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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Story of Bellario
By Francis Beaumont (1584–1616) and John Fletcher (1579–1625)
 
From ‘Philaster, or Love Lies A-bleeding’

PHILASTER—But, Bellario
(For I must call thee still so), tell me why
Thou didst conceal thy sex. It was a fault,
A fault, Bellario, though thy other deeds
Of truth outweighed it: all these jealousies        5
Had flown to nothing, if thou hadst discovered
What now we know.
  Bellario—        My father oft would speak
Your worth and virtue; and as I did grow
More and more apprehensive, I did thirst
To see the man so praised. But yet all this        10
Was but a maiden-longing, to be lost
As soon as found; till, sitting in my window,
Printing my thoughts in lawn, I saw a god,
I thought (but it was you), enter our gates:
My blood flew out and back again, as fast        15
As I had puffed it forth and sucked it in
Like breath; then was I called away in haste
To entertain you. Never was a man
Heaved from a sheep-cote to a sceptre, raised
So high in thoughts as I. You left a kiss        20
Upon these lips then, which I mean to keep
From you for ever; I did hear you talk,
Far above singing. After you were gone,
I grew acquainted with my heart, and searched
What stirred it so: alas, I found it love!        25
Yet far from lust; for, could I but have lived
In presence of you, I had had my end.
For this I did delude my noble father
With a feigned pilgrimage, and dressed myself
In habit of a boy; and, for I knew        30
My birth no match for you, I was past hope
Of having you; and, understanding well
That when I made discovery of my sex
I could not stay with you, I made a vow,
By all the most religious things a maid        35
Could call together, never to be known,
Whilst there was hope to hide me from men’s eyes,
For other than I seemed, that I might ever
Abide with you. Then sat I by the fount,
Where first you took me up.
  King—                Search out a match
        40
Within our kingdom, where and when thou wilt,
And I will pay thy dowry; and thyself
Wilt well deserve him.
  Bellario—                    Never, sir, will I
Marry; it is a thing within my vow:
But if I may have leave to serve the princess,        45
To see the virtues of her lord and her,
I shall have hope to live.
  Arethusa—            I, Philaster,
Cannot be jealous, though you had a lady
Drest like a page to serve you; nor will I
Suspect her living here.—Come, live with me;        50
Live free as I do. She that loves my lord,
Cursed be the wife that hates her!
 
 
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