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CHAPTER XXXI. (CONT'D)
"May all the rest of mine be unlucky," said Sancho, "if I meant it that way; I only spoke because the affection I have for my ass is so great, and I thought I could not commend him to a more kind-hearted person than the lady Dona Rodriguez."
Don Quixote, who was listening, said to him, "Is this proper conversation for the place, Sancho?"
"Senor," replied Sancho, "every one must mention what he wants wherever he may be; I thought of Dapple here, and I spoke of him here; if I had thought of him in the stable I would have spoken there."
On which the duke observed, "Sancho is quite right, and there is no reason at all to find fault with him; Dapple shall be fed to his heart's content, and Sancho may rest easy, for he shall be treated like himself."
While this conversation, amusing to all except Don Quixote, was proceeding, they ascended the staircase and ushered Don Quixote into a chamber hung with rich cloth of gold and brocade; six damsels relieved him of his armour and waited on him like pages, all of them prepared and instructed by the duke and duchess as to what they were to do, and how they were to treat Don Quixote, so that he might see and believe they were treating him like a knight-errant. When his armour was removed, there stood Don Quixote in his tight-fitting breeches and chamois doublet, lean, lanky, and long, with cheeks that seemed to be kissing each other inside; such a figure, that if the damsels waiting on him had not taken care to check their merriment (which was one of the particular directions their master and mistress had given them), they would have burst with laughter.
They asked him to let himself be stripped that they might put a shirt on him, but he would not on any account, saying that modesty became knights-errant just as much as valour. However, he said they might give the shirt to Sancho; and shutting himself in with him in a room where there was a sumptuous bed, he undressed and put on the shirt; and then, finding himself alone with Sancho, he said to him, "Tell me, thou new-fledged buffoon and old booby, dost thou think it right to offend and insult a duenna so deserving of reverence and respect as that one just now? Was that a time to bethink thee of thy Dapple, or are these noble personages likely to let the beasts fare badly when they treat their owners in such elegant style? For God's sake, Sancho, restrain thyself, and don't show the thread so as to let them see what a coarse, boorish texture thou art of.
Remember, sinner that thou art, the master is the more esteemed the more respectable and well-bred his servants are; and that one of the greatest advantages that princes have over other men is that they have servants as good as themselves to wait on them. Dost thou not see--shortsighted being that thou art, and unlucky mortal that I am!--that if they perceive thee to be a coarse clown or a dull blockhead, they will suspect me to be some impostor or swindler? Nay, nay, Sancho friend, keep clear, oh, keep clear of these stumbling-blocks; for he who falls into the way of being a chatterbox and droll, drops into a wretched buffoon the first time he trips; bridle thy tongue, consider and weigh thy words before they escape thy mouth, and bear in mind we are now in quarters whence, by God's help, and the strength of my arm, we shall come forth mightily advanced in fame and fortune."
Sancho promised him with much earnestness to keep his mouth shut, and to bite off his tongue before he uttered a word that was not altogether to the purpose and well considered, and told him he might make his mind easy on that point, for it should never be discovered through him what they were.
Don Quixote dressed himself, put on his baldric with his sword, threw the scarlet mantle over his shoulders, placed on his head a montera of green satin that the damsels had given him, and thus arrayed passed out into the large room, where he found the damsels drawn up in double file, the same number on each side, all with the appliances for washing the hands, which they presented to him with profuse obeisances and ceremonies. Then came twelve pages, together with the seneschal, to lead him to dinner, as his hosts were already waiting for him. They placed him in the midst of them, and with much pomp and stateliness they conducted him into another room, where there was a sumptuous table laid with but four covers.
The duchess and the duke came out to the door of the room to receive him, and with them a grave ecclesiastic, one of those who rule noblemen's houses; one of those who, not being born magnates themselves, never know how to teach those who are how to behave as such; one of those who would have the greatness of great folk measured by their own narrowness of mind; one of those who, when they try to introduce economy into the household they rule, lead it into meanness. One of this sort, I say, must have been the grave churchman who came out with the duke and duchess to receive Don Quixote.
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