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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Pedro Antonio de Alarcón (1833–1891)

Courting by Invective

From “The Three-Cornered Hat”

WHILE the peasants who had saluted the magistrate were continuing their talk, Frasquita carefully sprinkled and swept the paved place which served as a courtyard to the mill, and placed half a dozen chairs where the vine-leaves of the arbor were still thickest. Tio Lucas had climbed upon the arbor for the purpose of cutting the finest bunches of grapes, and arranged them artistically in a basket.

“You know, Frasquita,” said Tio Lucas from the top of the arbor, “the magistrate has fallen in love with you, and his motives are bad.”

“I told you so a long time ago,” answered the woman from the north. “But let him sigh. Take care you don’t fall, Lucas!”

“Don’t be afraid. I am holding on. He evidently likes your looks.”

“You had better stop your gossiping,” she interrupted him. “I know only too well who likes me and who does not. If I only knew as well why you do not like me.”

“Well, that is too much! Because you are so ugly!” answered Tio Lucas.

“Listen! Ugly and the rest of it, I have a mind to climb the arbor and throw you down head first!”

“It is much more probable that I would not let you go down again without first swallowing you alive.”

“There we are now! And if by chance my admirers came and saw us, they might very likely say we were a couple of apes.”

“And in saying so they would hit the nail on the head, for you are a real ape, and so handsome; and I look like an ape with my hump.”

“Which I like very much indeed.”

“Then the magistrate’s ought to please you better yet, because it is still larger than mine.”

“Well, well! Look here, Master Lucas, don’t be so jealous!”

“I jealous of the old fop? On the contrary, I am glad he is in love with you.”


“Because sin brings its own punishment. You will never love him, and meanwhile I am the real magistrate of the city.”

“Look at the vain fellow! But just suppose that I learn to love him. Stranger things have happened in this world.”

“That would be a matter of little concern to me.”


“Because in that case you would not be yourself any more, and not being what you are, or at least what I took you to be, I would not care a rap if you went wrong.”

“But what would you do in such a case?”

“I? Well, I must confess I don’t know, because I should then be a different person from what I am now, and cannot imagine what I might think then.”

“And why would you be a different person?”

“Because I am now a man who believes in you as he believes in himself, and whose whole life centers in this belief. Consequently, when I cease to believe in you I should either die or be transformed into another being, and live in a different manner from what I do now. It would seem to me as if I had just been born, and my sentiments would undergo a change. I do not know what I should do with you then. Perhaps I should laugh, and turn my back upon you; perhaps I should not know you; perhaps— But look! what satisfaction are we likely to find in getting out of temper for nothing? What does it matter to us if all the magistrates in the world make love to you? Are you not my Frasquita?”

“Yes, you old barbarian,” answered Frasquita, laughing heartily. “I am your Frasquita, and you are the Lucas of my heart, uglier than a baboon, with more talent than any other man, better than bread, and whom I love more than— Well, you just come down from the arbor, and you will find out what that ‘I love’ means. Come prepared to have your ears boxed, and to be pinched as often as you have hairs on your head!”