Don Quixote Book I

describe don quixotes encounter with the muleteers


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At this point, one of the muleteers felt that it was time to water his mules, and to do it, he had to remove don Quixote’s armor, which was on the trough. When don Quixote saw this, he said in a loud voice: “Oh, you knight, whoever you are, who dare to touch the armor of the most valiant errant who ever girded a sword, watch what you’re doing! Don’t touch it, unless you want to lose your life as a penalty for your boldness!

The muleteer paid no heed to these words, and it would have been better for him if he had, because it would have let him keep his health. But instead, he seized the straps of the armor, and threw it a long way away. When don Quixote saw this, he raised his eyes to heaven, and directing his thoughts, so it seemed, to Dulcinea, said: “Help me, my lady, in this first affront done to your enslaved heart. May your favor and protection not fail me in this initial trial!”

And saying these and other similar words, he dropped his shield, raised his lance with both hands and discharged such a blow to the muleteer’s head that it knocked him to the ground and left him in such bad shape that if don Quixote had done it a second time, there would have been no need to try to treat the muleteer’s wounds. Having done this, he collected his armor and continued pacing back and forth as before.

A while later, without realizing what had happened—since the first muleteer was still dazed—another one came with the same intention of watering his mules. When he went to remove the armor so that he could use the trough, don Quixote, without saying a word or asking anyone’s permission, dropped his shield again, and again raised his lance and smashed, not his lance, but rather the muleteer’s head, in more than three places, because he cracked it open in four. Hearing this disturbance, everyone from the inn—among them the innkeeper—ran to see what had happened. When don Quixote saw this, he picked up his shield, put his hand on his sword, and said: “Oh, mistress of beauty, strength of my weakened heart, now is the time to look down upon this, your captive knight, who stands facing such a great ordeal!”

This gave him so much courage that if all the muleteers in the world were to attack him, he wouldn’t have retreated a single step. The wounded men’s companions saw the sorry state the two were in, and began to rain stones on don Quixote, who protected himself as well as he could with his shield, but he wouldn’t leave the trough so as not to abandon his armor. The innkeeper shouted for them to stop because he’d already told them that the fellow was crazy, and would be set free on account of it, even if he killed everyone. Don Quixote shouted even louder, calling them all traitors, and said that the warden of the castle was a rogue and a base-born knight for having allowed a knight errant to be treated in this way, and he would make him accountable for his treachery. “But for you, vile rabble, I couldn’t care less! Throw stones, come and attack me however you want—you’ll see what your foolishness and insolence will get you!”

He said this with so much fearlessness that he instilled a terrible dread in those who were attacking him, and for this reason they stopped casting stones. Don Quixote allowed them to remove the wounded men, and continued the vigil of his armor, with the same tranquility and calmness as before.


Chapter 3