An Apartment in the Royal Palace.
I've parted them at last. The livelong night
The little King lay, like a page, before
Her chamber door; and ever as he heard
A struggling sigh within, he cried, alas!
And echoed back her moan, and uttered words
Of comfort. Happy boy.
But he is gone
Towards the gate: be sure to meet Prince Julian.
For that I care not, so that I secure
The vision that once flitted from my grasp
And vanished like a rainbow.
Yet is Julian
Why after noon to-day--
And see the sun's already high!--he dies
If he be found in Sicily. Take thou
Two resolute comrades to pursue his steps,
Soon as the time be past. Didst thou not hear
The proclamation? Know'st thou where he bides?
Good, my lord, 'tis said the Duke
Certain 'tis that yesternight
He walked from out the Judgment Hall like one
Dreaming, with eyes that saw not, ears that heard
No sound, staggering and tottering like old age
Or infancy. And when the kingly robe
Was plucked from him, and he forced from the gate,
A deep wound in his side burst forth; the blood
Welled like a fountain.
And he died?
Fainting; and Julian, who had tended him
Silently, with a spirit so absorbed
His own shame seemed unfelt, fell on his neck
Shrieking like maddening woman. There we left him,
And there 'tis said he hath outwatched the night.
There on the ground?
So please you.
Thou hast known
A softer couch, Prince Julian. Is the litter
Prepared? And the old groom?
My lord, he waits
Call him hither.
Blood welled out
From a deep wound! Said old Leanti sooth?
No matter! Either way he's guilty.
Re-enter Bertone with Renzi.
A reverend knave. Wast thou Prince Julian's huntsman?
An please you, Sir, I was.
Dost know the Princess?--
Doth she know thee?
Full well, my Lord. I tended
Prince Julian's favourite greyhound. It was strange
How Lelia loved my lady,--the poor fool
Hath pined for her this week past,--and my lady
Loved Lelia. She would stroke her glossy head,
And talk of Lelia's beauty, Lelia's speed,
Till I was weary.
And the angel deemed
This slave as faithful as her dog! The better.
Dost thou love ducats, Renzi?
Tossing him a purse.
Canst thou grace
A lie with tongue and look and action?
Go to the Princess; say thy master sent
To guide her to him, or the young Alfonso,--
Use either name, or both. Spare not for tears,
Or curses. Lead her to the litter; see
That Constance follows not. Bertone'll gain
Admittance for thee--Go.
Bertone seek me
A supple churchman;--Know'st thou any? One
Not scrupulous; one who loves gold, and laughs
At conscience. Bring him to me. I must hasten
Silently home. Let not the Princess guess
That I have left the palace.
No, my Lord.
The Country just without the gates of Messina. A hilly back Ground.
Melfi, lying on the Stage, Julian.
He wakes! He is not dead! I am not yet
A parricide. I dare not look on him;
I dare not speak.
Water! my throat is scorched.
My tongue cleaves to my mouth. Water! Will none
Go fetch me water? Am I here alone?
Here on the bloody ground, as on that night--
Am I there still? No! I remember now.
Yesterday I was King; to-day, I'm nothing;
Cast down by my own son; stabbed in my fame;
Branded and done to death; an outlaw where
I ruled! He, whom I loved with such a pride,
With such a fondness, hath done this; and I,
I have not strength to drag me to his presence
That I might rain down curses on his head,
Might blast him with a look.
Here's water. Drink!
What voice is that? Why dost thou shroud thy face?
Dost shame to shew thyself? Who art thou?
I pray thee drink.
'Tis the pure
And limpid gushing of a natural spring
Close by yon olive ground. A little child,
Who stood beside the fount, watching the bright
And many-coloured pebbles, as they seemed
To dance in the bubling water, filled for me
Her beechen cup, with her small innocent hand,
And bade our Lady bless the draught! Oh drink!
Have faith in such a blessing!
Thou should'st bring
Nothing but poison. Hence, accursed cup!
I'll perish in my thirst. I know thee, Sir.
I have no son. I had one once,
A gallant gentleman; but he--What, Sir,
Didst thou never hear of that Sicilian Prince,
Who made the fabulous tale of Greece a truth,
And slew his father? The old Laius fell
At once, unknowing and unknown; but this
New Œdipus, he stabbed and stabbed and stabbed,
And the poor wretch cannot die.
I think my heart
Is iron that it breaks not.
I should curse him--
And yet--Dost thou not know that I'm an outlaw,
Under the ban? They stand in danger, Sir,
That talk to me.
I am an outlaw too.
Thy fate is mine. Our sentence is alike.
What! have they banished thee?
I should have gone,
In very truth, I should have gone with thee,
Aye to the end of the world.
What banish thee!
Oh, foul ingratitude! Weak changeling boy!
He knows it not. Father, this banishment
Came as a comfort to me, set me free
From warring duties and fatiguing cares,
And left me wholly thine. We shall be happy;
For she goes with us, who will prop thy steps,
As once the maid of Thebes, Antigone,
In that old tale. Chuse thou whatever land,--
All are alike to us. But pardon me!
Say thou hast pardoned me!
My virtuous son!
Oh thanks to thee and Heaven! He sinks; he's faint;
His lips wax pale. I'll seek the spring once more:
What music's that?
I hear none.
Thou art weak and dizzy.
Angels of the air,
Cherub and Seraph sometimes watch around
The dying, and the mortal sense, at pause
'Twixt life and death, doth drink in a faint echo
Of heavenly harpings?
I have heard so.
But they were just men, Julian! They were holy.
They were not traitors.
Strive against these thoughts--
Thou wast a brave man, Father!--fight against them,
As 'gainst the Paynims thy old foes. He grows
Paler and paler. Water from the spring;
Or generous wine;--I saw a cottage near.
Rest thee, dear Father, till I come.
That music! It is mortal; it draws nearer.
No. But if men should pass, must I lie here
Like a crushed adder? Here in the highway
Trampled beneath their feet?--So! So! I'll crawl
To yonder bank. Oh that it were the deck
Of some great Admiral, and I alone
Boarding amidst a hundred swords! the breach
Of some strong citadel, and I the first
To mount in the cannon's mouth! I was brave once.
Oh for the common undistinguished death
Of battle, pressed by horse's heels, or crushed
By falling towers! And thing but to lie
Here like a leper!
Enter Alfonso, Valore, and Calvi.
'Tis the spot where Julian--
And yet I see him not. I'll pause awhile;
'Tis likely he'll return. I'll wait.
You're sad to day.
I have good cause to be so.
Nay, nay, cheer up.
Didst thou not tell me, Sir,
That my poor Uncle's banished, outlawed, laid
Under the church's ban?
He would have slain
I ne'er said it. Yesterday
I found you at his feet. Oh, would to Heaven
That crown were on his head, and I--What's that?
The moaning wind.
He was a traitor, Sire,
He was my kinsman still. And Julian! Julian!
My Cousin Julian! he who saved my life,
Whose only crime it was to be too good,
Too great, too well beloved,--to banish him!
To tear him from my arms!
Sire, he confessed--
Ye should have questioned me. Sirs, I'm a boy,
A powerless, friendless boy, whose name is used
To cover foul oppression. If I live
To grasp a sword--but ye will break my heart
Before that hour. Whence come those groans?
Seeing Melfi. My Uncle
Stretched on the ground, and none to tend thee! Rest
Thy head upon my arm. Where's Julian? Sure
I thought to find him with thee. Nay, be still;
Strive not to move.
I fain would kneel to thee
Listen not, my liege. The States
Sentenced the Duke of Melfi; thou hast not
The power to pardon. Leave him to his fate.
'Twere best your Highness came with us.
The place! Leave us, cold, courtly lords! Avoid
My sight! Leave us, I say. Send instant succour,
Food, water, wine, and men with hearts, if courts
May breed such. Leave us.
Exeunt Calvi and Valore.
I have no power.
For all I need thou hast.
Give me but six feet of Sicilian earth,
And thy sweet pardon.
Talk not thus. I'll grow
At once into a man, into a king,
And they shall tremble, and turn pale with fear.
Who now have dared--
Here's water. Ha!
Alfonso! I thought Pity had been dead.
I craved a little wine, for the dear love
Of Heaven, for a poor dying man; and all
Turned from my prayer. Drink,
I have sent
The time is past.
Aye; 'tis a shepherd's pipe
From yonder craggy mountain. How it swings
Upon the wind, now pausing, now renewed,
Regular as a bell.
A passing bell.
Cast off these heavy thoughts.
The blood wells out.
It eases me.
He dies! Off! he's my father. Rest on me.
Oh, no! no! no! I cannot bear
Thy blessing. Twice to stab, and twice forgiven--
Oh curse me rather!
Bless ye both!
And surely he died penitent. That thought
Hath in it a deep comfort. The freed spirit
Gushed out in a full tide of pardoning love.
He blest us both, my Julian; even me
As I had been his son. We'll pray for him
Together, and thy Annabel shall join
Her purest orisons. I left her stretched
In a deep slumber. All night long she watched
And wept for him and thee; but now she sleeps.
Shall I go fetch her? She, better than I,
Would soothe thee. Dost thou hear? He writhes as though
The struggling grief would choke him. Rouse thee. Julian,
Calm thee. Thou frighten'st me.
Am I not calm?
There is my sword. Go.
I'll not leave thee.
Dost thou not see we've killed him? Thou had'st cause;
But I, that was his Son.--Home to thy Palace!
Let me stay beside thee; I'll not speak,
Nor look, nor move. Let me but sit and drop
Tear for tear with thee.
My Cousin Julian--
Madden me not. I'm excommunicate,
An exile, and an outlaw, but a man.
Grant me the human privilege to weep
Alone o'er my dead father. King, I saved
Thy life. Repay me now a thousand-fold,--
Aye; for a sweet comforter.
The lady Annabel--
What? is she dead?
Have I killed her?
Speak, Paolo. In thy charge
I left her.
Is she dead?
No. Heaven forefend!
But she hath left the Palace.
'Tis the curse
Of blood that's on my head; on all I love.
Did she go forth alone?
Prince Julian's aged Huntsman, Renzi, came,
Sent, as he said, by thee, to bear her where
Her Lord was sheltered.
Followed him, nothing fearing; and I too
Had gone, but D'Alba's servants closed the gates,
And then my heart misgave me.
Where's my sword?
I'll rescue her! I'll save her!
Hast thou traced
No, my liege. But much I fear--
Certain a closed and guarded litter took
The way to the western suburb.
There, where lies
The palace of Count D'Alba! Stained--defiled--
He hath thee now, my lovely one! There's still
A way--Let me but reach thee! One asylum--
One bridal bed--One resting place. All griefs
Are lost in this. Oh would I lay as thou,
My Father! Leave him not in the high-way
For dogs to mangle. He was once a Prince.
Let me go with thee.
No. This deed
Paolo stay by the corse. I'll after,
He shall not on this desperate quest alone.
Rather, my liege, seek D'Alba:-- I deem
He still is at thy Palace. Watch him well.
Stay by him closely. So may the sweet lady
Be rescued, and Prince Julian saved.
An Apartment in an old Tower; a rich Gothic Window,
closed, but so constructed as that the Light may be thrown in, near
it a small arched Door, beyond which is seen an Inner Chamber, with
an open Casement.--Annabel is borne in by D'Alba and Guards, through a strong Iron Door in the side Scene.
D'Alba, Annabel, Guards.
Leave her with me. Guard well the gate; and watch
That none approach the tower.
Who is it calls? Where am I? Who art thou?
Why am I here? Now heaven preserve me, D'Alba!
Where's Julian? Where's Prince Julian? Where's my husband?
Renzi, who lured me from the palace, swore
It was to meet my husband.
Many an oath
First sworn in falsehood turns to truth. He's here.
Calm thee, sweet lady.
Where? I see him not.
Then he's dead!
Heard I aright? Again!
There is a deafening murmur in mine ears,
Like the moaning sound that dwells in the
So that I hear nought plainly. Say't again.
Now, thanks to Heaven! Take me to him.
Where am I?
In an old and lonely tower
At the end of my poor orchard.
Take me home.
Thou hast no home.
No home! His arms! his heart!
Take me to him.
Sweet Annabel, be still.
Conquer this woman's vain impatiency,
And listen. Why she trembles as I were
Some bravo. Oh that man's free heart should bow
To a fair cowardice! Listen. Thou know'st
The sentence of the Melfi?
Aye, the unjust
And wicked doom that ranked the innocent
With the guilty. But I murmur not. I love
To suffer with him.
He is banished; outlawed,
Cut off from every human tie;--
I am his wife.
Under the Church's ban.
I tell thee, Annabel, that learned Priest,
The sage Anselmo, deems thou art released
From thy unhappy vows; and will to night--
Stop. I was wedded in the light of day
In the great church at Naples. Blessed day!
I am his wife; bound to him ever more
In sickness, penury, disgrace. Count D'Alba,
Thou dost misprize the world, but thou must know
That woman's heart is faithful, and clings closest
If the Church proclaim thee free--
Sir, I will not be free; and if I were
I'd give myself to Julian o'er again--
Only to Julian! Trifle thus no longer.
Lead me to him. Release me.
Now, by heaven,
I'll bend this glorious constancy. I've known thee
Even from a little child, and I have seen
That stubborn spirit broken: not by fear,
That thou can'st quell; nor interest; nor ambition;
But love! love! love! I tell thee, Annabel,
One whom thou lov'st, stands in my danger. Wed me
This very night--I will procure a priest
And dispensations, there shall nothing lack
Of nuptial form--Wed me, or look to hear
Of bloody justice.
My poor father, Melfi!
The Regent? He is dead.
God hath been merciful.
Is there no other name? no dearer?
Hadst thou such tender love for this proud father,
Who little recked of thee, or thy fair looks;--
Is all beside forgotten?
Julian, I say!
He is beyond thy power.
Thanks, thanks, great God! He's ruined, exiled, stripped
Of name, and land, and titles. He's as dead.
Thou hast no power to harm him. He can fall
No deeper. Earth hath not a lowlier state
Than princely Julian fills.
Doth not the grave
What? But thou hast not the power!
Hast thou? Thou canst not. Oh be pitiful!
Speak, I conjure thee, speak!
Didst thou not hear
That he was exiled, outlawed, banished far
From the Sicilian Isles, on pain of death.
If, after noon to-day, he e'er were seen
In Sicily? The allotted bark awaits;
The hour is past; and he is here.
Have mercy on us! D'Alba, at thy feet,
Upon my bended knees--Oh pity! pity!
Pity and pardon! I'll not rise. I cannot.
I cannot stand more than a creeping worm
Whilst Julian's in thy danger. Pardon him!
Thou wast not cruel once. I've seen thee turn
Thy step from off the path to spare an insect;
I've marked thee shudder, when my falcon struck
A panting bird;--though thou hast tried to sneer
At thy own sympathy. D'Alba, thy heart
Is kinder than thou knowest. Save him, D'Alba!
Am I not his?
And he shall live to the whole age of man
I'm his.--Oh--Oh spare him!--Only his.
Then it is thou that dost enforce the law
On Julian; thou, his loving wife, that guid'st
The officer to seize him where he lies
Upon his father's corse; thou that dost
Thy husband to the scaffold;--thou his wife,
His loving wife! Thou yet may'st rescue him.
Now, God forgive thee, man! Thou torturest me
Worse than a thousand racks. But thou art not
So devilish, D'Alba. Thou hast talked of love;--
Would'st see me die here at thy feet? Have mercy!
Mercy! Aye, such as thou hast shewn to me
Through weeks and months and years. I was born strong
In scorn, the wise man's passion. I had lived
Aloof from the juggling world, and with a string
Watched the poor puppets ape their several parts;
Fool, knave, or madman; till thy fatal charms,
Beautiful mischief, made me knave and fool
And madman; brought revenge and love and hate
Into my soul. I love and hate thee, lady,
And doubly hate myself for loving thee.
But, by this teeming earth, this starry Heaven,
And by thyself the fairest stubbornest thing
The fair stars shine upon, I swear to-night
Thou shalt be mine. If willingly, I'll save
Prince Julian;--but still mine. Speak. Shall he live?
Canst thou not speak? Wilt thou not save him?
Did she die with the word! Dost hear me, lady?
I asked thee wouldst thou save thy husband?
Not so! Not so!
Stay! Stay! He's gone.
Count D'Alba! Save him! Save him! D'Alba's gone,
And I have sentenced him.
After a pause.
He would have chosen so,
Would rather have died a thousand deaths than so
Have lived! Oh who will succour me, shut up
In this lone tower! none but those horrid guards,
And yonder hoary traitor, know where the poor,
Poor Annabel is hidden; no man cares
How she may perish--only one--and he--
Preserve my wits! I'll count my beads; 'twill calm me:
What if I hang my rosary from the casement?
There is a brightness in the gorgeous jewel
To catch men's eyes, and haply, some may pass
That are not pitiless. This window's closed;
But in yon chamber--Ah, 'tis open! There
I'll hang the holy gem, a guiding star,
A visible prayer to man and God. Oh save me
From sin and shame! Save him! I'll hang it there.
End of the Fourth Act