Of the Strange Adventures that happened to the Knight of the Mancha in the Brown Mountains, and of the Penance he did there in imitation of Beltenebros

Don Quixote took leave of the Goatherd, and, mounting once again on
Rozinante, he commanded Sancho to follow him, who obeyed, but with
a very ill will. They travelled slowly, entering the thickest and
roughest part of the mountains, and at last Sancho Panza, who was
growing very impatient, burst out: ‘Good Sir Don Quixote, let me speak
what is on my mind, for it is a hard thing to go about looking for
adventures all one’s life, and find nothing but tramplings under the
feet, and tossings in blankets, and stoning, and blows, and buffets.’
‘Speak on,’ replied his Master, ‘for I will hear what thou hast to say.’
‘Then,’ replied Sancho, ‘I would know what benefit your Worship could
reap by taking the part of the Queen Magimasas, or whatever you call
her. For if you had let it pass, I believe the madman would have
finished his tale, and I should have escaped a beating.’
‘In faith, Sancho,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘if thou knewest as well as I
do, how honourable a lady was Queen Madasima, thou wouldst rather say
I behaved with great patience. Cardenio knew not what he was saying to
call her wicked, and must have been out of his senses.’
‘So say I,’ said Sancho, ‘and you ought not to take notice of the words
of a madman.’
‘Against sane and mad,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘is every Knight Errant
bound to stand up for the honour of women, whoever they may be. Be
silent, therefore, and meddle not with what does not concern thee.
Understand that all I do is guided by the rules of Knighthood, which
are better known to me than to any Knight that ever lived.’
‘Sir!’ replied Sancho, ‘is there any rule of Knighthood which obliges
us to wander among the mountains looking for a madman, who, if he is
found, will probably break our heads again?’
‘Peace, I say, Sancho, once again!’ exclaimed Don Quixote, ‘for thou
must know that it is not only the desire of finding the madman that
brings me into these wilds, but because I have in mind to carry out an
adventure that shall bring me eternal fame and renown over the whole
face of the earth.’
‘Is it a dangerous adventure?’ asked Sancho.
‘That is according as it turns out,’ replied Don Quixote. ‘But I will
keep you no longer in the dark about it. You must know that Amadis
of Gaul was the most perfect of all the Knights Errant. And as he
was the morning star and the sun of all valiant Knights, so am I wise
in imitating all he did. And I remember that when his Lady Oriana
disdained his love, he showed his wisdom, virtue, and manhood by
changing his name to Beltenebros and retiring to a wild country, there
to perform a penance. And as I may more easily imitate him in this than
in slaying giants, beheading serpents, killing monsters, destroying
armies, and putting navies to flight, and because this mountain seems
to fit for the purpose, I intend myself to do penance here.’
‘But what is it that your Worship intends to do in this out of the way
spot?’ asked Sancho.
‘Have not I told thee already,’ replied his Master, ‘that I mean to
copy Amadis of Gaul, by acting here the part of a despairing, mad, and
furious lover?’
‘I believe,’ continued Sancho, ‘that the Knights who went through these
penances must have had some reason for so doing, but what cause has
your Worship for going mad? What Lady hath disdained you? How has the
Lady Dulcinea of Toboso ever treated you unkindly?’
‘That is just the point of it,’ said Don Quixote: ‘for a Knight Errant
to go mad for good reason has no merit in it, but the whole kernel of
the matter is to go mad without a cause. Therefore, Sancho, waste no
more time, for mad I am, and mad I shall remain, until thou return
again with the answer to a letter which I mean to send with thee to my
Lady Dulcinea. If the answer is such as I deserve, my penance will end,
but if the contrary, I shall run mad in good earnest. But tell me,
Sancho, hast thou kept safely the helmet of Mambrino?’
‘Really, Sir Knight,’ answered Sancho, ‘I cannot listen patiently to
some things your Worship says, and I sometimes think all you tell me of
Knighthood is nothing but a pack of lies. For to hear your Worship say
that a barber’s basin is Mambrino’s helmet, and not to find out your
mistake in four days, makes one wonder whether one is standing on one’s
head or one’s heels. I carry the basin right enough in my baggage, all
battered and dented, and intend to take it home and put it to rights,
and soap my beard in it when I return to my wife and children.’
‘Ah, Sancho,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘I think that thou hast the
shallowest pate that ever any Squire had or hath in this world. Is it
possible thou hast so long travelled with me and not found out that all
the adventures of Knights Errant appear illusions, follies, and dreams,
and turn out all contrariwise? So this that thou callest a barber’s
basin is to me Mambrino’s helmet, and to another person has some
other shape altogether. Not that it has all these shapes, but these
things are the work of wicked enchanters or magicians, who transform
everything, making things seem what they please in order to annoy us.’
By this time they had arrived at the foot of a lofty mountain, which
stood like a huge rock apart from all the rest. Close by glided a
smooth river, hemmed in on every side by a green and fertile meadow.
Around were many fine trees and plants and flowers, which made the
spot a most delightful one.
‘Here!’ cried Don Quixote in a loud voice, ‘I elect to do my penance.
Here shall the tears from my eyes swell the limpid streams, and here
shall the sighs of my heart stir the leaves of every mountain tree. O
Dulcinea of Toboso, day of my night and star of my fortunes, consider
the pass to which I am come, and return a favourable answer to my
With this he alighted from Rozinante, and, taking off his saddle and
bridle, gave him a slap on his haunches, and said: ‘He gives thee
liberty that wants it himself, O steed, famous for thy swiftness and
the great works thou hast done!’
When Sancho heard all this he could not help saying: ‘I wish Dapple
were here, for he deserves at least as long a speech in his praise; but
truly, Sir Knight, if my journey with your letter, and your penance
here, are really to take place, it would be better to saddle Rozinante
again, that he may supply the want of mine Ass.’
‘As thou likest about that,’ said Don Quixote; ‘but thou must not
depart for three days as yet, during which time thou shalt see what I
will say and do for my Lady’s sake, that thou mayest tell her all about
‘But what more can I see,’ asked Sancho, ‘than what I have already
‘Thou art well up in the matter, certainly,’ replied his Master, ‘for
as yet I have done nothing, and if I am to be a despairing lover, I
must tear my clothes, and throw away mine armour, and beat my head
against these rocks, with many other things that shall make thee
‘For goodness’ sake,’ cried Sancho, ‘take care how you go knocking
your head against rocks, for you might happen to come up against so
ungracious a rock that it would put an end to the penance altogether.
If the knocks on the head are necessary, I should content yourself,
seeing that this madness is all make-believe, with striking your head
on some softer thing, and leave the rest to me, for I will tell your
Lady that I saw you strike your head on the point of a rock that was
harder than a diamond.’
‘I thank thee, Sancho, for thy good will,’ replied the Knight, ‘but the
rules of Knighthood forbid me to act or to speak a lie, and therefore
the knocks of the head must be real solid knocks, and it will be
necessary for thee to leave me some lint to cure them, seeing that
fortune has deprived us of that precious Balsam.’
‘It was worse to lose the Ass,’ said Sancho, ‘seeing that with him we
lost lint and everything; but pray, your Worship, never mention that
horrible Balsam again, for the very name of it nearly turns me inside
out. And now write your letter, and let me saddle Rozinante and begone,
for I warrant when I once get to Toboso I will tell the Lady Dulcinea
such strange things of your follies and madness, that I shall make her
as soft as a glove even though I find her harder than a cork-tree. And
with her sweet and honied answer I will return as speedily as a witch
on a broomstick, and release you from your penance.’
‘But how shall we write a letter here?’ said Don Quixote.
‘And how can you write the order for the handing over to me of the
ass-colts?’ asked Sancho.
‘Seeing there is no paper,’ said the Knight, ‘we might, like the
ancients, write on waxen tablets, but that wax is as hard to find
as paper. But now that I come to think of it, there is Cardenio’s
pocket-book. I will write on that, and thou shalt have the matter of
it written out in a good round hand at the first village wherein thou
shalt find a schoolmaster.’
‘But what is to be done about the signature?’ asked Sancho.
‘The letters of Amadis were never signed,’ replied Don Quixote.
‘That is all very well,’ said Sancho, ‘but the paper for the three
asses must be signed, for if it be copied out they shall say it is
false, and then I shall not get the ass-colts.’
‘Well, then, the order for the ass-colts shall be signed in the book,’
said Don Quixote; ‘and as for the love-letter, thou shalt put this
ending to it, “Yours till death, the Knight of the Rueful Countenance.”
And it will be no great matter that it goes in a strange hand, for as
well as I remember Dulcinea can neither read nor write, nor has she
ever seen my handwriting. For indeed, during the twelve years I have
been loving her more dearly than the light of my eyes, I have only
seen her four times, and I doubt if she hath ever noticed me at all,
so closely have her father Lorenzo Corchuelo, and her mother Aldonza
brought her up.’
‘Ha! ha!’ cried Sancho, ‘then the Lady Dulcinea of Toboso is the
daughter of Lorenzo Corchuelo, and is called Aldonza Corchuelo?’
‘That is she,’ said Don Quixote, ‘and a lady worthy to be the Empress
of this wide universe.’

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‘I know her very well,’ replied Sancho, ‘and can tell you that she
can throw an iron bar with the strongest lad in our village. She is a
girl of mettle, tall and stout, and a sturdy lass that can hold her
own with any Knight Errant in the world. Out upon her, what an arm she
hath! Why, I saw her one day stand on top of the church belfry, to call
her father’s servants from the fields, and, though they were half a
league off, they heard her as though she were in the next field; and
the best of her is there is nothing coy about her, but she jokes with
all and makes game and jest of everybody. To be frank with you, Sir
Don Quixote, I have been living under a great mistake, for, really and
truly, I thought all this while that the Lady Dulcinea was some great
Princess with whom your Worship was in love.’
‘I have told thee, Sancho, many times before now,’ said Don Quixote,
‘that thou art a very great babbler. Understand, then, that my Lady
Dulcinea is to me as good and beautiful as any Princess in the world,
and that is enough.’
With these words he took out the pocket-book, and, going aside, began
to write with great gravity. When he had ended, he called Sancho to him
and read him the following letter:β€”
‘The sore wounded one, O sweetest Dulcinea of Toboso, sends thee the
health which he wants himself. If thy beauty disdain me, I cannot
live. My good Squire Sancho will give thee ample account, O ungrateful
fair one, of the penance I do for love of thee. Should it be thy
pleasure to favour me, I am thine. If not, by ending my life I shall
satisfy both thy cruelty and my desires.
‘Thine until death,
‘By my fathers life,’ said Sancho, ‘it is the noblest thing that ever
I heard in my life; and now will your Worship write the order for the
three ass-colts?’
‘With pleasure,’ answered Don Quixote, and he did as he was desired.
‘And now,’ said Sancho, ‘let me saddle Rozinante and be off. For I
intend to start without waiting to see those mad pranks your Worship is
going to play. There is one thing I am afraid of, though, and that is,
that on my return I shall not be able to find the place where I leave
you, it is so wild and difficult.’
‘Take the marks well, and when thou shouldst return I will mount to the
tops of the highest rocks. Also it will be well to cut down some boughs
and strew them after you as you go, that they may serve as marks to
find your way back, like the clue in Theseus’ labyrinth.’
Sancho did this, and, not heeding his Master’s request to stay and see
him go through some mad tricks in order that he might describe them to
Dulcinea, he mounted Rozinante and rode away.
He had not got more than a hundred paces when he returned and said:
‘Sir, what you said was true, and it would be better for my conscience
if I saw the follies you are about to do before I describe them to your
‘Did I not tell thee so?’ said Don Quixote; ‘wait but a minute.’
Then stripping himself in all haste of most of his clothes, Don Quixote
began cutting capers and turning somersaults in his shirt tails, until
even Sancho was satisfied that he might truthfully tell the Lady
Dulcinea that her lover was mad, and so, turning away, he started in
good earnest upon his journey.