A TEI Project

Chapter XIV

Where the adventure of the Knight of the Forest continues.

AMONG THE conversations held between don Quixote and the Knight of the Forest, the history states that he of the Forest said to don Quixote: “So, señor knight, I would like you to know that my destiny, or, better said, my choice, led me to fall in love with the peerless Casildea de Vandalia. I say that she’s peerless because she has no equal either in the size of her body or in the degree of her rank or beauty. This Casildea de Vandalia that I’m talking about rewarded my pure thoughts and gallant desires by making me, as Hercules’ step-mother did, engage in many diverse and dangerous labors, promising me after each one was finished that I would get what I hoped for at the conclusion of the following one. So one labor led to the next and I don’t know how many have been done nor which will be the last one—the beginning of the fulfillment of my pure desires. Once, she made me challenge that famous giantess in Seville called La Giralda. She’s so robust and strong, as if she were made of bronze, and, without moving from where she stands, is the most changeable and fickle woman in the world. I went, I saw her, I conquered her, and I made her stay still because for more than a week only north winds blew. There was another time when she made me go to weigh the ancient stones of the massive Bulls of Guisando, an undertaking more suited to porters than to knights. Once she made me plunge into the pit of Cabra, an unheard of and fearful danger, telling me that I should bring her a description of what is enclosed in those dark depths. I stopped the movement of La Giralda, I weighed the Bulls of Guisando, I plunged into the pit and brought to light what was hidden in its abyss, and my hopes are still as dead as can be, and her orders more alive than ever.

“To conclude, she recently commanded me to roam through all the provinces in Spain and make all knights errant wandering through them confess that she alone is superior in beauty to any others living today, and that I’m the bravest and most enamored knight in the world. In pursuit of this quest I’ve combed most of Spain, and have vanquished many knights who have dared to contradict me. But the one that I’m proudest to have vanquished in a singular battle is that so-famous knight don Quixote de La Mancha, and I made him confess that my Casildea is more beautiful than his Dulcinea, and by this victory alone I consider that I’ve vanquished all the knights in the world because this don Quixote that I mention has conquered them all, and having defeated him, his glory, fame, and honor have been transfered to me:

The more the vanquished boast of fame,
so much the more the victors claim.

“So, all of his innumerable deeds of this already-mentioned don Quixote belong to me.”

Don Quixote was amazed when he heard what the Knight of the Forest had to say, a thousand times he was about to tell him that he was lying, and the denial was on the tip of his tongue, but he refrained from doing so in order to make him confess his lie from his own mouth: “That your grace, señor knight, has conquered most of the knights errant in Spain, I cannot comment about, but that you conquered don Quixote de La Mancha, I doubt it very much—perhaps it was another one who looked like him, although few do.”

“What do you mean?” said he of the Forest. “By the sky that covers us, I fought with don Quixote and conquered and overcame him—he’s a tall man with a withered face, his limbs are lanky and tanned, hair turning grey, an aquiline nose with a bit of a hook, and with a long drooping black mustache. He battles under the name of the WOEBEGONE KNIGHT, and has as his squire a peasant named Sancho Panza. He mounts and holds the reins of a famous horse named Rocinante, and finally he has as the mistress of his will a certain Dulcinea del Toboso, called Aldonza Lorenzo, as mine, who, since she’s named Casilda and being from Andalusia, I call her Casildea de Vandalia. If all these features don’t suffice to establish the truth, here’s my sword, that will make incredulity itself believe it.”

“Calm down, señor knight,” said don Quixote, “and listen to what I want to tell you. I want you to know that this don Quixote that you’ve mentioned is my best friend in the whole world, so much so that I can say that I respect him as much as I do myself, and by the features that you’ve described to me, so accurate and solid, I have to believe that he was the same one that you’ve vanquished. On the other hand, what I see with my eyes and touch with my hands is that it cannot be true, unless it’s that since he has many enemy enchanters—especially one who pursues him regularly—one of them may have taken on his appearance and let himself be vanquished so as to defraud him of the fame that his chivalric deeds have won and earned for him throughout the known world. And to confirm this, I want you also to know that the enchanters, his enemies, transformed the figure and person of Dulcinea del Toboso into a coarse and low village girl, and in this same way they must have changed don Quixote. And if this doesn’t suffice to convince you, here’s don Quixote himself who will maintain it with weapons, on foot or on horseback, or in whatever way pleases you.”

As he said this, he stood up and took his sword in hand, waiting to find out what decision would be taken by the Knight of the Forest, who, with a calm voice, responded and said: “«Leaving a pledge doesn’t bother a good payer». He who once, señor don Quixote, could vanquish you in a transformed state, can certainly expect to conquer you in your original state. But since it isn’t a good idea to take up arms in the dark, like highwaymen and thugs, let’s wait for the day to arrive so the sun can witness our combat. And the condition of our battle must be that the conquered one must submit to the will of the victor and do whatever he’s told, provided that what is commanded be is proper for a knight to obey.”

“I’m more than happy with this agreement on terms,” responded don Quixote.

Once they had said this, they went over to where their squires were, and they found them snoring and in the same position they were when sleep overtook them. They awakened them and told them to prepare their horses, because when day broke, the two of them were going to have a bloody, singular, and arduous battle, at which news Sancho became astonished and stunned, fearful for the well-being of his master because of the brave acts of the Knight of the Forest he’d heard his squire relate. But, without saying a word, the two squires went to fetch their mounts, for by this time the three horses and the donkey had smelled one another and were close together.

On the way over the Squire of the Forest said to Sancho: “I want you to know, brother, that there’s a custom in Andalusian duels—when the principals are fighting, their seconds don’t just stand around with their arms folded. I mention this because while our masters are fighting, we also have to fight and smash each other to bits.”

“That custom, señor squire,” responded Sancho, “may be true among ruffians and the combatants that you mention, but among squires of knights errant it’s quite unheard of. At least, I’ve never heard my master mention such a custom, and he knows all the rules and regulations of knight errantry. Even if I recognize that it’s true and a legitimate regulation that squires are supposed to fight while their masters do, I won’t to go along with it, but rather I’ll pay the fine imposed on all the peaceful squires. I’m pretty sure it won’t be more that two pounds of wax, and I’d rather pay those couple of pounds because I know that it’d cost me more in bandages to mend my head, for I can see it now split in half. Moreover, having no sword makes it impossible for me to fight since I never put one on in my whole life.”

“I have a good solution for that” said he of the Forest. “I have two linen sacks of the same size—you’ll take one and I’ll take the other, and we’ll fight with those equal weapons.”

“In that case, it’s all right,” responded Sancho, “because that kind of fight will dust us off more than it will wound us.”

“It won’t be that way,” said the other, “because we’ll put half a dozen nice smooth rocks that all weigh the same into those bags—to weigh them down—and in that way we can whack each other without harm.”

“Look,” responded Sancho, “put sable fur or cotton balls into the sacks so that our brains won’t get beaten out of us, or pulverize our bones! But even though they were filled with silkworm cocoons, señor mío, I won’t fight. Let our masters fight and have it out, and let’s drink and live, because time will finish us off without us looking around for reasons to end our lives before their time, when they’ll fall like ripe fruit.”

“Even so,” said he of the Forest, “we must fight, even if it’s only for half an hour.”

“No we won’t,” responded Sancho. “I won’t be so discourteous or so ungrateful that I’d pick even a small fight with someone with whom I’ve eaten and drunk. And what’s more, not being angry, who the devil would start a fight just like that?”

“For that,” said he of the Forest, “I’ll give sufficient reason, and that is before we begin to fight, I’ll walk up to your grace as nice as can be and give you three or four punches that will make you crumble at my feet, and with them I’ll arouse your anger, even though it’s as groggy as a dormouse.”

“I know another plan to counter that one,” responded Sancho, “which is just as good. I’ll take a club and before your grace can come to arouse my anger I’ll make your anger go to sleep with thwacks of my club in such a way that it won’t be awakened unless it’s in the other world, where it’s known that I don’t let my face be touched by anyone. «Let everyone look out for himself», for «no one knows the soul of another», and sometimes «you go out for wool and come back shorn», and «God blessed peace and cursed dissension», because «if a cat is shut up and cornered it turns into a lion», God knows what I can turn into being a man, so I’ll tell your grace, señor squire, all the harm and damage that comes from our fight will be on your shoulders.”

“All right,” said he of the Forest, “«God will send the new day and we’ll prosper».”

Just then a thousand kinds of multi-colored birds began to chirp in the trees and through their diverse and happy songs it seemed as if they were welcoming and greeting the fresh Aurora, who was beginning to show her beautiful face through the doors of the Orient, shaking from her hair an infinite number of liquid pearls. Grass was bathed in this gentle liquor and from it rained tiny pearls. Willows distilled delicious manna, fountains laughed, streams murmured, the forest rejoiced, and the meadows gloried in her coming. But hardly had the new light made it possible to see things, when the first thing that Sancho Panza saw was the nose of the Squire of the Forest, which was so big that it almost cast a shadow over his whole body. It’s said, in effect, that it was enormously large, hooked in the middle, and all covered with purple warts, like an eggplant. It extended the width of two fingers beneath his mouth, and when Sancho saw it, his feet and hands began to tremble like a child with epilepsy. He resolved in his heart to take two-hundred punches before he would let his wrath be aroused to fight this monster.

Don Quixote looked at his adversary, and found that he’d already put his helmet on and closed it so that he couldn’t see his face, but he saw that the man was burly and not very tall. Over his armor he had a tunic or coat made of a material that shone like very fine gold, and attached to it there were many little moons cut from shining mirrors that made him look very handsome. Fluttering on top of his helmet was a great number of green, yellow, and white feathers. The lance that was leaning against the tree was very long and stout, with a steel tip more than a span wide.

Don Quixote looked at and noted all this, and he judged from what he saw that the knight must be very strong. Not for this was he afraid like Sancho Panza—rather with calm courage he said to the Knight of the Mirrors: “If your eagerness to fight, señor knight, hasn’t taken away your courtesy, to it I appeal that you raise your visor a bit so that I can see if the gallantry of your face corresponds with that of your constitution.”

“Whether you come out of this undertaking vanquished or victor, señor knight,” said the Knight of the Mirrors, “you’ll have plenty of time and opportunity to see me, and if I don’t satisfy your curiosity now, it’s because it seems to me that I’m doing a notable disservice to the beautiful Casildea de Vandalia in wasting the time it would take to raise my visor before I made you confess what you know to be my affirmation.

“But while we’re mounting our horses,” said don Quixote, “you’ll surely be able to tell me if I’m that don Quixote you said you vanquished.”

“I’ll respond to that,” said he of the Mirrors. “You look like the knight I conquered like one egg looks like another. But the way you say you’re persecuted by enchanters, I won’t dare affirm that you’re that same one or not.”

“That’s enough,” responded don Quixote, “to convince me of your mistake. However, to rid you completely of your error, let our horses be brought. In less time that it would take you to raise your visor, if God, my lady, and my arm prevail, I’ll see your face, and you’ll see that I’m not the conquered don Quixote that you think.”

With this, they cut off their conversation, got on their horses, and don Quixote turned Rocinante around so he could pace off what he needed of the field in order to come back to attack his adversary, and he of the Mirrors did the same. But don Quixote had not gone twenty paces when he heard him of the Mirrors call him, and as they turned to face each other he of the Mirrors said: “Don’t forget, señor knight, that the condition of our battle is that the vanquished one, as I’ve said before, will be at the disposal of the conqueror.”

“I’m aware of that,” responded don Quixote, “provided what is imposed on the conquered one must be things that are within the bounds of chivalry.”

“Understood,” said he of the Mirrors.

Don Quixote then saw the strange nose of the squire, and he was no less astonished than Sancho, so much so that he thought he was some monster, or some new kind of man not from this world. Sancho, who saw his master readying to begin his run didn’t want to be alone with that big-nosed fellow, fearing that with just one slap of that nose on his own, his battle would be over, and from that one blow, or just from fright, he would be knocked to the ground. He ran after his master, grabbing onto one stirrup strap, and when he thought it was time for him to turn around, said: “I beg your grace, señor mío, before you go into battle, help me to climb into that cork tree from where I can see the gallant combat that your grace will have with this knight more comfortably and better than from on the ground.”

“I rather think,” said don Quixote, “that you want to climb to a higher place «to see the bulls without danger».”

“If I have to tell the truth,” responded Sancho, “the enormous nose of that squire has me astonished and filled with fear, and I don’t dare stay near him.”

“It’s such,” said don Quixote, “that if I weren’t who I am, it would terrify me as well, so come, and I’ll help you to climb where you want.”

While don Quixote delayed in order to help Sancho go up into the tree, he of the Mirrors was pacing off what he thought he needed of the field, and thinking don Quixote had done the same, without waiting for the blare of a trumpet or any other sound to advise them, he wheeled his horse around—and he was no swifter or better looking than Rocinante—and at the horse’s full speed (which was nothing more than a half trot), went to attack his enemy. But seeing him busy helping Sancho, he pulled back on the reins and stopped in the middle of his course, for which the horse was extremely thankful, since he could no longer budge. But it seemed to don Quixote that his enemy was flying toward him, and he kicked his spurs into the skinny flanks of Rocinante and made him race in such a way that this history says that this was the only time that he was known to run a bit—for all the other times he just trotted—and with this unheard-of fury he ran toward where he of the Mirrors was digging into his horse up to the buttons, without being able to move him an inch from where he’d stopped his course.

At this opportune moment don Quixote found his contrary encumbered with his horse and fiddling with his lance, which he never, or couldn’t, or didn’t, have time to put in the lance rest. Don Quixote, who wasn’t paying attention to these hindrances, without risk and without any danger whatsoever, attacked him of the Mirrors with so much force that, much against his opponent’s will, he toppled him to the ground over the haunches of his horse. From the fall he could move neither hand nor foot, and gave the impression that he was dead.

As soon as Sancho saw that he’d fallen, he slipped down from the cork tree and went to where his master was. Don Quixote got off Rocinante and placed himself over him of the Mirrors, and unlaced the helmet to see if he was dead, or to give him air, if he happened to still be alive, and he saw… who can say what he saw without causing astonishment, wonder and awe in those who hear it? He saw, so says the history, the face, the figure, the aspect, and the effigy of the bachelor Sansón Carrasco, and as soon as he saw him, he shouted: “Come, Sancho, and look at what you will see but not believe. Hurry, my son, and see what magic can do; what sorcerers and enchanters can do.”

Sancho got there and when he saw the face of the bachelor Carrasco, he began to cross himself a thousand times at this totally unexpected sight. All the while, the flattened knight gave no sign of life, and Sancho said to don Quixote: “I’m of the opinion in any case, señor mío, that your grace should get down on one knee and plunge your sword into the mouth of this fellow who looks like the bachelor Sansón Carrasco. Maybe you’ll kill some of your enemies, the enchanters.”

“Not a bad idea,” said don Quixote, “because the fewer enemies, the better.”

Taking out his sword to put Sancho’s advice into effect, the squire of him of the Mirrors, now without the nose that had made him look so ugly, shouted loudly: “Watch what you’re doing señor don Quixote, because that fellow at your feet is the bachelor Sansón Carrasco, your friend, and I’m his squire.”

When Sancho saw him without that which caused his ugliness, said: “And what happened to your nose?”

To which he answered: “Here it is, in my pocket.”

And putting his hand into his right-hand pocket, he took out a nose made of pasteboard and varnish in the shape that has been described, and after Sancho had looked at him very carefully, he said in a very surprised voice: “Holy Mary help me! If it isn’t Tomé Cecial, my neighbor and pal.”

“Of course I am!” responded the un-nosed squire. “Tomé Cecial I am, friend and pal of Sancho Panza, and I’ll tell you right now the secrets, tricks, and scheming that brought me here. Meanwhile, ask and beg your master not to touch, abuse, wound, or kill the Knight of the Mirrors who he has at his feet, because without any doubt he is the daring and ill-advised bachelor Sansón Carrasco, our fellow townsman.”

Just then, he of the Mirrors came to, and when don Quixote saw it, he placed the point of the sword above his face and said: “You’re dead, knight, unless you confess that the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso is more beautiful than your Casildea de Vandalia. And in addition to this, you must promise to go to the city of El Toboso and appear before her on my behalf so that she can do with you whatever she pleases. And if she lets you go free you must come looking for me—for the trail of my deeds will guide you—and tell me what transpired with her. These conditions, in accordance with what we agreed to before our combat, are within the bounds of the rules of chivalry.”

“I confess,” said the fallen knight, “that the tattered and dirty shoe of the lady Dulcinea del Toboso is more worthy than the unkempt but clean beard of Casildea, and I promise to go and come back from her presence to yours and relate in minute detail what you’re asking of me.”

“You must also confess and believe,” added don Quixote, “that the knight you conquered was not, and could not have been don Quixote de La Mancha, but someone who looked like him, just as I confess and believe that you, although you look like the bachelor Sansón Carrasco, you’re not him, but rather another who looks like him, and that my enemies have given you his features to restrain and moderate the intensity of my wrath, so that I wouldn’t use the glory of my conquest to its fullest extent.”

“I confess, judge, and feel everything that you believe, judge and feel,” responded the battered knight. “Allow me to stand up, I beg you, if the pain of my fall will let me, because I’m pretty bad off.”

Don Quixote helped him get up, as did Tomé Cecial, his squire, whom Sancho looked at fixedly, asking him things the answers to which proved that he was really the Tomé Cecial he said he was. But the apprehension caused by what his master had said—that enchanters had changed the features of the Knight of the Mirrors to make him look like the bachelor Carrasco—prevented him from believing what his eyes were seeing. Finally, the master and servant remained deceived, and he of the Mirrors and his squire, angry and in bad shape, left don Quixote and Sancho with the intention of finding a village where they could get plasters applied to his ribs. Don Quixote and Sancho continued on their way to Zaragoza, where the history leaves them in order to explain who the Knight of the Mirrors and his nosed squire were.



Date: June 1, 2009
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