IN THE reign of Pompey there lived a fair and amiable lady, and near to her dwelt a handsome, noble soldier. He often visited her, and professed much honourable love. The soldier coming once to see her, observed a falcon upon her wrist, which he greatly admired. "Dear lady," said he, "if you love me, give me that beautiful bird." "I consent," returned she, "but on one condition, that you do not attach yourself so much to it as to rob me of your society." "Far be such ingratitude from your servant," cried the soldier, "I would not forsake you on any account; and believe me, this generosity binds me more than ever to love you."
The lady presented the falcon to him; and bidding her farewell, he returned to his own castle. But he liked the bird so much, that he forgot his promise to the lady, and never thought of her except when he sported with the falcon. She sent messengers to him, but it was of no use; he came not: and at last she wrote a very urgent letter, entreating him, without the least delay, to hasten to her and bring the falcon along with him.
He acquiesced; and the lady, after salutation, asked him to let her touch the bird. But when she had it in her hands, she wrenched its head from the body. "Madam," said the vexed soldier, "what have you done?" To which the lady answered, "Be not offended, but rather rejoice at what I have done. That falcon was the cause of your absence, and I killed him that I might enjoy your company as I was wont." The soldier, satisfied with the reason, became once more faithful in his love.
My beloved, the king is our heavenly Father; the lady, our human nature joined to the divinity in Christ. The soldier is any Christian, and the falcon, temporal prosperity.