THE GREADFUL ADVENTURE OF THE WINDMILLS
Retold by Judge Parry
Don Quixote persuaded a certain labourer, his neighbour, an honest
man, but one of very shallow wit, to go away with him and serve him as
squire. In the end he gave him so many fair words and promises that
the poor fellow determined to go with him. Don Quixote, among other
things, told him that he ought to be very pleased to depart with him,
for at some time or other an adventure might befall which should in
the twinkling of an eye win him an island and leave him governor
thereof. On the faith of these and other like promises, Sancho Panza
(for so he was called) forsook his wife and children and took service
as squire to his neighbour.
Whilst they were journeying along, Sancho Panza said to his master: "I
pray you have good care, sir knight, that you forget not that
government of the island which you have promised me, for I shall be
able to govern it be it never so great."
And Don Quixote replied: "Thou must understand, friend Sancho, that it
was a custom very much used by the ancient knights-errant, to make
their squires governors of the islands and kingdoms they conquered,
and I am resolved that so good a custom shall be kept up by me. And if
thou livest and I live it may well be that I might conquer a kingdom
within six days, and crown thee king of it."
"By the same token," said Sancho Panza, "if I were a king, then should
Joan my wife become a queen and my children princes?"
"Who doubts of that?" said Don Quixote.
"That do I," replied Sancho Panza, "for I am fully persuaded that
though it rained kingdoms down upon the earth, none of them would sit
well on my wife Joan. She is not worth a farthing for a queen. She
might scrape through as a countess, but I have my doubts of that."
As they were talking, they caught sight of some thirty or forty
windmills on a plain. As soon as Don Quixote saw them he said to his
squire: "Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we could
desire. For behold, friend Sancho, how there appear thirty or forty
monstrous giants with whom I mean to do battle, and take all their
lives. With their spoils we will begin to be rich, for this is fair
war, and it is doing great service to clear away these evil fellows
from off the face of the earth."
"What giants?" said Sancho amazed.
"Those thou seest there," replied his master, "with the long arms."
"Take care, sir," cried Sancho, "for those we see yonder are not
giants but windmills, and those things which seem to be arms are their
sails, which being whirled round by the wind make the mill go."
"It is clear," answered Don Quixote, "that thou art not yet
experienced in the matter of adventures. They are giants, and if thou
art afraid, get thee away home, whilst I enter into cruel and unequal
battle with them."
So saying, he clapped spurs to Rozinante, without heeding the cries by
which Sancho Panza warned him that he was going to encounter not
giants but windmills. For he would neither listen to Sancho's
outcries, nor mark what he said, but shouted to the windmills in a
loud voice: "Fly not, cowards and vile creatures, for it is only one
knight that assaults you!"
A slight breeze having sprung up at this moment, the great sail-arms
began to move, on seeing which Don Quixote shouted out again:
"Although you should wield more arms than had the giant Briareus, I
shall make you pay for your insolence!"
Saying this, and commending himself most devoutly to his Lady
Dulcinea, whom he desired to aid him in this peril, covering himself
with his buckler, and setting his lance in rest, he charged at
Rozinante's best gallop, and attacked the first mill before
him. Thrusting his lance through the sail, the wind turned it with
such violence that it broke his weapon into shivers, carrying him and
his horse after it, and having whirled them round, finally tumbled the
knight a good way off, and rolled him over the plain, sorely damaged.
Sancho Panza hastened to help him as fast as his ass could go, and
when he came up he found the knight unable to stir, such a shock had
Rozinante given him in the fall.
"Bless me," said Sancho, "did I not tell you that you should look well
what you did, for they were windmills, nor could any think otherwise
unless he had windmills in his brains!"
"Peace, friend Sancho," said Don Quixote, "for the things of war are
constantly changing, and I think this must be the work of the same
sage Freston who robbed me of my library and books, and he hath
changed these giants into windmills to take from me the glory of the
victory. But in the end his evil arts shall avail but little against
the goodness of my sword."
"May it prove so," said Sancho, as he helped his master to rise and
remount Rozinante, who, poor steed, was himself much bruised by the
The next day they journeyed along towards the Pass of Lapice, a
romantic spot, at which they arrived about three o'clock in the
"Here," said Don Quixote to his squire, "we may hope to dip our hands
up to the elbows in what are called adventures. But take note of this,
that although thou seest me in the greatest dangers of the world, thou
art not to set hand to thy sword in my defence, unless those who
assault me be base or vulgar people. If they be knights thou mayest
not help me."
"I do assure you, sir," said Sancho, "that herein you shall be most
punctually obeyed, because I am by nature a quiet and peaceful man,
and have a strong dislike to thrusting myself into quarrels."
Whilst they spoke thus, two friars of the order of St. Benedict,
mounted on large mules—big enough to be dromedaries—appeared coming
along the road. They wore travelling masks to keep the dust out of
their eyes and carried large sun umbrellas. After them came a coach
with four or five a-horseback travelling with it, and two lackeys ran
hard by it. In the coach was a Biscayan lady who was going to
Seville. The friars were not of her company, though all were going the
Scarcely had Don Quixote espied them than he exclaimed to his squire:
"Either I much mistake, or this should be the most famous adventure
that hath ever been seen; for those dark forms that loom yonder are
doubtless enchanters who are carrying off in that coach some princess
they have stolen. Therefore I must with all my power undo this
"This will be worse than the adventure of the windmills," said
Sancho. "Do you not see that they are Benedictine friars, and the
coach will belong to some people travelling?"
"I have told thee already, Sancho," answered Don Quixote, "that thou
art very ignorant in the matter of adventures. What I say is true, as
thou shalt see."
So saying he spurred on his horse, and posted himself in the middle of
the road along which the friars were coming, and when they were near
enough to hear him he exclaimed in a loud voice: "Monstrous and
horrible crew! Surrender this instant those exalted princesses, whom
you are carrying away in that coach, or prepare to receive instant
death as a just punishment of your wicked deeds."
The friars drew rein, and stood amazed at the figure and words of Don
Quixote, to whom they replied: "Sir knight, we are neither monstrous
nor wicked, but two religious men, Benedictines, travelling about our
business, and we know nothing about this coach or about any
"No soft words for me," cried Don Quixote, "for I know you well,
And without waiting for their reply he set spurs to Rozinante; and
laying his lance on his thigh, charged at the first friar with such
fury and rage, that if he had not leaped from his mule he would have
been slain, or at least, badly wounded.
The second friar, seeing the way his companion was treated, made no
words but fled across the country swifter than the wind itself.
Sancho Panza, on seeing the friar overthrown, dismounted very speedily
off his ass and ran over to him, and would have stripped him of his
clothes, But two of the friars' servants came up and asked him why he
was thus despoiling their master. Sancho replied that it was his due
by the law of arms, as lawful spoils gained in battle by his lord and
master, Don Quixote.
The lackeys, who knew nothing of battles or spoils, seeing that Don
Quixote was now out of the way, speaking with those that were in the
coach, set both at once upon Sancho and threw him down, plucked every
hair out of his beard and kicked and mauled him without mercy, leaving
him at last stretched on the ground senseless and breathless.
As for the friar, he mounted again, trembling and terror-stricken, all
the colour having fled from his face, and spurring his mule, he joined
his companion, who was waiting for him hard by.
While this was happening, Don Quixote was talking to the lady in the
coach, to whom he said: "Dear lady, you may now dispose of yourself as
you best please. For the pride of your robbers is laid in the dust by
this my invincible arm. And that you may not pine to learn the name of
your deliverer, know that I am called Don Quixote of the Mancha,
knight-errant, adventurer, and captive of the peerless and beauteous
Lady Dulcinea of Toboso. And in reward for the benefits you have
received at my hands, I demand nothing else but that you return to
Toboso, there to present yourself in my name before my lady, and tell
her what I have done to obtain your liberty."
All this was listened to by a Biscayan squire who accompanied the
coach. He hearing that the coach was not to pass on but was to return
to Toboso, went up to Don Quixote, and, laying hold of his lance, said
to him: "Get away with thee, sir knight, for if thou leave not the
coach I will kill thee as sure as I am a Biscayan."
"If," replied Don Quixote haughtily, "thou wert a gentleman, as thou
art not, I would ere this have punished thy folly and insolence,
"I no gentleman?" cried the enraged Biscayan. "Throw down thy lance
and draw thy sword, and thou shalt soon see that thou liest."
"That shall be seen presently," replied Don Quixote; and flinging his
lance to the ground he drew his sword, grasped his buckler tight, and
rushed at the Biscayan.
The Biscayan, seeing him come on In this manner, had nothing else to
do but to draw his sword. Luckily for him he was near the coach,
whence he snatched a cushion to serve him as a shield, and then they
fell on one another as if they had been mortal enemies.
Those that were present tried to stop them, but the Biscayan shouted
out that if he were hindered from ending the battle he would put his
lady and all who touched him to the sword.
The lady, amazed and terrified, made the coachman draw aside a little,
and sat watching the deadly combat from afar.
The Biscayan, to begin with, dealt Don Quixote a mighty blow over the
target, which, if it had not been for his armour, would have cleft him
to the waist. Don Quixote, feeling the weight of this tremendous blow
which had destroyed his visor and carried away part of his ear, cried
out aloud: "O Dulcinea, lady of my soul, flower of all beauty, help
thy knight, who finds himself in this great danger!" To say this, to
raise his sword, to cover himself with his buckler, and to rush upon
the Biscayan was the work of a moment. With his head full of rage he
now raised himself in his stirrups, and, gripping his sword more
firmly in his two hands, struck at the Biscayan with such violence
that he caught him a terrible blow on the cushion, knocking this
shield against his head with tremendous violence. It was as though a
mountain had fallen on the Biscayan and crushed him, and the blood
spouted from his nose and mouth and ears. He would have fallen
straightway from his mule if he had not clasped her round the neck;
but he lost his stirrups, then let go his arms, and the mule,
frightened at the blow, began to gallop across the fields, so that
after two or three plunges it threw him to the ground.
Don Quixote leaped off his horse, ran towards him, and setting the
point of his sword between his eyes, bade him yield, or he would cut
off his head.
The lady of the coach now came forward in great grief and begged the
favour of her squire's life.
Don Quixote replied with great stateliness: "Truly, fair lady, I will
grant thy request, but it must be on one condition, that this squire
shall go to Toboso and present himself in my name to the peerless Lady
Dulcinea, that she may deal with him as she thinks well."
The lady, who was in great distress, without considering what Don
Quixote required, or asking who Dulcinea might be, promised that he
should certainly perform this command.
"Then," said Don Quixote, "on the faith of that pledge I will do him
no more harm."
Seeing the contest was now over, and his master about to remount
Rozinante, Sancho ran to hold his stirrups, and before he mounted,
taking him by his hand he kissed it and said: "I desire that it will
please you, good my lord Don Quixote, to bestow on me the government
of that island which in this terrible battle you have won."
To which Don Quixote replied: "Brother Sancho, these are not the
adventures of islands, but of cross roads, wherein nothing is gained
but a broken pate or the loss of an ear. Have patience awhile, for the
adventures will come whereby I can make thee not only a governor, but
Sancho thanked him heartily, and kissed his hand again and the hem of
his mailed shirt. Then he helped him to get on Rozinante, and leaped
upon his ass to follow him.
And Don Quixote, without another word to the people of the coach, rode
away at a swift pace and turned into a wood that was hard by, leaving
Sancho to follow him as fast as his beast could trot.