By Benjamin Disraeli
As there is no historical authority for the events of the celebrated Ballad on which this Tragedy is founded, I have fixed upon the thirteenth century for the period of their occurrence. At that time the kingdom of Castille had recently obtained that supremacy in Spain which led, in a subsequent age, to the political integrity of the country. Burgos, its capital, was a magnificent city; and then also arose that masterpiece of Christian architecture, its famous Cathedral.
This state of comparative refinement and civilisation permitted the introduction of more complicated motives than the rude manners of the Ballad would have authorised; while the picturesque features of the Castillian middle ages still flourished in full force; the factions of a powerful nobility, renowned for their turbulence, strong passions, enormous crimes, profound superstition.
London: May, 1839
THE KING OF CASTILLE. COUNT ALARCOS, a Prince of the Blood. COUNT OF SIDONIA. COUNT OF LEON. PRIOR OF BURGOS. ORAN, a Moor. FERDINAND, a PAGE. GUZMAN JACA, a BRAVO. GRAUS, the Keeper of a Posada.
SOLISA, Infanta of Castille, only child of the King. FLORIMONDE, Countess Alarcos. FLIX, a Hostess.
Courtiers, Pages, Chamberlains, Bravos, and Priests.
Time—the 13th Century. Scene—Burgos, the capital of Castille, and its vicinity.
A Street in Burgos; the Cathedral in the distance.
[Enter Two Courtiers.]
I:1:1 1ST COURT. The Prince of Hungary dismissed?
I:1:2 2ND COURT. Indeed So runs the rumour.
I:1:3 1ST COURT. Why the spousal note Still floats upon the air!
I:1:4 2ND COURT. Myself this morn Beheld the Infanta's entrance, as she threw, Proud as some hitless barb, her haughty glance On our assembled chiefs.
I:1:5 1ST COURT. The Prince was there?
I:1:6 2ND COURT. Most royally; nor seemed a man more fit To claim a kingdom for a dower. He looked Our Gadian Hercules, as the advancing peers Their homage paid. I followed in the train Of Count Alarcos, with whose ancient house My fortunes long have mingled.
I:1:7 1ST COURT. 'Tis the same, But just returned?
I:1:8 2ND COURT. Long banished from the Court; And only favoured since the Queen's decease, His ancient foe.
I:1:9 1ST COURT. A very potent Lord?
I:1:10 2ND COURT. Near to the throne; too near perchance for peace. You're young at Burgos, or indeed 'twere vain To sing Alarcos' praise, the brightest knight That ever waved a lance in Old Castille.
I:1:11 1ST COURT. You followed in his train?
I:1:12 2ND COURT. And as we passed, Alarcos bowing to the lowest earth, The Infanta swooned; and pale as yon niched saint, From off the throned step, her seat of place, Fell in a wild and senseless agony.
I:1:13 1ST COURT. Sancta Maria! and the King—
I:1:14 2ND COURT. Uprose And bore her from her maidens, then broke up The hurried Court; indeed I know no more, For like a turning tide the crowd pressed on, And scarcely could I gain the grateful air. Yet on the Prado's walk came smiling by The Bishop of Ossuna; as he passed He clutched my cloak, and whispered in my ear, 'The match is off.'
I:1:15 1ST COURT. Hush! hush! a passenger.
I:1:16 PAGE. Most noble Cavaliers, I pray, inform me Where the great Count Alarcos holds his quarter.
I:1:17 2ND COURT. In the chief square. His banner tells the roof; Your pleasure with the Count, my gentle youth?
I:1:18 PAGE. I were a sorry messenger to tell My mission to the first who asks its aim.
I:1:19 2ND COURT. The Count Alarcos is my friend and chief.
I:1:20 PAGE. Then better reason I should trusty be, For you can be a witness to my trust.
I:1:21 1ST COURT. A forward youth!
I:1:22 2ND COURT. A page is ever pert
I:1:23 PAGE. Ay! ever pert is youth that baffles age.
I:1:24 1ST COURT. The Count is married?
I:1:25 2ND COURT. To a beauteous lady; And blessed with a fair race. A happy man Indeed is Count Alarcos.
[A trumpet sounds.]
I:1:26 1ST COURT. Prithee, see; Passes he now?
I:1:27 2ND COURT. Long since. Yon banner tells The Count Sidonia. Let us on, and view The passage of his pomp. His Moorish steeds, They say, are very choice.
[Exeunt Two Courtiers.]
A Chamber in the Palace of Alarcos. The COUNTESS seated and working at her tapestry; the COUNT pacing the Chamber.
I:2:1 COUN. You are disturbed, Alarcos?
I:2:2 ALAR. 'Tis the stir And tumult of this morn. I am not used To Courts.
I:2:3 COUN. I know not why, it is a name That makes me tremble.
I:2:4 ALAR. Tremble, Florimonde, Why should you tremble?
I:2:5 COUN. Sooth I cannot say. Methinks the Court but little suits my kind; I love our quiet home.
I:2:6 ALAR. This is our home,
I:2:7 COUN. When you are here.
I:2:8 ALAR. I will be always here.
I:2:9 COUN. Thou canst not, sweet Alarcos. Happy hours, When we were parted but to hear thy horn Sound in our native woods!
I:2:10 ALAR. Why, this is humour! We're courtiers now; and we must smile and smirk.
I:2:11 COUN. Methinks your tongue is gayer than your glance. The King, I hope, was gracious?
I:2:12 ALAR. Were he not, My frown's as prompt as his. He was most gracious.
I:2:13 COUN. Something has chafed thee?
I:2:14 ALAR. What should chafe me, child, And when should hearts be light, if mine be dull? Is not mine exile over? Is it nought To breathe in the same house where we were born, And sleep where slept our fathers? Should that chafe?
I:2:15 COUN. Yet didst then leave my side this very morn, And with a vow this day should ever count Amid thy life most happy; when we meet Thy brow is clouded.
I:2:16 ALAR. Joy is sometimes grave, And deepest when 'tis calm. And I am joyful If it be joy, this long forbidden hall Once more to pace, and feel each fearless step Tread on a baffled foe.
I:2:17 COUN. Hast thou still foes
I:2:18 ALAR. I trust so; I should not be what I am, Still less what I will be, if hate did not Pursue me as my shadow. Ah! fair wife, Thou knowest not Burgos. Thou hast yet to fathom The depths of thy new world.
I:2:19 COUN. I do recoil As from some unknown woo, from this same world. I thought we came for peace.
I:2:20 ALAR. Peace dwells within No lordly roof in Burgos. We have come For triumph.
I:2:21 COUN. So I share thy lot, Alarcos, All feelings are the same.
I:2:22 ALAR. My Florimonde, I took thee from a fair and pleasant home In a soft land, where, like the air they live in, Men's hearts are mild. This proud and fierce Castille Resembles not thy gentle Aquitaine, More than the eagle may a dove, and yet It is my country. Danger in its bounds Weighs more than foreign safety. But why speak Of what exists not?
I:2:23 COUN. And I hope may never!
I:2:24 ALAR. And if it come, what then? This chance shall find me Not unprepared.
I:2:25 COUN. But why should there be danger? And why should'st thou, the foremost prince of Spain, Fear or make foes? Thou standest in no light Would fall on other shoulders; thou hast no height To climb, and nought to gain. Thou art complete; The King alone above thee, and thy friend.
I:2:26 ALAR. So I would deem. I did not speak of fear.
I:2:27 COUN. Of danger?
I:2:28 ALAR. That's delight, when it may lead To mighty ends. Ah, Florimonde! thou art too pure; Unsoiled in the rough and miry paths Of ibis same trampling world; unskilled in heats Of fierce and emulous spirits. There's a rapture In the strife of factions, that a woman's soul Can never reach. Men smiled on me to-day Would gladly dig my grave; and yet I smiled, And gave them coin as ready as their own, And not less base.
I:2:29 COUN. And can there be such men, And canst thou live with them?
I:2:30 ALAR. Ay! and they saw Me ride this morning in my state again; The people cried 'Alarcos and Castille!' The shout will dull their feasts.
I:2:31 COUN. There was a time Thou didst look back as on a turbulent dream On this same life.
I:2:32 ALAR. I was an exile then. This stirring Burgos has revived my vein. Yea, as I glanced from off the Citadel This very morn, and at my feet outspread Its amphitheatre of solemn towers And groves of golden pinnacles, and marked Turrets of friends and foes; or traced the range, Spread since my exile, of our city's walls Washed by the swift Arlanzon: all around The flash of lances, blaze of banners, rush Of hurrying horsemen, and the haughty blast Of the soul-stirring trumpet, I renounced My old philosophy, and gazed as gazes The falcon on his quarry!
I:2:33 COUN. Jesu grant The lure will bear no harm!
[A trumpet sounds.]
I:2:34 ALAR. Whose note is that? I hear the tramp of horsemen in the court; We have some guests.
I:2:35 COUN. Indeed!
[Enter the COUNT OF SIDONIA and the COUNT OF LEON.]
I:2:36 ALAR. My noble friends, My Countess greets ye!
I:2:37 SIDO. And indeed we pay To her our homage.
I:2:38 LEON. Proud our city boasts So fair a presence.
I:2:39 COUN. Count Alarcos' friends Are ever welcome here.
I:2:40 ALAR. No common wife. Who welcomes with a smile her husband's friends.
I:2:41 SIDO. Indeed a treasure! When I marry, Count, I'll claim your counsel.
I:2:42 COUN. 'Tis not then your lot?
I:2:43 SIDO. Not yet, sweet dame; tho' sooth to say, full often I dream such things may be.
I:2:44 COUN. Your friend is free?
I:2:45 LEON. And values freedom: with a rosy chain I still should feel a captive.
I:2:46 SIDO. Noble Leon Is proof against the gentle passion, lady, And will ere long, my rapier for a gage, Marry a scold.
I:2:47 LEON. In Burgos now, methinks, Marriage is scarce the mode. Our princess frowns, It seems, upon her suitors.
I:2:48 SIDO. Is it true The match is off?
I:2:49 LEON. 'Tis said.
I:2:50 COUN. The match is off You did not tell me this strange news, Alarcos.
I:2:51 SIDO. Did he not tell you how—
I:2:52 ALAR. In truth, good sirs, My wife and I are somewhat strangers here, And things that are of moment to the minds That long have dwelt on them, to us are nought.
[To the Countess.]
There was a sort of scene to-day at Court; The Princess fainted: we were all dismissed, Somewhat abruptly; but, in truth, I deem These rumours have no source but in the tongues Of curious idlers.
I:2:53 SIDO. Faith, I hold them true. Indeed they're very rife.
I:2:54 LEON. Poor man, methinks His is a lot forlorn, at once to lose A mistress and a crown!
I:2:55 COUN. Yet both may bring Sorrow and cares. But little joy, I ween, Dwells with a royal bride, too apt to claim The homage she should yield.
I:2:56 SIDO. I would all wives Hold with your Countess in this pleasing creed.
I:2:57 ALAR. She has her way: it is a cunning wench That knows to wheedle. Burgos still maintains Its fame for noble fabrics. Since my time The city's spread.
I:2:58 SIDO. Ah! you're a traveller, Count. And yet we have not lagged.
I:2:59 COUN. The Infanta, sirs, Was it a kind of swoon?
I:2:60 ALAR. Old Lara lives Still in his ancient quarter?
I:2:61 LEON. With the rats That share his palace. You spoke, Madam?
I:2:62 COUN. She Has dainty health, perhaps?
I:2:63 LEON. All ladies have. And yet as little of the fainting mood As one could fix on—
I:2:64 ALAR. Mendola left treasure?
I:2:65 SIDO. Wedges of gold, a chamber of sequins Sealed up for ages, flocks of Barbary sheep Might ransom princes, tapestry so rare The King straight purchased, covering for the price Each piece with pistoles.
I:2:66 COUN. Is she very fair
I:2:67 LEON. As future queens must ever be, and yet Her face might charm uncrowned.
I:2:68 COUN. It grieves me much To hear the Prince departs. 'Tis not the first Among her suitors
I:2:69 ALAR. Your good uncle lives— Nunez de Leon?
I:2:70 LEON. To my cost, Alarcos; He owes me much.
I:2:71 SIDO. Some promises his heir Would wish fulfilled.
I:2:72 COUN. In Gascony, they said, Navarre had sought her hand.
I:2:73 LEON. He loitered here But could not pluck the fruit: it was too high. Sidonia threw him in a tilt one day. The Infanta has her fancies; unhorsed knights Count not among them.
[Enter a CHAMBERLAIN who whispers COUNT ALARCOS.]
I:2:74 ALAR. Urgent, and me alone Will commune with! A Page! Kind guests, your pardon, I'll find you here anon. My Florimonde, Our friends will not desert you, like your spouse.
I:2:75 COUN. My Lords, will see our gardens?
I:2:76 SIDO. We are favoured. We wait upon your steps.
I:2:77 LEON. And feel that roses Will spring beneath them.
I:2:78 COUN. You are an adept, sir, In our gay science.
I:2:79 LEON. Faith, I stole it, lady, From a loose Troubadour Sidonia keeps To write his sonnets.
[Enter ALARCOS and PAGE.]
I:3:1 PAGE. Will you wait here, my Lord?
I:3:2 ALAR. I will, sir Page.
The Bishop of Ossuna: what would he? He scents the prosperous ever. Ay! they'll cluster Round this new hive. But I'll not house them yet. Marry, I know them all; but me they know, As mountains might the leaping stream that meets The ocean as a river. Time and exile Change our life's course, but is its flow less deep Because it is more calm? I've seen to-day Might stir its pools. What if my phantom flung A shade on their bright path? 'Tis closed to me Although the goal's a crown. She loved me once; Now swoons, and now the match is off. She's true. But I have clipped the heart that once could soar High as her own! Dreams, dreams! And yet entranced, Unto the fair phantasma that is fled, My struggling fancy clings; for there are hours When memory with her signet stamps the brain With an undying mint; and these were such, When high Ambition and enraptured Love, Twin Genii of my daring destiny, Bore on my sweeping life with their full wing, Like an angelic host:
[In the distance enter a lady veiled.]
Is this their priest? Burgos unchanged I see.
[Advancing towards her.]
A needless veil To one prophetic of thy charms, fair lady. And yet they fall on an ungracious eye.
[Withdraws the veil.]
I:3:3 SOL. Yes! Solisa; once again O say Solisa! let that long lost voice Breathe with a name too faithful!
I:3:4 ALAR. Oh! what tones, What mazing sight is this! The spellbound forms Of my first youth rise up from the abyss Of opening time. I listen to a voice That bursts the sepulchre of buried hope Like an immortal trumpet.
I:3:5 SOL. Thou hast granted, Mary, my prayers!
I:3:6 ALAR. Solisa, my Solisa!
I:3:7 SOL. Thine, thine, Alarcos. But thou: whose art thou?
I:3:8 ALAR. Within this chamber is my memory bound; I have no thought, no consciousness beyond Its precious walls.
I:3:9 SOL. Thus did he look, thus speak, When to my heart he clung, and I to him Breathed my first love—and last.
I:3:10 ALAR. Alas! alas! Woe to thy Mother, maiden.
I:3:11 SOL. She has found That which I oft have prayed for.
I:3:12 ALAR. But not found A doom more dark than ours.
I:3:13 SOL. I sent for thee, To tell thee why I sent for thee; yet why, Alas! I know not. Was it but to look Alone upon the face that once was mine? This morn it was so grave. O! was it woe, Or but indifference, that inspired that brow That seemed so cold and stately? Was it hate? O! tell me anything, but that to thee I am a thing of nothingness.
I:3:14 ALAR. O spare! Spare me such words of torture.
I:3:15 SOL. Could I feel Thou didst not hate me, that my image brought At least a gentle, if not tender thoughts, I'd be content. I cannot live to think, After the past, that we should meet again And change cold looks. We are not strangers, say At least we are not strangers?
I:3:16 ALAR. Gentle Princess—
I:3:17 SOL. Call me Solisa; tho' we meet no more Call me Solisa now.
I:3:18 ALAR. Thy happiness—
I:3:19 SOL. O! no, no, no, not happiness, at least Not from those lips.
I:3:20 ALAR. Indeed it is a name That ill becomes them.
I:3:21 SOL. Yet they say, thou'rt happy, And bright with all prosperity, and I Felt solace in that thought.
I:3:22 ALAR. Prosperity! Men call them prosperous whom they deem enjoy That which they envy; but there's no success Save in one master-wish fulfilled, and mine Is lost for ever.
I:3:23 SOL. Why was it? O, why Didst thou forget me?
I:3:24 ALAR. Never, lady, never— But ah! the past, the irrevocable past— We can but meet to mourn.
I:3:25 SOL. No, not to mourn I came to bless thee, came to tell to thee I hoped that thou wert happy.
I:3:26 ALAR. Come to mourn. I'll find delight in my unbridled grief: Yes! let me fling away at last this mask, And gaze upon my woe.
I:3:27 SOL. O, it was rash, Indeed 'twas rash, Alarcos; what, sweet sir, What, after all our vows, to hold me false, And place this bar between us! I'll not think Thou ever loved'st me as thou did'st profess, And that's the bitter drop.
I:3:28 ALAR. Indeed, indeed—
I:3:29 SOL. I could bear much, I could bear all, but this My faith in thy past love, it was so deep, So pure, so sacred, 'twas my only solace; I fed upon it in my secret heart, And now e'en that is gone.
I:3:30 ALAR. Doubt not the past, 'Tis sanctified. It is the green fresh spot In my life's desert.
I:3:31 SOL. There is none to thee As I have been? Speak, speak, Alarcos, tell me Is't true? Or, in this shipwreck of my soul, Do I cling wildly to some perishing hope That sinks like me?
I:3:32 ALAR. The May-burst of the heart Can bloom but once; and mine has fled, not faded. That thought gave fancied solace, ah, 'twas fancy, For now I feel my doom.
I:3:33 SOL. Thou hast no doom But what is splendid as thyself. Alas! Weak woman, when she stakes her heart, must play Ever a fatal chance. It is her all, And when 'tis lost, she's bankrupt; but proud man Shuffles the cards again, and wins to-morrow What pays his present forfeit.
I:3:34 ALAR. But alas! What have I won?
I:3:35 SOL. A country and a wife.
I:3:36 ALAR. A wife!
I:3:37 SOL. A wife, and very fair, they say. She should be fair, who could induce thee break Such vows as thine. O! I am very weak. Why came I here? Was it indeed to see If thou could'st look on me?
I:3:38 ALAR. My own Solisa.
I:3:39 SOL. Call me not thine; why, what am I to thee That thou should'st call me thine?
I:3:40 ALAR. Indeed, sweet lady, Thou lookest on a man as bruised in spirit, As broken-hearted, and subdued in soul, As any breathing wretch that deems the day Can bring no darker morrow. Pity me! And if kind words may not subdue those lips So scornful in their beauty, be they touched At least by Mercy's accents! Was't a crime, I could not dare believe that royal heart Retained an exile's image? that forlorn, Harassed, worn out, surrounded by strange aspects And stranger manners, in those formal ties Custom points out, I sought some refuge, found At least companionship, and, grant 'twas weak, Shrunk from the sharp endurance of the doom That waits on exile, utter loneliness!
I:3:41 SOL. His utter loneliness!
I:3:42 ALAR. And met thy name, Most beauteous lady, prithee think of this, Only to hear the princes of the world Were thy hot suitors, and that one would soon Be happier than Alarcos.
I:3:43 SOL. False, most false, They told thee false.
I:3:44 ALAR. At least, then, pity me, Solisa!
I:3:45 SOL. Ah! Solisa, that sweet voice, Why should I pity thee? 'Tis not my office. Go, go to her that cheered thy loneliness, Thy utter loneliness. And had I none? Had I no pangs of solitude? Exile! O! there were moments I'd have gladly given My crown for banishment. A wounded heart Beats freer in a desert; 'tis the air Of palaces that chokes it.
I:3:46 ALAR. Fate has crossed, Not falsehood, our sweet loves. Our lofty passion Is tainted with no vileness. Memory bears Convulsion, not contempt; no palling sting That waits on base affections. It is something To have loved thee; and in that thought I find My sense exalted; wretched though I be.
I:3:47 SOL. Is he so wretched? Yet he is less forlorn Than when he sought, what I would never seek, A partner in his woe! I'll ne'er believe it; Thou art not wretched. Why, thou hast a friend, A sweet companion in thy grief to soothe Thy loneliness, and feed on thy bright smiles, Thrill with thine accents, with impassioned reverence Enclasp thine hand, and with enchained eyes Gaze on thy glorious presence. O, Alarcos! Art thou not worshipped now? What, can it be, That there is one, who walks in Paradise, Nor feels the air immortal?
I:3:48 ALAR. Let my curse Descend upon the hour I left thy walls, My father's town!
I:3:49 SOL. My blessing on thy curse! Thou hast returned, thou hast returned, Alarcos?
I:3:50 ALAR. To despair.
I:3:51 SOL. Yet 'tis not the hour he quitted Our city's wall, it is the tie that binds him Within those walls my lips would more denounce, But ah, that tie is dear!
I:3:52 ALAR. Accursed be The wiles that parted us; accursed be The ties that sever us
I:3:53 SOL. Thou'rt mine.
I:3:54 ALAR. For ever. Thou unpolluted passion of my youth, My first, my only, my enduring love!
[Enter FERDINAND, the PAGE.]
I:3:55 PAGE. Lady, a message from thy royal father; He comes—
[Springing from the arms of Alarcos.]
My father! word of fear! Why now To cloud my light? I had forgotten fate; But he recalls it. O my bright Alarcos! My love must fly. Nay, not one word of care; Love only from those lips. Yet, ere we part, Seal our sweet faith renewed.
I:3:57 ALAR. And never broken.
I:3:58 SOL. Why has he gone? Why did I bid him go? And let this jewel I so daring plucked Slip in the waves again? I'm sure there's time To call him back, and say farewell once more. I'll say farewell no more; it was a word Ever harsh music when the morrow brought Welcomes renewed of love, No more farewells. O when will he be mine! I cannot wait, I cannot tarry, now I know he loves me; Each hour, each instant that I see him not, Is usurpation of my right. O joy! Am I the same Solisa, that this morn Breathed forth her orison with humbler spirit Than the surrounding acolytes? Thou'st smiled, Sweet Virgin, on my prayers. Twice fifty tapers Shall burn before thy shrine. Guard over me O! mother of my soul, and let me prosper In my great enterprise! O hope! O love! O sharp remembrance of long baffled joy! Inspire me now.
The KING; the INFANTA.
I:4:1 KING. I see my daughter?
I:4:2 SOL. Sir, your duteous child.
I:4:3 KING. Art thou indeed my child? I had some doubt I was a father.
I:4:4 SOL. These are bitter words.
I:4:5 KING. Even as thy conduct.
I:4:6 SOL. Then it would appear My conduct and my life are but the same.
I:4:7 KING. I thought thou wert the Infanta of Castille, Heir to our realm, the paragon of Spain The Princess for whose smiles crowned Christendom Sends forth its sceptred rivals. Is that bitter? Or bitter is it with such privilege, And standing on life's vantage ground, to cross A nation's hope, that on thy nice career Has gaged its heart?
I:4:8 SOL. Have I no heart to gage? A sacrificial virgin, must I bind My life to the altar, to redeem a state, Or heal some doomed People?
I:4:9 KING. Is it so? Is this an office alien to thy sex? Or what thy youth repudiates? We but ask What nature sanctions.
I:4:10 SOL. Nature sanctions Love; Your charter is more liberal. Let that pass. I am no stranger to my duty, sir, And read it thus. The blood that shares my sceptre Should be august as mine. A woman loses In love what she may gain in rank, who tops Her husband's place; though throned, I would exchange An equal glance. His name should be a spell . To rally soldiers. Politic he should be; And skilled in climes and tongues; that stranger knights Should bruit on, high Castillian courtesies. Such chief might please a state?
I:4:11 KING. Fortunate realm!
I:4:12 SOL. And shall I own less niceness than my realm? No! I would have him handsome a god; Hyperion in his splendor, or the mien Of conquering Bacchus, one whose very step Should guide a limner, and whose common words Are caught by Troubadours to frame their songs! And O, my father, what if this bright prince Should I have a heart as tender as his soul Was high and peerless? If with this same heart He loved thy daughter?
I:4:13 KING. Close the airy page Of thy romance; such princes are not found Except in lays and legends! yet a man Who would become a throne, I found thee, girl; The princely Hungary.
I:4:14 SOL. A more princely fate, Than an unwilling wife, he did deserve.
I:4:15 KING. Yet wherefore didst thou pledge thy troth to him?
I:4:16 SOL. And wherefore do I smile when I should sigh? And wherefore do I feed when I would fast? And wherefore do I dance when I should pray? And wherefore do I live when I should die? Canst answer that, good Sir? O there are women The world deem mad, or worse, whose life but seems One vile caprice, a freakish thing of whims And restless nothingness; yet if we pierce The soul, may be we'll touch some cause profound For what seems causeless. Early love despised, Or baffled, which is worse; a faith betrayed, For vanity or lucre; chill regards, Where to gain constant glances we have paid Some fearful forfeit: here are many springs, Unmarked by shallow eyes, and some, or all Of these, or none, may prompt my conduct now— But I'll not have thy prince.
I:4:17 KING. My, gentle child—
I:4:18 SOL. I am not gentle. I might have been once; But gentle thoughts and I have parted long; The cause of such partition thou shouldst know If memories were just.
I:4:19 KING. Harp not, I pray, On an old sorrow.
I:4:20 SOL. Old! he calls it old! The wound is green, and staunch it, or I die.
I:4:21 KING. Have I the skill?
I:4:22 SOL. Why! art thou not a King? Wherein consists the magic of a crown But in the bold achievement of a deed Would scare a clown to dream?
I:4:23 KING. I'd read thy thought.
I:4:24 SOL. Then have it; I would marry.
I:4:25 KING. It is well; It is my wish.
I:4:26 SOL. And unto such a prince As I've described withal. For though a prince Of Fancy's realm alone, as thou dost deem, Yet doth he live indeed.
I:4:27 KING. To me unknown.
I:4:28 SOL. O! father mine, before thy reverend knees Ere this we twain have knelt.
I:4:29 KING. Forbear, my child; Or can it be my daughter doth not know He is no longer free?
I:4:30 SOL. The power that bound him, That bondage might dissolve? To holy church Thou hast given great alms?
I:4:31 KING. There's more to gain thy wish, If more would gain it; but it cannot be, Even were he content.
I:4:32 SOL. He is content.
I:4:33 KING. Hah!
I:4:34 SOL. For he loves me still.
I:4:35 KING. I would do much To please thee. I'm prepared to bear the brunt Of Hungary's ire; but do not urge, Solisa, Beyond capacity of sufferance My temper's proof.
I:4:36 SOL. Alarcos is my husband, Or shall the sceptre from our line depart. Listen, ye saints of Spain, I'll have his hand, Or by our faith, my fated womb shall be As barren as thy love, proud King.
I:4:37 KING. Thou'rt mad! Thou'rt mad!
I:4:38 SOL. Is he not mine? Thy very hand, Did it not consecrate our vows? What claim So sacred as my own?
I:4:39 KING. He did conspire—
I:4:40 SOL. 'Tis false, thou know'st 'tis false: against themselves Men do not plot: I would as soon believe My hand could hatch a treason 'gainst my sight, As that Alarcos would conspire to seize A diadem I would myself have placed Upon his brow.
[taking her hand]
Nay, calmness. Say 'tis true He was not guilty, say perchance he was not—
I:4:42 SOL. Perchance, O! vile perchance. Thou know'st full well, Because he did reject her loose desires And wanton overtures—
I:4:43 KING. Hush, hush, O hush!
I:4:44 SOL. The woman called my mother—
I:4:45 KING. Spare me, spare—
I:4:46 SOL. Who spared me? Did not I kneel, and vouch his faith, and bathe Thy hand with my quick tears, and clutch thy robe With frantic grasp? Spare, spare indeed? In faith Thou hast taught me to be merciful, thou hast,— Thou and my mother!
I:4:47 KING. Ah! no more, no more! A crowned King cannot recall the past, And yet may glad the future. She thou namest, She was at least thy mother; but to me, Whate'er her deeds, for truly, there were times Some spirit did possess her, such as gleams Now in her daughter's eye, she was a passion, A witching form that did inflame my life By a breath or glance. Thou art our child; the link That binds me to my race; thou host her place Within my shrined heart, where thou'rt the priest And others are unhallowed; for, indeed, Passion and time have so dried up my soul, And drained its generous juices, that I own No sympathy with man, and all his hopes To me are mockeries.
I:4:48 SOL. Ah! I see, my father, That thou will'st aid me!
I:4:49 KING. Thou canst aid thyself. Is there a law to let him from thy presence? His voice may reach thine ear; thy gracious glance May meet his graceful offices. Go to. Shall Hungary frown, if his right royal spouse Smile on the equal of her blood and state, Her gentle cousin?
I:4:50 SOL. And is this thine aid!
I:4:51 KING. What word has roughed the brow, but now confiding In a fond father's love?
I:4:52 SOL. Alas! what word? What have I said? what done? that thou should'st deem I could do this, this, this, that is so foul, My baffled tongue deserts me. Thou should'st know me, Thou hast set spies on me. What! have they told thee I am a wanton? I do love this man As fits a virgin's heart. Heaven sent such thoughts To be our solace. But to act a toy For his loose hours, or worse, to find him one Procured for mine, grateful for opportunities Contrived with decency, spared skillfully From claims more urgent; not to dare to show Before the world my homage; when he's ill To be away, and only share his gay And lusty pillow; to be shut out from all That multitude of cares and charms that waits But on companionship; and then to feel These joys another shares, another hand These delicate rites performing, and thou'rt remembered, In the serener heaven of his bliss, But as the transient flash: this is not love; This is pollution.
I:4:53 KING. Daughter, I were pleased My cousin could a nearer claim prefer To my regard. Ay, girl, 'twould please me well He were my son, thy husband; but what then? My pleasure and his conduct jar; his fate Baulks our desire. He's married and has heirs.
I:4:54 SOL. Heirs, didst thou say heirs?
I:4:55 KING. What ails thee?
I:4:56 SOL. Heirs, heirs?
I:4:57 KING. Thou art very pale!
I:4:58 SOL. The faintness of the morn Clings to me still; I pray thee, father, grant Thy child one easy boon.
I:4:59 KING. She has to speak But what she wills.
I:4:60 SOL. Why, then, she would renounce Her heritage; yes, place our ancient crown On brows it may become. A veil more suits This feminine brain; in Huelgas' cloistered shades I'll find oblivion.
I:4:61 KING. Woe is me! The doom Falls on our house. I had this daughter left To lavish all my wealth on and my might. I've treasured for her; for her I have slain My thousands, conquered provinces, betrayed, Renewed, and broken faith. She was my joy; She has her mother's eyes, and when she speaks Her voice is like Brunhalda's. Cursed hour, That a wild fancy touched her brain to cross All my great hopes!
I:4:62 SOL. My father, my dear father, Thou call'dst me fondly, but some moments past, Thy gentle child. I call my saint to witness I would be such. To say I love this man Is shallow phrasing. Since man's image first Flung its wild shadow on my virgin soul, It has borne no other reflex. I know well Thou deemest he was forgotten; this day's passion Passed as unused confrontment, and so transient As it was turbulent. No, no, full oft, When thinking on him, I have been the same. Fruitless or barren, this same form is his, Or it is God's. My father, my dear father, Remember he was mine, and thou didst pour Thy blessing on our heads! O God, O God! When I recall the passages of love That have ensued between me and this man, And with thy sanction, and then just bethink He is another's, O it makes me mad. Talk not to me of sceptres: can she rule Whose mind is anarchy? King of Castille, Give me the heart that thou didst rob me of! The penal hour's at hand. Thou didst destroy My love, and I will end thy line—thy line That is thy life.
I:4:63 KING. Solisa, I will do all A father can,—a father and a King.
I:4:64 SOL. Give me Alarcos!
I:4:65 KING. Hush, disturb me not; I'm in the throes of some imaginings A human voice might scare.
END OF THE FIRST ACT.
A Street in Burgos.
[Enter the COUNT OF SIDONIA and the COUNT OF LEON.]
II:1:1 SIDO. Is she not fair?
II:1:2 LEON. What then? She but fulfils Her office as a woman. For to be A woman and not fair, is, in my creed, To be a thing unsexed.
II:1:3 SIDO. Happy Alarcos! They say she was of Aquitaine, a daughter Of the De Foix. I would I had been banished.
II:1:4 LEON. Go and plot then. They cannot take your head, For that is gone.
II:1:5 SIDO. But banishment from Burgos Were worse than fifty deaths. O, my good Leon, Didst ever see, didst ever dream could be, Such dazzling beauty?
II:1:6 LEON. Dream! I never dream; Save when I've revelled over late, and then My visions are most villanous; but you, You dream when you're awake.
II:1:7 SIDO. Wert ever, Leon, In pleasant Aquitaine?
II:1:8 LEON. O talk of Burgos; It is my only subject—matchless town, Where all I ask are patriarchal years To feel satiety like my sad friend.
II:1:9 SIDO. 'Tis not satiety now makes me sad; So check thy mocking tongue, or cure my cares.
II:1:10 LEON. Absence cures love. Be off to Aquitaine.
II:1:11 SIDO. I chose a jester for my friend, and feel His value now.
II:1:12 LEON. You share the lover's lot When you desire and you despair. What then? You know right well that woman is but one, Though she take many forms, and can confound The young with subtle aspects. Vanity Is her sole being. Make the myriad vows That passionate fancy prompts. At the next tourney Maintain her colours 'gainst the two Castilles And Aragon to boot. You'll have her!
II:1:13 SIDO. Why! This was the way I woo'd the haughty Lara, But I'll not hold such passages approach The gentle lady of this morn.
II:1:14 LEON. Well, then, Try silence, only sighs and hasty glances Withdrawn as soon as met. Could'st thou but blush: But there's no hope. In time our sighs become A sort of plaintive hint what hopeless rogues Our stars have made us. Would we had but met Earlier, yet still we hope she'll spare a tear To one she met too late. Trust me she'll spare it; She'll save this sinner who reveres a saint. Pity or admiration gains them all. You'll have her!
II:1:15 SIDO. Well, whate'er the course pursued, Be thou a prophet!
II:1:16 ORAN. Stand, Senors, in God's name.
II:1:17 LEON. Or the devil's. Well, what do you want?
II:1:18 ORAN. Many things, but one Most principal.
II:1:19 SIDO. And that's—
II:1:20 ORAN. A friend.
II:1:21 LEON. You're right To seek one in the street, he'll prove as true As any that you're fostered with.
II:1:22 ORAN. In brief, I'm as you see a Moor; and I have slain One of our princes. Peace exists between Our kingdom and Castille; they track my steps. You're young, you should be brave, generous you may be. I shall be impaled. Save me!
II:1:23 LEON. Frankly spoken. Will you turn Christian?
II:1:24 ORAN. Show me Christian acts, And they may prompt to Christian thoughts.
II:1:25 SIDO. Although The slain's an infidel, thou art the same. The cause of this rash deed?
II:1:26 ORAN. I am a soldier, And my sword's notched, sirs. This said Emir struck me. Before the people too, in the great square Of our chief place, Granada, and forsooth, Because I would not yield the way at mosque. His life has soothed my honour: if I die, I die content; but with your gracious aid I would live happy.
II:1:27 LEON. You love life?
II:1:28 ORAN. Most dearly.
II:1:29 LEON. Sensible Moor, although he be impaled For mobbing in a mosque. I like this fellow; His bearing suits my humour. He shall live To do more murders. Come, bold infidel, Follow to the Leon Palace; and, sir, prithee Don't stab us in the back.
Chamber in the Palace of COUNT ALARCOS. At the back of the Scene the Curtains of a large Jalousie withdrawn.
[Enter COUNT ALARCOS.]
II:2:1 ALAR. 'Tis circumstance makes conduct; life's a ship, The sport of every wind. And yet men tack Against the adverse blast. How shall I steer, Who am the pilot of Necessity? But whether it be fair or foul, I know not; Sunny or terrible. Why let her wed him? What care I if the pageant's weight may fall On Hungary's ermined shoulders, if the spring Of all her life be mine? The tiar'd brow Alone makes not a King. Would that my wife Confessed a worldlier mood! Her recluse fancy Haunts still our castled bowers. Then civic air Inflame her thoughts! Teach her to vie and revel, Find sport in peerless robes, the pomp of feasts And ambling of a genet—
[A serenade is heard.]
Hah! that voice Should not be strange. A tribute to her charms. 'Tis music sweeter to a spouse's ear Than gallants dream of. Ay, she'll find adorers. Or Burgos is right changed.
[Enter the COUNTESS.]
[Again the serenade is heard.]
II:2:2 COUN. 'Tis very sweet.
II:2:3 ALAR. It is inspired by thee.
II:2:4 COUN. Alarcos!
II:2:5 ALAR. Why dost look so grave? Nay, now, There's not a dame in Burgos would not give Her jewels for such songs.
II:2:6 COUN. Inspired by me!
II:2:7 ALAR. And who so fit to fire a lover's breast? He's clearly captive.
II:2:8 COUN. O! thou knowest I love not Such jests, Alarcos.
II:2:9 ALAR. Jest! I do not jest. I am right proud the partner of my state Should count the chief of our Castillian knights Among her train.
II:2:10 COUN. I pray thee let me close These blinds.
II:2:11 ALAR. Poh, poh! what, baulk a serenade? 'Twould be an outrage to the courtesies Of this great city. Faith! his voice is sweet.
II:2:12 COUN. Would that he had not sung! It is a sport In which I find no pastime.
II:2:13 ALAR. Marry, come, It gives me great delight. 'Tis well for thee, On thy first entrance to our world, to find So high a follower.
II:2:14 COUN. Wherefore should I need His following?
II:2:15 ALAR. Nought's more excellent for woman, Than to be fixed on as the cynosure Of one whom all do gaze on. 'Tis a stamp Whose currency, not wealth, rank, blood, can match; These are raw ingots, till they are impressed With fashion's picture.
II:2:16 COUN. Would I were once more Within our castle!
II:2:17 ALAR. Nursery days! The world Is now our home, and we must worldly be, Like its bold stirrers. I sup with the King. There is no feast, and yet to do me honour, Some chiefs will meet. I stand right well at Court, And with thine aid will stand e'en better.
II:2:18 COUN. Mine! I have no joy but in thy joy, no thought But for thy honour, and yet, how to aid Thee in these plans or hopes, indeed, Alarcos, Indeed, I am perplexed.
II:2:19 ALAR. Art not my wife? Is not this Burgos? And this pile, the palace Of my great fathers? They did raise these halls To be the symbols of their high estate, The fit and haught metropolis of all Their force and faction. Fill them, fill them, wife, With those who'll serve me well. Make this the centre Of all that's great in Burgos. Let it be The eye of the town, whereby we may perceive What passes in his heart: the clustering point Of all convergence. Here be troops of friends And ready instruments. Wear that sweet smile, That wins a partisan quicker than power; Speak in that tone gives each a special share In thy regard, and what is general Let all deem private. O! thou'lt play it rarely.
II:2:20 COUN. I would do all that may become thy wife.
II:2:21 ALAR. I know it, I know it. Thou art a treasure, Florimonde, And this same singer—thou hast not asked his name. Didst guess it? Ah! upon thy gentle cheek I see a smile.
II:2:22 COUN. My lord—indeed—
II:2:23 ALAR. Thou playest Thy game less like a novice than I deemed. Thou canst not say thou didst not catch the voice Of the Sidonia?
II:2:24 COUN. My good lord, indeed His voice to me is as unknown as mine Must be to him.
II:2:25 ALAR. Whose should the voice but his, Whose stricken sight left not thy face an instant, But gazed as if some new-born star had risen To light his way to paradise? I tell thee, Among my strict confederates I would count This same young noble. He is a paramount chief; Perchance his vassals might outnumber mine, Conjoined we're adamant. No monarch's breath Makes me again an exile. Florimonde, Smile on him; smiles cost nothing; should he judge They mean more than they say, why smile again; And what he deems affection, registered, Is but chaste Mockery. I must to the citadel. Sweet wife, good-night.
II:2:26 COUN. O! misery, misery, misery! Must we do this? I fear there's need we must, For he is wise in all things, and well learned In this same world that to my simple sense Seems very fearful. Why should men rejoice, They can escape from the pure breath of heaven And the sweet franchise of their natural will, To such a prison-house? To be confined In body and in soul; to breathe the air Of dark close streets, and never use one's tongue But for some measured phrase that hath its bent Well gauged and chartered; to find ready smiles When one is sorrowful, or looks demure When one would laugh outright. Never to be Exact but when dissembling. Is this life? I dread this city. As I passed its gates My litter stumbled, and the children shrieked And clung unto my bosom. Pretty babes! I'll go to them. O! there is innocence Even in Burgos.
A Chamber in the Royal Palace. The INFANTA SOLISA alone.
II:3:1 SOL. I can but think my father will be just And see us righted. O 'tis only honest, The hand that did this wrong should now supply The sovereign remedy, and balm the wound Itself inflicted. He is with him now; Would I were there, unseen, yet seeing all! But ah! no cunning arras could conceal This throbbing heart. I've sent my little Page, To mingle with the minions of the Court, And get me news. How he doth look, bow eat, What says he and what does, and all the haps Of this same night, that yet to me may bring A cloudless morrow. See, even now he comes.
[Enter the PAGE.]
Prithee what news? Now tell me all, my child, When thou'rt a knight, will I not work the scarf For thy first tourney! Prithee tell me all.
II:3:2 PAGE. O lady mine, the royal Seneschal He was so crabbed, I did scarcely deem I could have entered.
II:3:3 SOL. Cross-grained Seneschal! He shall repent of this, my pretty Page; But thou didst enters?
II:3:4 PAGE. I did so contrive.
II:3:5 SOL. Rare imp! And then?
II:3:6 PAGE. Well, as you told me, then I mingled with the Pages of the King. They're not so very tall; I might have passed I think for one upon a holiday.
II:3:7 SOL. O thou shalt pass for better than a page But tell me, child, didst see my gallant Count?
II:3:8 PAGE. On the right hand—
II:3:9 SOL. Upon the King's right hand?
II:3:10 PAGE. Upon the King's right hand, and there were also—
II:3:11 SOL. Mind not the rest; thou'rt sure on the right hand?
II:3:12 PAGE. Most sure; and on the left—
II:3:13 SOL. Ne'er mind the left, Speak only of the right. How did he seem? Did there pass words between him and the King? Often or scant? Did he seem gay or grave? Or was his aspect of a middle tint, As if he deemed that there were other joys Not found within that chamber?
II:3:14 PAGE. Sooth to say, He did seem what he is, a gallant knight. Would I were such! For talking with the King, He spoke, yet not so much but he could spare Words to the other lords. He often smiled, Yet not so often, that a limner might Describe his mien as jovial.
II:3:15 SOL. 'Tis himself! What next? Will they sit long?
II:3:16 PAGE. I should not like Myself to quit such company. In truth, The Count of Leon is a merry lord. There were some tilting jests, I warrant you, Between him and your knight.
II:3:17 SOL. O tell it me!
II:3:18 PAGE. The Count Alarcos, as I chanced to hear, For tiptoe even would not let me see, And that same Pedro, who has lately come To Court, the Senor of Montilla's son, He is so rough, and says a lady's page Should only be where there are petticoats.
II:3:19 SOL. Is he so rough? He shall be soundly whipped. But tell me, child, the Count Alarcos—
II:3:20 PAGE. Well, The Count Alarcos—but indeed, sweet lady, I do not wish that Pedro should be whipped.
II:3:21 SOL. He shall not then be whipped—speak of the Count.
II:3:22 PAGE. The Count was showing how your Saracen Doth take your lion captive, thus and thus: And fashioned with his scarf a dexterous noose Made of a tiger's skin: your unicorn, They say, is just as good.
II:3:23 SOL. Well, then Sir Leon—
II:3:24 PAGE. Why then your Count of Leon—but just then Sancho, the Viscount of Toledo's son, The King's chief Page, takes me his handkerchief And binds it on my eyes, he whispering round Unto his fellows, here you see I've caught A most ferocious cub. Whereat they kicked, And pinched, and cuffed me till I nearly roared As fierce as any lion, you be sure.
II:3:25 SOL. Rude Sancho, he shall sure be sent from Court! My little Ferdinand—thou hast incurred Great perils for thy mistress. Go again And show this signet to the Seneschal, And tell him that no greater courtesy Be shown to any guest than to my Page. This from myself—or I perchance will send, Shall school their pranks. Away, my faithful imp, And tell me how the Count Alarcos seems.
II:3:26 PAGE. I go, sweet lady, but I humbly beg Sancho may not be sent from Court this time.
II:3:27 SOL. Sancho shall stay.
I hope, ere long, sweet child, Thou too shalt be a page unto a King. I'm glad Alarcos smiled not overmuch; Your smilers please me not. I love a face Pensive, not sad; for where the mood is thoughtful, The passion is most deep and most refined. Gay tempers bear light hearts—are soonest gained And soonest lost; but he who meditates On his own nature, will as deeply scan The mind he meets, and when he loves, he casts His anchor deep.
Give me the news.
II:3:28 PAGE. The news! I could not see the Seneschal, but gave Your message to the Pages. Whereupon Sancho, the Viscount of Toledo's son, Pedro, the Senor of Montilla's son, The young Count of Almeira, and—
II:3:29 SOL. My child, What ails thee?
II:3:30 PAGE. O the Viscount of Jodar, I think he was the very worst of all; But Sancho of Toledo was the first.
II:3:31 SOL. What did they?
II:3:32 PAGE. 'Las, no sooner did I say All that you told me, than he gives the word, 'A guest, a guest, a very potent guest,' Takes me a goblet brimful of strong wine And hands it to me, mocking, on his knee. This I decline, when on his back they lay Your faithful Page, nor set me on my legs Till they had drenched me with this fiery stuff, That I could scarcely see, or reel my way Back to your presence.
II:3:33 SOL. Marry, 'tis too much E'en for a page's license. Ne'er you mind, They shall to Prison by to-morrow's dawn. I'll bind this kerchief round your brow, its scent Will much revive you. Go, child, lie you down On yonder couch.
II:3:34 PAGE. I'm sure I ne'er can sleep If Sancho of Toledo shall be sent To-morrow's dawn to prison.
II:3:35 SOL. Well, he's pardoned.
II:3:36 PAGE. Also the Senor of Montilla's son,
II:3:37 SOL. He shall be pardoned too. Now prithee sleep.
II:3:38 PAGE. The young Count of Almeira—
II:3:39 SOL. O no more. They all are pardoned.
II:3:40 PAGE. I do humbly pray The Viscount of Jodar be pardoned too.
A Banquet; the KING seated; on his right ALARCOS. SIDONIA, LEON, the ADMIRAL OF CASTILLE, and other LORDS. Groups of PAGES, CHAMBERLAINS, and SERVING-MEN.
II:4:1 The KING. Would'st match them, cousin, 'gainst our barbs?
II:4:2 ALAR. Against Our barbs, Sir!
II:4:3 KING. Eh, Lord Leon, you can scan A courser's points?
II:4:4 LEON. O, Sir, your travellers Need fleeter steeds than we poor shambling folks Who stay at home. To my unskilful sense, Speed for the chase and vigour for the tilt, Meseems enough.
II:4:5 ALAR.' If riders be as prompt.
II:4:6 LEON. Our tourney is put off, or please your Grace, I'd try conclusions with this marvellous beast, This Pegasus, this courser of the sun, That is to blind us all with his bright rays And cloud our chivalry.
II:4:7 KING. My Lord Sidonia, You're a famed judge: try me this Cyprus wine; An English prince did give it me, returning From the holy sepulchre.
II:4:8 SIDO. Most rare, my liege, And glitters like a gem!
II:4:9 KING. It doth content Me much, your Cyprus wine. Lord Admiral, Hast heard the news? The Saracens have fled Before the Italian galleys.
II:4:10 THE ADMIRAL OF CASTILLE. No one guides A galley like your Pisan.
II:4:11 ALAR. The great Doge Of Venice, sooth, would barely veil his flag To Pisa.
II:4:12 ADM. Your Venetian hath his craft. This Saracenic rent will surely touch Our turbaned neighbours?
II:4:13 KING. To the very core, Granada's all a-mourning. Good, my Lords, One goblet more. We'll give our cousin's health. Here's to the Count Alarcos.
II:4:14 OMNES. To the Count Alarcos.
[The Guests rise, pay their homage to the KING, and are retiring.]
II:4:15 KING. Good night, Lord Admiral; my Lord of Leon, My Lord Sidonia, and my Lord of Lara, Gentle adieus; to you, my Lord, and you, To all and each. Cousin, good night—and yet A moment rest awhile; since your return I've looked on you in crowds, it may become us To say farewell alone.
[The KING waves his hand to the SENESCHAL—the Chamber is cleared.]
II:4:16 ALAR. Most gracious Sire, You honour your poor servant.
II:4:17 KING. Prithee, sit. This scattering of the Saracen, methinks, Will hold the Moor to his truce?
II:4:18 ALAR. It would appear To have that import.
II:4:19 KING. Should he pass the mountains, We can receive him.
II:4:20 ALAR. Where's the crown in Spain More prompt and more prepared?
II:4:21 KING. Cousin, you're right. We flourish. By St. James, I feel a glow Of the heart to see you here once more, my cousin; I'm low in the vale of years, and yet I think I could defend my crown with such a knight On my right hand.
II:4:22 ALAR. Such liege and land would raise Our lances high.
II:4:23 KING. We carry all before us. Leon reduced. The crescent paled in Cordova, Why, if she gain Valencia, Aragon Must kick the beam. And shall she gain Valencia? It cheers my blood to find thee by my side; Old days, old days return, when thou to me Wert as the apple of mine eye.
II:4:24 ALAR. My liege, This is indeed most gracious.
II:4:25 KING. Gentle cousin, Thou shalt have pause to say that I am gracious. O! I did ever love thee; and for that Some passages occurred between us once, That touch my memory to the quick; I would Even pray thee to forget them, and to hold I was most vilely practised on, my mind Poisoned, and from a fountain, that to deem Tainted were frenzy.
[Falling on his knee, and taking the KING's hand.]
My most gracious liege, This morn to thee I did my fealty pledge. Believe me, Sire, I did so with clear breast, And with no thought to thee and to thy line But fit devotion.
II:4:27 KING. O, I know it well, I know thou art right true. Mine eyes are moist To see thee here again.
II:4:28 ALAR. It is my post, Nor could I seek another.
II:4:29 KING. Thou dost know That Hungary leaves us?
II:4:30 ALAR. I was grieved to hear There were some crosses.
II:4:31 KING. Truth, I am not grieved. Is it such joy this fair Castillian realm, This glowing flower of Spain, be rudely plucked By a strange hand? To see our chambers filled With foreign losels; our rich fiefs and abbeys The prey of each bold scatterling, that finds No heirship in his country? Have I lived And laboured for this end, to swell the sails Of alien fortunes? O my gentle cousin, There was a time we had far other hopes! I suffer for my deeds.
II:4:32 ALAR. We must forget, We must forget, my liege.
II:4:33 KING. Is't then so easy? Thou hast no daughter. Ah! thou canst not tell What 'tis to feel a father's policy Hath dimmed a child's career. A child so peerless! Our race, though ever comely, veiled to her. A palm tree in its pride of sunny youth Mates not her symmetry; her step was noticed As strangely stately by her nurse. Dost know, I ever deemed that winning smile of hers Mournful, with all its mirth? But ah! no more A father gossips; nay, my weakness 'tis not. 'Tis not with all that I would prattle thus; But you, my cousin, know Solisa well, And once you loved her.
Once! O God! Such passions are eternity.
What then, Shall this excelling creature, on a throne As high as her deserts, shall she become A spoil for strangers? Have I cause to grieve That Hungary quit us? O that I could find Some noble of our land might dare to mix His equal blood with our Castillian seed! Art thou more learned in our pedigrees? Hast thou no friend, no kinsman? Must this realm Fall to the spoiler, and a foreign graft Be nourished by our sap?
II:4:36 ALAR. Alas! alas!
II:4:37 KING. Four crowns; our paramount Castille, and Leon, Seviglia, Cordova, the future hope Of Murcia, and the inevitable doom That waits the Saracen; all, all, all; And with my daughter!
II:4:38 ALAR. Ah! ye should have blasted My homeward path, ye lightnings!
II:4:39 KING. Such a son Should grudge his sire no days. I would not live To whet ambition's appetite. I'm old; And fit for little else than hermit thoughts. The day that gives my daughter, gives my crown: A cell's my home.
II:4:40 ALAR. O, life, I will not curse thee Let hard and shaven crowns denounce thee vain; To me thou wert no shade! I loved thy stir And panting struggle. Power, and pomp, and beauty Cities and courts, the palace and the fane, The chace, the revel, and the battle-field, Man's fiery glance, and woman's thrilling smile, I loved ye all. I curse not thee, O life! But on my start; confusion. May they fall From out their spheres, and blast our earth no more With their malignant rays, that mocking placed All the delight of life within my reach, And chained me film fruition.
II:4:41 KING. Gentle cousin, Thou art disturbed; I fear these words of mine, Chance words ere I did say to thee good night, For O, 'twas joy to see thee here again, Who art my kinsman, and my only one, Have touched on some old cares for both of us. And yet the world has many charms for thee; Thou'rt not like us, and thy unhappy child The world esteems so favoured.
II:4:42 ALAR. Ah, the world III estimates the truth of any lot. Their speculation is too far and reaches Only externals, they are ever fair. There are vile cankers in your gaudiest flowers, But you must pluck and peer within the leaves To catch the pest.
II:4:43 KING. Alas! my gentle cousin, To hear thou hast thy sorrows too, like us, It pains me much, and yet I'll not believe it, For with so fair a wife—
II:4:44 ALAR. Torture me not, Although thou art a King.
II:4:45 KING. My gentle cousin, f spoke to solace thee. We all do hear Thou art most favoured in a right fair wife. We do desire to see her; can she find A friend becomes her better than our child?
II:4:46 ALAR. My wife? would she were not!
II:4:47 KING. I say so too, Would she were not!
II:4:48 ALAR. Ah me! why did I marry?
II:4:49 KING. Truth, it was very rash.
II:4:50 ALAR. Who made me rash? Who drove me from my hearth, and sent me forth On the unkindred earth? With the dark spleen Goading injustice, that 'tis vain to quell, Entails on restless spirits. Yes, I married, As men do oft, from very wantonness; To tamper with a destiny that's cross, To spite my fate, to put the seal upon A balked career, in high and proud defiance Of hopes that yet might mock me, to beat down False expectation and its damned lures, And fix a bar betwixt me and defeat.
II:4:51 KING. These bitter words would rob me of my hope, That thou at least wert happy.
II:4:52 ALAR. Would I slept With my grey fathers!
II:4:53 KING. And my daughter too! O most unhappy pair!
II:4:54 ALAR. There is a way. To cure such woes, one only.
II:4:55 KING. 'Tis my thought.
II:4:56 ALAR. No cloister shall entomb this life; the grave Shall be my refuge,
II:4:57 KING. Yet to die were witless, When Death, who with his fatal finger taps At princely doors, as freely as he gives His summons to the serf, may at this instant Have sealed the only life that throws a shade Between us and the sun.
II:4:58 ALAR. She's very young.
II:4:59 KING. And may live long, as I do hope she will; Yet have I known as blooming as she die, And that most suddenly. The air of cities To unaccustomed lungs is very fatal; Perchance the absence of her accustomed sports, The presence of strange faces, and a longing For those she has been bred among: I've known This most pernicious: she might droop and pine, And when they fail, they sink most rapidly. God grant she may not; yet I do remind thee Of this wild chance, when speaking of thy lot. In truth 'tis sharp, and yet I would not die When Time, the great enchanter, may change all, By bringing somewhat earlier to thy gate A doom that must arrive.
II:4:60 ALAR. Would it were there!
II:4:61 KING. 'Twould be the day thy hand should clasp my daughter's, That thou hast loved so Ion; 'twould be the day My crown, the crown of all my realms, Alarcos, Should bind thy royal brow. Is this the morn Breaks in our chamber? Why, I did but mean To say good night unto my gentle cousin So long unseen. O, we have gossiped, coz, So cheering dreams!
END OF THE SECOND ACT.
Interior of the Cathedral of Burgos. The High Altar illuminated; in the distance, various Chapels lighted, and in each of which Mass is celebrating: in all directions groups of kneeling Worshippers. Before the High Altar the Prior of Burgos officiates, attended by his Sacerdotal Retinue. In the front of the Stage, opposite to the Audience, a Confessional. The chanting of a solemn Mass here commences; as it ceases,
III:1:1 ALAR. Would it were done! and yet I dare not say It should be done. O, that some natural cause, Or superhuman agent, would step in, And save me from its practice! Will no pest Descend upon her blood? Must thousands die Daily, and her charmed life be spared? As young Are hourly plucked from out their hearths. A life! Why, what's a life? A loan that must return To a capricious creditor; recalled Often as soon as lent. I'd wager mine To-morrow like the dice, were my blood pricked. Yet now, When all that endows life with all its price, Hangs on some flickering breath I could puff out, I stand agape. I'll dream 'tis done: what then? Mercy remains? For ever, not for ever I charge my soul? Will no contrition ransom, Or expiatory torments compensate The awful penalty? Ye kneeling worshippers, That gaze in silent ecstacy before Yon flaming altar, you come here to bow Before a God of mercy. Is't not so?
[ALARCOS walks towards the High Altar and kneels.]
[A Procession advances front the back of the Scene, singing a solemn Mass, and preceding the Prior of Burgos, who seats himself in the Confessional his Train filing of on each side of the Scene: the lights of the High Altar are extinguished, but the Chapels remain illuminated.]
III:1:2 THE PRIOR. Within this chair I sit, and hold the keys That open realms no conqueror can subdue, And where the monarchs of the earth must fain Solicit to be subjects: Heaven and Hades, Lands of Immortal light and shores of gloom. Eternal as the chorus of their wail, And the dim isthmus of that middle space, Where the compassioned soul may purge its sins In pious expiation. Then advance Ye children of all sorrows, and all sins, Doubts that perplex, and hopes that tantalize, All the wild forms the fiend Temptation takes To tamper with the soul! Come with the care That eats your daily life; come with the thought That is conceived in the noon of night, And makes us stare around us though alone; Come with the engendering sin, and with the crime That is full-born. To counsel and to soothe, I sit within this chair.
[ALARCOS advances and kneels by the Confessional.]
III:1:3 ALAR. O, holy father My soul is burthened with a crime.
III:1:4 PRIOR. My son, The church awaits thy sin.
III:1:5 ALAR. It is a sin Most black and terrible. Prepare thine ear For what must make it tremble.
III:1:6 PRIOR. Thou dost speak To Power above all passion, not to man.
III:1:7 ALAR. There was a lady, father, whom I loved, And with a holy love, and she loved me As holily. Our vows were blessed, if favour Hang on a father's benediction.
III:1:8 PRIOR. Her Mother?
III:1:9 ALAR. She had a mother, if to bear Children be all that makes a mother: one Who looked on me, about to be her child, With eyes of lust.
III:1:10 PRIOR. And thou?
III:1:11 ALAR. O, if to trace But with the memory's too veracious aid This tale be anguish, what must be its life And terrible action? Father, I abjured This lewd she-wolf. But ah! her fatal vengeance Struck to my heart. A banished scatterling I wandered on the earth.
III:1:12 PRIOR. Thou didst return?
III:1:13 ALAR. And found the being that I loved, and found Her faithful still.
III:1:14 PRIOR. And thou, my son, wert happy?
III:1:15 ALAR. Alas! I was no longer free. Strange ties Had bound a hopeless exile. But she I had loved, And never ceased to love, for in the form, Not in the spirit was her faith more pure, She looked upon me with a glance that told Her death but in my love. I struggled, nay, 'Twas not a struggle, 'twas an agony. Her aged sire, her dark impending doom, And the overwhelming passion of my soul: My wife died suddenly.
III:1:16 PRIOR. And by a life That should have shielded hers?
III:1:17 ALAR. Is there hope of mercy? Can prayers, can penances, can they avail? What consecration of my wealth, for I'm rich, Can aid me? Can it aid me? Can endowments? Nay, set no bounds to thy unlimited schemes Of saving charity. Can shrines, can chauntries, Monastic piles, can they avail? What if I raise a temple not less proud than this, Enriched with all my wealth, with all, with all? Will endless masses, will eternal prayers, Redeem me from perdition?
III:1:18 PRIOR. What, would gold Redeem the sin it prompted?
III:1:19 ALAR. No, by Heaven! No, Fate had dowered me with wealth might feed All but a royal hunger.
III:1:20 PRIOR. And alone Thy fatal passion urged thee
III:1:21 ALAR. Hah!
III:1:22 PRIOR. Probe deep Thy wounded soul.
III:1:23 ALAR. 'Tis torture: fathomless I feel the fell incision.
III:1:24 PRIOR. There is a lure Thou dost not own, and yet its awful shade Lowers in the back-ground of thy soul: thy tongue Trifles the church's ear. Beware, my son, And tamper not with Paradise.
III:1:25 ALAR. A breath, A shadow, essence subtler far than love: And yet I loved her, and for love had dared All that I ventured for this twin-born lure Cradled with love, for which I soiled my soul. O, father, it was Power.
III:1:26 PRIOR. And this dominion Purchased by thy soul's mortgage, still is't thine?
III:1:27 ALAR. Yea, thousands bow to him, who bows to thee.
III:1:28 PRIOR. Thine is a fearful deed.
III:1:29 ALAR. O, is there mercy?
III:1:30 PRIOR. Say, is there penitence?
III:1:31 ALAR. How shall I gauge it? What temper of contrition might the church Require from such a sinner?
III:1:32 PRIOR. Is't thy wish, Nay, search the very caverns of thy thought, Is it thy wish this deed were now undone?
III:1:33 ALAR. Undone, undone! It is; O, say it were, And what am I? O, father, wer't not done, I should not be less tortured than I'm now; My life less like a dream of haunting thoughts Tempting to unknown enormities. The sun Would rise as beamless on my darkened days, Night proffer the same torments. Food would fly My lips the same, and the same restless blood Quicken my harassed limbs. Undone! undone! I have no metaphysic faculty To deem this deed undone.
III:1:34 PRIOR. Thou must repent This terrible deed. Look through thy heart. Thy wife, There was a time thou lov'dst her?
III:1:35 ALAR. I'll not think There was a time.
III:1:36 PRIOR. And was she fair?
III:1:37 ALAR. A form Dazzling all eyes but mine.
III:1:38 PRIOR. And pure?
III:1:39 ALAR. No saint More chaste than she. Her consecrated shape She kept as 'twere a shrine, and just as full Of holy thoughts; her very breath was incense, And all her gestures sacred as the forms Of priestly offices!
III:1:40 PRIOR. I'll save thy soul. Thou must repent that one so fair and pure, And loving thee so well—
III:1:41 ALAR. Father, in vain. There is a bar betwixt me and repentance. And yet—
III:1:42 PRIOR. Ay, yet—
III:1:43 ALAR. The day may come, I'll kneel In such a mood, and might there then be hope?
III:1:44 PRIOR. We hold the keys that bind and loosen all: But penitence alone is mercy's portal. The obdurate soul is doomed. Remorseful tears Are sinners' sole ablution. O, my son, Bethink thee yet, to die in sin like thine; Eternal masses profit not thy soul, Thy consecrated wealth will but upraise The monument of thy despair. Once more, Ere yet the vesper lights shall fade away, I do adjure thee, on the church's bosom Pour forth thy contrite heart.
III:1:45 ALAR. A contrite heart! A stainless hand would count for more. I see No drops on mine. My head is weak, my heart A wilderness of passion. Prayers, thy prayers!
[ALARCOS rises suddenly and exit.]
Chamber in the Royal Palace.
The INFANTA seated in despondency; the KING standing by her side.
III:2:1 KING. Indeed, 'tis noticed.
III:2:2 SOL. Solitude is all I ask; and is it then so great a boon?
III:2:3 KING. Nay, solitude's no princely appanage. Our state's a pedestal, which men have raised That they may gaze on greatness.
III:2:4 SOL. A false idol, And weaker than its worshippers. I've lived To feel my station's vanity. O, Death, Thou endest all!
III:2:5 KING. Thou art too young to die, And yet may be too happy. Moody youth Toys in its talk with the dark thought of death, As if to die were but to change a robe. It is their present refuge for all cares And each disaster. When the sere has touched Their flowing locks, they prattle less of death, Perchance think more of it.
III:2:6 SOL. Why, what is greatness? Will't give me love, or faith, or tranquil thoughts? No, no, not even justice.
III:2:7 KING. 'Tis thyself That does thyself injustice. Let the world Have other speculation than the breach Of our unfilled vows. They bear too near And fine affinity to what we would, Ay, what we will. I would not choose this moment, Men brood too curiously upon the cause Of the late rupture, for the cause detected May bar the consequence.
III:2:8 SOL. A day, an hour Sufficed to crush me. Weeks and weeks pass on Since I was promised right.
III:2:9 KING. Take thou my sceptre And do thyself this right. Is't, then, so easy?
III:2:10 SOL. Let him who did the wrong, contrive the means Of his atonement.
III:2:11 KING. All a father can, I have performed.
III:2:12 SOL. Ah! then there is no hope. The Bishop of Ossuna, you did say He was the learnedest clerk of Christendom, And you would speak to him?
III:2:13 KING. What says Alarcos?
III:2:14 SOL. I spoke not to him since I first received His princely pledge.
III:2:15 KING. Call on him to fulfil it.
III:2:16 SOL. Can he do more than kings?
III:2:17 KING. Yes, he alone; Alone it rests with him. This learn from me. There is no other let.
III:2:18 SOL. I learn from thee What other lips should tell me.
III:2:19 KING. Girl, art sure Of this same lover?
III:2:20 SOL. O! I'll never doubt him.
III:2:21 KING. And yet may be deceived.
III:2:22 SOL. He is as true As talismanic steel.
III:2:23 KING. Why, then thou art, At least thou should'st be, happy. Smile, Solisa; For since the Count is true, there is no bar. Why dost not smile?
III:2:24 SOL. I marvel that Alarcos Hath been so mute on this.
III:2:25 KING. But thou art sure He is most true.
III:2:26 SOL. Why should I deem him true? Have I found truth in any? Woe is me, I feel as one quite doomed. I know not why I ever was ill-omened.
III:2:27 KING. Listen, girl; Probe this same lover to the core; 'tmay be, I think he is, most true; he should be so If there be faith in vows, and men ne'er break The pledge its profits them to keep. And yet—
III:2:28 SOL. And what?
III:2:29 KING. To be his Sovereign's cherished friend, And smiled on by the daughter of his King, Why that might profit him, and please so much, His wife's ill humour might be borne withal.
III:2:30 SOL. You think him false?
III:2:31 KING. I think he might be true: But when a man's well placed, he loves not change.
[Enter at the back of the Scene Count ALARCOS disguised. He advances, dropping his Hat and Cloak.]
Ah, gentle cousin, all our thoughts were thine.
III:2:32 ALAR. I marvel men should think. Lady, I'll hope Thy thoughts are like thyself, most fair.
III:2:33 KING. Her thoughts Are like her fortunes, lofty, but around The peaks cling vapours.
III:2:34 ALAR. Eagles live in clouds, And they draw royal breath.
III:2:35 KING. I'd have her quit, This strange seclusion, cousin. Give thine aid To festive purposes.
III:2:36 ALAR. A root, an egg, Why there's a feast with a holy mind.
III:2:37 KING. If ever I find my seat within a hermitage, I'll think the same.
III:2:38 ALAR. You have built shrines, sweet lady?
III:2:39 SOL. What then, my lord?
III:2:40 ALAR. Why then you might be worshipped, If your image were in front; I'd bow down To anything so fair.
III:2:41 KING. Dost know, my cousin, Who waits me now? The deputies from Murcia. The realm is ours,
III:2:42 ALAR. The church has realms Wider than both Castilles. But which of them Will be our lot; that's it.
III:2:43 KING. Mine own Solisa, They wait me in my cabinet;
[aside to her]
Bethink thee With whom all rests.
[Exit the KING.]
III:2:44 SOL. You had sport to-day, my lord? The King was at the chace.
III:2:45 ALAR. I breathed my barb.
III:2:46 SOL. They say the chace hath charm to cheer the spirit,
III:2:47 ALAR. 'Tis better than prayers.
III:2:48 SOL. Indeed, I think I'll hunt. You and my father seem so passing gay.
III:2:49 ALAR. Why this is no confessional, no shrine Haunted with presaged gloom. I should be gay To look at thee and listen to thy voice; For if fair pictures and sweet sounds enchant The soul of man, that are but artifice, How then am I entranced, this living picture Bright by my side, and listening to this music That nature gave thee. What's eternal life To this inspired mortality! Let priests And pontiffs thunder, still I feel that here Is all my joy.
III:2:50 SOL. Ah! why not say thy woe? Who stands between thee and thy rights but me? Who stands between thee and thine ease but me? Who bars thy progress, brings thee cares, but me? Lures thee to impossible contracts, goads thy faith To mad performance, welcomes thee with sighs, And parts from them with tears? Is this joy? No! I am thine evil genius.
III:2:51 ALAR. Say my star Of inspiration. This reality Baffles their mystic threats. Who talks of cares? Why, what's a Prince, if his imperial will Be bitted by a priest! There's nought impossible. Thy sighs are sighs of love, and all thy tears But affluent tenderness.
III:2:52 SOL. You sing as sweet As did the syrens; is it from the heart, Or from the lips, that voice?
III:2:53 ALAR. Solisa!
III:2:54 SOL. Ay! My ear can catch a treacherous tone; 'tis trained To perfidy. My Lord Alarcos, look me Straight in the face. He quails not.
III:2:55 ALAR. O my soul, Is this the being for whose love I've pledged Even thy forfeit!
III:2:56 SOL. Alarcos, dear Alarcos, Look not so stern! I'm mad; yes, yes, my life Upon thy truth; I know thou'rt true: he said It rested but with thee; I said it not, Nor thought it.
III:2:57 ALAR. Lady!
III:2:58 SOL. Not that voice!
III:2:59 ALAR. I'll know Thy thought; the King hath spoken?
III:2:60 SOL. Words of joy And madness. With thyself alone he says It rests.
III:2:61 ALAR. Nor said he more?
III:2:62 SOL. It had found me deaf, For he touched hearings quick.
III:2:63 ALAR. Thy faith in me Hath gone.
III:2:64 SOL. I'll doubt our shrined miracles Before I doubt Alarcos.
III:2:65 ALAR. He'll believe thee, For at this moment he has much to endure, And that he could not.
III:2:66 SOL. And yet I must choose This time to vex thee. O, I am the curse And blight of the existence, which to bless Is all my thought! Alarcos, dear Alarcos, I pray thee pardon me. I am so wretched: This fell suspense is like a frightful dream Wherein we fall from heights, yet never reach The bottomless abyss. It wastes my spirit, Wears down my life, gnaws ever at my heart, Makes my brain quick when others are asleep, And dull when theirs is active. O, Alarcos, I could lie down and die.
[Advancing in soliloquy.]
Asleep, awake, In dreams, and in the musing moods that wait On unfulfilled purposes, I've done it; And thought upon it afterwards, nor shrunk From the fell retrospect.
III:2:68 SOL. He's wrapped in thought; Indeed his glance was wild when first he entered, And his speech lacked completeness.
III:2:69 ALAR. How is it then, The body that should be the viler part, And made for servile uses, should rebel 'Gainst the mind's mandate, and should hold its aid Aloof from our adventure? Why the sin Is in the thought, not in the deed; 'tis not The body pays the penalty, the soul Must clear that awful scot. What palls my arm? It is not pity; trumpet-tongued ambition Stifles her plaintive voice; it is not love, For that inspires the blow! Art thou Solisa?
III:2:70 SOL. I am that luckless maiden whom you love.
III:2:71 ALAR. You could lie down and die. Who speaks of death? There is no absolution for self-murder. Why 'tis the greater sin of the two. There is More peril in't. What, sleep upon your post Because you are wearied? No, we must spy on And watch occasions. Even now they are ripe. I feel a turbulent throbbing at my heart Will end in action: for there spiritual tumults Herald great deeds.
III:2:72 SOL. It is the church's scheme Ever to lengthen suits.
III:2:73 ALAR. The church?
III:2:74 SOL. Ossana Leans much to Rome.
III:2:75 ALAR. And how concerns us that?
III:2:76 SOL. His Grace spoke to the Bishop, you must know?
III:2:77 ALAR. Ah, yes! his Grace, the church, it is our friend. And truly should be so. It gave our griefs, And it should bear their balm.
III:2:78 SOL. Hast pardoned me That I was querulous? But lovers crossed Wrangle with those that love them, as it were, To spite affection.
III:2:79 ALAR. We are bound together As the twin powers of the storm. Very love Now makes me callous. The great bond is sealed; Look bright; if gloomy, mortgage future bliss For present comfort. Trust me 'tis good 'surance. I'll to the King.
A Street in Burgos.
[Enter the COUNT OF LEON, followed by ORAN.]
III:3:1 LEON. He has been sighing like a Sybarite These six weeks past, and now he sends to me To hire my bravo. Well, that smacks of manhood. He'll pierce at least one heart, if not the right one. Murder and marriage! which the greater crime A schoolman may decide. All arts exhausted, His death alone remains. A clumsy course. I care not. Truth, I hate this same Alarcos, I think it is the colour of his eyes, But I do hate him; and the royal ear Lists coldly to me since this same return. The King leans wholly on him. Sirrah Moor, All is prepared?
III:3:2 ORAN. And prompt.
III:3:3 LEON. 'Tis well; no boggling; Let it be cleanly done.
III:3:4 ORAN. A stab or two, And the Arlanzon's wave shall know the rest.
III:3:5 LEON. I'll have to kibe his heels at Court, if you fail.
III:3:6 ORAN. There is no fear. We have the choicest spirits In Burgos.
III:3:7 LEON. Goodly gentlemen! you wait Their presence?
III:3:8 ORAN. Here anon.
III:3:9 LEON. Good night, dusk infidel, They'll take me for an Alguazil. At home Your news will reach me.
III:3:10 ORAN. And were all your throats cut, I would not weep. O, Allah, let them spend Their blood upon themselves! My life he shielded, And now exacts one at my hands; we're quits When this is closed. That thought will grace a deed Otherwise graceless. I would break the chain That binds me to this man. His callous eye Repels devotion, while his reckless vein Demands prompt sacrifice. Now is't wise this? Methinks 'twere wise to touch the humblest heart Of those that serve us? In maturest plans There lacks that finish, which alone can flow From zealous instruments. But here are some That have no hearts to touch.
[Enter Four BRAVOs.]
How now, good senors. I cannot call them comrades; you're exact, As doubtless ye are brave. You know your duty?
III:3:11 1ST BRAVO. And will perform it, or my name is changed, And I'm not Guzman Jaca.
III:3:12 ORAN. You well know The arm you cross is potent?
III:3:13 2ND BRAVO. All the steel Of Calatrava's knights shall not protect it.
III:3:14 3RD BRAVO. And all the knights to boot.
III:3:15 4TH BRAVO. A river business.
III:3:16 ORAN. The safest sepulchre.
III:3:17 4TH BRAVO. A burial ground Of which we are the priests, and take our fees; I never cross a stream, but I do feel A sense of property.
III:3:18 ORAN. You know the signal: And when I boast I've friends, they may appear To prove I am no braggart.
III:3:19 1ST BRAVO. To our posts It shall be cleanly done, and brief.
III:3:20 2ND BRAVO. No oaths, No swagger.
III:3:21 3RD BRAVO. Not a word; but all as pleasant As we were nobles like himself.
III:3:22 4TH BRAVO. 'Tis true, sir; You deal with gentlemen.
[Enter COUNT ALARCOS.]
III:3:23 ALAR. The moon's a sluggard, I think, to-night. How now, the Moor that dodged My steps at vespers. Hem! I like not this. Friends beneath cloaks; they're wanted. Save you, sir?
III:3:24 ORAN. And you, sir?
III:3:25 ALAR. Not the first time we have met, Or I've no eye for lurkers.
III:3:26 ORAN. I have tasted Our common heritage, the air, to-day; And if the selfsame beam warmed both our bloods, What then?
III:3:27 ALAR. Why nothing; but the sun has set, And honest men should seek their hearths.
III:3:28 ORAN. I wait My friends.
[The BRAVOs rush in, and assault COUNT ALARCOS, who, dropping his Cloak, shows his Sword already drawn, and keeps them at bay.]
So, so! who plays with princes' blood? No sport for varlets. Thus and thus, I'll teach ye To know your station.
III:3:29 1ST BRAVO. Ah!
III:3:30 2ND BRAVO. Away!
III:3:31 3RD BRAVO. Fly, fly!
III:3:32 4TH BRAVO. No place for quiet men.
[The BRAVOs run off.]
III:3:33 ALAR. A little breath Is all they have cost me, tho' their blood has stained My damask blade. And still the Moor! What ho! Why fliest not like thy mates?
III:3:34 ORAN. Because I wait To fight.
III:3:35 ALAR. Rash caitiff! knowest thou who I am?
III:3:36 ORAN. One who I heard was brave, and now has proved it.
III:3:37 ALAR. Am I thy foe?
III:3:38 ORAN. No more than all thy race.
III:3:39 ALAR. Go, save thy life.
III:3:40 ORAN. Look to thine own, proud lord.
III:3:41 ALAR. Perdition catch thy base-born insolence.
[They fight: after a long and severe encounter, ALARCOS disarms ORAN, who falls wounded.]
III:3:42 ORAN. Be brief, dispatch me.
III:3:43 ALAR. Not a word for mercy?
III:3:44 ORAN. Why should'st thou give it?
III:3:45 ALAR. 'Tis not merited, Yet might be gained. Who set thee on to this? My sword is at thy throat. Give me his name, And thine shall live.
III:3:46 ORAN. I cannot.
III:3:47 ALAR. What, is life So light a boon? It hangs upon this point. Bold Moor, is't then thy love to him who fees thee Makes thee so faithful?
III:3:48 ORAN. No; I hate him.
III:3:49 ALAR. What Restrains thee, then?
III:3:50 ORAN. The feeling that restrained My arm from joining stabbers—Honour.
III:3:51 ALAR. Humph! An overseer of stabbers for some ducats. And is that honour?
III:3:52 ORAN. Once he screened my life, And this was my return.
III:3:53 ALAR. What if I spare Thy life even now? Wilt thou accord to me The same devotion?
III:3:54 ORAN. Yea; the life thou givest Thou shouldst command.
III:3:55 ALAR. If I, too, have a foe Crossing my path and blighting all my life?
III:3:56 ORAN. This sword should strive to reach him.
III:3:57 ALAR. Him! thy bond Shall know no sex or nation. Limitless Shall be thy pledge. I'll claim from thee a life For that I spare. How now, wilt live?
III:3:58 ORAN. To pay A life for that now spared.
III:3:59 ALAR. Swear to thy truth; Swear by Mahound, and swear by all thy gods, If thou hast any; swear it by the stars, In which we all believe; and by thy hopes Of thy false paradise; swear it by thy soul, And by thy sword!
III:3:60 ORAN. I swear.
III:3:61 ALAR. Arise and live.
THE END OF THE THIRD ACT.
Interior of a Posada frequented by BRAVOs, in an obscure quarter of Burgos. FLIX at the fire, frying eggs. Men seated at small tables drinking; others lying on benches. At the side, but in the front of the Scene, some Beggars squatted on the ground, thrumming a Mandolin; a Gipsy Girl dancing.
IV:1:1 A BRAVO. Come, mother, dost take us for Saracens? I say we are true Christians, and so must drink wine.
IV:1:2 ANOTHER BRAVO. Mother Flix is sour to-night. Keep the evil eye from the olla!
IV:1:3 3RD BRAVO.
[advancing to her]
Thou beauty of Burgos, what are dimples unless seen? Smile! wench.
IV:1:4 FLIX. A frying egg will not wait for the King of Cordova.
IV:1:5 1ST BRAVO. Will have her way. Graus knows a pretty wife's worth. A handsome hostess is bad for the guest's purse.
IV:1:6 1ST BRAVO.
Good companions make good company. Graus, Graus! another flagon.
IV:1:7 2ND BRAVO. Of the right Catalan.
IV:1:8 3RD BRAVO. Nay, for my omelette.
IV:1:9 FLIX. Hungry men think the cook lazy.
[Enter GRAUS with a Flagon of wine.]
IV:1:10 1ST BRAVO. 'Tis mine.
IV:1:11 2ND BRAVO. No, mine.
IV:1:12 1ST BRAVO. We'll share.
IV:1:13 2ND BRAVO. No, each man his own beaker; he who shares has the worst half.
IV:1:14 3RD BRAVO.
[to FLIX, who brings the omelette]
An egg and to bed.
IV:1:15 GRAUS. Who drinks, first chinks.
IV:1:16 1ST BRAVO. The debtor is stoned every day. There will be water-work to-morrow, and that will wash it out. You know me?
IV:1:17 GRAUS. In a long journey and a small inn, one knows one's company.
IV:1:18 2ND BRAVO. Come, I'll give, but I won't share. Fill up.
IV:1:19 GRAUS. That's liberal; my way; full measure but prompt pezos; I loathe your niggards.
IV:1:20 1ST BRAVO. As the little tailor of Campillo said, who worked for nothing, and found thread.
[To the other BRAVO.]
Nay, I'll not refuse; we know each other.
IV:1:21 2ND BRAVO. We've seen the stars together.
IV:1:22 AN OLD MAN. Burgos is not what it was.
IV:1:23 5TH BRAVO.
Sleep ends and supper begins. The olla, the olla, Mother Flix;
[shaking a purse]
there's the dinner bell.
IV:1:24 2ND BRAVO. That will bring courses.
IV:1:25 1ST BRAVO. An ass covered with gold has more respect than a horse with a pack-saddle.
IV:1:26 5TH BRAVO. How for that ass?
IV:1:27 2ND BRAVO. Nay, the sheep should have his belly full who quarrels with his mate.
IV:1:28 5TH BRAVO. But how for that ass?
IV:1:29 A FRIAR.
Peace be with ye, brethren! A meal in God's name.
IV:1:30 5TH BRAVO. Who asks in God's name, asks for two. But how for that ass?
[bringing the olla]
Nay, an ye must brawl, go fight the Moors. 'Tis a peaceable house, and we sleep quiet o' nights.
IV:1:32 5TH BRAVO. Am I an ass?
IV:1:33 FLIX. He is an ass who talks when he might eat.
IV:1:34 5TH BRAVO. A Secadon sausage! Come, mother, I'm all peace; thou'rt a rare hand. As in thy teeth, comrade, and no more on't
IV:1:35 1ST BRAVO. When I will not, two cannot quarrel.
IV:1:36 OLD MAN. Everything is changed for the worse.
IV:1:37 FRIAR. For the love of St. Jago, senors; for the love of St. Jago!
IV:1:38 5TH BRAVO. When it pleases not God, the saint can do little.
IV:1:39 2ND BRAVO. Nay, supper for all, and drink's the best meat. Some have sung for it, some danced. There is no fishing for trout in dry breeches. You shall preach.
IV:1:40 FRIAR. Benedicite, brethren—
IV:1:41 1ST BRAVO. Nay, no Latin, for the devil's not here.
IV:1:42 2ND BRAVO. And prithee let it be as full of meat as an egg; for we do many deeds, love not many words.
IV:1:43 FRIAR. Thou shalt not steal.
IV:1:44 1ST BRAVO. He blasphemes.
IV:1:45 FRIAR. But what is theft?
IV:1:46 2ND BRAVO. Ay! there it is.
IV:1:47 FRIAR. The tailor he steals the cloth, and the miller he steals the meal; is either a thief? 'tis the way of trade. But what if our trade be to steal? Why then our work is to cut purses; to cut purses is to follow our business; and to follow our business is to obey the King; and so thieving is no theft. And that's probatum, and so, amen.
IV:1:48 5TH BRAVO. Shall put thy spoon in the olla for that.
IV:1:49 2ND BRAVO. And drink this health to our honest fraternity.
IV:1:50 OLD MAN. I have heard sermons by the hour; this is brief; every thing falls off.
[Enter a PERSONAGE masked and cloaked.]
IV:1:51 1ST BRAVO.
[to his Companions]
See'st yon mask?
IV:1:52 2ND BRAVO. 'Tis strange.
Who is this?
IV:1:54 FLIX. The fool wonders, the wise man asks. Must have no masks here.
IV:1:55 GRAUS. An obedient wife commands her husband. Business with a stranger, title enough.
[Advancing and addressing the Mask.]
Most noble Senor Mask.
IV:1:56 THE UNKNOWN. Well, fellow!
IV:1:57 GRAUS. Hem; as it may be. D'ye see, most noble Senor Mask, that 'tis an orderly house this, frequented by certain honest gentlemen, that take their siesta, and eat a fried egg after their day's work, and so are not ashamed to show their faces. Ahem!
IV:1:58 THE UNKNOWN. As in truth I am in such villanous company.
IV:1:59 GRAUS. Wheugh! but 'tis not the first ill word that brings a blow. Would'st sup indifferently well here at a moderate rate, we are thy servants. My Flix hath reputation at the frying-pan, and my wine hath made lips smack; but here, senor, faces must be uncovered.
IV:1:60 THE UNKNOWN. Poh! poh!
IV:1:61 GRAUS. Nay, then, I will send some to you shall gain softer words.
IV:1:62 1ST BRAVO. Why, what's this?
IV:1:63 2ND BRAVO. Our host is an honest man, and has friends.
IV:1:64 5TH BRAVO. Let me finish my olla, and I will discourse with him.
IV:1:65 THE UNKNOWN. Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke. I come here on business, and with you all.
IV:1:66 1ST BRAVO. Carraho! and who's this?
IV:1:67 THE UNKNOWN. One who knows you, though you know not him. One whom you have never seen, yet all fear. And who walks at night, and where he likes.
IV:1:68 2ND BRAVO. The devil himself!
IV:1:69 THE UNKNOWN. It may be so.
IV:1:70 2ND BRAVO. Sit by me, Friar, and speak Latin.
IV:1:71 THE UNKNOWN. There is a man missing in Burgos, and I will know where he is.
IV:1:72 OLD MAN. There were many men missing in my time.
IV:1:73 THE UNKNOWN. Dead or alive, I care not; but land or water, river or turf, I will know where the body is stowed. See
[shaking a purse]
here is eno' to point all the poniards of the city. You shall have it to drink his health.
IV:1:74 A BRAVO. How call you him?
IV:1:75 THE UNKNOWN. Oran, the Moor.
IV:1:76 1ST BRAVO.
[Jumping from his seat and approaching the Stranger.]
My name is Guzman Jaca; my hand was in that business.
IV:1:77 THE UNKNOWN. With the Moor and three of your comrades?
IV:1:78 1ST BRAVO. The same.
IV:1:79 THE UNKNOWN. And how came your quarry to fly next day?
IV:1:80 1ST BRAVO. Very true; 'twas a bad business for all of us. I fought like a lion; see, my arm is still bound up; but he had advice of our visit; and no sooner had we saluted him, than there suddenly appeared a goodly company of twelve serving-men, or say twelve to fifteen—
IV:1:81 THE UNKNOWN. You lie; he walked alone.
IV:1:82 1ST BRAVO. Very true; and if I am forced to speak the whole truth, it was thus. I fought like a lion; see, my arm is still bound up; but I was not quite his match alone, for I had let blood the day before, and my comrades were taken with a panic, and so left me in the lurch. And now you have it all.
IV:1:83 THE UNKNOWN. And Oran?
IV:1:84 1ST BRAVO. He fled at once.
IV:1:85 THE UNKNOWN. Come, come, Oran did not fly.
IV:1:86 1ST BRAVO. Very true. We left him alone with the Count. And now you have it all.
IV:1:87 THE UNKNOWN. Had he slain him, the body would have been found.
IV:1:88 1ST BRAVO. Very true. That's the difference between us professional performers, and you mere amateurs; we never leave the bodies.
IV:1:89 THE UNKNOWN. And you can tell me nothing of him?
IV:1:90 1ST BRAVO. No, but I engage to finish the Count, any night you like now, for I have found out his lure.
IV:1:91 THE UNKNOWN. How's that?
IV:1:92 1ST BRAVO. Every evening, about an hour after sunset, he enters by a private way the citadel.
IV:1:93 THE UNKNOWN. Hah! what more?
IV:1:94 1ST BRAVO. He is stagged; there is a game playing, but what I know not.
IV:1:95 THE UNKNOWN. Your name is Guzman Jaca?
IV:1:96 1ST BRAVO. The same.
IV:1:97 THE UNKNOWN. Honest fellow! there's gold for you. You know nothing of Oran?
IV:1:98 1ST BRAVO. Maybe he has crawled to some place wounded.
IV:1:99 THE UNKNOWN. To die like a bird. Look after him. If I wish more, I know where to find you. What ho, Master Host! I cannot wait to try your mistress's art to-night; but here's my scot for our next supper.
[Exit THE UNKNOWN.]
A Chamber in the Palace of Alarcos.
The COUNTESS and SIDONIA.
IV:2:1 SIDO. Lady, you're moved: nay, 'twas an idle word.
IV:2:2 COUN. But was it true?
IV:2:3 SIDO. And yet might little mean.
IV:2:4 COUN. That I should live to doubt!
IV:2:5 SIDO. But do not doubt; Forget it, lady. You should know him well; Nay, do not credit it.
IV:2:6 COUN. He's very changed. I would not own, no, not believe that change, I've given it every gloss that might confirm My sinking heart. Time and your tale agree; Alas! 'tis true.
IV:2:7 SIDO. I hope not; still believe It is not true. Would that I had not spoken! It was unguarded prate.
IV:2:8 COUN. You have done me service: Condemned, the headsman is no enemy, Bat closes suffering.
IV:2:9 SIDO. Yet a bitter doom To torture those you'd bless. I have a thought. What if this eve you visit this same spot, That shrouds these meetings? If he's wanting then, The rest might prove as false.
IV:2:10 COUN. He will be there, I feel he will be there.
IV:2:11 SIDO. We should not think so, Until our eyes defeat our hopes.
IV:2:12 COUN. O Burgos, My heart misgave me when I saw thy walls! To doubt is madness, yet 'tis not despair, And that may be my lot.
IV:2:13 SIDO. The palace gardens Are closed, except to master-keys. Here's one, My office gives it me, and it can count Few brethren. You will be alone.
IV:2:14 COUN. Alas! I dare not hope so.
IV:2:15 SIDO. Well, well, think of this; Yet take the key.
IV:2:16 COUN. O that it would unlock The heart now closed to me! To watch his ways Was once my being. Shall I prove the spy Of joys I may not share? I will not take That fatal key.
IV:2:17 SIDO. 'Tis well; I pray you, pardon My ill-timed zeal.
IV:2:18 COUN. Indeed, I should be grateful That one should wish to serve me. Can it be? 'Tis not two months, two little, little months, You crossed this threshold first; Ah! gentle air, And we were all so gay! What have I done? What is all this? so sudden and so strange? It is not true, I feel it is not true; 'Tis factious care that clouds his brow, and calls For all this timed absence. His brain's busy With the State. Is't not so? I prithee speak, And say you think it.
IV:2:19 SIDO. You should know him well; And if you deem it so, why I should deem The inference just.
IV:2:20 COUN. Yet if he were not there, How happy I should sleep! there is no peril; The garden's near; and is there shame? 'Tis love Makes me a lawful spy. He'll not be there, And then there is no prying.
IV:2:21 SIDO. Near at hand, Crossing the way that bounds your palace court, There is a private portal.
IV:2:22 COUN. If I go, He will not miss me. Ah, I would he might! So very near; no, no; I cannot go; And yet I'll take the key.
[Takes the key.]
Would thou could'st speak, Thou little instrument, and tell me all The secrets of thy office! My heart beats; 'Tis my first enterprise; I would it were To do him service. No, I cannot go; Farewell, kind sir; indeed I am so troubled, I must retire.
IV:2:23 SIDO. Thy virtue makes me vile; And what should move my heart inflames my soul. O marvellous world, wherein I play the villain From very love of excellence! But for him, I'd be the rival of her stainless thoughts And mate her purity. Hah!
IV:2:24 ORAN. My noble lord!
IV:2:25 SIDO. The Moor!
IV:2:26 ORAN. Your servant.
IV:2:27 SIDO. Here! 'tis passing strange. How's this?
IV:2:28 ORAN. The accident of war, my lord. I am a prisoner.
IV:2:29 SIDO. But at large, it seems. You have betrayed me
IV:2:30 ORAN. Had I chosen that, I had been free and you not here. I fought, And fell in single fight. Why spared I know not, But that the lion's generous.
IV:2:31 SIDO. Will you prove Your faith
IV:2:32 ORAN. Nay, doubt it not.
IV:2:33 SIDO. You still can aid me.
IV:2:34 ORAN. I am no traitor, and my friends shall find I am not wanting.
IV:2:35 SIDO. Quit these liberal walls Where you're not watched. In brief, I've coined a tale Has touched the Countess to the quick. She seeks, Alone or scantly tended, even now, The palace gardens; eager to discover A faithless husband, where she'll chance to find One more devout. My steeds and servants wait At the right post; my distant castle soon Shall hold this peerless wife. Your resolute spirit May aid me much. How say you, is it well That we have met?
IV:2:36 ORAN. Right well. I will embark Most heartily in this.
IV:2:37 SIDO. With me at once.
IV:2:38 ORAN. At once?
IV:2:39 SIDO. No faltering. You have learned and know Too much to spare you from my sight, good Oran. With me at once.
IV:2:40 ORAN. 'Tis urgent; well at once, And I will do good service, or I'll die. For what is life unless to aid the life Has aided thine?
IV:2:41 SIDO. On then; with me no eye Will look with jealousy upon thy step.