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Don Quixote XIV. Don Quixote Challenges the King of the Desert


- "Come what may: I feel strong enough to even take on the devil himself!" Don Quixote said this with deep conviction, stretching energetically. Sancho Panza knew that his master had sworn a struggle to the death with all evil spirits and sorcerers since his lady, Dulcinea of Toboso, had fallen victim to enchantment: he was now determined to undertake further adventures. Sancho Panza said: "I would prefer to be locked into a cage with a hoard of apes rather than continue to serve you, most noble knight of all times, if you are now going to take on Satan himself!" Meanwhile a cart decorated with flags was approaching and it transpired that it was carrying a cage in which a mighty lion was shaking its mane with ferocity. "Who are you, my good men? Where are you going? Why are you taking such a dangerous monster with you in the cage?!" asked Don Quixote. "Sir," replied the carter, "I am transporting this splendid lion which the Governor of Oran is presenting to His Majesty." - "Is this lion strong and courageous enough to test its prowess by fighting with me?" cried Don Quixote, measuring the beast in the cage with challenging eyes. "Open the door and withdraw! I shall fight with the most kingly of animals here on this open field. and shall demonstrate the courageous spirit of Don Quixote de la Mancha, the Knight of the Sad Countenance. Open it, I say! Out with the beast which the rulers of Spain have sent to cross my path in order to test my courage!" Sancho Panza seized his master by the belt of his armour and tried to pull him back. "I implore you, for God's sake - the lion will tear you to pieces!" - "Be off you miserable rascal!" shouted the knight. "You are afraid of this animal? You soft buttercake, you!" Picture 97. Rocinante and the Lion With these words Don Quixote leapt from his steed, Rosinante, threw himself upon the cage and pulled so violently at the chain of its iron door that it sprang open. Confronted with such madness, Sancho Panza and the two guards threw themselves up on Rosinante and, followed by the carter, made off like arrows into the wood and had hidden behind the trees in no time. Don Quixote went back step by step to await the fearful beast of prey and fight with it in the open. He covered his breast with his shield, drew his sword and commended his soul to his revered Princess Dulcinea of Toboso. Sancho Panza and the guards had climbed up trees at the edge of the forest and were trembling as they awaited the cruel struggle. The lion leapt out of its cage with a muffled roar, and cowered down as cats do in order to fall upon its victim with its powerful paws. Sancho Panza believed his master was as good as lost and folded his hands to say a silent prayer. Then along came Rosinante, who was feeling neglected and not sure where to go, so she galopped back to her master and in her haste made directly for the beast that was just about to pounce. The lion retreated in horror and made off like a cowardly dog, its tail between its legs, into its cage. Neither the abuse nor the insults hurled by the pugnacious knight could induce the king of the desert to reappear. And so this adventure came to an unbloody end, finishing with boisterous laughter.

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