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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

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

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

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

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!

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

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

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

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,

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;

Live free as I do. She that loves my lord,

Cursed be the wife that hates her!