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The Lamp and the Bell by Edna St. Vincent Millay

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GILDA. Nay, if that were all,
It might have been the Pope!

BEPPO. I would it had been.
I never saw the Pope.

GILDA. You never saw
The Queen until this morning!--Mother, she rides
Clothed like a man, almost!

BEPPO. With sword at side!

GILDA. And, oh, the sword had a jeweled--what is the name of it?

BEPPO. Scabbard, of course!

GILDA. A jeweled scabbard, mother!
I wish I were a queen.

BEPPO. Ho, you would make
A proper queen, with that droll nose of yours!

GILDA. I know a boy who likes my nose!

BEPPO. Ho, ho!
He must be a hunch-back!

GIULIANA. You must not tease her, Beppo.

GILDA. I wish I were queen. If I were a queen,
You would not dare to say my nose is droll.

BEPPO. It would be, all the same.

GIO. You should be content
With what you have, not cry to rise beyond it.
It is a sin to covet.

GIULIANA. Being a queen,
My bird, is not all riding to the hunt
Of a sunny morning.

ANNA. Nay, 'tis riding back
At times, of a rainy night, to such a burden
Of cares as simple folk have little mind of.

GILDA. I'd rather have a queen's cares than my own.

BEPPO. Ho, ho! Your cares! What cares have you?

GILDA. I have
A brother that will be teasing me all times!
'Tis cares enough for one, I tell you.

ADELINA. [Across stage.] Beppo!
Come help me fetch the milk!

GILDA. Oh, Mister Beppo,
Your sweetheart calls you! Run and fetch the milk!

LEONORA. [From a house, coming out.] Come in to supper, children!

RIGO. Oh, not just yet!

ELENORA. Father's not home yet!

LEONORA. You need not wait for him.

LOUIS. May we come out again?

LEONORA. [Joining other women.] Ay, for a time.
Till it gets dark.

RIGO. [To Louis.] 'Tis dark now, almost.

LOUIS. Hush!
She does not know it.

GIULIANA. 'Tis dark now.

LEONORA. Ay, I know.
I let them play a little after dark
Sometimes, when the weather's fine. I would not have them
Afraid of shadows. They think I do not know
Darkness from light.

ELENORA. There's father now!

RIGO. I see him!

[Elenora, Louis and Rigo run off the stage and along the path.]

LEONORA. He is late home today. I cannot think
What may have held him. 'Twill be deep night already
In the woods.

CESCO. [Off stage, harshly.] Down! Down! Do you run back to your mother!
See you not I am in haste?--Hang not upon me!

EUG. La! He is in a temper!

LEO. I never knew him
So out of patience with them.

GIU. He is hungry, maybe.

LEO. He is often hungry, but I never knew him
So out of patience. [The children come running back. To Elenora.]
Why do you weep, my heart?

LUI. Father is someone else tonight.

ELENORA. [Weeping.] He pushed me!

[Enter Cesco, with game on his shoulder, or a basket of mushrooms.]

SEVERAL WOMEN. Good-even, Cesco.

CES. [To Leonora.] Look you, Leonora,
Have we a bed fit for a queen to lie in?

LEO. Nay, faith! Not we!

GIL. She can have my bed, mother.

GIN. Ay, true. There is a bed in my house, Cesco.

GIO. What will the queen do here?

GIU. I would indeed
She had let us know that she was coming!

CES. The Queen
Knew not herself. Nor is she coming of herself.
They are bringing her,--on a litter of crossed boughs,

GIL. She is not dead?

CES. Nay. Wounded in the arm
A little, and in a swoon. But the young King
Of Lagoverde is no more!

WOMEN. How so?

CES. I tell you my two eyes have looked this day
On a sad and useless thing!--A fine lad, young,
And strong, and beautiful as a lad may be,
And king of a fair country, thrust from horse
By a foul blow, and sprawled upon the ground,--
Legs wide asunder, fist full of brown mud,
Hair in his eyes,--most pitiful unkingly!
Bring me a mug of wine, good wife! [Leonora goes out.]

GIO. You, Gilda!
There is a queen you would not be tonight,
I'll warrant you,--the Queen of Lagoverde,
With her two fatherless babes!

EUG. Nay, now, good Cesco,
What is this matter?

CES. You'll know it quick enough.
They will be bringing the queen here ere I have breath
To tell you. They are coming by the road,
I took the mountain-path, and ran.

GIU. I must hasten
To put fresh sheets on. [To Gilda.] Look you,--listen well
If he should talk, and tell me afterwards. [Exit.]

EUG. Here comes Horatio! The boats are in.

[Some children rush down to the water-side.]

A good day, husband?

HOR. Ay, a heavy day.
What think you of that?--A big one, eh?--Came in
With a school of little fish,--too greedy that time!
What happens here?--The air is full of breathing!

[The men come up from the boats with children clinging to them.
Beppo and Adelina return from another direction with the milk.]

LEO. [Somewhat proudly.] Cesco will tell you.

CES. In a word 'tis this: Today the Queen of Fiori,
Returning from the hunt, is set upon
By brigands; where at the King of Lagoverde,
Being hunting in that quarter and hearing cries,
Comes up to give his aid; in rendering which
He gives his life as well, and at this moment,
On other men's legs, goes heavily home to supper.
The Queen of Fiori, wounded, and in a swoon
Only less deep than death itself, comes this way.

CROWD. Ay, here they come! [Enter Anselmo.]

ANS. Make way, make way, good people--
Fall back a little--leave a clear space--give air!

[Enter Laura and Francesca, Luigi, several gentlemen, several
attendants, four of them bearing a litter on which lies Beatrice, in
a scarlet cloak, her hair flowing. Luigi is with Laura, who clings
to him. If possible to arrange, several of the party may lead on
their horses and lead them off across the stage. The litter is set
down stage in full sight of the audience. Beppo comes down stage
near it, as does also, from another direction, Gilda. Giuliana

ANS. Who has a bed that we may lay her on?
She cannot leave this place tonight.

GIU. This way, sir.

[The attendants pick up the litter and go off, the crowd following.]

GIL. [Stealing back.] Hist, Beppo!


GIL. Heard you not something fall,
When they picked her up again?

BEPPO. Ay, that I did.

GIL. What was it, think you? [They search.] Nay, 'twas nearer here.

BEPPO. I have it.--'Tis her sword!

GIL. The Queen's? Ay,--truly.
How beautiful!

BEPPO. [Slowly and with awe drawing it from its scabbard.]
Look,--there is blood on it!

Scene 2

[A room in the palace at Lagoverde. Bianca and her two little
daughters discovered at the rise of the curtain, she in a big chair,
they at her feet.]

BIA. And so the fairy laid a spell on her:
Henceforth she should be ugly as a toad.
But the good fairy, seeing this was done,
And having in no wise power to alter this,
Made all toads beautiful.

LITTLE ROSE-RED. They are not beautiful
Now, mother!

LITTLE SNOW-WHITE. That was in another country!--
What country, mother? [Bianca, lost in thought, does not answer.]

LITTLE ROSE-RED. Where is father, mother?--
I have not seen him in so many days!

BIA. Father is gone away.

LITTLE ROSE-RED. Will he come back?

BIA. Nay. He will not come back. But we shall go
Where he is.


BIA. God grant it may be soon!
Now---shall we play a game?

[Enter Octavia.]

OCT. Bianca.

BIA. Ay.

OCT. It is a folly to remain indoors
Like this. You should be out in the sunshine.

BIA. Nay.
I have no business with the sunshine.

OCT. Ah,
My daughter, say not so!--The children, then,--
They have much need of it, and they have need
Of you, at the same time. Take them without.

BIA. I do not wish to be in the sunshine.

Come out of doors!

OCT. You see, now!

BIA. Do you run out, dears,
And play at ball. Mother will join you later.

LITTLE ROSE-RED. Where is my ball?

BIA. Nay, do you not remember?
We put it in the ear of the stone griffin,
Because he hears too much.

LITTLE ROSE-RED. Ay, so we did!

LITTLE SNOW-WHITE. Come on, Rose-Red! [Exeunt children.]

OCT. It is a curious thing
This friend of yours you rate so monstrous high
Has not come nigh you in your sore affliction!

BIA. I beg you not to speak of that again,
Mother. 'Tis the third time today you have said that,
Or hinted at it. And I answer always,
"There is some reason for it," as I should answer
Though you cried daily till the day of doom,
"It is a curious thing!" There is some reason,
There is some good reason why she does not come.

OCT. Oh, ay, I doubt it not! But there are reasons
And reasons!

BIA. And what am I to learn from that?

OCT. 'Tis scarce by reason of too much love for you
She leaves you friendless in your greatest need.

BIA. I cannot say. 'Tis one thing or another.
You have no words can turn me to believe
She has forgotten me, or loves me less.
'Tis a big thing, to leave me thus alone,--
And there is some big reason.

OCT. Ay. Oh, ay.
'Tis possible she grieves for Mario's death
No less than you,

BIA. [Simply] Ay, it is possible.
I mind she told me on my marriage-day
She was as happy as I.

OCT. 'Tis a curious thing,
When he was here she came to see you often,
But now that he is gone comes not at all.

BIA. [Simply.] Ay, it is curious. [Catching Octavia's expression.]

BIA. Nay, what evil thing
Is in your mind, gives you that evil smile?

OCT. Only a little thought.

BIA. A little thought,
I'll warrant you!--You'd have me to believe
She loved my husband?

OCT. Ay, I know she loved him.

BIA. It is a lie!

OCT. How dare you say I lie!

BIA. Oh, do not be so proud! Let us speak truth
At length, a little! We are so garnished up
With courtesies, so over-sauced and seasoned,
We cannot taste each other! Why do you tell me
A thing like that?---You have no love for me!

OCT. [Weeping,] I love you too much--you are the only thing
I do love!

BIA. Nay, it is not love of me
For my own self. Else would you do the thing
Would make me happiest. You know how I have loved her,
Since we were children. You could not be to me
What she was; one forgets too many things.
You could not know my thought. I loved you dearly;
But you were hard to love; one never knew
Whether you would be hot or cold to touch.
Whilst she and I,--oh, we were two young trees
So nearly of a height we had the same world
Ever within our vision!--Yet all these years,
Even from the time we first went to Fiori,
You have been bearing me your little tales,--
"She had done this and that, she was thus and so--",
Seeking to stir and poison the clear water
Of my deep love for her! And now this thing.
Which is not true. But if it had been true,
It would not be so out of all reason cruel
As that you should have told me of it now.
Nay, do not weep. All day 'tis one of us
Making the other weep. We are two strange,
Unhappy women. Come, let us be at peace.

[Pause. Bianca rises suddenly.]

Mother, farewell a little while. I go now
To her, seeing that she does not come to me.
But not to question her, not to demand,
"How comes it this? What can you say to that?"
Only to sit beside her, as in the old days,
And let her lay her quiet on my heart.

Scene 3

[The garden at Fiori, same as in Act I, Scene 1. Discovered seated
on a stone bench in the sunshine, Beatrice, clad in a loose gown,
looking very ill. Fidelio sings off stage.]

FID. [Singing.]
"Let the little birds sing,
Let the little lambs play.
Spring is here, and so 'tis spring,--
But not in the old way.

I recall a place
Where a plum-tree grew,--
There you lifted up your face
And blossoms covered you.
If the little birds sing,
And the little lambs play,

Spring is here, and so 'tis spring,--
But not in the old way.

BEA. It is a pretty song. There be some things
That even the tortured heart's profoundest anguish
Cannot bring down from their high place. Music
Is one of them. [Enter Grazia carrying a bowl.]

GRA. Now, will you drink this broth,
Or will you not? I swear upon my shroud--
And 'tis a solemn oath--I never nursed
So vaporous a patient!--Come, my bird!

BEA. [Taking the bowl, then setting it down.] Nay, Nurse, I cannot.

GRA. Oh, alackaday!
What shall I do with you? Come now, and drink me
The pretty broth, my dear!

BEA. I will drink it later.
'Tis too hot.

GRA. Ay, and in a moment 'twill be
Too cold! And you'll not drink it! I could cry!

[Exit Grazia.]
[Enter Fidelio.]

BEA. Fidelio, as you love me, do you drink this,
And quickly, man!

FID. [With grief.] Oh, my dear mistress!

BEA. Drink!

FID. [Sadly, drinking.] I best would leave a little, else she'll know
'Twas never you.

BEA. Ay, so you would. I' faith,
It is a knave's trick, but I cannot touch it.
Go now, Fidelio, ere she come again.

[Exit Fidelio.]
[Enter Bianca.]

BIA. [Softly.] Rose-Red.

[Beatrice looks up and listens, thinking it a dream.]

BIA. Rose-Red, dear sister!

BEA. [Bowing her head and weeping.] Oh, my heart!

BIA. [Coming towards her.] Why do you weep?

BEA. [Looking up startled and seeing her, jumping to her feet.]
Oh, no! Oh, God above!
Go back! Go back!

BIA. [Amazed, quietly.] Beatrice, are you mad?
'Tis I, Bianca.

BEA. [More quietly.] Ay, I know 'tis you.
And you must go away.

BIA. [Breaking down.] You are mad, my dear!

BEA. I would I were. For madmen have their moments
Of light into the brain.--Hear me. Bianca,
You must return at once to Lagoverde,
And come to me no more, and think of me
No more.

BIA. Ay. I will go. But ere I go
Tell me you do not love me, 'Tis apparent
You do not. I but wish to hear the words.

BEA. Nay, that I will not say. It would be well,
To say it, and let it be. But I'll not say it,
It is not true.

BIA. You love me still?

BEA. I love you
More than all else on earth. But I have wronged you
So hugely that I cannot think of it
And stand here talking with you--I am ill--[She staggers.]
You must pardon me--I have been very ill--

BIA. Then it is true?

BEA. [With a cry as of relief.] Ay, it is true! Who told you?

BIA. My mother told me. I said it was not true.
But if 'tis true--I pity you, Rose-Red,
I pity him. I pity us all together.

BEA. [Feverishly.] Ah, I can see it now!--the quiet road
In the deep wood's gathering darkness, the reins loose
On the horses' necks, that nodded, nodded, and we
Speaking from time to time, and glad to think
Of home,--and suddenly out of nowhere,--fury,
And faces, and long swords, and a great noise!
And even as I reached to draw my sword,
The arm that held the scabbard set on fire,
As if the sleeve were burning!--and my horse
Backing into the trees, my hair caught, twisted,
Torn out by the roots! Then from the road behind
A second fury! And I turned, confused,
Outraged with pain, and thrust,--and it was Mario!

BIA. [Wildly.] What are you saying? What are you saying? What is this
You are telling me? That it was you? Your hand--?
Oh, God have mercy upon me! Let me go!

BEA. [Pitifully, reaching out her arms towards her.]
Snow-White! Snow-White!--farewell!

BIA. [Without turning.] Oh, God have mercy!

[Exit Bianca.]

[Beatrice falls unconscious to the floor.]



Scene 1

[A room in the palace at Fiori. Anselmo and Luigi.]

LUIGI. Nay, is that true, Anselmo?

ANS. Aye, 'tis true.
But no one saw save me, I drew her sword
Out of his heart and thrust it in its scabbard,
Where she lay senseless.

LUI. Oh, unhappy Queen!

ANS. Ay, she does not forget. Has it not struck you
She rides no more? Her black horse stands in stable,
Eating his head off. It is two years now
Since she has visited Lagoverde; and the Queen
Of Lagoverde comes not nigh this place.

LUI. There's not the reason that there was to come
Before Octavia's death.

ANS. Nay, 'tis not that.

LUI. Think you that Beatrice told her?

ANS. Ay,
I doubt it not.

LUI. 'Tis hard. They were close friends.

ANS. And since that day her hand upon the scepter
Trembles,--and Guido sees. She goes too much
Among the people, nursing them. She loves them;
Their griefs are hers, their hearts are hers, as well.
But Guido has a following in this court
That hangs upon his word, and he has taught them
Her gentleness is weakness, and her love
Faint-hearted womanish whims, till they are eager
To pull her down, and see a man in place of her.

LUI. Her throne is like a raft upon a sea,
That shifts, and rights itself, and may go down
At any moment.

ANS. The more especially
For all these drowning beggars that cling to it,
Chattering for help. She will not strike them off.

LUI. Unhappy Queen. And there's a storm approaching,
If ever I smelled wind.

ANS. I fear it Luigi.

[Exeunt Anselmo and Luigi. Enter Guido and Francesco.]

FRA. How do I know you love her still?--I know,
The way you fall a-tapping with your fingers,
Or plucking at your eye-brows, if her name
Is spoken, or she move across the court.
How do I know?--Oh, Guido, have I learned you
So little, then, in all these bitter years?
I know you very well.

GUI. You know too much
I'll have an end of this, I tell you!

FRA. Ay.
You've told me that before.--An end of what?
What is this thing you'll put this mighty end to?
'Fore God I would I know. Could I but name it,
I might have power to end it then, myself!

GUI. I'll have an end of these soft words at twilight,
And these bad mornings full of bile! I'll have an end
Of all this spying on me!

FRA. [Gently.] 'Tis not so.
I do not spy upon you. But I see you
Bigger than other men, and your least gesture--
A giant moving rocks.--Oh, Guido, tell me
You do not love her! Even though I know
You lie, I will believe you,--for I must!

GUI. [Pause.] Nay, I am done with you. I will tell you nothing.
Out of my way!--I have that on my mind
Would crush your silly skull like the shell of an egg!
Od's body, will you keep your ugly claws
From scratching at my sleeve?

[He thrusts her roughly aside and rushes out.]

FRA. [Creeping away, sobbing.] Oh, God--oh, God--
I would whatever it is, that were over.


[Enter Fidelio, and crosses the stage, singing.]

FID. [Singing.]
"Rain comes down
And hushes the town.
_And where is the voice that I heard crying_?
Snow settles
Over the nettles.
_Where is the voice that I heard crying_?
Sand at last
On the drifting mast.
_And where is the voice that I heard crying_?
Earth now
On the busy brow.
_And where is the voice that I heard crying_?

[Exit Fidelio.]

Scene 2

[The court-room in the palace at Fiori, extremely crowded with restless
and expectant people. The crowd is arranged on both sides of the stage,
in such a way that a broad avenue is left in the middle, leading from
the footlights to the back of the stage and gradually narrowing to a
point at Beatrice's throne. On the extreme right and left of the stage,
along the back of the crowd, stands the guard, a large body of armed
soldiers, at attention, in double row. On either side the throne stands
an armed soldier. As the curtain rises the court is all standing and
looking off stage in a certain direction. Enter the Queen, Beatrice,
from that direction, walks in, looking straight ahead, goes to the
throne and seats herself. The court sits. The clerk begins to read.]

CLERK. The first case to be heard is that of Lisa,
A widow with two small children, who resides
Near the Duke's wood, and has been caught in the act
Of cutting trees there, and hauling them home to burn.

BEA. Stand, Lisa. You are a widow, I am told.
With two small children.

LISA. Ay, your Majesty,
Two little boys.

BEA. I know another widow, Lisa,
With two small children,--but hers are little girls.
Have you been cutting trees on the Duke's land?

LISA. No, Majesty. I could not cut a tree.
I have no axe.

BEA. And are you strong enough
To break a tree with your hands?

LISA. No, Majesty.

BEA. I see. What do you do, then? There must be
Some reason for this plaint.

LISA. I gather wood
That's dead,--dried boughs, and underbrush that's been
A long time on the ground, and drag it home.

BEA. Have you a wood-pile?

LISA. Nay. I gather enough
Each day for the day's need. I have no time
To gather more.

BEA. And does the dry wood burn
As well as other wood?

LISA. Oh, better!

BEA. I see.
You would as lief, then, have this wood you gather,
This dead wood, as a green tree freshly cut?

LISA. Ay, I would liefer have it, Majesty.
I need a fire quickly. I have no time
To wait for wood to season.

BEA. You may sit down,

LISA. Is the Duke's agent here?

AGENT. Ay, here.

BEA. What is it the Duke's custom to have done
With this dead wood on his estate?

AGENT. He burns it,
Your Majesty.

BEA. You mean to say, I think,
He pays a price to have it gathered and burned.

AGENT. Ay, Majesty.

BEA. Where is it burned?

AGENT. In a clearing.

BEA. And what is cooked upon it?

AGENT. Nothing is cooked.
The Duke is not a gypsy. [With irritation.]

[Slight titter in court-room, instantly hushed into profound silence.]

BEA. [Evenly.] If he were,
He would be shrewder, and not be paying money
For what this woman is glad to do for naught.
Nothing is cooked, and nobody is warmed,--
A most unthrifty fire! Do you bid the Duke,
Until he show me sounder cause for plaint,
Permit this woman to gather unmolested
Dead wood in his forest, and bear it home.--Lisa,
Take care you break no half-green boughs.--The next case?

CLERK. Is that of Mario, a miller, accused
Of stealing grain. A baker, by name Pietro,
Brings this complaint against him,

MESSENGER. [Rushing in and up to throne.] Majesty,
Bianca of Lagoverde lies a-dying,
And calls for you!

BEA. [Rising.] She calls for me?

MESSENGER. Ay, Majesty.

[Beatrice stands very still a moment, then turns to the townspeople.]

BEA. [Earnestly and rapidly,] You people, do you go now and live kindly
Till I return. I may not stay to judge you;
Wherefore I set you free. For I would rather
A knave should go at large than that a just man
Be punished. If there be a knave among you,
Let him live thoughtfully till I return.

[She steps down from the throne, and is immediately
seized by the arm on either side by the two guards who
have been standing beside the throne.]

BEA. Why, what is this, Enrico? [Looking up at the soldier on her right.]
Nay, it is not
Enrico! [Looking to other side.] Nor is it Pablo! How is this?

[From each side of the stage one row of the double
row of soldiers detaches itself, marches down around the
front of the stage and up towards the throne, making an
armed alley for the Queen to walk down, and entirely
surrounding the crowd.]

Nay, all new faces. So! Upon my word,
And keep your fingers from me!--I see you there,
Angelo! Do not turn your head aside!
And you, Filippo!--Is the sick hand better
I bound the bandage on?--Is't well enough
To draw a sword against me?--Nay, I am sick.
I, that have loved you as your mothers love you--
And you do this to me! Lead me away.

[The two guards lead out the Queen. Nobody else moves. The
townspeople cower and stare. The two little pages that bore her
train as she entered remain back of the throne, not knowing what to
do. As she goes by them, her train dragging on the ground, the two
ragged little boys of Lisa, the wood-gatherer, run out from the
group of citizens, pick up the ends of her train, and go out,
holding it up, one of them with his arm over his eyes.]

Scene 3

[A dungeon. Beatrice alone, sitting on a bench, her head bowed in
her hands. Enter Guido]

BEA. Guido, is't you!

GUI. Ay, it is I, my Queen.
You sent for me, am I mistake not?

BEA. Ay.
Guido, you will not keep me when I tell you
Snow-White is dying and calls my name!

GUI. I knew that.

BEA. You knew that, and you hold me here. Oh, Heaven!
What are you?

GUI. I am a man. You should have thought
Of that before. I could have been your friend
If it had pleased you. Failing that, I am
Your enemy. I am too aware of you,
And have been ever, to hold me in at less.

BEA. Guido. I beg of you upon my knees
To let me go!

GUI. And why should I do that?

BEA. For pity's sake!

GUI. I do not know the word.

BEA. Then for the sake of my sworn hand and seal
Upon a paper yielding fair to you
This sovereignty you prize. It is to me
Little enough tonight. I give it gladly.

GUI. You have no power to give what I have taken
Already, and hold upon my hand, Rose-Red,

BEA. Oh, do not call me that! Oh, Guido, Guido,
I cannot suffer further! Let me go!
If only for a moment, let me go!
I will return,--I will but take her hand,
And come away! I swear it! Let me go!

GUI. On one condition only.

BEA. Ay! 'Tis granted,
Ere it is spoken!

GUI. That upon returning
You come to me, and give yourself to me,
To lie in my arms lovingly. [She is stricken speechless.] You hear?
To lie in my arms lovingly.

BEA. Oh, God!

GUI. It is my only word.

BEA. Oh, God! Oh, God!

GUI. 'Tis granted?

BEA. Nay,--I cannot! I will die
Instead. Oh, God, to think that she will lie there
And call for me, and I will never come!

GUI. Goodnight. [He goes to door.]

BEA. [In a quiet voice.] Guido!
It shall be as you say.

GUI. [Rushing to her.] Ah, Beatrice!

BEA. Nay, touch me not yet.
I will return. [She laughs like a child.] Why,--'tis a simple matter!
I wonder now that even for a moment
I held myself so dear! When for her sake
All things are little things!--This foolish body,
This body is not I! There is no I,
Saving the need I have to go to her!

Scene 4

[A room at Lagoverde. Bianca lying in bed, ill to death. The children
clinging to the bed, their nurse trying to draw them away, Giulietta
a maid, in the background. Possibly other attendants about.]

LITTLE ROSE-RED. Tell us a story, mother!

NURSE. Come away, now!

LITTLE SNOW-WHITE. Tell us a story!

BIA. Do you go away with nurse
A little while. You will bring them back to me

NURSE. [Weeping.] Ay, madam.

[She goes out with the children.]

BIA. Later--not much later,
I think.--Hear you no sound of horses yet,
Giulietta, galloping this way?

GIU. Nay, not yet.

BIA. [To herself.] I will not go until she comes. I will not.
Still,--if I should--Giulietta!

GIU. [Coming quickly to the bed.] Ay, my mistress!

BIA. She will come, I tell you!

GIU. Ay, I doubt it not.

BIA. Ay, she will come. But if she should come late,
And I no longer be here to receive her,
Show her all courtesy, I conjure you.
She will be weary, and mightily distraught.
Make her take wine,--and bring the children to her.
And tell her, they are hers now. She is their mother.

[Giulietta starts to go back to the window.]

And say to her--wait!--I have a message for her.
Say to her this, Giulietta: The foot stumbles,
The hand hath its own awkward way; the tongue
Moves foolishly in the mouth; but in the heart
The truth lies,--and all's well 'twixt her and me.
Can you remember that?

GIU. Ay, madam, I think so.
If not the words, at least the gist of it.

BIA. Forget it all, my good child, but forget not:
All's well 'twixt her and me.

GIU. Nay, that I have.

BIA. I will sleep now a little. Do you leave me.
But go not far. [She lies still for a moment, then starts up.]
I hear the sound of hoof-beats!

GIU. Nay, madam.

BIA. Ay, I tell you! I can hear them!
My face upon the pillow brings my ear
Nearer the ground! She is coming! Open the door!

[She kneels up in bed and holds out her arms towards the door,
maintaining this position till Beatrice comes. Giulietta, weeping,
opens the door, and stands in it, shaking her head sadly.]

GIU. [Suddenly lifting her head and listening.] Nay, it is so! I hear it
now myself!
Ay, there's a horse upon the bridge!

BIA. She's coming!
Stand back! Stand out of the doorway! [Pause.]

SERVANT. [Entering.] Majesty,
The Queen is here.
Ay, ay! Stand out of the doorway! [Pause.]

GIU. She is here! She is in the court! She has leapt from horse!
Madam, Oh, God be praised! This way!

BIA. Sister!

[Beatrice enters in her riding clothes, leaps to the bed, Bianca
throws her arms about her neck, and dies.]

BEA. [After a moment, looking down at her.]
Snow-White! Oh, no! Oh, no! Snow-White! [She screams.] Ah-h! Help me!
She is dying!

[Attendants and nurses rush in, also the children.]

LITTLE SNOW-WHITE. Mother, wake up!

LITTLE ROSE-RED. Come out of doors!

BEA. Take them away. Snow-White! [Leaning over the bed.]

NURSE. Nay, it is over,

BEA. Leave me. Leave me alone with her.

[Exeunt all but Beatrice. She kneels beside the bed.]

Scene 5

[A room at Lagoverde, The next day. Beatrice alone.]

BEA. In sooth, I do not feel the earth so firm
Under my feet as yesterday it was.
All that I loved are gone to a far land,
And left me here alone, save for two children
And twenty thousand enemies, and the thing
Of horror that's in store for me. Almost
I feel my feet uprooted from the earth,
There's such a tugging at me to be gone.
Save for your children, [Looking off stage towards Bianca's room.]
'twould be simple enough
To lay me down beside you in your bed,
And call on Death, who is not yet out of hearing,
To take me, too. [Enter Fidelio.]

FID. Mistress I have news for you.
Guido is dead!

BEA. Is dead?

FID. Ay, he is dead,
Dead of a dagger i' the back,--and dead enough
For twenty. Scarce were you gone an hour's time
We came upon him cold. And in a pool
Nearby, the Lady Francesca floating drowned,
Who last was seen a-listening like a ghost
At the door of the dungeon, 'Tis a marvelous thing!
But that's not all!

BEA. Why, what more can there be?

FID. Mistress, in the night the people of Fiori
Rose like a wind and swept the Duke's men down
Like leaves! Your throne is empty,--and awaits you!

[Enter Giulietta,]

GIU. Madam.

BEA. Ay, Giulietta.

GIU. Madam, last night,
Before you came, she bade me tell you something,
And not forget. 'Tis this: That the foot stumbles,
The hand doth awkward things, and the foolish tongue
Says what it would not say,--but in the heart
Truth lies,--and all is well 'twixt her and you.

[She starts to go out, and turns back at the door.]

She bade me above all things to forget not
The last: that all is well 'twixt her and you. [Exit.]

BEA. [Slowly and with great content.]
She is not gone from me. Oh, there be places
Farther away than Death! She is returned
From her long silence, and rings out above me
Like a silver bell!--Let us go back, Fidelio,
And gather up the fallen stones, and build us
Another tower.

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