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TALES FROM SHAKESPEARE.

ROMEO AND JULIET.

THE two chief families in Verona were the rich

1 Capulets and the Mountagues. There had been an old quarrel between these families, which was grown to such a height, and so deadly was the enmity between them, that it extended to the remotest kindred, to the followers and retainers of both sides, insomuch that a servant of the house of Mountague could not meet a servant of the house of Capulet, nor a Capulet encounter with a Mountague by chance, but fierce words and sometimes bloodshed ensued ; and frequent were the brawls from such accidental meetings, which disturbed the happy quiet of Verona's estate.

Old Lord Capulet made a great supper, to which many fair ladies and many noble guests were invited. All the admired beauties of Verona were present, and all comers were made welcome if they were not of the, house of Mountague. At this feast of Capulets, Rosa. line, beloved of Romeo, son to the old Lord Mounta. gue, was present; and though it was dangerous for a Mountague to be seen in this assembly yet Benvolio, a friend of Romeo, persuaded the young lord to go to this assembly in the disguise of a mask, that he might see his Rosaline, and seeing her, compare her with

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some choice beauties of Verona, who (he said) would make him think his swan a crow. Romeo had small faith in Benvolio's words ; nevertheless, for the love of Rosaline, he was persuaded to go. For Romeo was a sincere and passionate lover, and one that lost his sleep for love, and fled society to be alone, thinking on Rosaline, who disdained him, and never requited his love with the least show of courtesy or affection ; and Benvolio wished to cure his friend of this love by showing him diversity of ladies and company. To this feast of Capulets then young Romeo with Benvolio and their friend Mercutio went masked. Old Capulet bid them welcome, and told them that ladies who had their toes unplagued with corns would dance with them. And the old man was light-hearted and merry, and said that he had worn a mask when he was young, and could have told a whispering tale in a fair lady's

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