Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 109)

To which the duchess made answer, "that worthy Sancho is droll Iconsider a very good thing, because it is a sign that he is shrewd;for drollery and sprightliness, Senor Don Quixote, as you very wellknow, do not take up their abode with dull wits; and as good Sancho isdroll and sprightly I here set him down as shrewd."

"And talkative," added Don Quixote.

"So much the better," said the duke, "for many droll things cannotbe said in few words; but not to lose time in talking, come, greatKnight of the Rueful Countenance-"

"Of the Lions, your highness must say," said Sancho, "for there isno Rueful Countenance nor any such character now."

"He of the Lions be it," continued the duke; "I say, let SirKnight of the Lions come to a castle of mine close by, where heshall be given that reception which is due to so exalted apersonage, and which the duchess and I are wont to give to allknights-errant who come there."

By this time Sancho had fixed and girthed Rocinante's saddle, andDon Quixote having got on his back and the duke mounted a finehorse, they placed the duchess in the middle and set out for thecastle. The duchess desired Sancho to come to her side, for shefound infinite enjoyment in listening to his shrewd remarks. Sanchorequired no pressing, but pushed himself in between them and the duke,who thought it rare good fortune to receive such a knight-errant andsuch a homely squire in their castle.



Supreme was the satisfaction that Sancho felt at seeing himself,as it seemed, an established favourite with the duchess, for he lookedforward to finding in her castle what he had found in Don Diego'shouse and in Basilio's; he was always fond of good living, andalways seized by the forelock any opportunity of feasting himselfwhenever it presented itself. The history informs us, then, thatbefore they reached the country house or castle, the duke went on inadvance and instructed all his servants how they were to treat DonQuixote; and so the instant he came up to the castle gates with theduchess, two lackeys or equerries, clad in what they call morninggowns 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 offher horse." Don Quixote obeyed, and great bandying of complimentsfollowed between the two over the matter; but in the end the duchess'sdetermination carried the day, and she refused to get down or dismountfrom her palfrey except in the arms of the duke, saying she did notconsider herself worthy to impose so unnecessary a burden on sogreat a knight. At length the duke came out to take her down, and asthey entered a spacious court two fair damsels came forward andthrew over Don Quixote's shoulders a large mantle of the finestscarlet cloth, and at the same instant all the galleries of thecourt were lined with the men-servants and women-servants of thehousehold, crying, "Welcome, flower and cream of knight-errantry!"while all or most of them flung pellets filled with scented water overDon Quixote and the duke and duchess; at all which Don Quixote wasgreatly astonished, and this was the first time that he thoroughlyfelt and believed himself to be a knight-errant in reality and notmerely in fancy, now that he saw himself treated in the same way as hehad read of such knights being treated in days of yore.

Sancho, deserting Dapple, hung on to the duchess and entered thecastle, but feeling some twinges of conscience at having left theass alone, he approached a respectable duenna who had come out withthe 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 shouldbe glad if your worship would do me the favour to go out to the castlegate, where you will find a grey ass of mine; make them, if youplease, put him in the stable, or put him there yourself, for the poorlittle beast is rather easily frightened, and cannot bear beingalone at all."

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

"Well then, in troth," returned Sancho, "I have heard my master, whois the very treasure-finder of stories, telling the story ofLancelot when he came from Britain, say that ladies waited upon himand duennas upon his hack; and, if it comes to my ass, I wouldn'tchange him for Senor Lancelot's hack."

"If you are a jester, brother," said the duenna, "keep yourdrolleries 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 youwon't lose the trick in years by a point too little."

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

"With this good fellow here," said the duenna, "who has particularlyrequested me to go and put an ass of his that is at the castle gateinto the stable, holding it up to me as an example that they did thesame 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, hecalled me old."

"That," said the duchess, "I should have considered the greatestaffront that could be offered me;" and addressing Sancho, she saidto him, "You must know, friend Sancho, that Dona Rodriguez is veryyouthful, and that she wears that hood more for authority and customsake than because of her years."

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

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

"Senor," replied Sancho, "every one must mention what he wantswherever 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 isno reason at all to find fault with him; Dapple shall be fed to hisheart's content, and Sancho may rest easy, for he shall be treatedlike himself."

While this conversation, amusing to all except Don Quixote, wasproceeding, they ascended the staircase and ushered Don Quixote into achamber hung with rich cloth of gold and brocade; six damsels relievedhim of his armour and waited on him like pages, all of them preparedand instructed by the duke and duchess as to what they were to do, andhow they were to treat Don Quixote, so that he might see and believethey were treating him like a knight-errant. When his armour wasremoved, there stood Don Quixote in his tight-fitting breeches andchamois doublet, lean, lanky, and long, with cheeks that seemed tobe kissing each other inside; such a figure, that if the damselswaiting on him had not taken care to check their merriment (whichwas one of the particular directions their master and mistress hadgiven them), they would have burst with laughter. They asked him tolet himself be stripped that they might put a shirt on him, but hewould not on any account, saying that modesty became knights-errantjust as much as valour. However, he said they might give the shirtto Sancho; and shutting himself in with him in a room where therewas a sumptuous bed, he undressed and put on the shirt; and then,finding himself alone with Sancho, he said to him, "Tell me, thounew-fledged buffoon and old booby, dost thou think it right tooffend and insult a duenna so deserving of reverence and respect asthat one just now? Was that a time to bethink thee of thy Dapple, orare these noble personages likely to let the beasts fare badly whenthey 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 whata coarse, boorish texture thou art of. Remember, sinner that thou art,the master is the more esteemed the more respectable and well-bred hisservants are; and that one of the greatest advantages that princeshave over other men is that they have servants as good as themselvesto wait on them. Dost thou not see- shortsighted being that thouart, and unlucky mortal that I am!- that if they perceive thee to be acoarse clown or a dull blockhead, they will suspect me to be someimpostor or swindler? Nay, nay, Sancho friend, keep clear, oh, keepclear of these stumbling-blocks; for he who falls into the way ofbeing a chatterbox and droll, drops into a wretched buffoon thefirst time he trips; bridle thy tongue, consider and weigh thy wordsbefore they escape thy mouth, and bear in mind we are now inquarters whence, by God's help, and the strength of my arm, we shallcome 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 notaltogether to the purpose and well considered, and told him he mightmake his mind easy on that point, for it should never be discoveredthrough 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 amontera of green satin that the damsels had given him, and thusarrayed passed out into the large room, where he found the damselsdrawn up in double file, the same number on each side, all with theappliances for washing the hands, which they presented to him withprofuse obeisances and ceremonies. Then came twelve pages, togetherwith the seneschal, to lead him to dinner, as his hosts were alreadywaiting for him. They placed him in the midst of them, and with muchpomp and stateliness they conducted him into another room, where therewas a sumptuous table laid with but four covers. The duchess and theduke came out to the door of the room to receive him, and with thema grave ecclesiastic, one of those who rule noblemen's houses; oneof those who, not being born magnates themselves, never know how toteach those who are how to behave as such; one of those who would havethe greatness of great folk measured by their own narrowness ofmind; one of those who, when they try to introduce economy into thehousehold they rule, lead it into meanness. One of this sort, I say,must have been the grave churchman who came out with the duke andduchess 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 totable. The duke pressed Don Quixote to take the head of the table,and, though he refused, the entreaties of the duke were so urgent thathe had to accept it.

The ecclesiastic took his seat opposite to him, and the duke andduchess those at the sides. All this time Sancho stood by, gaping withamazement at the honour he saw shown to his master by theseillustrious persons; and observing all the ceremonious pressing thathad passed between the duke and Don Quixote to induce him to takehis seat at the head of the table, he said, "If your worship will giveme leave I will tell you a story of what happened in my villageabout this matter of seats."

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

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

"Well then," said Sancho, "what I am going to say is so true that mymaster 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 goingto say."

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

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

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

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

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

"Thou citest so many witnesses and proofs, Sancho," said DonQuixote, "that I have no choice but to say thou must be telling thetruth; go on, and cut the story short, for thou art taking the way notto make an end for two days to come."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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