WHEREIN IS CONTINUED THE ADVENTURE OF THE KNIGHT OF THE GROVE
Among the things that passed between Don Quixote and the Knight of the Wood, the history tells us he of the Grove said to Don Quixote, "In fine, sir knight, I would have you know that my destiny, or, more properly speaking, my choice led me to fall in love with the peerless Casildea de Vandalia. I call her peerless because she has no peer, whether it be in bodily stature or in the supremacy of rank and beauty. This same Casildea, then, that I speak of, requited my honourable passion and gentle aspirations by compelling me, as his stepmother did Hercules, to engage in many perils of various sorts, at the end of each promising me that, with the end of the next, the object of my hopes should be attained; but my labours have gone on increasing link by link until they are past counting, nor do I know what will be the last one that is to be the beginning of the accomplishment of my chaste desires. On one occasion she bade me go and challenge the famous giantess of Seville, La Giralda by name, who is as mighty and strong as if made of brass, and though never stirring from one spot, is the most restless and changeable woman in the world. I came, I saw, I conquered, and I made her stay quiet and behave herself, for nothing but north winds blew for more than a week. Another time I was ordered to lift those ancient stones, the mighty bulls of Guisando, an enterprise that might more fitly be entrusted to porters than to knights. Again, she bade me fling myself into the cavern of Cabra — an unparalleled and awful peril — and bring her a minute account of all that is concealed in those gloomy depths. I stopped the motion of the Giralda, I lifted the bulls of Guisando, I flung myself into the cavern and brought to light the secrets of its abyss; and my hopes are as dead as dead can be, and her scorn and her commands as lively as ever. To be brief, last of all she has commanded me to go through all the provinces of Spain and compel all the knights-errant wandering therein to confess that she surpasses all women alive to-day in beauty, and that I am the most valiant and the most deeply enamoured knight on earth; in support of which claim I have already travelled over the greater part of Spain, and have there vanquished several knights who have dared to contradict me; but what I most plume and pride myself upon is having vanquished in single combat that so famous knight Don Quixote of La Mancha, and made him confess that my Casildea is more beautiful than his Dulcinea; and in this one victory I hold myself to have conquered all the knights in the world; for this Don Quixote that I speak of has vanquished them all, and I having vanquished him, his glory, his fame, and his honour have passed and are transferred to my person; for
The more the vanquished hath of fair renown,
The greater glory gilds the victor's crown.
Thus the innumerable achievements of the said Don Quixote are now set down to my account and have become mine."
Don Quixote was amazed when he heard the Knight of the Grove, and was a thousand times on the point of telling him he lied, and had the lie direct already on the tip of his tongue; but he restrained himself as well as he could, in order to force him to confess the lie with his own lips; so he said to him quietly, "As to what you say, sir knight, about having vanquished most of the knights of Spain, or even of the whole world, I say nothing; but that you have vanquished Don Quixote of La Mancha I consider doubtful; it may have been some other that resembled him, although there are few like him."
"How! not vanquished?" said he of the Grove; "by the heaven that is above us I fought Don Quixote and overcame him and made him yield; and he is a man of tall stature, gaunt features, long, lank limbs, with hair turning grey, an aquiline nose rather hooked, and large black drooping moustaches; he does battle under the name of 'The Countenance,' and he has for squire a peasant called Sancho Panza; he presses the loins and rules the reins of a famous steed called Rocinante; and lastly, he has for the mistress of his will a certain Dulcinea del Toboso, once upon a time called Aldonza Lorenzo, just as I call mine Casildea de Vandalia because her name is Casilda and she is of Andalusia. If all these tokens are not enough to vindicate the truth of what I say, here is my sword, that will compel incredulity itself to give credence to it."
"Calm yourself, sir knight," said Don Quixote, "and give ear to what I am about to say to you. I would have you know that this Don Quixote you speak of is the greatest friend I have in the world; so much so that I may say I regard him in the same light as my own person; and from the precise and clear indications you have given I cannot but think that he must be the very one you have vanquished. On the other hand, I see with my eyes and feel with my hands that it is impossible it can have been the same; unless indeed it be that, as he has many enemies who are enchanters, and one in particular who is always persecuting him, some one of these may have taken his shape in order to allow himself to be vanquished, so as to defraud him of the fame that his exalted achievements as a knight have earned and acquired for him throughout the known world. And in confirmation of this, I must tell you, too, that it is but ten hours since these said enchanters his enemies transformed the shape and person of the fair Dulcinea del Toboso into a foul and mean village lass, and in the same way they must have transformed Don Quixote; and if all this does not suffice to convince you of the truth of what I say, here is Don Quixote himself, who will maintain it by arms, on foot or on horseback or in any way you please."
And so saying he stood up and laid his hand on his sword, waiting to see what the Knight of the Grove would do, who in an equally calm voice said in reply, "Pledges don't distress a good payer; he who has succeeded in vanquishing you once when transformed, Sir Don Quixote, may fairly hope to subdue you in your own proper shape; but as it is not becoming for knights to perform their feats of arms in the dark, like highwaymen and bullies, let us wait till daylight, that the sun may behold our deeds; and the conditions of our combat shall be that the vanquished shall be at the victor's disposal, to do all that he may enjoin, provided the injunction be such as shall be becoming a knight."
"I am more than satisfied with these conditions and terms," replied Don Quixote; and so saying, they betook themselves to where their squires lay, and found them snoring, and in the same posture they were in when sleep fell upon them. They roused them up, and bade them get the horses ready, as at sunrise they were to engage in a bloody and arduous single combat; at which intelligence Sancho was aghast and thunderstruck, trembling for the safety of his master because of the mighty deeds he had heard the squire of the Grove ascribe to his; but without a word the two squires went in quest of their cattle; for by this time the three horses and the ass had smelt one another out, and were all together.
On the way, he of the Grove said to Sancho, "You must know, brother, that it is the custom with the fighting men of Andalusia, when they are godfathers in any quarrel, not to stand idle with folded arms while their godsons fight; I say so to remind you that while our masters are fighting, we, too, have to fight, and knock one another to shivers."
"That custom, sir squire," replied Sancho, "may hold good among those bullies and fighting men you talk of, but certainly not among the squires of knights-errant; at least, I have never heard my master speak of any custom of the sort, and he knows all the laws of knight-errantry by heart; but granting it true that there is an express law that squires are to fight while their masters are fighting, I don't mean to obey it, but to pay the penalty that may be laid on peacefully minded squires like myself; for I am sure it cannot be more than two pounds of wax, and I would rather pay that, for I know it will cost me less than the lint I shall be at the expense of to mend my head, which I look upon as broken and split already; there's another thing that makes it impossible for me to fight, that I have no sword, for I never carried one in my life."
"I know a good remedy for that," said he of the Grove; "I have here two linen bags of the same size; you shall take one, and I the other, and we will fight at bag blows with equal arms."
"If that's the way, so be it with all my heart," said Sancho, "for that sort of battle will serve to knock the dust out of us instead of hurting us."
"That will not do," said the other, "for we must put into the bags, to keep the wind from blowing them away, half a dozen nice smooth pebbles, all of the same weight; and in this way we shall be able to baste one another without doing ourselves any harm or mischief."
"Body of my father!" said Sancho, "see what marten and sable, and pads of carded cotton he is putting into the bags, that our heads may not be broken and our bones beaten to jelly! But even if they are filled with toss silk, I can tell you, senor, I am not going to fight; let our masters fight, that's their lookout, and let us drink and live; for time will take care to ease us of our lives, without our going to look for fillips so that they may be finished off before their proper time comes and they drop from ripeness."