"I only said Chloe," replied Don Quixote; "and that no doubt, is the name of the lady of whom the author of the sonnet complains; and, faith, he must be a tolerable poet, or I know little of the craft."
"Then your worship understands rhyming too?"
"And better than thou thinkest," replied Don Quixote, "as thou shalt see when thou carriest a letter written in verse from beginning to end to my lady Dulcinea del Toboso, for I would have thee know, Sancho, that all or most of the knights-errant in days of yore were great troubadours and great musicians, for both of these accomplishments, or more properly speaking gifts, are the peculiar property of lovers-errant: true it is that the verses of the knights of old have more spirit than neatness in them."
"Read more, your worship," said Sancho, "and you will find something that will enlighten us."
Don Quixote turned the page and said, "This is prose and seems to be a letter."
"A correspondence letter, senor?"
"From the beginning it seems to be a love letter," replied Don Quixote.
"Then let your worship read it aloud," said Sancho, "for I am very fond of love matters."
"With all my heart," said Don Quixote, and reading it aloud as Sancho had requested him, he found it ran thus:
Thy false promise and my sure misfortune carry me to a place whence the news of my death will reach thy ears before the words of my complaint. Ungrateful one, thou hast rejected me for one more wealthy, but not more worthy; but if virtue were esteemed wealth I should neither envy the fortunes of others nor weep for misfortunes of my own. What thy beauty raised up thy deeds have laid low; by it I believed thee to be an angel, by them I know thou art a woman. Peace be with thee who hast sent war to me, and Heaven grant that the deceit of thy husband be ever hidden from thee, so that thou repent not of what thou hast done, and I reap not a revenge I would not have.
When he had finished the letter, Don Quixote said, "There is less to be gathered from this than from the verses, except that he who wrote it is some rejected lover;" and turning over nearly all the pages of the book he found more verses and letters, some of which he could read, while others he could not; but they were all made up of complaints, laments, misgivings, desires and aversions, favours and rejections, some rapturous, some doleful. While Don Quixote examined the book, Sancho examined the valise, not leaving a corner in the whole of it or in the pad that he did not search, peer into, and explore, or seam that he did not rip, or tuft of wool that he did not pick to pieces, lest anything should escape for want of care and pains; so keen was the covetousness excited in him by the discovery of the crowns, which amounted to near a hundred; and though he found no more booty, he held the blanket flights, balsam vomits, stake benedictions, carriers' fisticuffs, missing alforjas, stolen coat, and all the hunger, thirst, and weariness he had endured in the service of his good master, cheap at the price; as he considered himself more than fully indemnified for all by the payment he received in the gift of the treasure-trove.
The Knight of the Rueful Countenance was still very anxious to find out who the owner of the valise could be, conjecturing from the sonnet and letter, from the money in gold, and from the fineness of the shirts, that he must be some lover of distinction whom the scorn and cruelty of his lady had driven to some desperate course; but as in that uninhabited and rugged spot there was no one to be seen of whom he could inquire, he saw nothing else for it but to push on, taking whatever road Rocinante chose — which was where he could make his way — firmly persuaded that among these wilds he could not fail to meet some rare adventure. As he went along, then, occupied with these thoughts, he perceived on the summit of a height that rose before their eyes a man who went springing from rock to rock and from tussock to tussock with marvellous agility. As well as he could make out he was unclad, with a thick black beard, long tangled hair, and bare legs and feet, his thighs were covered by breeches apparently of tawny velvet but so ragged that they showed his skin in several places.
He was bareheaded, and notwithstanding the swiftness with which he passed as has been described, the Knight of the Rueful Countenance observed and noted all these trifles, and though he made the attempt, he was unable to follow him, for it was not granted to the feebleness of Rocinante to make way over such rough ground, he being, moreover, slow-paced and sluggish by nature. Don Quixote at once came to the conclusion that this was the owner of the saddle-pad and of the valise, and made up his mind to go in search of him, even though he should have to wander a year in those mountains before he found him, and so he directed Sancho to take a short cut over one side of the mountain, while he himself went by the other, and perhaps by this means they might light upon this man who had passed so quickly out of their sight.
"I could not do that," said Sancho, "for when I separate from your worship fear at once lays hold of me, and assails me with all sorts of panics and fancies; and let what I now say be a notice that from this time forth I am not going to stir a finger's width from your presence."
"It shall be so," said he of the Rueful Countenance, "and I am very glad that thou art willing to rely on my courage, which will never fail thee, even though the soul in thy body fail thee; so come on now behind me slowly as well as thou canst, and make lanterns of thine eyes; let us make the circuit of this ridge; perhaps we shall light upon this man that we saw, who no doubt is no other than the owner of what we found."
To which Sancho made answer, "Far better would it be not to look for him, for, if we find him, and he happens to be the owner of the money, it is plain I must restore it; it would be better, therefore, that without taking this needless trouble, I should keep possession of it until in some other less meddlesome and officious way the real owner may be discovered; and perhaps that will be when I shall have spent it, and then the king will hold me harmless."
"Thou art wrong there, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "for now that we have a suspicion who the owner is, and have him almost before us, we are bound to seek him and make restitution; and if we do not see him, the strong suspicion we have as to his being the owner makes us as guilty as if he were so; and so, friend Sancho, let not our search for him give thee any uneasiness, for if we find him it will relieve mine."
And so saying he gave Rocinante the spur, and Sancho followed him on foot and loaded, and after having partly made the circuit of the mountain they found lying in a ravine, dead and half devoured by dogs and pecked by jackdaws, a mule saddled and bridled, all which still further strengthened their suspicion that he who had fled was the owner of the mule and the saddle-pad.
As they stood looking at it they heard a whistle like that of a shepherd watching his flock, and suddenly on their left there appeared a great number of goats and behind them on the summit of the mountain the goatherd in charge of them, a man advanced in years. Don Quixote called aloud to him and begged him to come down to where they stood. He shouted in return, asking what had brought them to that spot, seldom or never trodden except by the feet of goats, or of the wolves and other wild beasts that roamed around. Sancho in return bade him come down, and they would explain all to him.
The goatherd descended, and reaching the place where Don Quixote stood, he said, "I will wager you are looking at that hack mule that lies dead in the hollow there, and, faith, it has been lying there now these six months; tell me, have you come upon its master about here?"
"We have come upon nobody," answered Don Quixote, "nor on anything except a saddle-pad and a little valise that we found not far from this."
"I found it too," said the goatherd, "but I would not lift it nor go near it for fear of some ill-luck or being charged with theft, for the devil is crafty, and things rise up under one's feet to make one fall without knowing why or wherefore."