"Who should it be," said Sancho, "but Don Quixote of La Mancha himself, who will make good all he has said and all he will say; for pledges don't trouble a good payer."
Sancho had hardly uttered these words when two gentlemen, for such they seemed to be, entered the room, and one of them, throwing his arms round Don Quixote's neck, said to him, "Your appearance cannot leave any question as to your name, nor can your name fail to identify your appearance; unquestionably, senor, you are the real Don Quixote of La Mancha, cynosure and morning star of knight-errantry, despite and in defiance of him who has sought to usurp your name and bring to naught your achievements, as the author of this book which I here present to you has done;" and with this he put a book which his companion carried into the hands of Don Quixote, who took it, and without replying began to run his eye over it; but he presently returned it saying, "In the little I have seen I have discovered three things in this author that deserve to be censured. The first is some words that I have read in the preface; the next that the language is Aragonese, for sometimes he writes without articles; and the third, which above all stamps him as ignorant, is that he goes wrong and departs from the truth in the most important part of the history, for here he says that my squire Sancho Panza's wife is called Mari Gutierrez, when she is called nothing of the sort, but Teresa Panza; and when a man errs on such an important point as this there is good reason to fear that he is in error on every other point in the history."
"A nice sort of historian, indeed!" exclaimed Sancho at this; "he must know a deal about our affairs when he calls my wife Teresa Panza, Mari Gutierrez; take the book again, senor, and see if I am in it and if he has changed my name."
"From your talk, friend," said Don Jeronimo, "no doubt you are Sancho Panza, Senor Don Quixote's squire."
"Yes, I am," said Sancho; "and I'm proud of it."
"Faith, then," said the gentleman, "this new author does not handle you with the decency that displays itself in your person; he makes you out a heavy feeder and a fool, and not in the least droll, and a very different being from the Sancho described in the First Part of your master's history."
"God forgive him," said Sancho; "he might have left me in my corner without troubling his head about me; 'let him who knows how ring the bells; 'Saint Peter is very well in Rome.'"
The two gentlemen pressed Don Quixote to come into their room and have supper with them, as they knew very well there was nothing in that inn fit for one of his sort. Don Quixote, who was always polite, yielded to their request and supped with them. Sancho stayed behind with the stew. and invested with plenary delegated authority seated himself at the head of the table, and the landlord sat down with him, for he was no less fond of cow-heel and calves' feet than Sancho was.
While at supper Don Juan asked Don Quixote what news he had of the lady Dulcinea del Toboso, was she married, had she been brought to bed, or was she with child, or did she in maidenhood, still preserving her modesty and delicacy, cherish the remembrance of the tender passion of Senor Don Quixote?
To this he replied, "Dulcinea is a maiden still, and my passion more firmly rooted than ever, our intercourse unsatisfactory as before, and her beauty transformed into that of a foul country wench;" and then he proceeded to give them a full and particular account of the enchantment of Dulcinea, and of what had happened him in the cave of Montesinos, together with what the sage Merlin had prescribed for her disenchantment, namely the scourging of Sancho.
Exceedingly great was the amusement the two gentlemen derived from hearing Don Quixote recount the strange incidents of his history; and if they were amazed by his absurdities they were equally amazed by the elegant style in which he delivered them. On the one hand they regarded him as a man of wit and sense, and on the other he seemed to them a maundering blockhead, and they could not make up their minds whereabouts between wisdom and folly they ought to place him.
Sancho having finished his supper, and left the landlord in the X condition, repaired to the room where his master was, and as he came in said, "May I die, sirs, if the author of this book your worships have got has any mind that we should agree; as he calls me glutton (according to what your worships say) I wish he may not call me drunkard too."
"But he does," said Don Jeronimo; "I cannot remember, however, in what way, though I know his words are offensive, and what is more, lying, as I can see plainly by the physiognomy of the worthy Sancho before me."
"Believe me," said Sancho, "the Sancho and the Don Quixote of this history must be different persons from those that appear in the one Cide Hamete Benengeli wrote, who are ourselves; my master valiant, wise, and true in love, and I simple, droll, and neither glutton nor drunkard."
"I believe it," said Don Juan; "and were it possible, an order should be issued that no one should have the presumption to deal with anything relating to Don Quixote, save his original author Cide Hamete; just as Alexander commanded that no one should presume to paint his portrait save Apelles."
"Let him who will paint me," said Don Quixote; "but let him not abuse me; for patience will often break down when they heap insults upon it."
"None can be offered to Senor Don Quixote," said Don Juan, "that he himself will not be able to avenge, if he does not ward it off with the shield of his patience, which, I take it, is great and strong."
A considerable portion of the night passed in conversation of this sort, and though Don Juan wished Don Quixote to read more of the book to see what it was all about, he was not to be prevailed upon, saying that he treated it as read and pronounced it utterly silly; and, if by any chance it should come to its author's ears that he had it in his hand, he did not want him to flatter himself with the idea that he had read it; for our thoughts, and still more our eyes, should keep themselves aloof from what is obscene and filthy.
They asked him whither he meant to direct his steps. He replied, to Saragossa, to take part in the harness jousts which were held in that city every year. Don Juan told him that the new history described how Don Quixote, let him be who he might, took part there in a tilting at the ring, utterly devoid of invention, poor in mottoes, very poor in costume, though rich in sillinesses.
"For that very reason," said Don Quixote, "I will not set foot in Saragossa; and by that means I shall expose to the world the lie of this new history writer, and people will see that I am not the Don Quixote he speaks of."
"You will do quite right," said Don Jeronimo; "and there are other jousts at Barcelona in which Senor Don Quixote may display his prowess."
"That is what I mean to do," said Don Quixote; "and as it is now time, I pray your worships to give me leave to retire to bed, and to place and retain me among the number of your greatest friends and servants."
"And me too," said Sancho; "maybe I'll be good for something."
With this they exchanged farewells, and Don Quixote and Sancho retired to their room, leaving Don Juan and Don Jeronimo amazed to see the medley he made of his good sense and his craziness; and they felt thoroughly convinced that these, and not those their Aragonese author described, were the genuine Don Quixote and Sancho. Don Quixote rose betimes, and bade adieu to his hosts by knocking at the partition of the other room. Sancho paid the landlord magnificently, and recommended him either to say less about the providing of his inn or to keep it better provided.