Even or odd, of all days in the year,
Come Lammas Eve at night shall she be fourteen.
20Susan and she—God rest all Christian souls!—
Were of an age. Well, Susan is with God.
She was too good for me. But, as I said,
On Lammas Eve at night shall she be fourteen.
That shall she. Marry, I remember it well.
25'Tis since the earthquake now eleven years,
And she was weaned—I never shall forget it—
Of all the days of the year, upon that day.
For I had then laid wormwood to my dug,
Sitting in the sun under the dovehouse wall.
30My lord and you were then at Mantua.—
Nay, I do bear a brain.—But, as I said,
When it did taste the wormwood on the nipple
Of my dug and felt it bitter, pretty fool,
To see it tetchy and fall out with the dug!
35“Shake!” quoth the dovehouse. 'Twas no need, I trow,
To bid me trudge.
And since that time it is eleven years,
For then she could stand alone. Nay, by the rood,
She could have run and waddled all about,
40For even the day before, she broke her brow.
And then my husband—God be with his soul!
He was a merry man—took up the child.
“Yea,” quoth he, “Dost thou fall upon thy face?
Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit,
45Wilt thou not, Jule?” and, by my holy dame,
The pretty wretch left crying and said “ay.”
To see now, how a jest shall come about!
I warrant, an I should live a thousand years,
I never should forget it. “Wilt thou not, Jule?” quoth he.
50And, pretty fool, it stinted and said “ay.”
Whether it’s even or odd, of all the days in the year, on the night of Lammas Eve, she’ll be fourteen. She and Susan—God rest her and all Christian souls—were born on the same day. Well, Susan died and is with God. She was too good for me. But like I said, on the night of Lammas Eve, she will be fourteen. Yes, she will. Indeed, I remember it well. It’s been eleven years since the earthquake. She stopped nursing from my breast on that very day. I’ll never forget it. I had put bitter wormwood on my breast as I was sitting in the sun, under the wall of the dovehouse. You and your husband were in Mantua. Boy, do I have some memory! But like I said, when she tasted the bitter wormwood on my nipple, the pretty little babe got irritated and started to quarrel with my breast. Then the dovehouse shook with the earthquake. There was no need to tell me to get out of there. That was eleven years ago. By then she could stand up all by herself. No, I swear, by that time she could run and waddle all around. I remember because she had cut her forehead just the day before. My husband—God rest his soul, he was a happy man—picked up the child. “Oh,” he said, “Did you fall on your face? You’ll
“Fall backward” = have sex.fall backward when you grow smarter. Won’t you, Jule.” And I swear, the poor pretty thing stopped crying and said, “Yes.” Oh, to watch a joke come true! I bet if I live a thousand years, I’ll never forget it. “Won’t you, Jule,” he said. And the pretty fool stopped crying and said, “Yes.”
Enough of this. I pray thee, hold thy peace.
Enough of this. Please be quiet.