Don Quixote de la Mancha

By Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra; Charles Jarvis et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 58
Showing how adventures crowded so fast upon Don Quixote, that they trod upon one another's heels.

DON QUIXOTE, seeing himself in the open field, free, and delivered from the courtship of Altisidora, thought himself in his proper element, and that his spirits were reviving in him to prosecute afresh his scheme of knight-errantry; and, turning to Sancho, he said:

'Liberty, Sancho, is one of the most valuable gifts heaven has bestowed upon men: the treasures which the earth encloses, or the sea covers, are not to be compared with it. Life may, and ought to be risked for liberty, as well as for honour; and, on the contrary, slavery is the greatest evil that can befall us. I tell you this, Sancho, because you have observed the civil treatment, and plenty, we enjoyed in the castle we have left. In the midst of those seasoned banquets, those icy draughts, I fancied myself starving, because I did not enjoy them with the same freedom I should have done had they been my own. For the obligations of returning benefits and favours received, are ties that obstruct the free agency of the mind. Happy the man, to whom heaven has given a morsel of bread, without laying him under the obligation of thanking any other for it than heaven itself!'

'Notwithstanding all your worship has said,' quoth Sancho, 'it is fit there should be some small acknowledgement on our part for the two hundred crowns in gold, which the duke's steward gave me in a little purse; which, as a cordial, and comfortative, I carry next my heart, against whatever may happen; for we shall not always find castles where we shall be made much of: now and then we must expect to meet with inns, where we may be soundly thrashed.'

In these, and other discourses, our errants, knight and squire, went jogging on, when, having travelled a little above a league, they espied a dozen men, clad like peasants, sitting at dinner upon the grass, and their cloaks spread under them, in a little green meadow. Close by them were certain white sheets, as it seemed, under which something lay concealed. They were raised above the ground, and stretched out at some little distance from each other. Don Quixote approached the eaters, and, first courteously saluting them, asked them what they had under those sheets. One of them answered:

'Sir, under that linen are certain wooden images, designed to be

-839-

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