Don Quixote By Miguel de Cervantes Part 2: Chapter XVIII-XXII

CHAPTER XVIII.

OF WHAT HAPPENED DON QUIXOTE IN THE CASTLE OR HOUSE OF THE KNIGHT OF THE GREEN GABAN, TOGETHER WITH OTHER MATTERS OUT OF THE COMMON

Don Quixote found Don Diego de Miranda's house built in village style, with his arms in rough stone over the street door; in the patio was the store-room, and at the entrance the cellar, with plenty of wine-jars standing round, which, coming from El Toboso, brought back to his memory his enchanted and transformed Dulcinea; and with a sigh, and not thinking of what he was saying, or in whose presence he was, he exclaimed —

"O ye sweet treasures, to my sorrow found!
Once sweet and welcome when 'twas heaven's good-will.

"O ye Tobosan jars, how ye bring back to my memory the
sweet object of my bitter regrets!"

The student poet, Don Diego's son, who had come out with his mother to receive him, heard this exclamation, and both mother and son were filled with amazement at the extraordinary figure he presented; he, however, dismounting from Rocinante, advanced with great politeness to ask permission to kiss the lady's hand, while Don Diego said, "Senora, pray receive with your wonted kindness Senor Don Quixote of La Mancha, whom you see before you, a knight-errant, and the bravest and wisest in the world."

The lady, whose name was Dona Christina, received him with every sign of good-will and great courtesy, and Don Quixote placed himself at her service with an abundance of well-chosen and polished phrases. Almost the same civilities were exchanged between him and the student, who listening to Don Quixote, took him to be a sensible, clear-headed person.

Here the author describes minutely everything belonging to Don Diego's mansion, putting before us in his picture the whole contents of a rich gentleman-farmer's house; but the translator of the history thought it best to pass over these and other details of the same sort in silence, as they are not in harmony with the main purpose of the story, the strong point of which is truth rather than dull digressions.

They led Don Quixote into a room, and Sancho removed his armour, leaving him in loose Walloon breeches and chamois-leather doublet, all stained with the rust of his armour; his collar was a falling one of scholastic cut, without starch or lace, his buskins buff-coloured, and his shoes polished. He wore his good sword, which hung in a baldric of sea-wolf's skin, for he had suffered for many years, they say, from an ailment of the kidneys; and over all he threw a long cloak of good grey cloth. But first of all, with five or six buckets of water (for as regard the number of buckets there is some dispute), he washed his head and face, and still the water remained whey-coloured, thanks to Sancho's greediness and purchase of those unlucky curds that turned his master so white. Thus arrayed, and with an easy, sprightly, and gallant air, Don Quixote passed out into another room, where the student was waiting to entertain him while the table was being laid; for on the arrival of so distinguished a guest, Dona Christina was anxious to show that she knew how and was able to give a becoming reception to those who came to her house.

While Don Quixote was taking off his armour, Don Lorenzo (for so Don Diego's son was called) took the opportunity to say to his father, "What are we to make of this gentleman you have brought home to us, sir? For his name, his appearance, and your describing him as a knight-errant have completely puzzled my mother and me."

"I don't know what to say, my son," replied. Don Diego; "all I can tell thee is that I have seen him act the acts of the greatest madman in the world, and heard him make observations so sensible that they efface and undo all he does; do thou talk to him and feel the pulse of his wits, and as thou art shrewd, form the most reasonable conclusion thou canst as to his wisdom or folly; though, to tell the truth, I am more inclined to take him to be mad than sane."

With this Don Lorenzo went away to entertain Don Quixote as has been said, and in the course of the conversation that passed between them Don Quixote said to Don Lorenzo, "Your father, Senor Don Diego de Miranda, has told me of the rare abilities and subtle intellect you possess, and, above all, that you are a great poet."

"A poet, it may be," replied Don Lorenzo, "but a great one, by no means. It is true that I am somewhat given to poetry and to reading good poets, but not so much so as to justify the title of 'great' which my father gives me."

"I do not dislike that modesty," said Don Quixote; "for there is no poet who is not conceited and does not think he is the best poet in the world."

"There is no rule without an exception," said Don Lorenzo; "there may be some who are poets and yet do not think they are."

"Very few," said Don Quixote; "but tell me, what verses are those which you have now in hand, and which your father tells me keep you somewhat restless and absorbed? If it be some gloss, I know something about glosses, and I should like to hear them; and if they are for a poetical tournament, contrive to carry off the second prize; for the first always goes by favour or personal standing, the second by simple justice; and so the third comes to be the second, and the first, reckoning in this way, will be third, in the same way as licentiate degrees are conferred at the universities; but, for all that, the title of first is a great distinction."

"So far," said Don Lorenzo to himself, "I should not take you to be a madman; but let us go on." So he said to him, "Your worship has apparently attended the schools; what sciences have you studied?"

"That of knight-errantry," said Don Quixote, "which is as good as that of poetry, and even a finger or two above it."

"I do not know what science that is," said Don Lorenzo, "and until now I have never heard of it."

"It is a science," said Don Quixote, "that comprehends in itself all or most of the sciences in the world, for he who professes it must be a jurist, and must know the rules of justice, distributive and equitable, so as to give to each one what belongs to him and is due to him. He must be a theologian, so as to be able to give a clear and distinctive reason for the Christian faith he professes, wherever it may be asked of him. He must be a physician, and above all a herbalist, so as in wastes and solitudes to know the herbs that have the property of healing wounds, for a knight-errant must not go looking for some one to cure him at every step. He must be an astronomer, so as to know by the stars how many hours of the night have passed, and what clime and quarter of the world he is in. He must know mathematics, for at every turn some occasion for them will present itself to him; and, putting it aside that he must be adorned with all the virtues, cardinal and theological, to come down to minor particulars, he must, I say, be able to swim as well as Nicholas or Nicolao the Fish could, as the story goes; he must know how to shoe a horse, and repair his saddle and bridle; and, to return to higher matters, he must be faithful to God and to his lady; he must be pure in thought, decorous in words, generous in works, valiant in deeds, patient in suffering, compassionate towards the needy, and, lastly, an upholder of the truth though its defence should cost him his life. Of all these qualities, great and small, is a true knight-errant made up; judge then, Senor Don Lorenzo, whether it be a contemptible science which the knight who studies and professes it has to learn, and whether it may not compare with the very loftiest that are taught in the schools."

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After the misadventure with the windmills, Don Quixote




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