Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

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-[455]-

The Life and Exploits
of the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha

By Miguel de Cervantes, Translated by Charles Jarvis, Esq.

The Second Part
 

CHAPTER XXXVII: In which is continued the famous Adventure of the Afflicted Matron.

 

The duke and duchess were extremely delighted to see how well Don Quixote answered their expectation; and here Sancho said, "I should be loth that this Madam Duenna should lay any stumbling-block in the way of my promised government; for have heard an apothecary of Toledo, who talked like any goldfinch, say that, where duennas have to do, no good -[456]- thing can ere ensue. Odds my life! what an enemy was that apothecary to them! and therefore, since all duennas are troublesome and impertinent, of what quality or condition soever they be, what must the afflicted be, as they say this same Countess Three-skirts or Three-tails is? for in my country, skirts and tails, and tails and skirts are all one." "Peace, friend Sancho," said Don Quixote; "for, since this lady duenna comes in quest of me from so remote a country, she cannot be one of those the apothecary has in his list. Besides, this is a countess; and when countesses serve as duennas, it must be as attendants upon queens and empresses; for in their own houses they command, and are served by other duennas." To this Donna Rodriguez, who was present, answered, "My lady duchess has duennas in her service, who might have been countesses, if fortune had pleased; but laws go on kings' errands; and let no one speak ill of duennas, especially of the ancient maiden one; for though I am not of that number, yet I well know and clearly perceive the advantage a maiden duenna has over a widow duenna; though a pair of shears cut us all out of the same piece." "For all that," replied Sancho, "there is still so much to be sheared about your duennas, as my barber tells me, that it is better not to stir the rice, though it burn to the pot." "These squires," said Donna Rodriguez, "are always our enemies; and as they are a kind of fairies that haunt the ante-chambers, and spy us at every turn, the hours they are not at their beads, which are not a few, they employ in speaking ill of us, unburying our bones and burying our reputations. But let me tell these moving blocks that, in spite of their teeth, we shall live in the world, and in the best families too, though we starve for it, and cover our delicate or not delicate bodies with a black weed, as people cover a dunghill with a piece of tapestry on a procession-day. In faith, if I might, and had time, I would make all here present, and all the world besides, know that there is no virtue but is contained in a duenna." "I am of opinion," said the duchess, "that my good Donna Rodriguez is in the right, and very much so; but she must wait for a fit opportunity to stand up for herself, and the rest of the duennas, to confound the ill opinion of that wicked apothecary, and root out that which the great Sancho has in his breast." To which Sancho answered, "Ever since the fumes of government have got into my head, I have lost the megrims of squireship, and care not a fig for all the duennas in the world."

This dialogue about duennas would have continued, had they not heard the drum and fife strike up again; by which they understood the Afflicted Matron was just entering. The duchess asked the duke whether it was not proper to go and meet her, since she was a countess, and a person of quality. "As she is a countess," quoth Sancho, before the duke could answer, "it is very fit your grandeurs should go to receive her; but, as she is a duenna, I am of opinion you should not stir a step." "Who bid you intermeddle in this matter, Sancho?" said Don Quixote. "Who, Sir?' answered Sancho; "I myself, who have a right to intermeddle as a squire, that has learned the rules of courtesy in the school of your worship, who is the best-bred knight courtesy ever produced; and in these matters, as I have heard your worship say, one may as well lose the game by a card too much as a card too little; and a word to the wise." "It is even as Sancho says," added the duke; "we shall soon see what kind of a countess this is, and by that we shall judge what courtesy is due to her." And now the drums and fife entered, as they did the first time. And here the author -[457]- ended this short chapter, and began another with the continuation of the same adventure, being one of the most notable in the history.

 

Gavilan College celebrates 400 years of Don Quijote

Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis

Gavilan Spanish Questions or comments Bibliographic Record Index page Previous page Top Next page