"I thank you, sirs," said Don Quixote; "but I cannot stop for an instant, for sad thoughts and unhappy circumstances force me to seem discourteous and to travel apace;" and spurring Rocinante he pushed on, leaving them wondering at what they had seen and heard, at his own strange figure and at the shrewdness of his servant, for such they took Sancho to be; and another of them observed, "If the servant is so clever, what must the master be? I'll bet, if they are going to Salamanca to study, they'll come to be alcaldes of the Court in a trice; for it's a mere joke — only to read and read, and have interest and good luck; and before a man knows where he is he finds himself with a staff in his hand or a mitre on his head."
That night master and man passed out in the fields in the open air, and the next day as they were pursuing their journey they saw coming towards them a man on foot with alforjas at the neck and a javelin or spiked staff in his hand, the very cut of a foot courier; who, as soon as he came close to Don Quixote, increased his pace and half running came up to him, and embracing his right thigh, for he could reach no higher, exclaimed with evident pleasure, "O Senor Don Quixote of La Mancha, what happiness it will be to the heart of my lord the duke when he knows your worship is coming back to his castle, for he is still there with my lady the duchess!"
"I do not recognise you, friend," said Don Quixote, "nor do I know who you are, unless you tell me."
"I am Tosilos, my lord the duke's lacquey, Senor Don Quixote," replied the courier; "he who refused to fight your worship about marrying the daughter of Dona Rodriguez."
"God bless me!" exclaimed Don Quixote; "is it possible that you are the one whom mine enemies the enchanters changed into the lacquey you speak of in order to rob me of the honour of that battle?"
"Nonsense, good sir!" said the messenger; "there was no enchantment or transformation at all; I entered the lists just as much lacquey Tosilos as I came out of them lacquey Tosilos. I thought to marry without fighting, for the girl had taken my fancy; but my scheme had a very different result, for as soon as your worship had left the castle my lord the duke had a hundred strokes of the stick given me for having acted contrary to the orders he gave me before engaging in the combat; and the end of the whole affair is that the girl has become a nun, and Dona Rodriguez has gone back to Castile, and I am now on my way to Barcelona with a packet of letters for the viceroy which my master is sending him. If your worship would like a drop, sound though warm, I have a gourd here full of the best, and some scraps of Tronchon cheese that will serve as a provocative and wakener of your thirst if so be it is asleep."
"I take the offer," said Sancho; "no more compliments about it; pour out, good Tosilos, in spite of all the enchanters in the Indies."
"Thou art indeed the greatest glutton in the world, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "and the greatest booby on earth, not to be able to see that this courier is enchanted and this Tosilos a sham one; stop with him and take thy fill; I will go on slowly and wait for thee to come up with me."
The lacquey laughed, unsheathed his gourd, unwalletted his scraps, and taking out a small loaf of bread he and Sancho seated themselves on the green grass, and in peace and good fellowship finished off the contents of the alforjas down to the bottom, so resolutely that they licked the wrapper of the letters, merely because it smelt of cheese.
Said Tosilos to Sancho, "Beyond a doubt, Sancho my friend, this master of thine ought to be a madman."
"Ought!" said Sancho; "he owes no man anything; he pays for everything, particularly when the coin is madness. I see it plain enough, and I tell him so plain enough; but what's the use? especially now that it is all over with him, for here he is beaten by the Knight of the White Moon."
Tosilos begged him to explain what had happened him, but Sancho replied that it would not be good manners to leave his master waiting for him; and that some other day if they met there would be time enough for that; and then getting up, after shaking his doublet and brushing the crumbs out of his beard, he drove Dapple on before him, and bidding adieu to Tosilos left him and rejoined his master, who was waiting for him under the shade of a tree.