A TEI Project

Chapter VIII

Of the excellent outcome that the brave don Quixote had in the frightening and never-imagined adventure of the windmills, with other events worthy of happy memory.

Just then, they discovered thirty or forty windmills in that plain. And as soon as don Quixote saw them, he said to his squire: “Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we could have ever hoped. Look over there, Sancho Panza, my friend, where there are thirty or more monstrous giants with whom I plan to do battle and take all their lives, and with their spoils we’ll start to get rich. This is righteous warfare, and it’s a great service to God to rid the earth of such a wicked seed.”

“What giants?” said Sancho Panza.

“Those that you see over there,” responded his master, “with the long arms—some of them almost two leagues long.”

“Look, your grace,” responded Sancho, “what you see over there aren’t giants—they’re windmills; and what seems to be arms are the sails that rotate the millstone when they’re turned by the wind.”

“It seems to me,” responded don Quixote, “that you aren’t well-versed in adventures—they are giants; and if you’re afraid, get away from here and start praying while I go into fierce and unequal battle with them.”

And saying this, he spurred his horse Rocinante without heeding what his squire Sancho was shouting to him, that he was attacking windmills and not giants. But he was so certain they were giants that he paid no attention to his squire Sancho’s shouts, nor did he see what they were, even though he was very close. Rather, he went on shouting: “Do not flee, cowards and vile creatures, for it’s just one knight attacking you!”

At this point, the wind increased a bit and the large sails began to move, which don Quixote observed and said: “Even though you wave more arms than Briaræus, you’ll have to answer to me.”

When he said this—and commending himself with all his heart to his lady Dulcinea, asking her to aid him in that peril, well-covered by his shield, with his lance on the lance rest —he attacked at Rocinante’s full gallop and assailed the first windmill he came to. He gave a thrust into the sail with his lance just as a rush of air accelerated it with such fury that it broke the lance to bits, taking the horse and knight with it, and tossed him rolling onto the ground, very battered.

Sancho went as fast as his donkey could take him to help his master, and when he got there, he saw that don Quixote couldn’t stir—such was the result of Rocinante’s landing on top of him. “God help us,” said Sancho. “Didn’t I tell you to watch what you were doing; that they were just windmills, and that only a person who had windmills in his head could fail to realize it?”

“Keep still, Sancho, my friend,” responded don Quixote. “Things associated with war, more than others, are subject to continual change. Moreover, I believe—and it’s true—that the sage Frestón—he who robbed me of my library—has changed these giants into windmills to take away the glory of my having conquered them, such is the enmity he bears me. But in the long run, his evil cunning will have little power over the might of my sword.”

“God’s will be done,” responded Sancho Panza.

Sancho helped don Quixote get back onto Rocinante, who was half-dislocated himself, and while they talked about the adventure just finished, they continued toward Puerto Lápice, because don Quixote said that it was impossible to fail to find many different adventures there, since it was a place frequented by travelers. He was also very sad for having lost his lance, and he said to his squire: “I remember having read once that a Spanish knight named Diego Pérez de Vargas, when he broke his lance in a battle, tore a heavy branch from an oak tree and with it performed many feats that day, and pounded so many Moors, that he took the surname «Machuca», and so he and his descendants called themselves Vargas y Machuca from that day on. I’ve told you this because I plan to rip another branch from the very first oak we come across, as good as the one I just mentioned, and I plan to do such deeds with it that you’ll consider yourself fortunate to have been worthy to see them and to be an eyewitness to things that can hardly be believed.”

“Be that as God wills,” said Sancho. “I believe everything your grace says. But straighten yourself up a bit. It looks like you’re listing, doubtless because of the injuries from your fall.”

“That’s true,” responded don Quixote, “and if I don’t fuss about the pain it’s because knights errant aren’t allowed to complain of any wound, even though their intestines are oozing out.”

“If that’s the way it is, I have nothing to say,” responded Sancho, “but God knows I’d be glad if your grace complained when something hurts you. As far as I’m concerned, I can safely say that I’ll complain about the least little pain I have, unless this business of not complaining also applies to squires of knights errant.”

Don Quixote couldn’t help but laugh at the simplicity of his squire, and so he said that he could complain however and whenever he wanted, as often as he liked. He hadn’t ever read anything to the contrary in the laws of chivalry. Sancho said that he thought that it was now time to eat. His master responded that he didn’t need to eat right then, but that Sancho could eat whenever he felt like it.

With this permission, Sancho made himself as comfortable as he could on his donkey, and, taking from the saddlebags what he’d put in, he ambled along, eating comfortably behind his master, and once in a while he raised his wineskin with such pleasure that the keeper of the most well-stocked tavern in Málaga might have envied him. And as he went along, taking swallow after swallow, he forgot completely about the promises his master had made him, nor did he consider going around looking for adventures as toil, but rather as great recreation, no matter how dangerous they might be.

In short, they spent that night among some trees, and from one of them don Quixote tore off a dead branch to serve him as a lance, and he put the lance head on it that he’d taken from the one that had broken. That whole night don Quixote never slept, thinking about his lady Dulcinea, in order to conform with what he’d read in his books about the many sleepless nights knights spent in the forest and wilderness, sustained by memories of their ladies.

Sancho didn’t spend it that way. Since his stomach was full, and not of chicory water, he slept the whole night through, and if his master hadn’t called him, neither the rays of the sun on his face nor the song of the many birds who rejoiced for the coming of the day, would have woken him. When he got up, he took a swig from the wineskin and found it somewhat flatter than the night before, and he was grieved in his heart because it seemed to him that there wasn’t going to be a remedy for it any time soon. Don Quixote didn’t want to break his fast because he could sustain himself with pleasant memories.

They took the route to Puerto Lápice that they had already begun, and at about three in the afternoon they saw the village.

“Here,” said don Quixote when he saw it, “we can put our arms up to our elbows into what they call adventures. But let me remind you that even if you see me in great danger, you must not take your sword to defend me unless you see that those attacking me are common rabble—if they are, then you can help me. But if they’re knights, the laws of chivalry forbid you to aid me in any way, until you’re dubbed a knight yourself.”

“There’s no question, señor,” responded Sancho, “that you’ll be obeyed in this, especially since I’m peaceable by nature and an enemy of getting mixed up in other people’s disputes. It’s true that insofar as defending myself is concerned, I won’t pay much attention to those laws, since laws both human and divine allow each person to defend himself from anyone who wants to harm him.”

“And I don’t say any less,” responded don Quixote, “but where helping me against knights is concerned, you have to contain your natural impulses.”

“I pledge I’ll do it,” responded Sancho, “and I’ll observe this precept as well as I observe the Sabbath.”

While they were having this conversation, two friars of the Benedictine order appeared along the road on two dromedaries, because the mules on which they were traveling were no smaller. They were wearing traveling masks, and were holding parasols. Behind them was a coach accompanied by four or five men on horseback, and two servants on foot. Inside the coach, as was later found out, there was a Basque lady who was going to Seville, where her husband was waiting to go to the New World to take a prestigious position. The friars were not in her party, although they were on the same road. But as soon as don Quixote saw them, he said to his squire: “Either I’m mistaken, or this will be the most famous adventure ever seen, because those dark shapes over there must be, and doubtless are, enchanters who have kidnapped a princess in that coach. I have to right this wrong with all my might.”

“This will be worse than the windmills,” said Sancho. “Look, señor, those people are Benedictine friars, and the coach is probably just carrying a couple of passengers. Consider what you’re doing—don’t let the devil deceive you.”

“I’ve already told you, Sancho,” replied don Quixote, “that you know little about the subject of adventures. What I’ve told you is the truth, as you’ll soon see.”

And saying this, he went forward and placed himself in the middle of the road where the friars were coming, and when they got close enough where it seemed to him he could be heard, he said in a loud voice: “Diabolical and monstrous people! Release immediately the high-born princesses that you’re holding against their will. If you don’t, prepare yourselves to receive a swift death as a just punishment for your evil deeds!”

The friars pulled in their reins, and were startled at the figure of don Quixote, as well as at his words, to which they responded: “Señor knight, we’re neither diabolical nor monstrous, but rather two friars of Saint Benedict minding our own business, and we don’t know if there are kidnapped princesses in that coach or not.”

“For me there are no feeble excuses—I know who you are, you lying rabble,” said don Quixote.

And not waiting for an answer, he spurred Rocinante, and with his lance lowered, he attacked the first friar with such fury and daring that, if the friar hadn’t dropped down from his mule, don Quixote would have made him fall to the ground much against his will, perhaps badly wounded, and possibly lifeless.

The second friar saw the way his companion was being treated, so he put his heels to his large mule, and began to race across the countryside, swifter than the wind itself.

When Sancho saw the downed friar, he nimbly got off his donkey and rushed over to him and began removing his habit. The two servants of the friars went over and asked why he was doing that. Sancho said that it was his legitimate right since it was among the spoils that his master don Quixote had won in battle. The servants, knowing nothing about spoils nor battles, and seeing that don Quixote wasn’t looking—since he was talking with the women in the coach—wrestled Sancho to the ground, and leaving his beard without a hair, they kicked him senseless, knocked the wind out of him, and left him stretched out on the ground. Then, without waiting a second, the fearful, intimidated, and pale friar leapt back onto his mule and spurred on toward his companion, who was waiting for him a good distance away to see where that frightening encounter was leading, and without waiting for its end, they continued on their way, crossing themselves more times than if the devil had been chasing them.

Don Quixote was, as has been said, talking with the lady of the coach, saying to her: “You, beauteous lady, are free to go about your business, because your arrogant kidnappers are lying in the dust, overwhelmed by my strong arm. And so that you won’t be tormented trying to discover the name of your liberator, I want you to know that I’m called don Quixote de La Mancha, knight errant and adventurer, and captive of the beautiful Dulcinea del Toboso. All I ask in return for the favor you received from me is for you to go to El Toboso and present yourself before this lady, and tell her what I did to set you free.”

Everything that don Quixote said was overheard by a Basque squire accompanying the coach, and when he heard that don Quixote didn’t want the coach to proceed, but rather said that it had to turn back to El Toboso, he went to don Quixote, and grabbing his lance, said to him in bad Spanish and worse Basque: “Go on, knight, who acts badly. By the God who created me, that, if you not leave coach alone, you kill yourself as I am Basque.”

Don Quixote understood him very well, and with great calm said to him: “If you were a knight, as I see you’re not, I would have already punished your folly and insolence, you wretched creature.”

To which the Basque answered: “I not knight? I swear to God as you lie, as a Christian. If you throw lance and take sword, to the water you’ll see how fast you take the cat. Basque on land, hidalgo on sea, hidalgo by the devil, and you lie, and watch out if you say anything else.”

“«‘Now you’ll see!’ said Agrajes»,” responded don Quixote. And throwing his lance to the ground, he drew his sword, clasped his shield, and attacked the Basque, determined to take his life.

When the Basque saw don Quixote coming toward him, he tried to get off the mule since it was a bad rented one and couldn’t be counted on, but he could do nothing except draw his own sword. He was lucky to be next to the coach, from which he could take a cushion to be his shield, and then the battle really began, as if they were two mortal enemies. The rest of the people tried to get them to stop, but they couldn’t, because the Basque said in his badly-put-together words that if they didn’t let them finish their battle, he himself would kill his mistress and anyone else who opposed him.

The woman in the coach, dumbfounded and alarmed by what she was seeing, had the driver move some distance away and from there she saw the mighty struggle, in the course of which the Basque gave don Quixote a blow directly onto his shield that was protecting his shoulder. If it had landed on him instead of the shield it would have split him down to his waist. Don Quixote felt the force of that massive blow and cried loudly: “Oh, señora of my soul, Dulcinea, flower of beauty, succor your knight in this severe peril for the sake of your great goodness!”

At the same instant he said this, he grasped his sword, covered himself with this shield, and attacked the Basque, determined to venture everything on a single blow. The Basque, when he saw himself assaulted, quickly understood don Quixote’s anger through his daring, and resolved to do the same as don Quixote. So the Basque waited for his opponent, well-covered by his cushion, without being able to move his mule one way or the other, because the poor thing—from pure exhaustion, and not used to childish nonsense—couldn’t take a step.

Don Quixote began his attack, as had been said, against the cautious Basque with his sword held high, bent on splitting him in two; the Basque waited for him as well, protected by his cushion and with his sword raised. All those present were apprehensive and in suspense about the result of the enormous blows with which they threatened each other. The lady of the coach and the rest of her maids were saying a thousand prayers and supplications to all the holy images and shrines in all of Spain so that God would save their squire, as well as themselves, from the great danger in which they found themselves.

But the dreadful thing is that, at this point, the author of this history leaves the battle pending, apologizing that he couldn’t find anything else written about the deeds of don Quixote other than what he’s already related. It is true that the second author of this work refused to believe that such a curious

history would be relegated to oblivion, or that the good minds of La Mancha would be so uninquisitive that they wouldn’t have in their archives or in their desk drawers some documents dealing with this famous knight. Thus, with this thought in mind, he didn’t despair of finding the end of this pleasant story, which, since heaven was kind to him, he found in the way that will be related in the Second Part.



Hidalgo Don Quixote

de La Mancha.


Date: June 1, 2009
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