“Nay,” said Don Quixote, “leave the matter in the hands of Providence, and be not tempted by anything less than the title of Viceroy.”
Thus talking, they came over the brow of a hill, and looking down on the plain below, Don Quixote saw there thirty or forty windmills.
“Ha!” cried he. “Fortune directs our affairs better than we ourselves could do. Look yonder, friend Sancho, there are at at least thirty outrageous giants whom I must now fight.”
“Giants!” gasped Sancho Panza, “what giants?”
“Those whom you see over there with their long arms,” answered Don Quixote. “Some of that horrible race, I have heard, have arms near two leagues in length.”
“But, sir,” said Sancho, “these are no giants. They are only windmills, and the things you think are arms are but their sails, whereby the wind drives them.”
“That is but a sign,” answered Don Quixote, “whereby one may see how little you know of adventures. I tell you they are giants: and I shall fight against them all. If you are afraid, go aside and say your prayers.”
So saying, and without paying any heed to the bawlings of Sancho Panza, he put spurs to his horse and galloped furiously at the windmills, shouting aloud, “Stand, cowards! stand your ground, and fly not from a single Knight.”
Just at this moment the wind happened to rise, causing the arms of the windmills to move.
“Base scoundrels!” roared the Knight, “though you wave as many arms as the giant Briareus, you shall pay for your pride.”
And with couched lance, and covering himself with his shield, he rushed “Rozinante” at top speed on the nearest windmill. Round whirled the sails, and as Don Quixote’s lance pierced one of them, horse and man were sent rolling on the ground. There Sancho Panza came to help his sorely bruised master.
“Mercy o’ me!” cried Sancho, “did not I tell you they were windmills?”
“Peace, friend Sancho,” answered Don Quixote. “It is the fortune of war. I know very well it is that accursed wizard Freston, the enemy who took from me my study and my books, who has changed these giants into windmills to take from me the honor of the victory. But in the end I shall yet surely get the better of him.”
“Amen! say I” quoth Sancho: and heaving the poor Knight on to his legs, once more he got him seated on “Rozinante.”
As they now rode along, it was a great sorrow to Don Quixote that his spear had been broken to pieces in this battle with the windmill.
“I have read,” said he to Sancho, “that a certain Spanish knight, having broken his sword in a fight, pulled up by the roots a huge oak-tree, or at least tore down a great branch, and with it did such wonderful deeds that he was ever after called ‘The Bruiser.’ I tell you this because I intend to tear up the next oak-tree we meet, and you may think yourself fortunate that you will see the deeds I shall perform with it.”