Of the strange Enchantment of the Unfortunate Knight

After supper it appeared that there were not sufficient rooms in
the house for all the company, so the ladies retired to the best
apartments, whilst the gentlemen sought rest where they could get
it with the least discomfort. Sancho Panza found a bed on his Ass’s
harness, where he was soon fast asleep, and Don Quixote satisfied his
sense of duty by arming himself, mounting Rozinante, and riding round
the Inn, that he might act as sentinel of this imaginary Castle.

In a short time all the Inn was drowned in a deep silence. Only the
Innkeeper’s daughter and Maritornes were not asleep, but knowing very
well Don Quixote’s humour, and that he was armed on horseback outside
the Inn keeping guard, the two agreed to play him some trick, or at
least to pass a little time listening to his nonsense.

[Illustration: THE ENCHANTMENT OF DON QUIXOTE]

It so happened that there was not any window in all the Inn which
looked out into the fields, but only a hole in the barn, out of which
they were used to throw the straw. To this hole came the two damsels,
and saw Don Quixote mounted and leaning on his lance, breathing
forth ever and anon such doleful and deep sighs, that it seemed as if
each one of them would tear his very soul. They noted besides how he
said in a soft and amorous voice: ‘O my Lady Dulcinea of Toboso, the
perfection of all beauty, the sum-total of discretion, the treasury
of grace, the storehouse of virtue, the ideal of all that is worthy,
modest, or delightful in all the world! What might thy Ladyship be
doing at this present? Art thou perhaps thinking of thy captive Knight
who most readily exposeth himself to so many dangers for thy sake? Give
me tidings of her, O thou Moon! Mayhap thou dost now look down upon her
pacing some gallery of her sumptuous palace, or leaning against some
balcony thinking what glory she shall give me for my pains, what quiet
to my cares, what life to my death, and what reward for my services.
And thou, O Sun, who art even now busy saddling thy horses to set off
betimes and go forth and see my Lady, I beseech thee when thou seest
her to salute her on my behalf, but take care that thou dost not kiss
her on her face lest thou provokest my jealousy.’

So far the Knight had proceeded when the Innkeeper’s daughter began to
call him softly to her, saying: ‘Sir Knight, approach a little way, if
you please.’

At this signal Don Quixote turned his head and saw by the light of the
moon, which shined then very clearly, that they beckoned him from the
hole in the barn, which he imagined to be a fair window full of iron
bars gilded in costly fashion with gold, fit for so rich a Castle as
he imagined that Inn to be. In a moment he believed, in his strange
fancy, that the beautiful damsel, daughter to the Lord of the Castle,
conquered by love of him, was come to have speech with him.

In this fancy, and because he would not show himself discourteous and
ungrateful, he turned Rozinante about and came over to the hole, and
then, having beheld the two damsels, he said: ‘I take pity on you,
beautiful Lady, that you have fixed your love where it is not possible
to find another’s in return. Nor must you blame this miserable Knight
Errant, whom love hath wholly disabled from paying his addresses to any
other than to her who at first sight became the Lady of his choice.
Pardon me, therefore, good Lady, and retire yourself to your room, and
be pleased to say no more to me, that I may not appear ungrateful to
you. And if, of the love you bear me, you can find me any other way
wherein I may serve you, demand it boldly, for I swear to pleasure you
in this, even though my task be to bring you a lock of Medusa’s hairs,
which are all of snakes, or to capture the beams of the sun in a phial
of glass.’

‘My Lady needs none of these things, Sir Knight,’ answered Maritornes.

‘What doth she then want, discreet dame?’ asked Don Quixote.

‘Only one of your fair hands,’ said Maritornes, ‘that she may fulfil
the desire that brought her to this window with so great danger to
herself, that if her Lord and Father knew of it, the least he would do
would be to slice off her ear.’

‘He had best beware of what he does,’ answered Don Quixote, ‘unless he
would make the most disastrous end that ever father made in this world,
for having laid violent hands on the delicate limbs of his amorous
daughter.’

Maritornes had no doubt but that Don Quixote would give up his hand as
he was requested, and, having made up her mind what she would do, she
went down into the stable, and fetched out Sancho Panza’s Ass’s halter.
With this she returned again as quickly as possible, and came to the
hole just as Don Quixote had set his feet upon Rozinante’s saddle that
he might the better reach the barred windows at which he thought the
lovesick damsel was standing.

And as he stretched forth his hand to her he cried: ‘Hold, Lady, this
hand, or, as I may better say, this scourge of evildoers. Hold, I say,
this hand, which no other woman ever touched before, not even she
herself who holds entire possession of my whole body. Nor do I give
it to you to the end that you should kiss it, but that you may behold
the strength of the sinews, the knitting of the muscles, the large and
swelling veins, whereby you may learn how mighty is the force of that
arm to which such a hand is knit.’

‘We shall see that presently,’ said Maritornes.

And then, making a running knot in the halter, she cast it on the wrist
of his hand, and, coming down from the hole, she tied the other end of
the halter very fast to the bolt of the hay-loft door.

Don Quixote, feeling the roughness of the halter about his wrist,
said: ‘It seems that you rather rasp than clasp my hand, but yet I pray
you not to handle it so roughly, seeing it is in no fault for what you
suffer from my inclinations. Remember that those who love well do not
take so cruel revenge on those who love elsewhere.’

But nobody gave ear to those words of Don Quixote. For, as soon as
Maritornes had tied him fast, she and the other, almost bursting with
laughter, ran away and left him fastened in such a manner that it was
not possible for him to loose himself. He was standing, as has been
said, on Rozinante’s saddle, with his whole arm thrust within the hole,
and fastened to the bolt of the door, and was in great fear that if
Rozinante budged never so little on either side he should fall and hang
by the arm. Therefore he durst not make the least movement, though he
might have expected, from Rozinante’s patience and mild spirit, that if
he were allowed, he would stand without stirring for a whole century.

In fine, Don Quixote, finding that he was tied up and that the ladies
were gone, began at once to imagine that all this had been done by way
of enchantment, as the time before when he and Sancho had suffered such
strange adventures. Then he was wroth with himself for his want of
judgment and discretion in venturing to enter the Castle a second time,
seeing that he had come off so badly the first. For it was a maxim with
the Knights Errant, that when they had attempted an adventure and had
not come well out of it, it was a token that it was not reserved for
them but for some other.

Yet for all this he drew forward his arm to see if he might deliver
himself, but he was so well bound that all his efforts proved vain. It
is true that he drew his arm cautiously, lest Rozinante should stir,
and though he longed to get into the seat of his saddle again, yet he
could do no other but stand upright or wrench off his arm. Many times
did he wish for the sword of Amadis against which no enchantment had
power. Then he fell to cursing his stars, or again called upon the Lady
Dulcinea to remember him anew. Now he would call on his good Squire
Sancho Panza, who, buried in sleep, stretched out upon his pack-saddle,
heard him not, and then he called in vain on the Sage Urganda to
release him.

Finally, the morning found him so full of despair and confusion, that
he roared like a bull, for he had no hope that daylight would bring him
any cure, as he fully believed his enchantment would prove everlasting.
This belief was strengthened inasmuch as Rozinante had not budged ever
so little, and he came to the conclusion that both he and his horse
should abide in that state without eating, drinking, or sleeping, until
either the evil influences of the stars were passed, or some great
Enchanter had disenchanted him.

In this he was deceived, for scarce did day begin to peep than there
arrived four horsemen at the Inn door, with firelocks on their
saddle-bows, who were officers of the Holy Brotherhood. They called out
at the Inn door, which was still shut, giving loud knocks, which, being
heard by Don Quixote from the place where he stood sentinel, he cried
out in a loud and arrogant voice: ‘Knights or Squires, or whatsoever
else ye be, you are not to knock any more at the gates of this Castle,
seeing that at such an hour as this either those who are within are
sleeping, or else are not wont to open their fortress until Phœbus hath
spread his beams over the earth. Therefore stand back and wait until it
be clear day, and then we will see whether it be just or no, that they
should open their gates unto you.’

‘What Castle or Fortress is this,’ cried one of them, ‘that we should
observe these ceremonies? If thou beest the Innkeeper, command that the
door be opened, for we are travellers that will tarry no longer than to
bait our horses and away, for we ride post-haste.’

‘Doth it seem to you, gentlemen,’ said Don Quixote, ‘that I look like
an Innkeeper?’

‘I know not what thou lookest like,’ answered the other, ‘but well I
know that thou speakest madly in calling this Inn a Castle.’

‘It is a Castle,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘and one of the best in this
Province, and it hath people in it who have had a sceptre in hand and a
Crown on their head.’

‘They be some company of strolling players, then,’ replied the man,
laughing, ‘for no others hold sceptres or wear crowns in such a paltry
Inn as this is.’

‘Thou knowest but little of the world,’ answered Don Quixote, ‘seeing
thou art ignorant of the chances that are wont to happen in Knight
Errantry.’

The man’s companions wearied of this discourse, and turned again to
knock with great fury at the door, and this time they not only waked
the Innkeeper but also all the guests, and the former arose to demand
their pleasure.

In the meantime it happened that one of the horses on which they rode
came sniffing round Rozinante, who stood melancholy and sad, with his
ears down, bearing up his outstretched Master. But being after all an
animal of a friendly disposition to his own kind, he could not refrain
from turning round to sniff at him who came towards him.

Scarce had he moved one step, when Don Quixote’s two feet, which were
close together, slipped, and, sliding from the saddle, the Knight would
have fallen to the ground had he not remained hanging by the arm. This
caused him so much pain that he felt that his wrist was being cut
off or his arm torn away. For he hung so near to the ground that he
touched it with the tips of his toes; and this increased his misery,
for, feeling the little that was wanted to set his feet wholly on the
ground, he struggled all he could to reach it, deceived by the hope
that he could indeed touch it if he only stretched himself a little
further.