Dapple, with his head hanging down in a pensive attitude, and every now and then shaking his ears, as if he imagined the hurricane of stones that whizzed about them, was not yet over[.]
After the slaves attack Don Quixote, Sancho, and their horses, the four of them lie on the ground traumatized by the incident. Like Rocinante, the narrator ascribes to Dapple human characteristics, feeling “pensive” here and imagining that stones continue to fly at them. Just as Don Quixote holds Rocinante in high esteem, Sancho treats Dapple as any other family member.
Sancho running to his ass, embraced it with great affection, saying, “How hast thou been, my dear Dapple? my trusty companion and joy of my eyes!” Then kissed and caressed it as if it had been a Christian; while Dapple very peaceably received these demonstrations of love and kindness, without answering one word.
Sancho greets Dapple after the former prisoner Ginés de Pasamonte returns the donkey. The narrator documents Sancho’s affection for Dapple as for an exemplary human being and sardonically observes that Dapple does not respond in kind. This interaction demonstrates how much Sancho cares for Dapple and considers him as important to their journey as Sancho himself.
[T]hough, to deal candidly with the reader, the brayings of the donkey exceeded in number the neighings of the horse; from whence Sancho concluded, his fortune would surmount and overtop that of his master.
The narrator explains that while on their journey to El Toboso, Don Quixote and Sancho hear Rocinante and Dapple neighing and braying, and they both take the animals’ noises as good omens for their journey. Sancho, like Don Quixote, seems to think his animal can predict the future and judges the journey will go better for himself than for his master based on comparisons of noise levels. Such a thought represents a rare breach of loyalty for Sancho, but he seems to truly believe in Dapple’s powers of fortune-telling.
[B]ut, Dapple followed the footsteps of Rocinante, from whom he could not bear to be parted, tho’ but for a moment.
After villagers attack Sancho, Don Quixote gallops off on Rocinante. Sancho’s limp body lies across Dapple, so he cannot steer him, but as the narrator explains, Dapple follows Rocinante anyway. Mimicking their masters’ relationship, Rocinante leads and Dapple assumes the role of the dutiful follower.
[A]nd hard by he perceived Dapple, who did not forsake him in his calamity: and Cide Hamete observes, that he very seldom saw Sancho without Dapple, or Dapple without Sancho, such was the friendship and fidelity subsisting between them.
When the duke and duchess take Don Quixote and Sancho on a boar hunt, Sancho becomes frightened and hides in a tree. Upon seeing how Dapple remains nearby, Cide Hamete notes the strong bond between Sancho and Dapple. Dapple displays loyalty not only to Rocinante, but to his master Sancho as well.