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CHAPTER XXVII. (CONT'D)
"The devil take me," said Sancho to himself at this, "but this master of mine is a tologian; or, if not, faith, he's as like one as one egg is like another."
Don Quixote stopped to take breath, and, observing that silence was still preserved, had a mind to continue his discourse, and would have done so had not Sancho interposed with his smartness; for he, seeing his master pause, took the lead, saying, "My lord Don Quixote of La Mancha, who once was called the Knight of the Rueful Countenance, but now is called the Knight of the Lions, is a gentleman of great discretion who knows Latin and his mother tongue like a bachelor, and in everything that he deals with or advises proceeds like a good soldier, and has all the laws and ordinances of what they call combat at his fingers' ends; so you have nothing to do but to let yourselves be guided by what he says, and on my head be it if it is wrong. Besides which, you have been told that it is folly to take offence at merely hearing a bray.
I remember when I was a boy I brayed as often as I had a fancy, without anyone hindering me, and so elegantly and naturally that when I brayed all the asses in the town would bray; but I was none the less for that the son of my parents who were greatly respected; and though I was envied because of the gift by more than one of the high and mighty ones of the town, I did not care two farthings for it; and that you may see I am telling the truth, wait a bit and listen, for this art, like swimming, once learnt is never forgotten;" and then, taking hold of his nose, he began to bray so vigorously that all the valleys around rang again.
One of those, however, that stood near him, fancying he was mocking them, lifted up a long staff he had in his hand and smote him such a blow with it that Sancho dropped helpless to the ground. Don Quixote, seeing him so roughly handled, attacked the man who had struck him lance in hand, but so many thrust themselves between them that he could not avenge him. Far from it, finding a shower of stones rained upon him, and crossbows and muskets unnumbered levelled at him, he wheeled Rocinante round and, as fast as his best gallop could take him, fled from the midst of them, commending himself to God with all his heart to deliver him out of this peril, in dread every step of some ball coming in at his back and coming out at his breast, and every minute drawing his breath to see whether it had gone from him. The members of the band, however, were satisfied with seeing him take to flight, and did not fire on him.
They put up Sancho, scarcely restored to his senses, on his ass, and let him go after his master; not that he was sufficiently in his wits to guide the beast, but Dapple followed the footsteps of Rocinante, from whom he could not remain a moment separated. Don Quixote having got some way off looked back, and seeing Sancho coming, waited for him, as he perceived that no one followed him. The men of the troop stood their ground till night, and as the enemy did not come out to battle, they returned to their town exulting; and had they been aware of the ancient custom of the Greeks, they would have erected a trophy on the spot.
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