Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

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Chapter III. In which is recounted the amusing way that don Quixote came to be dubbed a knight.
Thus, troubled by this thought, he cut short his skimpy dinner, typical of inns, and when he finished, he called the innkeeper, and behind the closed doors of the stable, got down on his knees before him, saying: “I won’t rise from where I am, brave knight, until you grant me a boon I want to ask of you that will redound to your praise and to the benefit of mankind.”

The innkeeper—who saw his guest at his feet and heard those words, and was perplexed, looking at him without knowing what to do or say—insisted that his guest get up, but don Quixote refused until the innkeeper promised that he would grant the boon that don Quixote had requested.

“I expected no less of your great magnificence, señor mío,”107 responded don Quixote, “and the boon that I’ve asked of you and that you’ve accorded me, is that tomorrow you will dub me a knight. And this night I’ll watch over my armor in your castle, and tomorrow, as I’ve said, what I want so much will be fulfilled, so that I, as is fitting, may roam the four corners of the earth seeking adventures to favor the needy, as is the duty of knighthood and of knights errant such as myself, who are destined for such deeds.”

The innkeeper, as has been said, was a bit of a jokester, and already having some suspicion about his guest’s lack of sanity, became convinced of it when he heard these words. In order to have some entertainment that night, he decided to humor him, so he said that don Quixote was very correct in what he wanted and asked for, and that his goal was proper and natural for knights as important as he appeared to be, and as his gallant presence prov­ed. He also said that he, in his youth, had devoted himself to that same honorable activity, traveling through different parts of the world looking for adventures, having visited the Percheles of Málaga, the Islas of Riarán, the Compás of Seville, the Azoguejo of Segovia, the Olivera of Valencia, the Rondi­lla of Granada, the Playa de San Lúcar, the Potro of Córdoba, the Venti­llas of Toledo,108 and other places, showing the fleetness of his feet, and the light-fingeredness of his hands, doing many wrongs, courting many widows,109 deflowering maidens, deceiving orphans, and finally, making himself known in courtrooms throughout Spain. He’d ended up retiring to this castle, where he lived on his income and that of others, welcoming all knights errant of any rank and condition, only because of the fondness that he had for them, and so that they would share with him some of their money in payment for his benevolence.

He also told him that there was no chapel in his castle where he could watch over his armor, since it had been torn down so that a new one could be built. But he knew that in case of great need, it could be watched over anywhere, and that night he could watch over it in a courtyard of the castle. In the morning, if it pleased God, they would perform the proper ceremonies, and he would become a knight errant, and such a knight that no one in the world could be more of one.

The innkeeper asked if he had any money. Don Quixote said that he didn’t have a blanca,110 because he’d never read in the histories of knights errant that any one of them had taken money with him. To this, the innkeeper said that he was mistaken, because, although the histories didn’t specify something as obvious and necessary as money and clean shirts, there was no reason to believe that they didn’t have them. Thus he could consider it certain and proven that all knights errant—of which so many books of chivalry are filled—carried well-stocked purses for any contingency, and that they also took clean shirts and a small chest filled with ointments for healing injuries they received, because in the open country where they battled, there was not always someone to treat their wounds—unl­ess they had some wise enchanter as a friend who could instantly come to their aid, bearing a maiden or dwarf on a cloud with a flask of magic elixir of such potency that, just by taking a single drop of it, they would be immediately cured of their wounds, as if they had never been injured. But when this wasn’t the case, the knights of old certainly had squires who were provided with money and other necessities such as bandages and healing ointments. And when it happened that those knights didn’t have squires, which was rarely the case, they themselves carried everything on the crupper of their horse, in small, practically invisible saddlebags that were made to look like they contained something of greater importance, because, except for such emergencies, having saddlebags was frowned on by knights errant. For this reason, the innkeeper advised him—but he could even have commanded him as his soon-to-be godson—that he shouldn’t venture forth from that day forth without money and the other provisions that he’d men­tioned, and that he would see how useful they could be when he least suspected it.

Don Quixote promised he would do exactly what he was advised, and so the order was given for him to watch over his arms in a large corral at the side of the inn. Don Quixote collected all his armor and put it on a trough next to a well. He clasped his shield and he grasped his lance, and with gentle mien he started to pace back and forth as night fell.

The innkeeper told everyone at the inn about the craziness of his guest, the watching over of the armor, and his expectation to be dubbed a knight. Everyone was amazed at his rare kind of madness, and they all went to look from a distance, and saw him with his calm demeanor, sometimes pacing, sometimes leaning against his lance, but always fixing his eyes on his armor for long periods of time. It was now night, but the moon shone so brightly that it seemed to compete with the star that gave it its light, and in this way everything the novice knight did could be clearly seen by everyone.

At this point, one of the muleteers felt that it was time to water his mules, and to do it, he had to remove don Quixote’s armor, which was on the trough. When don Quixote saw this, he said in a loud voice: “Oh, you knight, whoever you are, who dare to touch the armor of the most valiant errant who ever girded a sword, watch what you’re doing! Don’t touch it, unless you want to lose your life as a penalty for your boldness!”

The muleteer paid no heed to these words, and it would have been better for him if he had, because it would have let him keep his health. But instead, he seized the straps of the armor, and threw it a long way away. When don Quixote saw this, he raised his eyes to heaven, and directing his thoughts, so it seemed, to Dulcinea, said: “Help me, my lady, in this first affront done to your enslaved heart. May your favor and protection not fail me in this initial trial!”

And saying these and other similar words, he dropped his shield, raised his lance with both hands and discharged such a blow to the muleteer’s head that it knocked him to the ground and left him in such bad shape that if don Quixote had done it a second time, there would have been no need to try to treat the muleteer’s wounds. Having done this, he collected his armor and continued pacing back and forth as before.

A while later, without realizing what had happened—since the first muleteer was still dazed—another one came with the same intention of watering his mules. When he went to remove the armor so that he could use the trough, don Quixote, without saying a word or asking anyone’s permission, dropped his shield again, and again raised his lance and smashed, not his lance, but rather the muleteer’s head, in more than three places, because he cracked it open in four. Hearing this disturbance, everyone from the inn—among them the innkeeper—ran to see what had happened. When don Quixote saw this, he picked up his shield, put his hand on his sword, and said: “Oh, mistress of beauty, strength of my weakened heart, now is the time to look down upon this, your captive knight, who stands facing such a great ordeal!”

This gave him so much courage that if all the muleteers in the world were to attack him, he wouldn’t have retreated a single step. The wounded men’s companions saw the sorry state the two were in, and began to rain stones on don Quixote, who protected himself as well as he could with his shield, but he wouldn’t leave the trough so as not to abandon his armor. The innkeeper shouted for them to stop because he’d already told them that the fellow was crazy, and would be set free on account of it, even if he killed everyone. Don Quixote shouted even louder, calling them all traitors, and said that the warden of the castle was a rogue and a base-born knight for having allowed a knight errant to be treated in this way, and he would make him accountable for his treachery. “But for you, vile rabble, I couldn’t care less! Throw stones, come and attack me however you want—you’ll see what your foolishness and insolence will get you!”

He said this with so much fearlessness that he instilled a terrible dread in those who were attacking him, and for this reason they stopped casting stones. Don Quixote allowed them to remove the wounded men, and continued the vigil of his armor, with the same tranquility and calmness as before.

The pranks of the inkeeper’s guest weren’t to his liking, so he decided to cut everything short and give him the cursed order of knighthood right then, before any other terrible thing happened. He went up to him and apologized for the effrontery those two vile men had shown him—he certainly had had no part in it—but they were well punished for their rash acts. He said to him, repeating what he’d said earlier, that in that castle there was no chapel, and also that there was no need to continue the vigil, since the important thing in becoming a knight consisted of laying the sword on the neck and shoulders, according to what he learned from his book that described the ceremonies of the order, and that could be done even in the middle of a field. He had also fulfilled the requirements of the vigil, which directed him to watch over his armor for only two hours, and he now had done so for more than four.

Don Quixote believed everything he was told and said that he was ready to obey him, and that the ceremony should be done as soon as possible, because if he were attacked again when he was a full-fledged knight, he would leave no one in the castle alive, except for those that the warden of the castle told him to spare, which he would do out of respect.

Forewarned and now a bit afraid, the warden brought a book in which he recorded the straw and barley furnished to the muleteers, and with the stub of a candle that a boy held for him, and also with the damsels mentioned earlier, he went to where don Quixote was, and told him to kneel down. He read from his account book as if he were saying a devout prayer, and in the middle of his discourse, he raised the sword and gave him a stout thwack on his neck followed by a spirited slap on the shoulder, all the while murmuring, as if he were praying. Having done this, he had one of those ladies gird his sword on him, which she did with great poise and tact, because not a little was needed in order not to burst out laughing throughout the ceremony. But the feats of the novice knight kept their laughter at bay.

As she girt his sword, the good lady said: “May God make you a very successful knight and bring you good fortune in battle.”

Don Quixote asked what her name was, so that he would know henceforth to whom he was beholden for the favor received, because he planned to share with her the glory that he would achieve by the strength of his arm. She responded with great humility that she was called La Tolosa and that she was the daughter of a clothes-mender from Toledo, who lived near the marketplace of Sancho Bienhaya, and that she would serve him and consider him her lord wherever she might be. Don Quixote replied that, given her love for him, she should do him the favor of accepting the title of don111 and call herself doña Tolosa. She promised she would. The other lady then put his spurs on him, and he had almost the same conversation with her that he’d had with the one who put on his sword. He asked her what her name was, and she said she was La Molinera, the daughter of an honorable miller from Antequera.112 Don Quixote asked her to take the don as well and to call herself doña Molinera, offering her further services and favors.

Once these unprecedented ceremonies were hurriedly done, don Quixote was most impatient to see himself on horseback, seeking adventures. He saddled Rocinante and mounted him, and embracing his host, he said such strange things to him when he thanked him for having dubbed him a knight that it’s impossible to relate them all. The innkeeper, eager to see him leave the inn, responded with no less rhetoric, although with fewer words; and without asking him to pay for the lodging, let him go.

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