Don Quixote, left to himself, climbed to the top of a high mountain,
and spent his days making poems about the beautiful Dulcinea, which he
recited to the rocks and trees around him. In this, and in calling upon
the nymphs of the streams, and the satyrs of the woods, to hear his
cries, did he pass his time while Sancho was away.
As for his Squire, turning out on the highway, he took the road which
led to Toboso, and arrived the next day at the Inn where he had been
tossed in a blanket. He no sooner saw it than he imagined that he was
once again flying through the air, and he half made up his mind that he
would not enter the Inn, although it was now dinner-hour and he felt
a marvellous longing to taste some cooked meat again, as he had eaten
nothing but cold fare for a good many days.
This longing made him draw near to the Inn, remaining still in some
doubt as to whether he should enter it or not.
As he stood musing, there came out of the Inn two persons who
recognised him at once, and the one said to the other: ‘Tell me, Sir
Curate, is not that horseman riding there Sancho Panza, who departed
with Don Quixote to be his Squire?’
‘It is,’ said the Curate, ‘and that is Don Quixote’s horse.’
They knew him well enough, for they were Don Quixote’s friends, the
Curate and the Barber, who not so long ago had helped to burn his books
and wall up his library; so, wanting to learn news of Don Quixote, they
went up to him and said: ‘Friend Sancho Panza, where have you left your
Sancho Panza knew them instantly, but wanted to conceal the place and
manner in which the Knight remained, and answered that his Master was
kept in a certain place by affairs of the greatest importance of which
he must say nothing.
‘That will not do, friend Sancho,’ said the Barber. ‘If thou dost not
tell us where he is, we shall believe that thou hast robbed and slain
him, seeing that thou art riding his horse. Verily thou must find us
the owner of the steed, or it will be the worse for thee.’
‘Your threats do not trouble me, for I am not one who would rob or
murder anybody, and, for my Master, he is enjoying himself doing
penance in the Brown Mountains, where I have just left him.’
Then Sancho told them from beginning to end how his Master was carrying
out his penance, and of the mad pranks he intended to perform, and how
he, Sancho, was bearing a letter to the Lady Dulcinea of Toboso, who
was none other than the daughter of Lorenzo Corchuelo, with whom the
Knight was head and ears in love.
Both of them were amazed at what they heard, although they knew
something of Don Quixote’s madness already. They asked Sancho to show
them the letter he was carrying to the Lady Dulcinea. Sancho told them
it was written in the pocket-book, and that he was ordered to get it
copied out at the first village he came to.
The Curate told him that if he would show it to them, he would make a
fair copy of it for him. Then Sancho thrust his hand into his bosom
to search for the little book, but he could not find it, nor would he
have found it if he had hunted until Doomsday, for he had left it with
Don Quixote, who had quite forgotten to give it to him, nor had he
remembered to ask for it when he came away. When Sancho discovered that
the book was lost, his face grew as pale as death, and feeling all over
his body he saw clearly that it was not to be found. Without more ado
he laid hold of his beard, and with both his fists plucked out half his
hair and gave himself half a dozen blows about his face and nose, so
that he was soon bathed in his own blood.
Seeing this, the Curate and the Barber asked him what was the matter,
that he should treat himself so ill.
‘What is the matter?’ cried poor Sancho. ‘Why, I have let slip through
my fingers three of the finest ass-colts you ever saw.’
‘How so?’ asked the Barber.
‘Why, I have lost the pocket-book,’ replied Sancho, ‘which had in it
not only the letter for Dulcinea, but also a note of hand signed by my
Master addressed to his Niece, ordering her to give me three ass-colts
of the four or five that were left at his house.’ So saying, he told
them the story of his lost Dapple.
The Curate comforted him by telling him that as soon as they had found
his Master they would get him to write out the paper again in proper
form. With this Sancho took courage, and said if that could be done all
would be right, for he cared not much for the loss of Dulcinea’s letter
as he knew it by heart.
‘Say it then, Sancho,’ said the Barber, ‘and we will write it out.’
Then Sancho stood still and began to scratch his head and try to call
the letter to memory. He stood first on one leg and then on the other,
and looked first to heaven and then to earth, while he gnawed off half
his nails, and at the end of a long pause said: ‘I doubt if I can
remember all, but it began, “High and unsavoury Lady.”‘
‘I warrant you,’ interrupted the Barber, ‘it was not “unsavoury” but
‘So it was,’ cried Sancho; ‘and then there was something about the
wounded one sending health and sickness and what not to the ungrateful
fair, and so it scrambled along until it ended in “Yours till death,
the Knight of the Rueful Countenance.”‘
They were both much amused at Sancho’s good memory, and praised it
highly, asking him to repeat the letter once or twice more to them, so
that they might be able to write it down when they got a chance. Three
times did Sancho repeat it, and each time he made as many new mistakes.
Then he told them other things about his Master, but never a word about
being tossed in a blanket, although he refused, without giving any
reason, to enter the Inn, though he begged them to bring him something
nice and hot to eat, and some barley for Rozinante, when they had
finished their own repast.
With that they went into the Inn, and after a while the Curate brought
him some meat, which Sancho was very glad to see.
Now whilst the Curate and the Barber were in the Inn they discussed
together the best means of bringing Don Quixote back to his home, and
the Curate hit upon a plan which fitted in well with Don Quixote’s
humour, and seemed likely to be successful. This plan was, as he
told the Barber, to dress himself like a wandering damsel, while the
Barber took the part of her Squire, and in this disguise they were to
go to where Don Quixote was undergoing his penance, and the Curate,
pretending that he was an afflicted and sorely distressed damsel, was
to demand of him a boon, which as a valiant Knight Errant he could not
The service which the damsel was to ask was that Don Quixote would
follow her where she should lead him, to right a wrong which some
wicked Knight had done her. Besides this, she was to pray him not to
command her to unveil herself or inquire as to her condition, until he
had done her right against the wicked Knight. And thus they hoped to
lead Don Quixote back to his own village, and afterwards to cure him of
his mad ideas.
The Curate’s notion pleased the Barber well, and they resolved to carry
it out. They borrowed of the Innkeeper’s wife a gown and a head-dress,
leaving with her in exchange the Curate’s new cassock. The Barber made
for himself a great beard of a red ox’s tail in which the Innkeeper
used to hang his horse-comb.
The Innkeeper’s wife asked them what they wanted these things for, and
the Curate told her shortly all about Don Quixote’s madness, and how
this disguise was necessary to bring him away from the mountains where
he had taken up his abode.
The Innkeeper and his wife then remembered all about their strange
guest, and told the Barber and the Curate all about him and his Balsam,
and how Sancho had fared with the blanket. Then the Innkeeper’s wife
dressed up the Curate so cleverly that it could not have been better
done. She attired him in a stuff gown with bands of black velvet
several inches broad, and a bodice and sleeves of green velvet trimmed
with white satin, both of which might have been made in the days of
the Flood. The Curate would not consent to wear a head-dress like a
woman’s, but put on a white quilted linen nightcap, which he carried to
sleep in. Then with two strips of black stuff he made himself a mask
and fixed it on, and this covered his face and beard very neatly. He
then put on his large hat, and, wrapping himself in his cloak, seated
himself like a woman sideways on his mule, whilst the Barber mounted
his, with a beard reaching down to his girdle, made, as was said, from
a red ox’s tail.
They now took their leave, and all at the Inn wished them a good
success; but they had not gone very far when the Curate began to dread
that he was not doing right in dressing up as a woman and gadding about
in such a costume, even on so good an errand. He therefore proposed to
the Barber that he should be the distressed damsel, and he, the Curate,
would take the part of the Squire and teach him what to say and how to
behave. Sancho now came up to them, and, seeing them in their strange
dresses, could not contain his laughter.
The Curate soon threw off his disguise, and the Barber did the same,
and both resolved not to dress up any more until they should come
nearer to Don Quixote, when the Barber should be the distressed damsel
and the Curate should be the Squire.
Then they pursued their journey towards the Brown Mountains, guided by
Sancho, to whom they explained that it was necessary that his Master
should be led away from his penance, if he was ever to become an
Emperor and be in a position to give Sancho his desired Island.
Don Quixote, left to himself, climbed to the top of a high mountain,