With him lived his niece, a housekeeper, and a man who looked after Quixada's farm and his one old white horse, which, though its master imagined it to be an animal of great strength and beauty, was really as lean as Quixada himself and as broken down as any old cab horse.
Quixada had nothing in the world to do in the shape of work, and so, his whole time was taken up in reading old books about knights and giants, and ladies shut up in enchanted castles by wicked ogres. In time, so fond did he become of such tales that he passed his days, and even the best part of his nights, in reading them. His mind was so wholly taken up in this way that at last he came to believe that he himself lived in a land of giants and of ogres, and that it was his duty to ride forth on his noble steed, to the rescue of unhappy Princesses.
In the lumber-room of Quixada's house there had lain, ever since he was born, a rusty old suit of armor, which had belonged to his great-grandfather. This was now got out, and Quixada spent many days in polishing and putting it in order.[pg 2] Unfortunately, there was no more than half of the helmet to be found, and a knight cannot ride forth without a helmet.
So Quixada made the other half of strong pasteboard; and to prove that it was strong enough, when finished, he drew his sword and gave the helmet a great slash. Alas! a whole week's work was ruined by that one stroke; the pasteboard flew into pieces. This troubled Quixada sadly, but he set to work at once and made another helmet of pasteboard, lining it with thin sheets of iron, and it looked so well that, this time, he put it to no test with his sword.
Now that his armor was complete, it occurred to him that he must give his horse a name—every knight's horse should have a good name—and after four days thought he decided that "Rozinante" would best suit the animal.Then, for himself, after eight days of puzzling, he resolved that he should be called Don Quixote de la Mancha.
There was but one thing more. Every knight of olden time had a lady, whom he called the Mistress of his Heart, whose glove he wore in his helmet; and if anybody dared to deny that this lady was the most beautiful woman in the whole world, then the knight made him prove his words by fighting.
So it was necessary that Don Quixote should select some lady as the Mistress of his Heart.
Near La Mancha there lived a stout country lass, for whom some years before Don Quixote had had a kind of liking. Who, therefore, could better take the place of Mistress of his Heart? To whom could he better send the defeated knights and ogres whom he was going out to fight? It was true that her name. Aldonza Lorenzo, did not sound like that of a Princess or lady of high birth; so he determined in future to call her Dulcinea del Toboso. No Princess could have a sweeter name!
All being now ready, one morning Don Quixote got up before daylight, and without saying a word to anybody, put on his armor, took his sword, and spear, and shield, saddled "Rozinante," and started on his search for adventures.
But before he had gone very far, a dreadful thought struck him. He had not been knighted! Moreover, he had read in his books that until a knight had done some great deed, he must wear [pg 3] white armor, and be without any device or coat of arms on his shield. What was to be done? He was so staggered by this thought that he almost felt that he must turn back. But then he remembered that he had read how adventurers were sometimes knighted by persons whom they happened to meet on the road. And as to his armor, why, he thought he might scour and polish that till nothing could be whiter. So he rode on, letting "Rozinante" take which road he pleased, that being, he supposed, as good a way as any of looking for adventures.All day he rode, to his sorrow without finding anything worth calling an adventure.
At last as evening began to fall, and when he and his horse were both very weary, they came in sight of an inn. Don Quixote no sooner saw the inn than he fancied it to be a great castle, and he halted at some distance from it, expecting that, as in days of old, a dwarf would certainly appear on the battlements, and, by sounding a trumpet, give notice of the arrival of a knight. But no dwarf appeared, and as "Rozinante" showed great haste to reach the stable, Don Quixote began to move towards the inn.
At this moment it happened that a swineherd in a field near at hand sounded his horn to bring his herd of pigs home to be fed. Don Quixote, imagining that this must be the dwarf at last giving notice of his coming, rode quickly up to the inn door, beside which it chanced that there stood two very impudent young women, whom the Knight imagined to be two beautiful ladies taking the air at the castle gate.Astonished at the sight of so strange a figure, and a little frightened, the girls turned to run away. But Don Quixote stopped them. "I beseech ye, ladies, do not fly," he said. "I will harm no one, least of all maidens of rank so high as yours."
And much more he said, whereat the young women laughed so loud and so long that Don Quixote became very angry, and there is no saying what he might not have done had not the innkeeper at that moment come out. This innkeeper was very fat and good-natured, and anxious not to offend anybody, but even he could hardly help laughing when he saw Don Quixote. [pg 4 ] However, he very civilly asked the Knight to dismount and offered him everything that the inn could provide.
Don Quixote being by this time both tired and hungry, with some difficulty got off his horse and handed it to the innkeeper (to whom he spoke as governor of the castle), asking him to take the greatest care of "Rozinante," for in the whole world there was no better steed.
When the landlord returned from the stable, he found Don Quixote in a room, where, with the help of the two young women, he was trying to get rid of his armor. His back and breastplates had been taken off, but by no means could his helmet be removed without cutting the green ribbons with which he had tied it on, and this the Knight would not allow.
There was nothing for it, therefore, but to keep his helmet on all night, and to eat and drink in it, which was more than he could do without help. However, one of the young women fed him, and the innkeeper having made a kind of funnel, through it poured the wine into his mouth, and Don Quixote ate his supper in great peace of mind.There was but one thing that still vexed him. He had not yet been knighted.
On this subject he thought long and deeply, and at last he asked the innkeeper to come with him to the stable. Having shut the door, Don Quixote threw himself at the landlord's feet, saying, "I will never rise from this place, most valorous Knight, until you grant me a boon."The innkeeper was amazed, but as he could not by any means make Don Quixote rise, he promised to do whatever was asked. "Then, noble sir," said Don Quixote, "the boon which I crave is that to-morrow you will be pleased to grant me the honor of knighthood."
The landlord, when he heard such talk, thought that the wisest thing he could do was to humor his guest, and he readily promised. Thereupon Don Quixote very happily rose to his feet, and after some further talk he said to the innkeeper that this night he would "watch his armor" in the chapel of the castle, it being the duty of any one on whom the honor of knighthood was to be conferred, to stand on his feet in the chapel, praying, [pg 5] until the morning. The innkeeper, thinking that great sport might come of this, encouraged Don Quixote, but as his own chapel had lately— so he said—been pulled down in order that a better might be built, he advised Don Quixote to watch that night in the courtyard. This was "lawful in a case where a chapel was not at hand. And in the morning," he said, "I will knight you.""Have you any money?" then asked the innkeeper. "Not a penny," said Don Quixote, "for I never yet read of any knight who carried money with him."
"You are greatly mistaken," answered the innkeeper. "Most knights had squires, who carried their money and clean shirts and other things. But when a knight had no squire, he always carried his money and his shirts, and salve for his wounds, in a little bag behind his saddle. I must therefore advise you never in future to go anywhere without money."
Don Quixote promised to remember this. Then taking his armor, he went into the inn yard and laid it in a horse-trough.
Now it happened that a carrier who lodged at the inn came into the yard to water his mules, and this he could not do while the armor lay in the horse-trough. As Don Quixote saw the man come up, "Take heed, rash Knight," he cried. "Defile not by a touch the armor of the most brave knight-errant that ever wore a sword."But the mule-driver took no notice of Don Quixote. He picked up the armor and threw it away.
Don Quixote no sooner saw this than, raising his eyes to heaven, and calling on his Lady Dulcinea del Toboso, he lifted up his spear with both hands and gave the mule-driver such a whack over the head that the man fell down senseless. Then, picking up his armor and putting it back in the horse-trough, he went on with his march, taking no further notice of the poor muledriver.Soon up came another carrier who also wanted to water his mules. [pg 6]
Not a word did Don Quixote say this time, but he lifted up his spear and smote so heavily that he broke the man's head in three or four places. The poor wretch made such an outcry that all the people in the inn came running, and the friends of the two carriers began to pelt Don Quixote with stones. But drawing his sword, and holding his shield in front of him, he defied them all, crying, "Come on, base knaves! Draw nearer if you dare!"
The landlord now came hurrying up and stopped the stone-throwing; then, having calmed Don Quixote, he said that there was no need for him to watch his armor any longer; to finish the ceremony it would now be enough if he were touched on the neck and shoulders with a sword. Don Quixote was quite satisfied, and prayed the innkeeper to get the business over as quickly as possible, "for," said he, "if I were but knighted, and should see myself attacked, I believe that I should not leave a man alive in this castle."
The innkeeper, a good deal alarmed at this, and anxious to get rid of him, hurried off and got the book in which he kept his accounts, which he pretended was a kind of book of prayer. Having also brought the two young women, and a boy to hold a candle, he ordered Don Quixote to kneel. Then muttering from his book, as if he were reading, he finished by giving Don Quixote a good blow on the neck, and a slap on the back, with the flat of a sword. After this, one of the young women belted the sword round the newly made knight's waist, while the other buckled on his spurs, and having at once saddled "Rozinante." Don Quixote was ready to set out.The innkeeper was only too glad to see him go, even without paying for his supper. II
As he rode along in the early morning light, Don Quixote began to think that it would be well that he should return home for a little, there to lay in a stock of money and of clean shirts, [pg 7] and he turned his willing horse's head in the direction of his village.But ere he had gone far on his way, coming from a thicket he fancied that he heard cries of distress. "Certainly these are the moans of some poor creature in want of help," thought Don Quixote. "I thank Heaven for so soon giving me the chance to perform my duty as a knight."
And he rode quickly towards the sounds. No sooner had he reached the wood than he saw a horse tied to a tree, and bound to another was a lad of fifteen, all naked above the waist. By his side stood a countryman beating him with a strap, and with every blow calling out, "I'll teach you to keep your eyes open, you young scamp. I'll teach you to keep your mouth shut."The boy howled with pain. Quickly Don Quixote rode up to the man.
"Sir Knight," said he angrily, "I would have thee to know that it is an unworthy act to strike one who cannot defend himself. Mount thy steed, therefore, take thy spear, and I will teach thee that thou art a coward."
The countryman gave himself up for lost, and he gasped out very humbly that the boy was his servant, through whose carelessness many of the sheep that he should have watched had been lost, and that therefore he was giving him a sound beating. "And," said he, "because I beat him for his carelessness, he says I do it to cheat him out of his wages."
"What!" shouted Don Quixote, "do you dare to lie to me? By the sun above us, I have a mind to run you through with my spear. Pay the boy this instant, and let him go free. What does he owe you, boy?"The boy said that the man owed him nine months' wages. "Pay at once, you scoundrel, unless you want to be killed," roared Don Quixote.
The poor man, trembling with fear, said that there was a mistake; he did not owe nearly so much, and besides, he had no money with him. But if Andres would go home with him he would pay every penny."Go home with him!" cried the boy. "I know a trick [pg 8] worth two of that. No sooner will he have me home than he'll take the skin off me. No, no, not I!"
"He will not dare to touch you," said the Knight. "I command him, and that is enough. If he swears by his order of knighthood to do this thing, I will let him go, and he will pay you your wages."
"Of course I will," said the man. "Come along with me. Andres, and I swear I'll give you all I owe."
As the Knight cantered along, very well pleased with himself, about two miles from where he had freed the boy he saw riding towards him six men, each shading himself under a large umbrella. With them were four mounted servants, and three on foot.No sooner did Don Quixote see this party than it struck him that here was the chance for which, above all others, he had been longing.
Posting himself in the middle of the road, he waited till the men were at no great distance. Then, "Halt!" shouted he. "Let all know that no man shall pass further till he owns that in the whole world there is no damsel more beautiful than the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso."[pg 9] "But," said the men (who were merchants of Toledo, on their way to buy silks), "we do not know the lady. We have never seen her. How then can we say that she is beautiful?" "What!" roared Don Quixote in a terrible rage, "not know the beauteous Lady Dulcinea del Toboso! That only makes matters worse. Do you dare to argue?" And with that he couched his spear, drove his spurs into "Rozinante," and rode furiously at the nearest merchant.
What he would have done it is not possible to say. But as he galloped, it chanced that "Rozinante" stumbled and fell heavily, rolling Don Quixote over and over. There the Knight lay helpless, the weight of his armor preventing him from rising to his feet. But as he lay, he continued to cry out at the top of his voice, "Stop, you rascals! Do not fly. It is my horse's fault that I lie here, you cowards!"
One of the grooms, hearing his master called a rascal and a coward, thereupon ran up and snatched away Don Quixote's spear, which he broke in pieces. Then with each piece he belabored the poor Knight till the broken lance flew into splinters. The merchants then rode away, leaving Don Quixote lying where he fell, still shouting threats, but quite unable to rise.
There he was found by a man who knew him well, and who with great difficulty mounted him on his donkey and took him home. When at last they reached Don Quixote's house, the poor Knight was put to bed, where he lay for many days, raving, and very ill.During this time the Curate of the village and the Barber came and burned nearly all the books which Don Quixote had so loved. "For," said they, "it is by reading these books that the poor gentleman has lost his mind, and if he reads them again he will never get better." So a bonfire was made of the books, and the door of Don Quixote's study was bricked up.
When the Knight was again able to go about, he made at once for his study and his beloved books. Up and down the house he searched without saying a word, and often he would stand where the door of the study used to be, feeling with his [pg 10] hands and gazing about. At last he asked his housekeeper to show him the study."Study!" cried the woman, "what study? There is no study in this house now, nor any books."
"No," said his niece. "When you were away, a famous enchanter came along, mounted on a dragon, and he went into your study. What he did there we know not. But after a time he flew out of the roof, leaving the house full of smoke, and ever since then we have not been able to find either books or study.""Ha!" said Don Quixote. "That must have been Freston. He is a famous enchanter, and my bitter enemy. But when I am again well I shall get the better of him."
HOW DON QUIXOTE AND SANCHO PANZA STARTED ON THEIR SEARCH FOR ADVENTURES; AND HOW DON QUIXOTE FOUGHT WITH THE WINDMILLS
There was a farm laborer who lived near by, a fat, good-natured, simple man. To him Don Quixote talked long and often, and made many promises; among others that if he would but come with him as squire, he should be made governor of any island which the Knight might happen to conquer during his search after adventures.
This seemed so grand a thing to the man (whose name was Sancho Panza), that he willingly promised to come.
Having got together some money, and having made other preparations, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza one dark night stole out of the village without a word to any one, and began their adventures.
Don Quixote rode "Rozinante;" Sancho Panza was mounted on an ass. That his squire should ride an ass at first troubled the Knight not a little, for in none of his books could he remember [pg 11] to have read of any squire being so mounted. However, he gave Sancho leave to bring the ass, thinking that in no great time a better mount would surely be found for him.As they rode along in the cool of the morning, Sancho Panza spoke to his master about their journey, and asked him to be sure not to forget his promise about the governorship of the island. "It may even happen," answered Don Quixote, "that I may by some strange chance conquer a kingdom. And then presently, I may be able to crown thee King." "Why," said Sancho, "if by some such miracle as your worship speaks of, I am made a King, then would my wife be Queen?" "Certainly," answered Don Quixote, "who can doubt it?"
"I doubt it," replied Sancho, "for I think if it should rain kingdoms upon the face of the earth, not one of them would sit well on my wife's head. For I must tell you, sir, she's not worth two brass jacks to make a Queen of. No, no! countess will be quite good enough; that's as much as she could well manage.""Nay," said Don Quixote, "leave the matter in the hands of Providence, and be not tempted by anything less than the title of Viceroy." Thus talking, they came over the brow of a hill, and looking down on the plain below, Don Quixote saw there thirty or forty windmills. "Ha!" cried he. "Fortune directs our affairs better than we ourselves could do. Look yonder, friend Sancho, there are at at least thirty outrageous giants whom I must now fight." "Giants!" gasped Sancho Panza, "what giants?" "Those whom you see over there with their long arms," answered Don Quixote. "Some of that horrible race, I have heard, have arms near two leagues in length."
"But, sir," said Sancho, "these are no giants. They are only windmills, and the things you think are arms are but their sails, whereby the wind drives them."
"That is but a sign," answered Don Quixote, "whereby [pg 12] one may see how little you know of adventures. I tell you they are giants: and I shall fight against them all. If you are afraid, go aside and say your prayers."
So saying, and without paying any heed to the bawlings of Sancho Panza, he put spurs to his horse and galloped furiously at the windmills, shouting aloud, "Stand, cowards! stand your ground, and fly not from a single Knight."Just at this moment the wind happened to rise, causing the arms of the windmills to move. "Base scoundrels!" roared the Knight, "though you wave as many arms as the giant Briareus, you shall pay for your pride."
And with couched lance, and covering himself with his shield, he rushed "Rozinante" at top speed on the nearest windmill. Round whirled the sails, and as Don Quixote's lance pierced one of them, horse and man were sent rolling on the ground. There Sancho Panza came to help his sorely bruised master."Mercy o' me!" cried Sancho, "did not I tell you they were windmills?"
"Peace, friend Sancho," answered Don Quixote. "It is the fortune of war. I know very well it is that accursed wizard Freston, the enemy who took from me my study and my books, who has changed these giants into windmills to take from me the honor of the victory. But in the end I shall yet surely get the better of him.""Amen! say I" quoth Sancho: and heaving the poor Knight on to his legs, once more he got him seated on "Rozinante." As they now rode along, it was a great sorrow to Don Quixote that his spear had been broken to pieces in this battle with the windmill.
"I have read," said he to Sancho, "that a certain Spanish knight, having broken his sword in a fight, pulled up by the roots a huge oak-tree, or at least tore down a great branch, and with it did such wonderful deeds that he was ever after called 'The Bruiser.' I tell you this because I intend to tear up the next oak-tree we meet, and you may think yourself fortunate that you will see the deeds I shall perform with it."[pg 13] "Heaven grant you may!" said Sancho. "But, an' it please you, sit a little more upright in your saddle; you are all to one side. But that, mayhap, comes from your hurts?"
"It does so," answered Don Quixote, "and if I do not complain of the pain, it is because a knighterrant must never complain of his wounds, though they be killing him."
"I have no more to say," replied Sancho. "Yet Heaven knows I should be glad to hear your honor complain a bit, now and then, when something ails you. For my part, I always cry out when I'm hurt, and I am glad the rule about not complaining doesn't extend to squires."
That night they spent under the trees, from one of which Don Quixote tore down a branch, to which he fixed the point of his spear, and in some sort that served him for a lance. Don Quixote neither ate nor slept all the night, but passed his time, as he had learned from his books that a knight should do, in thoughts of the Lady Dulcinea. As for Sancho Panza, he had brought with him a big bottle of wine, and some food in his wallet, and he stuffed himself as full as he could hold, and slept like a top.As they rode along next day, they came to the Pass of Lapice.
"Here, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "is the spot where adventures should begin. Now may we hope to thrust our hands, as it were, up to the very elbows in adventures. But remember this! However sore pressed and in danger I may be when fighting with another knight, you must not offer to draw your sword to help me. It is against the laws of chivalry for a squire to attack a knight.""Never fear me, master," said Sancho. "I'll be sure to obey you; I have ever loved peace. But if a knight offers to set upon me first, there is no rule forbidding me to hit him back, is there?" "None," answered Don Quixote, "only do not help me." "I will not," said Sancho. "Never trust me if I don't keep that commandment as well as I do the Sabbath."
HOW DON QUIXOTE WON A HELMET; HOW HE FOUGHT WITH TWO ARMIES; AND HOW SANCHO'S ASS WAS STOLEN
Many were the adventures that now befell Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. In the very first, wherein he fought with a man from Biscay, whom he left lying in a pool of blood, Don Quixote lost part of his helmet, and had the half of one of his ears sliced off by the Biscayan's sword. The accident to the helmet was a great grief to him, and he swore an oath that until he had taken from some other knight as good a helmet as that which was now made useless to him, he would never again eat his food on a table-cloth.One day as they rode along a highway between two villages Don Quixote halted and looked eagerly at something. "Sancho," said he, "dost thou not see yonder knight that comes riding this way on a dapple-gray steed, with a helmet of gold on his head?"
"Not a thing can I see," answered Sancho, "but a fellow on just such another ass as mine, with something that glitters on top of his head."
"Can you not see," asked Don Quixote, "that it is a helmet? Do you stand back, and let me deal with him. Soon now shall I possess myself of the helmet that I need."
Now, in those far-away days, when doctors were few, if anybody needed to be bled for a fever or any other illness (for it was then thought that "letting blood" was the cure for most illnesses), it was the custom for the barber to bleed the sick person. For the purpose of catching the blood that ran from a vein when it had been cut, a brass dish was carried, a dish with part of it cut away from one side, so that it might the more easily be held close to the patient's arm or body. A small dish like this you may sometimes still see hanging as a sign at the end of a pole outside barbers' shops. Barbers in those days of old were called barber-surgeons, for the reason that they bled people, as well as shaved them or cut their hair.[pg 15]
And the truth of the matter was this, that the man whom Don Quixote now believed to be a knight, wearing a golden helmet, was a barber riding on his ass to bleed a sick man. And because it was raining, he had put his brass dish on his head, in order to keep his new hat from being spoiled.Don Quixote did not wait to speak to the man, but, couching his lance, galloped at him as hard as "Rozinante" could go, shouting as he rode, "Defend thyself, base wretch!"
The barber no sooner saw this terrible figure charging down on him, than, to save himself from being run through, he flung himself on to the ground, and then jumping to his feet, ran for his life, leaving his ass and the brass basin behind him. Then Don Quixote ordered Sancho to pick up the helmet."O' my word," said Sancho, as he gave it to his master, "it is a fine basin."
Don Quixote at once put it on his head, saying, "It is a famous helmet, but the head for which it was made must have been of great size. The worst of it is that at least one-half of it is gone. What is the fool grinning at now?" he cried, as Sancho laughed."Why, master," answered Sancho, "it is a barber's basin."
"It has indeed some likeness to a basin," said Don Quixote, "but I tell you it is an enchanted helmet of pure gold, and for the sake of a little wretched money some one has melted down the half of it. When we come to a town where there is an armorer, I will have it altered to fit my head. Meantime I shall wear it as it is."As they rode along one day talking of many things, Don Quixote beheld a cloud of dust rising right before them.
"Seest thou that cloud of dust, Sancho?" he asked. "It is raised by a great army marching this way."
"Why, master," said Sancho, "there must be two armies there, for yonder is just such another cloud of dust."
"Do!" said Don Quixote, "why, what can we do but help the weaker side? Look yonder, Sancho, that knight whom thou [pg 16] seest in the gilded armory with a lion crouching at the feet of a lady painted on his shield, that is the valiant Laurcalco. That other, the giant on his right, Brandabarbaran." And he ran over a long list of names of knights whom he believed that he saw.Sancho listened, as dumb as a fish; but at last he gasped. "Why, master, you might as well tell me that it snows. Never a knight, nor a giant, nor a man can I see." "How!" answered Don Quixote, "canst thou not hear their horses neigh, and their drums beating?" "Drums!" said Sancho. "Not I! I hear only the bleating of sheep." "Since you are afraid," said the Knight, "stand aside, and I will go by myself to fight."
With that, he galloped down on to the plain, shouting, leaving Sancho bawling to him, "Hold, sir! Stop! For Heaven's sake come back. As sure as I'm a sinner, they are only harmless sheep. Come back, I say."
But Don Quixote, paying not the least heed, galloped on furiously and charged into the middle of the sheep, spearing them right and left, trampling the living and the dead under "Rozinante's" feet. The shepherds, finding that he took no notice of their shouts, now hurled stones at him from their slings, and one big stone presently hit the Knight fair in his ribs and doubled him up in the saddle.
Gasping for breath, with all speed Don Quixote got from his wallet a bottle filled with a mixture he had made, a mixture which he firmly believed to be a certain cure for all wounds. Of this he took a long gulp, but just at that moment another big stone hit him such a rap on the mouth that the bottle was smashed into a thousand pieces, and half of his teeth were knocked out.Down dropped the Knight on the ground, and the shepherds thinking that he was killed, ran away, taking with them seven dead sheep which he had slain. Sancho Panza found his master in a very bad way, with nearly all the teeth gone from one side of his mouth, and with a terrible pain under his ribs. [pg 17]
"Ah! master," he said, "I told you they were sheep. Why would not you listen to me?" "Sheep! Sancho. No, no! There is nothing so easy for a wizard like Freston as to change things from one shape to the other. I will wager if you now mount your ass and ride over the hill after them, you will find no sheep there, but the knights and squires come back to their own shape, and the armies marching as when we first saw them."
Now, after this and many other adventures (about which, perhaps, you may some day read for yourself), Don Quixote and Sancho Panza rode away into the mountains, for the Knight was sorely in need of a quiet place in which to rest.
So weary were he and his squire, that one night, when they had ridden into a wood, and it chanced that the horse and the ass stood still, both Don Quixote and Sancho Panza fell sound asleep without even getting out of their saddles. There sat the Knight, leaning on his lance; and Sancho, doubled over the pommel, snored as loud as if he had been in a four-post feather bed.It happened that a wandering thief saw them as he passed. "Now," thought he, "I want something to ride upon, for I'm tired of walking in these abominable mountains. Here's a chance of a good ass. But how am I to get it, without waking its master?"
Very quietly he cut four long sticks. One after the other he placed these under each side of Sancho's saddle; then loosening the girths, he gradually raised the sticks till the saddle was clear of the animal's back.Gently, in the moonlight, he led the tired ass away, and Sancho, undisturbed, snored on. When it was broad daylight, the squire awoke, and without opening his eyes, stretched himself. Down fell the sticks; down with a terrible bump fell Sancho.
"Body o' me!" he yelled, "where is my ass?" And with many tears he searched high and low, but no ass was then to be found, nor for many months afterwards. And how at last Sancho got back the ass you must read for yourself in the History of Don Quixote. For yourself, too, you must read of [pg 18] Don Quixote's adventures in the mountains; how he there did penance; and of many other things, till at last the Curate and the Barber of La Mancha took him home in a cart which the Knight believed to be an enchanted chariot.V
Now a third time did Don Quixote set off on his search for adventures, and as he and Sancho Panza rode again away from their village, it seemed to Don Quixote that certainly it was his duty as a knight-errant to visit the Mistress of his Heart, the beautiful Dulcinea.It was midnight when they reached Toboso, and the whole town was still, everybody in bed and asleep.
"Lead me to her palace, Sancho," said Don Quixote. "Palace?" cried Sancho, "What palace do you mean? Body o' me! When last I saw her, she lived in a little cottage in a blind alley. And even if it were a palace, we can't go and thunder at the door at this time o' night.""When we find it, I will tell thee what to do. But, here! What is this?" said the Knight, riding up to a huge building, and knocking at the door. "This indeed, without doubt, must be her palace."
But it was only the great Church of Toboso. Hunt as he would, he found no Dulcinea's palace, and as morning began to break, Sancho persuaded him to come and rest in a grove of trees two miles outside the town. From there Sancho was again sent to look for Dulcinea, bearing many messages from his sorrowful master."Cheer up, sir," said Sancho. "I'll be back in a trice. Don't be cast down. Faint heart never won fair lady."
And Sancho rode away, leaving the Knight sitting on his horse, very full of melancholy. But he had not ridden far, when, turning round and finding that his master was no longer in sight, the squire dismounted, and lying down under a shady tree, began to think the matter over.[pg 19] "Friend Sancho," said he to himself, "what's this you are doing?" "Why, hunting for a Princess, who, my master says, is the Sun of Beauty, and all sorts of other fine things, and who lives in a King's palace, or great castle, somewhere or other." "And how are you going to find her?"
"Why, it's like looking for a needle in a bundle of hay, to look for Dulcinea all over Toboso. My master's mad, there's no doubt of that; and perhaps I'm not very much better, for they say birds of a feather flock together. But if he's so mad as to mistake windmills for giants, and flocks of sheep for armies, why, it shouldn't be so very hard to make him believe that the first country lass I meet is the Lady Dulcinea. If he won't believe, I'll swear it, and stand to it, so that he'll think some of those wicked wizards of his have played another trick on him, and have changed her into some other shape just to spite him."Having thus settled his plans, Sancho lay there till the evening, so that his master might think that all the day had been spent in going to and from Toboso, and in looking for Dulcinea.
As luck would have it, just as he mounted his ass to ride back to Don Quixote, he spied coming that way three country lasses mounted on asses. As soon as Sancho saw the girls, he made haste to get to his master.
"What news, Sancho?" asked the Knight. "Has your fortune been good?" "Ay, marry has it, sir," answered Sancho, "you have no more to do but to clap spurs to 'Rozinante' and get into the open fields, and you'll meet my Lady Dulcinea del Toboso with two of her damsels coming to see you.""Blessed Heaven!" cried the Knight. "What do you say, my dear Sancho? Is it possible?"
"Possible!" said Sancho. "Why should I play a trick on you? Come, sir, and you will see her presently, all dressed up and decked with jewels. Her damsels and she are all covered with diamonds, and rubies, and cloth of gold. And what is more, they are riding three flea-bitten gambling hags, the like of which won't be seen again."[pg 20] "Ambling nags, thou meanest, Sancho," said Don Quixote. "Well, well, master, gambling hags or ambling nags, it's all one and the same thing. Any way, I'm sure I never set eyes on more beautiful ladies than those that sit upon them."
"Let us be moving then, Sancho. And as a reward for your good news, I promise you the very best things I get in our next adventure. And if that is not enough, then I will give you the three colts that I have at home in La Mancha.""Thank you for the colts," said Sancho. "As for the other things, I'm not sure that they will be worth so very much." They were now out of the wood, and could see the three country lasses at a little distance. Don Quixote looked long towards Toboso, but seeing no one anywhere but these girls, he was much troubled in his mind, and asked Sancho if he were sure that the Princess had left the city. "Left the city!" cried Sancho. "Why where are your eyes, sir? In the name of wonder, do you not see her and her maidens coming towards us now, as bright as the sun at midday?" "I see nothing, Sancho, but three country wenches riding on asses."
"Now Heaven help me," cried Sancho, "is it possible that you can mistake three what do you call 'ems—ambling nags as white as snow, for three asses! Pull my beard out by the roots if it is not so.""Believe me, Sancho, they are asses." "Come, sir," answered Sancho, "do but clear your eyes, and go and speak to the Mistress of your Heart, for she is near you now."
So saying, Sancho hurried up to one of the girls, and, jumping off his ass, fell on his knees before her, gabbling a lot of nonsense.
Don Quixote followed, and also knelt down, gazing with doubting and sorrowful eyes on the creature that Sancho had told him was the beautiful Dulcinea. He was lost in wonder, for she was a flat-nosed, blubber-cheeked, bouncing country girl, and Don Quixote could not utter a word.
"Rise, Sancho," said Don Quixote when he heard the girl's voice. "I am now convinced that misfortune has not yet finished with me. O most beautiful lady! a spiteful enchanter puts mists before my eyes, and hides from me your loveliness."
"My grandmother take him!" cried the girl. "Listen to his gibberish! Get out of the way, and let us alone." And kicking her donkey in the ribs, she galloped away with her friends. Don Quixote followed them long with his eyes.
"O the spite of those wicked enchanters!" he sighed, "to turn my beautiful Dulcinea into so vile a shape as that: to take from her the sweet and delicate scent of fragrant flowers, and give to her what she has. For, to tell the truth, Sancho, she gave me such a whiff of raw onions that it was like to upset me altogether."
"O the vile and evil-minded enchanters!" cried Sancho. "Oh that I might see the lot of you threaded on one string, and hung up in the smoke like so many herrings." And Sancho turned away to hide his laughter.Don Quixote rode on, very sad, and letting "Rozinante" go where he pleased.
HOW DON QUIXOTE FOUGHT WITH A LION; AND HOW HE DEFEATED THE MOORS
As Don Quixote and Sancho Panza went along, they were overtaken by a gentleman in a fine green coat, who rode a very good mare. This gentleman stared very hard at Don Quixote, and the two began to speak together about knight-errantry, and were so interested in what they were saying, that Sancho took the opportunity of riding over to ask for a little milk from some shepherds, who were milking their ewes near at hand.
While he was thus away from his master, a wagon, on top of which fluttered little yellow and red flags, came along the road towards them. Don Quixote at once imagined this to be some new adventure, and he called to Sancho for his helmet. At [pg 22] the moment, Sancho was bargaining with the shepherds for some curds. Hearing his master call, he had not time to wait till the shepherds could give him a bowl in which to carry them, and not wishing to lose his bargain (for he had paid the shepherds), he poured the curds into the Knight's helmet, and galloped off to see what his master wanted.
"Give me my helmet," said Don Quixote, "for if I know anything of my business, here is an adventure for which I must be ready."
The gentleman in green, hearing what Don Quixote said, looked everywhere, but he could see nothing except the wagon coming towards them, and as that had on it the King of Spain's colors, he thought that no doubt it was one of his Majesty's treasure-vans. He said as much to Don Quixote, but the Knight answered: "Sir, I cannot tell when, or where, or in what shape, my enemies will attack me. It is always wise to be ready. Fore-warned is fore-armed. Give me my helmet, Sancho!"
"What is this, Sancho?" he cried, as the whey ran down his face. "What is the matter with me? Is my brain melting, or am I breaking out in a cold sweat? If I am, it is not from fear. This must be a dreadful adventure that is coming. Quick. Sancho! give me something to wipe away the torrent of sweat, for I am almost blinded."Without a word, Sancho handed to his master a cloth. Don Quixote dried himself, and then took off his helmet to see what it was that felt so cold on his head. "What is this white stuff?" said he, putting some of the curds to his nose. "Sancho, you vile traitor, you have been putting curds in my helmet!"
"Curds!—I?" cried Sancho. "Nay, the devil must have put them there. Would I dare to make such a mess in your helmet, sir? It must have been one of those vile enchanters. Where could I get curds? I would sooner put them in my stomach than in your helmet.""Well, that's true, I dare say," said Don Quixote. "There's something in that." [pg 23] Then again he put on the helmet, and made ready for the adventure. "Now come what may, I dare meet it," he cried. The wagon had now come near to them. On top was seated a man, and the driver rode one of the mules that drew it. Don Quixote rode up. "Whither go ye, my friends?" said he. "What wagon is this, and what have you in it? What is the meaning of the flags?" "The wagon is mine," said the driver, "and I have in it a lion that is being sent to the King, and the flags are flying to let the people know that it is the King's property." "A lion!" cried Don Quixote, "Is it a large one?"
"The biggest I ever saw," said the man on top of the wagon. "I am the keeper, and I have had charge of many lions, but I never saw one so large as this. Pray get out of the way, sir, for we must hurry on to our stopping-place. It is already past his feeding-time; he is beginning to get hungry, and they are always savage when they are hungry."
"What!" cried Don Quixote, "lion whelps against me! I'll let those gentlemen know who send lions this way, that I am not to be scared by any of their lions. So, Mr. Keeper, just jump down and open his cage, and let him out. In spite of all the enchanters in the world that have sent him to try me, I'll let the animal see who Don Quixote de la Mancha is."
"Sir," said he, "knight-errants ought not to engage in adventures from which there is no hope of coming off in safety. That is more like madness than courage. Besides, this is the [pg 24] King's wagon; it will never do to stop that. And after all, the lion has not been sent against you; it is a present to the King."
"Pray, sir," cried Don Quixote, "will you attend to your own business? This is mine, and I know best whether this lion has been sent against me or not. Now you, sir," he cried to the keeper, "either open that cage at once, or I'll pin you to your wagon with my spear."
"For mercy's sake, sir," cried the driver, "do but let me take my mules out of harm's way before the lion gets out. My cart and my mules are all I have in the world, and I shall be ruined if harm comes to them.""Take them out quickly, then," said Don Quixote, "and take them where you please."
On this the driver made all the haste he could to unharness his mules, while the keeper called aloud, "Take notice, everybody, that it is against my will that I am forced to let loose the lion, and that this gentleman here is to blame for all the damage that will be done. Get out of the way, everybody: look out for yourselves."
Once more the gentleman in green tried to persuade Don Quixote not to be so foolish, but the Knight only said, "I know very well what I am doing. If you are afraid, and do not care to see the fight, just put spurs to your mare and take yourself where you think you will be safe."
Sancho now hurried up, and with tears in his eyes begged his master not to put himself in so great danger, but Don Quixote only said, "Take yourself away, Sancho, and leave me alone. If I am killed, go, as I have so often told you, to the beautiful Dulcinea, and tell her—you know what to tell her."
The gentleman in green, finding that words were thrown away on Don Quixote, now quickly followed the driver, who had hastily taken his mules as far away as he could beyond the brow of the hill. Sancho hurried after them at the top speed of his ass, kicking him in the ribs all the while to make him go even faster, and loudly bewailing his master's coming death. The keeper made one more attempt to turn Don Quixote from his folly, but again finding it useless, very unwillingly opened the cage door.[pg 25]
Meantime the Knight had been thinking whether it would be best to fight the lion on foot or on horseback, and he had made up his mind to fight on foot, for the reason that "Rozinante" would probably be too much afraid to face the lion. So he got off his horse, drew his sword, and holding his shield in front of him, marched slowly up to the cage. The keeper, having thrown the door wide open, now quickly got himself out of harm's way.
The lion, seeing the cage open, and Don Quixote standing in front, turned round and stretched out his great paws. Then he opened his enormous mouth, and, letting out a tongue as long as a man's arm, licked the dust off his face. Now rising to his feet, he thrust his head out of the door and glared around with eyes like burning coals.It was a sight to make any man afraid; but Don Quixote calmly waited for the animal to jump out and come within reach of his sword. The lion looked at him for a moment with its great yellow eyes—then, slowly turning, it strolled to the back of the cage, gave a long, weary yawn, and lay quietly down. "Force him to come out," cried Don Quixote to the keeper, "beat him."
"Not I," said the man. "I dare not for my life. He would tear me to pieces. And let me advise you, sir, to be content with your day's work. I beseech you, go no further. You have shown how brave you are. No man can be expected to do more than challenge his enemy and wait ready for him. If he does not come, the fault and the disgrace are his."
"'Tis true," said the Knight. "Shut the door, my friend, and give me the best certificate you can of what you have seen me do; how you opened the door, and how I waited for the lion to come out, and how he turned tail and lay down. I am obliged to do no more."So saying, Don Quixote put on the end of his spear the cloth with which he had wiped the curds from his face, and began to wave to the others to come back.
"I'll be hanged," cried Sancho when he saw this signal, "if my master has not killed the lion." And they all hurried up to the wagon where the keeper gave them a long account of [pg 26] what had happened, adding, that when he got to court he would tell the King of Don Quixote's bravery."If his Majesty should happen to ask who did this thing, tell him," said Don Quixote, "that it was the Knight of the Lions, for that is the name by which I shall now call myself."
Sancho and his master now rode with the gentleman in green to his house, where they stopped some days, to the great contentment of Sancho. And of the wedding at which they were present, of the feast where Sancho so greatly enjoyed himself, as well as of other matters, you must read for yourself.
When the Knight and his squire again began their travels, it chanced that they stopped one night at an inn. To this inn, while Don Quixote was outside, waiting for supper, there came a man, all dressed in chamois leather, and wearing over his left eye, and part of his face, a green patch."Have you any lodgings, landlord?" he cried in a loud voice; "for here comes the fortune-telling ape, and the great puppet-show of Melisendra's Deliverance." "Why, bless me!" cried the innkeeper, "if here isn't Master Peter. Now we shall have a merry night of it. You are welcome, with all my heart. Where is the ape, Peter?" "Coming presently," said Master Peter. "I only came on before to see if lodgings were to be had."
"Lodgings!" cried the landlord. "Why, I'd turn out the Duke of Alva himself rather than you should want room. Bring on the monkey and the show, for I have guests in the inn to-night who will pay well to see the performance.""That's good news," said Peter, going off to hurry up his cart. "Who is this Peter?" asked Don Quixote.
"Why, sir," answered the landlord, "he has been going about the country this long time with his play of Melisendra and Don Gayferos, one of the very best shows that ever was seen. Then he has the cleverest ape in the world. You have only to ask it a question and it will jump on its master's shoulder and whisper the answer in his ear, and then Master Peter will tell you what it says. It's true, he isn't always right, but he so often hits the nail on the head that we sometimes think Satan is in him."[pg 27] Don Quixote no sooner saw the ape, than he marched up to it, and asked a question. "Ah!" said Master Peter, "the animal can't tell what is going to happen; only what has already happened." "I wouldn't give a brass centesimo," cried Sancho, "to know what is past. Who can tell that better than myself? Tell me what my wife Teresa is doing at home just now."
Master Peter tapped his shoulder: the ape at once sprang on to it, and putting its head at his ear, began to chatter—as apes do—for a minute. Then it skipped down again, and immediately Master Peter ran to Don Quixote and fell on his knees before him."O glorious restorer of knight-errantry!" he cried, "who can say enough in praise of the great Don Quixote de la Mancha, the righter of wrongs, the comfort of the afflicted and unhappy?"
Don Quixote was amazed at these words, for he was certain that he was unknown to any one at the inn. He did not guess that Master Peter was a clever rogue, who, before giving a performance, always made it his business to find out about those who were likely to be looking on.As for Sancho, he quaked with fear.
"And thou, honest Sancho," went on Master Peter, "the best squire to the best knight in the world, be not unhappy about your wife. She is well, and at this moment is dressing flax. By the same token, she has at her left hand, to cheer her, a broken-mouthed jug of wine.""That's like enough," said Sancho.
"Well," cried Don Quixote, "if I had not seen it with my own eyes, nothing should have made me believe that apes have the gift of second sight. I am in very truth the Don Quixote de la Mancha that this wonderful animal has told you about."But he was not quite pleased at the idea of the ape having such powers, and taking Sancho aside he spoke to him seriously on the subject.
While they spoke, the showman came to tell them that the puppet-show was now ready to begin, and Don Quixote and Sancho went into the room where it stood, with candles burning all round it. Master Peter got inside in order to move the [pg 28] puppets, and a boy standing in front explained what was going on.
The story that was acted by the puppets was that of a certain Don Gayferos, who rescued his wife Melisendra from captivity by the Moors in the city of Saragossa. Melisendra was imprisoned in the castle, and the story goes that Don Gayferos, when riding past, in his search, spied her on the balcony. Melisendra, with the help of a rope, lets herself down to her husband, mounts behind him, and the two gallop away from the city. But Melisendra's flight has been noticed, and the city bells ring an alarm. The Moors rush out like angry wasps, start in pursuit, and the capture and death of Don Gayferos and Melisendra seem certain.
Don Quixote listened and looked with growing excitement and anger, but when he saw the Moors gallop in pursuit and about to close on Don Gayferos and Melisendra, he could keep quiet no longer. Starting up, "It shall never be said," cried he, "that in my presence I suffered such a wrong to be done to so famous a knight as Don Gayferos. Stop your unjust pursuit, ye base rascals! Stop! or prepare to meet me in battle."
Then, drawing his sword, with one spring he fell with fury on the Moors, hacking some in pieces, beheading others, and sending the rest flying into every corner. And had not Master Peter ducked and squatted down on the ground behind part of the show, Don Quixote would certainly have chopped off his head also."Hold! hold, sir!" cried Master Peter, "for mercy's sake, hold! These are not real Moors. You will ruin me if you destroy my show."
But Don Quixote paid not the slightest heed. He went on slashing and hacking till the whole show was a wreck. Everybody ran to get out of harm's way, and the ape scampered, chattering, on to the roof of the house. Sancho himself quaked with fear, for he had never before seen his master in such a fury.
All the puppet Moors being now cut to pieces, Don Quixote became calmer, saying aloud, "How miserable had been the fate of poor Don Gayferos and Melisendra his wife if I had not been [pg 29] in time to save them from those infidel Moors! Long live knight-errantry!""Ay, ay," moaned Master Peter in a doleful voice, "it may live long enough. As for me, I may as well die, for I am a ruined man and a beggar now." Sancho Panza took pity on the showman. "Come, come! Master Peter," said he, "don't cry. Don't be cast down. My master will pay you when he comes to know that he has done you an injury." "Truly," said Peter, "if his honor will pay for my puppets.'ll ask no more." "How!" cried Don Quixote. "I do not see that I have injured you, good Master Peter." "Not injured me!" cried Master Peter. "Do but look at those figures lying there, all hacked to bits."
"Well," said Don Quixote, "now I know for certain a truth I have suspected before, that those accursed enchanters do nothing but put before my eyes things as they are, and then presently after change them as they please. Really and truly gentlemen, I vow and protest that all that was acted here seemed to me to be real. I could not contain my fury, and I acted as I thought was my duty. But if Master Peter will tell me the value of the figures, I will pay for them all."
"Heaven bless your worship!" whined Master Peter. But had Don Quixote known that this same Master Peter was the very man who stole Sancho Panza's ass, perhaps he might have paid him in another way.
THE BATTLE WITH THE BULLS; THE FIGHT WITH THE KNIGHT OF THE WHITE MOON; AND HOW DON QUIXOTE DIED
They had ridden no great way when they happened upon some young people who had gaily dressed themselves as shepherds [pg 30] and shepherdesses, and were having a picnic in the woods. These people invited Don Quixote and Sancho to join their feast.
When they had eaten and drunk, the Knight rose, and said that there was no sin worse than that of ingratitude, and that to show how grateful he was for the kindness that had been shown to him and to Sancho, he had only one means in his power.
"Therefore," said he, "I will maintain for two whole days, in the middle of this high road leading to Saragossa, that these ladies here, disguised as shepherdesses, are the most beautiful damsels in the world, except only the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso, the mistress of my heart."
So, mounting "Rozinante" he rode into the middle of the highway and there took his stand, ready to challenge all comers. He had sat there no long time when there appeared on the road coming towards him a number of riders, some with spears in their hands, all riding very fast and close together. In front of them thundered a drove of wild bulls, bellowing and tossing their horns. At once all the shepherds and the shepherdesses ran behind trees, but Don Quixote sat bravely where he was.When the horsemen came near, "Get out of the way!" bawled one of them. "Stand clear, or these bulls will have you in pieces in no time." "Halt, scoundrels!" roared the Knight. "What are bulls to Don Quixote de la Mancha, if they were the fiercest that ever lived? Stop, hangdogs!"
But the herdsmen had no time to answer, nor Don Quixote to get out of the way had he wanted to do so, for before any one knew what was happening, the bulls had run right over him and "Rozinante," leaving them and Sancho and "Dapple," his ass, stunned and bruised, rolling in the dust.As soon as Don Quixote came to his senses he got up in great haste, stumbling here and falling there, and began to run after the herd. "Stop, you scoundrels!" he bawled. "Stop! It is a single knight that defies you." [pg 31]
But no one took the least notice of him, and he sat sadly down on the road, waiting till Sancho brought "Rozinante" to him. Then master and man went on their way, Don Quixote sore ashamed of his defeat, hurt as much in mind as in body.That evening they dismounted at the door of an inn, and put up "Rozinante" and "Dapple" in the stable. Sancho asked the landlord what he could give them for supper. "Why," said the man, "you may have anything you choose to call for. The inn can provide fowls of the air, birds of the earth, and fishes of the sea." "There's no need for all that," said Sancho. "If you roast a couple of chickens it will be enough, for my master eats but little, and for myself, I have no great appetite." "Chickens?" said the host. "I am sorry I have no chickens just now. The hawks have killed them all." "Well, then, roast us a pullet, if it be tender." "A pullet? Well, now, that is unlucky. I sent away fifty to the market only yesterday. But, putting pullets aside, ask for anything you like." "Why, then," said Sancho, pondering, "let us have some veal, or a bit of kid." "Sorry sir, we are just out of veal and kid also. Next week we shall have enough and to spare." "That helps us nicely," said Sancho. "But at any rate, let us have some eggs and bacon." "Eggs!" cried the landlord. "Now didn't I tell him I had no hens or pullets, and how then can I have eggs? No, no! Ask for anything you please in the way of dainties, but don't ask for hens." "Body o' me!" said Sancho, "let us have something. Tell me what you have, and have done." "Well, what I really and truly have is a pair of cow-heels that look like calves'-feet, or a pair of calves'-feet that look like cow-heels. You can have that and some bacon." "They are mine," cried Sancho. "I don't care whether they are feet or heels." And as Don Quixote had supper with some other guests who [pg 32] carried with them their own cook and their own larder, Sancho and the landlord supped well on the cow-heels.
Some days after this, the Knight and his squire reached Barcelona. Neither of them had ever before been near the sea, and the galleys that they saw in the distance being rowed about in the bay sorely puzzled Sancho, who thought that the oars were their legs, and that they must be some strange kind of beast.
Now, one morning, when Don Quixote rode out, fully armed as usual, to take the air on the seashore, he saw a knight riding towards him, armed like himself, and having a bright moon painted on his shield. As soon as this knight came within hearing he halted, and in a loud voice called out:
"Illustrious Don Quixote de la Mancha, I am the Knight of the White Moon, of whose doings you may have heard. I am come to fight with you and to make you own that the Lady of my Heart, whoever she may be, is more beautiful by far than the Lady Dulcinea del Toboso. Which truth, if you will confess, I will not slay you. And if we fight, and I should conquer you, then I ask no more than that you shall go to your own home, and for the space of one year give up carrying arms or searching for adventures. But if you should conquer me, then my head shall be at your disposal, my horse and arms shall be your spoils, and the fame of my deeds shall be yours. Consider what I say, and let your answer be quick."Don Quixote was amazed at hearing these words.
"Knight of the White Moon," said he very solemnly, "the fame of whose doings has not yet come to my ears, I dare swear that thou hast never seen the beautiful Dulcinea, for hadst thou ever viewed her, thou wouldst have been careful not to make this challenge. The sight of her would have made thee know that there never has been, nor can be, beauty to match hers. And therefore, without giving thee the lie, I only tell thee thou art mistaken. I accept your challenge, on your conditions, and at once, except that I am content with the fame of my own deeds, and want not yours. Choose then whichever side of the field you please, and let us set to."
The two knights then turned their horses to take ground [pg 33] for their charge, but at this moment up rode, with some friends, the Governor of the city of Barcelona, who knew Don Quixote, and who fancied that perhaps this was some new trick being played on him. The Governor, seeing both knights ready to turn for their charge, asked the Knight of the White Moon what was the cause of the combat, and having heard his answer, could not believe that the affair was not a joke, and so stood aside.
Instantly the two knights charged at top speed. But the horse of the Knight of the White Moon was by far the bigger and heavier and faster, and he came with such a shock into poor old "Rozinante" that Don Quixote and his horse were hurled to the ground with terrible force, and lay stunned and helpless. In a moment the Knight of the White Moon was off his horse and holding his spear at Don Quixote's throat."Yield, Sir Knight!" he cried, "or you are a dead man." Don Quixote, sorely hurt, but with steadfast look, gasped in a faint voice: "I do not yield. Dulcinea del Toboso is the most beautiful woman in the whole world. Press on with your spear, Sir Knight, and kill me." "Nay," said the Knight of the White Moon. "That will I not do. I am content if the great Don Quixote return to his home for a year, as we agreed before we fought."
And Don Quixote answered very faintly that as nothing was asked of him to the hurt of Dulcinea, he would carry out all the rest faithfully and truly. The Knight of the White Moon then galloped away toward the city, where one of the Governor's friends followed him, in order to find out who he was. The victorious knight was Samson Carrasco, who, some months before, had fought with and had been beaten by Don Quixote. And he explained to the Governor's friend that all he wanted in fighting was, not to harm Don Quixote, but to make him promise to go home, and stop there for a year, by which time he hoped that his madness about knight-errantry might be cured.
They raised Don Quixote and took off his helmet. His face was very pale, and he was covered with a cold sweat. "Rozinante" [pg 34] was in as bad plight as his master, and lay where he had fallen. Sancho, in great grief, could speak no word, and knew not what to do; to him it was all as a bad dream.Don Quixote was carried on a stretcher to the town, where for a week he lay in bed without ever raising his head, stricken to the soul by the disgrace of his defeat. Sancho tried to comfort him. "Pluck up your heart and be of good cheer, sir," he cried, "and thank Heaven you have broken no bones. They that give must take. Let us go home and give up looking for adventures." "After all, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "it is only for a year. After that I can begin again, and perhaps then I may be able to make thee an Earl."
"Heaven grant it" said Sancho. So when the Knight was once more able to move they set out for home, Don Quixote riding "Rozinante" Sancho walking, for "Dapple" carried the armor.But all the way Don Quixote did not recover from his melancholy, and when at last they reached his village: "Help me to bed," he said, "for I think that I am not very well."
He was put to bed, and carefully nursed. But a fever had taken hold of him, and for many days Sancho Panza never left his master's bedside. On the sixth day, the doctor told him he was in great danger. Don Quixote listened very calmly, and then asked that he might be left by himself for a little—he had a mind to sleep. His niece and Sancho left the room weeping bitterly, and Don Quixote fell into a deep sleep.When he awoke, with a firm voice he cried:
"Blessed be God! My mind is is now clear, and the clouds have rolled away which those detestable books of knight-errantry cast over me. Now can I see their nonsense and deceit. I am at the point of death, and I would meet it so that I may not leave behind me the character of a madman. Send for the lawyer, that I may make my will."Excepting only a small sum of money which he gave to Sancho Panza, he left all to his niece. [pg 35] Thereafter he fell back in bed, and lay unconscious and without movement till the third day, when death very gently took him. So died Don Quixote de la Mancha, a good man and a brave gentleman to the end.
Two hundred years ago, a great deal of the world as we now know it was still undiscovered; there were yet very many islands, small and great, on which the eyes of white men had never looked, seas in which nothing bigger than an Indian canoe had ever sailed.
A voyage in those days was not often a pleasant thing, for ships then were very bluff-bowed and slow-sailing, and, for a long voyage, very ill-provided with food. There were no tinned meats two hundred years ago, no luxuries for use even in the cabin. Sailors lived chiefly on salt junk, as hard as leather, on biscuit that was generally as much weevil as biscuit, and the water that they drank was evil-smelling and bad when it had been long in the ship's casks.
So, when a man said good-by to his friends and sailed away into the unknown, generally very many years passed before he came back—if ever he came back at all. For the dangers of the seas were then far greater than they now are, and if a ship was not wrecked some dark night on an unknown island or uncharted reef, there was always the probability of meeting a pirate vessel and of having to fight for life and liberty. Steam has nowadays nearly done away with pirates, except on the China coast and in a few other out-of-the-way places. But things were different long ago, before steamers were invented; and sailors then, when they came home, had many very surprising things to tell their friends, many astonishing [pg 37] adventures to speak of, among the strange peoples that they said they had met in far-off lands. One man, who saw more wonderful things than any one else, was named Lemuel Gulliver, and I will try to tell you a little about one of his voyages.
Gulliver was born in Nottinghamshire, and when he was only fourteen years old he was sent to Emanuel College, Cambridge. There he remained till he was seventeen, but his father had not money enough to keep him any longer at the University. So, as was then the custom for those who meant to become doctors, he was bound apprentice to a surgeon in London, under whom he studied for four years. But all the time, as often as his father sent him money, he spent some of it in learning navigation (which means the art of finding your way across the sea, far from land). He had always had a great longing to travel, and he thought that a knowledge of navigation would be of use to him if he should happen to go a voyage.
After leaving London, he went to Germany, and there studied medicine for some years, with the view of being appointed surgeon of a ship. And by the help of his late master in London, such a post he did get on board the "Swallow" on which vessel he made several voyages. But tiring of this, he settled in London, and, having married, began practise as a doctor.
He did not, however, make much money at that, and so for six years he again went to sea as a surgeon, sailing both to the East and to the West Indies.
Again tiring of the sea, he once more settled on shore, this time at Wapping, because in that place there are always many sailors, and he hoped to make money by doctoring them.
At first, everything went well, but after leaving the South Seas, when steering for the East Indies, the ship was driven by a great storm far to the south. The gale lasted so long that [pg 38] twelve of the crew died from the effects of the hard work and the bad food, and all the others were worn out and weak. On a sailing ship, when the weather is very heavy, all hands have to be constantly on deck, and there is little rest for the men. Perhaps a sail, one of the few that can still be carried in such a gale, may be blown to ribbons by the furious wind, and a new one has to be bent on.
The night, perhaps, is dark, the tattered canvas is thrashing with a noise like thunder, the ship burying her decks under angry black seas every few minutes. The men's hands are numb with the cold and the wet, and the hard, dangerous work aloft. There is no chance of going below when their job is done, to "turn in" between warm, dry blankets in a snug berth. Possibly even those who belong to the "watch below" may have to remain on deck. Or, if they have the good fortune to be allowed to go below, they may no sooner have dropped off asleep (rolled round in blankets which perhaps have been wet ever since the gale began) than there is a thump, thump overhead, and one of the watch on deck bellows down the forecastle-hatch, "All hands shorten sail." And out they must tumble again, once more to battle with the hungry, roaring seas and the raging wind. So, when there has been a long spell of bad weather, it is no wonder that the men are worn out. And when, as was the case with Gulliver's ship, the food also is bad, it is easy to understand why so many of the crew had died.
It was on the 5th of November, the beginning of summer in latitudes south of the equator. The storm had not yet cleared off, and the weather was very thick, the wind coming in furious squalls that drove the ship along at great speed, when suddenly from the lookout man came a wild cry— "Breakers ahead!"But so close had the vessel come to the rocks before they were seen through the thick driving spray, that immediately, with, a heavy plunge, she crashed into the reef, and split her bows.
and six of the crew lowered a boat and got clear of the wreck and of the breakers. But the men were so weak from overwork that they could not handle the boat in such a sea, and very soon, during a fierce squall, she sank. What became of the men Gulliver never knew, for he saw none of them again. [pg 39] Probably they were drowned at once, for they were too weak to keep long afloat in a sea breaking so heavily.
And indeed, Gulliver himself was like to have been lost. He swam till no strength or feeling was left in his arms and legs, swam bravely, his breath coming in great sobs, his eyes blinded with the salt seas that broke over his head. Still he struggled on, utterly spent, until at last, in a part where the wind seemed to have less force, and the seas swept over him less furiously, on letting down his legs he found that he was within his depth. But the shore shelved so gradually that for nearly a mile he had to wade wearily through shallow water, till, fainting almost with fatigue, he reached dry land.
By this time darkness was coming on, and there were no signs of houses or of people. He staggered forward but a little distance, and then, on the short, soft turf, sank down exhausted and slept.
When he woke, the sun was shining, and he tried to rise; but not by any means could he stir hand or foot. Gulliver had fallen asleep lying on his back, and now he found that his arms and legs were tightly fastened to the ground. Across his body were numbers of thin but strong cords, and even his hair, which was very long, was pegged down so securely that he could not turn his head.All round about him there was a confused sound of voices, but he could see nothing except the sky, and the sun shone so hot and fierce into his eyes that he could scarcely keep them open.
Soon he felt something come gently up his left leg, and forward on to his breast almost to his chin. Looking down as much as possible, he saw standing there a very little man, not more than six inches high, armed with a bow and arrows.
Then many more small men began to swarm over him. Gulliver let out such a roar of wonder and fright that they all turned and ran, many of them getting bad falls in their hurry to get out of danger. But very quickly the little people came back again.
This time, with a great struggle Gulliver managed to break the cords that fastened his left arm, and at the same time, by a [pg 40] violent wrench that hurt him dreadfully, he slightly loosened the strings that fastened his hair, so that he was able to turn his head a little to one side. But the little men were too quick for him, and got out of reach before he could catch any of them.
Then he heard a great shouting, followed by a shrill little voice that called sharply, " Tolgo phonac," and immediately, arrows like needles were shot into his hand, and another volley struck him in the face. Poor Gulliver covered his face with his hand, and lay groaning with pain.Again he struggled to get loose. But the harder he fought for freedom, the more the little men shot arrows into him, and some of them even tried to run their spears into his sides.
When he found that the more he struggled the more he was hurt, Gulliver lay still, thinking to himself that at night at least, now that his left hand was free, he could easily get rid of the rest of his bonds. As soon as the little people saw that he struggled no more, they ceased shooting at him; but he knew from the increasing sound of voices that more and more of the little soldiers were coming round him.
Soon, a few yards from him, on the right, he heard a continued sound of hammering, and on turning his head to that side as far as the strings would let him, he saw that a small wooden stage was being built. On to this, when it was finished, there climbed by ladders four men, and one of them (who seemed to be a very important person, for a little page boy attended to hold up his train) immediately gave an order. At once about fifty of the soldiers ran forward and cut the strings that tied Gulliver's hair on the left side, so that he could turn his head easily to the right. Then the person began to make a long speech, not one word of which could Gulliver understand, but it seemed to him that sometimes the little man threatened, and sometimes made offers of kindness.
As well as he could, Gulliver made signs that he submitted. Then, feeling by this time faint with hunger, he pointed with his fingers many times to his mouth, to show that he wanted something to eat.[pg 41]
They understood him very well. Several ladders were put against Gulliver's sides, and about a hundred little people climbed up and carried to his mouth all kinds of bread and meat. There were things shaped like legs, and shoulders, and saddles of mutton. Very good they were, Gulliver thought, but very small, no bigger than a lark's wing; and the loaves of bread were about the size of bullets, so that he could take several at a mouthful. The people wondered greatly at the amount that he ate.
When he signed that he was thirsty, they slung up on to his body two of their biggest casks of wine, and having rolled them forward to his hand they knocked out the heads of the casks. Gulliver drank them both off at a draught, and asked for more, for they held only about a small tumblerful each. But there was no more to be had.
As the small people walked to and fro over his body, Gulliver was sorely tempted to seize forty or fifty of them and dash them on the ground, and then to make a further struggle for liberty. But the pain he had already suffered from their arrows made him think better of it, and he wisely lay quiet.
Soon another small man, who from his brilliant uniform seemed to be an officer of very high rank, marched with some others on to Gulliver's chest and held up to his eyes a paper which Gulliver understood to be an order from the King of the country. The officer made a long speech, often pointing towards something a long way off, and (as Gulliver afterwards learned) told him that he was to be taken as a prisoner to the city, the capital of the country.
Gulliver asked, by signs, that his bonds might be loosed. The officer shook his head and refused, but he allowed some of his soldiers to slack the cords on one side, whereby Gulliver was able to feel more comfortable. After this, the little people drew out the arrows that still stuck in his hands and face, and rubbed the wounds with some pleasant-smelling ointment, which so soothed his pain that very soon he fell sound asleep. And this was no great wonder, for, as he afterwards understood, the King's physicians had mixed a very strong sleeping draught with the wine that had been given him.[pg 42] Gulliver awoke with a violent fit of sneezing, and with the feeling of small feet running away from off his chest.
Where was he? Bound still, without doubt, but no longer did he find himself lying on the ground. It puzzled him greatly that now he lay on a sort of platform. How had he got there? Soon he began to realize what had happened; and later, when he understood the language, he learned all that had been done to him while he slept. Before he dropped asleep, he had heard a rumbling as of wheels, and the shouts of many drivers. This, it seemed, was caused by the arrival of a huge kind of trolley, a few inches high, but nearly seven feet long, drawn by fifteen hundred of the King's largest horses.
On this it was meant that he should be taken to the city. By the use of strong poles fixed in the ground, to which were attached many pulleys, and the strongest ropes to be found in the country, nine hundred men managed to hoist him as he slept. They then put him on the trolley, where they again tied him fast.
It was when they were far on their way to the city that Gulliver awoke. The trolley had stopped for a little to breathe the horses, and one of the officers of the King's Guard who had not before seen Gulliver, climbed with some friends up his body. While looking at his face, the officer could not resist the temptation of putting the point of his sword up Gulliver's nose, which tickled him so that he woke, sneezing violently.III
The city was not reached till the following day, and Gulliver had to spend the night lying where he was, guarded on each side by five hundred men with torches and bows and arrows, ready to shoot him if he should attempt to move.
In the morning, the King and all his court, and thousands of the people, came out to gaze on the wonderful sight. The trolley, with Gulliver on it, stopped outside the walls, alongside a very large building which had once been used as a temple, [pg 43] but the use of which had been given up owing to a murder having been committed in it.
The door of this temple was quite four feet high and about two feet wide, and on each side, about six inches from the ground, was a small window. Inside the building the King's blacksmiths fastened many chains, which they then brought through one of these little windows and padlocked round Gulliver's left ankle. Then his bonds were cut, and he was allowed to get up. He found that he could easily creep through the door, and that there was room inside to lie down.
His chains were nearly six feet long, so that he could get a little exercise by walking backwards and forwards outside. Always when he walked, thousands of people thronged around to look at him; even the King himself used to come and gaze by the hour from a high tower which stood opposite.
One day, just as Gulliver had crept out from his house and had got on his feet, it chanced that the King, who was a very fine-looking man, taller than any of his people, came riding along on his great white charger. When the horse saw Gulliver move it was terrified, and plunged and reared so madly that the people feared that a terrible accident was going to happen, and several of the King's guards ran in to seize the horse by the head. But the King was a good horseman, and managed the animal so well that very soon it got over its fright, and he was able to dismount. Then he gave orders that food should be brought for Gulliver, twenty little carts full, and ten of wine; and he and his courtiers, all covered with gold and silver, stood around and watched him eating. After the King had gone away the people of the city crowded round, and some of them began to behave very badly, one man even going so far as to shoot an arrow at Gulliver which was not far from putting out one of his eyes. But the officer in command of the soldiers who were on guard ordered his men to bind and push six of the worst behaved of the crowd within reach of Gulliver, who at once seized five of them and put them in his coat pocket. The sixth he held up to his mouth and made as if he meant to eat him, whereupon the wretched little creature shrieked aloud with terror, and when Gulliver took out his knife, [pg 44] all the people, even the soldiers, were dreadfully alarmed. But Gulliver only cut the man's bonds, and let him run away, which he did in a great hurry. And when he took the others out of his pocket, one by one, and treated them in the same way, the crowd began to laugh. After that the people always behaved very well to Gulliver, and he became a great favorite. From all over the kingdom crowds flocked to see the Great Man Mountain.
In the meantime, as Gulliver learned later, there were frequent meetings of the King's council to discuss the question of what was to be done with him. Some of the councilors feared lest he might break loose and cause great damage in the city. Some were of opinion that to keep and feed so huge a creature would cause a famine in the land, or, at the least, that the expense would be greater than the public funds could bear; they advised, therefore, that he should be killed— shot in the hands and face with poisoned arrows. Others, however, argued that if this were done it would be a very difficult thing to get rid of so large a dead body, which might cause a pestilence to break out if it lay long unburied so near the city.
Finally, the King and his council gave orders that each morning the surrounding villages should send into the city for Gulliver's daily use six oxen, forty sheep, and a sufficient quantity of bread and wine.
It was also commanded that six hundred persons should act as his servants; that three hundred tailors were to make for him a suit of clothes; and that six professors from the University were to teach him the language of the country.
When Gulliver could speak the language, he learned a great deal about the land in which he now found himself. It was called Lilliput, and the people, Lilliputians. These Lilliputians believed that their kingdom and the neighboring country of Blefuscu were the whole world. Blefuscu lay far over the sea, to these little people dim and blue on the horizon, though to Gulliver the distance did not seem to be more than a mile. The Lilliputians knew of no land beyond Blefuscu. And as for Gulliver himself, they believed that he had fallen from the moon, or from one of the stars; it was impossible, they said, that so big a race of men could live on the earth. It was quite certain [pg 45] that there could not be food enough for them. They did not believe Gulliver's story. He must have fallen from the moon!
Almost the first thing that Gulliver did when he knew the language fairly well, was to send a petition to the King, praying that his chains might be taken off and that he might be free to walk about. But this he was told could not then be granted. He must first, the King's council said, "swear a peace" with the kingdom of Lilliput, and afterwards, if by continued good behavior he gained their confidence, he might be freed.
Meantime, by the King's orders, two high officers of state were sent to search him, Gulliver lifted up these officers in his hand and put them into each of his pockets, one after the other, and they made for the King a careful list of everything found there.
Gulliver afterward saw this inventory. His snuff-box they had described as a "huge silver chest, full of a sort of dust." Into that dust one of them stepped, and the snuff, flying up in his face, caused him nearly to sneeze his head off. His pistols they called "hollow pillars of iron, fastened to strong pieces of timber," and the use of his bullets, and of his powder (which he had been lucky enough to bring ashore dry, owing to his pouch being water-tight), they could not understand, while of his watch they could make nothing. They called it "a wonderful kind of engine, which makes an incessant noise like a water-wheel." But some fancied that it was perhaps a kind of animal. Certainly it was alive.
All these things, together with his sword, which he carried slung to a belt round his waist, Gulliver had to give up, first, as well as he could, explaining the use of them. The Lilliputians could not understand the pistols, and to show his meaning, Gulliver was obliged to fire one of them. At once hundreds of little people fell down as if they had been struck dead by the noise. Even the King, though he stood his ground, was sorely frightened. Most of Gulliver's property was returned to him; but the pistols and powder and bullets, and his sword, were taken away and put, for safety, under strict guard.
As the King and his courtiers gained more faith in Gulliver, and became less afraid of his breaking loose and doing some[pg 46] mischief, they began to treat him in a more friendly way than they had hitherto done, and showed him more of the manners and customs of the country. Some of these were very curious.
One of the sports of which they were most fond was rope-dancing, and there was no more certain means of being promoted to high office and power in the state than to possess great cleverness in that art. Indeed, it was said that the Lord High Treasurer had gained and kept his post chiefly through his great skill in turning somersaults on the tight rope. The Chief Secretary for private affairs ran him very close, and there was hardly a Minister of State who did not owe his position to such successes. Few of them, indeed, had escaped without severe accidents at one time or another, while trying some specially difficult feat, and many had been lamed for life. But however many and bad the falls, there were always plenty of other persons to attempt the same or some more difficult jump.
Taught by his narrow escape from a serious accident when his horse first saw Gulliver, the King now gave orders that the horses of his army, as well as those from the Royal stables, should be exercised daily close to the Man Mountain. Soon they became so used to the sight of him that they would come right up to his foot without starting or shying. Often the riders would jump their chargers over Gulliver's hand as he held it on the ground; and once the King's huntsman, better mounted than most of the others, actually jumped over his foot, shoe and all—a wonderful leap.
Gulliver saw that it was wise to amuse the King in this and other ways, because the more his Majesty was pleased with him the sooner was it likely that his liberty would be granted. So he asked one day that some strong sticks, about two feet in height, should be brought to him. Several of these he fixed firmly in the ground, and across them, near the top, he lashed four other sticks, enclosing a square space of about two and a half feet. Then to the uprights, about five inches lower than the crossed sticks, he tied his pocket-handkerchief, and stretched it tight as a drum.
When the work was finished, he asked the King to let a troop exercise on this stage. His Majesty was delighted with the idea, [pg 47] and for several days nothing pleased him more than to see Gulliver lift up the men and horses, and to watch them go through their drill on this platform. Sometimes he would even be lifted up himself and give the words of command; and once he persuaded the Queen, who was rather timid, to let herself be held up in her chair within full view of the scene. But a fiery horse one day, pawing with his hoof, wore a hole in the handkerchief, and came down heavily on its side, and after this Gulliver could no longer trust the strength of his stage.IV
By this time Gulliver's clothes were almost in rags. The three hundred tailors had not yet been able to finish his new suit, and he had no hat at all, for that had been lost as he came ashore from the wreck. So he was greatly pleased one day when an express message came to the King from the coast, saying that some men had found on the shore a great, black, strangely-shaped mass, as high as a man; it was not alive, they were certain. It had never moved, though for a time they had watched, before going closer. After making certain that it was not likely to injure them, by mounting on each other's shoulders they had got on the top, which they found was flat and smooth, and, by the sound when stamped upon, they judged that it was hollow. It was thought that the object might possibly be something belonging to the Man Mountain, and they proposed by the help of five horses to bring it to the city.
Gulliver was sure that it must be his hat, and so it turned out. Nor was it very greatly damaged, either by the sea or by being drawn by the horses over the ground all the way from the coast, except that two holes had been bored in the brim, to which a long cord had been fixed by hooks. Gulliver was much pleased to have it once more.
Two days after this the King took into his head a curious fancy. He ordered a review of troops to be held, and he directed [pg 48] that Gulliver should stand with his legs very wide apart, while under him both horse and foot were commanded to march. Over three thousand infantry and one thousand cavalry passed through the great arch made by his legs, colors flying and bands playing. The King and Queen themselves sat in their State Coach at the saluting point, near to his left leg, and all the while Gulliver dared not move a hair's-breadth, lest he should injure some of the soldiers.
Shortly after this, Gulliver was set free. There had been a meeting of the King's Council on the subject, and the Lord High Admiral was the only member in favor of still keeping him chained. This great officer to the end was Gulliver's bitter enemy, and though on this occasion he was outvoted, yet he was allowed to draw up the conditions which Gulliver was to sign before his chains were struck off.The conditions were:
First, that he was not to quit the country without leave granted under the King's Great Seal. Second, that he was not to come into the city without orders; at which times the people were to have two hours' notice to keep indoors.Third, that he should keep to the high roads, and not walk or lie down in a meadow. Fourth, that he was to take the utmost care not to trample on anybody, or on any horses or carriages, and that he was not to lift any persons in his hand against their will. Fifth, that if at any time an express had to be sent in great haste, he was to carry the messenger and his horse in his pocket a six-days' journey, and to bring them safely back. Sixth, that he should be the King's ally against the Blefuscans, and that he should try to destroy their fleet, which was said to be preparing to invade Lilliput. Seventh, that he should help the workmen to move certain great stones which were needed to repair some of the public buildings. Eighth, that he should in "two moons' time" make an exact survey of the kingdom, by counting how many of his own paces it took him to go all round the coast. [pg 49]
Lastly, on his swearing to the above conditions, it was promised that he should have a daily allowance of meat and drink equal to the amount consumed by seventeen hundred and twentyfour of the Lilliputians, for they estimated that Gulliver's size was about equal to that number of their own people.
Though one or two of the conditions did not please him, especially that about helping the workmen (which he thought was making him too much a servant), yet Gulliver signed the document at once, and swore to observe its conditions.
After having done so, and having had his chains removed, the first thing he asked was to be allowed to see the city (which was called Mildendo). He found that it was surrounded by a great wall about two and a half feet high, broad enough for one of their coaches and four to be driven along, and at every ten feet there were strong flanking towers.
Gulliver took off his coat, lest the tails might do damage to the roofs or chimneys of the houses, and he then stepped over the wall and very carefully walked down the finest of the streets, one quite five feet wide. Wherever he went, the tops of the houses and the attic windows were packed with wondering spectators, and he reckoned that the town must hold quite half a million of people.
In the center of the city, where the two chief streets met, stood the King's Palace, a very fine building surrounded by a wall. But he was not able to see the whole palace that day, because the part in which were the royal apartments was shut off by another wall nearly five feet in height, which he could not get over without a risk of doing damage.
Some days later he climbed over by the help of two stools which he made from some of the largest trees in the Royal Park, trees nearly seven feet high, which he was allowed to cut down for the purpose. By putting one of the stools at each side of the wall Gulliver was able to step across. Then, lying down on his side, and putting his face close to the open windows, he looked in and saw the Queen and all the young Princes. The Queen smiled, and held her hand out of one of the windows, that he might kiss it. She was very pleasant and friendly.
One day, about a fortnight after this, there came to call on [pg 50] him, Reldresal, the King's Chief Secretary, a very great man, one who had always been Gulliver's very good friend. This person had a long and serious talk with Gulliver about the state of the country.
He said that though to the outward eye things in Lilliput seemed very settled and prosperous, yet in reality there were troubles, both internal and external, that threatened the safety of the kingdom.
There had been in Lilliput for a very long time two parties at bitter enmity with each other, so bitter that they would neither eat, drink, nor talk together, and what one party did, the other would always try to undo. Each professed to believe that nothing good could come from the other. Any measure proposed by the party in power was by the other always looked upon as foolish or evil. And any new law passed by the Government party was said by the Opposition to be either a wicked attack on the liberties of the people, or something undertaken solely for the purpose of keeping that party in, and the Opposition out, of power. To such a pitch had things now come, said the Chief Secretary, entirely owing to the folly of the Opposition, that the business of the kingdom was almost at a standstill.
Meantime the country was in danger of an invasion by the Blefuscans, who were now fitting out a great fleet, which was almost ready to sail to attack Lilliput. The war with Blefuscu had been raging for some years, and the losses by both nations of ships and of men had been very heavy.
This war had broken out in the following way. It had always been the custom in Lilliput, as far back as history went, for people when breaking an egg at breakfast to do so at the big end. But it had happened, said the Chief Secretary, that the present King's grandfather, when a boy, had once when breaking his egg in the usual way, severely cut his finger. Whereupon his father at once gave strict commands that in future all his subjects should break their eggs at the small end.
This greatly angered the people, who thought that the King had no right to give such an order, and they refused to obey. As a consequence no less than six rebellions had taken place: thousands of the Lilliputians had had their heads cut off, [pg 51] or had been cast into prison, and thousands had fled for refuge to Blefuscu, rather than obey the hated order.
These "Big endians," as they were called, had been very well received at the Court of Blefuscu, and finally the Emperor of that country had taken upon himself to interfere in the affairs of Lilliput, thus bringing on war.
The Chief Secretary ended the talk by saying that the King, having great faith in Gulliver's strength, and depending on the oath which he had sworn before being released, expected him now to help in defeating the Blefuscan fleet.
Gulliver was very ready to do what he could, and he at once thought of a plan whereby he might destroy the whole fleet at one blow. He told all his ideas on the subject to the King, who gave orders that everything he might need should be supplied without delay. Then Gulliver went to the oldest seamen in the navy, and learned from them the depth of water between Lilliput and Blefuscu. It was, they said, nowhere deeper than seventy glumgluffs (which is equal to about six feet) at high water, and there was no great extent so deep.
After this he walked to the coast opposite Blefuscu, and lying down there behind a hillock, so that he might not be seen should any of the enemy's ships happen to be cruising near, he looked long through a small pocket-telescope across the channel. With the naked eye he could easily see the cliffs of Blefuscu, and soon with his telescope he made out where the fleet lay—fifty great men-of-war, and many transports, waiting for a fair wind.
Coming back to the city, he gave orders for a great length of the strongest cable, and a quantity of bars of iron. The cable was little thicker than ordinary pack-thread, and the bars of iron much about the length and size of knitting-needles. Gulliver twisted three of the iron bars together and bent them to a hook at one end. He trebled the cable for greater strength, and thus made fifty shorter cables, to which he fastened the hooks.Then, carrying these in his hand, he walked back to the coast and waded into the sea, a little before high water. When he came to mid-channel, he had to swim, but for no great distance.
As soon as they noticed Gulliver coming wading through the [pg 52] water towards their ships, the Blefuscan sailors all jumped overboard and swam ashore in a terrible fright. Never before had any of them seen or dreamt of so monstrous a giant, nor had they heard of his being in Lilliput.
Gulliver then quietly took his cables and fixed one securely in the bows of each of the ships of war, and finally he tied the cables together at his end. But while he was doing this the Blefuscan soldiers on the shore plucked up courage and began to shoot arrows at him, many of which stuck in his hands and face. He was very much afraid lest some of these might put out his eyes; but he remembered, luckily, that in his inner pocket were his spectacles, which he put on, and then finished his work without risk to his eyes.
On pulling at the cables, however, not a ship could he move. He had forgotten that their anchors were all down. So he was forced to go in closer and with his knife to cut the vessels free. While doing this he was of course exposed to a furious fire from the enemy, and hundreds of arrows struck him, some almost knocking off his spectacles. But again he hauled, and this time drew the whole fifty vessels after him.
The Blefuscans had thought that it was his intention merely to cast the vessels adrift, so that they might run aground, but when they saw their great fleet being steadily drawn out to sea, their grief was terrible. For a great distance Gulliver could hear their cries of despair.
When he had got well away from the land, he stopped in order to pick the arrows from his face and hands, and to put on some of the ointment that had been rubbed on his wounds when first the Lilliputians fired into him. By this time the tide had fallen a little, and he was able to wade all the way across the channel.
The King and his courtiers stood waiting on the shore. They could see the vessels steadily drawing nearer, but they could not for some time see Gulliver, because only his head was above water. At first some imagined that he had been drowned, and that the fleet was now on its way to attack Lilliput.
There was great joy when Gulliver was seen hauling the vessels; and when he landed, the King was so pleased that on the [pg 53] spot he created him a Nardac, the highest honor that it was in his power to bestow.
His great success over the Blefuscans, however, turned out to be but the beginning of trouble for Gulliver. The King was so puffed up by the victory that he formed plans for capturing in the same way the whole of the enemy's ships of every kind. And it was now his wish to crush Blefuscu utterly, and to make it nothing but a province depending on Lilliput. Thus, he thought, he himself would then be monarch of the whole world.
In this scheme Gulliver refused to take any part, and he very plainly said that he would give no help in making slaves of the Blefuscans. This refusal angered the King very much, and more than once he artfully brought the matter up at a State Council. Now, several of the councilors, though they pretended to be Gulliver's friends so long as he was in favor with the King, were really his secret enemies, and nothing pleased these persons better than to see that the King was no longer pleased with him. So they did all in their power to nurse and increase the King's anger, and to make him believe that Gulliver was a traitor.
About this time there came to Lilliput ambassadors from Blefuscu, suing for peace. When a treaty had been made and signed (very greatly to the advantage of Lilliput), the Blefuscan ambassadors asked to see the Great Man Mountain, of whom they had heard so much, and they paid Gulliver a formal call. After asking him to give them some proofs of his strength, they invited him to visit their Emperor, which Gulliver promised to do.
Accordingly, the next time that he met the King, he asked, as he was bound to do by the paper he had signed, for permission to leave the country for a time, in order to visit Blefuscu. The King did not refuse, but his manner was so cold that Gulliver could not help noticing it. Afterwards he learned from a friend that his enemies in the council had told the King lying tales of his meetings with the Blefuscan ambassadors, which had had the effect of still further rousing his anger.
It happened too, most unfortunately, at this time, that Gulliver had offended the Queen by a wellmeant, but badly-managed, [pg 54] effort to do her a service, and thus he lost also her friendship. But though he was now out of favor at court, he was still an object of great interest to every one.V
He had made for himself a chair and a table. On to this table it was his custom to lift twenty waiters, and these men then drew up by ropes and pulleys all his food, and his wine in casks, which one hundred other servants had in readiness on the ground. Gulliver would often eat his meal with many hundreds of people looking on.
One day the King, who had not seen him eat since this table had been built, sent a message that he and the Queen desired to be present that day while Gulliver dined. They arrived just before his dinner hour, and he at once lifted the King and Queen and the Princes, with their attendants and guards, on to the table.
Their Majesties sat in their chairs of state all the time, watching with deep interest the roasts of beef and mutton, and whole flocks of geese and turkeys and fowls disappear into Gulliver's mouth. A roast of beef of which he had to make more than two mouthfuls was seldom seen, and he ate them bones and all. A goose or a turkey was but one bite.Certainly, on this occasion, Gulliver ate more than usual, thinking by so doing to amuse and please the court.
But in this he erred, for it was turned against him. Flimnap, the Lord High Treasurer, who had always been one of his enemies, pointed out to the King the great daily expense of such meals, and told how this huge man had already cost the country over a million and a half of sprugs (the largest Lilliputian gold coin). Things, indeed, were beginning to go very ill with Gulliver.[pg 55]
Now it happened about this time that one of the King's courtiers, to whom Gulliver had been very kind, came to him by night very privately in a closed chair, and asked to have a talk, without any one else being present.
Gulliver gave to a servant whom he could trust orders that no one else was to be admitted, and having put the courtier and his chair upon the table, so that he might better hear all that was said, he sat down to listen.
Gulliver was told that there had lately been several secret meetings of the King's Privy Council, on his account. The Lord High Admiral (who now hated him because of his success against the Blefuscan fleet), Flimnap, the High Treasurer, and others of his enemies, had drawn up against him charges of treason and other crimes. The courtier had brought with him a copy of these charges, and Gulliver now read them.
It was made a point against him that, when ordered to do so by the King, he had refused to seize all the other Blefuscan ships. It was also said that he would not join in utterly crushing the empire of Blefuscu, nor give aid when it was proposed to put to death not only all the Big endians who had fled for refuge to that country, but all the Blefuscans themselves who were friends of the Big-endians. For this he was said to be a traitor.
He was also accused of being over-friendly with the Blefuscan ambassadors; and it was made a grave charge against him that though his Majesty had not given him written leave to visit Blefuscu, he yet was getting ready to go to that country, in order to give help to the Emperor against Lilliput.
There had been many debates on these charges, said the courtier, and the Lord High Admiral had made violent speeches, strongly advising that the Great Man Mountain should be put to death. In this he was joined by Flimnap, and by others, so that actually the greater part of the council was in favor of instant death by the most painful means that could be used.
The less unfriendly members of the council, however, while saying that they had no doubt of Gulliver's guilt, were yet of the opinion that, as his services to the kingdom of Lilliput had been great, the punishment of death was too severe. They thought it would be enough if his eyes were put out. This, [pg 56] they said, would not prevent him from being still made useful.
At last the Secretary rose and said that he had a middle course to suggest. This was, that Gulliver's eyes should be put out, and that thereafter his food should be gradually so reduced in quantity that in the course of two or three months he would die of starvation. By which time, said the Secretary, his body would be wasted to an extent that would make it easy for five or six hundred men, in a few days, to cut off the flesh and take it away in cart-loads to be buried at a distance. Thus there would be no danger of a pestilence breaking out from the dead body lying near the city. The skeleton, he said, could then be put in the National Museum.
It was finally decided that this sentence should be carried out, and twenty of the King's surgeons were ordered to be present in three days' time to see the operation of putting out Gulliver's eyes properly done. Sharp-pointed arrows were to be shot into the balls of his eyes.The courtier now left the house, as privately as he had come, and Gulliver was left to decide what he should do.
At first he thought of attacking the city, and destroying it. But by doing this he must have destroyed, with the city, a great many thousands of innocent people, which he could not make up his mind to do.At last he wrote a letter to the Chief Secretary, saying that as the King had himself told him that he might visit Blefuscu, he had decided to do so that morning.
Without waiting for an answer, he set out for the coast, where he seized a large man-of-war which was at anchor there, tied a cable to her bow, and then putting his clothes and his blanket on board, he drew the ship after him to Blefuscu. There he was well received by the Emperor. But as there happened to be no house big enough for him, he was forced, during his stay, to sleep each night on the ground, wrapped in his blanket.
Three days after his arrival, when walking along the seashore, he noticed something in the water which looked not unlike [pg 57] a boat floating bottom up. Gulliver waded and swam out, and found that he was right. It was a boat. By the help of some of the Blefsucan ships, with much difficulty he got it ashore. When the tide had fallen, two thousand of the Emperor's dockyard men helped him to turn it over, and Gulliver found that but little damage had been done.He now set to work to make oars and mast and sail for the boat, and to fit it out and provision it for a voyage.
While this work was going on, there came from Lilliput a message demanding that Gulliver should be bound hand and foot and returned to that country as a prisoner, there to be punished as a traitor. To this message the Emperor replied that it was not possible to bind him; that moreover the Great Man Mountain had found a vessel of size great enough to carry him over the sea, and that it was his purpose to leave the Empire of Blefuscu in the course of a few weeks.Gulliver did not delay his work, and in less than a month he was ready to sail.
He put on board the boat the carcasses of one hundred oxen and three hundred sheep, with a quantity of bread and wine, and as much meat ready cooked as four hundred cooks could prepare.
He also took with him a herd of six live black cows and two bulls, and a flock of sheep, meaning to take them with him to England, if ever he should get there. As food for these animals he took a quantity of hay and corn.Gulliver would have liked to take with him some of the people, but this the Emperor would not permit.
Everything being ready, he sailed from Blefuscu on 24th September 1701, and the same night anchored on the lee side of an island which seemed to be uninhabited. Leaving this island on the following morning, he sailed to the eastward for two days. On the evening of the second day he sighted a ship, on reaching which, to his great joy, he found that she was an English vessel on her way home from Japan.
Putting his cattle and sheep in his coat-pockets, he went on board with all his cargo of provisions. The captain received him very kindly, and asked him from whence he had come, and how he happened to be at sea in an open boat.[pg 58]
Gulliver told his tale in as few words as possible. The captain stared with wonder, and would not believe his story. But Gulliver then took from his pockets the black cattle and the sheep, which of course clearly showed that he had been speaking truth. He also showed gold coins which the Emperor of Blefuscu had given him, some of which he presented to the captain.
The vessel did not arrive at the port of London till April, 1702, but there was no loss of the live stock, excepting that the rats on board carried off and ate one of the sheep. All the others were got safely ashore, and were put to graze on a bowling-green at Greenwich, where they throve very well.