**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.
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."