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Don Quixote V. Outnumbered by Ten to One


Don Quixote and Sancho Panza emerged at last out of the dense dark wood on to a lovely meadow covered in flowers, the fragrance of which invited them to take a rest from the midday heat. They dismounted and let Rocinante and the donkey roam freely. The squire opened the saddlebags and he and his master devoured the contents in peace and good fellowship. But Fate had ordained that a herd of Galician mares was being driven through the valley. The horses were grazing on the meadow and it wasn't long until Rocinante began a little tussle with some lively fillies. The animals became boisterous and wild and treated boney old Rocinante with scant respect, indeed laid into him with hooves and teeth. His girth was soon broken and the saddle stripped off his back. Meanwhile the shepherds joined in, using their staves and whips and belaboured poor Rocinante unmercifully. The steed of the noble knight sank to the ground as though it were about to give up the ghost. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza ran up panting. - "Friend Sancho, from what I see, these are no knights or heroes, but vile and low-bred men; this insult to Rocinante must be avenged!" - Picture 85. Rocinante in Trouble "How the devil can we do that, replied Sancho trembling, "there are more than twenty of them and we are only two!" - "I am equal to a hundred!" Don Quixote impetuously attacked the twenty shepherds. Sancho suddenly waxed enthusiastic and followed his master's example. The noble avenger landed a blow on the next best shepherd which split his leather jacket and cut into his shoulder. Seeing themselves so roughly treated, the shepherds were enraged, encircled our two heroes, seized their pack staves and laid into them with all their might. This welcome was so overwhelming that Sancho Panza soon lay on the ground screaming in pain. His master soon followed him, having tried in vain to fend them off. He sank to the ground next to Rocinante, who was still lying there stunned. The shepherds continued to thrash them and then made off laughing, leaving the two heroes in a very sorry state. - "Ah, Don Quixote!" cried Sancho Panza. - "What is it?" replied Don Quixote in a similarly weak and piteous voice. - "Oh, what a beating we got!" moaned fat Sancho amid sighs and groans. - "A beating?" Don Quixote stood up with difficulty, "I swear to you on my honour as a knight errant that I shall not rest or repose until I have avenged your pain, Sancho Panza."

The Battle with the Shepherds

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