s Ass should stir from the Inn until he was paid
to the last farthing. As for Don Quixote, as soon as he found himself
free from all the quarrels by which he had been surrounded, he held it
high time to begin his voyage and bring to an end the great adventure
unto which he was called and chosen.
Therefore, having made up his mind to depart, he went and cast himself
upon his knees before Dorothea and said: ‘I cannot but think, high and
worthy Lady, that our abode in this Castle is nothing profitable, and
may turn out to our disadvantage. For who knows but that your enemy
the Giant hath learned by spies or other secret means how I intend to
come and destroy him, and he may by now have fortified himself in some
impregnable Castle or Fortress, against the strength of which even the
force of mine invincible arm will be of little use. Therefore, dear
Lady, let us by our diligence hinder his plans, and let us depart to
the place where fortune calls us.’
Don Quixote said no more but awaited the answer of the beautiful
Princess, who, with a lordly air and in a style not unworthy of Don
Quixote himself, replied as follows: ‘I thank you, Sir Knight, for the
desire you show to assist me in this my great need, and I trust your
desires and mine may succeed, that I may show you that there are some
thankful women on earth. As for my departure, let it be as you wish,
for I have no other will than that which is yours. Therefore dispose of
me at your own pleasure, for she that hath once given the defence of
her person unto you, and hath put into your hand the recovery of her
estate, ought not to seek to do any other thing but that which your
wisdom shall suggest.’
‘Let our departure, then,’ said Don Quixote, ‘be immediate. Saddle me
Rozinante, Sancho, and get ready your Ass and the Queen’s palfrey, and
let us take leave of the Constable and these other lords and depart
instantly.’
Sancho, who was present at all this, stood wagging his head from side
to side, and said: ‘O my Lord, my Lord, how much more knavery is there
in the little village than is talked of!’
‘What can be noised abroad in any village or in any of the cities of
the world to my discredit, villain?’ asked his Master angrily.
‘If you are angry,’ said Sancho, ‘I will hold my tongue and omit to say
that which by the duty of a good Squire, and an honest servant, I am
bound to tell you.’
‘Say what thou wilt,’ said Don Quixote, and he waited to hear what his
Squire had to say.
‘What I mean,’ continued Sancho, ‘and what I hold for most sure and
certain is, that this Lady, who calls herself Queen of the great
Kingdom of Micomicona, is no more a Queen than my mother. For if she
were what she says, she would not at every corner be billing and cooing
with one that is in this good company.’
Dorothea blushed at Sancho’s words, for it was true indeed that her
lover Don Fernando had sometimes on the sly gathered from her lips the
reward of his affections. She was neither able nor willing to answer
Sancho a word, but let him go on with his speech, which he did as
follows:—
‘This I say, good my Lord, to this end, that if after we have travelled
highways and byways and endured bad nights and worse days, he that is
in this Inn,’ and Sancho looked knowingly at Don Fernando, ‘shall marry
our Princess and get the fruits of your labours, there is no need to
hasten, methinks, to saddle Rozinante or harness Dapple, or make ready
the palfrey seeing it would be better that we stayed still and looked
after our dinner.’
You may imagine how great was the fury that inflamed Don Quixote when
he heard his Squire speak so rudely. It was so great that, with a
shaking voice, a faltering tongue, and the fire sparking out of his
eyes, he said: ‘O villainous peasant, rash, unmannerly, ignorant, rude,
foul-mouthed backbiter and slanderer! Darest thou utter such words
in my presence and in that of these noble Ladies? Hast thou dared to
entertain such rash and stupid fancies in thy muddled imagination?
Out of my sight, monster of nature, storehouse of untruth, armoury of
falsehood, sink of roguery, inventor of villainy, publisher of ravings,
enemy of the respect due to Royal persons. Away, villain, and never
more appear before me on pain of my wrath.’
So saying, he bent his brows and glared around on every side as he
struck a mighty blow upon the ground with his right foot. And at these
words and furious gestures, poor Sancho was so greatly frightened, that
he could have wished in that instant that the earth opening under his
feet would swallow him up.
But the witty Dorothea, who now understood Don Quixote’s humour
perfectly, to appease his anger spoke to him thus: ‘Be not offended,
good Sir Knight of the Rueful Countenance, at the idle words your good
Squire hath spoken. For perhaps he hath not said them without some
ground, and we cannot suspect from a man of his good understanding that
he would knowingly slander or accuse any one falsely. And therefore
we must believe that without doubt, as you have yourself said, Sir
Knight, in this Castle all things are subject to enchantment, and it
might well happen that Sancho may have been deceived by some wicked
illusion.’
‘I vow,’ cried Don Quixote, ‘that your Highness has hit the truth, and
that some evil vision appeared to this sinner, my man Sancho, that made
him see things that he could not have seen unless by enchantment. For
I also know very well, that the great goodness and simplicity of the
poor wretch is such, that he knows not how to invent a lie on anybody
living.’
‘It is even so,’ said Don Fernando; ‘and therefore, good Sir Don
Quixote, you must pardon him and take him once more to the bosom of
your grace.’
Don Quixote answered that he did willingly pardon him; and Sancho,
kneeling down on his knees, humbly asked his Lord’s hand, which he
gave to him. And after he had permitted him to kiss it, he gave him
his blessing, saying: ‘Now thou shalt finally know, Sancho, that which
I have told thee many times, how that all things in this Castle come
about by means of enchantment.’
And this Sancho was ready to believe of everything except the tossing
they had given him in the blanket, for he well knew that he had been
tossed by persons of flesh and blood and bone, and not by visionary and
unreal phantoms and shadows, as his Master was always telling him.
Two days passed, when it seemed to all the noble company at the Inn
that it was time to depart, and they considered how, without putting
Dorothea and Don Fernando to the pain of turning back with Don Quixote
to his village, the Curate and the Barber could carry him home as they
desired, and leave him cured of his folly in his own home.
This was the plan they decided on. They made a bargain with a wagoner,
who chanced to pass by that way with a team of oxen, to carry him in
the following manner:—
They made a thing like a cage of timber, so big that Don Quixote might
sit or lie in it at his ease, and presently Don Fernando, Cardenio,
their companions, and the Innkeeper did all, by Master Curate’s
directions, cover their faces and disguise themselves as well as they
could, so that they might seem to Don Quixote to be different persons
to any he had seen in the Castle. This being done, they entered
silently into the place where he slept, reposing after his recent
battles. They went up to him as he was sleeping peacefully, not fearing
any such accident, and, laying hold of him forcibly, they tied his
hands and feet very strongly, so that when he started out of his sleep
he could not move, nor do anything else but stare and wonder at the
strange faces that he saw before him.
And immediately he fell into the idea, which his wild imagination had
at once suggested to him, that all these strange figures were spirits
and phantoms of that enchanted Castle, and he believed that he himself
was without doubt enchanted, seeing that he could neither move nor
defend himself.
All happened as the Curate who plotted the jest expected; and after
they had brought him to the cage, they shut him within, and afterwards
nailed the bars thereof so well that they could not easily be broken.
Sancho all this time looked on in wonder to see what would happen to
his Master.
Then the phantoms mounted him upon their shoulders, and as he was
carried out of his chamber door the Barber called out in as terrible a
voice as he could muster: ‘O Knight of the Rueful Countenance, be not
grieved at thine imprisonment, for so it must be that thine adventures
be more speedily ended. And thou, O most noble and obedient Squire that
ever had sword at girdle, beard on a face, or dent in a nose, let it
not dismay thee to see carried away thus the flower of all Knighthood.
For I assure thee that all thy wages shall be paid to thee, if thou
wilt follow in the steps of this valorous and enchanted Knight. And as
I am not allowed to say more, farewell!’
Don Quixote listened attentively to all this prophecy, and said: ‘O
thou, whatsoever thou beest, I desire thee to request in my name
that I may not perish in this prison before my work is ended. And as
concerns my Squire Sancho Panza, I trust in his goodness that he will
not abandon me in good or bad fortune. For, though it should fall out
through his or my hard lot that I shall not be able to bestow on him an
Island, as I have promised, his wages cannot be lost to him, for in my
Will, which is made already, I have set down what he is to have for his
many good services.’
Sancho Panza bowed his head with great reverence when he heard this,
and kissed both his Master’s hands, which were bound tightly together.
Then the phantoms lifted up the cage and hoisted it on to the wagon
that was drawn by the team of oxen.
After bidding farewell to all their friends, the procession started.
First went the cart guided by the carter, then the troopers, then
followed Sancho upon his Ass leading Rozinante by the bridle, and last
of all the Curate and the Barber, riding their mighty mules, with masks
on their faces.
Don Quixote sat with his hands tied and his legs stretched out, leaning
against a bar of the cage, with such a silence and such patience
that he seemed rather to be a statue than a man. And thus at an
Alderman-like pace, such as suited the slow steps of the heavy oxen,
they journeyed home.
At the end of two days they arrived at Don Quixote’s village, into
which they entered about noon. This was on a Sunday, when all the
people were in the market-place, through the midst of which Don
Quixote’s cart passed. All drew near to see what was in it, and when
they knew their neighbour they were greatly astounded. A little boy ran
home before, to tell the old woman and the Niece that their Lord and
Uncle was returned. It would have moved one to pity to have heard the
cries and lamentations the two good women made, and the curses they
poured out against all Books of Knighthood, when they saw Don Quixote
enter the gates of his own house again in so strange a carriage.
Sancho Panza’s wife, when she heard of his return, ran forward to meet
her husband, and the first question she asked was whether the Ass were
in health or no.
Sancho answered that he was come in better health than his master.
‘Tell me, then,’ cried his wife, ‘what profit hast thou reaped by this
Squireship? What petticoat hast thou brought me home? What shoes for
the little boys?’
‘I bring none of these things, good wife,’ replied Sancho, ‘though I
bring things better thought of and of greater moment.’
‘I am glad of that,’ said his wife, ‘for I should like to see them,
to the end that my heart may be cheered, which hath been swollen and
sorrowful for so long, all the time of thine absence.’
‘Thou shalt see them at home,’ said Sancho, ‘therefore rest satisfied.
For when we travel once again to seek adventures, thou shalt see me
shortly afterwards an Earl or Governor of an Island, one of the best in
the world.’
‘I pray that it may be so,’ replied his wife; ‘but what means that
Island, for I understand not the word?’
‘Honey is not made for the ass’s mouth,’ said Sancho, ‘but thou shalt
know all in good time. Do not busy thyself, Joan, to know all things
in a sudden. It is enough that I will tell thee all the truth, and
therefore close thy mouth. I will only say this much unto thee as yet,
that there is nothing in the world so pleasant as for an honest man to
be the Squire of a Knight that seeks adventures.’
* * * * *
Now, if I were to tell you that Don Quixote got quite well and lived
quietly at home after all these adventures, and never went abroad
again, I should tell you what is not true. For some day, and I hope at
no great distance of time, you may read what the great Cervantes has
written, not only of the adventures of which I have told you the story,
but of the second part of Don Quixote’s adventures, some of which are
even more wonderful than the first. There you will learn how Sancho
Panza became at last Governor of an Island for a short space, and may
read of the great wisdom and shrewdness with which he ruled.
All these good things will be yours to read some day, as they have
been mine and are every one’s. For, like all the really great stories
of the world, this of Don Quixote belongs to no nation or people, but
is the property of each and all of us, given us freely to enjoy it how
and where we will. And from the humour and wisdom of such books we may
become brighter and better ourselves. So that when I wish that you
may be able to love and honour all such books, and to read this one
as Cervantes wrote it, and with the care it deserves to be read, it
is the best wish I can give you. And, indeed, to wish you the gift of
understanding it, is the same thing as wishing you a happy life.