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The History of Don Quixote, Vol. II., Part 36 by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

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Produced by David Widger


Volume II.

Part 36.

by Miguel de Cervantes

Translated by John Ormsby



It was a fresh morning giving promise of a cool day as Don Quixote
quitted the inn, first of all taking care to ascertain the most direct
road to Barcelona without touching upon Saragossa; so anxious was he to
make out this new historian, who they said abused him so, to be a liar.
Well, as it fell out, nothing worthy of being recorded happened him for
six days, at the end of which, having turned aside out of the road, he
was overtaken by night in a thicket of oak or cork trees; for on this
point Cide Hamete is not as precise as he usually is on other matters.

Master and man dismounted from their beasts, and as soon as they had
settled themselves at the foot of the trees, Sancho, who had had a good
noontide meal that day, let himself, without more ado, pass the gates of
sleep. But Don Quixote, whom his thoughts, far more than hunger, kept
awake, could not close an eye, and roamed in fancy to and fro through all
sorts of places. At one moment it seemed to him that he was in the cave
of Montesinos and saw Dulcinea, transformed into a country wench,
skipping and mounting upon her she-ass; again that the words of the sage
Merlin were sounding in his ears, setting forth the conditions to be
observed and the exertions to be made for the disenchantment of Dulcinea.
He lost all patience when he considered the laziness and want of charity
of his squire Sancho; for to the best of his belief he had only given
himself five lashes, a number paltry and disproportioned to the vast
number required. At this thought he felt such vexation and anger that he
reasoned the matter thus: "If Alexander the Great cut the Gordian knot,
saying, 'To cut comes to the same thing as to untie,' and yet did not
fail to become lord paramount of all Asia, neither more nor less could
happen now in Dulcinea's disenchantment if I scourge Sancho against his
will; for, if it is the condition of the remedy that Sancho shall receive
three thousand and odd lashes, what does it matter to me whether he
inflicts them himself, or some one else inflicts them, when the essential
point is that he receives them, let them come from whatever quarter they

With this idea he went over to Sancho, having first taken Rocinante's
reins and arranged them so as to be able to flog him with them, and began
to untie the points (the common belief is he had but one in front) by
which his breeches were held up; but the instant he approached him Sancho
woke up in his full senses and cried out, "What is this? Who is touching
me and untrussing me?"

"It is I," said Don Quixote, "and I come to make good thy shortcomings
and relieve my own distresses; I come to whip thee, Sancho, and wipe off
some portion of the debt thou hast undertaken. Dulcinea is perishing,
thou art living on regardless, I am dying of hope deferred; therefore
untruss thyself with a good will, for mine it is, here, in this retired
spot, to give thee at least two thousand lashes."

"Not a bit of it," said Sancho; "let your worship keep quiet, or else by
the living God the deaf shall hear us; the lashes I pledged myself to
must be voluntary and not forced upon me, and just now I have no fancy to
whip myself; it is enough if I give you my word to flog and flap myself
when I have a mind."

"It will not do to leave it to thy courtesy, Sancho," said Don Quixote,
"for thou art hard of heart and, though a clown, tender of flesh;" and at
the same time he strove and struggled to untie him.

Seeing this Sancho got up, and grappling with his master he gripped him
with all his might in his arms, giving him a trip with the heel stretched
him on the ground on his back, and pressing his right knee on his chest
held his hands in his own so that he could neither move nor breathe.

"How now, traitor!" exclaimed Don Quixote. "Dost thou revolt against thy
master and natural lord? Dost thou rise against him who gives thee his

"I neither put down king, nor set up king," said Sancho; "I only stand up
for myself who am my own lord; if your worship promises me to be quiet,
and not to offer to whip me now, I'll let you go free and unhindered; if

Traitor and Dona Sancha's foe,
Thou diest on the spot."
Don Quixote gave his promise, and swore by the life of his thoughts not
to touch so much as a hair of his garments, and to leave him entirely
free and to his own discretion to whip himself whenever he pleased.

Sancho rose and removed some distance from the spot, but as he was about
to place himself leaning against another tree he felt something touch his
head, and putting up his hands encountered somebody's two feet with shoes
and stockings on them. He trembled with fear and made for another tree,
where the very same thing happened to him, and he fell a-shouting,
calling upon Don Quixote to come and protect him. Don Quixote did so, and
asked him what had happened to him, and what he was afraid of. Sancho
replied that all the trees were full of men's feet and legs. Don Quixote
felt them, and guessed at once what it was, and said to Sancho, "Thou
hast nothing to be afraid of, for these feet and legs that thou feelest
but canst not see belong no doubt to some outlaws and freebooters that
have been hanged on these trees; for the authorities in these parts are
wont to hang them up by twenties and thirties when they catch them;
whereby I conjecture that I must be near Barcelona;" and it was, in fact,
as he supposed; with the first light they looked up and saw that the
fruit hanging on those trees were freebooters' bodies.

And now day dawned; and if the dead freebooters had scared them, their
hearts were no less troubled by upwards of forty living ones, who all of
a sudden surrounded them, and in the Catalan tongue bade them stand and
wait until their captain came up. Don Quixote was on foot with his horse
unbridled and his lance leaning against a tree, and in short completely
defenceless; he thought it best therefore to fold his arms and bow his
head and reserve himself for a more favourable occasion and opportunity.
The robbers made haste to search Dapple, and did not leave him a single
thing of all he carried in the alforjas and in the valise; and lucky it
was for Sancho that the duke's crowns and those he brought from home were
in a girdle that he wore round him; but for all that these good folk
would have stripped him, and even looked to see what he had hidden
between the skin and flesh, but for the arrival at that moment of their
captain, who was about thirty-four years of age apparently, strongly
built, above the middle height, of stern aspect and swarthy complexion.
He was mounted upon a powerful horse, and had on a coat of mail, with
four of the pistols they call petronels in that country at his waist. He
saw that his squires (for so they call those who follow that trade) were
about to rifle Sancho Panza, but he ordered them to desist and was at
once obeyed, so the girdle escaped. He wondered to see the lance leaning
against the tree, the shield on the ground, and Don Quixote in armour and
dejected, with the saddest and most melancholy face that sadness itself
could produce; and going up to him he said, "Be not so cast down, good
man, for you have not fallen into the hands of any inhuman Busiris, but
into Roque Guinart's, which are more merciful than cruel."

"The cause of my dejection," returned Don Quixote, "is not that I have
fallen into thy hands, O valiant Roque, whose fame is bounded by no
limits on earth, but that my carelessness should have been so great that
thy soldiers should have caught me unbridled, when it is my duty,
according to the rule of knight-errantry which I profess, to be always on
the alert and at all times my own sentinel; for let me tell thee, great
Roque, had they found me on my horse, with my lance and shield, it would
not have been very easy for them to reduce me to submission, for I am Don
Quixote of La Mancha, he who hath filled the whole world with his

Roque Guinart at once perceived that Don Quixote's weakness was more akin
to madness than to swagger; and though he had sometimes heard him spoken
of, he never regarded the things attributed to him as true, nor could he
persuade himself that such a humour could become dominant in the heart of
man; he was extremely glad, therefore, to meet him and test at close
quarters what he had heard of him at a distance; so he said to him,
"Despair not, valiant knight, nor regard as an untoward fate the position
in which thou findest thyself; it may be that by these slips thy crooked
fortune will make itself straight; for heaven by strange circuitous ways,
mysterious and incomprehensible to man, raises up the fallen and makes
rich the poor."

Don Quixote was about to thank him, when they heard behind them a noise
as of a troop of horses; there was, however, but one, riding on which at
a furious pace came a youth, apparently about twenty years of age, clad
in green damask edged with gold and breeches and a loose frock, with a
hat looped up in the Walloon fashion, tight-fitting polished boots, gilt
spurs, dagger and sword, and in his hand a musketoon, and a pair of
pistols at his waist.

Roque turned round at the noise and perceived this comely figure, which
drawing near thus addressed him, "I came in quest of thee, valiant Roque,
to find in thee if not a remedy at least relief in my misfortune; and not
to keep thee in suspense, for I see thou dost not recognise me, I will
tell thee who I am; I am Claudia Jeronima, the daughter of Simon Forte,
thy good friend, and special enemy of Clauquel Torrellas, who is thine
also as being of the faction opposed to thee. Thou knowest that this
Torrellas has a son who is called, or at least was not two hours since,
Don Vicente Torrellas. Well, to cut short the tale of my misfortune, I
will tell thee in a few words what this youth has brought upon me. He saw
me, he paid court to me, I listened to him, and, unknown to my father, I
loved him; for there is no woman, however secluded she may live or close
she may be kept, who will not have opportunities and to spare for
following her headlong impulses. In a word, he pledged himself to be
mine, and I promised to be his, without carrying matters any further.
Yesterday I learned that, forgetful of his pledge to me, he was about to
marry another, and that he was to go this morning to plight his troth,
intelligence which overwhelmed and exasperated me; my father not being at
home I was able to adopt this costume you see, and urging my horse to
speed I overtook Don Vicente about a league from this, and without
waiting to utter reproaches or hear excuses I fired this musket at him,
and these two pistols besides, and to the best of my belief I must have
lodged more than two bullets in his body, opening doors to let my honour
go free, enveloped in his blood. I left him there in the hands of his
servants, who did not dare and were not able to interfere in his defence,
and I come to seek from thee a safe-conduct into France, where I have
relatives with whom I can live; and also to implore thee to protect my
father, so that Don Vicente's numerous kinsmen may not venture to wreak
their lawless vengeance upon him."

Roque, filled with admiration at the gallant bearing, high spirit, comely
figure, and adventure of the fair Claudia, said to her, "Come, senora,
let us go and see if thy enemy is dead; and then we will consider what
will be best for thee." Don Quixote, who had been listening to what
Claudia said and Roque Guinart said in reply to her, exclaimed, "Nobody
need trouble himself with the defence of this lady, for I take it upon
myself. Give me my horse and arms, and wait for me here; I will go in
quest of this knight, and dead or alive I will make him keep his word
plighted to so great beauty."

"Nobody need have any doubt about that," said Sancho, "for my master has
a very happy knack of matchmaking; it's not many days since he forced
another man to marry, who in the same way backed out of his promise to
another maiden; and if it had not been for his persecutors the enchanters
changing the man's proper shape into a lacquey's the said maiden would
not be one this minute."

Roque, who was paying more attention to the fair Claudia's adventure than
to the words of master or man, did not hear them; and ordering his
squires to restore to Sancho everything they had stripped Dapple of, he
directed them to return to the place where they had been quartered during
the night, and then set off with Claudia at full speed in search of the
wounded or slain Don Vicente. They reached the spot where Claudia met
him, but found nothing there save freshly spilt blood; looking all round,
however, they descried some people on the slope of a hill above them, and
concluded, as indeed it proved to be, that it was Don Vicente, whom
either dead or alive his servants were removing to attend to his wounds
or to bury him. They made haste to overtake them, which, as the party
moved slowly, they were able to do with ease. They found Don Vicente in
the arms of his servants, whom he was entreating in a broken feeble voice
to leave him there to die, as the pain of his wounds would not suffer him
to go any farther. Claudia and Roque threw themselves off their horses
and advanced towards him; the servants were overawed by the appearance of
Roque, and Claudia was moved by the sight of Don Vicente, and going up to
him half tenderly half sternly, she seized his hand and said to him,
"Hadst thou given me this according to our compact thou hadst never come
to this pass."

The wounded gentleman opened his all but closed eyes, and recognising
Claudia said, "I see clearly, fair and mistaken lady, that it is thou
that hast slain me, a punishment not merited or deserved by my feelings
towards thee, for never did I mean to, nor could I, wrong thee in thought
or deed."

"It is not true, then," said Claudia, "that thou wert going this morning
to marry Leonora the daughter of the rich Balvastro?"

"Assuredly not," replied Don Vicente; "my cruel fortune must have carried
those tidings to thee to drive thee in thy jealousy to take my life; and
to assure thyself of this, press my hands and take me for thy husband if
thou wilt; I have no better satisfaction to offer thee for the wrong thou
fanciest thou hast received from me."

Claudia wrung his hands, and her own heart was so wrung that she lay
fainting on the bleeding breast of Don Vicente, whom a death spasm seized
the same instant. Roque was in perplexity and knew not what to do; the
servants ran to fetch water to sprinkle their faces, and brought some and
bathed them with it. Claudia recovered from her fainting fit, but not so
Don Vicente from the paroxysm that had overtaken him, for his life had
come to an end. On perceiving this, Claudia, when she had convinced
herself that her beloved husband was no more, rent the air with her sighs
and made the heavens ring with her lamentations; she tore her hair and
scattered it to the winds, she beat her face with her hands and showed
all the signs of grief and sorrow that could be conceived to come from an
afflicted heart. "Cruel, reckless woman!" she cried, "how easily wert
thou moved to carry out a thought so wicked! O furious force of jealousy,
to what desperate lengths dost thou lead those that give thee lodging in
their bosoms! O husband, whose unhappy fate in being mine hath borne thee
from the marriage bed to the grave!"

So vehement and so piteous were the lamentations of Claudia that they
drew tears from Roque's eyes, unused as they were to shed them on any
occasion. The servants wept, Claudia swooned away again and again, and
the whole place seemed a field of sorrow and an abode of misfortune. In
the end Roque Guinart directed Don Vicente's servants to carry his body
to his father's village, which was close by, for burial. Claudia told him
she meant to go to a monastery of which an aunt of hers was abbess, where
she intended to pass her life with a better and everlasting spouse. He
applauded her pious resolution, and offered to accompany her
whithersoever she wished, and to protect her father against the kinsmen
of Don Vicente and all the world, should they seek to injure him. Claudia
would not on any account allow him to accompany her; and thanking him for
his offers as well as she could, took leave of him in tears. The servants
of Don Vicente carried away his body, and Roque returned to his comrades,
and so ended the love of Claudia Jeronima; but what wonder, when it was
the insuperable and cruel might of jealousy that wove the web of her sad

Roque Guinart found his squires at the place to which he had ordered
them, and Don Quixote on Rocinante in the midst of them delivering a
harangue to them in which he urged them to give up a mode of life so full
of peril, as well to the soul as to the body; but as most of them were
Gascons, rough lawless fellows, his speech did not make much impression
on them. Roque on coming up asked Sancho if his men had returned and
restored to him the treasures and jewels they had stripped off Dapple.
Sancho said they had, but that three kerchiefs that were worth three
cities were missing.

"What are you talking about, man?" said one of the bystanders; "I have
got them, and they are not worth three reals."

"That is true," said Don Quixote; "but my squire values them at the rate
he says, as having been given me by the person who gave them."

Roque Guinart ordered them to be restored at once; and making his men
fall in in line he directed all the clothing, jewellery, and money that
they had taken since the last distribution to be produced; and making a
hasty valuation, and reducing what could not be divided into money, he
made shares for the whole band so equitably and carefully, that in no
case did he exceed or fall short of strict distributive justice.

When this had been done, and all left satisfied, Roque observed to Don
Quixote, "If this scrupulous exactness were not observed with these
fellows there would be no living with them."

Upon this Sancho remarked, "From what I have seen here, justice is such a
good thing that there is no doing without it, even among the thieves

One of the squires heard this, and raising the butt-end of his harquebuss
would no doubt have broken Sancho's head with it had not Roque Guinart
called out to him to hold his hand. Sancho was frightened out of his
wits, and vowed not to open his lips so long as he was in the company of
these people.

At this instant one or two of those squires who were posted as sentinels
on the roads, to watch who came along them and report what passed to
their chief, came up and said, "Senor, there is a great troop of people
not far off coming along the road to Barcelona."

To which Roque replied, "Hast thou made out whether they are of the sort
that are after us, or of the sort we are after?"

"The sort we are after," said the squire.

"Well then, away with you all," said Roque, "and bring them here to me at
once without letting one of them escape."

They obeyed, and Don Quixote, Sancho, and Roque, left by themselves,
waited to see what the squires brought, and while they were waiting Roque
said to Don Quixote, "It must seem a strange sort of life to Senor Don
Quixote, this of ours, strange adventures, strange incidents, and all
full of danger; and I do not wonder that it should seem so, for in truth
I must own there is no mode of life more restless or anxious than ours.
What led me into it was a certain thirst for vengeance, which is strong
enough to disturb the quietest hearts. I am by nature tender-hearted and
kindly, but, as I said, the desire to revenge myself for a wrong that was
done me so overturns all my better impulses that I keep on in this way of
life in spite of what conscience tells me; and as one depth calls to
another, and one sin to another sin, revenges have linked themselves
together, and I have taken upon myself not only my own but those of
others: it pleases God, however, that, though I see myself in this maze
of entanglements, I do not lose all hope of escaping from it and reaching
a safe port."

Don Quixote was amazed to hear Roque utter such excellent and just
sentiments, for he did not think that among those who followed such
trades as robbing, murdering, and waylaying, there could be anyone
capable of a virtuous thought, and he said in reply, "Senor Roque, the
beginning of health lies in knowing the disease and in the sick man's
willingness to take the medicines which the physician prescribes; you are
sick, you know what ails you, and heaven, or more properly speaking God,
who is our physician, will administer medicines that will cure you, and
cure gradually, and not of a sudden or by a miracle; besides, sinners of
discernment are nearer amendment than those who are fools; and as your
worship has shown good sense in your remarks, all you have to do is to
keep up a good heart and trust that the weakness of your conscience will
be strengthened. And if you have any desire to shorten the journey and
put yourself easily in the way of salvation, come with me, and I will
show you how to become a knight-errant, a calling wherein so many
hardships and mishaps are encountered that if they be taken as penances
they will lodge you in heaven in a trice."

Roque laughed at Don Quixote's exhortation, and changing the conversation
he related the tragic affair of Claudia Jeronima, at which Sancho was
extremely grieved; for he had not found the young woman's beauty,
boldness, and spirit at all amiss.

And now the squires despatched to make the prize came up, bringing with
them two gentlemen on horseback, two pilgrims on foot, and a coach full
of women with some six servants on foot and on horseback in attendance on
them, and a couple of muleteers whom the gentlemen had with them. The
squires made a ring round them, both victors and vanquished maintaining
profound silence, waiting for the great Roque Guinart to speak. He asked
the gentlemen who they were, whither they were going, and what money they
carried with them; "Senor," replied one of them, "we are two captains of
Spanish infantry; our companies are at Naples, and we are on our way to
embark in four galleys which they say are at Barcelona under orders for
Sicily; and we have about two or three hundred crowns, with which we are,
according to our notions, rich and contented, for a soldier's poverty
does not allow a more extensive hoard."

Roque asked the pilgrims the same questions he had put to the captains,
and was answered that they were going to take ship for Rome, and that
between them they might have about sixty reals. He asked also who was in
the coach, whither they were bound and what money they had, and one of
the men on horseback replied, "The persons in the coach are my lady Dona
Guiomar de Quinones, wife of the regent of the Vicaria at Naples, her
little daughter, a handmaid and a duenna; we six servants are in
attendance upon her, and the money amounts to six hundred crowns."

"So then," said Roque Guinart, "we have got here nine hundred crowns and
sixty reals; my soldiers must number some sixty; see how much there falls
to each, for I am a bad arithmetician." As soon as the robbers heard this
they raised a shout of "Long life to Roque Guinart, in spite of the
lladres that seek his ruin!"

The captains showed plainly the concern they felt, the regent's lady was
downcast, and the pilgrims did not at all enjoy seeing their property
confiscated. Roque kept them in suspense in this way for a while; but he
had no desire to prolong their distress, which might be seen a bowshot
off, and turning to the captains he said, "Sirs, will your worships be
pleased of your courtesy to lend me sixty crowns, and her ladyship the
regent's wife eighty, to satisfy this band that follows me, for 'it is by
his singing the abbot gets his dinner;' and then you may at once proceed
on your journey, free and unhindered, with a safe-conduct which I shall
give you, so that if you come across any other bands of mine that I have
scattered in these parts, they may do you no harm; for I have no
intention of doing injury to soldiers, or to any woman, especially one of

Profuse and hearty were the expressions of gratitude with which the
captains thanked Roque for his courtesy and generosity; for such they
regarded his leaving them their own money. Senora Dona Guiomar de
Quinones wanted to throw herself out of the coach to kiss the feet and
hands of the great Roque, but he would not suffer it on any account; so
far from that, he begged her pardon for the wrong he had done her under
pressure of the inexorable necessities of his unfortunate calling. The
regent's lady ordered one of her servants to give the eighty crowns that
had been assessed as her share at once, for the captains had already paid
down their sixty. The pilgrims were about to give up the whole of their
little hoard, but Roque bade them keep quiet, and turning to his men he
said, "Of these crowns two fall to each man and twenty remain over; let
ten be given to these pilgrims, and the other ten to this worthy squire
that he may be able to speak favourably of this adventure;" and then
having writing materials, with which he always went provided, brought to
him, he gave them in writing a safe-conduct to the leaders of his bands;
and bidding them farewell let them go free and filled with admiration at
his magnanimity, his generous disposition, and his unusual conduct, and
inclined to regard him as an Alexander the Great rather than a notorious

One of the squires observed in his mixture of Gascon and Catalan, "This
captain of ours would make a better friar than highwayman; if he wants to
be so generous another time, let it be with his own property and not

The unlucky wight did not speak so low but that Roque overheard him, and
drawing his sword almost split his head in two, saying, "That is the way
I punish impudent saucy fellows." They were all taken aback, and not one
of them dared to utter a word, such deference did they pay him. Roque
then withdrew to one side and wrote a letter to a friend of his at
Barcelona, telling him that the famous Don Quixote of La Mancha, the
knight-errant of whom there was so much talk, was with him, and was, he
assured him, the drollest and wisest man in the world; and that in four
days from that date, that is to say, on Saint John the Baptist's Day, he
was going to deposit him in full armour mounted on his horse Rocinante,
together with his squire Sancho on an ass, in the middle of the strand of
the city; and bidding him give notice of this to his friends the Niarros,
that they might divert themselves with him. He wished, he said, his
enemies the Cadells could be deprived of this pleasure; but that was
impossible, because the crazes and shrewd sayings of Don Quixote and the
humours of his squire Sancho Panza could not help giving general pleasure
to all the world. He despatched the letter by one of his squires, who,
exchanging the costume of a highwayman for that of a peasant, made his
way into Barcelona and gave it to the person to whom it was directed.


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