The Women And The Secret.

A poem by Jean de La Fontaine

[1]

There's nothing like a secret weighs;
Too heavy 'tis for women tender;
And, for this matter, in my days,
I've seen some men of female gender.

To prove his wife, a husband cried,
(The night he knew the truth would hide,)
'O Heavens! What's this? O dear - I beg -
I'm torn - O! O! I've laid an egg!'
'An egg?' 'Why, yes, it's gospel-true.
Look here - see - feel it, fresh and new;
But, wife, don't mention it, lest men
Should laugh at me, and call me hen:
Indeed, don't say a word about it.'
On this, as other matters, green and young,
The wife, all wonder, did not doubt it,
And pledged herself by Heaven to hold her tongue.
Her oath, however, fled the light
As quick as did the shades of night.
Before Dan Phoebus waked to labour
The dame was off to see a neighbour.
'My friend,' she said, half-whispering.
'There's come to pass the strangest thing -
If you should tell, 'twould turn me out of door: -
My husband's laid an egg as big as four!
As you would taste of heaven's bliss,
Don't tell a living soul of this.'
'I tell! why if you knew a thing about me,
You wouldn't for an instant doubt me;
Your confidence I'll ne'er abuse.'
The layer's wife went home relieved;
The other broil'd to tell the news;
You need not ask if she believed.
A dame more busy could not be;
In twenty places, ere her tea,
Instead of one egg, she said three!
Nor was the story finish'd here:
A gossip, still more keen than she,
Said four, and spoke it in the ear -
A caution truly little worth,
Applied to all the ears on earth.
Of eggs, the number, thanks to Fame,
As on from mouth to mouth she sped,
Had grown a hundred, soothly said,
Ere Sol had quench'd his golden flame!

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