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CHAPTER XXXIX

IN WHICH THE TRIFALDI CONTINUES HER MARVELLOUS AND MEMORABLE STORY

By every word that Sancho uttered, the duchess was as much delighted
as Don Quixote was driven to desperation. He bade him hold his tongue,
and the Distressed One went on to say: "At length, after much
questioning and answering, as the princess held to her story,
without changing or varying her previous declaration, the Vicar gave
his decision in favour of Don Clavijo, and she was delivered over to
him as his lawful wife; which the Queen Dona Maguncia, the Princess
Antonomasia's mother, so took to heart, that within the space of three
days we buried her."

"She died, no doubt," said Sancho.

"Of course," said Trifaldin; "they don't bury living people in
Kandy, only the dead."

"Senor Squire," said Sancho, "a man in a swoon has been known to
be buried before now, in the belief that he was dead; and it struck me
that Queen Maguncia ought to have swooned rather than died; because
with life a great many things come right, and the princess's folly was
not so great that she need feel it so keenly. If the lady had
married some page of hers, or some other servant of the house, as many
another has done, so I have heard say, then the mischief would have
been past curing. But to marry such an elegant accomplished
gentleman as has been just now described to us- indeed, indeed, though
it was a folly, it was not such a great one as you think; for
according to the rules of my master here- and he won't allow me to
lie- as of men of letters bishops are made, so of gentlemen knights,
specially if they be errant, kings and emperors may be made."

"Thou art right, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "for with a
knight-errant, if he has but two fingers' breadth of good fortune,
it is on the cards to become the mightiest lord on earth. But let
senora the Distressed One proceed; for I suspect she has got yet to
tell us the bitter part of this so far sweet story."

"The bitter is indeed to come," said the countess; "and such
bitter that colocynth is sweet and oleander toothsome in comparison.
The queen, then, being dead, and not in a swoon, we buried her; and
hardly had we covered her with earth, hardly had we said our last
farewells, when, quis talia fando temperet a lachrymis? over the
queen's grave there appeared, mounted upon a wooden horse, the giant
Malambruno, Maguncia's first cousin, who besides being cruel is an
enchanter; and he, to revenge the death of his cousin, punish the
audacity of Don Clavijo, and in wrath at the contumacy of Antonomasia,
left them both enchanted by his art on the grave itself; she being
changed into an ape of brass, and he into a horrible crocodile of some
unknown metal; while between the two there stands a pillar, also of
metal, with certain characters in the Syriac language inscribed upon
it, which, being translated into Kandian, and now into Castilian,
contain the following sentence: 'These two rash lovers shall not
recover their former shape until the valiant Manchegan comes to do
battle with me in single combat; for the Fates reserve this unexampled
adventure for his mighty valour alone.' This done, he drew from its
sheath a huge broad scimitar, and seizing me by the hair he made as
though he meant to cut my throat and shear my head clean off. I was
terror-stricken, my voice stuck in my throat, and I was in the deepest
distress; nevertheless I summoned up my strength as well as I could,
and in a trembling and piteous voice I addressed such words to him
as induced him to stay the infliction of a punishment so severe. He
then caused all the duennas of the palace, those that are here
present, to be brought before him; and after having dwelt upon the
enormity of our offence, and denounced duennas, their characters,
their evil ways and worse intrigues, laying to the charge of all
what I alone was guilty of, he said he would not visit us with capital
punishment, but with others of a slow nature which would be in
effect civil death for ever; and the very instant he ceased speaking
we all felt the pores of our faces opening, and pricking us, as if
with the points of needles. We at once put our hands up to our faces
and found ourselves in the state you now see."

Here the Distressed One and the other duennas raised the veils
with which they were covered, and disclosed countenances all bristling
with beards, some red, some black, some white, and some grizzled, at
which spectacle the duke and duchess made a show of being filled
with wonder. Don Quixote and Sancho were overwhelmed with amazement,
and the bystanders lost in astonishment, while the Trifaldi went on to
say: "Thus did that malevolent villain Malambruno punish us,
covering the tenderness and softness of our faces with these rough
bristles! Would to heaven that he had swept off our heads with his
enormous scimitar instead of obscuring the light of our countenances
with these wool-combings that cover us! For if we look into the
matter, sirs (and what I am now going to say I would say with eyes
flowing like fountains, only that the thought of our misfortune and
the oceans they have already wept, keep them as dry as barley
spears, and so I say it without tears), where, I ask, can a duenna
with a beard to to? What father or mother will feel pity for her?
Who will help her? For, if even when she has a smooth skin, and a face
tortured by a thousand kinds of washes and cosmetics, she can hardly
get anybody to love her, what will she do when she shows a
countenace turned into a thicket? Oh duennas, companions mine! it
was an unlucky moment when we were born and an ill-starred hour when
our fathers begot us!" And as she said this she showed signs of
being about to faint.




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