The History of That Ingenious Gentleman, Don Quijote de la Mancha

By Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra; Burton Raffel | Go to book overview

Chapter Twenty

of the never-before seen, absolutely unheard-of adventure accom-
plished by the brave Don Quijote de La Mancha, with less danger than
ever experienced by any famous knight in the entire world

"Señor Don Quijote, all this grass tells us there has to be, somewhere near here, a spring or brook that waters it, so we ought to go on a little further and find someplace where we can ease this terrible, nagging thirst which, without any doubt, is more painful even than hunger."

This advice seemed sensible to Don Quijote, so he took hold of Rocinante's reins, Sancho grasped his donkey's bridle (after having loaded onto his back whatever was left from their supper), and they began to walk slowly across the meadow, feeling their way, for it was too dark to see a thing. But they hadn't gone two hundred paces when they heard a loud roaring of water, as if plunging down from some great height. The sound was immensely cheering, so they came to a halt, trying to make sure just where it was coming from, but suddenly they heard a different, clamoring noise that considerably diluted their pleasure and especially Sancho's, for he was naturally fainthearted and of small courage. What they heard, let me tell you, was something banging rhythmically, with an even, regular clanking of fetters and chains, which together with the tremendous roaring of the water could have brought fear to any heart other than Don Quijote's.

As I've said, it was night, and dark, and they had managed to grope their way between two tall trees, whose leaves, stirring in the faint breeze, made a fearful, delicate sound: what with the solitude, the place, the darkness, the noise of the water and the whispering of the leaves, everything gave rise to fear and dread, especially when they saw that the banging never stopped, and the wind sighed on, and dawn did not come, and on top of everything else they still did not know where they were. But Don Quijote, as fearless as ever, climbed up on Rocinante and, taking up his shield, set his lance and said:

"Let me tell you, Sancho, my friend, that I have been born in this Age of Iron, by the will of Heaven, in order to restore the Age of Gold or the Golden Age, as they usually call it. I am the man for whom all dangers are expressly reserved, and grand adventures, and brave deeds. I, let me say once more, am the man destined to resurrect the Knights of the Round Table, the twelve Peers of France and the Nine Worthies, and the man who will make the world forget the Platirs, the Olivantes and Tirants, the Phoebuses and Belianíses, and the whole mob of once-famous knights errant, by accomplishing such extraordinary things, in this Age in which I find myself, such wonders, such feats of arms, that they will forever darken the brightest of theirs. Take heed, oh God-fearing and faithful squire, of the blackness of this night, its strange silence, the muffled, blurred murmuring of these trees, the fearful sound of that water we have come searching for, which seems to smash down and hurl itself from the lofty mountains of the Moon, and that unceasing banging that grates on and on and offends our ears all these things, all of them together and each of them separately, are sufficient to fill even the breast of Mars himself with fear, trembling,

-103-

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