THE ADVENTURE AT THE INN
- The Adventures of Don Quijote | Don Quixote
ONE morning in midsummer, Don Quixote arose very early, long before any one else was awake.
He put on his coat of mail and the old helmet which he had patched with pasteboard and green
He took down the short sword that had been his great-grandfather's,
and belted it to his side. He grasped his long lance. He swung the leather shield upon his shoulder.
Then he went out very quietly by the back door, lest he should awaken his niece or the housekeeper.
He went softly to the barn and saddled his steed. Then he mounted and rode silently away through
the sleeping village and the quiet fields.
He was pleased to think how easily
he had managed things. He was glad that he had gotten away from the house and the village without any unpleasant scenes.
"I trust that I shall presently meet with some worthy adventure," he said to himself.
But soon a dreadful thought came into his mind: He was not a knight, for no
one had conferred that honor upon him; and the laws of chivalry would not permit him to contend in battle with any one of
noble rank until he himself was knighted.
"Whoa, Rozinante!" he said.
"I must consider this matter."
He stopped underneath a tree, and thought
and thought. Must he give up his enterprise and return home?
I shall never do!" he cried. "I will ride onward, and the first worthy man that I meet shall make me knight."
So he spoke cheeringly to Rozinante and resumed his journey. He dropped the
reins loosely upon the horse's neck, and allowed him to stroll hither and thither as he pleased.
"It is thus," he said, "that knights ride out upon their quests. They go where fortune and their
steeds may carry them."
Thus, leisurely, he sat in the saddle, while Rozinante
wandered in unfrequented paths, cropped the green herbage by the roadside, or rested himself in the shade of some friendly
tree. The hours passed, but neither man nor beast took note of time or distance.
shall have an adventure by and by," said Don Quixote softly to himself.
sun was just sinking in the west when Rozinante, in quest of sweeter grass, carried his master to the summit of a gentle hill.
There, in the valley below him, Don Quixote beheld a little inn nestling snugly by the roadside.
"Ha!" he cried. "Did I not say that we should have an adventure?"
He gathered up the reins; he took his long lance in his hand; he struck spurs into his loitering steed, and charged
down the hill with the speed of a plow horse.
He imagined that the inn was a
great castle with four towers and a deep moat and a drawbridge.
At some distance
from the gate he checked his steed and waited. He expected to see a dwarf come out on the wall of the castle and sound a trumpet
to give notice of the arrival of a strange knight; for it was always so in the books which he had read.
But nobody came. Don Quixote grew impatient. At length he urged Rozinante forward at a gentle pace, and was soon
within hailing distance of the inn. Just then a swineherd, in a field near by, blew his horn to call his pigs together.
"Ah, ha!" cried Don Quixote. "There is the dwarf at last. He is blowing his
bugle to tell them that I am coming." And with the greatest joy in the world he rode onward to the door of the inn.
The innkeeper was both fat and jolly; and when he saw Don Quixote riding up, he went out to
welcome him. He could not help laughing at the war-like appearance of his visitor—with his long lance, his battered
shield, and his ancient coat of mail. But he kept as sober a face as possible and spoke very humbly.
"Sir Knight," he said, "will you honor me by alighting from your steed? I have no bed to offer
you, but you shall have every other accommodation that you may ask."
Quixote still supposed that the inn was a castle; and he thought that the innkeeper must be the governor. So he answered in
"Senior Castellano, anything is enough for me. I
care for nothing but arms, and no bed is so sweet to me as the field of battle."
innkeeper was much amused.
"You speak well, Sir Knight," he said.
"Since your wants are so few, I can promise that you shall lack nothing. Alight, and enter!" And with that he went
and held Don Quixote's stirrup while he dismounted.
The poor old man had eaten
nothing all day. His armor was very heavy. He was stiff from riding so long. He could hardly stand on his feet. But with the
innkeeper's help he was soon comfortably seated in the kitchen of the inn.
pray you, Senior Castellano," he said, "take good care of my steed. There is not a finer horse in the universe."
The innkeeper promised that the horse should lack nothing, and led him away
to the stable.
When he returned to the kitchen he found Don Quixote pulling
off his armor. He had relieved himself of the greater part of his coat of mail; but the helmet had been tied fast with the
green ribbons, as I have told you, and it could not be taken off without cutting them.
shall any one harm those ribbons," cried Don Quixote; and after vainly trying to untie them he was obliged to leave them
as they were. It was a funny sight to see him sitting there with his head inclosed in the old patched-up helmet.
"Now, Sir Knight," said the innkeeper, "will you not deign to partake of a
little food? It is quite past our supper time, and all our guests have eaten. But perhaps you will not object to taking a
little refreshment alone."
"I will, indeed, take some with all my
heart," answered Don Quixote. "I think I shall enjoy a few mouthfuls of food more than anything else in the world."
As ill luck would have it, it was Friday, and there was no meat in the house.
There were only a few small pieces of salt fish in the pantry, and these had been picked over by the other guests.
"Will you try some of our fresh trout?" asked the landlord. "They are very
small, but they are wholesome."
"Well," answered Don Quixote,
"if there are, several of the small fry, I shall like them as well as a single large fish. But whatever you have, I pray
you bring it quickly; for the heavy armor and the day's travel have given me a good appetite."
So a small table was set close by the door, for the sake of fresh air; and Don Quixote drew his chair up beside
Then the innkeeper brought some bits of the fish, ill-dressed and poorly
cooked. The bread was as brown and moldy as Don Quixote's armor; and there was nothing to drink but cold water.
It was hard for the poor man to get the food to his mouth, for his helmet was much in his
way. By using both hands, however, he managed to help himself. Then you would have laughed to see him eat; for, indeed, he
was very hungry.
"No true knight will complain of that which is set before
him," he said to himself.
Suddenly, however, the thought again came to
him that he was not yet a knight. He stopped eating. The last poor morsel of fish was left untouched on the table before him.
His appetite had left him.
"Alas! alas!" he groaned. "I cannot
lawfully ride out on any adventure until I have been dubbed a knight. I must see to this business at once."
He arose and beckoned to the innkeeper to follow him to the barn.
"I have something to say to you," he whispered.
steed, Sir Knight," said the innkeeper, "has already had his oats. I assure you he will be well taken care of."
"It is not of the steed that I wish to speak," answered Don Quixote;
and he carefully shut the door behind them.
Then falling at the innkeeper's
feet, he cried, "Sir, I shall never rise from this place till you have promised to grant the boon which I am about to
beg of you."
The innkeeper did not know what to do. He tried to raise the
poor man up, but he could not. At last he said, "I promise. Name the boon which you wish, and I will give it to you."
"Oh, noble sir," answered Don Quixote, "I knew you would not
refuse me. The boon which I beg is this: Allow me to watch my armor in the chapel of your castle to-night, and then in the
morning—oh, in the morning—"
"And what shall I do in the
morning?" asked the innkeeper.
"Kind sir," he answered, "do
this: Bestow on me the honor of knighthood. For I long to ride through every corner of the earth in quest of adventures; and
this I cannot do until after I have been dubbed a knight."