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CHAPTER XXXI

WHICH TREATS OF MANY AND GREAT MATTERS

Supreme was the satisfaction that Sancho felt at seeing himself,
as it seemed, an established favourite with the duchess, for he looked
forward to finding in her castle what he had found in Don Diego's
house and in Basilio's; he was always fond of good living, and
always seized by the forelock any opportunity of feasting himself
whenever it presented itself. The history informs us, then, that
before they reached the country house or castle, the duke went on in
advance and instructed all his servants how they were to treat Don
Quixote; and so the instant he came up to the castle gates with the
duchess, two lackeys or equerries, clad in what they call morning
gowns of fine crimson satin reaching to their feet, hastened out,
and catching Don Quixote in their arms before he saw or heard them,
said to him, "Your highness should go and take my lady the duchess off
her horse." Don Quixote obeyed, and great bandying of compliments
followed between the two over the matter; but in the end the duchess's
determination carried the day, and she refused to get down or dismount
from her palfrey except in the arms of the duke, saying she did not
consider herself worthy to impose so unnecessary a burden on so
great a knight. At length the duke came out to take her down, and as
they entered a spacious court two fair damsels came forward and
threw over Don Quixote's shoulders a large mantle of the finest
scarlet cloth, and at the same instant all the galleries of the
court were lined with the men-servants and women-servants of the
household, crying, "Welcome, flower and cream of knight-errantry!"
while all or most of them flung pellets filled with scented water over
Don Quixote and the duke and duchess; at all which Don Quixote was
greatly astonished, and this was the first time that he thoroughly
felt and believed himself to be a knight-errant in reality and not
merely in fancy, now that he saw himself treated in the same way as he
had read of such knights being treated in days of yore.

Sancho, deserting Dapple, hung on to the duchess and entered the
castle, but feeling some twinges of conscience at having left the
ass alone, he approached a respectable duenna who had come out with
the rest to receive the duchess, and in a low voice he said to her,
"Senora Gonzalez, or however your grace may be called-"

"I am called Dona Rodriguez de Grijalba," replied the duenna;
"what is your will, brother?" To which Sancho made answer, "I should
be glad if your worship would do me the favour to go out to the castle
gate, where you will find a grey ass of mine; make them, if you
please, put him in the stable, or put him there yourself, for the poor
little beast is rather easily frightened, and cannot bear being
alone at all."

"If the master is as wise as the man," said the duenna, "we have got
a fine bargain. Be off with you, brother, and bad luck to you and
him who brought you here; go, look after your ass, for we, the duennas
of this house, are not used to work of that sort."

"Well then, in troth," returned Sancho, "I have heard my master, who
is the very treasure-finder of stories, telling the story of
Lancelot when he came from Britain, say that ladies waited upon him
and duennas upon his hack; and, if it comes to my ass, I wouldn't
change him for Senor Lancelot's hack."

"If you are a jester, brother," said the duenna, "keep your
drolleries for some place where they'll pass muster and be paid for;
for you'll get nothing from me but a fig."

"At any rate, it will be a very ripe one," said Sancho, "for you
won't lose the trick in years by a point too little."

"Son of a bitch," said the duenna, all aglow with anger, "whether
I'm old or not, it's with God I have to reckon, not with you, you
garlic-stuffed scoundrel!" and she said it so loud, that the duchess
heard it, and turning round and seeing the duenna in such a state of
excitement, and her eyes flaming so, asked whom she was wrangling
with.

"With this good fellow here," said the duenna, "who has particularly
requested me to go and put an ass of his that is at the castle gate
into the stable, holding it up to me as an example that they did the
same I don't know where- that some ladies waited on one Lancelot,
and duennas on his hack; and what is more, to wind up with, he
called me old."

"That," said the duchess, "I should have considered the greatest
affront that could be offered me;" and addressing Sancho, she said
to him, "You must know, friend Sancho, that Dona Rodriguez is very
youthful, and that she wears that hood more for authority and custom
sake than because of her years."

"May all the rest of mine be unlucky," said Sancho, "if I meant it
that way; I only spoke because the affection I have for my ass is so
great, and I thought I could not commend him to a more kind-hearted
person than the lady Dona Rodriguez."

Don Quixote, who was listening, said to him, "Is this proper
conversation for the place, Sancho?"

"Senor," replied Sancho, "every one must mention what he wants
wherever he may be; I thought of Dapple here, and I spoke of him here;
if I had thought of him in the stable I would have spoken there."

On which the duke observed, "Sancho is quite right, and there is
no reason at all to find fault with him; Dapple shall be fed to his
heart's content, and Sancho may rest easy, for he shall be treated
like himself."

While this conversation, amusing to all except Don Quixote, was
proceeding, they ascended the staircase and ushered Don Quixote into a
chamber hung with rich cloth of gold and brocade; six damsels relieved
him of his armour and waited on him like pages, all of them prepared
and instructed by the duke and duchess as to what they were to do, and
how they were to treat Don Quixote, so that he might see and believe
they were treating him like a knight-errant. When his armour was
removed, there stood Don Quixote in his tight-fitting breeches and
chamois doublet, lean, lanky, and long, with cheeks that seemed to
be kissing each other inside; such a figure, that if the damsels
waiting on him had not taken care to check their merriment (which
was one of the particular directions their master and mistress had
given them), they would have burst with laughter. They asked him to
let himself be stripped that they might put a shirt on him, but he
would not on any account, saying that modesty became knights-errant
just as much as valour. However, he said they might give the shirt
to Sancho; and shutting himself in with him in a room where there
was a sumptuous bed, he undressed and put on the shirt; and then,
finding himself alone with Sancho, he said to him, "Tell me, thou
new-fledged buffoon and old booby, dost thou think it right to
offend and insult a duenna so deserving of reverence and respect as
that one just now? Was that a time to bethink thee of thy Dapple, or
are these noble personages likely to let the beasts fare badly when
they treat their owners in such elegant style? For God's sake, Sancho,
restrain thyself, and don't show the thread so as to let them see what
a coarse, boorish texture thou art of. Remember, sinner that thou art,
the master is the more esteemed the more respectable and well-bred his
servants are; and that one of the greatest advantages that princes
have over other men is that they have servants as good as themselves
to wait on them. Dost thou not see- shortsighted being that thou
art, and unlucky mortal that I am!- that if they perceive thee to be a
coarse clown or a dull blockhead, they will suspect me to be some
impostor or swindler? Nay, nay, Sancho friend, keep clear, oh, keep
clear of these stumbling-blocks; for he who falls into the way of
being a chatterbox and droll, drops into a wretched buffoon the
first time he trips; bridle thy tongue, consider and weigh thy words
before they escape thy mouth, and bear in mind we are now in
quarters whence, by God's help, and the strength of my arm, we shall
come forth mightily advanced in fame and fortune."

Sancho promised him with much earnestness to keep his mouth shut,
and to bite off his tongue before he uttered a word that was not
altogether to the purpose and well considered, and told him he might
make his mind easy on that point, for it should never be discovered
through him what they were.

Don Quixote dressed himself, put on his baldric with his sword,
threw the scarlet mantle over his shoulders, placed on his head a
montera of green satin that the damsels had given him, and thus
arrayed passed out into the large room, where he found the damsels
drawn up in double file, the same number on each side, all with the
appliances for washing the hands, which they presented to him with
profuse obeisances and ceremonies. Then came twelve pages, together
with the seneschal, to lead him to dinner, as his hosts were already
waiting for him. They placed him in the midst of them, and with much
pomp and stateliness they conducted him into another room, where there
was a sumptuous table laid with but four covers. The duchess and the
duke came out to the door of the room to receive him, and with them
a grave ecclesiastic, one of those who rule noblemen's houses; one
of those who, not being born magnates themselves, never know how to
teach those who are how to behave as such; one of those who would have
the greatness of great folk measured by their own narrowness of
mind; one of those who, when they try to introduce economy into the
household they rule, lead it into meanness. One of this sort, I say,
must have been the grave churchman who came out with the duke and
duchess to receive Don Quixote.

A vast number of polite speeches were exchanged, and at length,
taking Don Quixote between them, they proceeded to sit down to
table. The duke pressed Don Quixote to take the head of the table,
and, though he refused, the entreaties of the duke were so urgent that
he had to accept it.

The ecclesiastic took his seat opposite to him, and the duke and
duchess those at the sides. All this time Sancho stood by, gaping with
amazement at the honour he saw shown to his master by these
illustrious persons; and observing all the ceremonious pressing that
had passed between the duke and Don Quixote to induce him to take
his seat at the head of the table, he said, "If your worship will give
me leave I will tell you a story of what happened in my village
about this matter of seats."

The moment Sancho said this Don Quixote trembled, making sure that
he was about to say something foolish. Sancho glanced at him, and
guessing his thoughts, said, "Don't be afraid of my going astray,
senor, or saying anything that won't be pat to the purpose; I
haven't forgotten the advice your worship gave me just now about
talking much or little, well or ill."

"I have no recollection of anything, Sancho," said Don Quixote; "say
what thou wilt, only say it quickly."

"Well then," said Sancho, "what I am going to say is so true that my
master Don Quixote, who is here present, will keep me from lying."

"Lie as much as thou wilt for all I care, Sancho," said Don Quixote,
"for I am not going to stop thee, but consider what thou art going
to say."

"I have so considered and reconsidered," said Sancho, "that the
bell-ringer's in a safe berth; as will be seen by what follows."

"It would be well," said Don Quixote, "if your highnesses would
order them to turn out this idiot, for he will talk a heap of
nonsense."

"By the life of the duke, Sancho shall not be taken away from me for
a moment," said the duchess; "I am very fond of him, for I know he
is very discreet."

"Discreet be the days of your holiness," said Sancho, "for the
good opinion you have of my wit, though there's none in me; but the
story I want to tell is this. There was an invitation given by a
gentleman of my town, a very rich one, and one of quality, for he
was one of the Alamos of Medina del Campo, and married to Dona
Mencia de Quinones, the daughter of Don Alonso de Maranon, Knight of
the Order of Santiago, that was drowned at the Herradura- him there
was that quarrel about years ago in our village, that my master Don
Quixote was mixed up in, to the best of my belief, that Tomasillo
the scapegrace, the son of Balbastro the smith, was wounded in.- Isn't
all this true, master mine? As you live, say so, that these gentlefolk
may not take me for some lying chatterer."

"So far," said the ecclesiastic, "I take you to be more a
chatterer than a liar; but I don't know what I shall take you for
by-and-by."

"Thou citest so many witnesses and proofs, Sancho," said Don
Quixote, "that I have no choice but to say thou must be telling the
truth; go on, and cut the story short, for thou art taking the way not
to make an end for two days to come."

"He is not to cut it short," said the duchess; "on the contrary, for
my gratification, he is to tell it as he knows it, though he should
not finish it these six days; and if he took so many they would be
to me the pleasantest I ever spent."

"Well then, sirs, I say," continued Sancho, "that this same
gentleman, whom I know as well as I do my own hands, for it's not a
bowshot from my house to his, invited a poor but respectable
labourer-"

"Get on, brother," said the churchman; "at the rate you are going
you will not stop with your story short of the next world."

"I'll stop less than half-way, please God," said Sancho; "and so I
say this labourer, coming to the house of the gentleman I spoke of
that invited him- rest his soul, he is now dead; and more by token
he died the death of an angel, so they say; for I was not there, for
just at that time I had gone to reap at Tembleque-"

"As you live, my son," said the churchman, "make haste back from
Tembleque, and finish your story without burying the gentleman, unless
you want to make more funerals."

"Well then, it so happened," said Sancho, "that as the pair of
them were going to sit down to table -and I think I can see them now
plainer than ever-"

Great was the enjoyment the duke and duchess derived from the
irritation the worthy churchman showed at the long-winded, halting way
Sancho had of telling his story, while Don Quixote was chafing with
rage and vexation.

"So, as I was saying," continued Sancho, "as the pair of them were
going to sit down to table, as I said, the labourer insisted upon
the gentleman's taking the head of the table, and the gentleman
insisted upon the labourer's taking it, as his orders should be obeyed
in his house; but the labourer, who plumed himself on his politeness
and good breeding, would not on any account, until the gentleman,
out of patience, putting his hands on his shoulders, compelled him
by force to sit down, saying, 'Sit down, you stupid lout, for wherever
I sit will he the head to you; and that's the story, and, troth, I
think it hasn't been brought in amiss here."

Don Quixote turned all colours, which, on his sunburnt face, mottled
it till it looked like jasper. The duke and duchess suppressed their
laughter so as not altogether to mortify Don Quixote, for they saw
through Sancho's impertinence; and to change the conversation, and
keep Sancho from uttering more absurdities, the duchess asked Don
Quixote what news he had of the lady Dulcinea, and if he had sent
her any presents of giants or miscreants lately, for he could not
but have vanquished a good many.

To which Don Quixote replied, "Senora, my misfortunes, though they
had a beginning, will never have an end. I have vanquished giants
and I have sent her caitiffs and miscreants; but where are they to
find her if she is enchanted and turned into the most ill-favoured
peasant wench that can be imagined?"

"I don't know," said Sancho Panza; "to me she seems the fairest
creature in the world; at any rate, in nimbleness and jumping she
won't give in to a tumbler; by my faith, senora duchess, she leaps
from the ground on to the back of an ass like a cat."

"Have you seen her enchanted, Sancho?" asked the duke.

"What, seen her!" said Sancho; "why, who the devil was it but myself
that first thought of the enchantment business? She is as much
enchanted as my father."

The ecclesiastic, when he heard them talking of giants and
caitiffs and enchantments, began to suspect that this must be Don
Quixote of La Mancha, whose story the duke was always reading; and
he had himself often reproved him for it, telling him it was foolish
to read such fooleries; and becoming convinced that his suspicion
was correct, addressing the duke, he said very angrily to him, "Senor,
your excellence will have to give account to God for what this good
man does. This Don Quixote, or Don Simpleton, or whatever his name is,
cannot, I imagine, be such a blockhead as your excellence would have
him, holding out encouragement to him to go on with his vagaries and
follies." Then turning to address Don Quixote he said, "And you,
num-skull, who put it into your head that you are a knight-errant, and
vanquish giants and capture miscreants? Go your ways in a good hour,
and in a good hour be it said to you. Go home and bring up your
children if you have any, and attend to your business, and give over
going wandering about the world, gaping and making a laughing-stock of
yourself to all who know you and all who don't. Where, in heaven's
name, have you discovered that there are or ever were
knights-errant? Where are there giants in Spain or miscreants in La
Mancha, or enchanted Dulcineas, or all the rest of the silly things
they tell about you?"

Don Quixote listened attentively to the reverend gentleman's
words, and as soon as he perceived he had done speaking, regardless of
the presence of the duke and duchess, he sprang to his feet with angry
looks and an agitated countenance, and said -But the reply deserves
a chapter to itself.




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