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Don Quixote X. Long Live Freedom!!


Our two heroes had been riding along for about an hour, engrossed in conversation, when Don Quixote chanced to raise his eyes. He saw twelve men approaching, all in chains and with their hands manacled. These men looked fierce, like wild animals that had been taken captive. Four men were riding alongside them carrying firelocks. Don Quixote prepared to take action, prodded Sancho none too gently in the side and said: "Something is approaching which looks sufficiently sinister to warrant our being ready to fight!" - "Caution, Master! These are bad lads: men condemned to serve in the galleys who are being taken to commence their sentences." Sancho Panza had scarcely finished when the knight shoved him aside and cried in indignation: "What? - condemned to forced labour? My subjects are being oppressed and ill-treated! - Very well then. I shall carry out my duty and come to the aid of those wretched men." Picture 92. Bound for the Galleys With these words Don Quixote rode up to the chained men, pushed the guards aside, shouting so loudly that his voice cracked, resembling that of a cock. "The whole column, haaaalt!" - "But my good lord, for heavens' sake, don't you realise...!" - "Silence! I shall have justice!" croaked Don Quixote. The guards stood there, their mouths agape, convinced they were confronting a lunatic. Don Quixote now inquired of one convict after the other what he had done to deserve such harsh punishment. Each of these sinister felons admitted to some trivial misdemeanour. One said he had purloined a penny, another a chicken, but most of them brazenly declared they were completely innocent. The last in the chain, a dangerous chap known throughout Spain as a most notorious scoundrel, made use of the guards' confusion, gave a piercing whistle and roared: "Off with us, my friends! Long live freedom!" Before Don Quixote knew what was happening, the gang of convicts had overpowered the guards and seized their weapons. - "Bravo, well done!" cried Don Quixote, trembling with enthusiasm at the sight of these violent men. Picture 93. A Shower of Stones"Come here, Sancho Panza, I have liberated this brave company; it is now up to you to remove these heroes' chains. But the squire was of little use and the criminals helped each other out of their slaves fetters. Don Quixote called the galley-slaves near him, telling them to stand around him in a circle. He made a lengthy speech in which he instructed them to proceed to Toboso and report to his lovely Dulcinea that he, the brave knight, had freed them from unjust captivity. His speech was greeted with a roar of laughter. "What is this? - You disgraceful men: are you seeking to extricate yourselves from the obligation to gratitude?!" cried Don Quixote in a state of great agitation. "You're not quite right in the head, you old cock of a knight; do you want us to be put in chains again in Toboso?!" howled the rogues in chorus, who now moved back somewhat and launched such a hail of stones on poor Don Quixote and his squire that the two were almost buried under a pyramid of boulders. When the convicts had vanished from sight, Rocinante and the donkey, who had remained in safety, approached and sniffed at the arms and legs of their masters inasmuch as these were visible among the heaps of stones.

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