Sancho is pumped that the Duchess likes him so much, and he's ready to be treated just as well as he was at Don Diego's house or at the Comacho wedding.
When they first reach the castle, Sancho gets into an argument with one of the Duke and Duchess's older ladies-in-waiting named Doña Rodriguez. Sancho wants his donkey to get the best care possible, but the lady-in-waiting says she's not going to stand around taking orders from a little pudgy countryman like him. The Duke defends Sancho and tells Doña Rodriguez to do what he says, though she can't figure out why.
Don Quixote, though, scolds Sancho for not giving more respect to Doña Rodriguez, which makes her happy.
For dinner, the Duke and Duchess offer Don Quixote the seat at the head of the table, which should go to the Duke. Sancho is dumbfounded at seeing his master treated so well.
For dinner, the Duke and Duchess have also invited a local clergyman, who isn't a very fun dude at all. He can't believe that these people would be willing to indulge someone like Don Quixote.
Sancho offers to tell a story to the crowd. Don Quixote asks him to make it shorter than his usual stories, but the Duchess says she wants to hear the long version, since she gets a kick out of how much Sancho annoys both Don Quixote and the clergyman who has come to dinner.
But when Don Quixote starts getting too angry, the Duchess decides to cool him down by changing the subject to his beloved Dulcinea.
Don Quixote immediately forgets his anger and starts giving a heartbreaking speech about how his beautiful Dulcinea is cursed with ugliness by an evil magician.
While Don Quixote talks, the clergyman recognizes him from what the Duke has told him about the Don Quixote book. He scolds the Duke for indulging Don Quixote's fantasies, and tells him he'll have to account for it one day to God. Pretty heavy stuff for a nice, pleasant dinner party.
The clergyman also tells Don Quixote to grow up and go home, since knights-errant and giants don't actually exist in real life.
The narrator then tells us that Don Quixote's response is so full of fury that it deserves its own chapter.
Part 2, Book 1, Chapter 32
Don Quixote stands up from the table, really angry, and tells the clergyman that he expects more intelligence from a man in his position.
Don Quixote basically accuses the clergyman of being a religious loser who likes to force himself into the houses of great men and pretend that he's the master just because he has a religious job. Yeah, huge burn, but accurate in this guy's case.
Sancho backs up what Don Quixote is saying. The clergyman turns his anger on Sancho, saying that he'll never get to govern an island in his entire life.
At this point, the Duke speaks up and says he plans on letting Sancho become governor of an island within his own kingdom. The Duke actually has the power to make good on this, so it's a pretty intense promise. Sancho falls on his knees and starts kissing the Duke's hand.
The Duke and Duchess love all this entertainment, and they even like it when the clergyman gets fed up and leaves the house.
It turns out that the servants want to get in on the fun of messing with Don Quixote and Sancho. So when the plates are taken away, four of the servants run in with a bowl and start washing Don Quixote's face in it. Don Quixote, not knowing the local traditions, just rolls with it.
The Duke and Duchess find the prank entertaining, but they're also annoyed at their servants for being so bold.
When they leave, the Duke calls them back and orders them to wash his face the same way so that Don Quixote won't pick up on the joke. They do it.
This whole time, Sancho is dumbfounded by the strange rituals.
Next, the Duke tells the servants to take Sancho away to go wash his face, too. The servants gladly lead him away.
After Sancho is gone, the Duke and Duchess ask Don Quixote many questions about his adventures to figure out just how much of the book on him is true. He confirms most of it, and denies some.
Later, Sancho comes running back into the dining room with servants chasing him. The servants have a filthy basin full of old dishwater that they want to wash his face with. Sancho says he may be a poor countryman, but he doesn't deserve to have his face washed in filthy water.
The Duke scolds the servants for treating Sancho poorly.
Don Quixote leaves to take a nap, and the Duchess invites Sancho to join her in a room with her maids because she finds him especially amusing.
Part 2, Book 1, Chapter 33
In another room, the Duchess and her maids ask Sancho all kinds of questions. During this interview, Sancho reaffirms his loyalty to his master, Don Quixote, no matter how crazy some of his schemes may seem at different times.
The most interesting thing about this brief conversation is that Sancho starts to forget how many lies he has told to Don Quixote, and he's now at the point where he has begun believing some of them. He starts to think, for example, that a wizard might have truly cast a spell over Don Quixote's beloved Dulcinea.
Plan 2, Book 1, Chapter 34
After talking with Sancho about Don Quixote's adventures, the Duchess realizes that she has a lot of great information that she can use to mess with the Don. She tells the Duke everything she's found out, and so they hatch a new plan to really up the ante on Don Quixote's adventures.
Later in the afternoon, the Duke invites Sancho and Don Quixote to go hunting for wild boar with him. While they're hunting, Sancho gets scared. He also says that hunting is a cruel and barbaric practice.
Suddenly, everyone hears a hideous-sounding horn. A huge group rides up to them, and they look like a bunch of demons (psssst, it's people in costumes).
One of the demons says that he is the Devil. He tells Don Quixote that he has come as a messenger from Montesinos, the same dude Don Quixote met in Montesinos's Cave. Montesinos is on his way to tell Don Quixote what he has to do to lift the curse from Dulcinea del Toboso.
As the night grows darker, Don Quixote and Sancho hear the squeaking wheels of a huge wagon coming to them. It's being pulled by a team of oxen who are hooded and creepy-looking.
Several old-looking people are riding the carts, and they all claim to be prophets and magicians. Apparently, they have something important to say to Don Quixote. But that'll have to wait for the next chapter.
Part 2, Book 1, Chapter 35
Pleasant music fills the air, making the whole demonic wagon train seem even creepier.
On the wagon sits a young lady who can be no more than 17 years old. She's wearing a veil that makes it hard to see her face. Beside her stands a man who's dressed like Death itself (i.e., like the Grim Reaper). He's covered from head to toe in black.
Death steps forward and delivers a speech about the famous wizard Merlin. In this speech, he basically says that the only way to break the curse over Dulcinea del Toboso is for Sancho Panza to get 3,300 lashes on his bum. Which is a pretty hilarious way to break a curse.
Sancho can't believe what he's just heard. What in the world does his sore bum have to do with breaking a curse on a woman he's never met? He says there's no way he's ever going to do that.
Don Quixote tells Sancho that if he doesn't do what he's told, he will give him twice as many lashes.
The person playing Dulcinea (the young lady on the cart) starts to smack-talk Sancho for being such a selfish jerk.
The argument goes on for some time, but there's no way Sancho is going to budge.
Finally, the Duke says that if Sancho is going to be this selfish, there's no way he's fit to be the governor of an island.
When he hears this, Sancho asks whether he might have a day or two to think over his decision. But Merlin the wizard is firm in saying that he has to commit to breaking the curse immediately, although he can take as long as he wants to serve himself the 3,300 lashes on the bum. It could take a lifetime, for all Merlin cares.
Sancho finally agrees to take the lashes. But before Merlin leaves, he asks why the Devil from earlier said that Montesinos would be coming instead? As readers, we can tell that the servants playing these characters didn't have time to get their stories straight. But the Merlin guy just says, "Never trust the Devil." And leaves.
The pleasant music rises again, and the mysterious magician and his band of demons leave.
The Duke and Duchess return to their castle, so amused at what's been going on that they resolve to pull yet another prank.
Part 2, Book 1, Chapter 36
The Duchess approaches Sancho the day following the crazy episode in the forest and asks him if he's started with that whole whipping his bum thing to break Dulcinea's curse. Sancho says that he has already given himself 5 good lashes on the bum, which makes the Duchess laugh hard to herself (but only on the inside).
Sancho wants to write a letter to his wife Teresa, and the Duchess agrees to have it written down for him, since he can't read or write.
Sancho tells his wife that he's been promised to be the governor of an island. And to help legitimate his claims, the Duchess sends a beautiful dress and a coral necklace along with the note to show that Sancho is in the presence of some major money.
Later that day, Sancho is busy regaling everyone with dinnertime stories when, suddenly, everyone hears an unpleasant noise.
Two men in mourning clothes enter the house beating drums. A third, huge dude walks in and says he's the squire to a woman called the Countess Trifaldi, who is looking for Don Quixote.
The Duke acknowledges that he has long been hearing about the misfortunes of the Countess Trifaldi, although we all know that this is probably made up.
Don Quixote says he's absolutely willing to help any fine lady in distress, let alone a Countess.
The chapter closes with Don Quixote saying that he wishes the grouchy clergyman from a few nights earlier were around to see all this amazing stuff that's been going on.
Part 2, Book 1, Chapter 37
Sancho goes on a little rant about how he doesn't like old ladies-in-waiting like Doña Rodriguez. Seriously, that's all that happens.
Finally, it sounds like the Countess Trifaldi, or the Disconsolate Matron as she is called, is about to enter.
Part 2, Book 1, Chapter 38
A bunch of ladies-in-waiting enter the room with black veils over their faces.
The Countess herself comes in and falls at Don Quixote's feet, begging for his help. When he asks her what her story is, she goes ahead and tells it.
It turns out that she is the Countess Trifaldi from another distant kingdom (it's made up, so no one's ever heard of it). There was a princess there whose father died and left her (as princess) heiress to the kingdom. The Countess herself is the oldest and most trusted adviser to the girl's mother, the queen (who's still alive).
The princess was a beautiful girl and all sorts of men wanted to get her attention. One of these men was a lowly knight who was very attractive and charming.
The lowly knight used poetry and music to woo the Countess. He wanted to get to the princess by wooing the lady in charge, and that's exactly what he did.
After the lady granted the young knight access to the 14-year-old princess, the princess got pregnant. After this, they decide that the only thing for the knight to do is is to elope with the princess.
At this point, Sancho can't bear to wait for the end of the story, and he asks the Countess to finish quickly.
Part 2, Book 1, Chapter 39
When the young princess decided to marry the young knight against her mother's wishes, the mother was so overcome with grief that she died three days later.
Meanwhile, Sancho won't stop interrupting, which prompts Don Quixote to keep scolding him, much to the entertainment of the Duke and Duchess.
So, back to the story. The brokenhearted queen has just been buried when a giant named Malambruno bursts in on the scene. He was a cousin to the queen, and he now has vengeance on the brain.
Oh yeah, and this giant is also a magician who rode on a wooden horse that could fly through the air.
Malambruno transforms the young princess into a donkey and the man into a crocodile. He then says, for some reason, that the two lovers will not recover their original forms until Don Quixote of La Mancha comes to fight him in mortal combat.
Malambruno then whips out his sword and offers to cut the Countess's throat. But she begs for mercy, and he lets her go—not before placing a curse her and all of her maidens, though. The curse? It's that all these ladies will grow beards.
This whole beard thing explains why all of the maidens suddenly take off their veils and look like men. In fact, they are men, but for the sake of their story, they need Don Quixote to believe that they're women. Very clever, guys.
Part 2, Book 1, Chapter 40
Sancho Panza takes the first opportunity to say that the Countess' story sounds insane. But the Countess has already pretended to fall away in a swoon, so she won't be answering any questions.
The Countess eventually recovers "her" wits and tells Don Quixote he has to go find the giant Malambruno immediately. However, this giant lives thousands of miles away, so Don Quixote will have to take his magical wooden horse to fly through the air.
Sancho says thanks, but he'd just as soon ride his beloved mule Dapple. The Countess, though, says that this is no good, since he might take years to get to his destination. Sancho counters again that he shouldn't have to go at all, since it's Don Quixote's fight. Besides, he still needs to get around to whipping himself 3,300 times.
The Countess, though, insists that Sancho has to go on the journey, too.
The Countess ends the chapter by calling for Malambruno to send the wooden horse named Clavileno to bring Don Quixote and Sancho to him.