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Stories of Don Quixote by  James Baldwin

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THE KNIGHT OF THE WHITE MOON

[278] ONE morning Don Quixote, fully armed, rode out to the seashore to take the air. He felt very brave, and was in fine fighting humor.

"Arms," he said, "are my best attire, and combat is my meat and drink."

Suddenly he saw a strange knight riding towards him. The knight was armed from head to foot, and on his shield a bright moon was painted.

As soon as he was within hearing, he called out: "Most illustrious, most valorous Don Quixote, de la Mancha, I am the Knight of the White Moon. I have come to enter into combat with thee. I have come to make thee confess that my lady, whoever she may be, is more beautiful by far than thy Dulcinea del Toboso."

"That I will never confess," answered Don Quixote; "but I will force thee to confess the contrary. Thou hast never seen the illustrious Dulcinea. [279] If thou hadst, the sight of her would have made thee know that there is no beauty like unto hers."


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"I challenge you to prove it in fair combat," cried the Knight of the White Moon. "If I vanquish you, I shall require of you to go to your home, and for the space of one year give up your arms and your knight-errantry and live there in peace and quiet."

"But what do you agree to do if I shall vanquish you?" said Don Quixote.

"I agree that my head shall be at your disposal," answered the knight. "My horse and arms shall [280] be your spoils, and the fame of my deeds shall be added to that of your own achievements."

"I accept your challenge," said Don Quixote; "and will faithfully comply with all its conditions; but I am content with the fame of my own deeds, and do not wish to assume yours. Choose whichever side of the field you prefer, and let us settle this business at once."

The two knights turned their horses and rode apart some distance. Then they again faced each other. The next moment, without waiting for any signal, they made the onset.

The White Moon's steed was much swifter than Rozinante, and he thundered down upon Don Quixote ere he had run one third of the distance. Our knight had no time to use his spear. The stranger struck him with such force that both he and his steed were hurled helpless to the ground.

Quickly the White Moon dismounted. He held his spear at Don Quixote's throat and cried: "Yield, knight! Fulfill the conditions of our challenge or your life is forfeit!"

Don Quixote was bruised and stunned. But he answered in a faint and feeble voice, "I maintain [281] that Dulcinea del Toboso is the most beautiful lady in the world, and I am the most unfortunate knight. Press on thy spear, and rid me of life."

"That I will not do," said he of the White Moon. "I will not dispute the fame of the beautiful Dulcinea. I shall be satisfied if the great Don Quixote will only return to his home for a year as was agreed to in our challenge."

"Very well," answered Don Quixote. "Since you require nothing that will tarnish the fame of the Lady Dulcinea, I will do all the rest as you desire."

They lifted Don Quixote from the ground and uncovered his face. He was very pale and weak. Rozinante still lay in the sand unable to rise. As for Sancho Panza, he was so sad and dismayed that he did not know what to do.

The Knight of the White Moon galloped away toward the city, and some of those who had seen the combat followed him. They asked him who he was, and why he had dealt so roughly with the famous but harmless Don Quixote.

"My name is Samson Carrasco," said the knight, "and I am a friend and near neighbor of Don Quixote. All that I wished in this combat was [282] not to harm my friend, but to make him promise to return home. I think that if he can be induced to rest there quietly for a year, this madness about knight-errantry will be cured."

It was, indeed, Samson Carrasco, the same who once before, as the Knight of the Mirrors, had tried to cure his friend of his folly but had failed.


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