**Which treats of what befell Don Quixote's party at the inn**
Their dainty repast being finished, they saddled at once, and without an_dventure worth mentioning they reached next day the inn, the object of Sanch_anza's fear and dread; but though he would have rather not entered it, ther_as no help for it. The landlady, the landlord, their daughter, an_aritornes, when they saw Don Quixote and Sancho coming, went out to welcom_hem with signs of hearty satisfaction, which Don Quixote received wit_ignity and gravity, and bade them make up a better bed for him than the las_ime: to which the landlady replied that if he paid better than he did th_ast time she would give him one fit for a prince. Don Quixote said he would, so they made up a tolerable one for him in the same garret as before; and h_ay down at once, being sorely shaken and in want of sleep.
No sooner was the door shut upon him than the landlady made at the barber, an_eizing him by the beard, said:
"By my faith you are not going to make a beard of my tail any longer; you mus_ive me back tail, for it is a shame the way that thing of my husband's goe_ossing about on the floor; I mean the comb that I used to stick in my goo_ail."
But for all she tugged at it the barber would not give it up until th_icentiate told him to let her have it, as there was now no further occasio_or that stratagem, because he might declare himself and appear in his ow_haracter, and tell Don Quixote that he had fled to this inn when thos_hieves the galley slaves robbed him; and should he ask for the princess'_quire, they could tell him that she had sent him on before her to give notic_o the people of her kingdom that she was coming, and bringing with her th_eliverer of them all. On this the barber cheerfully restored the tail to th_andlady, and at the same time they returned all the accessories they ha_orrowed to effect Don Quixote's deliverance. All the people of the inn wer_truck with astonishment at the beauty of Dorothea, and even at the comel_igure of the shepherd Cardenio. The curate made them get ready such fare a_here was in the inn, and the landlord, in hope of better payment, served the_p a tolerably good dinner. All this time Don Quixote was asleep, and the_hought it best not to waken him, as sleeping would now do him more good tha_ating.
While at dinner, the company consisting of the landlord, his wife, thei_aughter, Maritornes, and all the travellers, they discussed the strange craz_f Don Quixote and the manner in which he had been found; and the landlad_old them what had taken place between him and the carrier; and then, lookin_ound to see if Sancho was there, when she saw he was not, she gave them th_hole story of his blanketing, which they received with no little amusement.
But on the curate observing that it was the books of chivalry which Do_uixote had read that had turned his brain, the landlord said:
"I cannot understand how that can be, for in truth to my mind there is n_etter reading in the world, and I have here two or three of them, with othe_ritings that are the very life, not only of myself but of plenty more; fo_hen it is harvest-time, the reapers flock here on holidays, and there i_lways one among them who can read and who takes up one of these books, and w_ather round him, thirty or more of us, and stay listening to him with _elight that makes our grey hairs grow young again. At least I can say fo_yself that when I hear of what furious and terrible blows the knight_eliver, I am seized with the longing to do the same, and I would like to b_earing about them night and day."
"And I just as much," said the landlady, "because I never have a quiet momen_n my house except when you are listening to some one reading; for then yo_re so taken up that for the time being you forget to scold."
"That is true," said Maritornes; "and, faith, I relish hearing these thing_reatly too, for they are very pretty; especially when they describe some lad_r another in the arms of her knight under the orange trees, and the duenn_ho is keeping watch for them half dead with envy and fright; all this I sa_s as good as honey."
"And you, what do you think, young lady?" said the curate turning to th_andlord's daughter.
"I don't know indeed, senor," said she; "I listen too, and to tell the truth, though I do not understand it, I like hearing it; but it is not the blows tha_y father likes that I like, but the laments the knights utter when they ar_eparated from their ladies; and indeed they sometimes make me weep with th_ity I feel for them."
"Then you would console them if it was for you they wept, young lady?" sai_orothea.
"I don't know what I should do," said the girl; "I only know that there ar_ome of those ladies so cruel that they call their knights tigers and lion_nd a thousand other foul names: and Jesus! I don't know what sort of fol_hey can be, so unfeeling and heartless, that rather than bestow a glance upo_ worthy man they leave him to die or go mad. I don't know what is the good o_uch prudery; if it is for honour's sake, why not marry them? That's all the_ant."
"Hush, child," said the landlady; "it seems to me thou knowest a great dea_bout these things, and it is not fit for girls to know or talk so much."
"As the gentleman asked me, I could not help answering him," said the girl.
"Well then," said the curate, "bring me these books, senor landlord, for _hould like to see them."
"With all my heart," said he, and going into his own room he brought out a_ld valise secured with a little chain, on opening which the curate found i_t three large books and some manuscripts written in a very good hand. Th_irst that he opened he found to be "Don Cirongilio of Thrace," and the second
"Don Felixmarte of Hircania," and the other the "History of the Great Captai_onzalo Hernandez de Cordova, with the Life of Diego Garcia de Paredes."
When the curate read the two first titles he looked over at the barber an_aid, "We want my friend's housekeeper and niece here now."
"Nay," said the barber, "I can do just as well to carry them to the yard or t_he hearth, and there is a very good fire there."
"What! your worship would burn my books!" said the landlord.
"Only these two," said the curate, "Don Cirongilio, and Felixmarte."
"Are my books, then, heretics or phlegmaties that you want to burn them?" sai_he landlord.
"Schismatics you mean, friend," said the barber, "not phlegmatics."
"That's it," said the landlord; "but if you want to burn any, let it be tha_bout the Great Captain and that Diego Garcia; for I would rather have a chil_f mine burnt than either of the others."
"Brother," said the curate, "those two books are made up of lies, and are ful_f folly and nonsense; but this of the Great Captain is a true history, an_ontains the deeds of Gonzalo Hernandez of Cordova, who by his many and grea_chievements earned the title all over the world of the Great Captain, _amous and illustrious name, and deserved by him alone; and this Diego Garci_e Paredes was a distinguished knight of the city of Trujillo in Estremadura, a most gallant soldier, and of such bodily strength that with one finger h_topped a mill-wheel in full motion; and posted with a two-handed sword at th_oot of a bridge he kept the whole of an immense army from passing over it, and achieved such other exploits that if, instead of his relating them himsel_ith the modesty of a knight and of one writing his own history, some free an_nbiassed writer had recorded them, they would have thrown into the shade al_he deeds of the Hectors, Achilleses, and Rolands."
"Tell that to my father," said the landlord. "There's a thing to be astonishe_t! Stopping a mill-wheel! By God your worship should read what I have read o_elixmarte of Hircania, how with one single backstroke he cleft five giant_sunder through the middle as if they had been made of bean-pods like th_ittle friars the children make; and another time he attacked a very great an_owerful army, in which there were more than a million six hundred thousan_oldiers, all armed from head to foot, and he routed them all as if they ha_een flocks of sheep.
"And then, what do you say to the good Cirongilio of Thrace, that was so stou_nd bold; as may be seen in the book, where it is related that as he wa_ailing along a river there came up out of the midst of the water against hi_ fiery serpent, and he, as soon as he saw it, flung himself upon it and go_stride of its scaly shoulders, and squeezed its throat with both hands wit_uch force that the serpent, finding he was throttling it, had nothing for i_ut to let itself sink to the bottom of the river, carrying with it the knigh_ho would not let go his hold; and when they got down there he found himsel_mong palaces and gardens so pretty that it was a wonder to see; and then th_erpent changed itself into an old ancient man, who told him such things a_ere never heard. Hold your peace, senor; for if you were to hear this yo_ould go mad with delight. A couple of figs for your Great Captain and you_iego Garcia!"
Hearing this Dorothea said in a whisper to Cardenio, "Our landlord is almos_it to play a second part to Don Quixote."
"I think so," said Cardenio, "for, as he shows, he accepts it as a certaint_hat everything those books relate took place exactly as it is written down; and the barefooted friars themselves would not persuade him to the contrary."
"But consider, brother," said the curate once more, "there never was an_elixmarte of Hircania in the world, nor any Cirongilio of Thrace, or any o_he other knights of the same sort, that the books of chivalry talk of; th_hole thing is the fabrication and invention of idle wits, devised by them fo_he purpose you describe of beguiling the time, as your reapers do when the_ead; for I swear to you in all seriousness there never were any such knight_n the world, and no such exploits or nonsense ever happened anywhere."
"Try that bone on another dog," said the landlord; "as if I did not know ho_any make five, and where my shoe pinches me; don't think to feed me with pap, for by God I am no fool. It is a good joke for your worship to try an_ersuade me that everything these good books say is nonsense and lies, an_hey printed by the license of the Lords of the Royal Council, as if they wer_eople who would allow such a lot of lies to be printed all together, and s_any battles and enchantments that they take away one's senses."
"I have told you, friend," said the curate, "that this is done to divert ou_dle thoughts; and as in well-ordered states games of chess, fives, an_illiards are allowed for the diversion of those who do not care, or are no_bliged, or are unable to work, so books of this kind are allowed to b_rinted, on the supposition that, what indeed is the truth, there can b_obody so ignorant as to take any of them for true stories; and if it wer_ermitted me now, and the present company desired it, I could say somethin_bout the qualities books of chivalry should possess to be good ones, tha_ould be to the advantage and even to the taste of some; but I hope the tim_ill come when I can communicate my ideas to some one who may be able to men_atters; and in the meantime, senor landlord, believe what I have said, an_ake your books, and make up your mind about their truth or falsehood, an_uch good may they do you; and God grant you may not fall lame of the sam_oot your guest Don Quixote halts on."
"No fear of that," returned the landlord; "I shall not be so mad as to make _night-errant of myself; for I see well enough that things are not now as the_sed to be in those days, when they say those famous knights roamed about th_orld."
Sancho had made his appearance in the middle of this conversation, and he wa_ery much troubled and cast down by what he heard said about knights-erran_eing now no longer in vogue, and all books of chivalry being folly and lies; and he resolved in his heart to wait and see what came of this journey of hi_aster's, and if it did not turn out as happily as his master expected, h_etermined to leave him and go back to his wife and children and his ordinar_abour.
The landlord was carrying away the valise and the books, but the curate sai_o him, "Wait; I want to see what those papers are that are written in such _ood hand." The landlord taking them out handed them to him to read, and h_erceived they were a work of about eight sheets of manuscript, with, in larg_etters at the beginning, the title of "Novel of the Ill-advised Curiosity."
The curate read three or four lines to himself, and said, "I must say th_itle of this novel does not seem to me a bad one, and I feel an inclinatio_o read it all." To which the landlord replied, "Then your reverence will d_ell to read it, for I can tell you that some guests who have read it her_ave been much pleased with it, and have begged it of me very earnestly; but _ould not give it, meaning to return it to the person who forgot the valise, books, and papers here, for maybe he will return here some time or other; an_hough I know I shall miss the books, faith I mean to return them; for thoug_ am an innkeeper, still I am a Christian."
"You are very right, friend," said the curate; "but for all that, if the nove_leases me you must let me copy it."
"With all my heart," replied the host.
While they were talking Cardenio had taken up the novel and begun to read it, and forming the same opinion of it as the curate, he begged him to read it s_hat they might all hear it.
"I would read it," said the curate, "if the time would not be better spent i_leeping."
"It will be rest enough for me," said Dorothea, "to while away the time b_istening to some tale, for my spirits are not yet tranquil enough to let m_leep when it would be seasonable."
"Well then, in that case," said the curate, "I will read it, if it were onl_ut of curiosity; perhaps it may contain something pleasant."
Master Nicholas added his entreaties to the same effect, and Sancho too; seeing which, and considering that he would give pleasure to all, and receiv_t himself, the curate said, "Well then, attend to me everyone, for the nove_egins thus."