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- The Tales and Novels, v24: The Quid Pro Quo &c. - 1/3 -
THE TALES AND NOVELS OF J. DE LA FONTAINE
Contains: The Indiscreet Confession The Contract The Quid Pro Quo, or The Mistakes
THE INDISCREET CONFESSIONS
FAMED Paris ne'er within its walls had got, Such magick charms as were Aminta's lot, Youth, beauty, temper, fortune, she possessed, And all that should a husband render blessed, The mother still retained her 'neath the wing; Her father's riches well might lovers bring; Whate'er his daughter wished, he would provide, Amusements, jewels, dress, and much beside.
BLITHE Damon for her having felt the dart, The belle received the offer of his heart; So well he managed and expressed his flame. That soon her lord and master he became, By Hymen's right divine, you may conceive, And nothing short of it you should believe.
A YEAR had passed, and still our charming pair, Were always pleased, and blisses seemed to share; (The honeymoon appeared but just began) And hopes were entertained to have a son, When Damon on the subject chanced to touch: In truth, said he, my soul is troubled much; There is a fact, my dear, to you I'll tell: I wish sincerely (since I love so well) That for another, I had never known Such fond affection as to you I've shown; And none but you had entered in my breast, So worthy ev'ry way to be caressed. I have howe'er experienced other flame; The fault's acknowledged: I confess my shame. 'Twas in a wood; the nymph was young and nice, And Cupid only near to give advice; So well he managed:--or so ill, you'll say; A little girl I've living at this day.
WHAT, cried Aminta, now to you I'll state; What happened once to be your spouse's fate; I was at home alone, to say the truth, When thither came by chance a sprightly youth. The lad was handsome, with engaging mien; I felt his worth:--my nature is serene; In short so many things were our employ, I've still upon my hands a little boy.
THESE words no sooner had escaped the belle, Than Damon into jealous torments fell; With rage he left the room; and on his way, A large pack-saddle near his footsteps lay, Which on his back he put, then cried aloud, I'm saddled! see; round quickly came a crowd; The father, mother, all the servants ran; The neighbours too; the husband then began To state the circumstance that gave him pain; And fully all the folly to explain.
THE reader must not fail to keep in mind; Aminta's parents were both rich and kind, And having only her to be their heir, The aged couple let the youthful pair, With all their train, within the house reside, And tranquilly the moments seemed to glide.
THU mother fondly to her daughter flew; The father followed, keeping her in view; The dame went in, but he remained without: To listen he designed beyond a doubt; The door was on the jar; the sage drew near; In short, to all they said, he lent an ear; The lady thus he heard reproach her child: You're clearly wrong; most silly may be styled; I've many simpletons and ninnies seen; But such as you before there ne'er has been: Who'd have believed you indiscreet like this? Who forced you to reveal what was amiss? What obligation to divulge the fact? More girls than one have failed to be exact; The Devil's crafty; folks are wicked too; But that is no excuse, however true; In convents all of us should be immured, Till perfectly by Hymen's bands secured.
E'EN I who speak, alas! have troubles met; Within my bosom oft I feel regret; Three children ere my marriage I had got; Have I your father told this secret blot? Have we together been less happy found? The list'ner had no sooner heard the sound, But like a man distracted off he flew; The saddle's girth, which hazard near him threw; He took and fastened tightly 'bout his waist, Then bawled around and round with anxious haste; I'm girth'd! d'ye see, completely taken in; The people stared, an 'gan to laugh and grin. Though each was conscious, if the truth were known; The ridicule in turn might be his own.
BOTH husbands madly ran from cross to square, And with their foolish clamours rent the air; I'm saddled, hooted one; I'm girth'd, said this; The latter some perhaps will doubt, and hiss; Such things however should not be disbelieved For instance, recollect (what's well received), When Roland learned the pleasures and the charms; His rival, in the grot, had in his arms, With fist he gave his horse so hard a blow, It sunk at once to realms of poignant woe. Might he not, training, round the hapless beast, From weight of saddle have its back released, And putting it upon his own, have cried, I'm saddled, I'm girth'd, and much beside; (No matter this or that, since each is good,) Which Echo would repeat from hill to wood? You see that truth may be discovered here; That's not enough; its object should appear; And that I'll show as further we proceed; Your full attention I of course shall need.
THE happy Damon clearly seems to me, As poor a thing as any we shall see; His confidence would soon have spoiled the whole, To leave a belle like this without control! Her simplicity I much admire:-- Confess herself to spouse, as if a friar! What silliness! imprudence is a word, Which here to use would truly be absurd. To my discourse two heads alone remain; The marriage vow you always should maintain; Its faith the pair should ever keep in view: The path of honour steadily pursue. If some mishap howe'er should chance to glide; And make you limp on one or t'other side, Endeavour, of the fault, to make the best, And keep the secret locked within your breast; Your own consideration never lose; Untruth 'tis pardonable then to use.
No doubt my pages nice advice supply; Is't what I've followed?--No, you may rely!
THE husband's dire mishap, and silly maid, In ev'ry age, have proved the fable's aid; The fertile subject never will be dry: 'Tis inexhaustible, you may rely. No man's exempt from evils such as these:-- Who thinks himself secure, but little sees. One laughs at sly intrigues who, ere 'tis long, May, in his turn, be sneered at by the throng: With such vicissitudes, to be cast down, Appears rank nonsense worthy Folly's crown. He, whose adventures I'm about to write, In his mischances,--found what gave delight.
A CERTAIN Citizen, with fortune large, When settled with a handsome wife in charge, Not long attended for the marriage fruit: The lady soon put matters 'yond dispute; Produced a girl at first, and then a boy, To fill th' expecting parent's breast with joy.
THE son, when grown of size, a tutor had, No pedant rude, with Greek and Latin mad, But young and smart, a master too of arts, Particularly learned in what imparts, The gentle flame, the pleasing poignant pang, That Ovid formerly so sweetly sang. Some knowledge of good company he'd got; A charming voice and manner were his lot; And if we may disclose the mystick truth, 'Twas Cupid who preceptor made the youth. He with the brother solely took a place, That better he the sister's charms might trace;
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