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Don Quixote
Next (Chapter XVIII)

By this time Don Quixote had recovered from his swoon; and in the same tone of voice in which he had called to his squire the day before when he lay stretched "in the vale of the stakes," he began calling to him now, "Sancho, my friend, art thou asleep? sleepest thou, friend Sancho?"

"How can I sleep, curses on it!" returned Sancho discontentedly and bitterly, "when it is plain that all the devils have been at me this night?"

"Thou mayest well believe that," answered Don Quixote, "because, either I know little, or this castle is enchanted, for thou must know- but this that I am now about to tell thee thou must swear to keep secret until after my death."

"I swear it," answered Sancho.

"I say so," continued Don Quixote, "because I hate taking away anyone's good name."

"I say," replied Sancho, "that I swear to hold my tongue about it till the end of your worship's days, and God grant I may be able to let it out tomorrow."

"Do I do thee such injuries, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "that thou wouldst see me dead so soon?"

"It is not for that," replied Sancho, "but because I hate keeping things long, and I don't want them to grow rotten with me from over-keeping."

"At any rate," said Don Quixote, "I have more confidence in thy affection and good nature; and so I would have thee know that this night there befell me one of the strangest adventures that I could describe, and to relate it to thee briefly thou must know that a little while ago the daughter of the lord of this castle came to me, and that she is the most elegant and beautiful damsel that could be found in the wide world. What I could tell thee of the charms of her person! of her lively wit! of other secret matters which, to preserve the fealty I owe to my lady Dulcinea del Toboso, I shall pass over unnoticed and in silence! I will only tell thee that, either fate being envious of so great a boon placed in my hands by good fortune, or perhaps (and this is more probable) this castle being, as I have already said, enchanted, at the time when I was engaged in the sweetest and most amorous discourse with her, there came, without my seeing or knowing whence it came, a hand attached to some arm of some huge giant, that planted such a cuff on my jaws that I have them all bathed in blood, and then pummelled me in such a way that I am in a worse plight than yesterday when the carriers, on account of Rocinante's misbehaviour, inflicted on us the injury thou knowest of; whence conjecture that there must be some enchanted Moor guarding the treasure of this damsel's beauty, and that it is not for me."

"Not for me either," said Sancho, "for more than four hundred Moors have so thrashed me that the drubbing of the stakes was cakes and fancy-bread to it. But tell me, senor, what do you call this excellent and rare adventure that has left us as we are left now? Though your worship was not so badly off, having in your arms that incomparable beauty you spoke of; but I, what did I have, except the heaviest whacks I think I had in all my life? Unlucky me and the mother that bore me! for I am not a knight-errant and never expect to be one, and of all the mishaps, the greater part falls to my share."

"Then thou hast been thrashed too?" said Don Quixote.

"Didn't I say so? worse luck to my line!" said Sancho.

"Be not distressed, friend," said Don Quixote, "for I will now make the precious balsam with which we shall cure ourselves in the twinkling of an eye."

By this time the cuadrillero had succeeded in lighting the lamp, and came in to see the man that he thought had been killed; and as Sancho caught sight of him at the door, seeing him coming in his shirt, with a cloth on his head, and a lamp in his hand, and a very forbidding countenance, he said to his master, "Senor, can it be that this is the enchanted Moor coming back to give us more castigation if there be anything still left in the ink-bottle?"

"It cannot be the Moor," answered Don Quixote, "for those under enchantment do not let themselves be seen by anyone."

"If they don't let themselves be seen, they let themselves be felt," said Sancho; "if not, let my shoulders speak to the point."

"Mine could speak too," said Don Quixote, "but that is not a sufficient reason for believing that what we see is the enchanted Moor."

The officer came up, and finding them engaged in such a peaceful conversation, stood amazed; though Don Quixote, to be sure, still lay on his back unable to move from pure pummelling and plasters. The officer turned to him and said, "Well, how goes it, good man?"

"I would speak more politely if I were you," replied Don Quixote; "is it the way of this country to address knights-errant in that style, you booby?"

The cuadrillero finding himself so disrespectfully treated by such a sorry-looking individual, lost his temper, and raising the lamp full of oil, smote Don Quixote such a blow with it on the head that he gave him a badly broken pate; then, all being in darkness, he went out, and Sancho Panza said, "That is certainly the enchanted Moor, Senor, and he keeps the treasure for others, and for us only the cuffs and lamp-whacks."

"That is the truth," answered Don Quixote, "and there is no use in troubling oneself about these matters of enchantment or being angry or vexed at them, for as they are invisible and visionary we shall find no one on whom to avenge ourselves, do what we may; rise, Sancho, if thou canst, and call the alcaide of this fortress, and get him to give me a little oil, wine, salt, and rosemary to make the salutiferous balsam, for indeed I believe I have great need of it now, because I am losing much blood from the wound that phantom gave me."

Sancho got up with pain enough in his bones, and went after the innkeeper in the dark, and meeting the officer, who was looking to see what had become of his enemy, he said to him, "Senor, whoever you are, do us the favour and kindness to give us a little rosemary, oil, salt, and wine, for it is wanted to cure one of the best knights-errant on earth, who lies on yonder bed wounded by the hands of the enchanted Moor that is in this inn."

When the officer heard him talk in this way, he took him for a man out of his senses, and as day was now beginning to break, he opened the inn gate, and calling the host, he told him what this good man wanted. The host furnished him with what he required, and Sancho brought it to Don Quixote, who, with his hand to his head, was bewailing the pain of the blow of the lamp, which had done him no more harm than raising a couple of rather large lumps, and what he fancied blood was only the sweat that flowed from him in his sufferings during the late storm. To be brief, he took the materials, of which he made a compound, mixing them all and boiling them a good while until it seemed to him they had come to perfection. He then asked for some vial to pour it into, and as there was not one in the inn, he decided on putting it into a tin oil-bottle or flask of which the host made him a free gift; and over the flask he repeated more than eighty paternosters and as many more ave-marias, salves, and credos, accompanying each word with a cross by way of benediction, at all which there were present Sancho, the innkeeper, and the cuadrillero; for the carrier was now peacefully engaged in attending to the comfort of his mules.

This being accomplished, he felt anxious to make trial himself, on the spot, of the virtue of this precious balsam, as he considered it, and so he drank near a quart of what could not be put into the flask and remained in the pigskin in which it had been boiled; but scarcely had he done drinking when he began to vomit in such a way that nothing was left in his stomach, and with the pangs and spasms of vomiting he broke into a profuse sweat, on account of which he bade them cover him up and leave him alone. They did so, and he lay sleeping more than three hours, at the end of which he awoke and felt very great bodily relief and so much ease from his bruises that he thought himself quite cured, and verily believed he had hit upon the balsam of Fierabras; and that with this remedy he might thenceforward, without any fear, face any kind of destruction, battle, or combat, however perilous it might be.

Sancho Panza, who also regarded the amendment of his master as miraculous, begged him to give him what was left in the pigskin, which was no small quantity. Don Quixote consented, and he, taking it with both hands, in good faith and with a better will, gulped down and drained off very little less than his master. But the fact is, that the stomach of poor Sancho was of necessity not so delicate as that of his master, and so, before vomiting, he was seized with such gripings and retchings, and such sweats and faintness, that verily and truly be believed his last hour had come, and finding himself so racked and tormented he cursed the balsam and the thief that had given it to him.

Don Quixote seeing him in this state said, "It is my belief, Sancho, that this mischief comes of thy not being buckler a knight, for I am persuaded this liquor cannot be good for those who are not so."

"If your worship knew that," returned Sancho- "woe betide me and all my kindred!- why did you let me taste it?"

At this moment the draught took effect, and the poor squire began to discharge both ways at such a rate that the rush mat on which he had thrown himself and the canvas blanket he had covering him were fit for nothing afterwards. He sweated and perspired with such paroxysms and convulsions that not only he himself but all present thought his end had come. This tempest and tribulation lasted about two hours, at the end of which he was left, not like his master, but so weak and exhausted that he could not stand. Don Quixote, however, who, as has been said, felt himself relieved and well, was eager to take his departure at once in quest of adventures, as it seemed to him that all the time he loitered there was a fraud upon the world and those in it who stood in need of his help and protection, all the more when he had the security and confidence his balsam afforded him; and so, urged by this impulse, he saddled Rocinante himself and put the pack-saddle on his squire's beast, whom likewise he helped to dress and mount the ass; after which he mounted his horse and turning to a corner of the inn he laid hold of a pike that stood there, to serve him by way of a lance. All that were in the inn, who were more than twenty persons, stood watching him; the innkeeper's daughter was likewise observing him, and he too never took his eyes off her, and from time to time fetched a sigh that he seemed to pluck up from the depths of his bowels; but they all thought it must be from the pain he felt in his ribs; at any rate they who had seen him plastered the night before thought so.

As soon as they were both mounted, at the gate of the inn, he called to the host and said in a very grave and measured voice, "Many and great are the favours, Senor Alcaide, that I have received in this castle of yours, and I remain under the deepest obligation to be grateful to you for them all the days of my life; if I can repay them in avenging you of any arrogant foe who may have wronged you, know that my calling is no other than to aid the weak, to avenge those who suffer wrong, and to chastise perfidy. Search your memory, and if you find anything of this kind you need only tell me of it, and I promise you by the order of knighthood which I have received to procure you satisfaction and reparation to the utmost of your desire."

The innkeeper replied to him with equal calmness, "Sir Knight, I do not want your worship to avenge me of any wrong, because when any is done me I can take what vengeance seems good to me; the only thing I want is that you pay me the score that you have run up in the inn last night, as well for the straw and barley for your two beasts, as for supper and beds."

"Then this is an inn?" said Don Quixote.

"And a very respectable one," said the innkeeper.

"I have been under a mistake all this time," answered Don Quixote, "for in truth I thought it was a castle, and not a bad one; but since it appears that it is not a castle but an inn, all that can be done now is that you should excuse the payment, for I cannot contravene the rule of knights-errant, of whom I know as a fact (and up to the present I have read nothing to the contrary) that they never paid for lodging or anything else in the inn where they might be; for any hospitality that might be offered them is their due by law and right in return for the insufferable toil they endure in seeking adventures by night and by day, in summer and in winter, on foot and on horseback, in hunger and thirst, cold and heat, exposed to all the inclemencies of heaven and all the hardships of earth."

"I have little to do with that," replied the innkeeper; "pay me what you owe me, and let us have no more talk of chivalry, for all I care about is to get my money."

"You are a stupid, scurvy innkeeper," said Don Quixote, and putting spurs to Rocinante and bringing his pike to the slope he rode out of the inn before anyone could stop him, and pushed on some distance without looking to see if his squire was following him.

The innkeeper when he saw him go without paying him ran to get payment of Sancho, who said that as his master would not pay neither would he, because, being as he was squire to a knight-errant, the same rule and reason held good for him as for his master with regard to not paying anything in inns and hostelries. At this the innkeeper waxed very wroth, and threatened if he did not pay to compel him in a way that he would not like. To which Sancho made answer that by the law of chivalry his master had received he would not pay a rap, though it cost him his life; for the excellent and ancient usage of knights-errant was not going to be violated by him, nor should the squires of such as were yet to come into the world ever complain of him or reproach him with breaking so just a privilege.

The ill-luck of the unfortunate Sancho so ordered it that among the company in the inn there were four woolcarders from Segovia, three needle-makers from the Colt of Cordova, and two lodgers from the Fair of Seville, lively fellows, tender-hearted, fond of a joke, and playful, who, almost as if instigated and moved by a common impulse, made up to Sancho and dismounted him from his ass, while one of them went in for the blanket of the host's bed; but on flinging him into it they looked up, and seeing that the ceiling was somewhat lower what they required for their work, they decided upon going out into the yard, which was bounded by the sky, and there, putting Sancho in the middle of the blanket, they began to raise him high, making sport with him as they would with a dog at Shrovetide.

The cries of the poor blanketed wretch were so loud that they reached the ears of his master, who, halting to listen attentively, was persuaded that some new adventure was coming, until he clearly perceived that it was his squire who uttered them. Wheeling about he came up to the inn with a laborious gallop, and finding it shut went round it to see if he could find some way of getting in; but as soon as he came to the wall of the yard, which was not very high, he discovered the game that was being played with his squire. He saw him rising and falling in the air with such grace and nimbleness that, had his rage allowed him, it is my belief he would have laughed. He tried to climb from his horse on to the top of the wall, but he was so bruised and battered that he could not even dismount; and so from the back of his horse he began to utter such maledictions and objurgations against those who were blanketing Sancho as it would be impossible to write down accurately: they, however, did not stay their laughter or their work for this, nor did the flying Sancho cease his lamentations, mingled now with threats, now with entreaties but all to little purpose, or none at all, until from pure weariness they left off. They then brought him his ass, and mounting him on top of it they put his jacket round him; and the compassionate Maritornes, seeing him so exhausted, thought fit to refresh him with a jug of water, and that it might be all the cooler she fetched it from the well. Sancho took it, and as he was raising it to his mouth he was stopped by the cries of his master exclaiming, "Sancho, my son, drink not water; drink it not, my son, for it will kill thee; see, here I have the blessed balsam (and he held up the flask of liquor), and with drinking two drops of it thou wilt certainly be restored."

At these words Sancho turned his eyes asquint, and in a still louder voice said, "Can it be your worship has forgotten that I am not a knight, or do you want me to end by vomiting up what bowels I have left after last night? Keep your liquor in the name of all the devils, and leave me to myself!" and at one and the same instant he left off talking and began drinking; but as at the first sup he perceived it was water he did not care to go on with it, and begged Maritornes to fetch him some wine, which she did with right good will, and paid for it with her own money; for indeed they say of her that, though she was in that line of life, there was some faint and distant resemblance to a Christian about her. When Sancho had done drinking he dug his heels into his ass, and the gate of the inn being thrown open he passed out very well pleased at having paid nothing and carried his point, though it had been at the expense of his usual sureties, his shoulders. It is true that the innkeeper detained his alforjas in payment of what was owing to him, but Sancho took his departure in such a flurry that he never missed them. The innkeeper, as soon as he saw him off, wanted to bar the gate close, but the blanketers would not agree to it, for they were fellows who would not have cared two farthings for Don Quixote, even had he been really one of the knights-errant of the Round Table.

Previous (Chapter XVI)
Don Quixote
Next (Chapter XVIII)


Donde se prosiguen los innumerables trabajos que el bravo don Quijote y su buen escudero Sancho Panza pasaron en la venta que, por su mal, pensó que era castillo

Había ya vuelto en este tiempo de su parasismo don Quijote, y, con el mesmo tono de voz con que el día antes había llamado a su escudero, cuando estaba tendido en el val de las estacas, le comenzó a llamar, diciendo:

-Sancho amigo, ¿duermes? ¿Duermes, amigo Sancho?

-¿Qué tengo de dormir, pesia a mí -respondió Sancho, lleno de pesadumbre y de despecho-; que no parece sino que todos los diablos han andado conmigo esta noche?

-Puédeslo creer ansí, sin duda -respondió don Quijote-, porque, o yo sé poco, o este castillo es encantado. Porque has de saber... Mas, esto que ahora quiero decirte hasme de jurar que lo tendrás secreto hasta después de mi muerte.

-Sí juro -respondió Sancho.

-Dígolo -replicó don Quijote-, porque soy enemigo de que se quite la honra a nadie.

-Digo que sí juro -tornó a decir Sancho- que lo callaré hasta después de los días de vuestra merced, y plega a Dios que lo pueda descubrir mañana. -¿Tan malas obras te hago, Sancho -respondió don Quijote-, que me querrías ver muerto con tanta brevedad?

-No es por eso -respondió Sancho-, sino porque soy enemigo de guardar mucho las cosas, y no querría que se me pudriesen de guardadas. -Sea por lo que fuere -dijo don Quijote-; que más fío de tu amor y de tu cortesía; y así, has de saber que esta noche me ha sucedido una de las más estrañas aventuras que yo sabré encarecer; y, por contártela en breve, sabrás que poco ha que a mí vino la hija del señor deste castillo, que es la más apuesta y fermosa doncella que en gran parte de la tierra se puede hallar. ¿Qué te podría decir del adorno de su persona? ¿Qué de su gallardo entendimiento? ¿Qué de otras cosas ocultas, que, por guardar la fe que debo a mi señora Dulcinea del Toboso, dejaré pasar intactas y en silencio? Sólo te quiero decir que, envidioso el cielo de tanto bien como la ventura me había puesto en las manos, o quizá, y esto es lo más cierto, que, como tengo dicho, es encantado este castillo, al tiempo que yo estaba con ella en dulcísimos y amorosísimos coloquios, sin que yo la viese ni supiese por dónde venía, vino una mano pegada a algún brazo de algún descomunal gigante y asentóme una puñada en las quijadas, tal, que las tengo todas bañadas en sangre; y después me molió de tal suerte que estoy peor que ayer cuando los gallegos, que, por demasías de Rocinante, nos hicieron el agravio que sabes. Por donde conjeturo que el tesoro de la fermosura desta doncella le debe de guardar algún encantado moro, y no debe de ser para mí.

-Ni para mí tampoco -respondió Sancho-, porque más de cuatrocientos moros me han aporreado a mí, de manera que el molimiento de las estacas fue tortas y pan pintado. Pero dígame, señor, ¿cómo llama a ésta buena y rara aventura, habiendo quedado della cual quedamos? Aun vuestra merced menos mal, pues tuvo en sus manos aquella incomparable fermosura que ha dicho, pero yo, ¿qué tuve sino los mayores porrazos que pienso recebir en toda mi vida? ¡Desdichado de mí y de la madre que me parió, que ni soy caballero andante, ni lo pienso ser jamás, y de todas las malandanzas me cabe la mayor parte!

-Luego, ¿también estás tú aporreado? -respondió don Quijote.

-¿No le he dicho que sí, pesia a mi linaje? -dijo Sancho.

-No tengas pena, amigo -dijo don Quijote-, que yo haré agora el bálsamo precioso con que sanaremos en un abrir y cerrar de ojos. Acabó en esto de encender el candil el cuadrillero, y entró a ver el que pensaba que era muerto; y, así como le vio entrar Sancho, viéndole venir en camisa y con su paño de cabeza y candil en la mano, y con una muy mala cara, preguntó a su amo:

-Señor, ¿si será éste, a dicha, el moro encantado, que nos vuelve a castigar, si se dejó algo en el tintero?

-No puede ser el moro -respondió don Quijote-, porque los encantados no se dejan ver de nadie.

-Si no se dejan ver, déjanse sentir -dijo Sancho-; si no, díganlo mis espaldas.

-También lo podrían decir las mías -respondió don Quijote-, pero no es bastante indicio ése para creer que este que se vee sea el encantado moro.

Llegó el cuadrillero, y, como los halló hablando en tan sosegada conversación, quedó suspenso. Bien es verdad que aún don Quijote se estaba boca arriba, sin poderse menear, de puro molido y emplastado. Llegóse a él el cuadrillero y díjole:

-Pues, ¿cómo va, buen hombre?

-Hablara yo más bien criado -respondió don Quijote-, si fuera que vos. ¿Úsase en esta tierra hablar desa suerte a los caballeros andantes, majadero?

El cuadrillero, que se vio tratar tan mal de un hombre de tan mal parecer, no lo pudo sufrir, y, alzando el candil con todo su aceite, dio a don Quijote con él en la cabeza, de suerte que le dejó muy bien descalabrado; y, como todo quedó ascuras, salióse luego; y Sancho Panza dijo:

-Sin duda, señor, que éste es el moro encantado, y debe de guardar el tesoro para otros, y para nosotros sólo guarda las puñadas y los candilazos.

-Así es -respondió don Quijote-, y no hay que hacer caso destas cosas de encantamentos, ni hay para qué tomar cólera ni enojo con ellas; que, como son invisibles y fantásticas, no hallaremos de quién vengarnos, aunque más lo procuremos. Levántate, Sancho, si puedes, y llama al alcaide desta fortaleza, y procura que se me dé un poco de aceite, vino, sal y romero para hacer el salutífero bálsamo; que en verdad que creo que lo he bien menester ahora, porque se me va mucha sangre de la herida que esta fantasma me ha dado.

Levántose Sancho con harto dolor de sus huesos, y fue ascuras donde estaba el ventero; y, encontrándose con el cuadrillero, que estaba escuchando en qué paraba su enemigo, le dijo:

-Señor, quien quiera que seáis, hacednos merced y beneficio de darnos un poco de romero, aceite, sal y vino, que es menester para curar uno de los mejores caballeros andantes que hay en la tierra, el cual yace en aquella cama, malferido por las manos del encantado moro que está en esta venta. Cuando el cuadrillero tal oyó, túvole por hombre falto de seso; y, porque ya comenzaba a amanecer, abrió la puerta de la venta, y, llamando al ventero, le dijo lo que aquel buen hombre quería. El ventero le proveyó de cuanto quiso, y Sancho se lo llevó a don Quijote, que estaba con las manos en la cabeza, quejándose del dolor del candilazo, que no le había hecho más mal que levantarle dos chichones algo crecidos, y lo que él pensaba que era sangre no era sino sudor que sudaba con la congoja de la pasada tormenta. En resolución, él tomó sus simples, de los cuales hizo un compuesto, mezclándolos todos y cociéndolos un buen espacio, hasta que le pareció que estaban en su punto. Pidió luego alguna redoma para echallo, y, como no la hubo en la venta, se resolvió de ponello en una alcuza o aceitera de hoja de lata, de quien el ventero le hizo grata donación. Y luego dijo sobre la alcuza más de ochenta paternostres y otras tantas avemarías, salves y credos, y a cada palabra acompañaba una cruz, a modo de bendición; a todo lo cual se hallaron presentes Sancho, el ventero y cuadrillero; que ya el arriero sosegadamente andaba entendiendo en el beneficio de sus machos. Hecho esto, quiso él mesmo hacer luego la esperiencia de la virtud de aquel precioso bálsamo que él se imaginaba; y así, se bebió, de lo que no pudo caber en la alcuza y quedaba en la olla donde se había cocido, casi media azumbre; y apenas lo acabó de beber, cuando comenzó a vomitar de manera que no le quedó cosa en el estómago; y con las ansias y agitación del vómito le dio un sudor copiosísimo, por lo cual mandó que le arropasen y le dejasen solo. Hiciéronlo ansí, y quedóse dormido más de tres horas, al cabo de las cuales despertó y se sintió aliviadísimo del cuerpo, y en tal manera mejor de su quebrantamiento que se tuvo por sano; y verdaderamente creyó que había acertado con el bálsamo de Fierabrás, y que con aquel remedio podía acometer desde allí adelante, sin temor alguno, cualesquiera ruinas, batallas y pendencias, por peligrosas que fuesen. Sancho Panza, que también tuvo a milagro la mejoría de su amo, le rogó que le diese a él lo que quedaba en la olla, que no era poca cantidad. Concedióselo don Quijote, y él, tomándola a dos manos, con buena fe y mejor talante, se la echó a pechos, y envasó bien poco menos que su amo. Es, pues, el caso que el estómago del pobre Sancho no debía de ser tan delicado como el de su amo, y así, primero que vomitase, le dieron tantas ansias y bascas, con tantos trasudores y desmayos que él pensó bien y verdaderamente que era llegada su última hora; y, viéndose tan afligido y congojado, maldecía el bálsamo y al ladrón que se lo había dado. Viéndole así don Quijote, le dijo:

-Yo creo, Sancho, que todo este mal te viene de no ser armado caballero, porque tengo para mí que este licor no debe de aprovechar a los que no lo son.

-Si eso sabía vuestra merced -replicó Sancho-, ¡mal haya yo y toda mi parentela!, ¿para qué consintió que lo gustase?

En esto, hizo su operación el brebaje, y comenzó el pobre escudero a desaguarse por entrambas canales, con tanta priesa que la estera de enea, sobre quien se había vuelto a echar, ni la manta de anjeo con que se cubría, fueron más de provecho. Sudaba y trasudaba con tales parasismos y accidentes, que no solamente él, sino todos pensaron que se le acababa la vida. Duróle esta borrasca y mala andanza casi dos horas, al cabo de las cuales no quedó como su amo, sino tan molido y quebrantado que no se podía tener.

Pero don Quijote, que, como se ha dicho, se sintió aliviado y sano, quiso partirse luego a buscar aventuras, pareciéndole que todo el tiempo que allí se tardaba era quitársele al mundo y a los en él menesterosos de su favor y amparo; y más con la seguridad y confianza que llevaba en su bálsamo. Y así, forzado deste deseo, él mismo ensilló a Rocinante y enalbardó al jumento de su escudero, a quien también ayudó a vestir y a subir en el asno. Púsose luego a caballo, y, llegándose a un rincón de la venta, asió de un lanzón que allí estaba, para que le sirviese de lanza. Estábanle mirando todos cuantos había en la venta, que pasaban de más de veinte personas; mirábale también la hija del ventero, y él también no quitaba los ojos della, y de cuando en cuando arrojaba un sospiro que parecía que le arrancaba de lo profundo de sus entrañas, y todos pensaban que debía de ser del dolor que sentía en las costillas; a lo menos, pensábanlo aquellos que la noche antes le habían visto bizmar.

Ya que estuvieron los dos a caballo, puesto a la puerta de la venta, llamó al ventero, y con voz muy reposada y grave le dijo: -Muchas y muy grandes son las mercedes, señor alcaide, que en este vuestro castillo he recebido, y quedo obligadísimo a agradecéroslas todos los días de mi vida. Si os las puedo pagar en haceros vengado de algún soberbio que os haya fecho algún agravio, sabed que mi oficio no es otro sino valer a los que poco pueden, y vengar a los que reciben tuertos, y castigar alevosías. Recorred vuestra memoria, y si halláis alguna cosa deste jaez que encomendarme, no hay sino decilla; que yo os prometo, por la orden de caballero que recebí, de faceros satisfecho y pagado a toda vuestra voluntad.

El ventero le respondió con el mesmo sosiego:

-Señor caballero, yo no tengo necesidad de que vuestra merced me vengue ningún agravio, porque yo sé tomar la venganza que me parece, cuando se me hacen. Sólo he menester que vuestra merced me pague el gasto que esta noche ha hecho en la venta, así de la paja y cebada de sus dos bestias, como de la cena y camas.

-Luego, ¿venta es ésta? -replicó don Quijote.

-Y muy honrada -respondió el ventero.

-Engañado he vivido hasta aquí -respondió don Quijote-, que en verdad que pensé que era castillo, y no malo; pero, pues es ansí que no es castillo sino venta, lo que se podrá hacer por agora es que perdonéis por la paga, que yo no puedo contravenir a la orden de los caballeros andantes, de los cuales sé cierto, sin que hasta ahora haya leído cosa en contrario, que jamás pagaron posada ni otra cosa en venta donde estuviesen, porque se les debe de fuero y de derecho cualquier buen acogimiento que se les hiciere, en pago del insufrible trabajo que padecen buscando las aventuras de noche y de día, en invierno y en verano, a pie y a caballo, con sed y con hambre, con calor y con frío, sujetos a todas las inclemencias del cielo y a todos los incómodos de la tierra.

-Poco tengo yo que ver en eso -respondió el ventero-; págueseme lo que se me debe, y dejémonos de cuentos ni de caballerías, que yo no tengo cuenta con otra cosa que con cobrar mi hacienda.

-Vos sois un sandio y mal hostalero -respondió don Quijote.

Y, poniendo piernas al Rocinante y terciando su lanzón, se salió de la venta sin que nadie le detuviese, y él, sin mirar si le seguía su escudero, se alongó un buen trecho.

El ventero, que le vio ir y que no le pagaba, acudió a cobrar de Sancho Panza, el cual dijo que, pues su señor no había querido pagar, que tampoco él pagaría; porque, siendo él escudero de caballero andante, como era, la mesma regla y razón corría por él como por su amo en no pagar cosa alguna en los mesones y ventas. Amohinóse mucho desto el ventero, y amenazóle que si no le pagaba, que lo cobraría de modo que le pesase. A lo cual Sancho respondió que, por la ley de caballería que su amo había recebido, no pagaría un solo cornado, aunque le costase la vida; porque no había de perder por él la buena y antigua usanza de los caballeros andantes, ni se habían de quejar dél los escuderos de los tales que estaban por venir al mundo, reprochándole el quebrantamiento de tan justo fuero. Quiso la mala suerte del desdichado Sancho que, entre la gente que estaba en la venta, se hallasen cuatro perailes de Segovia, tres agujeros del Potro de Córdoba y dos vecinos de la Heria de Sevilla, gente alegre, bien intencionada, maleante y juguetona, los cuales, casi como instigados y movidos de un mesmo espíritu, se llegaron a Sancho, y, apeándole del asno, uno dellos entró por la manta de la cama del huésped, y, echándole en ella, alzaron los ojos y vieron que el techo era algo más bajo de lo que habían menester para su obra, y determinaron salirse al corral, que tenía por límite el cielo. Y allí, puesto Sancho en mitad de la manta, comenzaron a levantarle en alto y a holgarse con él como con perro por carnestolendas. Las voces que el mísero manteado daba fueron tantas, que llegaron a los oídos de su amo; el cual, determinándose a escuchar atentamente, creyó que alguna nueva aventura le venía, hasta que claramente conoció que el que gritaba era su escudero; y, volviendo las riendas, con un penado galope llegó a la venta, y, hallándola cerrada, la rodeó por ver si hallaba por donde entrar; pero no hubo llegado a las paredes del corral, que no eran muy altas, cuando vio el mal juego que se le hacía a su escudero. Viole bajar y subir por el aire, con tanta gracia y presteza que, si la cólera le dejara, tengo para mí que se riera. Probó a subir desde el caballo a las bardas, pero estaba tan molido y quebrantado que aun apearse no pudo; y así, desde encima del caballo, comenzó a decir tantos denuestos y baldones a los que a Sancho manteaban, que no es posible acertar a escribillos; mas no por esto cesaban ellos de su risa y de su obra, ni el volador Sancho dejaba sus quejas, mezcladas ya con amenazas, ya con ruegos; mas todo aprovechaba poco, ni aprovechó, hasta que de puro cansados le dejaron.

Trujéronle allí su asno, y, subiéndole encima, le arroparon con su gabán. Y la compasiva de Maritornes, viéndole tan fatigado, le pareció ser bien socorrelle con un jarro de agua, y así, se le trujo del pozo, por ser más frío. Tomóle Sancho, y llevándole a la boca, se paró a las voces que su amo le daba, diciendo:

-¡Hijo Sancho, no bebas agua! ¡Hijo, no la bebas, que te matará! ¿Ves? Aquí tengo el santísimo bálsamo -y enseñábale la alcuza del brebaje-, que con dos gotas que dél bebas sanarás sin duda.

A estas voces volvió Sancho los ojos, como de través, y dijo con otras mayores:

-¿Por dicha hásele olvidado a vuestra merced como yo no soy caballero, o quiere que acabe de vomitar las entrañas que me quedaron de anoche? Guárdese su licor con todos los diablos y déjeme a mí.

Y el acabar de decir esto y el comenzar a beber todo fue uno; mas, como al primer trago vio que era agua, no quiso pasar adelante, y rogó a Maritornes que se le trujese de vino, y así lo hizo ella de muy buena voluntad, y lo pagó de su mesmo dinero; porque, en efecto, se dice della que, aunque estaba en aquel trato, tenía unas sombras y lejos de cristiana.

Así como bebió Sancho, dio de los carcaños a su asno, y, abriéndole la puerta de la venta de par en par, se salió della, muy contento de no haber pagado nada y de haber salido con su intención, aunque había sido a costa de sus acostumbrados fiadores, que eran sus espaldas. Verdad es que el ventero se quedó con sus alforjas en pago de lo que se le debía; mas Sancho no las echó menos, según salió turbado. Quiso el ventero atrancar bien la puerta así como le vio fuera, mas no lo consintieron los manteadores, que eran gente que, aunque don Quijote fuera verdaderamente de los caballeros andantes de la Tabla Redonda, no le estimaran en dos ardites.

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