She thinks the Italian gentlemen were right to haul Ettore Albini, the critic of the Secolo, from the stalls because he did not stand up when the band played the Royal March. She heard that at supper. Ay. They love their country when they are quite sure which country it is.

She listens: virgin most prudent.

A skirt caught back by her sudden moving knee; a white lace edging of an underskirt lifted unduly; a legstretched web of stocking. Si pol?

I play lightly, softly singing, John Dowland's languid song. Loth to depart: I too am loth to go. That age is here and now. Here, opening from the darkness of desire, are eyes that dim the breaking East, their shimmer the shimmer of the scum that mantles the cesspool of the court of slobbering James. Here are wines all ambered, dying fallings of sweet airs, the proud pavan, kind gentlewomen wooing from their balconies, with sucking mouths, the pox-fouled wenches and young wives that, gaily yielding to their ravishers , clip and clip again.

illustration