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The Duchess of Padua by Oscar Wilde

Part 2 out of 3

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DUCHESS

[turns her back and opens it]
Now, traitor, tell me what does this sign mean,
A dagger with two leopards wrought in steel?

GUIDO

[taking it from her] O God!

DUCHESS

I'll from the window look, and try
If I can't see the porter's livery
Who left it at the gate! I will not rest
Till I have learned your secret.
[Runs laughing into the corridor.]

GUIDO

Oh, horrible!
Had I so soon forgot my father's death,
Did I so soon let love into my heart,
And must I banish love, and let in murder
That beats and clamours at the outer gate?
Ay, that I must! Have I not sworn an oath?
Yet not to-night; nay, it must be to-night.
Farewell then all the joy and light of life,
All dear recorded memories, farewell,
Farewell all love! Could I with bloody hands
Fondle and paddle with her innocent hands?
Could I with lips fresh from this butchery
Play with her lips? Could I with murderous eyes
Look in those violet eyes, whose purity
Would strike men blind, and make each eyeball reel
In night perpetual? No, murder has set
A barrier between us far too high
For us to kiss across it.

DUCHESS

Guido!

GUIDO

Beatrice,
You must forget that name, and banish me
Out of your life for ever.

DUCHESS

[going towards him]
O dear love!

GUIDO

[stepping back]
There lies a barrier between us two
We dare not pass.

DUCHESS

I dare do anything
So that you are beside me.

GUIDO

Ah! There it is,
I cannot be beside you, cannot breathe
The air you breathe; I cannot any more
Stand face to face with beauty, which unnerves
My shaking heart, and makes my desperate hand
Fail of its purpose. Let me go hence, I pray;
Forget you ever looked upon me.

DUCHESS

What!
With your hot kisses fresh upon my lips
Forget the vows of love you made to me?

GUIDO

I take them back.

DUCHESS

Alas, you cannot, Guido,
For they are part of nature now; the air
Is tremulous with their music, and outside
The little birds sing sweeter for those vows.

GUIDO

There lies a barrier between us now,
Which then I knew not, or I had forgot.

DUCHESS

There is no barrier, Guido; why, I will go
In poor attire, and will follow you
Over the world.

GUIDO

[wildly]
The world's not wide enough
To hold us two! Farewell, farewell for ever.

DUCHESS

[calm, and controlling her passion]
Why did you come into my life at all, then,
Or in the desolate garden of my heart
Sow that white flower of love -?

GUIDO

O Beatrice!

DUCHESS

Which now you would dig up, uproot, tear out,
Though each small fibre doth so hold my heart
That if you break one, my heart breaks with it?
Why did you come into my life? Why open
The secret wells of love I had sealed up?
Why did you open them -?

GUIDO

O God!

DUCHESS

[clenching her hand]
And let
The floodgates of my passion swell and burst
Till, like the wave when rivers overflow
That sweeps the forest and the farm away,
Love in the splendid avalanche of its might
Swept my life with it? Must I drop by drop
Gather these waters back and seal them up?
Alas! Each drop will be a tear, and so
Will with its saltness make life very bitter.

GUIDO

I pray you speak no more, for I must go
Forth from your life and love, and make a way
On which you cannot follow.

DUCHESS

I have heard
That sailors dying of thirst upon a raft,
Poor castaways upon a lonely sea,
Dream of green fields and pleasant water-courses,
And then wake up with red thirst in their throats,
And die more miserably because sleep
Has cheated them: so they die cursing sleep
For having sent them dreams: I will not curse you
Though I am cast away upon the sea
Which men call Desolation.

GUIDO

O God, God!

DUCHESS

But you will stay: listen, I love you, Guido.
[She waits a little.]
Is echo dead, that when I say I love you
There is no answer?

GUIDO

Everything is dead,
Save one thing only, which shall die to-night!

DUCHESS

If you are going, touch me not, but go.
[Exit GUIDO.]
Barrier! Barrier!
Why did he say there was a barrier?
There is no barrier between us two.
He lied to me, and shall I for that reason
Loathe what I love, and what I worshipped, hate?
I think we women do not love like that.
For if I cut his image from my heart,
My heart would, like a bleeding pilgrim, follow
That image through the world, and call it back
With little cries of love.
[Enter DUKE equipped for the chase, with falconers and hounds.]

DUKE

Madam, you keep us waiting;
You keep my dogs waiting.

DUCHESS

I will not ride to-day.

DUKE

How now, what's this?

DUCHESS

My Lord, I cannot go.

DUKE

What, pale face, do you dare to stand against me?
Why, I could set you on a sorry jade
And lead you through the town, till the low rabble
You feed toss up their hats and mock at you.

DUCHESS

Have you no word of kindness ever for me?

DUKE

I hold you in the hollow of my hand
And have no need on you to waste kind words.

DUCHESS

Well, I will go.

DUKE

[slapping his boot with his whip]
No, I have changed my mind,
You will stay here, and like a faithful wife
Watch from the window for our coming back.
Were it not dreadful if some accident
By chance should happen to your loving Lord?
Come, gentlemen, my hounds begin to chafe,
And I chafe too, having a patient wife.
Where is young Guido?

MAFFIO

My liege, I have not seen him
For a full hour past.

DUKE

It matters not,
I dare say I shall see him soon enough.
Well, Madam, you will sit at home and spin.
I do protest, sirs, the domestic virtues
Are often very beautiful in others.

[Exit DUKE with his Court.]

DUCHESS

The stars have fought against me, that is all,
And thus to-night when my Lord lieth asleep,
Will I fall upon my dagger, and so cease.
My heart is such a stone nothing can reach it
Except the dagger's edge: let it go there,
To find what name it carries: ay! to-night
Death will divorce the Duke; and yet to-night
He may die also, he is very old.
Why should he not die? Yesterday his hand
Shook with a palsy: men have died from palsy,
And why not he? Are there not fevers also,
Agues and chills, and other maladies
Most incident to old age?
No, no, he will not die, he is too sinful;
Honest men die before their proper time.
Good men will die: men by whose side the Duke
In all the sick pollution of his life
Seems like a leper: women and children die,
But the Duke will not die, he is too sinful.
Oh, can it be
There is some immortality in sin,
Which virtue has not? And does the wicked man
Draw life from what to other men were death,
Like poisonous plants that on corruption live?
No, no, I think God would not suffer that:
Yet the Duke will not die: he is too sinful.
But I will die alone, and on this night
Grim Death shall be my bridegroom, and the tomb
My secret house of pleasure: well, what of that?
The world's a graveyard, and we each, like coffins,
Within us bear a skeleton.
[Enter LORD MORANZONE all in black; he passes across the back of
the stage looking anxiously about.]

MORANZONE

Where is Guido?
I cannot find him anywhere.

DUCHESS

[catches sight of him] O God!
'Twas thou who took my love away from me.

MORANZONE

[with a look of joy]
What, has he left you?

DUCHESS

Nay, you know he has.
Oh, give him back to me, give him back, I say,
Or I will tear your body limb from limb,
And to the common gibbet nail your head
Until the carrion crows have stripped it bare.
Better you had crossed a hungry lioness
Before you came between me and my love.
[With more pathos.]
Nay, give him back, you know not how I love him.
Here by this chair he knelt a half hour since;
'Twas there he stood, and there he looked at me;
This is the hand he kissed, and these the ears
Into whose open portals he did pour
A tale of love so musical that all
The birds stopped singing! Oh, give him back to me.

MORANZONE

He does not love you, Madam.

DUCHESS

May the plague
Wither the tongue that says so! Give him back.

MORANZONE

Madam, I tell you you will never see him,
Neither to-night, nor any other night.

DUCHESS

What is your name?

MORANZONE

My name? Revenge!
[Exit.]

DUCHESS

Revenge!
I think I never harmed a little child.
What should Revenge do coming to my door?
It matters not, for Death is there already,
Waiting with his dim torch to light my way.
'Tis true men hate thee, Death, and yet I think
Thou wilt be kinder to me than my lover,
And so dispatch the messengers at once,
Harry the lazy steeds of lingering day,
And let the night, thy sister, come instead,
And drape the world in mourning; let the owl,
Who is thy minister, scream from his tower
And wake the toad with hooting, and the bat,
That is the slave of dim Persephone,
Wheel through the sombre air on wandering wing!
Tear up the shrieking mandrakes from the earth
And bid them make us music, and tell the mole
To dig deep down thy cold and narrow bed,
For I shall lie within thine arms to-night.

END OF ACT II.

ACT III

SCENE

A large corridor in the Ducal Palace: a window (L.C.) looks out on
a view of Padua by moonlight: a staircase (R.C.) leads up to a
door with a portiere of crimson velvet, with the Duke's arms
embroidered in gold on it: on the lowest step of the staircase a
figure draped in black is sitting: the hall is lit by an iron
cresset filled with burning tow: thunder and lightning outside:
the time is night.

[Enter GUIDO through the window.]

GUIDO

The wind is rising: how my ladder shook!
I thought that every gust would break the cords!
[Looks out at the city.]
Christ! What a night:
Great thunder in the heavens, and wild lightnings
Striking from pinnacle to pinnacle
Across the city, till the dim houses seem
To shudder and to shake as each new glare
Dashes adown the street.
[Passes across the stage to foot of staircase.]
Ah! who art thou
That sittest on the stair, like unto Death
Waiting a guilty soul? [A pause.]
Canst thou not speak?
Or has this storm laid palsy on thy tongue,
And chilled thy utterance?
[The figure rises and takes off his mask.]

MORANZONE

Guido Ferranti,
Thy murdered father laughs for joy to-night.

GUIDO

[confusedly]
What, art thou here?

MORANZONE

Ay, waiting for your coming.

GUIDO

[looking away from him]
I did not think to see you, but am glad,
That you may know the thing I mean to do.

MORANZONE

First, I would have you know my well-laid plans;
Listen: I have set horses at the gate
Which leads to Parma: when you have done your business
We will ride hence, and by to-morrow night -

GUIDO

It cannot be.

MORANZONE

Nay, but it shall.

GUIDO

Listen, Lord Moranzone,
I am resolved not to kill this man.

MORANZONE

Surely my ears are traitors, speak again:
It cannot be but age has dulled my powers,
I am an old man now: what did you say?
You said that with that dagger in your belt
You would avenge your father's bloody murder;
Did you not say that?

GUIDO

No, my lord, I said
I was resolved not to kill the Duke.

MORANZONE

You said not that; it is my senses mock me;
Or else this midnight air o'ercharged with storm
Alters your message in the giving it.

GUIDO

Nay, you heard rightly; I'll not kill this man.

MORANZONE

What of thine oath, thou traitor, what of thine oath?

GUIDO

I am resolved not to keep that oath.

MORANZONE

What of thy murdered father?

GUIDO

Dost thou think
My father would be glad to see me coming,
This old man's blood still hot upon mine hands?

MORANZONE

Ay! he would laugh for joy.

GUIDO

I do not think so,
There is better knowledge in the other world;
Vengeance is God's, let God himself revenge.

MORANZONE

Thou art God's minister of vengeance.

GUIDO

No!
God hath no minister but his own hand.
I will not kill this man.

MORANZONE

Why are you here,
If not to kill him, then?

GUIDO

Lord Moranzone,
I purpose to ascend to the Duke's chamber,
And as he lies asleep lay on his breast
The dagger and this writing; when he awakes
Then he will know who held him in his power
And slew him not: this is the noblest vengeance
Which I can take.

MORANZONE

You will not slay him?

GUIDO

No.

MORANZONE

Ignoble son of a noble father,
Who sufferest this man who sold that father
To live an hour.

GUIDO

'Twas thou that hindered me;
I would have killed him in the open square,
The day I saw him first.

MORANZONE

It was not yet time;
Now it is time, and, like some green-faced girl,
Thou pratest of forgiveness.

GUIDO

No! revenge:
The right revenge my father's son should take.

MORANZONE

You are a coward,
Take out the knife, get to the Duke's chamber,
And bring me back his heart upon the blade.
When he is dead, then you can talk to me
Of noble vengeances.

GUIDO

Upon thine honour,
And by the love thou bearest my father's name,
Dost thou think my father, that great gentleman,
That generous soldier, that most chivalrous lord,
Would have crept at night-time, like a common thief,
And stabbed an old man sleeping in his bed,
However he had wronged him: tell me that.

MORANZONE

[after some hesitation]
You have sworn an oath, see that you keep that oath.
Boy, do you think I do not know your secret,
Your traffic with the Duchess?

GUIDO

Silence, liar!
The very moon in heaven is not more chaste.
Nor the white stars so pure.

MORANZONE

And yet, you love her;
Weak fool, to let love in upon your life,
Save as a plaything.

GUIDO

You do well to talk:
Within your veins, old man, the pulse of youth
Throbs with no ardour. Your eyes full of rheum
Have against Beauty closed their filmy doors,
And your clogged ears, losing their natural sense,
Have shut you from the music of the world.
You talk of love! You know not what it is.

MORANZONE

Oh, in my time, boy, have I walked i' the moon,
Swore I would live on kisses and on blisses,
Swore I would die for love, and did not die,
Wrote love bad verses; ay, and sung them badly,
Like all true lovers: Oh, I have done the tricks!
I know the partings and the chamberings;
We are all animals at best, and love
Is merely passion with a holy name.

GUIDO

Now then I know you have not loved at all.
Love is the sacrament of life; it sets
Virtue where virtue was not; cleanses men
Of all the vile pollutions of this world;
It is the fire which purges gold from dross,
It is the fan which winnows wheat from chaff,
It is the spring which in some wintry soil
Makes innocence to blossom like a rose.
The days are over when God walked with men,
But Love, which is his image, holds his place.
When a man loves a woman, then he knows
God's secret, and the secret of the world.
There is no house so lowly or so mean,
Which, if their hearts be pure who live in it,
Love will not enter; but if bloody murder
Knock at the Palace gate and is let in,
Love like a wounded thing creeps out and dies.
This is the punishment God sets on sin.
The wicked cannot love.
[A groan comes from the DUKE's chamber.]
Ah! What is that?
Do you not hear? 'Twas nothing.
So I think
That it is woman's mission by their love
To save the souls of men: and loving her,
My Lady, my white Beatrice, I begin
To see a nobler and a holier vengeance
In letting this man live, than doth reside
In bloody deeds o' night, stabs in the dark,
And young hands clutching at a palsied throat.
It was, I think, for love's sake that Lord Christ,
Who was indeed himself incarnate Love,
Bade every man forgive his enemy.

MORANZONE

[sneeringly]
That was in Palestine, not Padua;
And said for saints: I have to do with men.

GUIDO

It was for all time said.

MORANZONE

And your white Duchess,
What will she do to thank you?

GUIDO

Alas, I will not see her face again.
'Tis but twelve hours since I parted from her,
So suddenly, and with such violent passion,
That she has shut her heart against me now:
No, I will never see her.

MORANZONE

What will you do?

GUIDO

After that I have laid the dagger there,
Get hence to-night from Padua.

MORANZONE

And then?

GUIDO

I will take service with the Doge at Venice,
And bid him pack me straightway to the wars,
And there I will, being now sick of life,
Throw that poor life against some desperate spear.
[A groan from the DUKE'S chamber again.]
Did you not hear a voice?

MORANZONE

I always hear,
From the dim confines of some sepulchre,
A voice that cries for vengeance. We waste time,
It will be morning soon; are you resolved
You will not kill the Duke?

GUIDO

I am resolved.

MORANZONE

O wretched father, lying unavenged.

GUIDO

More wretched, were thy son a murderer.

MORANZONE

Why, what is life?

GUIDO

I do not know, my lord,
I did not give it, and I dare not take it.

MORANZONE

I do not thank God often; but I think
I thank him now that I have got no son!
And you, what bastard blood flows in your veins
That when you have your enemy in your grasp
You let him go! I would that I had left you
With the dull hinds that reared you.

GUIDO

Better perhaps
That you had done so! May be better still
I'd not been born to this distressful world.

MORANZONE

Farewell!

GUIDO

Farewell! Some day, Lord Moranzone,
You will understand my vengeance.

MORANZONE

Never, boy.
[Gets out of window and exit by rope ladder.]

GUIDO

Father, I think thou knowest my resolve,
And with this nobler vengeance art content.
Father, I think in letting this man live
That I am doing what thou wouldst have done.
Father, I know not if a human voice
Can pierce the iron gateway of the dead,
Or if the dead are set in ignorance
Of what we do, or do not, for their sakes.
And yet I feel a presence in the air,
There is a shadow standing at my side,
And ghostly kisses seem to touch my lips,
And leave them holier. [Kneels down.]
O father, if 'tis thou,
Canst thou not burst through the decrees of death,
And if corporeal semblance show thyself,
That I may touch thy hand!
No, there is nothing. [Rises.]
'Tis the night that cheats us with its phantoms,
And, like a puppet-master, makes us think
That things are real which are not. It grows late.
Now must I to my business.
[Pulls out a letter from his doublet and reads it.]
When he wakes,
And sees this letter, and the dagger with it,
Will he not have some loathing for his life,
Repent, perchance, and lead a better life,
Or will he mock because a young man spared
His natural enemy? I do not care.
Father, it is thy bidding that I do,
Thy bidding, and the bidding of my love
Which teaches me to know thee as thou art.
[Ascends staircase stealthily, and just as he reaches out his hand
to draw back the curtain the Duchess appears all in white. GUIDO
starts back.]

DUCHESS

Guido! what do you here so late?

GUIDO

O white and spotless angel of my life,
Sure thou hast come from Heaven with a message
That mercy is more noble than revenge?

DUCHESS

There is no barrier between us now.

GUIDO

None, love, nor shall be.

DUCHESS

I have seen to that.

GUIDO

Tarry here for me.

DUCHESS

No, you are not going?
You will not leave me as you did before?

GUIDO

I will return within a moment's space,
But first I must repair to the Duke's chamber,
And leave this letter and this dagger there,
That when he wakes -

DUCHESS

When who wakes?

GUIDO

Why, the Duke.

DUCHESS

He will not wake again.

GUIDO

What, is he dead?

DUCHESS

Ay! he is dead.

GUIDO

O God! how wonderful
Are all thy secret ways! Who would have said
That on this very night, when I had yielded
Into thy hands the vengeance that is thine,
Thou with thy finger wouldst have touched the man,
And bade him come before thy judgment seat.

DUCHESS

I have just killed him.

GUIDO

[in horror] Oh!

DUCHESS

He was asleep;
Come closer, love, and I will tell you all.
I had resolved to kill myself to-night.
About an hour ago I waked from sleep,
And took my dagger from beneath my pillow,
Where I had hidden it to serve my need,
And drew it from the sheath, and felt the edge,
And thought of you, and how I loved you, Guido,
And turned to fall upon it, when I marked
The old man sleeping, full of years and sin;
There lay he muttering curses in his sleep,
And as I looked upon his evil face
Suddenly like a flame there flashed across me,
There is the barrier which Guido spoke of:
You said there lay a barrier between us,
What barrier but he? -
I hardly know
What happened, but a steaming mist of blood
Rose up between us two.

GUIDO

Oh, horrible!

DUCHESS

And then he groaned,
And then he groaned no more! I only heard
The dripping of the blood upon the floor.

GUIDO

Enough, enough.

DUCHESS

Will you not kiss me now?
Do you remember saying that women's love
Turns men to angels? well, the love of man
Turns women into martyrs; for its sake
We do or suffer anything.

GUIDO

O God!

DUCHESS

Will you not speak?

GUIDO

I cannot speak at all.

DUCHESS

Let as not talk of this! Let us go hence:
Is not the barrier broken down between us?
What would you more? Come, it is almost morning.
[Puts her hand on GUIDO'S.]

GUIDO

[breaking from her]
O damned saint! O angel fresh from Hell!
What bloody devil tempted thee to this!
That thou hast killed thy husband, that is nothing -
Hell was already gaping for his soul -
But thou hast murdered Love, and in its place
Hast set a horrible and bloodstained thing,
Whose very breath breeds pestilence and plague,
And strangles Love.

DUCHESS

[in amazed wonder]
I did it all for you.
I would not have you do it, had you willed it,
For I would keep you without blot or stain,
A thing unblemished, unassailed, untarnished.
Men do not know what women do for love.
Have I not wrecked my soul for your dear sake,
Here and hereafter?

GUIDO

No, do not touch me,
Between us lies a thin red stream of blood;
I dare not look across it: when you stabbed him
You stabbed Love with a sharp knife to the heart.
We cannot meet again.

DUCHESS

[wringing her hands]
For you! For you!
I did it all for you: have you forgotten?
You said there was a barrier between us;
That barrier lies now i' the upper chamber
Upset, overthrown, beaten, and battered down,
And will not part us ever.

GUIDO

No, you mistook:
Sin was the barrier, you have raised it up;
Crime was the barrier, you have set it there.
The barrier was murder, and your hand
Has builded it so high it shuts out heaven,
It shuts out God.

DUCHESS

I did it all for you;
You dare not leave me now: nay, Guido, listen.
Get horses ready, we will fly to-night.
The past is a bad dream, we will forget it:
Before us lies the future: shall we not have
Sweet days of love beneath our vines and laugh? -
No, no, we will not laugh, but, when we weep,
Well, we will weep together; I will serve you;
I will be very meek and very gentle:
You do not know me.

GUIDO

Nay, I know you now;
Get hence, I say, out of my sight.

DUCHESS

[pacing up and down]
O God,
How I have loved this man!

GUIDO

You never loved me.
Had it been so, Love would have stayed your hand.
How could we sit together at Love's table?
You have poured poison in the sacred wine,
And Murder dips his fingers in the sop.

DUCHESS

[throws herself on her knees]
Then slay me now! I have spilt blood to-night,
You shall spill more, so we go hand in hand
To heaven or to hell. Draw your sword, Guido.
Quick, let your soul go chambering in my heart,
It will but find its master's image there.
Nay, if you will not slay me with your sword,
Bid me to fall upon this reeking knife,
And I will do it.

GUIDO

[wresting knife from her]
Give it to me, I say.
O God, your very hands are wet with blood!
This place is Hell, I cannot tarry here.
I pray you let me see your face no more.

DUCHESS

Better for me I had not seen your face.
[GUIDO recoils: she seizes his hands as she kneels.]
Nay, Guido, listen for a while:
Until you came to Padua I lived
Wretched indeed, but with no murderous thought,
Very submissive to a cruel Lord,
Very obedient to unjust commands,

As pure I think as any gentle girl
Who now would turn in horror from my hands -
[Stands up.]
You came: ah! Guido, the first kindly words
I ever heard since I had come from France
Were from your lips: well, well, that is no matter.
You came, and in the passion of your eyes
I read love's meaning; everything you said
Touched my dumb soul to music, so I loved you.
And yet I did not tell you of my love.
'Twas you who sought me out, knelt at my feet
As I kneel now at yours, and with sweet vows,
[Kneels.]
Whose music seems to linger in my ears,
Swore that you loved me, and I trusted you.
I think there are many women in the world
Who would have tempted you to kill the man.
I did not.
Yet I know that had I done so,
I had not been thus humbled in the dust,
[Stands up.]
But you had loved me very faithfully.
[After a pause approaches him timidly.]
I do not think you understand me, Guido:
It was for your sake that I wrought this deed
Whose horror now chills my young blood to ice,
For your sake only. [Stretching out her arm.]
Will you not speak to me?
Love me a little: in my girlish life
I have been starved for love, and kindliness
Has passed me by.

GUIDO

I dare not look at you:
You come to me with too pronounced a favour;
Get to your tirewomen.

DUCHESS

Ay, there it is!
There speaks the man! yet had you come to me
With any heavy sin upon your soul,
Some murder done for hire, not for love,
Why, I had sat and watched at your bedside
All through the night-time, lest Remorse might come
And pour his poisons in your ear, and so
Keep you from sleeping! Sure it is the guilty,
Who, being very wretched, need love most.

GUIDO

There is no love where there is any guilt.

DUCHESS

No love where there is any guilt! O God,
How differently do we love from men!
There is many a woman here in Padua,
Some workman's wife, or ruder artisan's,
Whose husband spends the wages of the week
In a coarse revel, or a tavern brawl,
And reeling home late on the Saturday night,
Finds his wife sitting by a fireless hearth,
Trying to hush the child who cries for hunger,
And then sets to and beats his wife because
The child is hungry, and the fire black.
Yet the wife loves him! and will rise next day
With some red bruise across a careworn face,
And sweep the house, and do the common service,
And try and smile, and only be too glad
If he does not beat her a second time
Before her child!--that is how women love.
[A pause: GUIDO says nothing.]
I think you will not drive me from your side.
Where have I got to go if you reject me? -
You for whose sake this hand has murdered life,
You for whose sake my soul has wrecked itself
Beyond all hope of pardon.

GUIDO

Get thee gone:
The dead man is a ghost, and our love too,
Flits like a ghost about its desolate tomb,
And wanders through this charnel house, and weeps
That when you slew your lord you slew it also.
Do you not see?

DUCHESS

I see when men love women
They give them but a little of their lives,
But women when they love give everything;
I see that, Guido, now.

GUIDO

Away, away,
And come not back till you have waked your dead.

DUCHESS

I would to God that I could wake the dead,
Put vision in the glazed eves, and give
The tongue its natural utterance, and bid
The heart to beat again: that cannot be:
For what is done, is done: and what is dead
Is dead for ever: the fire cannot warm him:
The winter cannot hurt him with its snows;
Something has gone from him; if you call him now,
He will not answer; if you mock him now,
He will not laugh; and if you stab him now
He will not bleed.
I would that I could wake him!
O God, put back the sun a little space,
And from the roll of time blot out to-night,
And bid it not have been! Put back the sun,
And make me what I was an hour ago!
No, no, time will not stop for anything,
Nor the sun stay its courses, though Repentance
Calling it back grow hoarse; but you, my love,
Have you no word of pity even for me?
O Guido, Guido, will you not kiss me once?
Drive me not to some desperate resolve:
Women grow mad when they are treated thus:
Will you not kiss me once?

GUIDO

[holding up knife]
I will not kiss you
Until the blood grows dry upon this knife,
[Wildly] Back to your dead!

DUCHESS

[going up the stairs]
Why, then I will be gone! and may you find
More mercy than you showed to me to-night!

GUIDO

Let me find mercy when I go at night
And do foul murder.

DUCHESS

[coming down a few steps.]
Murder did you say?
Murder is hungry, and still cries for more,
And Death, his brother, is not satisfied,
But walks the house, and will not go away,
Unless he has a comrade! Tarry, Death,
For I will give thee a most faithful lackey
To travel with thee! Murder, call no more,
For thou shalt eat thy fill.
There is a storm
Will break upon this house before the morning,
So horrible, that the white moon already
Turns grey and sick with terror, the low wind
Goes moaning round the house, and the high stars
Run madly through the vaulted firmament,
As though the night wept tears of liquid fire
For what the day shall look upon. Oh, weep,
Thou lamentable heaven! Weep thy fill!
Though sorrow like a cataract drench the fields,
And make the earth one bitter lake of tears,
It would not be enough. [A peal of thunder.]
Do you not hear,
There is artillery in the Heaven to-night.
Vengeance is wakened up, and has unloosed
His dogs upon the world, and in this matter
Which lies between us two, let him who draws
The thunder on his head beware the ruin
Which the forked flame brings after.
[A flash of lightning followed by a peal of thunder.]

GUIDO

Away! away!
[Exit the DUCHESS, who as she lifts the crimson curtain looks back
for a moment at GUIDO, but he makes no sign. More thunder.]
Now is life fallen in ashes at my feet
And noble love self-slain; and in its place
Crept murder with its silent bloody feet.
And she who wrought it--Oh! and yet she loved me,
And for my sake did do this dreadful thing.
I have been cruel to her: Beatrice!
Beatrice, I say, come back.
[Begins to ascend staircase, when the noise of Soldiers is heard.]
Ah! what is that?
Torches ablaze, and noise of hurrying feet.
Pray God they have not seized her.
[Noise grows louder.]
Beatrice!
There is yet time to escape. Come down, come out!
[The voice of the DUCHESS outside.]
This way went he, the man who slew my lord.
[Down the staircase comes hurrying a confused body of Soldiers;
GUIDO is not seen at first, till the DUCHESS surrounded by Servants
carrying torches appears at the top of the staircase, and points to
GUIDO, who is seized at once, one of the Soldiers dragging the
knife from his hand and showing it to the Captain of the Guard in
sight of the audience. Tableau.]

END OF ACT III.

ACT IV

SCENE

The Court of Justice: the walls are hung with stamped grey velvet:
above the hangings the wall is red, and gilt symbolical figures
bear up the roof, which is made of red beams with grey soffits and
moulding: a canopy of white satin flowered with gold is set for
the Duchess: below it a long bench with red cloth for the Judges:
below that a table for the clerks of the court. Two soldiers stand
on each side of the canopy, and two soldiers guard the door; the
citizens have some of them collected in the Court; others are
coming in greeting one another; two tipstaffs in violet keep order
with long white wands.

FIRST CITIZEN

Good morrow, neighbour Anthony.

SECOND CITIZEN

Good morrow, neighbour Dominick.

FIRST CITIZEN

This is a strange day for Padua, is it not?--the Duke being dead.

SECOND CITIZEN

I tell you, neighbour Dominick, I have not known such a day since
the last Duke died.

FIRST CITIZEN

They will try him first, and sentence him afterwards, will they
not, neighbour Anthony?

SECOND CITIZEN

Nay, for he might 'scape his punishment then; but they will condemn
him first so that he gets his deserts, and give him trial
afterwards so that no injustice is done.

FIRST CITIZEN

Well, well, it will go hard with him I doubt not.

SECOND CITIZEN

Surely it is a grievous thing to shed a Duke's blood.

THIRD CITIZEN

They say a Duke has blue blood.

SECOND CITIZEN

I think our Duke's blood was black like his soul.

FIRST CITIZEN

Have a watch, neighbour Anthony, the officer is looking at thee.

SECOND CITIZEN

I care not if he does but look at me; he cannot whip me with the
lashes of his eye.

THIRD CITIZEN

What think you of this young man who stuck the knife into the Duke?

SECOND CITIZEN

Why, that he is a well-behaved, and a well-meaning, and a well-
favoured lad, and yet wicked in that he killed the Duke.

THIRD CITIZEN

'Twas the first time he did it: may be the law will not be hard on
him, as he did not do it before.

SECOND CITIZEN

True.

TIPSTAFF

Silence, knave.

SECOND CITIZEN

Am I thy looking-glass, Master Tipstaff, that thou callest me
knave?

FIRST CITIZEN

Here be one of the household coming. Well, Dame Lucy, thou art of
the Court, how does thy poor mistress the Duchess, with her sweet
face?

MISTRESS LUCY

O well-a-day! O miserable day! O day! O misery! Why it is just
nineteen years last June, at Michaelmas, since I was married to my
husband, and it is August now, and here is the Duke murdered; there
is a coincidence for you!

SECOND CITIZEN

Why, if it is a coincidence, they may not kill the young man:
there is no law against coincidences.

FIRST CITIZEN

But how does the Duchess?

MISTRESS LUCY

Well well, I knew some harm would happen to the house: six weeks
ago the cakes were all burned on one side, and last Saint Martin
even as ever was, there flew into the candle a big moth that had
wings, and a'most scared me.

FIRST CITIZEN

But come to the Duchess, good gossip: what of her?

MISTRESS LUCY

Marry, it is time you should ask after her, poor lady; she is
distraught almost. Why, she has not slept, but paced the chamber
all night long. I prayed her to have a posset, or some aqua-vitae,
and to get to bed and sleep a little for her health's sake, but she
answered me she was afraid she might dream. That was a strange
answer, was it not?

SECOND CITIZEN

These great folk have not much sense, so Providence makes it up to
them in fine clothes.

MISTRESS LUCY

Well, well, God keep murder from us, I say, as long as we are
alive.

[Enter LORD MORANZONE hurriedly.]

MORANZONE

Is the Duke dead?

SECOND CITIZEN

He has a knife in his heart, which they say is not healthy for any
man.

MORANZONE

Who is accused of having killed him?

SECOND CITIZEN

Why, the prisoner, sir.

MORANZONE

But who is the prisoner?

SECOND CITIZEN

Why, he that is accused of the Duke's murder.

MORANZONE

I mean, what is his name?

SECOND CITIZEN

Faith, the same which his godfathers gave him: what else should it
be?

TIPSTAFF

Guido Ferranti is his name, my lord.

MORANZONE

I almost knew thine answer ere you gave it.
[Aside.]
Yet it is strange he should have killed the Duke,
Seeing he left me in such different mood.
It is most likely when he saw the man,
This devil who had sold his father's life,
That passion from their seat within his heart
Thrust all his boyish theories of love,
And in their place set vengeance; yet I marvel
That he escaped not.
[Turning again to the crowd.]
How was he taken? Tell me.

THIRD CITIZEN

Marry, sir, he was taken by the heels.

MORANZONE

But who seized him?

THIRD CITIZEN

Why, those that did lay hold of him.

MORANZONE

How was the alarm given?

THIRD CITIZEN

That I cannot tell you, sir.

MISTRESS LUCY

It was the Duchess herself who pointed him out.

MORANZONE

[aside]
The Duchess! There is something strange in this.

MISTRESS LUCY

Ay! And the dagger was in his hand--the Duchess's own dagger.

MORANZONE

What did you say?

MISTRESS LUCY

Why, marry, that it was with the Duchess's dagger that the Duke was
killed.

MORANZONE

[aside]
There is some mystery about this: I cannot understand it.

SECOND CITIZEN

They be very long a-coming,

FIRST CITIZEN

I warrant they will come soon enough for the prisoner.

TIPSTAFF

Silence in the Court!

FIRST CITIZEN

Thou dost break silence in bidding us keep it, Master Tipstaff.
[Enter the LORD JUSTICE and the other Judges.]

SECOND CITIZEN

Who is he in scarlet? Is he the headsman?

THIRD CITIZEN

Nay, he is the Lord Justice.
[Enter GUIDO guarded.]

SECOND CITIZEN

There be the prisoner surely.

THIRD CITIZEN

He looks honest.

FIRST CITIZEN

That be his villany: knaves nowadays do look so honest that honest
folk are forced to look like knaves so as to be different.
[Enter the Headman, who takes his stand behind GUIDO.]

SECOND CITIZEN

Yon be the headsman then! O Lord! Is the axe sharp, think you?

FIRST CITIZEN

Ay! sharper than thy wits are; but the edge is not towards him,
mark you.

SECOND CITIZEN

[scratching his neck]
I' faith, I like it not so near.

FIRST CITIZEN

Tut, thou need'st not be afraid; they never cut the heads of common
folk: they do but hang us.
[Trumpets outside.]

THIRD CITIZEN

What are the trumpets for? Is the trial over?

FIRST CITIZEN

Nay, 'tis for the Duchess.
[Enter the DUCHESS in black velvet; her train of flowered black
velvet is carried by two pages in violet; with her is the CARDINAL
in scarlet, and the gentlemen of the Court in black; she takes her
seat on the throne above the Judges, who rise and take their caps
off as she enters; the CARDINAL sits next to her a little lower;
the Courtiers group themselves about the throne.]

SECOND CITIZEN

O poor lady, how pale she is! Will she sit there?

FIRST CITIZEN

Ay! she is in the Duke's place now.

SECOND CITIZEN

That is a good thing for Padua; the Duchess is a very kind and
merciful Duchess; why, she cured my child of the ague once.

THIRD CITIZEN

Ay, and has given us bread: do not forget the bread.

A SOLDIER

Stand back, good people.

SECOND CITIZEN

If we be good, why should we stand back?

TIPSTAFF

Silence in the Court!

LORD JUSTICE

May it please your Grace,
Is it your pleasure we proceed to trial
Of the Duke's murder? [DUCHESS bows.]
Set the prisoner forth.
What is thy name?

GUIDO

It matters not, my lord.

LORD JUSTICE

Guido Ferranti is thy name in Padua.

GUIDO

A man may die as well under that name as any other.

LORD JUSTICE

Thou art not ignorant
What dreadful charge men lay against thee here,
Namely, the treacherous murder of thy Lord,
Simone Gesso, Duke of Padua;
What dost thou say in answer?

GUIDO

I say nothing.

LORD JUSTICE

[rising]
Guido Ferranti -

MORANZONE

[stepping from the crowd]
Tarry, my Lord Justice.

LORD JUSTICE

Who art thou that bid'st justice tarry, sir?

MORANZONE

So be it justice it can go its way;
But if it be not justice -

LORD JUSTICE

Who is this?

COUNT BARDI

A very noble gentleman, and well known
To the late Duke.

LORD JUSTICE

Sir, thou art come in time
To see the murder of the Duke avenged.
There stands the man who did this heinous thing.

MORANZONE

My lord,
I ask again what proof have ye?

LORD JUSTICE

[holding up the dagger]
This dagger,
Which from his blood-stained hands, itself all blood,
Last night the soldiers seized: what further proof
Need we indeed?

MORANZONE

[takes the danger and approaches the DUCHESS]
Saw I not such a dagger
Hang from your Grace's girdle yesterday?
[The DUCHESS shudders and makes no answer.]
Ah! my Lord Justice, may I speak a moment
With this young man, who in such peril stands?

LORD JUSTICE

Ay, willingly, my lord, and may you turn him
To make a full avowal of his guilt.
[LORD MORANZONE goes over to GUIDO, who stands R. and clutches him
by the hand.]

MORANZONE

[in a low voice]
She did it! Nay, I saw it in her eyes.
Boy, dost thou think I'll let thy father's son
Be by this woman butchered to his death?
Her husband sold your father, and the wife
Would sell the son in turn.

GUIDO

Lord Moranzone,
I alone did this thing: be satisfied,
My father is avenged.

LORD JUSTICE

Doth he confess?

GUIDO

My lord, I do confess
That foul unnatural murder has been done.

FIRST CITIZEN

Why, look at that: he has a pitiful heart, and does not like
murder; they will let him go for that.

LORD JUSTICE

Say you no more?

GUIDO

My lord, I say this also,
That to spill human blood is deadly sin.

SECOND CITIZEN

Marry, he should tell that to the headsman: 'tis a good sentiment.

GUIDO

Lastly, my lord, I do entreat the Court
To give me leave to utter openly
The dreadful secret of this mystery,
And to point out the very guilty one
Who with this dagger last night slew the Duke.

LORD JUSTICE

Thou hast leave to speak.

DUCHESS

[rising]
I say he shall not speak:
What need have we of further evidence?
Was he not taken in the house at night
In Guilt's own bloody livery?

LORD JUSTICE

[showing her the statute]
Your Grace
Can read the law.

DUCHESS

[waiving book aside]
Bethink you, my Lord Justice,
Is it not very like that such a one
May, in the presence of the people here,
Utter some slanderous word against my Lord,
Against the city, or the city's honour,
Perchance against myself.

LORD JUSTICE

My liege, the law.

DUCHESS

He shall not speak, but, with gags in his mouth,
Shall climb the ladder to the bloody block.

LORD JUSTICE

The law, my liege.

DUCHESS

We are not bound by law,
But with it we bind others.

MORANZONE

My Lord Justice,
Thou wilt not suffer this injustice here.

LORD JUSTICE

The Court needs not thy voice, Lord Moranzone.
Madam, it were a precedent most evil
To wrest the law from its appointed course,
For, though the cause be just, yet anarchy
Might on this licence touch these golden scales
And unjust causes unjust victories gain.

COUNT BARDI

I do not think your Grace can stay the law.

DUCHESS

Ay, it is well to preach and prate of law:
Methinks, my haughty lords of Padua,
If ye are hurt in pocket or estate,
So much as makes your monstrous revenues
Less by the value of one ferry toll,
Ye do not wait the tedious law's delay
With such sweet patience as ye counsel me.

COUNT BARDI

Madam, I think you wrong our nobles here.

DUCHESS

I think I wrong them not. Which of you all
Finding a thief within his house at night,
With some poor chattel thrust into his rags,
Will stop and parley with him? do ye not
Give him unto the officer and his hook
To be dragged gaolwards straightway?
And so now,
Had ye been men, finding this fellow here,
With my Lord's life still hot upon his hands,
Ye would have haled him out into the court,
And struck his head off with an axe.

GUIDO

O God!

DUCHESS

Speak, my Lord Justice.

LORD JUSTICE

Your Grace, it cannot be:
The laws of Padua are most certain here:
And by those laws the common murderer even
May with his own lips plead, and make defence.

DUCHESS

This is no common murderer, Lord Justice,
But a great outlaw, and a most vile traitor,
Taken in open arms against the state.
For he who slays the man who rules a state
Slays the state also, widows every wife,
And makes each child an orphan, and no less
Is to be held a public enemy,
Than if he came with mighty ordonnance,
And all the spears of Venice at his back,
To beat and batter at our city gates -
Nay, is more dangerous to our commonwealth,
For walls and gates, bastions and forts, and things
Whose common elements are wood and stone
May be raised up, but who can raise again
The ruined body of my murdered lord,
And bid it live and laugh?

MAFFIO

Now by Saint Paul
I do not think that they will let him speak.

JEPPO VITELLOZZO

There is much in this, listen.

DUCHESS

Wherefore now,
Throw ashes on the head of Padua,
With sable banners hang each silent street,
Let every man be clad in solemn black;
But ere we turn to these sad rites of mourning
Let us bethink us of the desperate hand
Which wrought and brought this ruin on our state,
And straightway pack him to that narrow house,
Where no voice is, but with a little dust
Death fills right up the lying mouths of men.

GUIDO

Unhand me, knaves! I tell thee, my Lord Justice,
Thou mightst as well bid the untrammelled ocean,
The winter whirlwind, or the Alpine storm,
Not roar their will, as bid me hold my peace!
Ay! though ye put your knives into my throat,
Each grim and gaping wound shall find a tongue,
And cry against you.

LORD JUSTICE

Sir, this violence
Avails you nothing; for save the tribunal
Give thee a lawful right to open speech,
Naught that thou sayest can be credited.
[The DUCHESS smiles and GUIDO falls back with a gesture of
despair.]
Madam, myself, and these wise Justices,
Will with your Grace's sanction now retire
Into another chamber, to decide
Upon this difficult matter of the law,
And search the statutes and the precedents.

DUCHESS

Go, my Lord Justice, search the statutes well,
Nor let this brawling traitor have his way.

MORANZONE

Go, my Lord Justice, search thy conscience well,
Nor let a man be sent to death unheard.
[Exit the LORD JUSTICE and the Judges.]

DUCHESS

Silence, thou evil genius of my life!
Thou com'st between us two a second time;
This time, my lord, I think the turn is mine.

GUIDO

I shall not die till I have uttered voice.

DUCHESS

Thou shalt die silent, and thy secret with thee.

GUIDO

Art thou that Beatrice, Duchess of Padua?

DUCHESS

I am what thou hast made me; look at me well,
I am thy handiwork.

MAFFIO

See, is she not
Like that white tigress which we saw at Venice,
Sent by some Indian soldan to the Doge?

JEPPO

Hush! she may hear thy chatter.

HEADSMAN

My young fellow,
I do not know why thou shouldst care to speak,
Seeing my axe is close upon thy neck,
And words of thine will never blunt its edge.
But if thou art so bent upon it, why
Thou mightest plead unto the Churchman yonder:
The common people call him kindly here,
Indeed I know he has a kindly soul.

GUIDO

This man, whose trade is death, hath courtesies
More than the others.

HEADSMAN

Why, God love you, sir,
I'll do you your last service on this earth.

GUIDO

My good Lord Cardinal, in a Christian land,
With Lord Christ's face of mercy looking down
From the high seat of Judgment, shall a man
Die unabsolved, unshrived? And if not so,

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