‘Is the day-star too fair up above you? It burns you not. Dare you imply
I brushed you more close than the star does, when Walter had set me as high?
‘If a man finds a woman too fair, he means simply adapted too much
To use unlawful and fatal. The praise! shall I thank you for such?
‘Too fair? not unless you misuse us! and surely if, once in a while,
You attain to it, straightaway you call us no longer too fair, but too vile.
‘A moment, I pray your attention! I have a poor word in my head
I must utter, though womanly custom would set it down better unsaid.
‘You grew, sir, pale to impertinence, once when I showed you a ring.
You kissed my fan when I dropped it. No matter! I’ve broken the thing.
‘You did me the honour, perhaps, to be moved at my side now and then
In the senses a vice, I have heard, which is common to beasts and some men.
‘Love’s a virtue for heroes! as white as the snow on high hills,
And immortal as every great soul is that struggles, endures, and fulfils.
‘I love my Walter profoundly, you, Maude, though you faltered a week,
For the sake of. . . what is it an eyebrow? or, less still, a mole on the cheek?
‘And since, when all’s said, you’re too noble to stoop to the frivolous cant
About crimes irresistable, virtues that swindle, betray and supplant.
‘I determined to prove to yourself that, whate’er you might dream or avow
By illusion, you wanted precisely no more of me than you have now.
‘There! Look me full in the face! in the face. Understand, if you can,
That the eyes of such women as I am are clean as the palm of a man.
‘Drop his hand, you insult him. Avoid us for fear we should cost you a scar
You take us for harlots, I tell you, and not for the women we are.
‘You wronged me: but then I considered. . . there’s Walter! And so at the end
I vowed that he should not be mulcted, by me, in the hand of a friend.
‘Have I hurt you indeed? We are quits then. Nay, friend of my Walter, be mine!
Come, Dora, my darling, my angel, and help me to ask him to dine.’