Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra



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Chapter XVI. About what happened to the ingenious hidalgo in the inn that he imagined to be a castle.
The innkeeper saw don Quixote slung across the donkey’s back, and asked Sancho what was the matter with him. Sancho responded that it was nothing—he’d just fallen down from a boulder and his ribs were a bit bruised.

The innkeeper had a wife, one who was not of the usual kind in that business, because she was by nature kind-hearted and was concerned about the misfortunes of her fellow creatures, so she immediately attended to don Quixote and had her daughter, a very good-looking girl, help. An Asturian209 girl served in the inn as well, wide in the face, flat at the back of her head, with a wide nose, blind in one eye, and not very sound in the other. The truth is that the gracefulness of her body made up for her other defects: she was only seven palms210 tall from head to foot, and her shoulders weighed her down a bit, making her look at the ground more than she would like.

This graceful servant girl assisted the maiden, and the two of them prepared a very bad bed for don Quixote in a garret that, in by-gone times, so it seemed, had been a hayloft for many years. There was a muleteer in the same loft who had his bed on the other side of don Quixote’s. Although it was made of the pack saddles and blankets of his mules, it was much better than don Quixote’s, which was made of only four not-very-smooth planks on two not-very-even trestles, and a mattress that seemed to be a quilt, because it was so thin. It was filled with lumps, which, if you didn’t otherwise know they were wool, you would think they were pebbles, because they were so hard. There were two sheets made of shield leather211 and a cover which was so threadbare that if you wanted to count every thread, you wouldn’t miss a single one.

On this wretched bed don Quixote lay down. Then the innkeeper’s wife and her daughter applied plasters to him from head to foot. Maritornes— that’s what the Asturian girl’s name was—held the light. As she was putting the poultices on, the innkeeper’s wife noticed that parts of don Quixote were very bruised, and she said that it looked more like bruises from blows than from a fall.

“Those weren’t blows,” said Sancho, “but rather the boulder had sharp edges and protrusions, and each one left a black and blue mark.” And he went on to say: “Make sure that there’s a few bandages left over since there’ll be someone else who needs them, because my back hurts me, and not a little.”

“So,” responded the innkeeper’s wife, “did you fall as well?”

“I didn’t fall,” said Sancho Panza, “but the fright I got when I saw my master fall made my whole body hurt, as if they’d given me a thousand whacks.”

“That can easily be,” said the maiden. “It’s happened to me that I dreamed that I was falling down from a tower and never hit the ground, and when I awoke, I was as beaten up and pounded as if I’d really fallen.”

“But the funny thing is, señora,” responded Sancho Panza, “that I wasn’t dreaming, but more wide-awake than I am right now, and I have almost as many bruises as my master don Quixote.”

“What’s the name of that fellow?” asked Maritornes.

“Don Quixote de La Mancha,” responded Sancho Panza. “He’s a knight errant, and one of the best and strongest that the world has seen in a very long time.”

“What’s a knight errant?” replied the servant.

“Are you so young that you don’t know?” responded Sancho Panza. “Well, sister, a knight errant in two words is this: first he gets cudgeled, then he gets to be a king. Today he’s the most unfortunate and neediest creature in the world, and tomorrow he’ll have two or three kingdoms to give his squire.”

“Well, how come you—since you’re the squire of this good man—” said the innkeeper’s wife, “aren’t even a count yet?”

“It’s still too soon,” responded Sancho, “because it’s just been a month since we’ve been out looking for adventures, and up to now we haven’t run across any that has been a true adventure. And it sometimes happens that you look for one thing and find another. The truth is that if my master don Quixote gets healed from this wound or fall, and I’m not crippled from it, I wouldn’t exchange my aspirations for the best title in Spain.”

Don Quixote was listening very attentively to all of this conversation, and sat up in his bed as well as he could. Taking the hand of the innkeeper’s wife, he said to her: “Believe me, beautiful señora, that you can call yourself fortunate for having me in this your castle, and if I don’t praise myself, it’s because they say that self-praise demeans, but my squire will tell you who I am. I’ll just say that I’ll have eternally etched in my memory the service you’ve done me, and I’ll be grateful to you as long as I live. And if the laws of heaven hadn’t bound me to that beautiful ingrate whom I mention under my breath, the eyes of this maiden would now be ruling over my freedom.”

The innkeeper’s wife and her daughter, as well as the good Maritornes were baffled when they heard these words, which they understood about as well as if he’d been speaking Greek, although they gathered that he was offering them services and flattering them. Since they weren’t used to such language, they stared at him in astonishment, for he seemed to them to be a different type of man from those they were accustomed to. They thanked him in the words innkeepers use, and left, but the Asturian Maritornes stayed behind to tend to Sancho, who needed no less help than his master.

Now, the muleteer had arranged to sport with her that night, and she’d given her word that when everyone was fast asleep, including her master and mistress, she would come to him to satisfy his pleasure in whatever way he might ask. They say of this good lass that she never made a promise she didn’t keep, even though she might give it in the forest and without any witnesses, because she prided herself on being well-bred; and she wasn’t ashamed to work as a servant in the inn, because she said that certain misfortunes had brought her there.

Don Quixote’s hard, narrow, inadequate, and unreliable bed came first in the middle of this starlit stable, and then, next to it Sancho made his own bed, which consisted of only one rush mat and a cover that seemed to be more a piece of threadbare canvas than wool. After these two beds came the one belonging to the muleteer, which was made, as has been said, of the pack saddles and all the trappings of two of his best mules—he had twelve in all. They were sleek, well fed, and fine, because he was one of the rich muleteers of Arévalo,212 according to the author of this history. He mentions this muleteer particularly because he knew him well, and there are those that say he was a distant relative of his. Besides, Cide Mahamate Benengeli was very careful and diligent in everything, and this is easy to see because those things already related, as small and trivial as they are, are not passed over in silence. Let this be an example to those grave historians who report actions in so few words that we hardly get a taste of them, and they leave the most substantial parts of the history in the inkwell, either by carelessness, mischievousness, or ignorance. A thousand blessings on the author of Tablante de Ricamonte and on him who wrote that other book where the deeds of Count Tomillas are related.213 They describe everything so accurately!

So, as I was saying, after the muleteer took care of his mules and gave them their second feeding, he stretched out onto the pack saddles and began to wait for his very punctual Maritornes. Sancho was already in plasters and in bed, and although he tried to sleep, the pain in his ribs wouldn’t let him. And don Quixote, because of the pain in his own ribs, had his eyes wide open like a hare. The whole inn was still and there was no light other than what came from a hanging lamp burning over its entrance. Owing to this marvelous stillness and the thoughts our knight always had about the goings on in the books responsible for his plight, one of the strangest delusions that can be imagined came to him: he thought that he’d come to a famous castle (since—as has been said—he considered all the inns that lodged him to be castles), and that the daughter of the innkeeper was the daughter of the lord of the castle; and that she—over­come by his graces—had fallen in love with him, and had promised that that night, without her parents knowing, would come and lie with him a good spell. And being convinced that all this chimera—which he’d dreamed up—was true, and starting to get worried, and thinking of the dangerous crisis his virtue was about to face, he resolved in his heart not to betray his señora Dulcinea del Toboso, even if Queen Guinevere herself with her lady Quintañona placed themselves in his hands.

As he was mulling over this nonsense, the fatal moment—for him—came as the Asturian girl arrived. She was barefoot, in a nightshirt, and her hair was gathered in a hairnet, and with very quiet and careful little steps she went into the room where the three were lodged, looking for the muleteer. When she got to the door, don Quixote heard her and sat up in bed, in spite of his plasters and the pain in his sides, and opened his arms wide to receive the beautiful maiden. The Asturian, crouching over and keeping very quiet, was moving forward with her hands in front, trying to find her lover, when she ran into the arms of don Quixote, who seized her firmly by the wrist and drew her toward him. Without her daring to utter a word, he made her sit on the bed. He felt her nightshirt, and although it was made of burlap, it seemed to him to be of the finest silk. She was wearing some glass beads on her wrist, but he thought they were oriental pearls. Her hair, which seemed quite like the mane of a horse, in his mind was dazzling threads of Arabian gold, the luminescence of which outshone the sun. And her breath, doubtless reeking of yesterday’s stale cold cuts, to him seemed to be a sweet and aromatic fragrance. Finally, he painted her in his imagination in the same way he’d read in his books, just like other princesses who went to visit badly wounded knights, madly in love with them, adorned the way he’d imagined. And such was the blindness of the poor hidalgo that neither the touch, nor the smell, nor anything else about the girl was enough to make him see how she really was, which was that she would make anyone but a muleteer vomit. He thought he had in his arms the goddess of beauty. And still clutching her, he began to say in a soft, amorous voice: “I’d like to have found myself in a position, beautiful and high-born lady, to respond to the favor that you’ve done me just by letting me see you. But Fortune, which never tires of persecuting good people, has placed me in this bed, where I lie beaten-up and broken, so that even if my inclinations would allow me to satisfy yours, it would be impossible. And what makes this impossibility even more impossible is that I’ve promised fidelity to the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso, the only lady of my most hidden thoughts. If all this didn’t prevent me, I wouldn’t be so foolish as to let such a wonderful opportunity as this one that your great goodness has given me, pass me by.”

Maritornes was very distressed and sweating profusely, seeing herself so firmly grasped by don Quixote. Not understanding or paying attention to the words he was saying, she tried, without uttering one herself, to get free. The good muleteer, whose lascivious desires kept him awake, heard his concubine as soon as she came through the door. He was listening attentively to everything don Quixote was saying and, suspicious that the Asturian had broken her word with him for another, went over to don Quixote’s cot and remained still until he saw where those words—which he couldn’t understand—were leading. But since he realized that the girl was struggling to get away, and don Quixote was doing his best to restrain her, he thought the caper had gone far enough. He raised his fist high in the air and gave such a terrible punch on don Quixote’s narrow jaw that he bathed his whole mouth in blood. And not content with this, the muleteer got on top of don Quixote’s ribs, and with his feet he stomped all over them faster than a trot. Now the bed, which was a bit weak and didn’t have a very firm foundation, unable to withstand the additional weight of the muleteer, came crashing to the floor, the noise of which woke the innkeeper up. He immediately figured that it must have had something to do with Maritornes, because she didn’t answer when he called her name. So he got up and lit a lamp and went to where he’d heard the scuffle. The girl, afraid and agitated, realizing that her master was coming and in a very bad mood, took refuge in Sancho Panza’s bed—he was still sleeping—where she curled up into a ball.

The innkeeper came in saying: “Where are you, you whore? All this has to be your doing!”

At this point Sancho woke up, and feeling that bulk on top of him, thought it was a bad dream and began to punch in all directions and hit Maritornes I don’t know how many times. When she felt the pain, casting aside her modesty, she returned so many of them to Sancho that, to his dismay, she woke him up, and, seeing himself being beaten up in that way and not knowing by whom, he sat up and wrestled with Maritornes, and they began the most hard-fought and amusing skirmish in the world.

When the muleteer saw by the light of the innkeeper’s lamp what was happening to his lady, he left don Quixote and went to give her whatever help he could. The innkeeper went to her as well, but with an entirely different intention, because he went to punish the girl, believing doubtless that she alone was the reason for that harmony. So, as the saying goes, «the cat to the rat, the rat to the rope, the rope to the stick»—the muleteer hit Sancho, Sancho hit the girl, the girl hit him, the innkeeper hit the girl, and everybody was punching so hard and fast that there wasn’t a moment of rest. The best part was that the innkeeper’s lamp went out, and since they were all in the dark, and they punched so fiercely and all at once, that wherever their punches landed they left nothing sound.

It happened that there was an officer of the ancient Holy Brotherhood of Toledo staying there that night, and when he heard the extraordinary commotion caused by the fight, he took his staff of office and tin box of warrants, and went in the darkened room saying: “Stop in the name of justice! Stop in the name of the Holy Brotherhood!”

And the first person he happened upon was the pummeled don Quixote on his collapsed bed, stretched out on his back, utterly senseless. The officer felt his beard, and kept saying: “Help in the name of justice!” But seeing that the person he was grasping didn’t stir, he figured that he was dead, and that those who were in that room were his killers. With this suspicion, he said in a loud voice: “Close the gates of the inn! Make sure no one leaves— they’ve murdered someone here!”

This news terrified everyone, and everyone stopped fighting when they heard that shout. The innkeeper went back to his room, the muleteer back to his pack ­saddles, and the girl to her room. The unfortunate don Quixote and Sancho couldn’t move from where they were. The officer then released don Quixote’s beard and went to look for a lamp so he could find and arrest the culprits. But he didn’t find a lamp because the innkeeper had put it out on purpose when he returned to his room, and the officer had to go to the fireplace, where it took him a long while and quite a bit of effort to light another lamp.



Chapter XVII. Where the innumerable travails that the brave don Quixote and his faithful squire Sancho Panza had in the inn that, to his sorrow, he thought was a castle.
By this time don Quixote had come to, and with the same tone of voice that he’d used the previous day with his squire when he was stretched out in the «valley of the stakes»,214 he began to call out, saying: “Sancho, my friend, are you asleep? Are you sleeping, friend Sancho?”

“How can I be sleeping, for God’s sake,” responded Sancho, filled with grief and dismay. “It seems like all the devils in hell have been after me tonight.”

“You can well believe it without a doubt,” responded don Quixote, “because either I know very little, or this castle is enchanted. I want you to know… but what I’m going to tell you now, you have to swear to me you’ll keep secret until after my death.”

“I swear,” responded Sancho.

“I say this,” replied don Quixote, “because I don’t like it if anyone loses his reputation.”

“I say that I swear,” Sancho said again, “that I’ll keep quiet about it until after the days of your grace; and may it please God that I can reveal it tomorrow.”

“Do I treat you so badly, Sancho,” responded don Quixote, “that you want to see me dead so soon?”

“No, it’s not that,” responded Sancho. “I just hate to keep things for a long time, and I wouldn’t want them to go rotten for having kept them too long.”

“Be that as it may,” said don Quixote, “I’m confident enough of your love and respect that I can tell you that tonight one of the strangest adventures that can be imagined happened to me. I’ll tell it to you in a few words. Just a little while ago the daughter of the lord of this castle came to me. She’s the most elegant and beautiful maiden that can be found in this part of the world. How can I describe the way she was dressed? How can I describe her brilliant mind? How can I describe her other hidden charms that—to keep the faith I have for Dulcinea del Toboso—I’ll leave intact and unsaid? I’ll only say that either heaven was jealous of the marvels that Fortune had placed in my arms, or—and this seems more likely—as I said, this castle is enchanted. While I was immersed in a sweet and loving dialogue with her, without my seeing or finding out where it came from, a hand connected to an arm belonging to some enormous giant struck me on the jaw, and now it’s all bathed in blood. After that, he beat me up so that I’m worse than yesterday when the Galicians, through the excesses of Rocinan­te, mauled us in the way you know. I conjecture from all this that the treasure of beauty belonging to this maiden must be guarded by some enchanted Moor, and must not have been meant for me.”

“Nor for me,” responded Sancho, “because more than four hundred Moors walloped me, so that the beating with the stakes was nothing in comparison. But, tell me, señor, what sort of adventure do you call this fine and rare one that has left us in this condition? For your grace it wasn’t so bad since you had that incomparable beauty you mentioned in your arms. But in my case, what did I have, if not the hardest punches I ever expect to get in my whole life? Unlucky me and the mother who bore me! I’m not a knight errant nor do I ever plan to be one, yet I get the better part of all these misfortunes.”

“So, you’re beaten up, too?” responded don Quixote.

“Didn’t I say that I was, curses on my family!?” said Sancho.

“Don’t be troubled, my friend,” said don Quixote, “because I’ll make the precious balm right now, and we’ll be healed in the twinkling of an eye.”

The officer at this point had finally lighted his lamp and returned to see what he thought would be the dead man, and as soon as Sancho saw him, with this nightshirt and cap, and lamp in his hand, and with a very sour expression, asked his master: “Señor, is this the enchanted Moor who has returned to punish us some more, just in case he left any ink in the inkwell?”

“He can’t be the Moor,” responded don Quixote, “because the enchanted never let anyone see them.”

“If they don’t let themselves be seen, they sure let themselves be felt,” said Sancho, “as my back will bear witness.”

“Mine could say a few things, too,” responded don Quixote, “but this isn’t reason enough to believe this is the enchanted Moor.”

The officer came in and since he found them talking in such quiet tones, he was quite surprised. It’s true that don Quixote was still on his back, not being able to move, since he was so beaten and covered with plasters. The officer approached and said: “Well, how are you, my good man?”215

“I’d speak more respectfully,” responded don Quixote, “if I were you. Is this the way they speak to knights errant in these parts, you blockhead?”

The officer, seeing himself mistreated by a man of such wretched appearance and doubtful sanity, couldn’t stand it, and, raising his lamp with all its oil, he smashed don Quixote on the head with it, making quite a wound, then he left the darkened room.

Sancho said to him: “That doubtless was the enchanted Moor who is keeping treasures for other people, but he has only punches and whacks with lamps for us.”

“That’s right,” responded don Quixote, “and there’s no reason to be vexed by these enchantments, nor should you get mad or angry over them since the enchanters are invisible and unreal, and we won’t find anyone to take vengeance on, no matter how hard we look. Get up, Sancho, if you can, and call the warden of the castle, and get a bit of oil, wine, salt, and rosemary with which to make that curative balm, because I truly feel that I need some now, since a lot of blood is flowing from the wound this phantom gave me.”

Sancho got up, with enormous pain in his bones, and went off in the darkness to look for the innkeeper, and along the way met up with the officer who was listening to see what was happening with his enemy, and said to him: “Señor, whoever you are, please do us the kindness of giving us a bit of rosemary, oil, salt, and wine, which we need to heal one of the best knights errant in the world, who is lying in that bed badly wounded by the hand of the enchanted Moor who is in this inn.”

When the officer heard those words, he took him for a crazy person. And because day was beginning to break, he opened the door of the inn and called the innkeeper to tell him what that good man wanted. The innkeeper gave him everything he wanted, and Sancho took it to don Quixote, whom he found with his hands on his head, groaning from the pain of the lamp blow, which had done nothing more than raise two lumps, and what he thought was blood was just sweat from the anguish caused by the latest misfortune.

He took the ingredients, which he mixed together, and then cooked them for a long time, until he felt that they were ready. He then asked for a flask to put it all in, but there was none at the inn, so he resolved to put it in a cruet or tin oil container the innkeeper gave him. Then don Quixote recited over the cruet more than eighty Our Fathers and the same number of Hail Marys, Salve Reginas, credos, and with every word he crossed himself by way of a blessing. Sancho, the innkeeper, and the officer witnessed all this, but the muleteer was calmly attending to the welfare of his mules.

Once he was finished, he wanted to sample some of the precious balm to see about the curative qualities he imagined it had, so he drank some of what hadn’t fit into the cruet from the pot that he’d used to cook it in—almost a full quart. And no sooner had he drunk it when he began to vomit so violently that absolutely nothing remained in his stomach, and with the nausea and spasms caused by the vomiting, he began to sweat profusely, so he asked that he be covered and left alone. They covered him and he slept for three hours, after which he woke up feeling like a new man, and his bruises felt so much better that he thought he was completely healed. He truly felt that the balm of Fierabrás had really worked and that he could engage in fights from then on without any fear of disasters, battles, or clashes, no matter how perilous they might be.

Sancho Panza, who also thought the recovery of his master was a miracle, begged him for what was left over in the pot, which was not a little amount. Don Quixote allowed him to have it. Sancho took it in both hands, in good faith and with better will, and gulped down not much less than his master. As it happened, poor Sancho’s stomach must not have been as delicate as that of his master, so before he could throw up, he suffered so much nausea and so many swoons, with so much sweating and fainting spells, that he truly thought that his final hour had come. Seeing himself so afflicted and distressed, he cursed the balm and the thief who had given it to him.

When don Quixote saw what had happened to him, he said: “I think, Sancho, that all this trouble comes from your not having been dubbed a knight. I’m convinced that this balm shouldn’t be taken by those who aren’t so dubbed.”

“If your grace knew this all along,” replied Sancho, “—woe is me and all my kindred!—why did you let me drink it?”

At this point the brew started to act, and the poor squire began to discharge from both ends with such force that neither the mat on which he was lying, nor the canvas cover that was on top of him, were of further use. He sweated and sweated with such seizures and paroxysms that not only he, but everyone else, thought that his life was ending. This tempest and misfortune lasted almost two hours, after which he wasn’t in good shape like his master, but rather too beaten up and weak to stand up.

But don Quixote, as has been said, felt so relieved and hale that he wanted to leave immediately to seek adventures, because it seemed to him that all the time he delayed was depriving the world and those needy people in it of his favor and assistance. The self-assurance he got from the balm instilled even more confidence in him, so, armed with this desire, he saddled Rocinante himself and put the packsaddle on his squire’s donkey, and he also helped Sancho to get dressed and get on the donkey. He then got on his horse and went over to a corner of the yard and picked up a short lance to use.

Everyone in the inn—and there were more than twenty—was watching him. The daughter of the innkeeper was among those looking on, and he never took his eyes from hers. Once in a while he heaved a great sigh that seemed to be coming from the depths of his bowels, but everyone interpreted it as being due to the pain he felt in his ribs, at least those who had seen him being plastered the night before.

As soon as the two of them were mounted and at the gate of the inn, don Quixote called the innkeeper over, and with a very calm and grave voice said: “Señor warden, many and very great are the favors I’ve received in this castle, and I remain very much in your debt. I’ll be thankful to you all the days of my life. If I can repay you by avenging an injury done to you by some arrogant person, I want you to know that my profession is none other than to help those not very able to help themselves, to settle accounts for those who have been wronged, and to punish treacheries. Think back and tell me if there’s anything of this kind to charge me with. All you have to do is ask and I promise you, by the order of chivalry that I’ve received, to satisfy you completely.”

The innkeeper responded with the same tranquil air: “Señor knight, I don’t need you to avenge any injury, because I know how to take any vengeance I see fit, when necessary. I only need for you to pay me for the expenses you incurred at the inn last night, such as the straw and barley for your mounts, and for the dinner and the beds.”

“You mean this is an inn?” replied don Quixote.

“And a very reputable one,” responded the innkeeper.

“I’ve been deceived until now,” responded don Quixote. “In truth I thought it was a castle, and not a bad one. But since it’s an inn and not a castle, the only thing you can do is forgive the payment, because I can’t contravene the laws of knight errantry. I know for a fact—and I haven’t read anything to the contrary—that knights never paid for lodging or anything else in an inn where they stayed, because appropriate shelter is accorded them by law and by right in payment for the insufferable toil they endure while seeking adventures night and day, in winter and in summer, on foot and on horseback, suffering hunger and thirst, in heat and cold, subject to all the inclemen­cies of the heavens and all the discomforts of the earth.”

“I don’t know anything about that,” responded the innkeeper. “Pay me what is owed me, and let’s hear no more about stories and chivalry. The only thing I care about is getting what is due me.”

“You’re a foolish man and a bad innkeeper,” responded don Quixote.

And putting his spurs to Rocinante, and brandishing his lance, he left the inn without anyone stopping him; and he, not looking back to see if his squire was following, went quite a distance away. The innkeeper saw him leave without paying, so he went to collect from Sancho Panza, who said that since his master had refused to pay, he wouldn’t pay either. Being the squire of a knight errant, as he was, the same rule and principle applied to him as for his master in not paying for anything in inns. This irritated the innkeeper, who threatened him, saying that if he didn’t pay, he’d collect in a way that Sancho wouldn’t like. To which Sancho responded that by the laws of chivalry his master had received, he wouldn’t even pay a single cornado,216 even though it might cost him his life, because he didn’t want the good and ancient traditions of knights errant to be lost through him, nor did he want the squires of other knights who had yet to come into the world to complain about him, reproaching him for having broken such an exemplary law.

As the unfortunate Sancho’s bad luck would have it, among the people who were at the inn were four wool-carders from Segovia, three needle makers from the Plaza del Potro in Cordova, and two men who lived near the Marketplace of Seville,217 jovial, good-hearted, mischievous, and playful fellows, who were incited and moved by the same spirit, and who went to Sancho and pulled him off his donkey. Meanwhile one of them went to fetch a blanket from the innkeeper’s bed. They put Sancho on the blanket, looked up and saw that the ceiling was a bit lower than they needed for what the were going to do, so they decided to go to the corral, where the ceiling was the sky. And there, with Sancho in the middle of the blanket, they began to toss him in the air, having fun with him like they do with dogs at carnival time.

The shouts the wretched person being blanketed gave out were so loud they were heard by his master, who stopped to listen attentively, and believed that a new adventure had come his way, until he realized that the person who was bellowing was his squire. So he turned around, and with a laborious gallop, went back to the inn. When he arrived at the walls of the corral, which were not very high, he saw the joke they were playing on his squire. He saw him go up and down in the air with so much grace and nimbleness that—if his anger had allowed him—I think he would have laughed out loud. He tried to climb from the horse onto the walls, but he couldn’t even get off his horse, so from the saddle he began to hurl so many insults at those who were blanketing Sancho that it’s impossible to write them all down. The blanketers didn’t stop their laughing or their labor on account of them nor did the flying Sancho stop his complaints, mingled sometimes with threats and sometimes with supplications. But all this did little good until they stopped from utter exhaustion. They took him to his donkey and put him onto it, and draped his cloak over him. The compassionate Maritornes, seeing him suffering so, went to get a pitcher of water, which she got from the well so it would be cold, and took it to him. She was just at the point of giving it to him to drink when his master shouted to him: “Sancho, my son, don’t drink water—it’ll kill you! Look here, I have the holy balm,” and he held up the cruet so Sancho could see. “With two drops of it you’ll be whole again.”

Sancho rolled his eyes when he heard these shouts and shouted back even louder: “Has your grace forgotten by chance that I’m not a knight errant, or do you want me to vomit my guts out from what I have left over from last night? To the devil with that beverage, and leave me alone!”

When he finished talking, he began to drink right away. But with the first swallow he realized it was water and wouldn’t take any more. He begged Maritor­nes to get him some wine. She did so very graciously, and paid for it with her own money, for it’s said about her that, although she was just a serving girl, she was still something of a Christian.

As soon as Sancho drank, he put his heels to the donkey. They opened the gate of the inn, and he left, very content at not having had to pay anything and having gotten his way, although it had been at the expense of his usual guarantor, his back. It’s true that the innkeeper kept his saddlebags in payment for what he owed, but Sancho didn’t miss them since he was in such a tizzy. The innkeeper wanted to bar the gate as soon as he saw him outside, but the blanketers wouldn’t hear of it because even if don Quixote were truly one of the knights of the Round Table, they couldn’t have cared less.




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