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The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha

Two of the rarest tasters that were ever known in La Mancha


upon roots and wild herbs."

"Troth, brother," replied he of the Wood, "I have no stomach for your wild pears, nor sweet thistles, nor your mountain roots; let our masters have them, with their fancies and their laws of chivalry, and let them eat what they commend. I carry cold meats and this bottle at the pommel of my saddle, happen what will; and such is my love and reverence for it, that I kiss and hug it every moment." And as he spoke, he put it into Sancho's hand, who grasped it, and, applying it straightway to his mouth, continued gazing at the stars for a quarter of an hour; then, having finished his draught, he let his head fall on one side, and, fetching a deep sigh, said, "O the rogue! How excellent it is! But tell me, by all you love best, is not this wine of Ciudad Real?" "Thou art a rare taster," answered he of the Wood; "it is indeed of no other growth, and has, besides, some years over its head." "Trust me for that," quoth Sancho; "depend upon it, I always hit right, and can guess to a hair. And this is all natural in me; let me but smell them, and I will tell you the country, the kind, the flavour, the age, strength, and all about it; for you must know I have had in my family, by the father's side, two of the rarest tasters that were ever known in La Mancha; and I will give you a proof of their skill. A certain hogshead was given to each of them to taste, and their opinion asked as to the condition, quality, goodness, or badness, of the wine. One tried it with the tip of his tongue; the other
only put it to his nose. The first said the wine savoured of iron; the second said it had rather a twang of goat's leather. The owner protested that the vessel was clean, and the wine neat, so that it could not taste either of iron or leather. Notwithstanding this, the two famous tasters stood positively to what they had said. Time went on; the wine was sold off, and, on cleaning the cask, a small key, hanging to a leathern thong, was found at the bottom. Judge, then, sir, whether one of that race may not be well entitled to give his opinion in these matters." "That being the case," quoth he of the Wood, "we should leave off seeking adventures; and, since we have a good loaf, let us not look for cheesecakes, but make haste and get home to our own cots." "I will serve my master till he reaches Saragosa," quoth Sancho, "then, mayhap, we shall turn over a new leaf."

Thus the good squires went on talking and eating and drinking, until it was full time that sleep should give their tongues a respite and allay their thirst, for to quench it seemed to be impossible; and both of them, still keeping hold of the almost empty bottle, fell fast asleep; in which situation we will leave them at present, to relate what passed between the two knights.

CHAPTER XLVI.

_Continuation again of the adventure of the Knight of the Wood._


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