Tales from Shakespeare

can get a wife.

Gratiano then said that he loved the lady Portia's fair waiting gentlewoman Nerissa, and that she had promised to be his wife, if her lady married Bassanio. Portia asked Nerissa if this was true. Nerissa replied: 'Madam, it is so, if you approve of it.' Portia willingly consenting, Bassanio pleasantly said: 'Then our wedding-feast shall be much honoured by your marriage, Gratiano.'

The happiness of these lovers was sadly crossed at this moment by the entrance of a messenger, who brought a letter from Antonio containing fearful tidings. When Bassanio read Antonio's letter, Portia feared it was to tell him of the death of some dear friend, he looked so pale; and inquiring what was the news which had so distressed him, he said: 'O sweet Portia, here are a few of the unpleasantest words that ever blotted paper; gentle lady, when I first imparted my

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