Quickly dismounting, she threw herself on her knees before Don Quixote, and refusing his efforts to raise her, spoke as follows: "Never will I rise from this position, most valiant and invincible knight, until you grant me a boon which will not only add to your honour and renown, but also assist the most injured and unfortunate damsel that ever the sun beheld. And if the valour of your mighty arm be equal to what I have heard of your immortal fame, you can indeed render aid to a miserable being who comes from a far-distant land to seek your help."
"Beauteous lady," replied Don Quixote, "I will not answer one word, nor hear a jot of your affairs, until you rise from the ground."
"I will not rise, my lord," answered the unfortunate maiden, "until I have obtained from you the boon I beg."
"Dear lady," replied Don Quixote, "it is granted, so that it be not anything that touches my duty to my king, my country, or the chosen queen of my heart."
"Your kindness shall in no way affect them," replied Dorothea.
At this moment Sancho came up and whispered softly in his master's ear: "Sir, you may very well grant the request she asketh, for it is a mere nothing; it is only to kill a monstrous giant, and she that demands it is the Princess Micomicona, Queen of the great Kingdom of Micomicon in Ethiopia."
"Let her be what she will," said Don Quixote, "I will do my duty towards her." And then turning to the damsel, he said: "Rise, most beautiful lady, for I grant you any boon you shall please to ask of me."
"Why, then," said Dorothea, "what I ask of you is, that you will at once come away with me to the place where I shall guide you, and that you promise me not to undertake any new adventure, until you have revenged me on a traitor who has driven me out of my kingdom."
"I grant your request," said Don Quixote, "and therefore, lady, you may cast away from this day forward all the melancholy that troubles you, for this mighty arm shall restore you to your kingdom."
The distressed damsel strove with much ado to kiss his hand, but Don Quixote, who was a most courteous knight, would not permit it, and, making her arise, treated her with the greatest respect.
He now commanded Sancho to saddle Rozinante and help him to arm himself, and this done the knight was ready to depart. The barber, who had been kneeling all the while, had great difficulty to stop laughing aloud at all this, and his beard was in danger of falling off. He was glad to get up and help his lady to mount the mule, and when Don Quixote was mounted, and the barber himself had got upon his beast, they were ready to start. As for Sancho, who trudged along on foot, he could not help grieving for the loss of his Dapple; but he bore it all with patience, for now he saw his master on the way to marry a princess, and so become at least King of Micomicon, though it grieved him to think that that country was peopled by blackamoors, and that when he became a ruler his vassals would all be black.
While this was going on, the curate and Cardenio had not been idle. For the curate was a cunning plotter, and had hit on a bright idea. He took from his pocket a pair of scissors, and cut off Cardenio's rugged beard and trimmed his hair very cleverly. And when he had thrown his riding-cloak over Cardenio's shoulders, he was so unlike what he was before, that he would not have known himself in a looking-glass. This finished, they went out to meet Don Quixote and the others.
When they came towards them, the curate looked earnestly at the knight for some time, and then ran towards him with open arms, saying: "In a good hour is this meeting with my worthy countryman, the mirror of knighthood, Don Quixote of the Mancha, the champion of the distressed."
Don Quixote did not at first know him, but when he remembered the curate he wanted to alight, saying: "It is not seemly, reverend sir, that I should ride whilst you travel on foot."
But the curate would not allow him to dismount and give him his horse, but suggested that he might ride behind the lady's squire on his mule.
"I did not think of that, good master curate," said Don Quixote; "but I know my lady the princess will for my sake order her squire to lend you the use of his saddle."
"That I will," said the princess; "and I know my squire is the last man to grudge a share of his beast to this reverend father."
"That is most certain," said the barber, and got off his steed at once.
The curate now mounted, but the misfortune was that when the barber tried to get up behind, the mule, which was a hired one, lifted up her legs and kicked out with such fury that she knocked Mr. Nicholas to the ground, and, as he rolled over, his beard fell off and lay upon the earth. Don Quixote, seeing that huge mass of beard torn from the jaw without blood, and lying at a distance from the squire's face, said: "This, I vow, is one of the greatest miracles I ever saw in my life. The beard is taken off as clean by the heel of the mule as if it had been done by the hand of a barber."
The curate, seeing the risk they ran of their plan being found out, came to where Master Nicholas was lying, and with one jerk clapped it on again, muttering as he did so some Latin words, which he said were a charm for fixing on beards.
By this means, to Don Quixote's amazement, the squire was cured again, and he asked the curate to tell him this charm, which, he said, since it could heal a wound of this kind, must be good for even more dangerous injuries.
The curate agreed to tell him the secret some other day, and, having mounted the mule, the party rode slowly away towards the inn.
THE JOURNEY TO THE INN
Retold by Judge Parry
The curate rode first on the mule, and with him rode Don Quixote and the princess. The others, Cardenio, the barber, and Sancho Panza, followed on foot.
And as they rode, Don Quixote said to the damsel: "Madam, let me entreat your highness to lead the way that most pleaseth you."
Before she could answer, the curate said: "Towards what kingdoms would you travel? Are you for your native land of Micomicon?"
She, who knew very well what to answer, being no babe, replied: "Yes, sir, my way lies towards that kingdom."
"If it be so," said the curate, "you must pass through the village where I dwell, and from thence your ladyship must take the road to Carthagena, where you may embark. And, if you have a prosperous journey, you may come within the space of nine years to the Lake Meona, I mean Meolidas, which stands on this side of your highness's kingdom some hundred days' journey or more."
"You are mistaken, good sir," said she, "for it is not yet fully two years since I left there, and, though I never had fair weather, I have arrived in time to see what I so longed for, the presence of the renowned Don Quixote of the Mancha, whose glory was known to me as soon as my foot touched the shores of Spain."
"No more," cried Don Quixote. "I cannot abide to hear myself praised, for I am a sworn enemy to flattery. And though I know what you speak is but truth, yet it offends mine ears. And I can tell you this, at least, that whether I have valour or not, I will use it in your service, even to the loss of my life. But let me know, master curate, what has brought you here?"
"You must know, then," replied the curate, "that Master Nicholas, the barber, and myself travelled towards Seville to recover certain sums of money which a kinsman of mine in the Indies had sent me. And passing yesterday through this way we were set upon by four robbers, who took everything that we had. And it is said about here, that those who robbed us were certain galley slaves, who they say were set at liberty, almost on this very spot, by a man so valiant that in spite of the guard he released them all. And doubtless he must be out of his wits, or else he must be as great a knave as they, to loose the wolf among the sheep, and rebel against his king by taking from the galleys their lawful prey."
Sancho had told the curate of an adventure they had had with galley slaves, and the curate spoke of it to see what Don Quixote would say.
The knight, however, durst not confess his part in the adventure, but rode on, changing colour at every word the curate spoke.
When the curate had finished, Sancho burst out: "By my father, master curate, he that did that deed was my master, and that not for want of warning, for I told him beforehand that it was a sin to deliver them, and that they were great rogues who had been sent to the galleys to punish them for their crimes."
"You bottlehead!" replied Don Quixote. "It is not the duty of knights-errant to examine whether the afflicted, enslaved, and oppressed whom they meet by the way are in sorrow for their own default; they must relieve them because they are needy and in distress, looking at their sorrow and not at their crimes. And if any but the holy master curate shall find fault with me on this account, I will tell him that he knows nought of knighthood, and that he lies in his throat, and this I will make him know by the power of my sword."
Dorothea, who was discreet enough to see they were carrying the jest too far, now said: "Remember, sir knight, the boon you promised me, never to engage in any other adventure, be it ever so urgent, until you have seen me righted. And had master curate known that it was the mighty arm of Don Quixote that freed the galley slaves, I feel sure he would have bit his tongue through ere he spoke words which might cause you anger."
"That I dare swear," said the curate.
"Madam," replied Don Quixote, "I will hold my peace and keep my anger to myself, and will ride on peaceably and quietly until I have done the thing I promised. Tell me, therefore, without delay, what are your troubles and on whom am I to take revenge."
To this Dorothea replied: "Willingly will I do what you ask, so you will give me your attention."
At this Cardenio and the barber drew near to hear the witty Dorothea tell her tale, and Sancho, who was as much deceived as his master, was the most eager of all to listen.
She, after settling herself in her saddle, began with a lively air to speak as follows: "In the first place, I would have you know, gentlemen, that my name is--" Here she stopped a moment, for she had forgotten what name the curate had given her.
He, seeing her trouble, said quickly: "It is no wonder, great lady, that you hesitate to tell your misfortunes. Great sufferers often lose their memory, so that they even forget their own names, as seems to have happened to your ladyship, who has forgotten that she is called the Princess Micomicona, heiress of the great Kingdom of Micomicon."
"True," said the damsel, "but let me proceed. The king, my father, was called Tinacrio the Sage, and was learned in the magic art. By this he discovered that my mother, the Queen Xaramilla, would die before him, and that I should soon afterwards be left an orphan. This did not trouble him so much as the knowledge that a certain giant, called Pandafilando of the Sour Face, lord of a great island near our border, when he should hear that I was an orphan, would pass over with a mighty force into my kingdom and take it from me. My father warned me that when this came to pass I should not stay to defend myself, and so cause the slaughter of my people, but should at once set out for Spain, where I should meet with a knight whose fame would then extend through all that kingdom. His name, he said, should be Don Quixote, and he would be tall of stature, have a withered face, and on his right side, a little under his left shoulder, he should have a tawny spot with certain hairs like bristles."
On hearing this, Don Quixote said: "Hold my horse, son Sancho, and help me to strip, for I would know if I am the knight of whom the sage king spoke."
"There is no need," said Sancho, "for I know that your worship has such a mark near your backbone."
"It is enough," said Dorothea, "for among friends we must not be too particular, and whether it is on your shoulder or your backbone is of no importance. And, indeed, no sooner did I land in Osuna than I heard of Don Quixote's fame, and felt sure that he was the man."
"But how did you land in Osuna, madam," asked Don Quixote, "seeing that it is not a sea town?"