Meet us on:
 
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "For centuries, theologians have been explaining the unknowable in terms of the-not-worth-knowing."
     

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Act I

    • Rate it:
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 2
    Previous Chapter
    DRAMATIS PERSONAE

    MILDRED TRESHAM.
    GUENDOLEN TRESHAM.
    THOROLD, Earl Tresham.
    AUSTIN TRESHAM.
    HENRY, Earl Mertoun.
    GERARD, and other retainers of Lord Tresham.

    Time, 17--

    ACT I

    SCENE I.--The Interior of a Lodge in Lord Tresham's Park.
    Many Retainers crowded at the window, supposed to command
    a view of the entrance to his Mansion.

    GERARD, the Warrener, his back to a table on which are flagons,
    etc.

    FIRST RETAINER. Ay, do! push, friends, and then you'll push down me!
    --What for? Does any hear a runner's foot
    Or a steed's trample or a coach-wheel's cry?
    Is the Earl come or his least poursuivant?
    But there's no breeding in a man of you
    Save Gerard yonder: here's a half-place yet,
    Old Gerard!

    GERARD. Save your courtesies, my friend. Here is my place.

    SECOND RETAINER. Now, Gerard, out with it!
    What makes you sullen, this of all the days
    I' the year? To-day that young rich bountiful
    Handsome Earl Mertoun, whom alone they match
    With our Lord Tresham through the country-side,
    Is coming here in utmost bravery
    To ask our master's sister's hand?

    GERARD. What then?

    SECOND RETAINER. What then? Why, you, she speaks to, if she meets
    Your worship, smiles on as you hold apart
    The boughs to let her through her forest walks,
    You, always favourite for your no-deserts,
    You've heard, these three days, how Earl Mertoun sues
    To lay his heart and house and broad lands too
    At Lady Mildred's feet: and while we squeeze
    Ourselves into a mousehole lest we miss
    One congee of the least page in his train,
    You sit o' one side--"there's the Earl," say I--
    "What then?" say you!

    THIRD RETAINER. I'll wager he has let
    Both swans he tamed for Lady Mildred swim
    Over the falls and gain the river!

    GERARD. Ralph,
    Is not to-morrow my inspecting-day
    For you and for your hawks?

    FOURTH RETAINER. Let Gerard be!
    He's coarse-grained, like his carved black cross-bow stock.
    Ha, look now, while we squabble with him, look!
    Well done, now--is not this beginning, now,
    To purpose?

    FIRST RETAINER. Our retainers look as fine--
    That's comfort. Lord, how Richard holds himself
    With his white staff! Will not a knave behind
    Prick him upright?

    FOURTH RETAINER. He's only bowing, fool!
    The Earl's man bent us lower by this much.

    FIRST RETAINER. That's comfort. Here's a very cavalcade!

    THIRD RETAINER. I don't see wherefore Richard, and his troop
    Of silk and silver varlets there, should find
    Their perfumed selves so indispensable
    On high days, holidays! Would it so disgrace
    Our family, if I, for instance, stood--
    In my right hand a cast of Swedish hawks,
    A leash of greyhounds in my left?--

    GERARD. --With Hugh
    The logman for supporter, in his right
    The bill-hook, in his left the brushwood-shears!

    THIRD RETAINER. Out on you, crab! What next, what next? The Earl!

    FIRST RETAINER. Oh Walter, groom, our horses, do they match
    The Earl's? Alas, that first pair of the six--
    They paw the ground--Ah Walter! and that brute
    Just on his haunches by the wheel!

    SIXTH RETAINER. Ay--ay!
    You, Philip, are a special hand, I hear,
    At soups and sauces: what's a horse to you?
    D'ye mark that beast they've slid into the midst
    So cunningly?--then, Philip, mark this further;
    No leg has he to stand on!

    FIRST RETAINER. No? that's comfort.

    SECOND RETAINER. Peace, Cook! The Earl descends. Well, Gerard, see
    The Earl at least! Come, there's a proper man,
    I hope! Why, Ralph, no falcon, Pole or Swede,
    Has got a starrier eye.

    THIRD RETAINER. His eyes are blue:
    But leave my hawks alone!

    FOURTH RETAINER. So young, and yet
    So tall and shapely!

    FIFTH RETAINER. Here's Lord Tresham's self!
    There now--there's what a nobleman should be!
    He's older, graver, loftier, he's more like
    A House's head.

    SECOND RETAINER. But you'd not have a boy
    --And what's the Earl beside?--possess too soon
    That stateliness?

    FIRST RETAINER. Our master takes his hand--
    Richard and his white staff are on the move--
    Back fall our people--(tsh!--there's Timothy
    Sure to get tangled in his ribbon-ties,
    And Peter's cursed rosette's a-coming off!)
    --At last I see our lord's back and his friend's;
    And the whole beautiful bright company
    Close round them--in they go!
    [Jumping down from the window-bench, and making for
    the table and its jugs.]
    Good health, long life,
    Great joy to our Lord Tresham and his House!

    SIXTH RETAINER. My father drove his father first to court,
    After his marriage-day--ay, did he!

    SECOND RETAINER. God bless
    Lord Tresham, Lady Mildred, and the Earl!
    Here, Gerard, reach your beaker!

    GERARD. Drink, my boys!
    Don't mind me--all's not right about me--drink!

    SECOND RETAINER [aside].
    He's vexed, now, that he let the show escape!
    [To GERARD.]
    Remember that the Earl returns this way.

    GERARD. That way?

    SECOND RETAINER. Just so.

    GERARD. Then my way's here.
    [Goes.]

    SECOND RETAINER. Old Gerard
    Will die soon--mind, I said it! He was used
    To care about the pitifullest thing
    That touched the House's honour, not an eye
    But his could see wherein: and on a cause
    Of scarce a quarter this importance, Gerard
    Fairly had fretted flesh and bone away
    In cares that this was right, nor that was wrong,
    Such point decorous, and such square by rule--
    He knew such niceties, no herald more:
    And now--you see his humour: die he will!

    SECOND RETAINER. God help him! Who's for the great servants' hall
    To hear what's going on inside! They'd follow
    Lord Tresham into the saloon.

    THIRD RETAINER. I!--

    FOURTH RETAINER. I!--
    Leave Frank alone for catching, at the door,
    Some hint of how the parley goes inside!
    Prosperity to the great House once more!
    Here's the last drop!

    FIRST RETAINER. Have at you! Boys, hurrah!

    SCENE II.--A Saloon in the Mansion

    Enter LORD TRESHAM, LORD MERTOUN, AUSTIN, and GUENDOLEN

    TRESHAM. I welcome you, Lord Mertoun, yet once more,
    To this ancestral roof of mine. Your name
    --Noble among the noblest in itself,
    Yet taking in your person, fame avers,
    New price and lustre,--(as that gem you wear,
    Transmitted from a hundred knightly breasts,
    Fresh chased and set and fixed by its last lord,
    Seems to re-kindle at the core)--your name
    Would win you welcome!--

    MERTOUN. Thanks!

    TRESHAM. --But add to that,
    The worthiness and grace and dignity
    Of your proposal for uniting both
    Our Houses even closer than respect
    Unites them now--add these, and you must grant
    One favour more, nor that the least,--to think
    The welcome I should give;--'tis given! My lord,
    My only brother, Austin: he's the king's.
    Our cousin, Lady Guendolen--betrothed
    To Austin: all are yours.

    MERTOUN. I thank you--less
    For the expressed commendings which your seal,
    And only that, authenticates--forbids
    My putting from me... to my heart I take
    Your praise... but praise less claims my gratitude,
    Than the indulgent insight it implies
    Of what must needs be uppermost with one
    Who comes, like me, with the bare leave to ask,
    In weighed and measured unimpassioned words,
    A gift, which, if as calmly 'tis denied,
    He must withdraw, content upon his cheek,
    Despair within his soul. That I dare ask
    Firmly, near boldly, near with confidence
    That gift, I have to thank you. Yes, Lord Tresham,
    I love your sister--as you'd have one love
    That lady... oh more, more I love her! Wealth,
    Rank, all the world thinks me, they're yours, you know,
    To hold or part with, at your choice--but grant
    My true self, me without a rood of land,
    A piece of gold, a name of yesterday,
    Grant me that lady, and you... Death or life?

    GUENDOLEN. [apart to AUSTIN]. Why, this is loving,
    Austin!

    AUSTIN. He's so young!

    GUENDOLEN. Young? Old enough, I think, to half surmise
    He never had obtained an entrance here,
    Were all this fear and trembling needed.

    AUSTIN. Hush!
    He reddens.

    GUENDOLEN. Mark him, Austin; that's true love!
    Ours must begin again.

    TRESHAM. We'll sit, my lord.
    Ever with best desert goes diffidence.
    I may speak plainly nor be misconceived
    That I am wholly satisfied with you
    On this occasion, when a falcon's eye
    Were dull compared with mine to search out faults,
    Is somewhat. Mildred's hand is hers to give
    Or to refuse.

    MERTOUN. But you, you grant my suit?
    I have your word if hers?

    TRESHAM. My best of words
    If hers encourage you. I trust it will.
    Have you seen Lady Mildred, by the way?

    MERTOUN. I... I... our two demesnes, remember, touch,
    I have beer used to wander carelessly
    After my stricken game: the heron roused
    Deep in my woods, has trailed its broken wing
    Thro' thicks and glades a mile in yours,--or else
    Some eyass ill-reclaimed has taken flight
    And lured me after her from tree to tree,
    I marked not whither. I have come upon
    The lady's wondrous beauty unaware,
    And--and then... I have seen her.

    GUENDOLEN [aside to AUSTIN]. Note that mode
    Of faltering out that, when a lady passed,
    He, having eyes, did see her! You had said--
    "On such a day I scanned her, head to foot;
    Observed a red, where red should not have been,
    Outside her elbow; but was pleased enough
    Upon the whole." Let such irreverent talk
    Be lessoned for the future!

    TRESHAM. What's to say
    May be said briefly. She has never known
    A mother's care; I stand for father too.
    Her beauty is not strange to you, it seems--
    You cannot know the good and tender heart,
    Its girl's trust and its woman's constancy,
    How pure yet passionate, how calm yet kind,
    How grave yet joyous, how reserved yet free
    As light where friends are--how imbued with lore
    The world most prizes, yet the simplest, yet
    The... one might know I talked of Mildred--thus
    We brothers talk!

    MERTOUN. I thank you.

    TRESHAM. In a word,
    Control's not for this lady; but her wish
    To please me outstrips in its subtlety
    My power of being pleased: herself creates
    The want she means to satisfy. My heart
    Prefers your suit to her as 'twere its own.
    Can I say more?

    MERTOUN. No more--thanks, thanks--no more!

    TRESHAM. This matter then discussed...

    MERTOUN. --We'll waste no breath
    On aught less precious. I'm beneath the roof
    Which holds her: while I thought of that, my speech
    To you would wander--as it must not do,
    Since as you favour me I stand or fall.
    I pray you suffer that I take my leave!

    TRESHAM. With less regret 'tis suffered, that again
    We meet, I hope, so shortly.

    MERTOUN. We? again?--
    Ah yes, forgive me--when shall... you will crown
    Your goodness by forthwith apprising me
    When... if... the lady will appoint a day
    For me to wait on you--and her.

    TRESHAM. So soon
    As I am made acquainted with her thoughts
    On your proposal--howsoe'er they lean--
    A messenger shall bring you the result.

    MERTOUN. You cannot bind me more to you, my lord.
    Farewell till we renew... I trust, renew
    A converse ne'er to disunite again.

    TRESHAM. So may it prove!

    MERTOUN. You, lady, you, sir, take
    My humble salutation!

    GUENDOLEN and AUSTIN. Thanks!

    TRESHAM. Within there!
    [Servants enter. TRESHAM conducts MERTOUN to the door.
    Meantime AUSTIN remarks,]
    Well,
    Here I have an advantage of the Earl,
    Confess now! I'd not think that all was safe
    Because my lady's brother stood my friend!
    Why, he makes sure of her--"do you say yes--
    She'll not say, no,"--what comes it to beside?
    I should have prayed the brother, "speak this speech,
    For Heaven's sake urge this on her--put in this--
    Forget not, as you'd save me, t'other thing,--
    Then set down what she says, and how she looks,
    And if she smiles, and" (in an under breath)
    "Only let her accept me, and do you
    And all the world refuse me, if you dare!"

    GUENDOLEN. That way you'd take, friend Austin? What a shame
    I was your cousin, tamely from the first
    Your bride, and all this fervour's run to waste!
    Do you know you speak sensibly to-day?
    The Earl's a fool.

    AUSTIN. Here's Thorold. Tell him so!

    TRESHAM [returning]. Now, voices, voices! 'St! the lady's first!
    How seems he?--seems he not... come, faith give fraud
    The mercy-stroke whenever they engage!
    Down with fraud, up with faith! How seems the Earl?
    A name! a blazon! if you knew their worth,
    As you will never! come--the Earl?

    GUENDOLEN. He's young.

    TRESHAM. What's she? an infant save in heart and brain.
    Young! Mildred is fourteen, remark! And you...
    Austin, how old is she?

    GUENDOLEN. There's tact for you!
    I meant that being young was good excuse
    If one should tax him...

    TRESHAM. Well?

    GUENDOLEN. --With lacking wit.

    TRESHAM. He lacked wit? Where might he lack wit, so please you?

    GUENDOLEN. In standing straighter than the steward's rod
    And making you the tiresomest harangue,
    Instead of slipping over to my side
    And softly whispering in my ear, "Sweet lady,
    Your cousin there will do me detriment
    He little dreams of: he's absorbed, I see,
    In my old name and fame--be sure he'll leave
    My Mildred, when his best account of me
    Is ended, in full confidence I wear
    My grandsire's periwig down either cheek.
    I'm lost unless your gentleness vouchsafes"...

    TRESHAM... "To give a best of best accounts, yourself,
    Of me and my demerits." You are right!
    He should have said what now I say for him.
    Yon golden creature, will you help us all?
    Here's Austin means to vouch for much, but you
    --You are... what Austin only knows! Come up,
    All three of us: she's in the library
    No doubt, for the day's wearing fast. Precede!

    GUENDOLEN. Austin, how we must--!

    TRESHAM. Must what? Must speak truth,
    Malignant tongue! Detect one fault in him!
    I challenge you!

    GUENDOLEN. Witchcraft's a fault in him,
    For you're bewitched.

    TRESHAM. What's urgent we obtain
    Is, that she soon receive him--say, to-morrow--,
    Next day at furthest.

    GUENDOLEN. Ne'er instruct me!

    TRESHAM. Come!
    --He's out of your good graces, since forsooth,
    He stood not as he'd carry us by storm
    With his perfections! You're for the composed
    Manly assured becoming confidence!
    --Get her to say, "to-morrow," and I'll give you...
    I'll give you black Urganda, to be spoiled
    With petting and snail-paces. Will you? Come!

    SCENE III.
    --MILDRED'S Chamber. A Painted Window overlooks the Park

    MILDRED and GUENDOLEN

    GUENDOLEN. Now, Mildred, spare those pains. I have not left
    Our talkers in the library, and climbed
    The wearisome ascent to this your bower
    In company with you,--I have not dared...
    Nay, worked such prodigies as sparing you
    Lord Mertoun's pedigree before the flood,
    Which Thorold seemed in very act to tell
    --Or bringing Austin to pluck up that most
    Firm-rooted heresy--your suitor's eyes,
    He would maintain, were grey instead of blue--
    I think I brought him to contrition!--Well,
    I have not done such things, (all to deserve
    A minute's quiet cousin's talk with you,)
    To be dismissed so coolly.

    MILDRED. Guendolen!
    What have I done? what could suggest...

    GUENDOLEN. There, there!
    Do I not comprehend you'd be alone
    To throw those testimonies in a heap,
    Thorold's enlargings, Austin's brevities,
    With that poor silly heartless Guendolen's
    Ill-time misplaced attempted smartnesses--
    And sift their sense out? now, I come to spare you
    Nearly a whole night's labour. Ask and have!
    Demand, be answered! Lack I ears and eyes?
    Am I perplexed which side of the rock-table
    The Conqueror dined on when he landed first,
    Lord Mertoun's ancestor was bidden take--
    The bow-hand or the arrow-hand's great meed?
    Mildred, the Earl has soft blue eyes!

    MILDRED. My brother--
    Did he... you said that he received him well?

    GUENDOLEN. If I said only "well" I said not much.
    Oh, stay--which brother?

    MILDRED. Thorold! who--Who else?

    GUENDOLEN. Thorold (a secret) is too proud by half,--
    Nay, hear me out--with us he's even gentler
    Than we are with our birds. Of this great House
    The least retainer that e'er caught his glance
    Would die for him, real dying--no mere talk:
    And in the world, the court, if men would cite
    The perfect spirit of honour, Thorold's name
    Rises of its clear nature to their lips.
    But he should take men's homage, trust in it,
    And care no more about what drew it down.
    He has desert, and that, acknowledgment;
    Is he content?

    MILDRED. You wrong him, Guendolen.

    GUENDOLEN. He's proud, confess; so proud with brooding o'er
    The light of his interminable line,
    An ancestry with men all paladins,
    And women all...

    MILDRED. Dear Guendolen, 'tis late!
    When yonder purple pane the climbing moon
    Pierces, I know 'tis midnight.

    GUENDOLEN. Well, that Thorold
    Should rise up from such musings, and receive
    One come audaciously to graft himself
    Into this peerless stock, yet find no flaw,
    No slightest spot in such an one...

    MILDRED. Who finds
    A spot in Mertoun?

    GUENDOLEN. Not your brother; therefore,
    Not the whole world.

    MILDRED. I am weary, Guendolen.
    Bear with me!

    GUENDOLEN. I am foolish.

    MILDRED. Oh no, kind!
    But I would rest.

    GUENDOLEN. Good night and rest to you!
    I said how gracefully his mantle lay
    Beneath the rings of his light hair?

    MILDRED. Brown hair.

    GUENDOLEN. Brown? why, it IS brown: how could you know that?

    MILDRED. How? did not you--Oh, Austin 'twas, declared
    His hair was light, not brown--my head!--and look,
    The moon-beam purpling the dark chamber! Sweet,
    Good night!

    GUENDOLEN. Forgive me--sleep the soundlier for me!
    [Going, she turns suddenly.]
    Mildred!
    Perdition! all's discovered! Thorold finds
    --That the Earl's greatest of all grandmothers
    Was grander daughter still--to that fair dame
    Whose garter slipped down at the famous dance!
    [Goes.]

    MILDRED. Is she--can she be really gone at last?
    My heart! I shall not reach the window. Needs
    Must I have sinned much, so to suffer.
    [She lifts the small lamp which is suspended before the Virgin's
    image in the window, and places it by the purple pane.]
    There!
    [She returns to the seat in front.]
    Mildred and Mertoun! Mildred, with consent
    Of all the world and Thorold, Mertoun's bride!
    Too late! 'Tis sweet to think of, sweeter still
    To hope for, that this blessed end soothes up
    The curse of the beginning; but I know
    It comes too late: 'twill sweetest be of all
    To dream my soul away and die upon.
    [A noise without.]
    The voice! Oh why, why glided sin the snake
    Into the paradise Heaven meant us both?
    [The window opens softly. A low voice sings.]

    There's a woman like a dew-drop, she's so purer than the purest;
    And her noble heart's the noblest, yes, and her sure faith's the
    surest:
    And her eyes are dark and humid, like the depth on depth of lustre
    Hid i' the harebell, while her tresses, sunnier than the wild-grape
    cluster,
    Gush in golden tinted plenty down her neck's rose-misted marble:
    Then her voice's music... call it the well's bubbling, the bird's
    warble!

    [A figure wrapped in a mantle appears at the window.]

    And this woman says, "My days were sunless and my nights were
    moonless,
    Parched the pleasant April herbage, and the lark's heart's outbreak
    tuneless,
    If you loved me not!" And I who--(ah, for words of flame!) adore
    her,
    Who am mad to lay my spirit prostrate palpably before her--

    [He enters, approaches her seat, and bends over her.]

    I may enter at her portal soon, as now her lattice takes me,
    And by noontide as by midnight make her mine, as hers she makes me!

    [The EARL throws off his slouched hat and long cloak.]

    My very heart sings, so I sing, Beloved!

    MILDRED. Sit, Henry--do not take my hand!

    MERTOUN. 'Tis mine.
    The meeting that appalled us both so much
    Is ended.

    MILDRED. What begins now?

    MERTOUN. Happiness
    Such as the world contains not.

    MILDRED. That is it.
    Our happiness would, as you say, exceed
    The whole world's best of blisses: we--do we
    Deserve that? Utter to your soul, what mine
    Long since, Beloved, has grown used to hear,
    Like a death-knell, so much regarded once,
    And so familiar now; this will not be!

    MERTOUN. Oh, Mildred, have I met your brother's face?
    Compelled myself--if not to speak untruth,
    Yet to disguise, to shun, to put aside
    The truth, as--what had e'er prevailed on me
    Save you to venture? Have I gained at last
    Your brother, the one scarer of your dreams,
    And waking thoughts' sole apprehension too?
    Does a new life, like a young sunrise, break
    On the strange unrest of our night, confused
    With rain and stormy flaw--and will you see
    No dripping blossoms, no fire-tinted drops
    On each live spray, no vapour steaming up,
    And no expressless glory in the East?
    When I am by you, to be ever by you,
    When I have won you and may worship you,
    Oh, Mildred, can you say "this will not be"?

    MILDRED. Sin has surprised us, so will punishment.

    MERTOUN. No--me alone, who sinned alone!

    MILDRED. The night
    You likened our past life to--was it storm
    Throughout to you then, Henry?

    MERTOUN. Of your life
    I spoke--what am I, what my life, to waste
    A thought about when you are by me?--you
    It was, I said my folly called the storm
    And pulled the night upon. 'Twas day with me--
    Perpetual dawn with me.

    MILDRED. Come what, come will,
    You have been happy: take my hand!

    MERTOUN [after a pause]. How good
    Your brother is! I figured him a cold--
    Shall I say, haughty man?

    MILDRED. They told me all.
    I know all.

    MERTOUN. It will soon be over.

    MILDRED. Over?
    Oh, what is over? what must I live through
    And say, "'tis over"? Is our meeting over?
    Have I received in presence of them all
    The partner of my guilty love--with brow
    Trying to seem a maiden's brow--with lips
    Which make believe that when they strive to form
    Replies to you and tremble as they strive,
    It is the nearest ever they approached
    A stranger's... Henry, yours that stranger's... lip--
    With cheek that looks a virgin's, and that is...
    Ah God, some prodigy of thine will stop
    This planned piece of deliberate wickedness
    In its birth even! some fierce leprous spot
    Will mar the brow's dissimulating! I
    Shall murmur no smooth speeches got by heart,
    But, frenzied, pour forth all our woeful story,
    The love, the shame, and the despair--with them
    Round me aghast as round some cursed fount
    That should spirt water, and spouts blood. I'll not
    ...Henry, you do not wish that I should draw
    This vengeance down? I'll not affect a grace
    That's gone from me--gone once, and gone for ever!

    MERTOUN. Mildred, my honour is your own. I'll share
    Disgrace I cannot suffer by myself.
    A word informs your brother I retract
    This morning's offer; time will yet bring forth
    Some better way of saving both of us.

    MILDRED. I'll meet their faces, Henry!

    MERTOUN. When? to-morrow!
    Get done with it!

    MILDRED. Oh, Henry, not to-morrow!
    Next day! I never shall prepare my words
    And looks and gestures sooner.--How you must
    Despise me!

    MERTOUN. Mildred, break it if you choose,
    A heart the love of you uplifted--still
    Uplifts, thro' this protracted agony,
    To heaven! but Mildred, answer me,--first pace
    The chamber with me--once again--now, say
    Calmly the part, the... what it is of me
    You see contempt (for you did say contempt)
    --Contempt for you in! I would pluck it off
    And cast it from me!--but no--no, you'll not
    Repeat that?--will you, Mildred, repeat that?

    MILDRED. Dear Henry!

    MERTOUN. I was scarce a boy--e'en now
    What am I more? And you were infantine
    When first I met you; why, your hair fell loose
    On either side! My fool's-cheek reddens now
    Only in the recalling how it burned
    That morn to see the shape of many a dream
    --You know we boys are prodigal of charms
    To her we dream of--I had heard of one,
    Had dreamed of her, and I was close to her,
    Might speak to her, might live and die her own,
    Who knew? I spoke. Oh, Mildred, feel you not
    That now, while I remember every glance
    Of yours, each word of yours, with power to test
    And weigh them in the diamond scales of pride,
    Resolved the treasure of a first and last
    Heart's love shall have been bartered at its worth,
    --That now I think upon your purity
    And utter ignorance of guilt--your own
    Or other's guilt--the girlish undisguised
    Delight at a strange novel prize--(I talk
    A silly language, but interpret, you!)
    If I, with fancy at its full, and reason
    Scarce in its germ, enjoined you secrecy,
    If you had pity on my passion, pity
    On my protested sickness of the soul
    To sit beside you, hear you breathe, and watch
    Your eyelids and the eyes beneath--if you
    Accorded gifts and knew not they were gifts--
    If I grew mad at last with enterprise
    And must behold my beauty in her bower
    Or perish--(I was ignorant of even
    My own desires--what then were you?) if sorrow--
    Sin--if the end came--must I now renounce
    My reason, blind myself to light, say truth
    Is false and lie to God and my own soul?
    Contempt were all of this!

    MILDRED. Do you believe...
    Or, Henry, I'll not wrong you--you believe
    That I was ignorant. I scarce grieve o'er
    The past. We'll love on; you will love me still.

    MERTOUN. Oh, to love less what one has injured! Dove,
    Whose pinion I have rashly hurt, my breast--
    Shall my heart's warmth not nurse thee into strength?
    Flower I have crushed, shall I not care for thee?
    Bloom o'er my crest, my fight-mark and device!
    Mildred, I love you and you love me.

    MILDRED. Go!
    Be that your last word. I shall sleep to-night.

    MERTOUN. This is not our last meeting?

    MILDRED. One night more.

    MERTOUN. And then--think, then!

    MILDRED. Then, no sweet courtship-days,
    No dawning consciousness of love for us,
    No strange and palpitating births of sense
    >From words and looks, no innocent fears and hopes,
    Reserves and confidences: morning's over!

    MERTOUN. How else should love's perfected noontide follow?
    All the dawn promised shall the day perform.

    MILDRED. So may it be! but--
    You are cautious, Love?
    Are sure that unobserved you scaled the walls?

    MERTOUN. Oh, trust me! Then our final meeting's fixed
    To-morrow night?

    MILDRED. Farewell! stay, Henry... wherefore?
    His foot is on the yew-tree bough; the turf
    Receives him: now the moonlight as he runs
    Embraces him--but he must go--is gone.
    Ah, once again he turns--thanks, thanks, my Love!
    He's gone. Oh, I'll believe him every word!
    I was so young, I loved him so, I had
    No mother, God forgot me, and I fell.
    There may be pardon yet: all's doubt beyond!
    Surely the bitterness of death is past.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 2
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Robert Browning essay and need some advice, post your Robert Browning essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Finished
    Want to read
    Abandoned

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?