(Idyl xv.) GORGO. Praxinoe, are you within?

PRAXINOE. Why, dear, how late you are!
I marvel much that even now you should have got so far!
Bring her a chair—quick, Eunoe! Look for a cushion, too.

G. Oh, thank you, it does very well.

P. Be seated, then, pray do!

  ― 179 ―
G. I'm half distracted, I declare—the crowd's so great, and then
On all sides there are rattling cars, and booted, mounted men,
The road is such a weary one, and you live so far away,
I really thought, Praxinoe, I'd not get here to-day!

P. Just so—that idiot of mine must come to the world's end,
And take—that I—poor cooped-up thing!—might never see a friend—
A wild beast's den, instead of house—the spiteful, jealous spy!

G. Don't talk so of your husband, love, whilst your little one is by,—
See how he looks, the knowing imp! Tut, tut, pet, your mamma,
My own sweet little Zoppy, isn't talking of dada!

P. By'r Lady,note the child twigs us!

G. —— Pretty papa!

P. Humph! That same pretty gentleman went lately, as we say,
To buy nitre and some cerusenote—'twas but the other day—
And what do you think he brought me?—The stupid blundering fool!
Why salt, just common bay-salt—but man was born to rule!

G. Ay, and my Diocleides is exactly such another,
For squandering money your good man might claim him as a brother;
Seven drachmæ he spent yesterday for fleeces, I'll be sworn,
No sheep upon their backs as wool had ever worn—
Mere dogs' hair, wallet-pluckings, rubbish not worth the water
'Twould take to make them fit for use by any freeman's daughter.
But come, put on your cloak, and buckle-to your kirtle,
And we'll be off to our rich king's, Prince Ptolemy's, my turtle,
To see this year's Adonisnote—I understand the Queen
Intends to give us such an one as ne'er before was seen.

P. No thanks to her, with wealth like hers!

G. But when you've seen the sight,
You can tell others what you've seen. Come, don't stop here all night!

P. You idle folks can talk like that. A towel, Eunoe;
And mind don't put it where Miss Puss can loll so cosily,
You careless slut! Some water, quick! I want the water first.
Look how she brings the soap! With rage I'm like to burst

  ― 180 ―
To see such dawdling; give it here; now, don't pour too much in!
You wasteful, wretched creature! I am wetted to the skin!
And my poor kirtle! Stop! I say. Well, now I think I'll do;
I'm clean enough, I'm certain, for e'en the gods to view.
Now, where's the key? The key, I mean, of the big linen press?
Go for it.

G. O Praxinoe, that is a lovely dress!
What did it cost you?

P. My good friend, more than I like to say,
More than two silver minæ; but it is n't every day
You see such stuff. Ah, how I toiled in working at it, too!

G. 'Twas worth the pains.

P. I think it was. I say, you dawdler, you,
Bring me my parasol and cloak; put it on tastily.
Oh no, don't think it! You'll not go, my boy, along with me.
Black bogey'd get you—horses bite; ah, you may cry away,
But 't wouldn't do to have you lame. We shan't get off to-day;
Phrygian, amuse the little man—don't let him cry so loud;
Call in the dog, and shut the door.
Good gracious! what a crowd!
How shall we ever manage to get through such a throng?
Like ants upon an ant-hill the people swarm along.
Thanks to our good king Ptolemy, since his old father died,
No crafty villain, like a cat, behind one's back can glide,
As once the artful scoundrels whom nothing could ashame—
The worthless scamps! on travellers would play their knavish game.
O, dearest Gorgo, here's a fix for hapless me and you;
Here come the prince's chargers; what ever shall we do?
Don n't ride me down, my dear good man. See how the chesnut rears—
The fiery brute! Fly, Eunoe! How is't you have no fears?
He'll kill the groom!—oh, an't I glad I left my child at home?

G. Courage, my dear Praxinoe! No more they wildly roam,
And we are safe enough behind.

P. I thought I should have died;
Horses and snakes, e'en from a girl, I never could abide.
Let's hasten on, the crowds increase.

G. Come you from court, old dame?

OLD WOMAN. 'Twas from the court, my daughters, your humble servant came,

G. Shall we be able to get in?

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O. W. The Greeks, my pretty one,
Took Troy by trying. If you try, sure, all things can be done.

G. How like an oracle she talked!

P. Women know everything—
Even how Zeus obtained his wife.

G. Just look, love, how they cling
About the doors—oh, what a throng!

P. Gorgo, give me your hand;
You, Eunoe, hold Eutychis; hold fast, you understand,
Or you'll be lost. And now we'll all force in our way together,—
Hold tight! O me! The only cloak I had for summer weather
Is torn in two—alas! alas! oh, what a heavy stroke!—
Good God, sir! As you hope for peace, I say keep off my cloak!

STRANGER. I'll try, though—

P. In his neighbour's ribs each man his elbows digs—
The vulgar varlets! How they crowd, and squeeze, and push like pigs!

S. Cheer up, dear madam, we are safe.

P. Be blest throughout life's span
For caring for us as you did—the tender, dear good man!
But there's poor Eunoe struggling yet! Get in? Of course you can.
Push through the crowd, you silly girl!—Well done! We're all inside—note
As the man says on his wedding night, when he shuts in his bride.

G. Praxinoe, this is tapestry—oh, how elegant and fine.
Come here and look! You'll surely say 'tis some goddess's design.

P. Pallas! The girls that worked it must noble spinsters be,
Artists right cunning at their trade to paint so splendidly!
The figures live—they breathe—they move—faith, man, indeed, is wise!
But see, beloved Adonis! On yon silver couch he lies,
With the first down sprouting silken his bloomy cheeks upon,
The beautiful Adonis—loved e'en in Acheron!

SECOND STRANGER. Wretched women! Do be quiet. With your everlasting coo,
And your horrid vile broad accent, I can get no peace for you!

  ― 182 ―
P. My word! My saucy gentleman, where do you come from, pray?
What right have you to interfere, e'en though we talked all day?
You order Syracusans! My good sir, I'd have you know
Our blood is drawn from Corinth—did Bellerophon talk low?
Mayn't Dorians speak Doric, as good as that in Greece?
By'r Lady! In my masters I pray for no increase—
One's quite enough! Sir Impudence, don't dare to lecture me!
I'm not your slave, you puffed-up fool!

G. Hush, hush, Praxinoe!
The Argive woman's daughter, who sings so skilfully,
Who sang the dirge of Sperchis, Adonis now will sing.
She's rising, so do listen—'twill be a glorious thing.

CANTATRICE. Aphrodite, sportful queen,
Clad in robes of golden sheen,
Thou that lov'st Idalium,
Cyprian Golgus, Eryx high!
Now the year its course hath run,
Joy now flashes in thine eye,
For the Hours, with soft bright feet
Like the sunbeams hither come,
Back from gloomy Acheron
Bringing thine Adonis home!
Welcomes ever wait on them,
Lovely, lingering, longed for Hours,
Showering from their rosy hands
Pleasures, like rich, falling flowers!

Cypris, fair Dione's daughter,
Berenice thou hast blest;
Poured ambrosia on her bosom,
Made her share the Immortals' rest!
And her darling, Helen's rival,
Beautiful Arsinoe,
Many-named and many-templed,
Offereth grateful gifts to thee:
Heaping on thy loved Adonis
All things rare right bounteously!

Ripest fruits are laid beside him,
And his silver baskets bear
Plants, like him, that spring and wither
Swiftly in the summer air!
Syrian oil in golden caskets,
Honey-cakes of curious mould;

  ― 183 ―
Honey breathing forth the fragrance
Of the crushed flowers with it rolled,
Shaped like birds, and shaped like insects,
With no sparing hand is doled.

Verdant canopies hang o'er him,
Drooping with the tender dill;
Boy Loves flutter in the branches—
As, to try their new-born skill,
Fledgelings flit along the greenwood,
And the shade with twitterings fill.

Oh, the ebony! Oh, the gold!
Oh, the ivory eagles bold,
Bearing unto Cronus' son,
Zeus the mighty, Ganymede!
Sheep of finest, silkiest breed,
Such as the Milesians feed,
Or the Samian shepherds lead,
Gave the wool in purple dyed,
Laid in foldings thick and wide,
Softer than sleep by labour won,note
Where, lying by her husband's side,
Fair Cypris would her blushes hide.

Still in his teens,
A downy kiss
He gives with those
Sweet lips of his!

Leave them now to their delight;
Wish them both a sweet good night.

But ere the dew dries, at dawning we'll come,
And carry him out where the wild waters foam.
We will loose our long hair,
And the fresh morning air
Shall blow on our bosoms so rosy and fair;
For our robes we will slacken, and cheerily there,
As the cool yellow sands we wander along,
We will sing to Adonis this silvery song:
Alone of the demigods,
Demigod dear,
Thou now art in Acheron,
Now thou art here!

  ― 184 ―
Agamemnon, nor Ajax
The fierce and the brave,
Nor Hector the noblest
That Hecuba gave
To his sire, nor Patroclus,
Nor Pyrrhus who fought
So bravely at Troy,
Hath such privilege bought
By the deeds that he did;
And if farther we go,
The Deucalions and Lapiths
Are prisoners below;
Pelops' sons, the Pelasgi,
The eldest of Greece,
Howe'er they may pray
For their bondage to cease,
From their dungeon may issue never, oh, never!
But in darkness abide for ever and ever!
Be propitious, Adonis, to us every year,
For to us, when thou comest, thou always art dear!

G. Now, isn't that a lovely song, I say, Praxinoe?
O happy girl—to know so much, and sing so prettily!
But I must go—'tis dinner time—and, when he wants his dinner,
My old man raves, at best of times a sour and sulky sinner!
Farewell, Adonis best-beloved! Be joyful, for you come
A cause of joy to those with whom you find your summer home.