AWAY with thee, Cupid and thy quiver! Love's not such a priceless thing that I should so often and so desperately long for death. Aye, for death I long, when I bethink me of thy perfidy, thou thankless girl, born to be a lasting grief to me. ’Tis not thy tablets carelessly effaced that reveal thy conduct to me; ’tis not the presents secretly received that tell me thy misdeeds. Would to heaven I could fail to prove the accusation that I bring against thee. Ah, hapless me, why is my cause so good! Happy the lover who can boldly defend the woman he adores; happy he to whom his mistress may say, "Free of all guilt am I!" Hard of heart is he, and too indulgent of his grief, who would seek to win a sanguinary triumph by bringing home a crime to the woman that he loves.
Alas, I saw it all when you thought I was asleep. Aye, with these eyes did I behold your treason, for the wine beside me had not dulled my vision. I saw you making
eyes at him, I saw your nods of the head, and read it all as plainly as if it had been written down in words. Your eyes were not silent; I saw letters writ in wine upon the table, even thy fingers had their tale to tell. Try as yon would to hide it, I read the meaning of your discourse, and guessed the cipher of your secret code. And now the throne of guests had left the table and only two remained, both young, both drunk with wine. And then I saw you both exchange most wanton kisses, kisses in which, as I too plainly saw, your tongues were intermingled. Not such kisses as a sister gives her sober-minded brother, but such as a loving mistress might bestow upon her eager lover; not such kisses as Phœbus to Diana gives, but such, we may believe, as Venus often lavished on her darling Mars.
"How now!" cried I. "On whom dost thou bestow the favours that are mine? Nay, these things are mine by right. My right I'll hold, my right I will defend. Thy kisses are for me and mine for thee, alone. What does this interloper, then, coming between us twain?"
In such-like words did I outpour my grief. The blush of shame o’erspread her guilty cheeks. So flushes the eastern sky when Tithonus' spouse arises from his bed, and so doth blush the maiden when her betrothed resteth his gaze upon her. So roses shine when lilies round them blow; so turns the pale moon red when by some magic spell her course in heaven is stayed; so gleams Assyrian ivory that a Mæonian dame has dyed with crimson so that it may not yellow grow with years. Such then, or as near as may be, was the colour of the wench's cheeks, and never had I seen her look more lovely. She looked on the ground; the look became her. Sad was her countenance; the sadness suited her. Her hair, and deftly was it braided, I nearly tore out by the roots. Her dainty cheeks, I all but laid rude hands upon. But when I saw her face, my arms fell strengthless at my side; by weapons of her own was my mistress defended. I who
a moment since she had seen so fierce and menacing, now cast myself at her feet and begged her to give me kisses no less tender. She smiled, and then, with all her heart and soul, gave me a kiss, and never was kiss more sweet. ’Twas such a kiss as would have filched the thunderbolt from the hand of angry Jove. Yet how my breast is tortured now, lest another may have tasted kisses just as sweet; I hope that those were not of this celestial quality. These last kisses that she gave me were better far than those which I had taught her; she hath, methinks, acquired some novel art. It bodes no good, this too, too luscious sweetness; it bodes no good that all your tongue within my mouth was thrust, all mine within your own. And ’tis not this alone that grieves me; not only of these voluptuous kisses that I complain, albeit complain I do, but what rankles most is the thought that lessons such as those could have been given nowhere but in bed, and I know not who is the instructor that has received such rich remuneration.
Nullus amor tanti est--abeas, pharetrate Cupido!--