Make haste, then, to her aid; you have no time to lose, if you don’t wish this fruit of all the virtues to drop into the mouth of some greasy-headed rustic of devout habits.
The lady is not her own mistress, and her foster-father is not at home.
Well, but tell me, did she look at all kindly upon you?
Maidens brought up in a hermitage are naturally shy and reserved; but for all that She did look towards me, though she quick withdrew Her stealthy glances when she met my gaze; She smiled upon me sweetly, but disguised With maiden grace the secret of her smiles. Coy love was half unveiled; then, sudden checked By modesty, left half to be divined.
Why, of course, my dear friend, you never could seriously expect that at the very first sight she would fall over head ears in love with you, and without more ado come and sit in your lap.
When we parted from each other, she
her liking for me by clearer indications, but still with the
Scarce had the fair one from my presence passed,
When, suddenly, without apparent cause,
She stopped; and, counterfeiting pain, exclaimed,
‘My foot is wounded by this prickly grass,’
Then, glancing at me tenderly, she feigned
Another charming pretext for delay,
Pretending that a bush had caught her robe
And turned as if to disentangle it.
I trust you have laid in a good stock of provisions, for I see you intend making this consecrated grove your game-preserve, and will be roaming here in quest of sport for some time to come.
You must know, my good fellow, that I have been recognised by some of the inmates of the hermitage. Now I want the assistance of your fertile invention, in devising some excuse for going there again.
There is but one expedient that I can suggest. You are the King, are you not?
Say you have come for the sixth part of their grain , which they owe you for tribute.
No, no, foolish man; those hermits pay me a very different kind of tribute, which I value more than heaps of gold or jewels; observe,
The tribute which my other subjects bring
Must moulder into dust, but holy men
Present me with a portion of the fruits
Of penitential services and prayers—
A precious and imperishable gift.
A VOICE BEHIND THE SCENES.
We are fortunate; here is the object of our search.
Surely those must be the voices of hermits, to judge by their deep tones.