The Story Sancho Panza told his Master of his Visit to the Lady Dulcinea

When the rest came up they all congratulated Sancho on finding his
ass, and Don Quixote promised that he would still give him the three
ass-colts, for which Sancho thanked him heartily.

While the Knight and his Squire rode on ahead, the Curate said to
Cardenio: ‘Is it not marvellous to see the strange way in which this
good gentleman believes all these inventions, and this only because
they wear the style and fashion of the follies he is so fond of
reading?’

‘It is so,’ said Cardenio, ‘and indeed, if he were a character in a
story-book no one would believe in him.’

‘There is another thing, too,’ said the Curate, ‘that apart from his
folly about Knighthood, no one would esteem him to be other than a man
of excellent judgment.’

Don Quixote at the same time was saying to Sancho: ‘Friend Sancho, let
us bury all injuries, and tell me when, how, and where didst thou find
Dulcinea. What was she doing? What saidst thou to her? What answer
made she? How did she look when she read my letter? Who copied it for
thee? Tell me all, without adding to it or lying, for I would know
everything.’

‘Master,’ replied Sancho, ‘if I must speak the truth, nobody copied out
the letter, for I carried no letter at all.’

‘Thou sayest true,’ said Don Quixote, ‘for I found the pocket-book,
wherein it was written, two days after thy departure, and I did expect
that thou wouldst return for it.’

‘I had done so,’ said Sancho, ‘if I had not carried it in my memory
when you read it to me, so that I could say it to a parish clerk, who
copied it out of my head, word for word, so exactly that he said that
in all the days of his life he had never read such a pretty letter.’

‘And hast thou it still by heart, Sancho?’ asked Don Quixote.

‘No, Sir, for after I gave it, seeing that it was to be of no more
use, I let myself forget it. If I remember, it began, _Scrubby Queen,
Sovereign Lady_, and the ending—_yours till death, the Knight of the
Rueful Countenance_—but between these things I put in three hundred
_hearts_, and _loves_, and _dear eyes_.’

‘All this I like to hear, therefore say on,’ said Don Quixote. ‘Thou
didst arrive; and what was the Queen of Beauty doing then? I daresay
thou foundest her threading pearls or embroidering some curious device
with golden threads for this her captive Knight.’

‘No, that I did not,’ said Sancho, ‘but winnowing two bushels of wheat
in the yard of her house.’

‘Why, then,’ said Don Quixote, ‘thou mayest reckon that each grain of
wheat was a pearl, seeing they were touched by her hands. But tell me,
when thou didst deliver my letter, did she kiss it? Did she use any
ceremony worthy of such a letter? Or what did she?’

‘When I went to give it to her,’ said Sancho, ‘she was all in a bustle
with a good lot of wheat in her sieve, and said to me: “Lay down that
letter there on the sack, for I cannot read it until I have winnowed
all that is here.”‘

‘O discreet Lady!’ said Don Quixote; ‘she must have done that, so that
she might read and enjoy it at leisure. Go on, then, Sancho, and tell
all she said about me, and what thou saidst to her.’

‘She asked me nothing,’ replied the Squire, ‘but I told her the state
which I left you in for her sake, doing penance all naked from the
girdle up among these rocks like a brute beast, and I told her how you
slept on the ground and never combed your beard, but spent your time
weeping and cursing your fortune.’

‘There thou saidst ill,’ said Don Quixote, ‘for I do not curse my
fortune, but rather bless it, seeing that it hath made me worthy to
merit the love of so beautiful a lady as Dulcinea of Toboso. But tell
me, after she had sifted her corn and sent it to the mill, did she then
read my letter?’

‘The letter,’ replied Sancho, ‘she did never read, for she said she
could neither read nor write, and therefore she tore it into small
pieces, and would allow no one to read it lest the whole village might
know her secrets. Lastly, she told me that I was to say to your Worship
that she kissed your hands, and that she had a greater desire to see
you than to write to you. Therefore she begged, as you loved her, that
you should quit these bushes and brambles, and leave off these mad
pranks, and set out for Toboso, for she had a great longing to see
your Worship. She laughed a good deal when I told her they called your
Worship the Knight of the Rueful Countenance. I asked her whether the
beaten Biscayan came there. She said yes, and that he was a very good
fellow. I asked also after the galley slaves; but she told me that she
had seen none of them as yet.’

‘All goes well, then,’ said Don Quixote; ‘but tell me, what jewel did
she bestow on thee at thy departure for reward of the tidings thou
hadst brought? For it is a usual and ancient custom among Knights
Errant and their Ladies to give to their Squires, damsels, or dwarfs
who bring good tidings, some rich jewel as a reward for their welcome
news.’

‘It may well be,’ replied Sancho; ‘and I think it was a most excellent
custom, but I doubt if it exists nowadays, for it would seem to be the
manner of our age only to give a piece of bread and cheese; for this
was all that my Lady Dulcinea bestowed on me when I took my leave, and,
by the way, the cheese was made of sheep’s milk.’

‘She is marvellous liberal,’ said the Knight; ‘and if she gave thee
not a jewel of gold, it was doubtless because she had none then about
her. But that will be put right some day. Knowest thou, Sancho, at what
I am astonished? It is at thy sudden return, for it seems to me thou
wast gone and hast come back again in the air, for thou hast been away
but a little more than three days, although Toboso is more than thirty
leagues from hence. Therefore I do believe that the wise Enchanter,
who takes care of my affairs and is my friend, must have helped thee
to travel without thy being aware of it. For there are sages that take
up a Knight Errant sleeping in his bed, and, without knowing how or
in what manner, he awakes the next day more than a thousand leagues
from the place where he fell asleep. For otherwise Knights Errant
could not help one another in perils as they do now. For it may be
that one is fighting in the mountains of Armenia with some dragon or
fierce serpent, and is at the point of death, and, just when he least
expects it, he sees on a cloud, or in a chariot of fire, some other
Knight, his friend, who a little before was in England, who helps him
and delivers him from danger. And all this is done by the craft and
wisdom of those sage Enchanters who take care of valorous Knights.
But, leaving all this apart, what dost thou think I should do about my
Lady’s commands to go and see her?’

‘Tell me, good your Worship,’ replied Sancho, ‘do you intend to journey
to Toboso and lose so rich and noble a prize as this Princess? Peace!
take my advice and marry her in the first village that hath a parish
priest, or let the Curate do it, for he is here, and remember the old
saying, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”‘

‘Look you, Sancho,’ said his Master, ‘if you counsel me to marry, to
the end that I may be King when I have slain the Giant and be able to
give you an Island, know that I can do that without marrying, for I
will make it a condition that upon conquering this monster they shall
give me a portion of the Kingdom, although I marry not the Princess,
and this I will bestow upon thee.’

‘Let it be so, then,’ said Sancho. ‘And trouble not your mind, I pray
you, to go and see the Lady Dulcinea at this moment, but go away and
kill the Giant and let us finish off this job, for I believe it will
prove of great honour and greater profit.’

‘I believe, Sancho,’ said Don Quixote, ‘that thou art in the right, and
I will follow thy advice in going first with the Princess rather than
visiting Dulcinea.’

At this moment Master Nicholas the Barber called out to them to stay
awhile, for they wished to halt and drink at a small spring hard by.
Don Quixote stopped, to Sancho’s very great content, as he was already
tired of telling so many lies, and feared that his Master would entrap
him in his own words. For although he knew that Dulcinea was a peasant
lass of Toboso, yet he had never seen her in all his life.