Page:Othmar, by Ouida.djvu/14

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OTHMAR, 

and president, turning her lovely eyes on to the great ecclesiastic, who replied with becoming gravity:

'Madame, what can a humble priest possibly 

know of the theme?' She smiled a little. 'You know as much as Bembo knew,' she made answer.

'Ah no, Madame! The times are changed.' 
'The times, perhaps ; not human nature. 

However, this is the question which must be first decided by the Court at large: How is the nature of Love to be defined?' A gentleman on her left murmured : 'No one can tell us so well as you, Madame, who have torn the poor butterfly in pieces so often sans merci.'

'You have broken the first rule of all,' said 

the sovereign, with severity. 'The discussion is to be kept wholly free from all personalities.'

'A wise rule, or the Court would probably 

end, like an Italian village festa, in a free use of the knife all round.'

'If you be not quiet you will be exiled 

for contempt of court, and shut up in the library to write out Ovid's "Ars Amatoria."