DON QUIXOTE WAGES A BATTLE AGAINST A GIANT
Retold by Judge Parry
When they had finished their dinner, they saddled and went to horse
once more, and travelled all that day and the next without any
adventure of note, until they arrived at the inn, which was the dread
and terror of Sancho Panza, and though he would rather not have
entered it, yet he could not avoid doing so. The innkeeper, the
hostess, her daughter, and Maritornes, seeing Don Quixote and Sancho
return, went out to meet them with tokens of great love and joy. The
knight returned their compliments with grave courtesy, and bade them
prepare a better bed than they gave him the last time.
"Sir," said the hostess, "if you would pay us better than the last
time, we would give you one fit for a prince."
Don Quixote answered that he would, and they prepared a reasonable
good bed for him in the same room where he lay before. Then he went
off to bed at once, because he was tired and weary, both in body and
Don Quixote was still asleep when the dinner was served, and during
dinner—the innkeeper, his wife, his daughter, and Maritornes being
there, as well as all the travellers—they talked of Don Quixote's
strange craze, and of the state in which they had found him. The
hostess told them of what had happened between him and the carrier,
and glancing round to see if Sancho were present, and not seeing him,
she told them the story of his being tossed in the blanket, to the no
small entertainment of all the company.
The curate told him it was the books of knighthood that Don Quixote
had read that had turned his head.
"I know not how that can be," said the innkeeper, "for to my thinking,
there is no finer reading in the world; and when it is harvest-time,
the reapers here often collect during the midday heat, and one who can
read takes one of these books in hand, while some thirty of us get
round him, and sit listening with so much delight that I could find it
in my heart to be hearing such stories day and night."
"And I think well of them, too," said the hostess, "for when the
reading is going on, you are so full of it that you forget to scold
me, and I have a good time of it."
"Ah," said her daughter, "I too listen, and though I like not the
fights which please my father, yet the lamentations which the knights
make when they are away from their ladies make me weep for pity, and I
"We have need here," said the curate, "of our friends, the old woman
and the niece. Beware, my good host, of these books, and take care
that they carry you not on the road they have taken Don Quixote."
"Not so," said the innkeeper, "I shall not be such a fool as to turn
knight-errant; for I see well enough that it is not the fashion now to
do as they used to do in the times when these famous knights roamed
about the world. All that is of no use nowadays."
Sancho came in in the midst of this, and was amazed to hear them say
that knights-errant now were of no use, and that books of knighthood
were full of follies and lies, and he made up his mind to see the end
of this voyage of his master, and if that did not turn out as happily
as he expected, to return home to his wife and children and to his
At this moment a noise came from the room where Don Quixote was lying,
and Sancho went hastily to see if his master wanted anything.
In a few moments he returned, rushing wildly back, and shouting at the
top of his voice: "Come, good sirs, quickly, and help my master, who
is engaged in one of the most terrible battles my eyes have ever
seen. I swear he has given the giant, the enemy of my lady, the
Princess Micomicona, such a cut, that he has sliced his head clean off
like a turnip."
"What sayest thou, friend?" said the curate. "Art thou in thy wits,
Sancho? How can it be as you say, when the giant is at least two
thousand leagues from here?"
By this time they heard a marvellous great noise within the chamber,
and Don Quixote shouting out: "Hold, thief, scoundrel, rogue! now I
have thee, and thy scimitar shall not avail thee!"
And it seemed as if he were striking a number of mighty blows on the
"Do not stand there listening," cried Sancho, "but go in and part the
fray, or aid my master. Though I think it will not now be necessary,
for doubtless the giant is dead by now, and giving an account of the
ill life he led; for I saw his blood was all about the house and his
head cut off, which is as big as a great wine-bag."
"May I be hewed in pieces," cried the innkeeper on hearing this, "if
Don Quixote has not been slashing at one of the skins of red wine that
are standing filled at his bed head, and the wine that is spilt must
be what this fellow takes for blood."
So saying he ran into the room, and the rest followed him, and found
Don Quixote in the strangest guise imaginable. He was in his shirt,
which did not reach to his knees. His legs were very long and lean. On
his head he wore a greasy red nightcap which belonged to the inkeeper.
Round his left arm he had folded the blanket from off his bed, at
which Sancho gazed angrily, for he owed that blanket a grudge. In his
right hand he gripped his naked sword, with which he laid round about
him with many a thwack, shouting out as if indeed he was at battle
with some terrible giant. The best sport of all was that his eyes
were not open, for he was indeed asleep, and dreaming that he was
fighting a giant. For his imagination was so full of the adventure in
front of him that he dreamed that he had already arrived at Micomicon,
and was there in combat with his enemy; and he had given so many blows
to the wine-bags, supposing them to be the giant, that the whole
chamber flowed with wine.
When the innkeeper saw this, he flew into such a rage that he set upon
Don Quixote with his clenched fist, and began to pummel him, so that
if Cardenio and the curate had not pulled him off, he would have
finished the battle of the giant altogether. In spite of this, the
poor knight did not awake until the barber got a great kettleful of
cold water from the well, and threw it right over him, when Don
Quixote woke up, but even then did not understand where he was.
As for Sancho, he went up and down the floor, searching for the
giant's head, and seeing he could not find it, said: "Now I know that
everything I see in this house is enchanted, for this head is not to
be seen here, though I myself saw it cut off with my own eyes, and the
blood running from the body as from a fountain."
"What blood or what fountain dost thou cackle of here?" cried the
innkeeper. "Thou thief! dost thou not see that the blood and the
fountain is no other thing but the wine-bags which are ripped open,
and the red wine which swims up and down the room?"
"I know nothing but this," replied Sancho, "that if I cannot find the
giant's head, my earldom will dissolve like salt cast into water." For
indeed Sancho awake was worse than his master asleep, so greatly had
his master's promises turned his brain.
The innkeeper was at his wits' end at seeing the stupidity of the
squire and the mischief done by his master, but he determined that
they should not as before go away without paying; that knighthood
should be no excuse for this, and he would make them pay for the very
patches in the wine-skins that had been ruined.
All this time the curate was holding Don Quixote's hands, who,
believing that he had finished the adventure and was in the presence
of the Princess Micomicona herself, fell on his knees before the
curate, and said: "Your highness, exalted and beautiful lady, may live
from henceforth secure from any danger that this wretched giant might
have done to you; and I am also freed this day from the promise I made
to you, seeing that I have with the assistance of her through whose
favour I live and breathe, so happily completed my labour."
"Did I not say so?" cried Sancho, hearing his master. "I was not
drunk. My master has salted the giant down this time, and my earldom
Who could help laughing at the follies of the two, master and man? All
of them laughed except the innkeeper, who burst out into fits of anger
ten times worse than before.
At length the barber, Cardenio, and the curate managed, not without
much ado, to get Don Quixote to bed again, and presently left him
sleeping, with every sign of being worn out. They let him sleep, and
went out to comfort Sancho Panza, whose grief was great at not finding
the giant's head. But they had more to do to pacify the innkeeper, who
was almost out of his wits at the sudden death of his wine-skins.
His wife, too, was running up and down, scolding and crying out:
"Alas, the unlucky hour when this knight-errant came to my house!
Would that mine eyes had never seen him, for he has cost me dear. The
last time he was here he went away scot free for his supper, bed,
straw, and barley for himself, his man, his horse, and his ass,
because he said he was a knight-errant. Then for his sake the other
gentlemen came and took away my good tail, and have returned it
damaged, and now he breaks my wine-skins and spills the wine. I wish I
may see as much of his blood spilt." And backed up by Maritornes, the
good innkeeper's wife continued her lamentations with great fury.
At length the curate quelled the storm, promising to satisfy them for
the wine and the skins, and also for the damage to the tail, about
which there was so much fuss. Dorothea comforted Sancho, telling him
that as soon as ever it was made certain that his master had slain the
giant, and placed her safely in her kingdom, she would give him the
best earldom she had.
With this he was consoled, and told her that he himself had seen the
giant's head cut off, and that it had a beard which reached down to
his girdle, and that if the beard could not now be found it was
because the affairs of this house were all guided by enchantment, as
he knew to his cost by what had happened to himself in his last visit.
Dorothea replied that she was of the same opinion, and bade him be of
good cheer, since all would be well ended to his heart's desire.