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The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha

Because she was already betrothed to Cardenio who


me poison and leave me to take

my choice, I would soon resolve which to accept, and convince you by my death that my honour is dearer to me than my life. To be plain, I can have no good opinion of a presumption that endangers my reputation; and unless you leave me this moment, I will so effectually make you know how much you are mistaken in me, that if you have but the least sense of honour left, you will regret driving me to that extremity as long as you live. I was born your vassal, but not your slave; nor does the greatness of your birth privilege you to injure your inferiors, or exact from me more than the duties which all vassals pay; that excepted, I do not esteem myself less in my low degree than you have reason to value yourself in your high rank. Do not, then, think to awe or dazzle me with your grandeur, or fright or force me into a base compliance; I am not to be tempted with titles, pomp, and equipage; nor weak enough to be moved with vain sighs and false tears. In short, my will is wholly at my father's disposal, and I will not entertain any man as a lover but by his appointment.' 'What do you mean, charming Dorothea?' cried the perfidious lord. 'Cannot I be yours by the sacred title of husband? Who can hinder me, if you will but consent to bless me on those terms? I am yours this moment, beautiful Dorothea; I give you here my hand to be yours, and yours alone, for ever; and let all-seeing Heaven, and this holy image here on your oratory, witness the solemn truth.'

"In

short, urged by his solicitations, I became his wife; but not long afterwards he left me, I knew not whither. Months passed away, and in vain I watched for his coming; yet he was in the town, and every day amusing himself with hunting. What melancholy days and hours were those to me! I long strove to hide my tears and so to guard my looks that my parents might not see and inquire into the cause of my wretchedness; but suddenly my forbearance was at an end, with all regard to delicacy and fame, upon the intelligence reaching me that Don Fernando was married in a neighbouring town to a beautiful young lady, of some rank and fortune, named Lucinda."----Cardenio heard the name of Lucinda at first only with signs of indignation, but soon after a flood of tears burst from his eyes. Dorothea, however, pursued her story, saying, "When this sad news reached my ears, my heart became so inflamed with rage that I could scarcely forbear rushing into the streets and proclaiming the baseness and treachery I had experienced; but I became more tranquil, after forming a project which I executed the same night. I borrowed this apparel of a shepherd swain in my father's service, whom I entrusted with my secret, and begged him to attend me in my pursuit of Don Fernando. He assured me it was a rash undertaking; but finding me resolute, he said he would go with me to the end of the world. Immediately I packed up some of my own clothes, with money and jewels, and at night secretly left the house, attended only by my servant and a thousand anxious thoughts, and travelled on foot to the town, where I expected to find my husband; impatient to arrive, if not in time to prevent his perfidy, to reproach him for it.

"I inquired where the parents of Lucinda lived; and the first person to whom I addressed myself told me more than I desired to hear. He told me also that on the night that Don Fernando was married to Lucinda, after she had pronounced the fatal Yes, she fell into a swoon; and the bridegroom, in unclasping her bosom to give her air, found a paper written by herself, in which she affirmed that she could not be wife to Don Fernando, because she was already betrothed to Cardenio (who, as the man told me, was a gentleman of the same town), and that she had pronounced her assent to Don Fernando merely in obedience to her parents. The paper also revealed her intention to kill herself as soon as the ceremony was over, which was confirmed by a poniard they found concealed upon her. Don Fernando was so enraged to find himself thus mocked and slighted, that he seized hold of the same poniard, and would certainly have stabbed her, had he not been prevented by those present; whereupon he immediately quitted the place. When Lucinda revived, she confessed to her parents the engagement she had formed with Cardenio, who, it was suspected, had witnessed the ceremony, and had hastened from the city in despair; for he left a paper expressing his sense of the wrong he had suffered, and declaring his resolution to fly from mankind for ever.


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