Of the relishing conversation which passed between the duchess, her damsels, and Sancho Panza; worthy to be read and remarked.
THE history then relates, that Sancho Panza did not sleep that afternoon, but, to keep his word, came with the meat in his mouth to see the duchess; who, being delighted to hear him talk, made him sit down by her on a low stool, though Sancho, out of pure good manners, would have declined it: but the duchess would have him sit down as a governor, and talk as a squire, since in both those capacities he deserved the very stool of the champion Cid Diaz. Sancho shrugged up his shoulders, obeyed, and sat down; and all the duchess's damsels and duennas got round about him, in profound silence, to hear what he would say. But the duchess spoke first, saying:
'Now we are alone, and that nobody hears us, I would willingly be satisfied by Señor Governor, as to some doubts I have arising from the printed history of the great Don Quixote: one of which is, that, since honest Sancho never saw Dulcinea, I mean the lady Dulcinea del Toboso, nor carried her Don Quixote's letter, it being left in the pocket-book in the Sierra Morena, how durst he feign the answer, and the story of his finding her winnowing wheat, it being all a sham, and a lie, and so much for the prejudice of the good character of the peerless Dulcinea, and the whole so unbecoming the quality and fidelity of a trusty squire?'
At these words, without making any reply, Sancho got up from his stool, and stepping softly, with his body bent, and his finger on his lips, he crept round the room, lifting up the hangings; and this being done, he presently sat himself down again, and said:
'Now, madam, that I am sure nobody but the company hears us, I will answer, without fear or emotion, to all you have asked, and to all you shall ask me; and the first thing I tell you is, that I take my master, Don Quixote, for a downright madman, though sometimes he comes out with things, which, to my thinking, and in the opinion of all that hears him, are so discreet, and so well put together, that Satan himself could not speak better; and yet for all that, in good truth, and without any doubt, I am firmly persuaded he is mad. Now, having settled this in my mind, I dare undertake to make him believe anything that has neither head nor tail, like the business of the