Later in the day the Innkeeper, who was standing at the door, cried
out: ‘Here is a fine troop of guests coming. If they stop here, we may
sing and rejoice.’
‘Who are they?’ asked Cardenio.
‘Four men on horseback,’ answered the Innkeeper, ‘with lances and
targets, and all with black masks on their faces. With them comes a
woman dressed in white, on a side-saddle, and her face also masked, and
two lackeys that run with them on foot.’
‘Are they near?’ asked the Curate.
‘So near,’ replied the Innkeeper, ‘that they are now arriving.’
Hearing this, Dorothea veiled her face, and Cardenio went into Don
Quixote’s room; and they had hardly time to do this when the whole
party, of whom the Innkeeper had spoken, entered the Inn. The four
who were on horseback were of comely and gallant bearing, and, having
dismounted, went to help down the Lady on the side-saddle; and one of
them, taking her in his arms, placed her upon a chair that stood at
the door of the room into which Cardenio had entered. All this while
neither she nor they took off their masks, or said a word, only the
Lady, as she sank into the chair, breathed a deep sigh, and let fall
her arms as one who was sick and faint. The lackeys led away the horses
to the stable.
The Curate, seeing and noting all this, and curious to know who they
were that came to the Inn in such strange attire and keeping so close a
silence, went after one of the lackeys, and asked of him what he wanted
‘Faith, Sir, I cannot tell you who these are, but they seem to be
persons of good quality, especially he who went to help the Lady
dismount. The rest obey him in all things.’
‘And the Lady—who is she?’ asked the Curate.
‘I cannot tell you that neither,’ replied the lackey, ‘for I have not
once seen her face during all the journey, though I have often heard
her groan and utter deep sighs.’
‘And have you heard the name of any of them?’ asked the Curate.
‘Not I, indeed,’ replied the man; ‘they travel in silence, and nothing
is heard but the sighs and sobs of the poor Lady, and it is our firm
belief that, wherever she is going, she is going against her will.’
‘May be it is so,’ said the Curate, and he returned to the Inn.
Dorothea, who heard the disguised Lady sigh so mournfully, moved by
pity, drew near to her and asked: ‘What ails you, good Madam, for I
offer you my service and good-will, and would help you as much as lies
in my power?’
To this the unhappy Lady made no reply; and though Dorothea again spoke
kindly to her, yet she sat silent and spoke not a word.
At length the masked gentleman came across and said to Dorothea: ‘Lady,
do not trouble yourself to offer anything to that woman; she is of a
most ungrateful nature, and not wont to return any courtesy.’
‘I have never spoken,’ said the silent Lady, ‘since I am too unhappy to
do so, and am almost drowned in my misfortunes.’
Cardenio overheard these words very clearly and distinctly, for he was
close to her who uttered them, the door of Don Quixote’s room being the
only thing that separated them, and he cried aloud: ‘What is this I
hear? What voice is this that hath touched mine ear?’
The Lady, moved with a sudden passion, turned her head at these cries,
and as she could not see who uttered them, she rose to her feet and
would have entered the room, but the gentleman stopped her and would
not let her move a step.
This sudden movement loosened the mask, which fell from her face,
discovering her marvellous beauty. But her countenance was wan and
pale, and she turned her eyes from place to place as one distracted,
which caused Dorothea and the rest to behold her with a vast pity.
The gentleman held her fast by the shoulders, and was so busied that he
could not hold up his own mask, which fell from his face, and, as it
did so, Dorothea looked up and discovered that it was her lover, Don
Scarce had she known him than, breathing out a long and most pitiful
‘Alas!’ from the bottom of her heart, she fell backward in a swoon.
And if the Barber had not been by good chance at hand, she would have
fallen on the ground with all the weight of her body.
The Curate removed the veil from her face, and cast water thereon, and
Don Fernando, as soon as he looked upon her, turned as pale as death.
Cardenio, who had heard the moan which Dorothea uttered, as she fell
fainting on the floor, came out of the room, and saw Don Fernando
holding his beloved Lucinda.
All of them held their peace and beheld one another; Dorothea looking
on Don Fernando, Don Fernando on Cardenio, Cardenio on Lucinda, and
Lucinda on Cardenio, all stood dumb and amazed, as folk that knew not
what had befallen them.
Lucinda was the first to break the silence. ‘Leave me, Don Fernando,’
she cried, ‘for the sake of what is due to yourself. Let me cleave to
the wall whose ivy I am, to his support from whom neither your threats
nor your promises could part me.’
By this time Dorothea had come to herself, and seeing that Don Fernando
did not release Lucinda, she arose, and casting herself at his feet,
shed a flood of crystal tears as she thus addressed him: ‘If the sun
of Lucinda’s beauty hath not blinded thine eyes, know that she who
is kneeling at thy feet is the hapless and miserable Dorothea. I am
that lowly country girl to whom thou didst promise marriage. Know, my
dear Lord, that the matchless love I bear thee may make amends for the
beauty and nobility of her for whom thou dost abandon me. Thou canst
not be the beautiful Lucinda’s, because thou art mine; nor she thine,
for she belongs to Cardenio. And all this being so, as in truth it is,
and seeing that thou art as good as thou art noble, wherefore put off
making me once more happy again? Do not vex the declining years of
my parents, who have ever been loyal vassals to thine. For remember,
whether thou wilt or no, thou must ever remain my promised husband.’
These and many other reasons did the grieved Dorothea use, with so
much feeling and so many tears, that all who were present, even those
who had come with Don Fernando, could not help from giving her their
As for Don Fernando, he stood gazing fixedly at Dorothea for some
time, and at last, overwhelmed with remorse and admiration, he took her
to his arms, saying: ‘Thou hast vanquished, O beautiful Dorothea. Thou
At the same moment, Cardenio, who had stood close to Don Fernando,
started forward to catch the fainting Lucinda, who threw both her arms
around his neck, crying: ‘Thou, and thou only, art my Lord and Master.’
Thus were the true lovers all united, and the good Curate, the Barber,
and even Sancho Panza joined in their tears, delighted that so much
joy had taken the place of so much misery. As for Sancho, he excused
himself afterwards for his tears, saying he wept only because he saw
that Dorothea was not the Queen of Micomicona as he had imagined, from
whom he hoped to have received such mighty gifts and favours.
Each in turn told his or her story, and Don Fernando gave an account of
all that had befallen him in the city, after he had found the scroll
that Lucinda had written in which she declared her love for Cardenio.
And it appeared that, the day after the interruption of the wedding,
Lucinda had secretly departed from her father’s house, and had fled no
one knew whither; but within a few months Don Fernando had learned that
she was in a certain convent, intending to remain there all the days
of her life, if she could not pass them with Cardenio. As soon as he
had learned that, choosing three gentlemen to aid him, he went to the
place where she was. One day he surprised her walking with one of the
nuns in the cloisters, and carried her off without giving her a chance
to resist. From there they brought her to a certain village, where
they disguised themselves, and so rode on until they came to the Inn.
But Lucinda, after she was in his power, did nothing but weep and sigh
without speaking a word.
Thus in silence and tears had they reached this Inn, which to him and
all of them would always remain the most beautiful place in the world,
since it had seen the end of so many troubles, and brought him back to
his own true love.