In the previous episode, the Duke and Duchess arranged a proxy for the suitor to the old duenna’s daughter, to fight on his behalf with Don Quixote. As he rode away from his governorship, Sancho Panza bumped into a group of pilgrims, among whom was his village’s former shopkeeper, a Moor now being persecuted. He’d returned from sanctuary in Germany to recover the riches he’d buried, but Sancho refused to help him. As darkness fell, the squire and his donkey fell into a deep pit connected to underground passages, from which they were rescued the following morning by the Duke’s staff. Sancho then gave account of his time as governor and his resignation to the Duke and Duchess.
Later that day, the butler returned and gave his detailed story of what had happened when Sancho had been governor, including the concluding night attack, which the Duke and Duchess relished.
Over the next few days the Duke schooled Don Quixote’s opponent so that he should defeat the knight without injuring him, and had the tips removed from their lances in preparation. When the day came for the two to do battle, a platform was built in the castle square for the large crowd of onlookers. Shortly after Don Quixote had arrived, his opponent appeared amid a great fanfare. The proxy was dressed in smart armour and was riding a powerful charger.
The Master of Ceremonies confirmed Don Quixote’s role acting for the duenna and her daughter, and the Duke and Duchess assumed their places on an overlooking balcony. Amid further fanfares and the rolling of drums, the two opponents took their places and Don Quixote prepared to charge the young man. But when the trumpet blast signalled the start of the duel, the young proxy was in a dream, smitten with love for the duenna’s daughter, who should have been his enemy.
As Don Quixote started his charge on Rocinante, his opponent was asking the Master of Ceremonies whether this contest was about his refusal to marry the young woman. When that was confirmed, he declared himself defeated, saying that he wanted to marry the duenna’s daughter immediately. Thankfully the knight brought his charge to a halt when he saw that his opponent wasn’t reacting to the start of their duel.
The young man rode over to the duenna, and declared his desire to marry her daughter. That enabled Don Quixote to announce that he was resolved of his promise to fight, after which the Duke came down to confirm the situation with them. When the young man removed his helmet, though, the duenna and her daughter recognised that he wasn’t the young man in question, but the Duke’s lackey. Don Quixote explained that this was the work of enchanters, at which the Duke almost burst into laughter. This was resolved when the duenna’s daughter made clear that she’d rather be the wife of a lackey than an abandoned mistress.
Everyone acclaimed Don Quixote’s bloodless victory, and the duenna and her daughter were overjoyed that the matter had been brought to a suitable conclusion.
Once he had accomplished this mission, Don Quixote decided it was time to move on, and sought the permission of his noble hosts, who granted his request with sadness. Sancho Panza had his wife’s letters read to him, and wept over them. The two then prepared for their departure from the palace. When they were getting ready to leave, Sancho had a purse with two hundred gold escudos given to him to cover their expenses, although he didn’t tell his master about it.
As they were leaving, the maid Altisidora sang them a lament, calling for catastrophes to fall on the knight for abandoning her, and claiming that he had stolen three nightcaps and two garters of hers. The Duke played along with her joke, and demanded that Don Quixote return them, threatening to challenge him to mortal combat if he didn’t. Don Quixote denied possession, and the Duchess promised to punish her maid, who in turn admitted that she had been wearing the garters in question but had forgotten that she had them on at the time.
Don Quixote and Sancho Panza then rode out of the palace on their way to Saragossa.
That completes the fifty-seventh chapter of the second book of Don Quixote.
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, trans John Rutherford (1604, 2000) Don Quixote, Penguin, ISBN 978 0 140 44909 9.
Roberto González Echevarría (2015) Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Yale UP, ISBN 978 0 300 19864 5.
Roberto González Echevarría (ed) (2005) Cervantes’ Don Quixote, A Casebook, Oxford UP, ISBN 978 0 19 516938 6.