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Chapter 21

  • **Which treats of the exalted adventure and rich prize of Mambrino's helmet, together with other things that happened to our invincible knight**
  • It now began to rain a little, and Sancho was for going into the fullin_ills, but Don Quixote had taken such an abhorrence to them on account of th_ate joke that he would not enter them on any account; so turning aside t_ight they came upon another road, different from that which they had take_he night before. Shortly afterwards Don Quixote perceived a man on horsebac_ho wore on his head something that shone like gold, and the moment he saw hi_e turned to Sancho and said:
  • "I think, Sancho, there is no proverb that is not true, all being maxims draw_rom experience itself, the mother of all the sciences, especially that on_hat says, 'Where one door shuts, another opens.' I say so because if las_ight fortune shut the door of the adventure we were looking for against us, cheating us with the fulling mills, it now opens wide another one for anothe_etter and more certain adventure, and if I do not contrive to enter it, i_ill be my own fault, and I cannot lay it to my ignorance of fulling mills, o_he darkness of the night. I say this because, if I mistake not, there come_owards us one who wears on his head the helmet of Mambrino, concerning whic_ took the oath thou rememberest."
  • "Mind what you say, your worship, and still more what you do," said Sancho,
  • "for I don't want any more fulling mills to finish off fulling and knockin_ur senses out."
  • "The devil take thee, man," said Don Quixote; "what has a helmet to do wit_ulling mills?"
  • "I don't know," replied Sancho, "but, faith, if I might speak as I used, perhaps I could give such reasons that your worship would see you wer_istaken in what you say."
  • "How can I be mistaken in what I say, unbelieving traitor?" returned Do_uixote; "tell me, seest thou not yonder knight coming towards us on a dapple_rey steed, who has upon his head a helmet of gold?"
  • "What I see and make out," answered Sancho, "is only a man on a grey ass lik_y own, who has something that shines on his head."
  • "Well, that is the helmet of Mambrino," said Don Quixote; "stand to one sid_nd leave me alone with him; thou shalt see how, without saying a word, t_ave time, I shall bring this adventure to an issue and possess myself of th_elmet I have so longed for."
  • "I will take care to stand aside," said Sancho; "but God grant, I say onc_ore, that it may be marjoram and not fulling mills."
  • "I have told thee, brother, on no account to mention those fulling mills to m_gain," said Don Quixote, "or I vow—and I say no more-I'll full the soul ou_f you."
  • Sancho held his peace in dread lest his master should carry out the vow he ha_urled like a bowl at him.
  • The fact of the matter as regards the helmet, steed, and knight that Do_uixote saw, was this. In that neighbourhood there were two villages, one o_hem so small that it had neither apothecary's shop nor barber, which th_ther that was close to it had, so the barber of the larger served th_maller, and in it there was a sick man who required to be bled and anothe_an who wanted to be shaved, and on this errand the barber was going, carryin_ith him a brass basin; but as luck would have it, as he was on the way i_egan to rain, and not to spoil his hat, which probably was a new one, he pu_he basin on his head, and being clean it glittered at half a league'_istance. He rode upon a grey ass, as Sancho said, and this was what made i_eem to Don Quixote to be a dapple-grey steed and a knight and a golde_elmet; for everything he saw he made to fall in with his crazy chivalry an_ll-errant notions; and when he saw the poor knight draw near, withou_ntering into any parley with him, at Rocinante's top speed he bore down upo_im with the pike pointed low, fully determined to run him through an_hrough, and as he reached him, without checking the fury of his charge, h_ried to him:
  • "Defend thyself, miserable being, or yield me of thine own accord that whic_s so reasonably my due."
  • The barber, who without any expectation or apprehension of it saw thi_pparition coming down upon him, had no other way of saving himself from th_troke of the lance but to let himself fall off his ass; and no sooner had h_ouched the ground than he sprang up more nimbly than a deer and sped awa_cross the plain faster than the wind.
  • He left the basin on the ground, with which Don Quixote contented himself, saying that the pagan had shown his discretion and imitated the beaver, whic_inding itself pressed by the hunters bites and cuts off with its teeth tha_or which, by its natural instinct, it knows it is pursued.
  • He told Sancho to pick up the helmet, and he taking it in his hands said:
  • "By God the basin is a good one, and worth a real of eight if it is worth _aravedis," and handed it to his master, who immediately put it on his head, turning it round, now this way, now that, in search of fitment, and no_inding it he said, "Clearly the pagan to whose measure this famous head-piec_as first forged must have had a very large head; but the worst of it is hal_f it is wanting."
  • When Sancho heard him call the basin a headpiece he was unable to restrain hi_aughter, but remembering his master's wrath he checked himself in the mids_f it.
  • "What art thou laughing at, Sancho?" said Don Quixote.
  • "I am laughing," said he, "to think of the great head the pagan must have ha_ho owned this helmet, for it looks exactly like a regular barber's basin."
  • "Dost thou know what I suspect, Sancho?" said Don Quixote; "that thi_onderful piece of this enchanted helmet must by some strange accident hav_ome into the hands of some one who was unable to recognise or realise it_alue, and who, not knowing what he did, and seeing it to be of the pures_old, must have melted down one half for the sake of what it might be worth, and of the other made this which is like a barber's basin as thou sayest; bu_e it as it may, to me who recognise it, its transformation makes n_ifference, for I will set it to rights at the first village where there is _lacksmith, and in such style that that helmet the god of smithies forged fo_he god of battles shall not surpass it or even come up to it; and in th_eantime I will wear it as well as I can, for something is better tha_othing; all the more as it will be quite enough to protect me from any chanc_low of a stone."
  • "That is," said Sancho, "if it is not shot with a sling as they were in th_attle of the two armies, when they signed the cross on your worship'_rinders and smashed the flask with that blessed draught that made me vomit m_owels up."
  • "It does not grieve me much to have lost it," said Don Quixote, "for tho_nowest, Sancho, that I have the receipt in my memory."
  • "So have I," answered Sancho, "but if ever I make it, or try it again as lon_s I live, may this be my last hour; moreover, I have no intention of puttin_yself in the way of wanting it, for I mean, with all my five senses, to kee_yself from being wounded or from wounding anyone: as to being blanketed agai_ say nothing, for it is hard to prevent mishaps of that sort, and if the_ome there is nothing for it but to squeeze our shoulders together, hold ou_reath, shut our eyes, and let ourselves go where luck and the blanket ma_end us."
  • "Thou art a bad Christian, Sancho," said Don Quixote on hearing this, "fo_nce an injury has been done thee thou never forgettest it: but know that i_s the part of noble and generous hearts not to attach importance to trifles.
  • What lame leg hast thou got by it, what broken rib, what cracked head, tha_hou canst not forget that jest? For jest and sport it was, properly regarded, and had I not seen it in that light I would have returned and done mor_ischief in revenging thee than the Greeks did for the rape of Helen, who, i_he were alive now, or if my Dulcinea had lived then, might depend upon it sh_ould not be so famous for her beauty as she is;" and here he heaved a sig_nd sent it aloft; and said Sancho, "Let it pass for a jest as it cannot b_evenged in earnest, but I know what sort of jest and earnest it was, and _now it will never be rubbed out of my memory any more than off my shoulders.
  • But putting that aside, will your worship tell me what are we to do with thi_apple-grey steed that looks like a grey ass, which that Martino that you_orship overthrew has left deserted here? for, from the way he took to hi_eels and bolted, he is not likely ever to come back for it; and by my bear_ut the grey is a good one."
  • "I have never been in the habit," said Don Quixote, "of taking spoil of thos_hom I vanquish, nor is it the practice of chivalry to take away their horse_nd leave them to go on foot, unless indeed it be that the victor have los_is own in the combat, in which case it is lawful to take that of th_anquished as a thing won in lawful war; therefore, Sancho, leave this horse, or ass, or whatever thou wilt have it to be; for when its owner sees us gon_ence he will come back for it."
  • "God knows I should like to take it," returned Sancho, "or at least to chang_t for my own, which does not seem to me as good a one: verily the laws o_hivalry are strict, since they cannot be stretched to let one ass be change_or another; I should like to know if I might at least change trappings."
  • "On that head I am not quite certain," answered Don Quixote, "and the matte_eing doubtful, pending better information, I say thou mayest change them, i_o be thou hast urgent need of them."
  • "So urgent is it," answered Sancho, "that if they were for my own person _ould not want them more;" and forthwith, fortified by this licence, h_ffected the mutatio capparum, rigging out his beast to the ninety-nines an_aking quite another thing of it. This done, they broke their fast on th_emains of the spoils of war plundered from the sumpter mule, and drank of th_rook that flowed from the fulling mills, without casting a look in tha_irection, in such loathing did they hold them for the alarm they had cause_hem; and, all anger and gloom removed, they mounted and, without taking an_ixed road (not to fix upon any being the proper thing for true knights- errant), they set out, guided by Rocinante's will, which carried along with i_hat of his master, not to say that of the ass, which always followed hi_herever he led, lovingly and sociably; nevertheless they returned to the hig_oad, and pursued it at a venture without any other aim.
  • As they went along, then, in this way Sancho said to his master, "Senor, woul_our worship give me leave to speak a little to you? For since you laid tha_ard injunction of silence on me several things have gone to rot in m_tomach, and I have now just one on the tip of my tongue that I don't want t_e spoiled."
  • "Say, on, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "and be brief in thy discourse, for ther_s no pleasure in one that is long."
  • "Well then, senor," returned Sancho, "I say that for some days past I hav_een considering how little is got or gained by going in search of thes_dventures that your worship seeks in these wilds and cross-roads, where, eve_f the most perilous are victoriously achieved, there is no one to see or kno_f them, and so they must be left untold for ever, to the loss of you_orship's object and the credit they deserve; therefore it seems to me i_ould be better (saving your worship's better judgment) if we were to go an_erve some emperor or other great prince who may have some war on hand, i_hose service your worship may prove the worth of your person, your grea_ight, and greater understanding, on perceiving which the lord in whos_ervice we may be will perforce have to reward us, each according to hi_erits; and there you will not be at a loss for some one to set down you_chievements in writing so as to preserve their memory for ever. Of my own _ay nothing, as they will not go beyond squirely limits, though I make bold t_ay that, if it be the practice in chivalry to write the achievements o_quires, I think mine must not be left out."
  • "Thou speakest not amiss, Sancho," answered Don Quixote, "but before tha_oint is reached it is requisite to roam the world, as it were on probation, seeking adventures, in order that, by achieving some, name and fame may b_cquired, such that when he betakes himself to the court of some great monarc_he knight may be already known by his deeds, and that the boys, the instan_hey see him enter the gate of the city, may all follow him and surround him, crying, 'This is the Knight of the Sun'-or the Serpent, or any other titl_nder which he may have achieved great deeds. 'This,' they will say, 'is h_ho vanquished in single combat the gigantic Brocabruno of mighty strength; h_ho delivered the great Mameluke of Persia out of the long enchantment unde_hich he had been for almost nine hundred years.' So from one to another the_ill go proclaiming his achievements; and presently at the tumult of the boy_nd the others the king of that kingdom will appear at the windows of hi_oyal palace, and as soon as he beholds the knight, recognising him by hi_rms and the device on his shield, he will as a matter of course say, 'Wha_o! Forth all ye, the knights of my court, to receive the flower of chivalr_ho cometh hither!' At which command all will issue forth, and he himself, advancing half-way down the stairs, will embrace him closely, and salute him, kissing him on the cheek, and will then lead him to the queen's chamber, wher_he knight will find her with the princess her daughter, who will be one o_he most beautiful and accomplished damsels that could with the utmost pain_e discovered anywhere in the known world. Straightway it will come to pas_hat she will fix her eyes upon the knight and he his upon her, and each wil_eem to the other something more divine than human, and, without knowing ho_r why they will be taken and entangled in the inextricable toils of love, an_orely distressed in their hearts not to see any way of making their pains an_ufferings known by speech. Thence they will lead him, no doubt, to som_ichly adorned chamber of the palace, where, having removed his armour, the_ill bring him a rich mantle of scarlet wherewith to robe himself, and if h_ooked noble in his armour he will look still more so in a doublet. When nigh_omes he will sup with the king, queen, and princess; and all the time he wil_ever take his eyes off her, stealing stealthy glances, unnoticed by thos_resent, and she will do the same, and with equal cautiousness, being, as _ave said, a damsel of great discretion. The tables being removed, suddenl_hrough the door of the hall there will enter a hideous and diminutive dwar_ollowed by a fair dame, between two giants, who comes with a certai_dventure, the work of an ancient sage; and he who shall achieve it shall b_eemed the best knight in the world.
  • "The king will then command all those present to essay it, and none will brin_t to an end and conclusion save the stranger knight, to the great enhancemen_f his fame, whereat the princess will be overjoyed and will esteem hersel_appy and fortunate in having fixed and placed her thoughts so high. And th_est of it is that this king, or prince, or whatever he is, is engaged in _ery bitter war with another as powerful as himself, and the stranger knight, after having been some days at his court, requests leave from him to go an_erve him in the said war. The king will grant it very readily, and the knigh_ill courteously kiss his hands for the favour done to him; and that night h_ill take leave of his lady the princess at the grating of the chamber wher_he sleeps, which looks upon a garden, and at which he has already many time_onversed with her, the go-between and confidante in the matter being a damse_uch trusted by the princess. He will sigh, she will swoon, the damsel wil_etch water, much distressed because morning approaches, and for the honour o_er lady he would not that they were discovered; at last the princess wil_ome to herself and will present her white hands through the grating to th_night, who will kiss them a thousand and a thousand times, bathing them wit_is tears. It will be arranged between them how they are to inform each othe_f their good or evil fortunes, and the princess will entreat him to make hi_bsence as short as possible, which he will promise to do with many oaths; once more he kisses her hands, and takes his leave in such grief that he i_ell-nigh ready to die. He betakes him thence to his chamber, flings himsel_n his bed, cannot sleep for sorrow at parting, rises early in the morning, goes to take leave of the king, queen, and princess, and, as he takes hi_eave of the pair, it is told him that the princess is indisposed and canno_eceive a visit; the knight thinks it is from grief at his departure, hi_eart is pierced, and he is hardly able to keep from showing his pain. Th_onfidante is present, observes all, goes to tell her mistress, who listen_ith tears and says that one of her greatest distresses is not knowing wh_his knight is, and whether he is of kingly lineage or not; the damsel assure_er that so much courtesy, gentleness, and gallantry of bearing as her knigh_ossesses could not exist in any save one who was royal and illustrious; he_nxiety is thus relieved, and she strives to be of good cheer lest she shoul_xcite suspicion in her parents, and at the end of two days she appears i_ublic. Meanwhile the knight has taken his departure; he fights in the war, conquers the king's enemy, wins many cities, triumphs in many battles, return_o the court, sees his lady where he was wont to see her, and it is agree_hat he shall demand her in marriage of her parents as the reward of hi_ervices; the king is unwilling to give her, as he knows not who he is, bu_evertheless, whether carried off or in whatever other way it may be, th_rincess comes to be his bride, and her father comes to regard it as very goo_ortune; for it so happens that this knight is proved to be the son of _aliant king of some kingdom, I know not what, for I fancy it is not likely t_e on the map. The father dies, the princess inherits, and in two words th_night becomes king. And here comes in at once the bestowal of rewards upo_is squire and all who have aided him in rising to so exalted a rank. H_arries his squire to a damsel of the princess's, who will be, no doubt, th_ne who was confidante in their amour, and is daughter of a very great duke."
  • "That's what I want, and no mistake about it!" said Sancho. "That's what I'_aiting for; for all this, word for word, is in store for your worship unde_he title of the Knight of the Rueful Countenance."
  • "Thou needst not doubt it, Sancho," replied Don Quixote, "for in the sam_anner, and by the same steps as I have described here, knights-errant ris_nd have risen to be kings and emperors; all we want now is to find out wha_ing, Christian or pagan, is at war and has a beautiful daughter; but ther_ill be time enough to think of that, for, as I have told thee, fame must b_on in other quarters before repairing to the court. There is another thing, too, that is wanting; for supposing we find a king who is at war and has _eautiful daughter, and that I have won incredible fame throughout th_niverse, I know not how it can be made out that I am of royal lineage, o_ven second cousin to an emperor; for the king will not be willing to give m_is daughter in marriage unless he is first thoroughly satisfied on thi_oint, however much my famous deeds may deserve it; so that by this deficienc_ fear I shall lose what my arm has fairly earned. True it is I am a gentlema_f known house, of estate and property, and entitled to the five hundre_ueldos mulct; and it may be that the sage who shall write my history will s_lear up my ancestry and pedigree that I may find myself fifth or sixth i_escent from a king; for I would have thee know, Sancho, that there are tw_inds of lineages in the world; some there be tracing and deriving thei_escent from kings and princes, whom time has reduced little by little unti_hey end in a point like a pyramid upside down; and others who spring from th_ommon herd and go on rising step by step until they come to be great lords; so that the difference is that the one were what they no longer are, and th_thers are what they formerly were not. And I may be of such that afte_nvestigation my origin may prove great and famous, with which the king, m_ather-in-law that is to be, ought to be satisfied; and should he not be, th_rincess will so love me that even though she well knew me to be the son of _ater-carrier, she will take me for her lord and husband in spite of he_ather; if not, then it comes to seizing her and carrying her off where _lease; for time or death will put an end to the wrath of her parents."
  • "It comes to this, too," said Sancho, "what some naughty people say, 'Neve_sk as a favour what thou canst take by force;' though it would fit better t_ay, 'A clear escape is better than good men's prayers.' I say so because i_y lord the king, your worship's father-in-law, will not condescend to giv_ou my lady the princess, there is nothing for it but, as your worship says, to seize her and transport her. But the mischief is that until peace is mad_nd you come into the peaceful enjoyment of your kingdom, the poor squire i_amishing as far as rewards go, unless it be that the confidante damsel tha_s to be his wife comes with the princess, and that with her he tides over hi_ad luck until Heaven otherwise orders things; for his master, I suppose, ma_s well give her to him at once for a lawful wife."
  • "Nobody can object to that," said Don Quixote.
  • "Then since that may be," said Sancho, "there is nothing for it but to commen_urselves to God, and let fortune take what course it will."
  • "God guide it according to my wishes and thy wants," said Don Quixote, "an_ean be he who thinks himself mean."
  • "In God's name let him be so," said Sancho: "I am an old Christian, and to fi_e for a count that's enough."
  • "And more than enough for thee," said Don Quixote; "and even wert thou not, i_ould make no difference, because I being the king can easily give the_obility without purchase or service rendered by thee, for when I make thee _ount, then thou art at once a gentleman; and they may say what they will, bu_y my faith they will have to call thee 'your lordship,' whether they like i_r not."
  • "Not a doubt of it; and I'll know how to support the tittle," said Sancho.
  • "Title thou shouldst say, not tittle," said his master.
  • "So be it," answered Sancho. "I say I will know how to behave, for once in m_ife I was beadle of a brotherhood, and the beadle's gown sat so well on m_hat all said I looked as if I was to be steward of the same brotherhood. Wha_ill it be, then, when I put a duke's robe on my back, or dress myself in gol_nd pearls like a count? I believe they'll come a hundred leagues to see me."
  • "Thou wilt look well," said Don Quixote, "but thou must shave thy beard often, for thou hast it so thick and rough and unkempt, that if thou dost not shav_t every second day at least, they will see what thou art at the distance of _usket shot."
  • "What more will it be," said Sancho, "than having a barber, and keeping him a_ages in the house? and even if it be necessary, I will make him go behind m_ike a nobleman's equerry."
  • "Why, how dost thou know that noblemen have equerries behind them?" asked Do_uixote.
  • "I will tell you," answered Sancho. "Years ago I was for a month at th_apital and there I saw taking the air a very small gentleman who they sai_as a very great man, and a man following him on horseback in every turn h_ook, just as if he was his tail. I asked why this man did not join the othe_an, instead of always going behind him; they answered me that he was hi_querry, and that it was the custom with nobles to have such persons behin_hem, and ever since then I know it, for I have never forgotten it."
  • "Thou art right," said Don Quixote, "and in the same way thou mayest carry th_arber with thee, for customs did not come into use all together, nor wer_hey all invented at once, and thou mayest be the first count to have a barbe_o follow him; and, indeed, shaving one's beard is a greater trust tha_addling one's horse."
  • "Let the barber business be my look-out," said Sancho; "and your worship's b_t to strive to become a king, and make me a count."
  • "So it shall be," answered Don Quixote, and raising his eyes he saw what wil_e told in the following chapter.