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The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha

Presume to follow the fair Marcella

sight I have undeceived with

my words; and if hope be the food of desire, as I never gave any encouragement to Chrysostome, nor to any other, it may well be said, it was rather his own obstinacy than my cruelty that shortened his life. If you tell me that his intentions were honest, and therefore ought to have been complied with, I answer, that when, at the very place where his grave is making, he discovered his passion, I told him I was resolved to live and die single, and that the earth alone should reap the fruit of my reservedness and enjoy the spoils of my beauty; and if, after all the admonitions I gave him, he would persist in his obstinate pursuit, and sail against the wind, what wonder is it he should perish in the waves of his indiscretion? Had I ever encouraged him, or amused him with ambiguous words, then I had been false; and had I gratified his wishes, I had acted contrary to my better resolves: he persisted, though I had given him a due caution, and he despaired without being hated. Now I leave you to judge whether I ought to be blamed for his sufferings. If I have deceived any one, let him complain; if I have broke my promise to any one, let him despair; if I encourage any one, let him presume; if I entertain any one, let him boast: but let no man call me cruel nor murderer until I either deceive, break my promise, encourage, or entertain him. Let him that calls me a tigress and a basilisk avoid me as a dangerous thing; and let him that calls me ungrateful give over serving me: I assure them
I will never seek nor pursue them. Therefore let none hereafter make it their business to disturb my ease, nor strive to make me hazard among men the peace I now enjoy, which I am persuaded is not to be found with them. I have wealth enough; I neither love nor hate any one; the innocent conversation of the neighbouring shepherdesses, with the care of my flocks, help me to pass away my time, without either coquetting with this man, or practising arts to ensnare that other. My thoughts are limited by these mountains; and if they wander further, it is only to admire the beauty of heaven, and thus by steps to raise my soul towards her original dwelling."

As soon as she had said this, without waiting for any answer, she left the place, and ran into the thickest of the adjoining wood, leaving all that heard her charmed with her discretion, as well as her beauty.

However, so prevalent were the charms of the latter that some of the company, who were desperately struck, could not forbear offering to follow her, without being in the least deterred by the solemn protestations which they had heard her make that very moment. But Don Quixote perceiving their design, and believing he had now a fit opportunity to exert his knight-errantry; "Let no man," cried he, "of what quality or condition soever, presume to follow the fair Marcella, under the penalty of incurring my displeasure. She has made it appear, by undeniable reasons, that she was not guilty of Chrysostome's death; and has positively declared her firm resolution never to condescend to the desires of any of her admirers: for which reason, instead of being importuned and persecuted, she ought to be esteemed and honoured by all good men, as being one of the few women in the world who have lived with such a virtuous reservedness."

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