In the previous episode, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza rode away from the Duke and Duchess’s castle, each with their own regrets. When they stopped to rest after dark, Sancho resumed lashing himself in penance, but quickly realised that he could lash the trees around him without suffering any pain. Eventually, with more than a thousand of these bogus lashes behind him, Don Quixote implored him to stop. The pair later rode on to the next inn, which the knight didn’t claim was an enchanted castle. There they bumped into one of the characters from the published second book of Don Quixote, and persuaded him to sign a declaration that the two of them weren’t the Don Quixote and Sancho Panza described in that book. They got on their way again that evening, and once they had pulled off the road to rest, Sancho all but completed his penance, which he achieved the following night. After that they reached the hill above their village, where Sancho fell on his knees and welcomed the sight of home at last.
They passed a couple of boys arguing on the threshing floor, prompting Don Quixote to wonder if he’d ever see his lady Dulcinea again.
A hunted hare took refuge under Sancho’s donkey from pursuing hounds, so the squire picked it up and gave it to his master, followed by a cricket cage he bought from the boys. With that, Sancho invited the knight to enter the village, once the hare had been returned to the huntsmen.
When they reached the priest and Sansón Carrasco in a field at their devotions, Don Quixote dismounted and they welcomed one another. From there they went to the knight’s house, where his housekeeper and niece were ready to receive him. Sancho’s wife Teresa met him there, and was delighted to learn of the money he had brought.
Don Quixote explained to the priest and Carrasco about his defeat on Barcelona beach, and his undertaking to remain at peace in the village for the next year, during which he intended to become a shepherd named Quixotiz, and gave the others suitably rustic names. Carrasco, renamed as Carrascón, declared that he would write pastoral poetry.
The priest and Carrasco left Don Quixote in the care of the two women, who told him to stay at home and behave himself. They then put him to bed and started to pamper him.
Don Quixote’s demise came when it was least expected. He was confined to bed with a fever for six days, where he was visited by the priest, the barber and Carrasco, as Sancho Panza stayed constantly by his side. But they were unable to bring any improvement in his condition, so the doctor was summoned. His assessment was worrying, in concluding that Don Quixote’s well-being was in danger from his depression. The hidalgo then slept for six hours, and when he awoke he praised God and declared that his mind was clear again so he could see the absurdity of his former obsession with chivalry.
Don Quixote then told his niece that he was at death’s door, and called for his friends so that he could confess his sins and make his will. No sooner had he summoned them than they entered, and he told them he wanted to prepare himself to die. The priest sent everyone else out so that he could first hear Don Quixote’s confession.
Carrasco then brought the notary and Sancho Panza and they made a start on the hidalgo’s will. When he reached the issue of disposal of his property, Don Quixote apologised to Sancho Panza for all he had been put through, and left his estate to his niece, provided that she didn’t marry someone who knew about books of chivalry. He also instructed his executors, the priest and Carrasco, that if they ever met the author of the second book of Don Quixote, they were to ask for Don Quixote’s forgiveness.
Don Quixote soon lost consciousness. Although he recovered to survive for three more days, he continued to lapse into unconsciousness, until he finally died. At that the priest asked the notary to provide a certificate of his death, to prevent anyone from publishing any stories of his further existence.
That completes the second and last 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.