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Chapter 36

  • **Wherein is related the strange and undreamt-of adventure of the distresse_uenna, alias the countess Trifaldi, together with a letter which Sancho Panz_rote to his wife, Teresa Panza**
  • The duke had a majordomo of a very facetious and sportive turn, and he it wa_hat played the part of Merlin, made all the arrangements for the lat_dventure, composed the verses, and got a page to represent Dulcinea; and now,
  • with the assistance of his master and mistress, he got up another of th_rollest and strangest contrivances that can be imagined.
  • The duchess asked Sancho the next day if he had made a beginning with hi_enance task which he had to perform for the disenchantment of Dulcinea. H_aid he had, and had given himself five lashes overnight.
  • The duchess asked him what he had given them with.
  • He said with his hand.
  • "That," said the duchess, "is more like giving oneself slaps than lashes; I a_ure the sage Merlin will not be satisfied with such tenderness; worthy Sanch_ust make a scourge with claws, or a cat-o'-nine tails, that will make itsel_elt; for it's with blood that letters enter, and the release of so great _ady as Dulcinea will not be granted so cheaply, or at such a paltry price;
  • and remember, Sancho, that works of charity done in a lukewarm and half-
  • hearted way are without merit and of no avail."
  • To which Sancho replied, "If your ladyship will give me a proper scourge o_ord, I'll lay on with it, provided it does not hurt too much; for you mus_now, boor as I am, my flesh is more cotton than hemp, and it won't do for m_o destroy myself for the good of anybody else."
  • "So be it by all means," said the duchess; "tomorrow I'll give you a scourg_hat will be just the thing for you, and will accommodate itself to th_enderness of your flesh, as if it was its own sister."
  • Then said Sancho, "Your highness must know, dear lady of my soul, that I hav_ letter written to my wife, Teresa Panza, giving her an account of all tha_as happened me since I left her; I have it here in my bosom, and there'_othing wanting but to put the address to it; I'd be glad if your discretio_ould read it, for I think it runs in the governor style; I mean the wa_overnors ought to write."
  • "And who dictated it?" asked the duchess.
  • "Who should have dictated but myself, sinner as I am?" said Sancho.
  • "And did you write it yourself?" said the duchess.
  • "That I didn't," said Sancho; "for I can neither read nor write, though I ca_ign my name."
  • "Let us see it," said the duchess, "for never fear but you display in it th_uality and quantity of your wit."
  • Sancho drew out an open letter from his bosom, and the duchess, taking it,
  • found it ran in this fashion:
  • SANCHO PANZA'S LETTER TO HIS WIFE, TERESA PANZA
  • If I was well whipped I went mounted like a gentleman; if I have got a goo_overnment it is at the cost of a good whipping. Thou wilt not understand thi_ust now, my Teresa; by-and-by thou wilt know what it means. I may tell thee,
  • Teresa, I mean thee to go in a coach, for that is a matter of importance,
  • because every other way of going is going on all-fours. Thou art a governor'_ife; take care that nobody speaks evil of thee behind thy back. I send the_ere a green hunting suit that my lady the duchess gave me; alter it so as t_ake a petticoat and bodice for our daughter. Don Quixote, my master, if I a_o believe what I hear in these parts, is a madman of some sense, and a drol_lockhead, and I am no way behind him. We have been in the cave of Montesinos,
  • and the sage Merlin has laid hold of me for the disenchantment of Dulcinea de_oboso, her that is called Aldonza Lorenzo over there. With three thousan_hree hundred lashes, less five, that I'm to give myself, she will be left a_ntirely disenchanted as the mother that bore her. Say nothing of this t_nyone; for, make thy affairs public, and some will say they are white an_thers will say they are black. I shall leave this in a few days for m_overnment, to which I am going with a mighty great desire to make money, fo_hey tell me all new governors set out with the same desire; I will feel th_ulse of it and will let thee know if thou art to come and live with me o_ot. Dapple is well and sends many remembrances to thee; I am not going t_eave him behind though they took me away to be Grand Turk. My lady th_uchess kisses thy hands a thousand times; do thou make a return with tw_housand, for as my master says, nothing costs less or is cheaper tha_ivility. God has not been pleased to provide another valise for me wit_nother hundred crowns, like the one the other day; but never mind, my Teresa,
  • the bell-ringer is in safe quarters, and all will come out in the scouring o_he government; only it troubles me greatly what they tell me—that once I hav_asted it I will eat my hands off after it; and if that is so it will not com_ery cheap to me; though to be sure the maimed have a benefice of their own i_he alms they beg for; so that one way or another thou wilt be rich and i_uck. God give it to thee as he can, and keep me to serve thee. From thi_astle, the 20th of July, 1614.
  • Thy husband, the governor.
  • SANCHO PANZA
  • When she had done reading the letter the duchess said to Sancho, "On tw_oints the worthy governor goes rather astray; one is in saying or hintin_hat this government has been bestowed upon him for the lashes that he is t_ive himself, when he knows (and he cannot deny it) that when my lord the duk_romised it to him nobody ever dreamt of such a thing as lashes; the other i_hat he shows himself here to be very covetous; and I would not have him _oney-seeker, for 'covetousness bursts the bag,' and the covetous governo_oes ungoverned justice."
  • "I don't mean it that way, senora," said Sancho; "and if you think the lette_oesn't run as it ought to do, it's only to tear it up and make another; an_aybe it will be a worse one if it is left to my gumption."
  • "No, no," said the duchess, "this one will do, and I wish the duke to see it."
  • With this they betook themselves to a garden where they were to dine, and th_uchess showed Sancho's letter to the duke, who was highly delighted with it.
  • They dined, and after the cloth had been removed and they had amuse_hemselves for a while with Sancho's rich conversation, the melancholy soun_f a fife and harsh discordant drum made itself heard. All seemed somewhat pu_ut by this dull, confused, martial harmony, especially Don Quixote, who coul_ot keep his seat from pure disquietude; as to Sancho, it is needless to sa_hat fear drove him to his usual refuge, the side or the skirts of th_uchess; and indeed and in truth the sound they heard was a most doleful an_elancholy one. While they were still in uncertainty they saw advancin_owards them through the garden two men clad in mourning robes so long an_lowing that they trailed upon the ground. As they marched they beat two grea_rums which were likewise draped in black, and beside them came the fif_layer, black and sombre like the others. Following these came a personage o_igantic stature enveloped rather than clad in a gown of the deepest black,
  • the skirt of which was of prodigious dimensions. Over the gown, girdling o_rossing his figure, he had a broad baldric which was also black, and fro_hich hung a huge scimitar with a black scabbard and furniture. He had hi_ace covered with a transparent black veil, through which might be descried _ery long beard as white as snow. He came on keeping step to the sound of th_rums with great gravity and dignity; and, in short, his stature, his gait,
  • the sombreness of his appearance and his following might well have struck wit_stonishment, as they did, all who beheld him without knowing who he was. Wit_his measured pace and in this guise he advanced to kneel before the duke,
  • who, with the others, awaited him standing. The duke, however, would not o_ny account allow him to speak until he had risen. The prodigious scarecro_beyed, and standing up, removed the veil from his face and disclosed the mos_normous, the longest, the whitest and the thickest beard that human eyes ha_ver beheld until that moment, and then fetching up a grave, sonorous voic_rom the depths of his broad, capacious chest, and fixing his eyes on th_uke, he said:
  • "Most high and mighty senor, my name is Trifaldin of the White Beard; I a_quire to the Countess Trifaldi, otherwise called the Distressed Duenna, o_hose behalf I bear a message to your highness, which is that you_agnificence will be pleased to grant her leave and permission to come an_ell you her trouble, which is one of the strangest and most wonderful tha_he mind most familiar with trouble in the world could have imagined; bu_irst she desires to know if the valiant and never vanquished knight, Do_uixote of La Mancha, is in this your castle, for she has come in quest of hi_n foot and without breaking her fast from the kingdom of Kandy to your realm_ere; a thing which may and ought to be regarded as a miracle or set down t_nchantment; she is even now at the gate of this fortress or plaisance, an_nly waits for your permission to enter. I have spoken." And with that h_oughed, and stroked down his beard with both his hands, and stood ver_ranquilly waiting for the response of the duke, which was to this effect:
  • "Many days ago, worthy squire Trifaldin of the White Beard, we heard of th_isfortune of my lady the Countess Trifaldi, whom the enchanters have cause_o be called the Distressed Duenna. Bid her enter, O stupendous squire, an_ell her that the valiant knight Don Quixote of La Mancha is here, and fro_is generous disposition she may safely promise herself every protection an_ssistance; and you may tell her, too, that if my aid be necessary it will no_e withheld, for I am bound to give it to her by my quality of knight, whic_nvolves the protection of women of all sorts, especially widowed, wronged,
  • and distressed dames, such as her ladyship seems to be."
  • On hearing this Trifaldin bent the knee to the ground, and making a sign t_he fifer and drummers to strike up, he turned and marched out of the garde_o the same notes and at the same pace as when he entered, leaving them al_mazed at his bearing and solemnity. Turning to Don Quixote, the duke said,
  • "After all, renowned knight, the mists of malice and ignorance are unable t_ide or obscure the light of valour and virtue. I say so, because you_xcellence has been barely six days in this castle, and already the unhapp_nd the afflicted come in quest of you from lands far distant and remote, an_ot in coaches or on dromedaries, but on foot and fasting, confident that i_hat mighty arm they will find a cure for their sorrows and troubles; thank_o your great achievements, which are circulated all over the known earth."
  • "I wish, senor duke," replied Don Quixote, "that blessed ecclesiastic, who a_able the other day showed such ill-will and bitter spite against knights-
  • errant, were here now to see with his own eyes whether knights of the sort ar_eeded in the world; he would at any rate learn by experience that thos_uffering any extraordinary affliction or sorrow, in extreme cases and unusua_isfortunes do not go to look for a remedy to the houses of jurists or villag_acristans, or to the knight who has never attempted to pass the bounds of hi_wn town, or to the indolent courtier who only seeks for news to repeat an_alk of, instead of striving to do deeds and exploits for others to relate an_ecord. Relief in distress, help in need, protection for damsels, consolatio_or widows, are to be found in no sort of persons better than in knights-
  • errant; and I give unceasing thanks to heaven that I am one, and regard an_isfortune or suffering that may befall me in the pursuit of so honourable _alling as endured to good purpose. Let this duenna come and ask what sh_ill, for I will effect her relief by the might of my arm and the dauntles_esolution of my bold heart."