“Cheer up, sir,” said Sancho. “I’ll be back in a trice. Don’t be cast down. Faint heart never won fair lady.”
And Sancho rode away, leaving the Knight sitting on his horse, very full of melancholy. But he had not ridden far, when, turning round and finding that his master was no longer in sight, the squire dismounted, and lying down under a shady tree, began to think the matter over.
“Friend Sancho,” said he to himself, “what’s this you are doing?”
“Why, hunting for a Princess, who, my master says, is the Sun of Beauty, and all sorts of other fine things, and who lives in a King’s palace, or great castle, somewhere or other.”
“And how are you going to find her?”
“Why, it’s like looking for a needle in a bundle of hay, to look for Dulcinea all over Toboso. My master’s mad, there’s no doubt of that; and perhaps I’m not very much better, for they say birds of a feather flock together. But if he’s so mad as to mistake windmills for giants, and flocks of sheep for armies, why, it shouldn’t be so very hard to make him believe that the first country lass I meet is the Lady Dulcinea. If he won’t believe, I’ll swear it, and stand to it, so that he’ll think some of those wicked wizards of his have played another trick on him, and have changed her into some other shape just to spite him.”
Having thus settled his plans, Sancho lay there till the evening, so that his master might think that all the day had been spent in going to and from Toboso, and in looking for Dulcinea.
As luck would have it, just as he mounted his ass to ride back to Don Quixote, he spied coming that way three country lasses mounted on asses. As soon as Sancho saw the girls, he made haste to get to his master.
“What news, Sancho?” asked the Knight. “Has your fortune been good?”
“Ay, marry has it, sir,” answered Sancho, “you have no more to do but to clap spurs to ‘Rozinante’ and get into the open fields, and you’ll meet my Lady Dulcinea del Toboso with two of her damsels coming to see you.”
“Blessed Heaven!” cried the Knight. “What do you say, my dear Sancho? Is it possible?”
“Possible!” said Sancho. “Why should I play a trick on you? Come, sir, and you will see her presently, all dressed up and decked with jewels. Her damsels and she are all covered with diamonds, and rubies, and cloth of gold. And what is more, they are riding three flea-bitten gambling hags, the like of which won’t be seen again.”
“Ambling nags, thou meanest, Sancho,” said Don Quixote.
“Well, well, master, gambling hags or ambling nags, it’s all one and the same thing. Any way, I’m sure I never set eyes on more beautiful ladies than those that sit upon them.”
“Let us be moving then, Sancho. And as a reward for your good news, I promise you the very best things I get in our next adventure. And if that is not enough, then I will give you the three colts that I have at home in La Mancha.”