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SCENE III. A Chamber in the Castle. SOPHIA, ELIZABETH, AGNES,
ISENTRUDE, &c., re-entering.
Soph. What ! you will not ? You hear, dame Isen-
She will not wear her coronet in the church,
Because, forsooth, the crucifix within
Is crowned with thorns. You hear her.
How could I flaunt this bauble in His face
Who hung there, naked, bleeding, all for me-
I felt it shamelessness to go so gay.
Soph. Felt? What then ? Every foolish wench has
In these religious days, and thinks it carnal
To wash her dishes, and obey her parents—
No wonder they ape you, if you ape them-
Go to! I hate this humble-minded pride,
Self-willed submission—to your own pert fancies ;
This fog-bed mushroom-spawn of brain-sick wits,
Who make their oddities their test for grace,
And peer about to catch the general eye ;
Ah! I have watched you throw your playmates down
To have the pleasure of kneeling for their pardon.
Here's sanctity—to shame your cousin and me-
Spurn rank and proper pride, and decency ;-
If God has made you noble, use your rank,
If you but know how. You Landgravine ? You mated
With gentle Lewis? Why, belike you'll cowl him,
As that stern prude, your aunt, cowled her poor spouse ;.
No-one Hedwiga at a time's enough,-
My son shall die no monk.
Beseech you, Madam,-
Weep not, my darling.
Tut—I'll speak my mind.
We'll have no saints. Thank heaven, my saintliness
Ne'er troubled my good man, by day or night.
We'll have no saints, I say ; far better for you,
And no doubt pleasanter—You know your place,
At least you know your place,-to take to cloisters,
And there sit éarding wool, and mumbling Latin,
With sour old maids, and maundering Magdalens,
Proud of your frost-kibed feet, and dirty serge.
There's nothing noble in you, but your blood;
And that one almost doubts. Who art thou, child ?
Isen. The daughter, please your highness,
Of Andreas, king of Hungary, your better,
And your son's spouse.
I had forgotten, truly-
And you, Dame Isentrudis, are her servant,
And mine : come, Agnes, leave the gipsy ladies
To say their prayers, and set the Saints the fashion.
[Sopha and Agnes go out. Isen. Proud hussy! Thou shalt set thy foot on her
neck yet, darling, When thou art Landgravine. Eliz.
And when will that be ?
No, she speaks truth! I should have been a nun."
These are the wages of my cowardice,-
Too weak to face the world, too weak to leave it!
Guta. I'll take the veil with you.
'Twere but a moment's work, To slip into the convent there below, And be at peace forever. And you, my nurse ?
Isen. I will go with thee, child, where'er thou goest. But Lewis ?
Eliz. Ah! my brother! No, I dare not-
I dare not turn forever from this hope,
Though it be dwindled to a thread of mist.
Oh! that we two could flee and leave this Babel !
Oh! if he were but some poor chapel-priest,
In lonely mountain valleys far away;
And I his serving-maid, to work his vestments,
And dress his scrap of food, and see him stand
Before the altar like a rainbowed saint,
To take the blessed wafer from his hand,
Confess my heart to him, and all night long
Pray for him while he slept, or through the lattice
Watch while he read, and see the holy thoughts
Swell in his big deep eyes.-Alas ! that dream
Is wilder than the one that's fading even now!
[A Page enters. Page. The Count of Varila, madam, begs permission to speak with you.
Eliz. With me? What's this new terror ? Tell him I wait him.
(Aside.) Ah! my old heart sinks— God send us rescue! Here the champion comes.
Count WALTER enters. Wal. Most learned, fair, and sanctimonious princessPlague, what comes next! I had something orthodox
ready; 'Tis dropped out by the way.—Mass ! here's the pith
on't.Madam, I come a wooing; and for one Who is as only worthy of your love, As you of his; he bids me claim the spousals Made long ago between you,—and yet leaves Your fancy free, to grant, or pass that claim ; And being that Mercury is not my planet, He hath advised himself to set herein, With pen and ink, what seemed good to him, As passport to this jewelled mirror, pledge Unworthy of his worship. [Gives a letter and jewel.
Isen. Nunc Domine dimittis servam tuam ! [ELIZABETH looks over the letter and casket, claps her hands,
and bursts into childish laughter.] Why here's my Christmas tree come after LentEspousals ? pledges ? by our childish love ? Pretty words for folks to think of at the wars,— And pretty presents come of them! *Look, Guta! A crystal clear, and carven on the reverse, The blessed rood. He told me once—one night, When we did sit in the garden—What was I saying?
Wal. My fairest princess, as ambassador,
What shall I answer?
Tell him—tell him—God !
Have I grown mad, or a child within the moment ?
The earth has lost her gray sad hue, and blazes
With her old life-light ; hark ! yon wind 's a song-
Those clouds are angels' robes.—That fiery west
Is paved with smiling faces.—I am a woman,
And all things bid me love! my dignity
Is thus to cast my virgin pride away,
And find my strength in weakness.—Busy brain !
Thou keep’st pace with my heart ; old lore, old fancies,
Buried for years, leap from their tombs, and proffer.
Their magic service to my new-born spirit.
I'll go—I am not mistress of myself—
Send for him—bring him to me—he is mine! [Exit.
Isen. Ah! blessed Saints ! how changed upon the
moment! She is grown taller, trust me, and her eye Flames like a fresh caught hind’s. She that was christened A brown mouse for her stillness! Good my Lord ! Now shall mine old bones see the grave in peace!
SCENE IV. The Bridal Feast. ELIZABETH, LEWIS, Sophia, and Company seated at the Dais table. Court Minstrel and Court Fool sitting on the Dais step.
Min. How gayly smile the heavens, . The light winds whisper gay ;