In the previous episode, Don Antonio took Don Quixote and Sancho Panza to visit the galleys moored off Barcelona’s beach. They were welcomed on board by their commodore, and his crew delighted in rolling Sancho fore and aft on their arms. The ships were despatched to a suspicious brigantine, which tried to escape but abandoned its attempt when it was obviously outclassed. Two of the brigantine’s crew shot dead a couple of the galley’s soldiers, so that crew were arrested and their vessel towed back to Barcelona. As they were about to be hanged from the yard, the brigantine’s captain revealed she was a young woman. She explained that she had Moriscan parents and had ended up in Algiers, with her lover a captive of the king. She had then been returned to Spain, but wanted to rescue her lover. This saved her neck, she was reunited with her father, and a rescue mission set out for her lover. Later when Don Quixote was riding on the beach in full armour, he was challenged by the Knight of the White Moon, whose only satisfaction was that Don Quixote returned to his village in peace for a year. Don Quixote was knocked to the ground and lost that duel, so was compelled to agree to the other knight’s demand.
Don Antonio pursued the Knight of the White Moon to discover his true identity. When cornered with his squire, that knight revealed he was Sansón Carrasco, the young BA from Don Quixote’s village who had been trying to find a way to get the knight to return so he could be brought out of his madness; previously he had been defeated by Don Quixote when he had posed as the Knight of the Spangles. Don Antonio agreed to keep this a secret, but told Sansón Carrasco that Don Quixote would prove incurable. The Knight of the White Moon then returned uneventfully to his village.
But Don Antonio was unhappy at Don Quixote’s enforced retirement, as was the Viceroy when he was informed, as it brought an end to the entertainment that the mad knight had been giving them.
Don Quixote remained in bed for six days, unable to recover from his defeat and its consequences. Sancho tried to console him to no avail. Even the rescue of the young woman’s lover from Algiers did little to cheer Don Quixote up. Once those two were reunited, though, they fell in love.
Don Antonio and the Viceroy then had to consider how to enable the young woman and her father to remain in Spain despite being Moriscans. The Count of Salazar, to whom the king had entrusted their expulsion from the country, had already refused to hear any appeal against the decision. Don Antonio undertook to negotiate a solution in Madrid, where he had to travel on business.
Two days after Don Antonio had left on his mission, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza also left Barcelona, with the former knight dressed in plain clothes and his armour being carried on Sancho’s donkey. Don Quixote looked back at the beach where his downfall had come and lamented about Troy and the fall of his joy. That prompted Sancho Panza to reflect on the loss of his governorship, and the blindness of fate.
With Don Quixote’s armour loaded on Sancho’s donkey, the latter was compelled to walk, but nothing came of the suggestion that they should abandon the armour on a tree.
Five days later they arrived in a village on a fiesta day, where they were called on to settle an argument between two of the locals. The one who was very heavy had challenged his skinny neighbour to a sprint race in which they would both carry the same weight. Before Don Quixote could give his view, Sancho insisted that, as a former governor, he should be the judge.
Sancho Panza declared that it shouldn’t be up to the challenger to choose weapons, and said that it was the heavy man who should pare his weight down to match that of the skinny man, which obviously wouldn’t happen. The farmers were amazed at the justice of that solution, and Don Quixote and Sancho Panza rode on.
The pair spent that night in a field, and the next day came across a foot messenger from the Duke and Duchess, who greeted Don Quixote. But he turned out to be the proxy who had refused to fight Don Quixote in their duel. The messenger told them that everything had gone horribly wrong after they had left the palace: he had been beaten for disobeying the Duke’s orders, and the duenna’s daughter had become a nun instead of marrying him.
The messenger offered them wine and cheese, which Sancho gladly accepted. Don Quixote continued to believe the messenger was enchanted and rode slowly on, waiting for Sancho to catch him up.
That completes the sixty-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.