Read A MESSENGER TO TERESA PANZA. of Wit and Wisdom of Don Quixote , free online book, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, on

Being desirous to please his lord and lady, he set off with much glee to Sancho’s village.  Having arrived near it, he inquired of some women whom he saw washing in a brook if there lived not in that town one Teresa Panza, wife of one Sancho Panza, squire to a knight called Don Quixote de la Mancha.

“That Teresa Panza is my mother,” said a young lass who was washing among the rest, “and that Sancho my own father, and that knight our master.”

“Are they so?” quoth the page:  “come then, my good girl, and lead me to your mother, for I have a letter and a token for her from that same father of yours.”

“That I will, with all my heart, sir,” answered the girl (who seemed to be about fourteen years of age); and leaving the linen she was washing to one of her companions, without stopping to cover either her head or feet, away she ran skipping along before the page’s horse, bare-legged, and her hair dishevelled.

“Come along, sir, an ’t please you,” quoth she, “for our house stands hard by, and you will find my mother in trouble enough for being so long without tidings of my father.”

“Well,” said the page, “I now bring her news that will cheer her heart, I warrant her.”

So on he went, with his guide running, skipping, and capering before him, till they reached the village, and, before she got up to the house, she called out aloud, “Mother, mother, come out! here’s a gentleman who brings letters and other things from my good father.”

At these words out came her mother Teresa Panza with a distaff in her hand ­for she was spinning flax.  She was clad in a russet petticoat, so short that it looked as if it had been docked at the placket, with a jacket of the same, and the sleeves of her under-garment hanging about it.  She appeared to be about forty years of age and was strong, hale, sinewy, and hard as a hazel-nut.

“What is the matter, girl?” quoth she, seeing her daughter with the page; “what gentleman is that?”

“It is an humble servant of my Lady Donna Teresa Panza,” answered the page; and throwing himself from his horse, with great respect he went and kneeled before the Lady Teresa, saying, “Be pleased, Signora Donna Teresa, to give me your ladyship’s hand to kiss, as the lawful wife of Signor Don Sancho Panza, sole governor of the island of Barataria.”

“Alack-a-day, good sir, how you talk!” she replied:  “I am no court-dame, but a poor country woman, daughter of a ploughman, and wife indeed of a squire-errant, but no governor.”

“Your ladyship,” answered the page, “is the most worthy wife of a thrice-worthy governor, and to confirm the truth of what I say, be pleased, madam, to receive what I here bring you.”

He then drew the letter from his pocket, and a string of corals, each bead set in gold, and, putting it about her neck, he said, “This letter is from my lord governor, and another that I have here, and those corals are from my lady duchess, who sends me to your ladyship.”

Teresa and her daughter were all astonishment.

“May I die,” said the girl, “if our master Don Quixote be not at the bottom of this ­as sure as day he has given my father the government or earldom he has so often promised him.”

“It is even so,” answered the page; “and for Signor Don Quixote’s sake, my Lord Sancho is now governor of the island of Barataria, as the letter will inform you.”

“Pray, young gentleman,” quoth Teresa, “be pleased to read it; for though I can spin I cannot read a jot.”

“Nor I neither, i’ faith,” cried Sanchica; “but stay a little, and I will fetch one who can, either the bachelor Sampson Carrasco or the priest himself, who will come with all their hearts to hear news of my father.”

“You need not take that trouble,” said the page; “for I can read though I cannot spin, and will read it to you.”  Which he accordingly did:  but as its contents have already been given, it is not here repeated.  He then produced the letter from the duchess, and read as follows: ­


“Finding your husband Sancho worthy of my esteem for his honesty and good understanding, I prevailed upon the duke, my spouse, to make him governor of one of the many islands in his possession.  I am informed he governs like any hawk; at which I and my lord duke are mightily pleased, and give many thanks to Heaven that I have not been deceived in my choice, for madam Teresa may be assured that it is no easy matter to find a good governor ­and God make me as good as Sancho governs well.  I have sent you, my dear friend, a string of corals set in gold ­I wish they were oriental pearls; but whoever gives thee a bone has no mind to see thee dead:  the time will come when we shall be better acquainted, and converse with each other, and then heaven knows what may happen.  Commend me to your daughter Sanchica, and tell her from me to get herself ready; for I mean to have her highly married when she least expects it.  I am told the acorns near your town are very large ­pray send me some two dozen of them; for I shall value them the more as coming from your hand.  Write to me immediately, to inform me of your health and welfare; and if you want anything, you need but open your mouth, and it shall be measured.  So God keep you.

“Your loving Friend,


“From this place.”

“Ah!” quoth Teresa, at hearing the letter, “how good, how plain, how humble a lady! let me be buried with such ladies as this, say I and not with such proud madams as this town affords, who think because they are gentlefolks, the wind must not blow upon them; and go flaunting to church as if they were queens! they seem to think it a disgrace to look upon a peasant woman:  and yet you see how this good lady, though she be a duchess, calls me friend, and treats me as if I were her equal! ­and equal may I see her to the highest steeple in La Mancha!  As to the acorns, sir, I will send her ladyship a peck of them, and such as, for their size, people shall come from far and near to see and admire.  But for the present, Sanchica, let us make much of this gentleman.  Do thou take care of his horse, child, and bring some new-laid eggs out of the stable, and slice some rashers of bacon, and let us entertain him like any prince; for his good news and his own good looks deserve no less.”

Sanchica now came in with her lap full of eggs.  “Pray, sir,” said she to the page, “does my father, now he is a governor, wear trunk-hose?"

“I never observed,” answered the page, “but doubtless he does.”

“God’s my life!” replied Sanchica, “what a sight to see my father in long breeches?  Is it not strange that ever since I was born I have longed to see my father with breeches of that fashion laced to his girdle?”

“I warrant you will have that pleasure if you live,” answered the page; “before Heaven, if his government lasts but two months, he is likely to travel with a cape to his cap.”