This dialogue about duennas had 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 bade you intermeddle in this matter, Sancho?' said Don Quixote.
'Who, sir?' answered Sancho: 'I myself, who have a right to intermeddle as a squire, who 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 so, as Sancho says,' quoth 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 fifes entered, as they did the first time. And here the author ended this short chapter, and began another with the continuation of the same adventure, being one of the most notable in the history.
In which an account is given of the Afflicted Matron's misfortunes.
AFTER the doleful music, there began to enter the garden twelve duennas, divided into two files, all clad in large mourning habits, seemingly of milled serge, with white veils of thin muslin, so long that only the border of the robe appeared. After these came the Countess Trifaldi, whom Squire Trifaldin of the White Beard led by the hand. She was clad in a robe of the finest serge; which had it been napped, each grain would have been the size of a good ronceval pea. * The train or tail (call it which you will) was divided into three corners, supported by three pages, clad also in mourning, making a sightly and mathematical figure, with the three acute angles, formed