Read ADVENTURE OF THE DEAD BODY. of Wit and Wisdom of Don Quixote , free online book, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, on ReadCentral.com.

They saw, advancing towards them, on the same road, a great number of lights, resembling so many moving stars.  Sancho stood aghast at the sight of them, nor was Don Quixote unmoved.  The one checked his ass and the other his horse, and both stood looking before them with eager attention.  They perceived that the lights were advancing towards them, and that as they approached nearer they appeared larger.  Sancho trembled like quicksilver at the sight, and Don Quixote’s hair bristled upon his head; but, somewhat recovering himself, he exclaimed:  “Sancho, this must be a most perilous adventure, wherein it will be necessary for me to exert my whole might and valor.”

“Woe is me!” answered Sancho; “should this prove to be an adventure of goblins, as to me it seems to be, where shall I find ribs to endure?”

“Whatsoever phantoms they may be,” said Don Quixote, “I will not suffer them to touch a thread of thy garment:  for if they sported with thee before, it was because I could not get over the wall; but we are now upon even ground, where I can brandish my sword at pleasure.”

“But, if they should enchant and benumb you, as they did then,” quoth Sancho, “what matters it whether we are in the open field or not?”

“Notwithstanding that,” replied Don Quixote, “I beseech thee, Sancho, to be of good courage; for experience shall give thee sufficient proof of mine.”

“I will, if it please God,” answered Sancho; and, retiring a little on one side of the road, and again endeavoring to discover what those walking lights might be, they soon after perceived a great many persons clothed in white.

This dreadful spectacle completely annihilated the courage of Sancho, whose teeth began to chatter, as if seized with a quartan ague; and his trembling and chattering increased as more of it appeared in view; for now they discovered about twenty persons in white robes, all on horseback, with lighted torches in their hands; behind them came a litter covered with black, which was followed by six persons in deep mourning; the mules on which they were mounted being covered likewise with black down to their heels; for that they were mules, and not horses, was evident by the slowness of their pace.  Those robed in white were muttering to themselves in a low and plaintive tone.

This strange vision, at such an hour, and in a place so uninhabited might well strike terror into Sancho’s heart, and even into that of his master; and so it would have done had he been any other than Don Quixote.  As for Sancho, his whole stock of courage was now exhausted.  But it was otherwise with his master, whose lively imagination instantly suggested to him that this must be truly a chivalrous adventure.  He conceived that the litter was a bier, whereon was carried some knight sorely wounded, or slain, whose revenge was reserved for him alone; he, therefore, without delay couched his spear, seated himself firm in his saddle, and with grace and spirit advanced into the middle of the road by which the procession must pass; and, when they were near, he raised his voice and said:  “Ho, knights, whoever ye are, halt, and give me an account to whom ye belong; whence ye come, whither ye are going, and what it is ye carry upon that bier; for in all appearance either ye have done some injury to others, or others to you:  and it is expedient and necessary that I be informed of it, either to chastise ye for the evil ye have done, or to revenge ye of wrongs sustained.”

“We are in haste,” answered one in the procession; “the inn is a great way off, and we cannot stay to give so long an account as you require.”  Then, spurring his mule, he passed forward.

Don Quixote, highly resenting this answer, laid hold of his bridle and said:  “Stand, and with more civility give me the account I demand; otherwise I challenge ye all to battle.”

The mule was timid, and started so much upon his touching the bridle, that, rising on her hind legs, she threw her rider over the crupper to the ground.  A lacquey that came on foot, seeing the man in white fall, began to revile Don Quixote, whose choler being now raised, he couched his spear, and immediately attacking one of the mourners, laid him on the ground grievously wounded; then turning about to the rest, it was worth seeing with what agility he attacked and defeated them; and it seemed as if wings at that instant had sprung on Rozinante ­so lightly and swiftly he moved!  All the white-robed people, being timorous and unarmed, soon quitted the skirmish and ran over the plain with their lighted torches, looking like so many masqueraders on a carnival or festival night.  The mourners were so wrapped up and muffled in their long robes that they could make no exertion; so that Don Quixote, with entire safety, assailed them all, and, sorely against their will, obliged them to quit the field; for they thought him no man, but the devil from hell broke loose upon them to seize the dead body they were conveying in the litter.

All this Sancho beheld with admiration at his master’s intrepidity, and said to himself:  “This master of mine is certainly as valiant and magnanimous as he pretends to be.”

A burning torch lay upon the ground near the first whom the mule had overthrown, by the light of which Don Quixote espied him, and going up to him, placed the point of his spear to his throat, commanding him to surrender, on pain of death.  To which the fallen man answered:  “I am surrendered enough already, since I cannot stir, for one of my legs is broken.  I beseech you, sir, if you are a Christian gentleman, do not kill me:  you would commit a great sacrilege, for I am a licentiate and have taken the lesser orders.”

“Who the devil, then,” said Don Quixote, “brought you hither, being an ecclesiastic?”

“Who, sir?” replied the fallen man; “my evil fortune.”

“A worse fate now threatens you,” said Don Quixote, “unless you reply satisfactorily to all my first questions.”

“Your worship shall soon be satisfied,” answered the licentiate; “and therefore you must know, sir, that though I told you before I was a licentiate, I am in fact only a bachelor of arts, and my name is Alonzo Lopez.  I am a native of Alcovendas, and came from the city of Baeza with eleven more ecclesiastics, the same who fled with the torches.  We were attending the corpse in that litter to the city of Segovia.  It is that of a gentleman who died in Baeza, where he was deposited till now, that, as I said before, we are carrying his bones to their place of burial in Segovia, where he was born.”

“And who killed him?” demanded Don Quixote.

“God,” replied the bachelor, “by means of a pestilential fever.”

“Then,” said Don Quixote, “our Lord hath saved me the labor of revenging his death, in case he had been slain by any other hand.  But, since he fell by the hand of Heaven, there is nothing expected from us but patience and a silent shrug; for just the same must I have done had it been His pleasure to pronounce the fatal sentence upon me.  It is proper that your reverence should know that I am a knight of La Mancha, Don Quixote by name, and that it is my office and profession to go over the world righting wrongs and redressing grievances.”

  He that seeketh danger perisheth therein.

  Fear hath many eyes.

  Evil to him that evil seeks.

  Everybody has not discretion to take things by the right
  handle.

  He loves thee well who makes thee weep.