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CHAPTER L

WHEREIN IS SET FORTH WHO THE ENCHANTERS AND EXECUTIONERS WERE WHO
FLOGGED THE DUENNA AND PINCHED DON QUIXOTE, AND ALSO WHAT BEFELL THE
PAGE WHO CARRIED THE LETTER TO TERESA PANZA, SANCHO PANZA'S WIFE

Cide Hamete, the painstaking investigator of the minute points of
this veracious history, says that when Dona Rodriguez left her own
room to go to Don Quixote's, another duenna who slept with her
observed her, and as all duennas are fond of prying, listening, and
sniffing, she followed her so silently that the good Rodriguez never
perceived it; and as soon as the duenna saw her enter Don Quixote's
room, not to fail in a duenna's invariable practice of tattling, she
hurried off that instant to report to the duchess how Dona Rodriguez
was closeted with Don Quixote. The duchess told the duke, and asked
him to let her and Altisidora go and see what the said duenna wanted
with Don Quixote. The duke gave them leave, and the pair cautiously
and quietly crept to the door of the room and posted themselves so
close to it that they could hear all that was said inside. But when
the duchess heard how the Rodriguez had made public the Aranjuez of
her issues she could not restrain herself, nor Altisidora either;
and so, filled with rage and thirsting for vengeance, they burst
into the room and tormented Don Quixote and flogged the duenna in
the manner already described; for indignities offered to their
charms and self-esteem mightily provoke the anger of women and make
them eager for revenge. The duchess told the duke what had happened,
and he was much amused by it; and she, in pursuance of her design of
making merry and diverting herself with Don Quixote, despatched the
page who had played the part of Dulcinea in the negotiations for her
disenchantment (which Sancho Panza in the cares of government had
forgotten all about) to Teresa Panza his wife with her husband's
letter and another from herself, and also a great string of fine coral
beads as a present.

Now the history says this page was very sharp and quick-witted;
and eager to serve his lord and lady he set off very willingly for
Sancho's village. Before he entered it he observed a number of women
washing in a brook, and asked them if they could tell him whether
there lived there a woman of the name of Teresa Panza, wife of one
Sancho Panza, squire to a knight called Don Quixote of La Mancha. At
the question a young girl who was washing stood up and said, "Teresa
Panza is my mother, and that Sancho is my father, and that knight is
our master."

"Well then, miss," said the page, "come and show me where your
mother is, for I bring her a letter and a present from your father."

"That I will with all my heart, senor," said the girl, who seemed to
be about fourteen, more or less; and leaving the clothes she was
washing to one of her companions, and without putting anything on
her head or feet, for she was bare-legged and had her hair hanging
about her, away she skipped in front of the page's horse, saying,
"Come, your worship, our house is at the entrance of the town, and
my mother is there, sorrowful enough at not having had any news of
my father this ever so long."

"Well," said the page, "I am bringing her such good news that she
will have reason to thank God."

And then, skipping, running, and capering, the girl reached the
town, but before going into the house she called out at the door,
"Come out, mother Teresa, come out, come out; here's a gentleman
with letters and other things from my good father." At these words her
mother Teresa Panza came out spinning a bundle of flax, in a grey
petticoat (so short was it one would have fancied "they to her shame
had cut it short"), a grey bodice of the same stuff, and a smock.
She was not very old, though plainly past forty, strong, healthy,
vigorous, and sun-dried; and seeing her daughter and the page on
horseback, she exclaimed, "What's this, child? What gentleman is
this?"

"A servant of my lady, Dona Teresa Panza," replied the page; and
suiting the action to the word he flung himself off his horse, and
with great humility advanced to kneel before the lady Teresa,
saying, "Let me kiss your hand, Senora Dona Teresa, as the lawful
and only wife of Senor Don Sancho Panza, rightful governor of the
island of Barataria."

"Ah, senor, get up, do that," said Teresa; "for I'm not a bit of a
court lady, but only a poor country woman, the daughter of a
clodcrusher, and the wife of a squire-errant and not of any governor
at all."

"You are," said the page, "the most worthy wife of a most
arch-worthy governor; and as a proof of what I say accept this
letter and this present;" and at the same time he took out of his
pocket a string of coral beads with gold clasps, and placed it on
her neck, and said, "This letter is from his lordship the governor,
and the other as well as these coral beads from my lady the duchess,
who sends me to your worship."

Teresa stood lost in astonishment, and her daughter just as much,
and the girl said, "May I die but our master Don Quixote's at the
bottom of this; he must have given father the government or county
he so often promised him."

"That is the truth," said the page; "for it is through Senor Don
Quixote that Senor Sancho is now governor of the island of
Barataria, as will be seen by this letter."

"Will your worship read it to me, noble sir?" said Teresa; "for
though I can spin I can't read, not a scrap."

"Nor I either," said Sanchica; "but wait a bit, and I'll go and
fetch some one who can read it, either the curate himself or the
bachelor Samson Carrasco, and they'll come gladly to hear any news
of my father."

"There is no need to fetch anybody," said the page; "for though I
can't spin I can read, and I'll read it;" and so he read it through,
but as it has been already given it is not inserted here; and then
he took out the other one from the duchess, which ran as follows:



Friend Teresa,- Your husband Sancho's good qualities, of heart as
well as of head, induced and compelled me to request my husband the
duke to give him the government of one of his many islands. I am
told he governs like a gerfalcon, of which I am very glad, and my lord
the duke, of course, also; and I am very thankful to heaven that I
have not made a mistake in choosing him for that same government;
for I would have Senora Teresa know that a good governor is hard to
find in this world and may God make me as good as Sancho's way of
governing. Herewith I send you, my dear, a string of coral beads
with gold clasps; I wish they were Oriental pearls; but "he who
gives thee a bone does not wish to see thee dead;" a time will come
when we shall become acquainted and meet one another, but God knows
the future. Commend me to your daughter Sanchica, and tell her from me
to hold herself in readiness, for I mean to make a high match for
her when she least expects it. They tell me there are big acorns in
your village; send me a couple of dozen or so, and I shall value
them greatly as coming from your hand; and write to me at length to
assure me of your health and well-being; and if there be anything
you stand in need of, it is but to open your mouth, and that shall
be the measure; and so God keep you.

From this place.
Your loving friend,
THE DUCHESS.



"Ah, what a good, plain, lowly lady!" said Teresa when she heard the
letter; "that I may be buried with ladies of that sort, and not the
gentlewomen we have in this town, that fancy because they are
gentlewomen the wind must not touch them, and go to church with as
much airs as if they were queens, no less, and seem to think they
are disgraced if they look at a farmer's wife! And see here how this
good lady, for all she's a duchess, calls me 'friend,' and treats me
as if I was her equal- and equal may I see her with the tallest
church-tower in La Mancha! And as for the acorns, senor, I'll send her
ladyship a peck and such big ones that one might come to see them as a
show and a wonder. And now, Sanchica, see that the gentleman is
comfortable; put up his horse, and get some eggs out of the stable,
and cut plenty of bacon, and let's give him his dinner like a
prince; for the good news he has brought, and his own bonny face
deserve it all; and meanwhile I'll run out and give the neighbours the
news of our good luck, and father curate, and Master Nicholas the
barber, who are and always have been such friends of thy father's."

"That I will, mother," said Sanchica; "but mind, you must give me
half of that string; for I don't think my lady the duchess could
have been so stupid as to send it all to you."

"It is all for thee, my child," said Teresa; "but let me wear it
round my neck for a few days; for verily it seems to make my heart
glad."

"You will be glad too," said the page, "when you see the bundle
there is in this portmanteau, for it is a suit of the finest cloth,
that the governor only wore one day out hunting and now sends, all for
Senora Sanchica."

"May he live a thousand years," said Sanchica, "and the bearer as
many, nay two thousand, if needful."

With this Teresa hurried out of the house with the letters, and with
the string of beads round her neck, and went along thrumming the
letters as if they were a tambourine, and by chance coming across
the curate and Samson Carrasco she began capering and saying, "None of
us poor now, faith! We've got a little government! Ay, let the
finest fine lady tackle me, and I'll give her a setting down!"

"What's all this, Teresa Panza," said they; "what madness is this,
and what papers are those?"

"The madness is only this," said she, "that these are the letters of
duchesses and governors, and these I have on my neck are fine coral
beads, with ave-marias and paternosters of beaten gold, and I am a
governess."

"God help us," said the curate, "we don't understand you, Teresa, or
know what you are talking about."

"There, you may see it yourselves," said Teresa, and she handed them
the letters.

The curate read them out for Samson Carrasco to hear, and Samson and
he regarded one another with looks of astonishment at what they had
read, and the bachelor asked who had brought the letters. Teresa in
reply bade them come with her to her house and they would see the
messenger, a most elegant youth, who had brought another present which
was worth as much more. The curate took the coral beads from her
neck and examined them again and again, and having satisfied himself
as to their fineness he fell to wondering afresh, and said, "By the
gown I wear I don't know what to say or think of these letters and
presents; on the one hand I can see and feel the fineness of these
coral beads, and on the other I read how a duchess sends to beg for
a couple of dozen of acorns."

"Square that if you can," said Carrasco; "well, let's go and see the
messenger, and from him we'll learn something about this mystery
that has turned up."

They did so, and Teresa returned with them. They found the page
sifting a little barley for his horse, and Sanchica cutting a rasher
of bacon to be paved with eggs for his dinner. His looks and his
handsome apparel pleased them both greatly; and after they had saluted
him courteously, and he them, Samson begged him to give them his news,
as well of Don Quixote as of Sancho Panza, for, he said, though they
had read the letters from Sancho and her ladyship the duchess, they
were still puzzled and could not make out what was meant by Sancho's
government, and above all of an island, when all or most of those in
the Mediterranean belonged to his Majesty.

To this the page replied, "As to Senor Sancho Panza's being a
governor there is no doubt whatever; but whether it is an island or
not that he governs, with that I have nothing to do; suffice it that
it is a town of more than a thousand inhabitants; with regard to the
acorns I may tell you my lady the duchess is so unpretending and
unassuming that, not to speak of sending to beg for acorns from a
peasant woman, she has been known to send to ask for the loan of a
comb from one of her neighbours; for I would have your worships know
that the ladies of Aragon, though they are just as illustrious, are
not so punctilious and haughty as the Castilian ladies; they treat
people with greater familiarity."

In the middle of this conversation Sanchica came in with her skirt
full of eggs, and said she to the page, "Tell me, senor, does my
father wear trunk-hose since he has been governor?"

"I have not noticed," said the page; "but no doubt he wears them."

"Ah! my God!" said Sanchica, "what a sight it must be to see my
father in tights! Isn't it odd that ever since I was born I have had a
longing to see my father in trunk-hose?"

"As things go you will see that if you live," said the page; "by God
he is in the way to take the road with a sunshade if the government
only lasts him two months more."

The curate and the bachelor could see plainly enough that the page
spoke in a waggish vein; but the fineness of the coral beads, and
the hunting suit that Sancho sent (for Teresa had already shown it
to them) did away with the impression; and they could not help
laughing at Sanchica's wish, and still more when Teresa said, "Senor
curate, look about if there's anybody here going to Madrid or
Toledo, to buy me a hooped petticoat, a proper fashionable one of
the best quality; for indeed and indeed I must do honour to my
husband's government as well as I can; nay, if I am put to it and have
to, I'll go to Court and set a coach like all the world; for she who
has a governor for her husband may very well have one and keep one."

"And why not, mother!" said Sanchica; "would to God it were to-day
instead of to-morrow, even though they were to say when they saw me
seated in the coach with my mother, 'See that rubbish, that
garlic-stuffed fellow's daughter, how she goes stretched at her ease
in a coach as if she was a she-pope!' But let them tramp through the
mud, and let me go in my coach with my feet off the ground. Bad luck
to backbiters all over the world; 'let me go warm and the people may
laugh.' Do I say right, mother?"

"To be sure you do, my child," said Teresa; "and all this good luck,
and even more, my good Sancho foretold me; and thou wilt see, my
daughter, he won't stop till he has made me a countess; for to make
a beginning is everything in luck; and as I have heard thy good father
say many a time (for besides being thy father he's the father of
proverbs too), 'When they offer thee a heifer, run with a halter; when
they offer thee a government, take it; when they would give thee a
county, seize it; when they say, "Here, here!" to thee with
something good, swallow it.' Oh no! go to sleep, and don't answer
the strokes of good fortune and the lucky chances that are knocking at
the door of your house!"

"And what do I care," added Sanchica, "whether anybody says when
he sees me holding my head up, 'The dog saw himself in hempen
breeches,' and the rest of it?"

Hearing this the curate said, "I do believe that all this family
of the Panzas are born with a sackful of proverbs in their insides,
every one of them; I never saw one of them that does not pour them out
at all times and on all occasions."

"That is true," said the page, "for Senor Governor Sancho utters
them at every turn; and though a great many of them are not to the
purpose, still they amuse one, and my lady the duchess and the duke
praise them highly."

"Then you still maintain that all this about Sancho's government
is true, senor," said the bachelor, "and that there actually is a
duchess who sends him presents and writes to him? Because we, although
we have handled the present and read the letters, don't believe it and
suspect it to be something in the line of our fellow-townsman Don
Quixote, who fancies that everything is done by enchantment; and for
this reason I am almost ready to say that I'd like to touch and feel
your worship to see whether you are a mere ambassador of the
imagination or a man of flesh and blood."

"All I know, sirs," replied the page, "is that I am a real
ambassador, and that Senor Sancho Panza is governor as a matter of
fact, and that my lord and lady the duke and duchess can give, and
have given him this same government, and that I have heard the said
Sancho Panza bears himself very stoutly therein; whether there be
any enchantment in all this or not, it is for your worships to settle
between you; for that's all I know by the oath I swear, and that is by
the life of my parents whom I have still alive, and love dearly."

"It may be so," said the bachelor; "but dubitat Augustinus."

"Doubt who will," said the page; "what I have told you is the truth,
and that will always rise above falsehood as oil above water; if not
operibus credite, et non verbis. Let one of you come with me, and he
will see with his eyes what he does not believe with his ears."

"It's for me to make that trip," said Sanchica; "take me with you,
senor, behind you on your horse; for I'll go with all my heart to
see my father."

"Governors' daughters," said the page, "must not travel along the
roads alone, but accompanied by coaches and litters and a great number
of attendants."

"By God," said Sanchica, "I can go just as well mounted on a she-ass
as in a coach; what a dainty lass you must take me for!"

"Hush, girl," said Teresa; "you don't know what you're talking
about; the gentleman is quite right, for 'as the time so the
behaviour;' when it was Sancho it was 'Sancha;' when it is governor
it's 'senora;' I don't know if I'm right."

"Senora Teresa says more than she is aware of," said the page;
"and now give me something to eat and let me go at once, for I mean to
return this evening."

"Come and do penance with me," said the curate at this; "for
Senora Teresa has more will than means to serve so worthy a guest."

The page refused, but had to consent at last for his own sake; and
the curate took him home with him very gladly, in order to have an
opportunity of questioning him at leisure about Don Quixote and his
doings. The bachelor offered to write the letters in reply for Teresa;
but she did not care to let him mix himself up in her affairs, for she
thought him somewhat given to joking; and so she gave a cake and a
couple of eggs to a young acolyte who was a penman, and he wrote for
her two letters, one for her husband and the other for the duchess,
dictated out of her own head, which are not the worst inserted in this
great history, as will be seen farther on.




Don Quixote by Migeul de Cervantes
Category:
Romance Literature - Spanish
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