WE left the grand Don Quixote enveloped in the imaginations which the music of the enamoured
damsel Altisidora had caused in him. To bed he went with them, and, as if they had been fleas, they gave him no rest
or quiet; and to these were added those of his torn stockings; but, as time is swift, and no stumbling-block will
stay him, he went on horseback on the hours, and the morning came on speedily; which when Don Quixote saw, he left
his soft bed, and, nothing lazy, put on his chamoised apparel, and his boots, to hide the hole of his stockings; he
cast his scarlet mantle upon him, and put on his head his hunter’s cap of green velvet, laced with silver lace; his
belt he hung at his shoulder, with his trusty cutting blade; he laid hold on a rosary which he used to carry with
him, and with his goodly representation and gait, he went towards an out-room, where the duke and duchess were ready
dressed, and, as it were, expecting him: and as he was to pass through a gallery, Altisidora and the other damsel
her friend were greedily expecting him, and as soon as Altisidora saw him she feigned a swooning, and her friend got
her into her lap, and in all haste went to unlace her.
Don Quixote that saw it, coming near them, said, ‘Now I know from whence these fits proceed.’
‘I know not from whence,’ said her friend, ‘for Altisidora is the healthiest damsel in all this house, and I never
perceived so much as a sigh from her since I have known her: a mischief on all knights-errant in the world, if all
be so ungrateful. Pray, Signior Don Quixote, get you gone; for as long as you are here this poor wench will not come
To which said Don Quixote, ‘Get me, mistress, a lute into my chamber soon at night, and I’ll comfort this afflicted
damsel as well as I can; for in amorous beginnings plain dealing is the most approved remedy.’ So he went away,
because they that passed by should not note or observe him.
He was no sooner gone when the dismayed Altisidora, coming to herself, said to her companion, ‘By all means let him
have the lute, for undoubtedly Don Quixote will give us music; and being his, it cannot be bad.’
Straight they went to let the duchess know what passed, and of the lute that Don Quixote required; and she, jocund
above measure, plotted with the duke and her damsels to play a trick with him that should be more pleasant than
hurtful; and so with much longing they expected till it should be night, which came on speedily as the day had done;
which the dukes passed in savoury discourse with Don Quixote: and that day the duchess indeed despatched a page of
hers, that in the wood acted the enchanted Dulcinea’s part, to Teresa Panza, with her husband Sancho’s letter, and
with the bundle of stuff that he had left to be sent her, charging him to bring her a true relation of all that he
passed with her.
This done, and it growing towards eleven of the clock at night, Don Quixote found a viol in his chamber: he tuned
it, opened the window, and heard people walk in the garden; and having run over the frets of the viol, and ordering
it as well as he could, he spit and cleared his breast, and straight with a voice somewhat hoarsish, though tunable,
he sung the ensuing romance, which the same day he had composed:1
The powerful force of love
Oft doth unhinge the soul,
Taking for his instrument
Ever careless idleness.
To use to sew and work,
And to be ever occupied,
Is the only antidote
‘Gainst the poison of love’s griefs.
Damsels that live retired,
With desire of marriage,
Honesty their portion is,
And the trumpet of their praise.
They that knights-errant be,
They that in court do live,
Court the looser sort of maids,
And the honest make their wives.
Some loves are of the east,
Loves that are held with hostesses,
That straight set in the west,
End when the parting is.
The love that new-come is,
Come to-day, to-morrow parts,
Never leaves the images
In the souls imprinted well.
Picture upon picture drawn
Shows not well, nay, leaves no draught;
Where a former beauty is,
Second needs must lose the trick.
Painted, Dulcinea, I,
Del Toboso, so well have
In smooth tablet of my soul,
That there’s nought can blot her out.
Constancy in lovers is
The part most to be esteem’d
For which love doth miracles,
And doth raise us up aloft.’
Here Don Quixote ended his song, which was hearkened to by the duke, duchess, Altisidora, and
almost all the folk of the castle; when suddenly, from the top of an open turret, there fell heavily down upon Don
Quixote’s window, by the letting down of a cord, a great sack of cats, with little low-bells tied at their tails,
the noise of which was so great, and the mewing of the cats, that although the dukes were the inventors of the jest,
yet they themselves were even affrighted, and Don Quixote was timorous and amazed: and such was his ill luck, that
two or three of the cats got in at the window of his cabin, and, leaping up and down on every side, it seemed to him
that there were a region of devils in his chamber. They put out the candles that were burning there, and now they
sought how to get out. The rising and falling of the cord at which the low-bells were hanged ceased not; and the
most of the people in the castle, that knew not the certainty of the business, were astonished.
Don Quixote got him on his legs, and, laying hold on his sword, began to thrust and slash at the window, crying out
aloud, ‘Avaunt, ye wicked enchanters! avaunt, ye haggish scum! for I am Don Quixote de la Mancha, against whom your
wicked plots cannot prevail or have any power’; and, turning to the cats that were in his chamber, he struck many
blows at them; they got to the iron window, and there got out: but one of them that saw himself so baited with Don
Quixote’s slashes, leapt upon his face, and with his nails and teeth laid hold on his nose with the paw. Don Quixote
roared out as loud as he could; which when the duke and duchess heard, and considering what it might be, they run up
in all haste to his chamber, and, opening it with a master key, they found the poor knight striving with all his
might to unroot the cat from his face. They called for lights, and saw the unequal combat. The duke came to part the
fray, and Don Quixote cried aloud, ‘Let him alone, leave me hand to hand with this devil, this witch, this
enchanter; for I’ll make him know the difference betwixt me and him, and who Don Quixote de la Mancha is’; but the
cat, careless of these threats, purred, and held fast.
But at length the duke unloosed him and flung him out of the window. Don Quixote’s face was sifted over, and his
nose was not very sound; yet he was very angry that they would not let him finish the battle, that was so long drawn
out between him and that cursed enchanter. They made some oil of aparice to be brought, and Altisidora herself, with
her fair hands, bound up the wounds; and, laying to the cloths, she told him in his ear, ‘All these mishaps befal
thee, flinty knight, for the sin of thy hardhearted obstinacy: and God grant that Sancho thy squire may forget to
whip himself, that thy beloved Dulcinea may still be enchanted; neither mayst thou enjoy her, or come to her bed, at
least while I live, that adore thee.’
To all this Don Quixote answered not a word, but fetched a deep sigh, and straight laid him down on his bed,
thanking the dukes for their courtesy; not for that he was afraid of that cattish, low-belly, enchanting crew, but
that he was persuaded of their good wills to come to relieve him.
The dukes left him to his rest, and went away sorrowful for the ill success of the jest: for they thought that
adventure would not have lighted so heavily on Don Quixote, which cost him five days’ retirement and keeping his
bed; where another adventure befel him more pleasing than the former, which the historian will not recount yet,
because of repairing to Sancho Panza, that was very careful and conceited in his government.