It takes place some time around the rein of Henry the IV of France. When the country is in distress and there is a grand unconformity and discontent due to the truce of Protestantism and Catholicism. The civil war has finally ended and everyone is trying to get back to their prosperous land.
It takes place in a lovely chateau, in northern France, with a river going through their enormous property, as well as a small forest. The castle is a grand mansion.
The only survivor of the long descent line was the countess de Villeneuve. She was in mourning due to the recent loss of her father and two brothers, all victims of the civil war.
Upon these loses the king is named her guardian, and he, desired her hand in marriage, but this was to never be. She told him she wanted to retire to a convent, but he strictly forbade this.
The countess stays in mourning and sorrow, torturing herself in the loss of all those dear to her. She had been wandering in the forests of her broad lands one afternoon slightly before dusk, and she sees someone, it turns out to be her long lost love, who is rumored to have killed her father. For he is a protestant and her father a catholic.
Gaspar is her lost love, and they are being restrained due to their religion, basically another Romeo and Juliette, two loves separated by some sort of social taboo. The difference here between Shakespeare and Shelly is that she does not linger on the tragedy, but lets your mind do so, while you finish reading the book, on the other hand Shakespeare ends the Story with the great tragedy and that is what makes Romeo and Juliette so memorable. Back to the story.
So Gaspar shows up and says this whole incredible monologue, with this as the hilight “'without a hope to bend your inflexible will. I come but once again to see you, and to bid you farewell before I depart for the Holy Land —one you will never see more. Whether I die or live, France and I are parted for ever!”
And then she takes her turn with another stunning monologue basically she tells him that there is no way he will be allowed to leave France since he is one of the kings favorite knights, as well as his own sense of patriotism and loyalty.
After this he continues with all I want is one word from you and that shall be more than enough for him to stay, they continue at it for ever and ever, it comes up that she did wrong to bring this enemy of theirs home so that he could slay her father and brothers but he abruptly denies this, and she feels ashamed of it. Then she goes on near hysterically about how she was being punished for having loved a protestant. Then she finally breaks down and starts crying.... And then her nurse comes, and Gaspar scurries away.
The day is basically uneventful and then that dusk she goes out again in search of Gaspar, and the same scene realizes, he continues to tell her he loves her and she turns away this pleads.
And more tears are spilt and so on and so forth, finally he leaves without her having condescended.
So Gaspar leaves broken hearted and on his way back to his lands he finds the king, the king asks his what he's been up to and he tells the whole story finally, the king tells him to go as one of his guards, for he is going to the castle of the beautiful Constence.
The night after they arrive, and are served dinner, Gaspar stays away, keeping out of clear view of Constance so she wouldn't suspect anything,
After this she finds out on the 5th day of their stay, and she says she needs to rest and be enlightened by Saint Agates.
Their is a ledge where it was said that Agates slept whenever she needed guidance, the bad part is that, it was a bed of stone overlooking a waterfall, and it was barely wide enough for a person to sleep on their side.
There were complete tales of tons of people having fallen off of the ledge in their sleep, for it was so narrow, and the current so swift, that if one was to fall they would fall to their death with no hope of being saved.
So she decides to go to be “enlightened” or to find an easy way to commit suicide, and she goes out and lies on the slab of stone. Near morning Gaspar comes to the rescue, and makes it up to where Constance is laying exactly as she is waking, she shifts in her sleep, turns and is about to fall off... but how could a fair tale end in sorrow? Gaspar catches her and as it turns out she dreamt that the first person she saw when she opened her eyes was her true love, so there we have it, the perfect love story. With a happy ending, and an everyone lives happily ever after.
The epilog tells us that they had very fruitful lives, they beard enough children to maintain their bloodlines, as well as to divide up the two gigantic estates, and merchandise.