HYPOLITO Students of Alcala.
THE COUNT OF LARA
DON CARLOS Gentlemen of Madrid.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF TOLEDO.
BELTRAN CRUZADO Count of the Gypsies.
BARTOLOME ROMAN A young Gypsy.
THE PADRE CURA OF GUADARRAMA.
PEDRO CRESPO Alcalde.
FRANCISCO Lara's Servant.
CHISPA Victorian's Servant.
PRECIOSA A Gypsy Girl.
ANGELICA A poor Girl.
MARTINA The Padre Cura's Niece.
DOLORES Preciosa's Maid.
Gypsies, Musicians, etc.
SCENE I.--The COUNT OF LARA'S chambers. Night. The COUNT in his dressing-gown, smoking and conversing with DON CARLOS.
Lara. You were not at the play tonight, Don Carlos;
How happened it?
Don C. I had engagements elsewhere.
Pray who was there?
Lara. Why all the town and court.
The house was crowded; and the busy fans
Among the gayly dressed and perfumed ladies
Fluttered like butterflies among the flowers.
There was the Countess of Medina Celi;
The Goblin Lady with her Phantom Lover,
Her Lindo Don Diego; Dona Sol,
And Dona Serafina, and her cousins.
Don C. What was the play?
Lara. It was a dull affair;
One of those comedies in which you see,
As Lope says, the history of the world
Brought down from Genesis to the Day of Judgment.
There were three duels fought in the first act,
Three gentlemen receiving deadly wounds,
Laying their hands upon their hearts, and saying,
"O, I am dead!" a lover in a closet,
An old hidalgo, and a gay Don Juan,
A Dona Inez with a black mantilla,
Followed at twilight by an unknown lover,
Who looks intently where he knows she is not!
Don C. Of course, the Preciosa danced to-night?
Lara. And never better. Every footstep fell
As lightly as a sunbeam on the water.
I think the girl extremely beautiful.
Don C. Almost beyond the privilege of woman!
I saw her in the Prado yesterday.
Her step was royal,--queen-like,--and her face
As beautiful as a saint's in Paradise.
Lara. May not a saint fall from her Paradise,
And be no more a saint?
Don C. Why do you ask?
Lara. Because I have heard it said this angel fell,
And though she is a virgin outwardly,
Within she is a sinner; like those panels
Of doors and altar-pieces the old monks
Painted in convents, with the Virgin Mary
On the outside, and on the inside Venus!
Don C. You do her wrong; indeed, you do her wrong!
She is as virtuous as she is fair.
Lara. How credulous you are! Why look you, friend,
There's not a virtuous woman in Madrid,
In this whole city! And would you persuade me
That a mere dancing-girl, who shows herself,
Nightly, half naked, on the stage, for money,
And with voluptuous motions fires the blood
Of inconsiderate youth, is to be held
A model for her virtue?
Don C. You forget
She is a Gypsy girl.
Lara. And therefore won
Don C. Nay, not to be won at all!
The only virtue that a Gypsy prizes
Is chastity. That is her only virtue.
Dearer than life she holds it. I remember
A Gypsy woman, a vile, shameless bawd,
Whose craft was to betray the young and fair;
And yet this woman was above all bribes.
And when a noble lord, touched by her beauty,
The wild and wizard beauty of her race,
Offered her gold to be what she made others,
She turned upon him, with a look of scorn,
And smote him in the face!
Lara. And does that prove
That Preciosa is above suspicion?
Don C. It proves a nobleman may be repulsed
When he thinks conquest easy. I believe
That woman, in her deepest degradation,
Holds something sacred, something undefiled,
Some pledge and keepsake of her higher nature,
And, like the diamond in the dark, retains
Some quenchless gleam of the celestial light!
Lara. Yet Preciosa would have taken the gold.
Don C. (rising). I do not think so.
Lara. I am sure of it.
But why this haste? Stay yet a little longer,
And fight the battles of your Dulcinea.
Don C. 'T is late. I must begone, for if I stay
You will not be persuaded.
Lara. Yes; persuade me.
Don C. No one so deaf as he who will not hear!
Lara. No one so blind as he who will not see!
Don C. And so good night. I wish you pleasant dreams,
And greater faith in woman.
Lara. Greater faith!
I have the greatest faith; for I believe
Victorian is her lover. I believe
That I shall be to-morrow; and thereafter
Another, and another, and another,
Chasing each other through her zodiac,
As Taurus chases Aries.
(Enter FRANCISCO with a casket.)
What speed with Preciosa?
Fran. None, my lord.
She sends your jewels back, and bids me tell you
She is not to be purchased by your gold.
Lara. Then I will try some other way to win her.
Pray, dost thou know Victorian?
Fran. Yes, my lord;
I saw him at the jeweller's to-day.
Lara. What was he doing there?
Fran. I saw him buy
A golden ring, that had a ruby in it.
Lara. Was there another like it?
Fran. One so like it
I could not choose between them.
Lara. It is well.
To-morrow morning bring that ring to me.
Do not forget. Now light me to my bed.
SCENE II. -- A street in Madrid. Enter CHISPA, followed by musicians, with a bagpipe, guitars, and other instruments.
Chispa. Abernuncio Satanas! and a plague on all lovers who ramble about at night, drinking the elements, instead of sleeping quietly in their beds. Every dead man to his cemetery, say I; and every friar to his monastery. Now, here's my master, Victorian, yesterday a cow-keeper, and to-day a gentleman; yesterday a student, and to-day a lover; and I must be up later than the nightingale, for as the abbot sings so must the sacristan respond. God grant he may soon be married, for then shall all this serenading cease. Ay, marry! marry! marry! Mother, what does marry mean? It means to spin, to bear children, and to weep, my daughter! And, of a truth, there is something more in matrimony than the wedding-ring. (To the musicians.) And now, gentlemen, Pax vobiscum! as the ass said to the cabbages. Pray, walk this way; and don't hang down your heads. It is no disgrace to have an old father and a ragged shirt. Now, look you, you are gentlemen who lead the life of crickets; you enjoy hunger by day and noise by night. Yet, I beseech you, for this once be not loud, but pathetic; for it is a serenade to a damsel in bed, and not to the Man in the Moon. Your object is not to arouse and terrify, but to soothe and bring lulling dreams. Therefore, each shall not play upon his instrument as if it were the only one in the universe, but gently, and with a certain modesty, according with the others.
Pray, how may I call thy name, friend?
First Mus. Geronimo Gil, at your service.
Chispa. Every tub smells of the wine that is in it. Pray, Geronimo, is not Saturday an unpleasant day with thee?
First Mus. Why so?
Chispa. Because I have heard it said that Saturday is an unpleasant day with those who have but one shirt. Moreover, I have seen thee at the tavern, and if thou canst run as fast as thou canst drink, I should like to hunt hares with thee. What instrument is that?
First Mus. An Aragonese bagpipe.
Chispa. Pray, art thou related to the bagpiper of Bujalance, who asked a maravedi for playing, and ten for leaving off?
First Mus. No, your honor.
Chispa. I am glad of it. What other instruments have we?
Second and Third Musicians. We play the bandurria.
Chispa. A pleasing instrument. And thou?
Fourth Mus. The fife.
Chispa. I like it; it has a cheerful, soul-stirring sound, that soars up to my lady's window like the song of a swallow.
And you others?
Other Mus. We are the singers, please your honor.
Chispa. You are too many. Do you think we are going to sing mass in the cathedral of Cordova? Four men can make but little use of one shoe, and I see not how you can all sing in one song. But follow me along the garden wall. That is the way my master climbs to the lady's window, it is by the Vicar's skirts that the Devil climbs into the belfry. Come, follow me, and make no noise.
SCENE III. -- PRECIOSA'S chamber. She stands at the open window.
Prec. How slowly through the lilac-scented air
Descends the tranquil moon! Like thistle-down
The vapory clouds float in the peaceful sky;
And sweetly from yon hollow vaults of shade
The nightingales breathe out their souls in song.
And hark! what songs of love, what soul-like sounds,
Answer them from below!
Stars of the summer night!
Far in yon azure deeps,
Hide, hide your golden light!
My lady sleeps!
Moon of the summer night!
Far down yon western steeps,
Sink, sink in silver light!
My lady sleeps!
Wind of the summer night!
Where yonder woodbine creeps,
Fold, fold thy pinions light!
My lady sleeps!
Dreams of the summer night!
Tell her, her lover keeps
Watch! while in slumbers light
My lady sleeps
(Enter VICTORIAN by the balcony.)
Vict. Poor little dove! Thou tremblest like a leaf!
Prec. I am so frightened! 'T is for thee I tremble!
I hate to have thee climb that wall by night!
Did no one see thee?
Vict. None, my love, but thou.
Prec. 'T is very dangerous; and when thou art gone
I chide myself for letting thee come here
Thus stealthily by night. Where hast thou been?
Since yesterday I have no news from thee.
Vict. Since yesterday I have been in Alcala.
Erelong the time will come, sweet Preciosa,
When that dull distance shall no more divide us;
And I no more shall scale thy wall by night
To steal a kiss from thee, as I do now.
Prec. An honest thief, to steal but what thou givest.
Vict. And we shall sit together unmolested,
And words of true love pass from tongue to tongue,
As singing birds from one bough to another.
Prec. That were a life to make time envious!
I knew that thou wouldst come to me to-night.
I saw thee at the play.
Vict. Sweet child of air!
Never did I behold thee so attired
And garmented in beauty as to-night!
What hast thou done to make thee look so fair?
Prec. Am I not always fair?
Vict. Ay, and so fair
That I am jealous of all eyes that see thee,
And wish that they were blind.
Prec. I heed them not;
When thou art present, I see none but thee!
Vict. There's nothing fair nor beautiful, but takes
Something from thee, that makes it beautiful.
Prec. And yet thou leavest me for those dusty books.
Vict. Thou comest between me and those books too often!
I see thy face in everything I see!
The paintings in the chapel wear thy looks,
The canticles are changed to sarabands,
And with the leaned doctors of the schools
I see thee dance cachuchas.
Prec. In good sooth,
I dance with learned doctors of the schools
Vict. And with whom, I pray?
Prec. A grave and reverend Cardinal, and his Grace
The Archbishop of Toledo.
Vict. What mad jest
Prec. It is no jest; indeed it is not.
Vict. Prithee, explain thyself.
Prec. Why, simply thus.
Thou knowest the Pope has sent here into Spain
To put a stop to dances on the stage.
Vict. I have heard it whispered.
Prec. Now the Cardinal,
Who for this purpose comes, would fain behold
With his own eyes these dances; and the Archbishop
Has sent for me--
Vict. That thou mayst dance before them!
Now viva la cachucha! It will breathe
The fire of youth into these gray old men!
'T will be thy proudest conquest!
Prec. Saving one.
And yet I fear these dances will be stopped,
And Preciosa be once more a beggar.
Vict. The sweetest beggar that e'er asked for alms;
With such beseeching eyes, that when I saw thee
I gave my heart away!
Prec. Dost thou remember
When first we met?
Vict. It was at Cordova,
In the cathedral garden. Thou wast sitting
Under the orange-trees, beside a fountain.
Prec. 'T was Easter-Sunday. The full-blossomed trees
Filled all the air with fragrance and with joy.
The priests were singing, and the organ sounded,
And then anon the great cathedral bell.
It was the elevation of the Host.
We both of us fell down upon our knees,
Under the orange boughs, and prayed together.
I never had been happy till that moment.
Vict. Thou blessed angel!
Prec. And when thou wast gone
I felt an acting here. I did not speak
To any one that day. But from that day
Bartolome grew hateful unto me.
Vict. Remember him no more. Let not his shadow
Come between thee and me. Sweet Preciosa!
I loved thee even then, though I was silent!
Prec. I thought I ne'er should see thy face again.
Thy farewell had a sound of sorrow in it.
Vict. That was the first sound in the song of love!
Scarce more than silence is, and yet a sound.
Hands of invisible spirits touch the strings
Of that mysterious instrument, the soul,
And play the prelude of our fate. We hear
The voice prophetic, and are not alone.
Prec. That is my faith. Dust thou believe these warnings?
Vict. So far as this. Our feelings and our thoughts
Tend ever on, and rest not in the Present.
As drops of rain fall into some dark well,
And from below comes a scarce audible sound,
So fall our thoughts into the dark Hereafter,
And their mysterious echo reaches us.
Prec. I have felt it so, but found no words to say it!
I cannot reason; I can only feel!
But thou hast language for all thoughts and feelings.
Thou art a scholar; and sometimes I think
We cannot walk together in this world!
The distance that divides us is too great!
Henceforth thy pathway lies among the stars;
I must not hold thee back.
Vict. Thou little sceptic!
Dost thou still doubt? What I most prize in woman
Is her affections, not her intellect!
The intellect is finite; but the affections
Are infinite, and cannot be exhausted.
Compare me with the great men of the earth;
What am I? Why, a pygmy among giants!
But if thou lovest,--mark me! I say lovest,
The greatest of thy sex excels thee not!
The world of the affections is thy world,
Not that of man's ambition. In that stillness
Which most becomes a woman, calm and holy,
Thou sittest by the fireside of the heart,
Feeding its flame. The element of fire
Is pure. It cannot change nor hide its nature,
But burns as brightly in a Gypsy camp
As in a palace hall. Art thou convinced?
Prec. Yes, that I love thee, as the good love heaven;
But not that I am worthy of that heaven.
How shall I more deserve it?
Vict. Loving more.
Prec. I cannot love thee more; my heart is full.
Vict. Then let it overflow, and I will drink it,
As in the summer-time the thirsty sands
Drink the swift waters of the Manzanares,
And still do thirst for more.
A Watchman (in the street). Ave Maria
Purissima! 'T is midnight and serene!
Vict. Hear'st thou that cry?
Prec. It is a hateful sound,
To scare thee from me!
Vict. As the hunter's horn
Doth scare the timid stag, or bark of hounds
The moor-fowl from his mate.
Prec. Pray, do not go!
Vict. I must away to Alcala to-night.
Think of me when I am away.
Prec. Fear not!
I have no thoughts that do not think of thee.
Vict. (giving her a ring).
And to remind thee of my love, take this;
A serpent, emblem of Eternity;
A ruby,--say, a drop of my heart's blood.
Prec. It is an ancient saying, that the ruby
Brings gladness to the wearer, and preserves
The heart pure, and, if laid beneath the pillow,
Drives away evil dreams. But then, alas!
It was a serpent tempted Eve to sin.
Vict. What convent of barefooted Carmelites
Taught thee so much theology?
Prec. (laying her hand upon his mouth). Hush! hush!
Good night! and may all holy angels guard thee!
Vict. Good night! good night! Thou art my guardian angel!
I have no other saint than thou to pray to!
(He descends by the balcony.)
Prec. Take care, and do not hurt thee. Art thou safe?
Vict. (from the garden).
Safe as my love for thee! But art thou safe?
Others can climb a balcony by moonlight
As well as I. Pray shut thy window close;
I am jealous of the perfumed air of night
That from this garden climbs to kiss thy lips.
Prec. (throwing down her handkerchief).
Thou silly child! Take this to blind thine eyes.
It is my benison!
Vict. And brings to me
Sweet fragrance from thy lips, as the soft wind
Wafts to the out-bound mariner the breath
Of the beloved land he leaves behind.
Prec. Make not thy voyage long.
Vict. To-morrow night
Shall see me safe returned. Thou art the star
To guide me to an anchorage. Good night!
My beauteous star! My star of love, good night!
Prec. Good night!
Watchman (at a distance). Ave Maria Purissima!
Scene IV. -- An inn on the road to Alcala.
BALTASAR asleep on a bench. Enter CHISPA.
Chispa. And here we are, halfway to Alcala, between cocks and midnight. Body o' me! what an inn this is! The lights out, and the landlord asleep. Hola! ancient Baltasar!
Bal. (waking). Here I am.
Chispa. Yes, there you are, like a one-eyed Alcalde in a town without inhabitants. Bring a light, and let me have supper.
Bal. Where is your master?
Chispo. Do not trouble yourself about him. We have stopped a moment to breathe our horses; and, if he chooses to walk up and down in the open air, looking into the sky as one who hears it rain, that does not satisfy my hunger, you know. But be quick, for I am in a hurry, and every man stretches his legs according to the length of his coverlet. What have we here?
Bal. (setting a light on the table). Stewed rabbit.
Chispa (eating). Conscience of Portalegre! Stewed kitten, you mean!
Bal. And a pitcher of Pedro Ximenes, with a roasted pear in it.
Chispa (drinking). Ancient Baltasar, amigo! You know how to cry wine and sell vinegar. I tell you this is nothing but Vino Tinto of La Mancha, with a tang of the swine-skin.
Bal. I swear to you by Saint Simon and Judas, it is all as I say.
Chispa. And I swear to you by Saint Peter and Saint Paul, that it is no such thing. Moreover, your supper is like the hidalgo's dinner, very little meat and a great deal of tablecloth.
Bal. Ha! ha! ha!
Chispa. And more noise than nuts.
Bal. Ha! ha! ha! You must have your joke, Master Chispa. But shall I not ask Don Victorian in, to take a draught of the Pedro Ximenes?
Chispa. No; you might as well say, "Don't-you-want-some?" to a dead man.
Bal. Why does he go so often to Madrid?
Chispa. For the same reason that he eats no supper. He is in love. Were you ever in love, Baltasar?
Bal. I was never out of it, good Chispa. It has been the torment of my life.
Chispa. What! are you on fire, too, old hay-stack? Why, we shall never be able to put you out.
Vict. (without). Chispa!
Chispa. Go to bed, Pero Grullo, for the cocks are crowing.
Vict. Ea! Chispa! Chispa!
Chispa. Ea! Senor. Come with me, ancient Baltasar, and bring water for the horses. I will pay for the supper tomorrow.
SCENE V. -- VICTORIAN'S chambers at Alcala. HYPOLITO asleep in an arm-chair. He awakes slowly.
Hyp. I must have been asleep! ay, sound asleep!
And it was all a dream. O sleep, sweet sleep
Whatever form thou takest, thou art fair,
Holding unto our lips thy goblet filled
Out of Oblivion's well, a healing draught!
The candles have burned low; it must be late.
Where can Victorian be? Like Fray Carrillo,
The only place in which one cannot find him
Is his own cell. Here's his guitar, that seldom
Feels the caresses of its master's hand.
Open thy silent lips, sweet instrument!
And make dull midnight merry with a song.
(He plays and sings.)
What do you want of Padre Francisco?
Here is a pretty young maiden
Who wants to confess her sins!
Open the door and let her come in,
I will shrive her from every sin.
Vict. Padre Hypolito! Padre Hypolito!
Hyp. What do you want of Padre Hypolito?
Vict. Come, shrive me straight; for, if love be a sin,
I am the greatest sinner that doth live.
I will confess the sweetest of all crimes,
A maiden wooed and won.
Hyp. The same old tale
Of the old woman in the chimney-corner,
Who, while the pot boils, says, "Come here, my child;
I'll tell thee a story of my wedding-day."
Vict. Nay, listen, for my heart is full; so full
That I must speak.
Hyp. Alas! that heart of thine
Is like a scene in the old play; the curtain
Rises to solemn music, and lo! enter
The eleven thousand virgins of Cologne!
Vict. Nay, like the Sibyl's volumes, thou shouldst say;
Those that remained, after the six were burned,
Being held more precious than the nine together.
But listen to my tale. Dost thou remember
The Gypsy girl we saw at Cordova
Dance the Romalis in the market-place?
Hyp. Thou meanest Preciosa.
Vict. Ay, the same.
Thou knowest how her image haunted me
Long after we returned to Alcala.
She's in Madrid.
Hyp. I know it.
Vict. And I'm in love.
Hyp. And therefore in Madrid when thou shouldst be
Vict. O pardon me, my friend,
If I so long have kept this secret from thee;
But silence is the charm that guards such treasures,
And, if a word be spoken ere the time,
They sink again, they were not meant for us.
Hyp. Alas! alas! I see thou art in love.
Love keeps the cold out better than a cloak.
It serves for food and raiment. Give a Spaniard
His mass, his olla, and his Dona Luisa--
Thou knowest the proverb. But pray tell me, lover,
How speeds thy wooing? Is the maiden coy?
Write her a song, beginning with an Ave;
Sing as the monk sang to the Virgin Mary,
Ave! cujus calcem clare
Nec centenni commendare
Sciret Seraph studio!
Vict. Pray, do not jest! This is no time for it!
I am in earnest!
Hyp. Seriously enamored?
What, ho! The Primus of great Alcala
Enamored of a Gypsy? Tell me frankly,
How meanest thou?
Vict. I mean it honestly.
Hyp. Surely thou wilt not marry her!
Vict. Why not?
Hyp. She was betrothed to one Bartolome,
If I remember rightly, a young Gypsy
Who danced with her at Cordova.
Vict. They quarrelled,
And so the matter ended.
Hyp. But in truth
Thou wilt not marry her.
Vict. In truth I will.
The angels sang in heaven when she was born!
She is a precious jewel I have found
Among the filth and rubbish of the world.
I'll stoop for it; but when I wear it here,
Set on my forehead like the morning star,
The world may wonder, but it will not laugh.
Hyp. If thou wear'st nothing else upon thy forehead,
'T will be indeed a wonder.
Vict. Out upon thee
With thy unseasonable jests! Pray tell me,
Is there no virtue in the world?
Hyp. Not much.
What, think'st thou, is she doing at this moment;
Now, while we speak of her?
Vict. She lies asleep,
And from her parted lips her gentle breath
Comes like the fragrance from the lips of flowers.
Her tender limbs are still, and on her breast
The cross she prayed to, ere she fell asleep,
Rises and falls with the soft tide of dreams,
Like a light barge safe moored.
Hyp. Which means, in prose,
She's sleeping with her mouth a little open!
Vict. O, would I had the old magician's glass
To see her as she lies in childlike sleep!
Hyp. And wouldst thou venture?
Vict. Ay, indeed I would!
Hyp. Thou art courageous. Hast thou e'er reflected
How much lies hidden in that one word, NOW?
Vict. Yes; all the awful mystery of Life!
I oft have thought, my dear Hypolito,
That could we, by some spell of magic, change
The world and its inhabitants to stone,
In the same attitudes they now are in,
What fearful glances downward might we cast
Into the hollow chasms of human life!
What groups should we behold about the death-bed,
Putting to shame the group of Niobe!
What joyful welcomes, and what sad farewells!
What stony tears in those congealed eyes!
What visible joy or anguish in those cheeks!
What bridal pomps, and what funereal shows!
What foes, like gladiators, fierce and struggling!
What lovers with their marble lips together!
Hyp. Ay, there it is! and, if I were in love,
That is the very point I most should dread.
This magic glass, these magic spells of thine,
Might tell a tale were better left untold.
For instance, they might show us thy fair cousin,
The Lady Violante, bathed in tears
Of love and anger, like the maid of Colchis,
Whom thou, another faithless Argonaut,
Having won that golden fleece, a woman's love,
Desertest for this Glauce.
Vict. Hold thy peace!
She cares not for me. She may wed another,
Or go into a convent, and, thus dying,
Marry Achilles in the Elysian Fields.
Hyp. (rising). And so, good night! Good morning, I should say.
(Clock strikes three.)
Hark! how the loud and ponderous mace of Time
Knocks at the golden portals of the day!
And so, once more, good night! We'll speak more largely
Of Preciosa when we meet again.
Get thee to bed, and the magician, Sleep,
Shall show her to thee, in his magic glass,
In all her loveliness. Good night!
Vict. Good night!
But not to bed; for I must read awhile.
(Throws himself into the arm-chair which HYPOLITO has left, and lays a large book open upon his knees.)
Must read, or sit in revery and watch
The changing color of the waves that break
Upon the idle sea-shore of the mind!
Visions of Fame! that once did visit me,
Making night glorious with your smile, where are ye?
O, who shall give me, now that ye are gone,
Juices of those immortal plants that bloom
Upon Olympus, making us immortal?
Or teach me where that wondrous mandrake grows
Whose magic root, torn from the earth with groans,
At midnight hour, can scare the fiends away,
And make the mind prolific in its fancies!
I have the wish, but want the will, to act!
Souls of great men departed! Ye whose words
Have come to light from the swift river of Time,
Like Roman swords found in the Tagus' bed,
Where is the strength to wield the arms ye bore?
From the barred visor of Antiquity
Reflected shines the eternal light of Truth,
As from a mirror! All the means of action--
The shapeless masses, the materials--
Lie everywhere about us. What we need
Is the celestial fire to change the flint
Into transparent crystal, bright and clear.
That fire is genius! The rude peasant sits
At evening in his smoky cot, and draws
With charcoal uncouth figures on the wall.
The son of genius comes, foot-sore with travel,
And begs a shelter from the inclement night.
He takes the charcoal from the peasant's hand,
And, by the magic of his touch at once
Transfigured, all its hidden virtues shine,
And, in the eyes of the astonished clown,
It gleams a diamond! Even thus transformed,
Rude popular traditions and old tales
Shine as immortal poems, at the touch
Of some poor, houseless, homeless, wandering bard,
Who had but a night's lodging for his pains.
But there are brighter dreams than those of Fame,
Which are the dreams of Love! Out of the heart
Rises the bright ideal of these dreams,
As from some woodland fount a spirit rises
And sinks again into its silent deeps,
Ere the enamored knight can touch her robe!
'T is this ideal that the soul of man,
Like the enamored knight beside the fountain,
Waits for upon the margin of Life's stream;
Waits to behold her rise from the dark waters,
Clad in a mortal shape! Alas! how many
Must wait in vain! The stream flows evermore,
But from its silent deeps no spirit rises!
Yet I, born under a propitious star,
Have found the bright ideal of my dreams.
Yes! she is ever with me. I can feel,
Here, as I sit at midnight and alone,
Her gentle breathing! on my breast can feel
The pressure of her head! God's benison
Rest ever on it! Close those beauteous eyes,
Sweet Sleep! and all the flowers that bloom at night
With balmy lips breathe in her ears my name!
(Gradually sinks asleep.)
SCENE I. -- PRECIOSA'S chamber. Morning. PRECIOSA and ANGELICA.
Prec. Why will you go so soon? Stay yet awhile.
The poor too often turn away unheard
From hearts that shut against them with a sound
That will be heard in heaven. Pray, tell me more
Of your adversities. Keep nothing from me.
What is your landlord's name?
Ang. The Count of Lara.
Prec. The Count of Lara? O, beware that man!
Mistrust his pity,--hold no parley with him!
And rather die an outcast in the streets
Than touch his gold.
Ang. You know him, then!
Prec. As much
As any woman may, and yet be pure.
As you would keep your name without a blemish,
Beware of him!
Ang. Alas! what can I do?
I cannot choose my friends. Each word of kindness,
Come whence it may, is welcome to the poor.
Prec. Make me your friend. A girl so young and fair
Should have no friends but those of her own sex.
What is your name?
Prec. That name
Was given you, that you might be an angel
To her who bore you! When your infant smile
Made her home Paradise, you were her angel.
O, be an angel still! She needs that smile.
So long as you are innocent, fear nothing.
No one can harm you! I am a poor girl,
Whom chance has taken from the public streets.
I have no other shield than mine own virtue.
That is the charm which has protected me!
Amid a thousand perils, I have worn it
Here on my heart! It is my guardian angel.
Ang. (rising). I thank you for this counsel, dearest lady.
Prec. Thank me by following it.
Ang. Indeed I will.
Prec. Pray, do not go. I have much more to say.
Ang. My mother is alone. I dare not leave her.
Prec. Some other time, then, when we meet again.
You must not go away with words alone.
(Gives her a purse.)
Take this. Would it were more.
Ang. I thank you, lady.
Prec. No thanks. To-morrow come to me again.
I dance to-night,--perhaps for the last time.
But what I gain, I promise shall be yours,
If that can save you from the Count of Lara.
Ang. O, my dear lady! how shall I be grateful
For so much kindness?
Prec. I deserve no thanks,
Thank Heaven, not me.
Ang. Both Heaven and you.
Remember that you come again tomorrow.
Ang. I will. And may the Blessed Virgin guard you,
And all good angels.
Prec. May they guard thee too,
And all the poor; for they have need of angels.
Now bring me, dear Dolores, my basquina,
My richest maja dress,--my dancing dress,
And my most precious jewels! Make me look
Fairer than night e'er saw me! I've a prize
To win this day, worthy of Preciosa!
(Enter BELTRAN CRUZADO.)
Cruz. Ave Maria!
Prec. O God! my evil genius!
What seekest thou here to-day?
Cruz. Thyself,--my child.
Prec. What is thy will with me?
Cruz. Gold! gold!
Prec. I gave thee yesterday; I have no more.
Cruz. The gold of the Busne,--give me his gold!
Prec. I gave the last in charity to-day.
Cruz. That is a foolish lie.
Prec. It is the truth.
Cruz. Curses upon thee! Thou art not my child!
Hast thou given gold away, and not to me?
Not to thy father? To whom, then?
Prec. To one
Who needs it more.
Cruz. No one can need it more.
Prec. Thou art not poor.
Cruz. What, I, who lurk about
In dismal suburbs and unwholesome lanes
I, who am housed worse than the galley slave;
I, who am fed worse than the kennelled hound;
I, who am clothed in rags,--Beltran Cruzado,--
Prec. Thou hast a stout heart and strong hands.
Thou canst supply thy wants; what wouldst thou more?
Cruz. The gold of the Busne! give me his gold!
Prec. Beltran Cruzado! hear me once for all.
I speak the truth. So long as I had gold,
I gave it to thee freely, at all times,
Never denied thee; never had a wish
But to fulfil thine own. Now go in peace!
Be merciful, be patient, and ere long
Thou shalt have more.
Cruz. And if I have it not,
Thou shalt no longer dwell here in rich chambers,
Wear silken dresses, feed on dainty food,
And live in idleness; but go with me,
Dance the Romalis in the public streets,
And wander wild again o'er field and fell;
For here we stay not long.
Prec. What! march again?
Cruz. Ay, with all speed. I hate the crowded town!
I cannot breathe shut up within its gates
Air,--I want air, and sunshine, and blue sky,
The feeling of the breeze upon my face,
The feeling of the turf beneath my feet,
And no walls but the far-off mountain-tops.
Then I am free and strong,--once more myself,
Beltran Cruzado, Count of the Cales!
Prec. God speed thee on thy march!--I cannot go.
Cruz. Remember who I am, and who thou art
Be silent and obey! Yet one thing more.
Prec. (with emotion). O, I beseech thee
If my obedience and blameless life,
If my humility and meek submission
In all things hitherto, can move in thee
One feeling of compassion; if thou art
Indeed my father, and canst trace in me
One look of her who bore me, or one tone
That doth remind thee of her, let it plead
In my behalf, who am a feeble girl,
Too feeble to resist, and do not force me
To wed that man! I am afraid of him!
I do not love him! On my knees I beg thee
To use no violence, nor do in haste
What cannot be undone!
Cruz. O child, child, child!
Thou hast betrayed thy secret, as a bird
Betrays her nest, by striving to conceal it.
I will not leave thee here in the great city
To be a grandee's mistress. Make thee ready
To go with us; and until then remember
A watchful eye is on thee. [Exit.
Prec. Woe is me!
I have a strange misgiving in my heart!
But that one deed of charity I'll do,
Befall what may; they cannot take that from me.
SCENE II -- A room in the ARCHBISHOP'S Palace. The ARCHBISHOP and a CARDINAL seated.
Arch. Knowing how near it touched the public morals,
And that our age is grown corrupt and rotten
By such excesses, we have sent to Rome,
Beseeching that his Holiness would aid
In curing the gross surfeit of the time,
By seasonable stop put here in Spain
To bull-fights and lewd dances on the stage.
All this you know.
Card. Know and approve.
Arch. And further,
That, by a mandate from his Holiness,
The first have been suppressed.
Card. I trust forever.
It was a cruel sport.
Arch. A barbarous pastime,
Disgraceful to the land that calls itself
Most Catholic and Christian.
Card. Yet the people
Murmur at this; and, if the public dances
Should be condemned upon too slight occasion,
Worse ills might follow than the ills we cure.
As Panem et Circenses was the cry
Among the Roman populace of old,
So Pan y Toros is the cry in Spain.
Hence I would act advisedly herein;
And therefore have induced your Grace to see
These national dances, ere we interdict them.
(Enter a Servant)
Serv. The dancing-girl, and with her the musicians
Your Grace was pleased to order, wait without.
Arch. Bid them come in. Now shall your eyes behold
In what angelic, yet voluptuous shape
The Devil came to tempt Saint Anthony.
(Enter PRECIOSA, with a mantle thrown over her head. She advances slowly, in modest, half-timid attitude.)
Card. (aside). O, what a fair and ministering angel
Was lost to heaven when this sweet woman fell!
Prec. (kneeling before the ARCHBISHOP).
I have obeyed the order of your Grace.
If I intrude upon your better hours,
I proffer this excuse, and here beseech
Your holy benediction.
Arch. May God bless thee,
And lead thee to a better life. Arise.
Card. (aside). Her acts are modest, and her words discreet!
I did not look for this! Come hither, child.
Is thy name Preciosa?
Prec. Thus I am called.
Card. That is a Gypsy name. Who is thy father?
Prec. Beltran Cruzado, Count of the Cales.
Arch. I have a dim remembrance of that man:
He was a bold and reckless character,
A sun-burnt Ishmael!
Card. Dost thou remember
Thy earlier days?
Prec. Yes; by the Darro's side
My childhood passed. I can remember still
The river, and the mountains capped with snow
The village, where, yet a little child,
I told the traveller's fortune in the street;
The smuggler's horse, the brigand and the shepherd;
The march across the moor; the halt at noon;
The red fire of the evening camp, that lighted
The forest where we slept; and, further back,
As in a dream or in some former life,
Gardens and palace walls.
Arch. 'T is the Alhambra,
Under whose towers the Gypsy camp was pitched.
But the time wears; and we would see thee dance.
Prec. Your Grace shall be obeyed.
(She lays aside her mantilla. The music of the cachucha is played, and the dance begins. The ARCHBISHOP and the CARDINAL look on with gravity and an occasional frown; then make signs to each other; and, as the dance continues, become more and more pleased and excited; and at length rise from their seats, throw their caps in the air, and applaud vehemently as the scene closes.)
SCENE III. -- The Prado. A long avenue of trees leading to the gate of Atocha. On the right the dome and spires of a convent.
A fountain. Evening, DON CARLOS and HYPOLITO meeting.
Don C. Hola! good evening, Don Hypolito.
Hyp. And a good evening to my friend, Don Carlos.
Some lucky star has led my steps this way.
I was in search of you.
Don. C. Command me always.
Hyp. Do you remember, in Quevedo's Dreams,
The miser, who, upon the Day of Judgment,
Asks if his money-bags would rise?
Don C. I do;
But what of that?
Hyp. I am that wretched man.
Don C. You mean to tell me yours have risen empty?
Hyp. And amen! said my Cid the Campeador.
Don C. Pray, how much need you?
Hyp. Some half-dozen ounces,
Which, with due interest--
Don C. (giving his purse). What, am I a Jew
To put my moneys out at usury?
Here is my purse.
Hyp. Thank you. A pretty purse.
Made by the hand of some fair Madrilena;
Perhaps a keepsake.
Don C. No, 't is at your service.
Hyp. Thank you again. Lie there, good Chrysostom,
And with thy golden mouth remind me often,
I am the debtor of my friend.
Don C. But tell me,
Come you to-day from Alcala?
Hyp. This moment.
Don C. And pray, how fares the brave Victorian?
Hyp. Indifferent well; that is to say, not well.
A damsel has ensnared him with the glances
Of her dark, roving eyes, as herdsmen catch
A steer of Andalusia with a lazo.
He is in love.
Don C. And is it faring ill
To be in love?
Hyp. In his case very ill.
Don C. Why so?
Hyp. For many reasons. First and foremost,
Because he is in love with an ideal;
A creature of his own imagination;
A child of air; an echo of his heart;
And, like a lily on a river floating,
She floats upon the river of his thoughts!
Don C. A common thing with poets. But who is
This floating lily? For, in fine, some woman,
Some living woman,--not a mere ideal,--
Must wear the outward semblance of his thought.
Who is it? Tell me.
Hyp. Well, it is a woman!
But, look you, from the coffer of his heart
He brings forth precious jewels to adorn her,
As pious priests adorn some favorite saint
With gems and gold, until at length she gleams
One blaze of glory. Without these, you know,
And the priest's benediction, 't is a doll.
Don C. Well, well! who is this doll?
Hyp. Why, who do you think?
Don C. His cousin Violante.
Hyp. Guess again.
To ease his laboring heart, in the last storm
He threw her overboard, with all her ingots.
Don C. I cannot guess; so tell me who it is.
Hyp. Not I.
Don. C. Why not?
Hyp. (mysteriously). Why? Because Mari Franca
Was married four leagues out of Salamanca!
Don C. Jesting aside, who is it?
Don C. Impossible! The Count of Lara tells me
She is not virtuous.
Hyp. Did I say she was?
The Roman Emperor Claudius had a wife
Whose name was Messalina, as I think;
Valeria Messalina was her name.
But hist! I see him yonder through the trees,
Walking as in a dream.
Don C. He comes this way.
Hyp. It has been truly said by some wise man,
That money, grief, and love cannot be hidden.
(Enter VICTORIAN in front.)
Vict. Where'er thy step has passed is holy ground!
These groves are sacred! I behold thee walking
Under these shadowy trees, where we have walked
At evening, and I feel thy presence now;
Feel that the place has taken a charm from thee,
And is forever hallowed.
Hyp. Mark him well!
See how he strides away with lordly air,
Like that odd guest of stone, that grim Commander
Who comes to sup with Juan in the play.
Don C. What ho! Victorian!
Hyp. Wilt thou sup with us?
Vict. Hola! amigos! Faith, I did not see you.
How fares Don Carlos?
Don C. At your service ever.
Vict. How is that young and green-eyed Gaditana
That you both wot of?
Don C. Ay, soft, emerald eyes!
She has gone back to Cadiz.
Hyp. Ay de mi!
Vict. You are much to blame for letting her go back.
A pretty girl; and in her tender eyes
Just that soft shade of green we sometimes see
In evening skies.
Hyp. But, speaking of green eyes,
Are thine green?
Vict. Not a whit. Why so?
Hyp. I think
The slightest shade of green would be becoming,
For thou art jealous.
Vid. No, I am not jealous.
Hyp. Thou shouldst be.
Hyp. Because thou art in love.
And they who are in love are always jealous.
Therefore thou shouldst be.
Vict. Marry, is that all?
Farewell; I am in haste. Farewell, Don Carlos.
Thou sayest I should be jealous?
Hyp. Ay, in truth
I fear there is reason. Be upon thy guard.
I hear it whispered that the Count of Lara
Lays siege to the same citadel.
Then he will have his labor for his pains.
Hyp. He does not think so, and Don Carlos tells me
He boasts of his success.
Vict. How's this, Don Carlos?
Don. C. Some hints of it I heard from his own lips.
He spoke but lightly of the lady's virtue,
As a gay man might speak.
Vict. Death and damnation!
I'll cut his lying tongue out of his mouth,
And throw it to my dog! But no, no, no!
This cannot be. You jest, indeed you jest.
Trifle with me no more. For otherwise
We are no longer friends. And so, fare well!
Hyp. Now what a coil is here! The Avenging Child
Hunting the traitor Quadros to his death,
And the Moor Calaynos, when he rode
To Paris for the ears of Oliver,
Were nothing to him! O hot-headed youth!
But come; we will not follow. Let us join
The crowd that pours into the Prado. There
We shall find merrier company; I see
The Marialonzos and the Almavivas,
And fifty fans, that beckon me already.
SCENE IV. -- PRECIOSA'S chamber. She is sitting, with a book in her hand, near a table, on which are flowers. A bird singing in its cage. The COUNT OF LARA enters behind unperceived.
All are sleeping, weary heart!
Thou, thou only sleepless art!
Heigho! I wish Victorian were here.
I know not what it is makes me so restless!
(The bird sings.)
Thou little prisoner with thy motley coat,
That from thy vaulted, wiry dungeon singest,
Like thee I am a captive, and, like thee,
I have a gentle jailer. Lack-a-day!
All are sleeping, weary heart!
Thou, thou only sleepless art!
All this throbbing, all this aching,
Evermore shall keep thee waking,
For a heart in sorrow breaking
Thinketh ever of its smart!
Thou speakest truly, poet! and methinks
More hearts are breaking in this world of ours
Than one would say. In distant villages
And solitudes remote, where winds have wafted
The barbed seeds of love, or birds of passage
Scattered them in their flight, do they take root,
And grow in silence, and in silence perish.
Who hears the falling of the forest leaf?
Or who takes note of every flower that dies?
Heigho! I wish Victorian would come.
(Turns to lay down her boot and perceives the COUNT.)
Lara. Senora, pardon me.
Prec. How's this? Dolores!
Lara. Pardon me--
Lara. Be not alarmed; I found no one in waiting.
If I have been too bold--
Prec. (turning her back upon him). You are too bold!
Retire! retire, and leave me!
Lara. My dear lady,
First hear me! I beseech you, let me speak!
'T is for your good I come.
Prec. (turning toward him with indignation). Begone! begone!
You are the Count of Lara, but your deeds
Would make the statues of your ancestors
Blush on their tombs! Is it Castilian honor,
Is it Castilian pride, to steal in here
Upon a friendless girl, to do her wrong?
O shame! shame! shame! that you, a nobleman,
Should be so little noble in your thoughts
As to send jewels here to win my love,
And think to buy my honor with your gold!
I have no words to tell you how I scorn you!
Begone! The sight of you is hateful to me!
Begone, I say!
Lara. Be calm; I will not harm you.
Prec. Because you dare not.
Lara. I dare anything!
Therefore beware! You are deceived in me.
In this false world, we do not always know
Who are our friends and who our enemies.
We all have enemies, and all need friends.
Even you, fair Preciosa, here at court
Have foes, who seek to wrong you.
Prec. If to this
I owe the honor of the present visit,
You might have spared the coming. Raving spoken,
Once more I beg you, leave me to myself.
Lara. I thought it but a friendly part to tell you
What strange reports are current here in town.
For my own self, I do not credit them;
But there are many who, not knowing you,
Will lend a readier ear.
Prec. There was no need
That you should take upon yourself the duty
Of telling me these tales.
Lara. Malicious tongues
Are ever busy with your name.
I've no protectors. I am a poor girl,
Exposed to insults and unfeeling jests.
They wound me, yet I cannot shield myself.
I give no cause for these reports. I live
Retired; am visited by none.
Lara. By none?
O, then, indeed, you are much wronged!
Prec. How mean you?
Lara. Nay, nay; I will not wound your gentle soul
By the report of idle tales.
Prec. Speak out!
What are these idle tales? You need not spare me.
Lara. I will deal frankly with you. Pardon me
This window, as I think, looks toward the street,
And this into the Prado, does it not?
In yon high house, beyond the garden wall,--
You see the roof there just above the trees,--
There lives a friend, who told me yesterday,
That on a certain night,--be not offended
If I too plainly speak,--he saw a man
Climb to your chamber window. You are silent!
I would not blame you, being young and fair--
(He tries to embrace her. She starts back, and draws a dagger from her bosom.)
Prec. Beware! beware! I am a Gypsy girl!
Lay not your hand upon me. One step nearer
And I will strike!
Lara. Pray you, put up that dagger.
Prec. I do not fear. I have a heart
In whose strength I can trust.
Lara. Listen to me
I come here as your friend,--I am your friend,--
And by a single word can put a stop
To all those idle tales, and make your name
Spotless as lilies are. Here on my knees,
Fair Preciosa! on my knees I swear,
I love you even to madness, and that love
Has driven me to break the rules of custom,
And force myself unasked into your presence.
(VICTORIAN enters behind.)
Prec. Rise, Count of Lara! That is not the place
For such as you are. It becomes you not
To kneel before me. I am strangely moved
To see one of your rank thus low and humbled;
For your sake I will put aside all anger,
All unkind feeling, all dislike, and speak
In gentleness, as most becomes a woman,
And as my heart now prompts me. I no more
Will hate you, for all hate is painful to me.
But if, without offending modesty
And that reserve which is a woman's glory,
I may speak freely, I will teach my heart
To love you.
Lara. O sweet angel!
Prec. Ay, in truth,
Far better than you love yourself or me.
Lara. Give me some sign of this,--the slightest token.
Let me but kiss your hand!
Prec. Nay, come no nearer.
The words I utter are its sign and token.
Misunderstand me not! Be not deceived!
The love wherewith I love you is not such
As you would offer me. For you come here
To take from me the only thing I have,
My honor. You are wealthy, you have friends
And kindred, and a thousand pleasant hopes
That fill your heart with happiness; but I
Am poor, and friendless, having but one treasure,
And you would take that from me, and for what?
To flatter your own vanity, and make me
What you would most despise. O sir, such love,
That seeks to harm me, cannot be true love.
Indeed it cannot. But my love for you
Is of a different kind. It seeks your good.
It is a holier feeling. It rebukes
Your earthly passion, your unchaste desires,
And bids you look into your heart, and see
How you do wrong that better nature in you,
And grieve your soul with sin.
Lara. I swear to you,
I would not harm you; I would only love you.
I would not take your honor, but restore it,
And in return I ask but some slight mark
Of your affection. If indeed you love me,
As you confess you do, O let me thus
With this embrace--
Vict. (rushing forward). Hold! hold! This is too much.
What means this outrage?
Lara. First, what right have you
To question thus a nobleman of Spain?
Vict. I too am noble, and you are no more!
Out of my sight!
Lara. Are you the master here?
Vict. Ay, here and elsewhere, when the wrong of others
Gives me the right!
Prec. (to LARA). Go! I beseech you, go!
Vict. I shall have business with you, Count, anon!
Lara. You cannot come too soon!
O, we have been betrayed!
Vict. Ha! ha! betrayed!
'T is I have been betrayed, not we!--not we!
Prec. Dost thou imagine--
Vict. I imagine nothing;
I see how 't is thou whilest the time away
When I am gone!
Prec. O speak not in that tone!
It wounds me deeply.
Vict. 'T was not meant to flatter.
Prec. Too well thou knowest the presence of that man
Is hateful to me!
Vict. Yet I saw thee stand
And listen to him, when he told his love.
Prec. I did not heed his words.
Vict. Indeed thou didst,
And answeredst them with love.
Prec. Hadst thou heard all--
Vict. I heard enough.
Prec. Be not so angry with me.
Vict. I am not angry; I am very calm.
Prec. If thou wilt let me speak--
Vict. Nay, say no more.
I know too much already. Thou art false!
I do not like these Gypsy marriages!
Where is the ring I gave thee?
Prec. In my casket.
Vict. There let it rest! I would not have thee wear it:
I thought thee spotless, and thou art polluted!
Prec. I call the Heavens to witness--
Vict. Nay, nay, nay!
Take not the name of Heaven upon thy lips!
They are forsworn!
Prec. Victorian! dear Victorian!
Vict. I gave up all for thee; myself, my fame,
My hopes of fortune, ay, my very soul!
And thou hast been my ruin! Now, go on!
Laugh at my folly with thy paramour,
And, sitting on the Count of Lara's knee,
Say what a poor, fond fool Victorian was!
(He casts her from him and rushes out.)
Prec. And this from thee!
SCENE V. -- The COUNT OF LARA'S rooms. Enter the COUNT.
Lara. There's nothing in this world so sweet as love,
And next to love the sweetest thing is hate!
I've learned to hate, and therefore am revenged.
A silly girl to play the prude with me!
The fire that I have kindled--
What tidings from Don Juan?
Fran. Good, my lord;
He will be present.
Lara. And the Duke of Lermos?
Fran. Was not at home.
Lara. How with the rest?
Fran. I've found
The men you wanted. They will all be there,
And at the given signal raise a whirlwind
Of such discordant noises, that the dance
Must cease for lack of music.
Lara. Bravely done.
Ah! little dost thou dream, sweet Preciosa,
What lies in wait for thee. Sleep shall not close
Thine eyes this night! Give me my cloak and sword. [Exeunt.
SCENE VI. -- A retired spot beyond the city gates. Enter VICTORIAN and HYPOLITO.
Vict. O shame! O shame! Why do I walk abroad
By daylight, when the very sunshine mocks me,
And voices, and familiar sights and sounds
Cry, "Hide thyself!" O what a thin partition
Doth shut out from the curious world the knowledge
Of evil deeds that have been done in darkness!
Disgrace has many tongues. My fears are windows,
Through which all eyes seem gazing. Every face
Expresses some suspicion of my shame,
And in derision seems to smile at me!
Hyp. Did I not caution thee? Did I not tell thee
I was but half persuaded of her virtue?
Vict. And yet, Hypolito, we may be wrong,
We may be over-hasty in condemning!
The Count of Lara is a cursed villain.
Hyp. And therefore is she cursed, loving him.
Vid. She does not love him! 'T is for gold! for gold!
Hyp. Ay, but remember, in the public streets
He shows a golden ring the Gypsy gave him,
A serpent with a ruby in its mouth.
Vict. She had that ring from me! God! she is false!
But I will be revenged! The hour is passed.
Where stays the coward?
Hyp. Nay, he is no coward;
A villain, if thou wilt, but not a coward.
I've seen him play with swords; it is his pastime.
And therefore be not over-confident,
He'll task thy skill anon. Look, here he comes.
(Enter LARA followed by FRNANCISCO)
Lara. Good evening, gentlemen.
Hyp. Good evening, Count.
Lara. I trust I have not kept you long in waiting.
Vict. Not long, and yet too long. Are you prepared?
Lara. I am.
Hyp. It grieves me much to see this quarrel
Between you, gentlemen. Is there no way
Left open to accord this difference,
But you must make one with your swords?
Vict. No! none!
I do entreat thee, dear Hypolito,
Stand not between me an my foe. Too long
Our tongues have spoken. Let these tongues of steel
End our debate. Upon your guard, Sir Count.
(They fight. VICTORIAN disarms the COUNT.)
Your life is mine; and what shall now withhold me
From sending your vile soul to its account?
Lara. Strike! strike!
Vict. You are disarmed. I will not kill you.
I will not murder you. Take up your sword.
(FRANCISCO hands the COUNT his sword, and HYPOLITO interposes.)
Hyp. Enough! Let it end here! The Count of Lara
Has shown himself a brave man, and Victorian
A generous one, as ever. Now be friends.
Put up your swords; for, to speak frankly to you,
Your cause of quarrel is too slight a thing
To move you to extremes.
Lara. I am content,
I sought no quarrel. A few hasty words,
Spoken in the heat of blood, have led to this.
Vict. Nay, something more than that.
Lara. I understand you.
Therein I did not mean to cross your path.
To me the door stood open, as to others.
But, had I known the girl belonged to you,
Never would I have sought to win her from you.
The truth stands now revealed; she has been false
To both of us.
Vict. Ay, false as hell itself!
Lara. In truth, I did not seek her; she sought me;
And told me how to win her, telling me
The hours when she was oftenest left alone.
Vict. Say, can you prove this to me? O, pluck out
These awful doubts, that goad me into madness!
Let me know all! all! all!
Lara. You shall know all.
Here is my page, who was the messenger
Between us. Question him. Was it not so,
Fran. Ay, my lord.
Lara. If further proof
Is needful, I have here a ring she gave me.
Vict. Pray let me see that ring! It is the same!
(Throws it upon the ground, and tramples upon it.)
Thus may she perish who once wore that ring!
Thus do I spurn her from me; do thus trample
Her memory in the dust! O Count of Lara,
We both have been abused, been much abu