Claribel and Other Poems (1)
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To my friend CHARLES WELLS—the Author of that most noble dramatic Poem Joseph and his Brethren—I owe the story of Claribel: and not only the story, but also numerous passages (in the first, second, and fifth scenes of the second act), of which I have done little more than adapt the measure.


W. J. L.     

   _____________

 


CLARIBEL

OR

LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP

______

IN TWO ACTS

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ

 


BOLESLAUS, King of Bohemia

CASIMIR, Prince of Poland }
                                                    The Friends
ALBERT, a Page                    }

CLARIBEL the King's Daughter

RUDOLPH and other Princes, Suitors for the hand of Caribel

A Courtier

Knights, Ladies, and Attendants.

 


CLARIBEL
________

ACT I—SCENE I.

The Court-yard of the Palace.
A florish of horns.   Boleslaus and his Knights and Guests
returning from the chase, with Servants carrying a
deer.    Then, follow some Huntsmen.

 

FIRST HUNTSMAN IT was the prince who kill'd him.
SECOND HUNTSMAN You are wrong: Lord Albert gave him his death-wound— I heard
Prince Casimir himself tell how it was.
FIRST HUNTSMAN Perhaps so: but he ever crowns his friend
With the first garland.   They were close enough
For such an error.
SECOND HUNTSMAN You are wrong again.
Not half so readily the prince resigns
His honours, even to him.
THIRD HUNTSMAN There's truth in that:
Or else the page does with him as he will.
FOURTH HUNTSMAN How long has he been favourite?
SECOND HUNTSMAN They were friends
Even in their boyhood,—since your Casimir
First visited our court,—sworn friends: the prince
Would have none else for his companion.
They rode together, hunted, swam, and fought,
And studied; none e'er saw them separate.
When Albert was advanced to be the page
Of our young princess, your prince Casimir
Was jealous, as a girl, that he must lose
Some hours of him.   And in her turn the girl—
The lady Claribel—grew just as fond;
And pined when he must leave her for the wars.
There he'd the hap to save the prince's life;
And so was knighted, and strode on apace
To closer friendship,—'faith, 'tis well deserved:
For there's none braver or more mannerly,
More true or kind in speech, nor one who bears
Himself more nobly, though not nobly born.
But all the same he is our lady's page:
She will not part with him.   When your young lord
Left us, some months since—See, where come the friends,
Holding themselves aloof from all the rest.
Enter Casimir and Albert.

ALBERT


You have not told me yet what lucky chance
Gladdens Bohemia with your step again.
CASIMIR No chance, my friend! you have expected me.
ALBERT Yes! but so long, that expectation fell
Into disfavour, for a lying slave
That brought false messages of your return.
Why left you us?
CASIMIR Well, you shall know the cause
Both of my leaving and of my return.
I was impatient of the company
Of these same wooing princes who have throng'd
So many months past your Bohemian court
With idle supplications.    I was vex'd
To see them buzzing round the princess' ears.
I had grown up beside her till it seem'd
That she belong'd to me.    And when they came
To interfere, 'twas an impertinence
That gall'd me till I could not, even to you,
Own my annoyance.    So I left them here,
Trusting my deeds might well outvoice their words
In her dear estimation.—You are hurt
That I kept this so secret?
ALBERT Hurt at that!
CASIMIR Why then this clange of countenance? Your face
Is mapp'd with hostile lines. What moves you so?
ALBERT I fear this love may sunder us.
CASIMIR My friend!—
Should it not draw us closer, thee and me?
ALBERT It shall.   Forgive me for a moment's doubt.
Enter an Attendant.

ATTENDANT (to Albert)


The princess has been asking for you, sir!
CASIMIR Put off your fears; nothing can harm our loves.
ALBERT I will be sure of it.
CASIMIR Be here again
Quickly.
ALBERT Ay! presently.
CASIMIR I'll stay for you.


ACT I - SCENE II.

The Princess' Chamber.
Claribel reading; a Lady waiting.   Enter Albert.


ALBERT Your highness sent for me.
CLARIBEL In truth I did;
But have forgot My purpose
ALBERT May I wait
Till you recall it?
CLARIBEL That would be for ever.
How have you pass'd the morning?
ALBERT With the prince.
CLARIBEL You have been hunting with him: is 't not so?
ALBERT I will forswear it, if it be your will.
CLARIBEL Nay: I'd be wrong, to either step between
You and your friend or stay your arm from deeds
Of manly daring.   I must blush to own
A woman's may-be foolish timorousness;
And you are over-rash.  You love the chase
(Confess the truth!) more than all joys on earth
Save Casimir's friendship.
ALBERT Madam! one thing more.
CLARIBEL And that, best-loved?
ALBERT My duty next your grace.
CLARIBEL Is 't that weighs down your brows so heavily?
ALBERT Nay, madam, 'tis the light that dazzles me.
CLARIBEL
To her Attendant...
Your love is light, then.
Go, fetch me my lute!—
I will sing some low song shall charm away
Your sorrow with its plaintive melody.
I did not deem that love should make men sad.
My father's court is throng'd with lovers, fair
As summer butterflies,—as careless too.
Methinks a gayer, goodlier company
Is rarely met with.   But perchance your love
Is of another hue?
ALBERT The self-same hue,
Yet somewhat differing.
CLARIBEL Differing:—ha! I see,—
You and your mistress.   Trust me, if 'tis so,
You love unworthily: for I know none
So high may bar your suit.   Some arrogant girl
Who think-; a peerless knight not noble enough. 
ALBERT No! no! there is no arrogance but mine:
 If hopeless reverence call be arrogant.
CLARIBEL You are too diffident.   Dare you confide
Your love to me, that I may plead with her?
I'll guess who it may be.   How high is she? 
ALBERT Madam! about your height.
CLARIBEL About:—And fair?
ALBERT Fair as Bohemia's Fairest, as the dawn
Of the first, brightest spring; as fair as Hope,
Could Hope be the Belovéd.   Fair as thou. 
CLARIBEL If it be not some page's courtly tone,
Or cunningest gloss, to me you would address
Your nameless praise.   I am not vain enough 
To answer—I deserve it.   What heart-words
May echo——
ALBERT Lady! if transparent speech
Display'd my soul's depth, giving back yourself 
To your own gaze:—in the name of loyalty,
My most aspiring thought hath ne'er displaced,
Yet credit this—I have not earn'd your scorn. 
CLARIBEL My scorn!
ALBERT O Beautiful! thy very pride
Looks angel-like: yet, wrongs, me——Let me speak!
True heart devotion, ne'er so meanly born,
Is homage worthy of a queen's regard;
The lowliest truth would kiss her raiment-hem
Too noble for her trampling.   I am paid
With your most distant smile for my best worth;
But even my humblest love is, no fit slave
For your disdain.
CLARIBEL (looking in his face)  Albert!
ALBERT My eyes are dim.
CLARIBEL (kissing his eyelids) Canst thou see clearly now?   Nay, do not kneel!
Rise to the full height of thy worthiness,
That my glad soul may look up into thine,
My royalest knight!   How couldst thou ever doubt?
What! scorn of thee?
ALBERT My life stands giddily
Upon the sunniest peak of happiness.
Let me hold fast thy hand.
CLARIBEL For ever, love! 
ALBERT My Princess!
ATTENDANT (returning) Madam! you desired me fetch
Your highness' lute.   There is a broken string.
CLARIBEL No matter!   Leave us now!—My song is sung.
ALBERT Yet sing again!
CLARIBEL If thou wilt sing with me. 

ACT I—SCENE III.

A Room of State in the Palace.

Boleslaus on his throne; Claribel seated at his feet; the
Princess standing in front; Knights, Ladies, and Attendants
around.


BOLESLAUS  We wait your slow decision, Claribel!
These princes now have sojourn'd in our court 
Full time enough for the most fickle eyes
To make election: difficult at first,
Where all are worthy; but a woman's wit,
And ready apprehension can not fail
To note ere long some difference of port,
Or manner, or behaviour, which may help
Her certain choice.   Which of these lords shall be
Your husband, heir unto Bohemia's, crown?
CLARIBEL May I be free to speak? 
BOLESLAUS Speak as thou wilt!
CLARIBEL Then, good my lord! my choice doth light on none.
BOLESLAUS Thou hast no choice 'mong all these gentlemen?
What then?
CLARIBEL  I would not wed with either, sir!
I speak it not of mere maid bashfulness,
Nor frowardly contemning princely worth,—
Albeit not for my purchase while my heart
Hath no response.   My answer is but this—
I can not choose to wed unless I love.
BOLESLAUS Then we must choose for thee.   Shall it be said
King Boleslaus has play'd with welcomed guests?
Yet, Princes! speak to her.   Your smoother tones 
May charm this waywardness.   We little like
To have our purposes so set at nought.
PRINCE RUDOLPH Princess!   I pray you to allow my suit.
A jewel should be worn and well display'd,
Not hidden away: and thou a priceless one
With thy rich dower of beauty.   For the love
Hath so long knit our houses, let me bind
Our realms in one dear hope, thy hand in mine.
CLARIBEL Prince Rudolph loves the jewel set in gold.
It is Bohemia's daughter he would wed:
And as Bohemia's daughter I reply—
I am too proud to be his hand-maiden.
Even to place the jewel in his cap.
ANOTHER OF THE PRINCES Lady! beseech thee let my passion move
Thy virgin coldness.   Not Bohemia's round
Of golden glory, but the sunny light
Of all perfections circling thy bright self,
Hath warm'd my heart.   My life will worship thee
With utmost, patience, let thy sweet spring smile
Shine on me through this winterly contempt.
CL ARIBEL Let that same patience ask another spring!
I do not warm to thee.   Thy sunniest speech
Thaws not the ice between us.   I am fix'd
In my first resolution.
ANOTHER OF THE PRINCES Yet relent.
Set me, dear princess! to some arduous task
Whose prize may be thy favour.    Let me wear
Thy glove, even as a promise, on my helm. 
CLARIBEL Is then thy courage all so dull to need
The spur of a poor guerdon?  Dost hold back
From nobleness until thou hear'st the price?
My father's daughter is not yet for sale,
Though honour bid.
CASIMIR Beloved Claribel!
Refuse me not, for this: While these have sought
Thy favour with word-wooing, I have cared
Rather to let the echo of brave deeds
Reach thee from far and whisper my desert
Than strive to please thine eyes, reflecting back
From my unstained armour the glad Sheen
Of thy most radiant presence, or to mix
My words in this midsummer melody.
If Fame has spoken for me, may thy voice,
 Sweeter than Fame's, approve her plea and mine. 
CLARIBEL Prince Casimir! I should dispraise your worth
By scornful words.    I fear my speech has err'd
From courtesy toward these gentlemen:
Yet I would not contemn their dear regards.
Truly I thank them that they so affect
Bohemia's daughter.   My acknowledgment
Will heal, I hope, such wounds as I have made.
You too I thank, sir! for your kindly thoughts;
Which I am all too poor to render back
With the sole rendering you could well accept. 
Too poor, for that my heart has been and is
Unsway'd by love toward you.   I beseech,
Of you and all these lords, construction clear
Of my most simple words: I do esteem
Your several worths, but none of you I love
As she should love who would be royal wife.
By your own truths, I pray, believe me now,
I do not falter.
BOLESLAUS Stay! this shall not be.
We may not have our policy so cross'd
By girlish whimsies.   Thou shalt wed perforce.
But not to make election blindfolded,
To-morrow we will hold a tournament;
And there thou shalt adjudge thyself as prize
To him who best deserves.——Nay, answer not.
Princes! we wish that we had girls enough
To wive you all; so none might leave our court
Unsatisfied.   But since that may not be,
We pray you hold our loves of equal weight;
Nor blame our care that only one can gain.
To-morrow shall proclaim Bohemia's heir.
We leave you to the tending of your hopes. 


Exit with Claribel and Train, the Princes following.
As they go out


PRINCE RUDOLPH (to Casimir)  You look not in discarded mood, my lord! 
CASIMIR Why should I, when to-morrow will amend
To-day's deferral? [Casimir and Albert remain.] 
Albert! look at him.
'Faith, he's as sad as if king Boleslaus
Himself had stamp'd refusal.   Let him fear:
For hope girds on my sword.   Her hand is mine. 
ALBERT Whether she will or no?
CASIMIR A woman's No.
But thou hast heard.   She has not made a choice:
Save that her words to me were gentler-toned.
I quarrel not with that.   My way is clear.
She bids me write the Yes with my own hand.
Shall I not snatch her from this summer swarm ?
ALBERT But if she yet should choose; and if her choice
Should be another?
CASIMIR Think'st thou I would yield?
Yield her whose love is more than life to me:
For I'd not live without her. 
ALBERT Would'st thou wrong
The gentle love which never may be forced?
Would'st savagely o'ermaster the Adored?
Or claim her heart even if it gave not back
One pulse to thine?
CASIMIR If! if!—My doubtful friend!
Thou hast never loved, or thou would'st know that ifs
Are meaningless.   My mortal enemy
I'd grasp with ungloved peace ere I would back
One step out of the path toward my love,
Even for my brother and most dearest friend.
Let them beware!—for I or the other side,
Though ne'er so many, in to-morrow's lists
Shall look our last on her.   Her hand is mine,

ACT I—SCENE IV.

A Hall in the Palace.

Retainers lounging about: some  cleaning amour,
  some drinking.


FIRST RETAINER I'll wager you prince Rudolph is the man.
SECOND RETAINER Not he, but our prince Casimir. 
THIRD RETAINER  I'll hold
My master wins.
FOURTH RETAINER  Or mine.
FIFTH RETAINER (from, table where some are drinking) But which is he
The princess most affects?
FIRST RETAINER Why, none, she says.
FOURTH RETAINER Ay, says: a woman always says her No.
That's good Bohemian for 'I thank you, sir!' 
[To one o f the Princess' Attendants passing]
Is it not? girl!—Where runnest thou? We'll have
A match at last.    Shall it he a double one?
GIRL No fear of that: no king will father me.
Was, I my lady, I would take the veil
Rather than marry any against my will.
FOURTH RETAINER You'll never have the chance. 
GIRL Why not? sir Squire! 
FOURTH RETAINER Became you'd not be able to say No. 
GIRL Try me!
FOURTH RETAINER That's Yes,—and Yes beforehand too. 
GIRL Keep off!
FOURTH RETAINER But truly, if a woman can,
Say, do you think the princess mean'd her No?
GIRL What's that to you?
FOURTH RETAINER Nay, what a mood you're in.
I did not go to offend you.
SECOND RETAINER Let her be!
But tell us, do you think your mistress cares
For none of our young princes?
GIRL 'Troth, not I,
Unless prince Casimir.
SECOND RETAINER He's worthy her.
Yet I know one more princely to my mind
Even than he.
GIRL Who then?
SECOND RETAINER  Your lady's page.
He's kinder  has a gentler way with him;
Nor any upstart pride.
FIFTH RETAINER He's proud enough
With the king's knights.
SECOND RETAINER That's true.   But not with us. 
FIFTH RETAINER Then he's one of us.
GIRL (passing on) Well, I can't stay here
Idling with you.   A set of gossiping knaves! 
SIXTH RETAINER (at the table) Here's to the winner!
FIFTH RETAINER You pledge warily.
SIXTH RETAINER I am a courtier.
FIFTH RETAINER Where may you have learn 'd
State policy?
SIXTH RETAINER The school is not far off;
Nor hard to find:  under the palace -eaves.
SEVENTH RETAINER I like not this rough wooing.   What say you?
EIGHTH RETAINER It bodes no good.
FIFTH RETAINER Tush, man! what would you do?
Girls must be married.   Who should choose for them
If not their fathers?
A PAGE Or if not themselves?
FIFTH RETAINER Ha! so you boys may fancy,—always wise
In your own mad conceits.   A likely judge
Your inexperience.
PAGE Well, I would not have
My father choose for me; nor take a wife
Whose only Yes came from her father's mouth.
Does it follow that my father's suit fits me?
SEVENTH RETAINER  The boy's not wide o' the mark; though it is well
To have a father's sanction.   I ne'er knew
That a forced marriage came to any speed.
I heard, the king, after he left the lords,
Had harsh words with his daughter.   He's quick-
tongued.
EIGHTH RETAINER And hasty in his will too.   What he says
Is done on the spur o' the moment.   Well, I hope,
Prince Casimir may win her.
PAGE So do I.
NINTH RETAINER (entering) Prince Rudolph even now is taking leave. 
PAGE He will not risk the fight.
SIXTH RETAINER I'm of his mind.
A broken pate's a sorry wedding gift.
I'd rather keep mine whole, though I was sure
To have a crown for plaster.
FIFTH RETAINER Will you pledge
The winner now?
SIXTH RETAINER I'll pledge you any way. 
FIFTH RETAINER Here's a safe journey to you.
SIXTH RETAINER And to you,
Fair weather for your wedding. 
NINTH RETAINER Come! the prince
Has call'd for us.
SIXTH RETAINER  I'm with you. 
SEVENTH RETAINER  It looks black:
There'll be a storm by the morrow,
PAGE Do you hear
How the wind moans?   Was not that lightning too,
Over the royal chamber? There, again!

END OF ACT I.

Between the Acts a Tournament.


ACT II-SCENE I.

A Garden of the Palace.
Albert pacing to and fro.   The Clash of swords outside;
there's a flourish of trumpets.   Enter a Courtier.


COURTIER PRINCE Casimir is victor. 
ALBERT  My brave friend!—
My more than friend!—
COURTIER Ah, sir! but you have miss'd
The crown o' the tourney.   'Twas a sight, i' faith,
Worth staying for.   He'll be a worthy lord
To our else peerless lady.   He will wear
Bohemia's glories proudly as he wore
The eagle on his helm, that seem'd to say—
'I clutch the world from all.'—But you are dull:
I thought your joy would kindle at his triumph,—
Knowing how much the prince affects—
ALBERT I wait
Your story, sir! 
COURTIER (Forefend his pageship's spleen!
'Tis something to be friended by a prince, '
And heir-presumptive.   He has hid himself
In dudgeon that he might not cross the lists
And win a hole in his head, to loose his pride.)— Aside.
I shall have pleasure tracing, sir! for you
The course o' the strife: for 'twas, upon my soul,
More like a battle vow'd unto the death
Than a mere jousting,—even for such a prize—
A princess and a crown.   You should have seen
Prince Casimir approach, with eyes downcast,
To kiss the princess' hand; you would have thought
Some pilgrim met a Cross in the wilderness,—
He bow'd such adoration, and so held
Her white hand in his touch.   But when be rose,
'Twas plain to read the victory in his face.
I would not have encounter'd such a lip,—
Like Fate exultant.   I'd have sworn each step
Was over an enemy.   So, one by one,
He met and slew the combatants: not one
Had power to make him halt.   'Twas summer play,—
A thunder-storm,— they had no chance with him:
Though they fought gallantly.   And our good king
Sate smiling; and the lady Claribel——
ALBERT Sate smiling too!
COURTIER No, sir! she sate as scared.
You see she is not like some dames of ours
Who love to look upon our manly sports.
She is almost too gentle for a queen.
Give me a lady whose regard can track
A brave man's deeds, nor flinch to see him win.
For my part—
ALBERT Sir! I thank you; I have heard. 
I pray you leave me.
COURTIER

Sir! at your command.
(He seeks some prompt preferment from the. Prince:
Perhaps to be the new king's chamberlain.
I'll travel in his shadow.)—Aside and Exit.
    Enter Claribel. 

CLARIBEL My dear lord!
ALBERT My wife!—O, dearest! what a chance is ours.
How shall I slay my friend? how crush the bloom
Of that most noble nature? Yet I find
No other remedy.
CLARIBEL O, dearest love!
Do not ally with wrong to heap more woe.
Rather shake hands with Fate to our own loss,
Paying her forfeit with atonement calm,
Unless it be through breach of our true faith. 
All me!   I have no guess of what to urge.
The king my father chafes at the least delay:
And even now the hand of Casimir
Twines in my hair, and his lips seize on mine,—
As sealing his possession.   My quick sire
Chides me that I sit sad and silently;
Rating me as unduteous, that I make
No cheer to meet my bridegroom.
ALBERT He must die.
By heaven, what is this man that he should dare
O'erstride the threshold of my love?   A prince!
What's that?   A chance.   Mine eyes, that front his
        brow,
See there no natural mark of mastership;
My blood bounds to the full as free a tide;
My soul is robed as royally as his.
A chance! a chance succession! he hath won
A tourney,—slain some swordsmen.   I would fast
Three days, not seeing thee, and take his life
Despite his strength of birth.   That chance, which brought
His lips so near to thine, shall bring his head
Beneath our feet.
CLARIBEL (taking his hands, and looking in his face) Temper this passion, love!
Is friendship then so slight that its green boughs,
That harbour'd thee so many pleasant days,
Can all be stripp'd before one wintry gust,—
Its fragrant blossoms all so soon forgot?
It makes Love shudder, friend!   You will not bring
That dull ape, Jealousy, into our home,
Among your noble thoughts.   Prince Casimir
Treats me with delicacy, tenderly,
In his respect.   And even if friendship's nought,
His nice behaviour may enforce some claim
To gratitude.
ALBERT O, pure-soul'd! thou art right:
My fierceness owns thy gentler potency.
I will not, come what may, dishonour him.
But how to meet this pass?
CLARIBEL Your thought be swift!
This day he is to wed me,—as some Russ
Marries his captive, in his conqueror's garb,
Scarce having cleansed his armour. 
ALBERT (Light breaks there.)—Aside. 
CL ARIBEL What say'st thou? love! 
ALBERT Believe, nought shall be done
To hurt our dignity.   But I'll be there,—
Even at the altar.   Only trust in me. 
CLARIBEL  Belovéd!

ACT II— SCENE II.

A tangled Forest.   Albert waiting.   Enter Casimir.

CASIMIR Joy, joy, my brother!   Albert! help thy friend
To bear his triumph.  It is all too much. 
ALBERT It is.   Thou canst not bear it. 
CASIMIR What mean you?
You are moved.   What sorrow has invaded you?
Forgive me that I did not mark your grief,
so full of mine own bliss.   What may it mean?
 ALBERT That I would bear thy triumph.   Yes, my friend!
Since love and friendship are too great a load
Even for thy Atlas shoulders——Let me speak!—
Therefore renounce thy love! thou canst not wed
Bohemia's daughter.
CASIMIR Who would cross me there? 
ALBERT Thy friend.
CASIMIR What friend? Thyself perhaps?
ALBERT Even so.
CASIMIR This is more trifling.   But for that clench'd lip
I should esteem you gamesome, scarce in tune
With a friend's earnestness: but your harsh words
Unfriendlily apparel'd——
ALBERT Do I wear
Your livery? sir!
CASIMIR You overstep your place. 
ALBERT Yet I have been the brother of a prince.
CASIMIR Brother and friend! you venture on my love. 
ALBERT No! you on mine.
CASIMIR Again, what meaneth this?
You talk enigmas; let your meaning out:
For that sweet angel at the altar kneels,
Waiting to be my wife.
ALBERT.  Then I am plain.
That never can he thine.   Two claim
Precedence of thy title—I and Death.
The first may stumble, but the last is sure.
Alas! the shades of death have sweeter haunts
Than solitary life, or fulsome change
That leads but to a grave.   Love's wings have flown

The circuit of the world, and find therein
Nought but the loving.   So forswear thy hope!
Bridle thy lion-heart until it break!
Her marriage-bed is rather in the tomb
Than in thy arms.   Do anything but hope! 
CASIMIR As yet I tamely answer thy appeal,
So overwhelming in its circumstance:
Not understanding how thy birth and rank
Should soar so giddily the eagle's height,
To thwart thy friend and rush between the troth
Of prince and princess, past a king's decree.
ALBERT  Open thy princely ears, then, to lily cause!
I have been praised, lord Casimir; my form
And port been judged not servile; and mine eyes

Have overlook'd the haughtiest.    I could stride
And grapple with a prince,—ay! with the best. 

Though but a page, my fortune placed me near
A princess, and my soul was prince enough
To worship her perfection.   As I watch'd
(The page's duty, sir! ) her every mood,
I found her sad when I look'd seriously,—
Gay when my thoughts made merry,—when I sought

The lists she paled; and once her glance met mine,
And lit me to the chamber of her heart,
Wherein I saw my image dearly throned;
And ere conceit could lend ambition words
Her love stoop'd like a tame bird to my breast,
Where I must cherish it.    And, to be brief,
Know we are married—close as nature's law
Of holiest sympathy can bind two lives.
Therefore I bid thee to respect my wife,
As a true gentleman; or else affront
My honour with thy sword.
CASIMIR I meet thy sword,
Less deadly sharp than thy injurious words
That flame-like bar my Eden.   Out, alas!
O Claribel!   O Queen! what cursed blot
Hath fallen upon my' scutcheon?   I, a prince,
On the top step of a throne, to be hurl'd down
By common hands; and my imperial globe—
Thy perfect love—torn rudely from my grasp!
O shame! O shame!—Unsay thy traitorous speech:

Some fiend possesses thee.
ALBERT No fiend but Love.
Thy cross-hilt can not exorcize my life.
CASIMIR My sword-point shall; or thou step o'er my corse.
I will compel her image from thy heart.—
By our old friendship, tell me thou hast lied!
ALBERT No lie, but truth.
CASIMIR Then one of us must die.
ALBERT  Therefore I sent for thee.   For I, my prince!
Would have thy armour, wherein I must wed
The lady Claribel.   Beware thyself!
For I will hunt thee for thy beauteous hide.
Be brief!   She waits my presence with the spoil.


ACT II -SCENE III.

A Room of State in the Palace.
King Boleslaus on his throne;  Knights,  Ladies, and 
Attendants standing around;  Claribel kneeling at an
altar in the midst.

Song of Girls outside.  Blessed Hours! approach her gently;
Peace! smile on her excellently;
Midnight Stars! attend her pleasure.
                Veil thy splendour, Night!
Not even Love's own eyes should measure
                Love's delight.

Touch life's chords with lightest finger;
Echoes sweet! around her linger
By the love makes marriage holy,
                Tame thy carriage, Fate!
Like a bridesmaid murmuring lowly—
                Yet we wait.
BOLESLAUS Where is the prince our son?
A KNIGHT He comes, my lord!
ONE IN CASIMIR'S ARMOUR.  Enter One in Casimir's armour and followed by his train of Knights.
He bows to the King, and advances to the Princess, who has risen and
is looking anxiously around.   He takes her hand. 
My Beautiful!
BOLESLAUS We look'd for Albert here:
He is not with thy knights.
        [To an Attendant]       Go, seek for him!
He seems of late less mirthful than his wont.
But his tried faith nor yet his double love
Holds him excused from this our festival.
ONE IN CASIMIR'S ARMOUR.  My lord!   I left him some few minutes since,—
The cause of my delay.   He pray'd your grace,

Through me, that he might have some days of leave
On his most urgent business.   I was bold
To answer for your majesty.
        [To Claribel]         My wife! 
BOLESLAUS Well, well! but we are loath to miss his face,
That shone so close to us.
AN ATTENDANT (entering hurriedly) My lord! your page—
BOLESLAUS What means that sorrowful visage? 
ATTENDANT Good my lord!
Forget my sad look in its sorrowful cause.
Your page is murder'd.
ONE IN CASIMIR'S ARMOUR (to Claribel) 'Tis some error, love!
Trust me, it is.
ATTENDANT In the royal forest, sire!
Not half a league from here:—It was his dog
That led us there, who made us follow him
Until we came where underneath a tree,
Hid in the brake, we found the murder'd man;

Reclining as asleep, with a green bough
Drawn tenderly to shield him from the sun.
We thought he slept: but a great pool of blood
Was at his side,—the point of his broken sword
Lay near, in blood,—and some ten paces off
The red, moss'd earth was trampled hard and wet,
As he had fought a long and desperate fight.
BOLESLAUS He was not dead?
ATTENDANT He had his vizor close;
They loosed it as I turn'd away, in haste
To bring the heavy tidings.
SOME LADIES Help there! help!
                The Princess faints.
ONE IN CASIMIR'S ARMOUR She needeth air.    Myself will bear her out.
                He carries her out.
BOLESLAUS (to a Second Attendant entering) He is not dead?
SECOND ATTENDANT Alas! quite dead, my lord! 
BOLESLAUS Poor Albert! some one envied thee our love.
Search out the villains! he shall be revenged. 
SECOND ATTENDANT It is the prince, my liege! prince Casimir
Is murder'd,— not the page: we were deceived.
BOLESLAUS (pointing to the altar) Who was it, then, stood there?     [A long pause.]
Will no one speak?
COURTIER  My liege! if I may venture to be heard——
BOLESLAUS Speak, speak!
COURTIER Sire! I have lately taken note
Of sundry passages of favour given
By your most gracious daughter ——
BOLESLAUS  Unto whom?
Say quickly!
COURTIER To lord Albert. 
BOLESLAUS (striking him)  Lying slave!—
Who was, it that stood there?
A THIRD ATTENDANT (entering hurriedly) My lord! your page—
BOLESLAUS (turning fiercely on him) 'Tis false.
THIRD ATTENDANT Your pardon, sire!
BOLESLAUS What wouldst thou say?
THIRD ATTENDANT I crave your patience, sire!   Scarce ere I came
Into your presence, on his favourite horse—
The one the princess gave him, his drawn sword
Beating down all opposal, he flow through
The palace gates.
BOLESLAUS Say who! 
THIRD ATTENDANT  Lord Albert, sire!
The princess borne before him. 
BOLESLAUS  Get thee hence!—
Who follows him?- His own reward to him
Who drags them to our feet, alive or dead!

The Song, repeated outside, is heard faintly.

                'By the love makes marriage holy——'

The Song dies away; the wind brings back only the last words—

                'Yet we wait!'

All pause, then exeunt in confusion.


ACT II—SCENE IV.

An Antechamber in the Palace.    Enter two Attendants,
meeting.


FIRST ATTENDANT  Where is the king?
SECOND ATTENDANT You bring him news of them? 
FIRST ATTENDANT Yes, yes! but let me pass.
SECOND ATTENDANT They're taken, then?
Nay, tell me all, and then I'll lead you straight
Into the presence.
FIRST ATTENDANT Well, I am the first 
By far: so it does not matter.   They are safe. 
SECOND ATTENDANT Where did you find them?
FIRST ATTENDANT Some few miles away.
We miss'd them once,—but found their track again
By blood upon the ground.
SECOND ATTENDANT  He had spurr'd hard.
FIRST ATTENDANT It was his own.    No doubt the friends had fought
Like desperate fiends,—they were most nearly match'd.
It seems his wounds had burst again, and bled
Till lie grew faint, so that at last he fell
From off his horse; and when our troop came up
The princess was endeavouring to raise
His body—for he seem'd to be near dead—
Into the saddle; and the good horse knelt,
As he would help her.   'Twas a piteous sight.
There was not even a tear on her white face.
But for the king's reward not one of us
Had dared to bring them back.   She made us weep
Though she spoke not a word, even when we took
Her lover from her arms.   We laid him down
Gently upon some boughs: 'twas a kind youth;
We all of us had loved him.   He ne'er winced
The while we bore him; but still smiled on her,
Just as a mother smiles on a sick child;
And she walk'd by him with his hand in hers,
Keeping her eyes on his; and the good horse
Follow'd them almost like a funeral friend,
As if he knew their sorrow.
SECOND ATTENDANT 'Faith, 'tis sad. 
FIRST ATTENDANT Ah! 'twas a bad deed, friend! to kill the prince.
But let me go!
SECOND ATTENDANT This way! the king is here. 


ACT II -SCENE V.

A Room of State as before.
Boleslaus on his throne, surrounded by his court; Claribel
standing before him.


BOLESLAUS Who would have children?   Look, my lords! to yours;
Use whips, not kisses; bring them up with fear,
Not love: or they'll grow wanton, and play tricks 
In the public gaze, shaming your whitest hairs.
Keep them more strict, my lords!—Thou shameless
            girl!
To slide, so reptile-like, from kingly arms
Unto this slave, this groom, this serving-man.
Answer me,— how did he beguile thy heart.
To make thee lose thy honour?—But, not yet:
Say he has spared that.   Tell me he has done
Some glorious deed, some service of great price
In secret peril which we dream'd not of.
Say yes! and yet we'll give him half our realm.
 CLARIBEL I know no service—nothing but our love.
For that I am his wife.
BOLESLAUS O wretched slave!
Base, groveling, meanly-choosing,—when thine eyes
Were train'd to the highest.   Tell me, haggard! how

He lured thee from thy dignity.
CLARIBEL My lord!
It is your words alone that taint our state.—
I pray you hear me.   Though my doom was fix'd
Before you spoke.—My father! it was you
Who chose this gentleman you now revile,
From your whole court.   That he was worthy, sir!
Be witness his advancement by yourself—
I plead not to extenuate a fault,
But justifying truth—I saw him brave,
Noble, and lovely; my own sight confirm'd
Your praise and fame's reporting.   But I look'd '
With woman's eyes, and saw beneath all this
A soul that beat in unison with mine,—
In brief, sir! that fine sympathy which weds
The loving, be their different states most wide,—
Which ever draws the one to the other's side
Past all convention or world hinderance.
True love is nature without baulk of fear:
Hast thou a law to bind our natures? sir!
I loved him for he was a gentleman,—
A king can be no more; and that I found
His soul as royal as my own.—O, more:
For I Iook'd reverently to thee, Belovéd!
Up to thy royalty—You would have given
My hand unto prince Casimir, a true.
And kingly man,— my husband's friend—not more.
Witness how dearly Albert prized my love,—
To slay his friend whom he loved more than self.
Alas, my lord! love will not brook defeat;
Nor is there true election but the heart's.—
I pray thee, let the past be strown with peace,
And that thou recollect I am thy child,
Thy only child, the heir unto thy love.
Let not blind wrath usurp my heritage!—
For us, our life is one,— our life or death. 
BOLESLAUS My ears are stopp'd— Bring in this gentleman!

    [The dead body of Albert is brought in on a. litter of
     green boughs.]

Lo, thy Dishonour goeth to its grave.
Hide thou close in thy chamber till thou hast sense
To weed thy heart.   Till then,—till thou art clear,—
I have no daughter—none!—O Claribel!

            Claribel looks sadly on her father,- then quietly
            approaches the couch of Albert. 
CLARIBEL My gentlest! thou art gone: I haste to thee.
                She embraces him.
BOLESLAUS Raise her

[None move. He comes down from his throne and endeavours
 to lift her from the body.]

Look up!—My daughter!
ONE OF THE COURT She is dead.

__________________________
 


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