In the previous episode, Cervantes resumed the story with Don Quixote back at home after his second sally. The priest and the barber left him alone to recover for a month, but when they revisited him his madness hadn’t improved, despite the care and attention lavished by his housekeeper and niece. Sancho Panza told his master that the knight had been made famous in a popular book containing an account of his adventures. When his squire went home for a drink and a meal, Don Quixote entertained the young graduate, Sansón Carrasco, who had read that book.
When Sancho Panza returned from his meal, he elaborated a different story of how his donkey had been stolen from under him when he was asleep, and how he recovered it from the thief.
Sansón asked the squire about the fate of some money, which Sancho insisted he had given to his family. They discussed the author’s promise for a second part, and whether it would prove profitable.
When he heard Rocinante neigh, Don Quixote took this as a sign that he should make a third sally in three or four days, and asked Sansón for advice as to where they should start. His opinion was that Saragossa in Aragon would be preferable, as there would soon be jousts held there for Saint George’s Day. Sansón advised caution, which prompted Sancho to wish that his master would be less ambitious in his aims. The graduate told Sancho to put his trust in God, and to avoid letting success go to his head.
Don Quixote invited Sansón to write an acrostic poem bidding farewell to the Lady Dulcinea, to which he agreed. The knight then told the young man to keep it a secret that they would ride out on their next sally in a week’s time.
When Sancho got home, his wife asked him why he was so cheerful, and he told her enigmatically that he’d be happy not to feel as happy as he looked. He then explained to her that he had decided to serve Don Quixote again, and go with him on his third sally. He told his perplexed wife to feed the donkey well and prepare the pack-saddle and tack for his travels. She reminded him of his family responsibilities, including their two children. When her husband started talking fancifully of his governorship of islands and how their daughter would marry well, she told him to bring some money home for once and stick to his own station in life.
Sancho then spoke at length, as if he was as much a captive of his dreams as Don Quixote. His wife told him of her fears that marrying their daughter above her station would prove her undoing, but Sancho insisted on his aspirations for nobility, finally reducing his wife to tears. With that, Sancho returned to Don Quixote to arrange their departure.
Don Quixote’s housekeeper and niece had grown suspicious that something was afoot, and that he was about to leave in secret. They had been trying to discover what he intended, but he had been evasive, merely making justification for his continuing to be a knight errant. They tried telling him that this was all a lie, which only made the knight angry with them. The two women tried flattering him instead, which calmed him down and let him hold forth in a condescending manner about great families, finally returning to his earlier and unusually lucid speech about men of arms and those of letters.
Just then Sancho Panza knocked at the door, causing the housekeeper to run away to hide, leaving Don Quixote’s niece to open the door. The two men then shut themselves away to discuss their next sally.
That completes the sixth chapter of the second book of Don Quixote.
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, trans John Rutherford (1604, 2000) Don Quixote, Penguin, ISBN 978 0 140 44909 9.
Roberto González Echevarría (2015) Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Yale UP, ISBN 978 0 300 19864 5.
Roberto González Echevarría (ed) (2005) Cervantes’ Don Quixote, A Casebook, Oxford UP, ISBN 978 0 19 516938 6.