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[17] and showed no approval one way or the other. Then Quartilla herself came in with one girl by her, sat down on my bed, and cried for a long while. We did not put in a word even then, but sat waiting in amazement for the end of this carefully arranged exhibition of grief. When this very designing rain had ceased, she drew her proud head out of her cloak and wrung her hands together till the joints cracked. “You bold creatures,” she said,“where did you learn to outrival the robbers of romance? Heaven knows I pity you. A man cannot look upon forbidden things and go free. Indeed the gods walk abroad so commonly in our streets that it is easier to meet a god than a man. Do not suppose that I have come here to avenge myself. I am more sorry for your tender years than for my own wrongs. For I still believe that heedless youth has led you into deadly sin. I lay tormenting myself that night and[p. 25] shivering with such a dreadful chill that I even fear an attack of tertian ague. So I asked for a remedy in my dreams, and was told to find you out and allay the raging of my disease by the clever plan you would show me. But I am not so greatly concerned about a cure; deep in my heart burns a greater grief, which drags me down to inevitable death. I am afraid that youthful indiscretion will lead you to publish abroad what you saw in the chapel of Priapus, and reveal our holy rites to the mob. So I kneel with folded hands before you, and beg and pray you not to make a laughing-stock of our nocturnal worship, not to deride the immemorial mystery to which less than a thousand souls hold the key.”

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