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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 112)


"What is all this, brothers?" asked the duchess. "What is it? Whatdo you want to do to this good man? Do you forget he is agovernor-elect?"

To which the barber kitchen-boy replied, "The gentleman will not lethimself be washed as is customary, and as my lord the and the senorhis master have been."

"Yes, I will," said Sancho, in a great rage; "but I'd like it tobe with cleaner towels, clearer lye, and not such dirty hands; forthere's not so much difference between me and my master that he shouldbe washed with angels' water and I with devil's lye. The customs ofcountries and princes' palaces are only good so long as they give noannoyance; but the way of washing they have here is worse than doingpenance. I have a clean beard, and I don't require to be refreshedin that fashion, and whoever comes to wash me or touch a hair of myhead, I mean to say my beard, with all due respect be it said, I'llgive him a punch that will leave my fist sunk in his skull; forcirimonies and soapings of this sort are more like jokes than thepolite attentions of one's host."

The duchess was ready to die with laughter when she saw Sancho'srage and heard his words; but it was no pleasure to Don Quixote to seehim in such a sorry trim, with the dingy towel about him, and thehangers-on of the kitchen all round him; so making a low bow to theduke and duchess, as if to ask their permission to speak, he addressedthe rout in a dignified tone: "Holloa, gentlemen! you let that youthalone, and go back to where you came from, or anywhere else if youlike; my squire is as clean as any other person, and those troughs areas bad as narrow thin-necked jars to him; take my advice and leave himalone, for neither he nor I understand joking."

Sancho took the word out of his mouth and went on, "Nay, let themcome and try their jokes on the country bumpkin, for it's about aslikely I'll stand them as that it's now midnight! Let them bring mea comb here, or what they please, and curry this beard of mine, and ifthey get anything out of it that offends against cleanliness, let themclip me to the skin."

Upon this, the duchess, laughing all the while, said, "SanchoPanza is right, and always will be in all he says; he is clean, and,as he says himself, he does not require to be washed; and if ourways do not please him, he is free to choose. Besides, you promotersof cleanliness have been excessively careless and thoughtless, I don'tknow if I ought not to say audacious, to bring troughs and woodenutensils and kitchen dishclouts, instead of basins and jugs of puregold and towels of holland, to such a person and such a beard; but,after all, you are ill-conditioned and ill-bred, and spiteful as youare, you cannot help showing the grudge you have against the squiresof knights-errant."

The impudent servitors, and even the seneschal who came with them,took the duchess to be speaking in earnest, so they removed thestraining-cloth from Sancho's neck, and with something like shameand confusion of face went off all of them and left him; whereupon he,seeing himself safe out of that extreme danger, as it seemed to him,ran and fell on his knees before the duchess, saying, "From greatladies great favours may be looked for; this which your grace has doneme today cannot be requited with less than wishing I was dubbed aknight-errant, to devote myself all the days of my life to the serviceof so exalted a lady. I am a labouring man, my name is Sancho Panza, Iam married, I have children, and I am serving as a squire; if in anyone of these ways I can serve your highness, I will not he longer inobeying than your grace in commanding."

"It is easy to see, Sancho," replied the duchess, "that you havelearned to he polite in the school of politeness itself; I mean to sayit is easy to see that you have been nursed in the bosom of SenorDon Quixote, who is, of course, the cream of good breeding andflower of ceremony- or cirimony, as you would say yourself. Fair bethe fortunes of such a master and such a servant, the one the cynosureof knight-errantry, the other the star of squirely fidelity! Rise,Sancho, my friend; I will repay your courtesy by taking care that mylord the duke makes good to you the promised gift of the government assoon as possible."

With this, the conversation came to an end, and Don Quixoteretired to take his midday sleep; but the duchess begged Sancho,unless he had a very great desire to go to sleep, to come and spendthe afternoon with her and her damsels in a very cool chamber.Sancho replied that, though he certainly had the habit of sleepingfour or five hours in the heat of the day in summer, to serve herexcellence he would try with all his might not to sleep even onethat day, and that he would come in obedience to her command, and withthat he went off. The duke gave fresh orders with respect totreating Don Quixote as a knight-errant, without departing even insmallest particular from the style in which, as the stories tell us,they used to treat the knights of old.

CHAPTER XXXIII

OF THE DELECTABLE DISCOURSE WHICH THE DUCHESS AND HER DAMSELS HELDWITH SANCHO PANZA, WELL WORTH READING AND NOTING

The history records that Sancho did not sleep that afternoon, but inorder to keep his word came, before he had well done dinner, tovisit the duchess, who, finding enjoyment in listening to him, madehim sit down beside her on a low seat, though Sancho, out of pure goodbreeding, wanted not to sit down; the duchess, however, told him hewas to sit down as governor and talk as squire, as in both respects hewas worthy of even the chair of the Cid Ruy Diaz the Campeador. Sanchoshrugged his shoulders, obeyed, and sat down, and all the duchess'sdamsels and duennas gathered round him, waiting in profound silence tohear what he would say. It was the duchess, however, who spokefirst, saying:

"Now that we are alone, and that there is nobody here to overhearus, I should be glad if the senor governor would relieve me of certaindoubts I have, rising out of the history of the great Don Quixote thatis now in print. One is: inasmuch as worthy Sancho never saw Dulcinea,I mean the lady Dulcinea del Toboso, nor took Don Quixote's letterto her, for it was left in the memorandum book in the Sierra Morena,how did he dare to invent the answer and all that about finding hersifting wheat, the whole story being a deception and falsehood, and somuch to the prejudice of the peerless Dulcinea's good name, a thingthat is not at all becoming the character and fidelity of a goodsquire?"

At these words, Sancho, without uttering one in reply, got up fromhis chair, and with noiseless steps, with his body bent and his fingeron his lips, went all round the room lifting up the hangings; and thisdone, he came back to his seat and said, "Now, senora, that I haveseen that there is no one except the bystanders listening to us on thesly, I will answer what you have asked me, and all you may ask me,without fear or dread. And the first thing I have got to say is,that for my own part I hold my master Don Quixote to be stark mad,though sometimes he says things that, to my mind, and indeedeverybody's that listens to him, are so wise, and run in such astraight furrow, that Satan himself could not have said them better;but for all that, really, and beyond all question, it's my firm beliefhe is cracked. Well, then, as this is clear to my mind, I canventure to make him believe things that have neither head nor tail,like that affair of the answer to the letter, and that other of six oreight days ago, which is not yet in history, that is to say, theaffair of the enchantment of my lady Dulcinea; for I made himbelieve she is enchanted, though there's no more truth in it than overthe hills of Ubeda.

The duchess begged him to tell her about the enchantment ordeception, so Sancho told the whole story exactly as it hadhappened, and his hearers were not a little amused by it; and thenresuming, the duchess said, "In consequence of what worthy Sanchohas told me, a doubt starts up in my mind, and there comes a kind ofwhisper to my ear that says, 'If Don Quixote be mad, crazy, andcracked, and Sancho Panza his squire knows it, and, notwithstanding,serves and follows him, and goes trusting to his empty promises, therecan be no doubt he must be still madder and sillier than his master;and that being so, it will be cast in your teeth, senora duchess, ifyou give the said Sancho an island to govern; for how will he who doesnot know how to govern himself know how to govern others?'"

"By God, senora," said Sancho, "but that doubt comes timely; butyour grace may say it out, and speak plainly, or as you like; for Iknow what you say is true, and if I were wise I should have left mymaster long ago; but this was my fate, this was my bad luck; I can'thelp it, I must follow him; we're from the same village, I've eatenhis bread, I'm fond of him, I'm grateful, he gave me his ass-colts,and above all I'm faithful; so it's quite impossible for anything toseparate us, except the pickaxe and shovel. And if your highnessdoes not like to give me the government you promised, God made mewithout it, and maybe your not giving it to me will be all thebetter for my conscience, for fool as I am I know the proverb 'toher hurt the ant got wings,' and it may be that Sancho the squire willget to heaven sooner than Sancho the governor. 'They make as goodbread here as in France,' and 'by night all cats are grey,' and 'ahard case enough his, who hasn't broken his fast at two in theafternoon,' and 'there's no stomach a hand's breadth bigger thananother,' and the same can he filled 'with straw or hay,' as thesaying is, and 'the little birds of the field have God for theirpurveyor and caterer,' and 'four yards of Cuenca frieze keep onewarmer than four of Segovia broad-cloth,' and 'when we quit this worldand are put underground the prince travels by as narrow a path asthe journeyman,' and 'the Pope's body does not take up more feet ofearth than the sacristan's,' for all that the one is higher than theother; for when we go to our graves we all pack ourselves up andmake ourselves small, or rather they pack us up and make us small inspite of us, and then- good night to us. And I say once more, ifyour ladyship does not like to give me the island because I'm afool, like a wise man I will take care to give myself no trouble aboutit; I have heard say that 'behind the cross there's the devil,' andthat 'all that glitters is not gold,' and that from among the oxen,and the ploughs, and the yokes, Wamba the husbandman was taken to bemade King of Spain, and from among brocades, and pleasures, andriches, Roderick was taken to be devoured by adders, if the versesof the old ballads don't lie."

"To be sure they don't lie!" exclaimed Dona Rodriguez, the duenna,who was one of the listeners. "Why, there's a ballad that says theyput King Rodrigo alive into a tomb full of toads, and adders, andlizards, and that two days afterwards the king, in a plaintive, feeblevoice, cried out from within the tomb-

They gnaw me now, they gnaw me now,There where I most did sin.

And according to that the gentleman has good reason to say he wouldrather be a labouring man than a king, if vermin are to eat him."

The duchess could not help laughing at the simplicity of her duenna,or wondering at the language and proverbs of Sancho, to whom she said,"Worthy Sancho knows very well that when once a knight has made apromise he strives to keep it, though it should cost him his life.My lord and husband the duke, though not one of the errant sort, isnone the less a knight for that reason, and will keep his word aboutthe promised island, in spite of the envy and malice of the world. LetSancho he of good cheer; for when he least expects it he will findhimself seated on the throne of his island and seat of dignity, andwill take possession of his government that he may discard it foranother of three-bordered brocade. The charge I give him is to becareful how he governs his vassals, bearing in mind that they areall loyal and well-born."

"As to governing them well," said Sancho, "there's no need ofcharging me to do that, for I'm kind-hearted by nature, and full ofcompassion for the poor; there's no stealing the loaf from him whokneads and bakes;' and by my faith it won't do to throw false dicewith me; I am an old dog, and I know all about 'tus, tus;' I can bewide-awake if need be, and I don't let clouds come before my eyes, forI know where the shoe pinches me; I say so, because with me the goodwill have support and protection, and the bad neither footing noraccess. And it seems to me that, in governments, to make a beginningis everything; and maybe, after having been governor a fortnight, I'lltake kindly to the work and know more about it than the field labour Ihave been brought up to."

"You are right, Sancho," said the duchess, "for no one is born readytaught, and the bishops are made out of men and not out of stones. Butto return to the subject we were discussing just now, theenchantment of the lady Dulcinea, I look upon it as certain, andsomething more than evident, that Sancho's idea of practising adeception upon his master, making him believe that the peasant girlwas Dulcinea and that if he did not recognise her it must be becauseshe was enchanted, was all a device of one of the enchanters thatpersecute Don Quixote. For in truth and earnest, I know from goodauthority that the coarse country wench who jumped up on the ass wasand is Dulcinea del Toboso, and that worthy Sancho, though hefancies himself the deceiver, is the one that is deceived; and thatthere is no more reason to doubt the truth of this, than of anythingelse we never saw. Senor Sancho Panza must know that we too haveenchanters here that are well disposed to us, and tell us what goes onin the world, plainly and distinctly, without subterfuge or deception;and believe me, Sancho, that agile country lass was and is Dulcineadel Toboso, who is as much enchanted as the mother that bore her;and when we least expect it, we shall see her in her own properform, and then Sancho will he disabused of the error he is under atpresent."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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