E was never very handsome. Ill-shaped, long-haired,
short-maned, big-hoofed, knock-kneed, sway-backed,
broad-eared, watery-eyed, slow-paced, awkward—he would
hardly have found a buyer at any price, if put up at
auction. But in the eyes of his master, Don Quixote, he
was the handsomest and the wisest steed that had ever
"Talk as you will about Alexander's Bucephalus, or
about the Cid's Babieca," said he, "they were but poor
jades compared with my gallant charger. Only see, if
you will, what a soft coat he has, what a splendid
head, what a Roman nose, and what sound teeth, always
ready for action. And then he is the gentlest,
knowingest beast that ever bore brave knight into the
tournament or the battlefield."
He had been only a common farm horse, used for carrying
burdens and drawing the plow, and as such he had never
had any name of his own.
 He was called the nag, or the
colt, or simply the horse—for there was no other
creature of this kind about the place, and hence there
was no need of a more distinctive title. But when his
master made up his mind to turn knight-errant and roam
through the world in quest of adventures, it became
necessary to find some name for him that would be
worthy of a steed with so noble a destiny.
Don Quixote spent four whole days in thinking about
it. He wanted to give him a high-sounding name—one
that would fill your mouth when you spoke it, and
impress you with some idea of the greatness of his
master. It should also be an expressive name—one that
had some meaning to it and would give some hint of the
horse's former condition, as well as his present
station. It was hard to find such a name. Don Quixote
made a list of all the names that he had ever heard
about, from Pegasus to Bayard, and from Hector's
Galathe to Count Raymond's Aquiline, but none of them
was suitable to his own horse. At last, however, a
bright thought came into his mind.
"Was he not a common horse before, and is he not now
before all common horses? Then
 what better name can be
given him than Rozinante, which means
common-horse-before? There is nothing in the world so
simple or so easily understood."
And so the troublesome matter was settled, and the
steed was called Rozinante. Then his master, having
donned some rusty old pieces of armor which had not
been worn for a hundred years or more, mounted him and
rode out in search of knightly adventures. It was no
doubt a funny sight to all who saw them—the lean and
sorry horse, ill-fed and ill-kept, and his strangely
accoutered rider, wandering through the country to
protect the innocent, to punish evil-doers, and to
perform brave deeds generally. But to Don Quixote it
was the most serious thing possible. "When the history
of my famous achievements is given to the world," he
said to himself, "the learned author will doubtless
begin it in this manner:
" 'Scarce had the ruddy-colored Phœbus begun to spread
the golden tresses of his hair over the vast surface of
the earthly globe, and scarce had those feathered poets
of the grove, the pretty painted birds, tuned their
little pipes to sing their early welcomes to the
beauteous Aurora, when
 the renowned knight Don Quixote
de la Mancha, disdaining soft repose, forsook the
sleep-inviting couch, and mounting his famous steed
Rozinante, entered the ancient and celebrated plains of
And then, as he proceeded on his way, he cried out, "O
happy age! O fortunate times! decreed to usher into the
world my famous achievements! And thou, venerable sage,
wise enchanter, whatever be thy name; thou whom fate
has ordained to be the compiler of my history, forget
not, I beseech thee, my trusty Rozinante, the eternal
companion of all my adventures!"
Thus, confident of the greatness of his mission, he
rode bravely out into the world, with lance in hand,
ready to combat and overthrow evil wherever he found
it. He made some ludicrous mistakes now and then; in
fact, his whole undertaking was a ludicrous mistake,
for the days of knight-errantry had ended long before
But he was as earnest about it all as ever was the
bravest hero of old; and of course Rozinante could do
nothing but serve him faithfully so far as his strength
Riding one day with his squire Sancho Panza at his
side, the would-be knight saw a number of
 windmills in
the fields before them. To his crazed fancy each one of
these mills seemed to be a giant stretching his long
white arms toward the sky.
"Ah! how lucky!" he cried. "Now we shall have a combat
worthy of our steel, and we'll put an end to the whole
cursed race of giants."
"I see no giants," said the squire.
"Then you must be blind!" cried his master.
"Look at their white arms reaching out toward us and
daring us to the combat!"
"Pardon me, sir," said the squire; "but those are
But Don Quixote had already struck his heels against
Rozinante's sides and was speeding down the hill with
couched lance to do battle with his long-armed enemies.
"Stand, cowards!" he cried, as he came within speaking
distance of the first windmill.
"Stand your ground, and fly not basely from a single
knight, who comes to meet you all in deadly combat!"
At that moment the wind arose, and the mill sails began
to go around quite rapidly, as if daring the mad
knight to attack them. Don Quixote became all the
braver at this sign of defiance. He covered himself
with his shield, and with his
 lance in position, urged
poor Rozinante to his utmost speed. The windmill stood
its ground, however, and received the charge with more
composure than the knight had reckoned. The lance,
sticking fast in the sail, was wrenched out of his
hands and broken into shivers; and rider and horse were
struck with such force that they were both sent rolling
into the sand a good way off.
When Don Quixote found his breath again, and was able
to rise, he saw the faithful Rozinante standing quietly
by him, somewhat the worse for the stroke which had
been given him, but ready for any further adventure
that his master might wish to undertake.
"I do believe," said the good knight, rubbing his eyes
and looking around him, "I do believe that some wizard
has transformed all these giants into windmills so as
to take away from me the honor of victory."
Then, mounting Rozinante, he rode thoughtfully away.