Sancho kept spitting from time to time, and his spittle seemed somewhat ropy and dry, observing which the compassionate squire of the Grove said, "It seems to me that with all this talk of ours our tongues are sticking to the roofs of our mouths; but I have a pretty good loosener hanging from the saddle-bow of my horse," and getting up he came back the next minute with a large bota of wine and a pasty half a yard across; and this is no exaggeration, for it was made of a house rabbit so big that Sancho, as he handled it, took it to be made of a goat, not to say a kid, and looking at it he said, "And do you carry this with you, senor?"
"Why, what are you thinking about?" said the other; "do you take me for some paltry squire? I carry a better larder on my horse's croup than a general takes with him when he goes on a march."
Sancho ate without requiring to be pressed, and in the dark bolted mouthfuls like the knots on a tether, and said he, "You are a proper trusty squire, one of the right sort, sumptuous and grand, as this banquet shows, which, if it has not come here by magic art, at any rate has the look of it; not like me, unlucky beggar, that have nothing more in my alforjas than a scrap of cheese, so hard that one might brain a giant with it, and, to keep it company, a few dozen carobs and as many more filberts and walnuts; thanks to the austerity of my master, and the idea he has and the rule he follows, that knights-errant must not live or sustain themselves on anything except dried fruits and the herbs of the field."
"By my faith, brother," said he of the Grove, "my stomach is not made for thistles, or wild pears, or roots of the woods; let our masters do as they like, with their chivalry notions and laws, and eat what those enjoin; I carry my prog-basket and this bota hanging to the saddle-bow, whatever they may say; and it is such an object of worship with me, and I love it so, that there is hardly a moment but I am kissing and embracing it over and over again;" and so saying he thrust it into Sancho's hands, who raising it aloft pointed to his mouth, gazed at the stars for a quarter of an hour; and when he had done drinking let his head fall on one side, and giving a deep sigh, exclaimed, "Ah, whoreson rogue, how catholic it is!"
"There, you see," said he of the Grove, hearing Sancho's exclamation, "how you have called this wine whoreson by way of praise."
"Well," said Sancho, "I own it, and I grant it is no dishonour to call anyone whoreson when it is to be understood as praise. But tell me, senor, by what you love best, is this Ciudad Real wine?"
"O rare wine-taster!" said he of the Grove; "nowhere else indeed does it come from, and it has some years' age too."
"Leave me alone for that," said Sancho; "never fear but I'll hit upon the place it came from somehow. What would you say, sir squire, to my having such a great natural instinct in judging wines that you have only to let me smell one and I can tell positively its country, its kind, its flavour and soundness, the changes it will undergo, and everything that appertains to a wine? But it is no wonder, for I have had in my family, on my father's side, the two best wine-tasters that have been known in La Mancha for many a long year, and to prove it I'll tell you now a thing that happened them. They gave the two of them some wine out of a cask, to try, asking their opinion as to the condition, quality, goodness or badness of the wine. One of them tried it with the tip of his tongue, the other did no more than bring it to his nose. The first said the wine had a flavour of iron, the second said it had a stronger flavour of cordovan. The owner said the cask was clean, and that nothing had been added to the wine from which it could have got a flavour of either iron or leather. Nevertheless, these two great wine-tasters held to what they had said. Time went by, the wine was sold, and when they came to clean out the cask, they found in it a small key hanging to a thong of cordovan; see now if one who comes of the same stock has not a right to give his opinion in such like cases."
"Therefore, I say," said he of the Grove, "let us give up going in quest of adventures, and as we have loaves let us not go looking for cakes, but return to our cribs, for God will find us there if it be his will."
"Until my master reaches Saragossa," said Sancho, "I'll remain in his service; after that we'll see."
The end of it was that the two squires talked so much and drank so much that sleep had to tie their tongues and moderate their thirst, for to quench it was impossible; and so the pair of them fell asleep clinging to the now nearly empty bota and with half-chewed morsels in their mouths; and there we will leave them for the present, to relate what passed between the Knight of the Grove and him of the Rueful Countenance.