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Title: Semiramis and Other Plays - Semiramis, Carlotta And The Poet
Author: Dargan, Olive Tilford
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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by The Kentuckiana Digital Library)



SEMIRAMIS AND OTHER PLAYS

BY

OLIVE TILFORD DARGAN



  BRENTANO'S
  NEW YORK
  1904


  Copyright 1904
  By Olive Tilford Dargan
  [Stage rights reserved]

  THE LITERARY COLLECTOR PRESS
  GREENWICH, CONNECTICUT



CONTENTS


  SEMIRAMIS        5

  CARLOTTA        75

  THE POET       175



SEMIRAMIS


  ACT I.

    SCENE 1. The tent of Menones


  ACT II.

    SCENE 1. Hall in the palace of Ninus


  ACT III.

    SCENE 1. The gardens over the lake


  ACT IV.

    SCENE 1. The tent of Husak



CHARACTERS


  NINUS, king of Assyria
  HUSAK, king of Armenia
  KHOSROVE, son of Husak
  MENONES, governor of Nineveh
  ARTAVAN, son of Menones
  SUMBAT, friend of Artavan
  VASSIN, officer of the king
  HADDO, a guard
  ARMIN, a guard
  DOKAHRA, woman to Semiramis
  SOLA, wife of Artavan
  SEMIRAMIS, daughter of Menones

  Officers, heralds, messengers, guards, soldiers, dancers, &c.



SEMIRAMIS



ACT I.


Scene: Within the tent of Menones, on the plain before Nineveh.
Left, centre, entrance to tent from the plain. Curtains rear,
forming partition with exits right and left of centre. The same
at right, with one exit, centre. Couch rear, between exits. From
a tent-pole near exit, right centre, hang helmet and a suit of
chain armor.

Sola parts curtains rear, left, and looks out, showing effort to
keep awake. She steps forward.

 Sol.     Hist! Armin! Haddo!

          (Enter two guards, left centre)

                              Still no news?

 Arm.                                         None, lady.

 Sol.     Oh, Artavan, what keeps thee?

 Haddo.                                 He will come.

 Sol.     Semiramis is sleeping. I am weary,
          But I'll not sleep.

 Arm.                         Rest, madam; we will call you.

 Sol.     My lord shall find me watching, night or day!

 Arm.     Two nights you have not slept.

 Sol.                                     Ten thousand nights,
          I think, good Armin.

 Had.                           We will call you, madam.

 Arm.     With the first hoof-beat ringing from the north!

 Sol.     (At curtains, drowsily)
          I'll be--awake.

                          (Goes in)

 Had.                     She'll sleep now.

 Arm.                                       Ay, she must.

 Had.     And I'd not call her for god Bel himself!

 Arm.     Hark! (Goes to entrance)
                'Tis a horseman!

 Had.     (Following him)         Two!

 Arm.                                   Right! We must rouse
          The lady Semiramis.

 Had.                         Make sure 'tis he. (They step out)

 Voice without.
          Is this Menones' tent?

 Arm.     (Without)               Ay, Sir! The word!

 Voice.   God Ninus!

          (Semiramis enters, through curtains right centre)

 Sem.                 Artavan! His voice!

          (Enter Artavan, followed by Sumbat who waits near entrance)

 Sem.                                     My brother!

 Art.     Semiramis! (Embracing her) Three years this kiss
          Has gathered love for thee!

 Sem.                                 Has 't been so long
          Since I left Gazim?

 Art.                         Ay,--since Ninus called
          Our father here, and Gazim lost her dove.

 Sem.     (On his bosom, laughing softly)
          The dove of Gazim,--so they called me then.
          But now--(proudly, moving from him) the lioness of Nineveh!

 Art.     A warrior's daughter!

 Sem.                           And a warrior's sister!
          O, I have prayed that you might come! The king
          Is gracious--loves the brave--

 Art.                                     Our father?

 Sem.                                                 Ah!

 Art.     He's well?

 Sem.                 Is 't day?

 Art.                             Almost.

 Sem.                                     At dawn he meets
          The Armenians on the plain.

 Art.                                 Then he is well!

 Sem.     He went forth well,--and brave as when he drove
          The Ghees from Gazim with his single sword!
          But--oh--he needs you, Artavan, he needs you!

          (Comes closer speaking rapidly)

          I'm with him night and day but when he battles--
          I buckle on his arms--cheer him away--
          And wipe the foe's blood from his mighty sword
          When he returns! But I've a fear so strange!
          At times he's moved quite from himself,--so far
          That I look on him and see not our father!
          If I dared speak I'd almost say that he
          Who never lost a battle shrinks from war!

 Art.     (Starting) No, no! Not that! You borrow eyes of fear
          And see what is not!

 Sem.                           But I've felt the drops
          Cold on his brow, and raised his lifeless arms
          Whose corded strength hung slack as a sick child's!
          O, it is true! And you must stand by him!
          Fight at his side! I thought to do it! I!
          See here, my armor!

          (Moving with him to where the armor hangs)

                              When I had this made
          And swore to wear it in the fight, 'twas then
          He yielded--said that you might come--

          (Sound of trumpets at distance. They listen)

                                                  The charge!

 Art.     I go to him!

 Sem.     (Taking a paper from her bosom)

                        Take this! He'll understand!
          'Tis some direction later thought upon!

 Art.     My wife is safe--

 Sem.                       With me! Three days ago
          She came. And now she sleeps--

          (Points to curtains, rear left)

 Art.                                     In there? One kiss--

 Sem.     Nay, nay, you go to battle, and should keep
          Steel in your eye, not woman's tears!... Who comes
          With you?

          (Looks toward entrance where Sumbat stands)

                    O, Sumbat!

          (He advances and drops on knee. She gives him both hands
          and he rises)

                                Welcome! But no time
          For gallant greetings! We are warriors here!

          (A roll of battle is heard)

 Art.     We go!

 Sem.             Ride! ride! The battle over, ye
          Shall meet the king!

          (Artavan and Sumbat hasten out. The noise of departure
          brings Sola to curtains)

 Sol.                           What is it? Who was here?

 Sem.     (Absorbed)                        They'll reach my father!

 Sol.     Not Artavan?

 Sem.                   Ay--he.

 Sol.                           And gone--my husband!
          Without a word--a look!

 Sem.                             The battle calls,
          And he who wears ambition's spur must ride!

 Sol.     Ambition! O, you think of naught but war
          And glory! Hast thou no heart, Semiramis?

 Sem.     I' faith, and love thee with it! (kisses her)

 Sol.                                       Trifle not!
          Hadst thou a heart thou couldst not live a maid,
          So beautiful, and never dream of love!
          Thou'rt some strange thing--

 Sem.                                   What, wilt be angry? Come!
          I'll tell thee all he said--thy Artavan,--
          Ay, every word, and how his eyes grew soft
          With dimness sweeter than their vanquished light
          When thou wert his dear theme!

          (They move to curtains. Semiramis stops and listens)

                                          Go in. I'll come. (Sola goes in)

 Sem.     (Listening) Is that a chariot? My father!... Nay!
          He's safe with Artavan! Whatever comes
          His son will be his heart and bear him up!
          Safe, safe, Menones, and thy grizzled locks
          Shall wear their laurels to an honored grave!

          (Noise of approaching chariot)

          It _is_ a chariot! Can it be the king?

          (Chariot stops without)

          Armin, who is it comes?

 Arm.     (Appearing at entrance) The Lord Menones.

          (Semiramis sways, steadies herself, and waits. Menones
          enters, livid and trembling. In form he is large and
          mighty, but is grey with age. He staggers over to couch
          and sits upon it, groaning heavily. Semiramis looks at him
          in silence. Then approaches and speaks in a low terrified
          tone)

 Sem.     You fled the battle!

 Men.                           Oh!

 Sem.                               You must go back!

 Men.     Too late!

 Sem.     (Gaining courage and putting her hands sternly on his
          shoulders)  No!

 Men.                     We must fly!

 Sem.                                   Fly! Never!

 Men.     (Rising)                                  Come!
          The chariot! The king will leave my race
          No blood on earth!

 Sem.                         If it be coward's blood
          'Tis better lost!

 Men.                       Come, come! We yet can fly!

 Sem.     Back to the battle! There I'll go with thee!

 Men.     I can not! Oh, the terror's here--here--here!
          It clutches at my heart!

 Sem.                               Tear out thy heart
          And keep thy honor whole!

          (He falls on the couch, shaken with suffering. She kneels
          by him pleading passionately)

 Sem.                               Up, father, up!
          You must go back! You know not what you've done!
          Our Artavan--

 Men.                   Praise Bel, he's safe in Gazim!

 Sem.     No ... he is here ... he came, and rode to find you.

 Men.     He came? Gods, no!

 Sem.                         Nay, true! He's in the battle!
          Now you will go! You will go back, my father!
          He does not know the plan! He can not lead
          Without your counsel! Come--your voice--his arm--
          And all is safe!

          (He rises; noise of battle; he sinks shuddering)

 Men.                       No--I'll die here--not there!

          (Semiramis stands in despair; then lifts her arms praying)

 Sem.     O mighty Belus, give me back my father!

          (She listens with sudden eagerness and goes to tent door)

          False! false! They're verging south! North, north, ye cowards!

          (Rushes to her armor and takes it down. Shakes the
          curtains right, and calls)

          Dokahra! (Throws off her robe and begins putting on armor.
          Enter Dokahra, right centre)

 Dok.     Mistress!

 Sem.               Buckle here! Be quick!

 Men.     You shall not go!

 Sem.                       You have no might or right
          To stay me now!

 Men.                     You will be lost!

 Sem.                                       Lost? No!
          Did I not plan this battle? Haste, Dokahra!
          Our lives are in your fingers! Courage, father!

          (Going, Dokahra still adjusting armor)

          The king has smiled on me--I do not know--
          But there was such a promise in his smile--
          And if the victory's mine he will forgive!

 Dok.     This rivet, mistress!

          (Noise of battle)

 Sem.                           Artavan, I come!

          (Rushes out. Sound of chariot rolling away. Dokahra looks
          stolidly at Menones for a moment, then turns through
          curtains, right. Menones presses his heart in pain, moans
          wretchedly, and draws a blanket over his body)

 Men.     Is this the form that bright Decreto loved?
          But where the soul, O, gods! (Lies shuddering)

 Voice without.                         The King!

          (Menones draws blanket over his face and becomes
          motionless. Enter the king, with Vassin)

 Nin.     (At entrance)                           Stand here!
          Godagon, haste! Ride to Menones; say
          We wait within his tent; his messengers
          Will reach us here.

          (A rider spurs off without. Ninus and Vassin advance
          within the tent)

 Vas.                         Your majesty, suppose
          The Armenians gain, you'll be in danger here.
          Why come so near for news?

 Nin.                                 For news, good Vassin?
          I had a better reason. Semiramis
          Tents with her father.

          (Points to curtains)

 Vas.                             Ah!

 Nin.                                 The sun will break
          Through there!

 Vas.                     My lord--

 Nin.                               She stirs! She comes! Wait--see!

          (Dokahra's gaunt figure appears at curtains)

 Vas.     A false dawn, is it not?

 Nin.                               Your mistress sleeps?

 Dok.     (Abasing herself)
          No, mighty king!

 Nin.                       She's up? Then give her word
          We're here.

 Dok.                 She's not within, my lord.

 Nin.                                             Abroad!
          So soon? She's on the general's business?

 Dok.     And yours, O king! She's joined the battle!

 Nin.                                                 She!

 Vas.     Ha! ha! Do you believe this?

 Nin.                                   Ay ... 'tis so.
          I know her spirit. Here's mettle for a queen!

          (Menones uncovers and half rises)

 Vas.     You would not make her one, your majesty!
          Though she should lead your troops to victory,
          Still is she but your general's daughter, and
          Assyria's crown is given of gods to gods!

 Nin.     And Ninus knows to keep his race untainted.
          But all the jewels of a king, my Vassin,
          Are not worn in his crown. Some in the heart
          Are casketed, and there this maid shall shine
          For me alone. Were she of heavenly race--

 Men.     (Starting up) She is, my lord!

          (Ninus regards him in astonishment)

 Nin.                                     What do you here, Menones?
          Speak!

 Men.     (Trembling) I am ill.

 Nin.                           Ill, sir? Ha! Now I know!
          Your daughter leads while you couch safe in tent!
          She sought to hide your shame! O, what a heart!
          But you--

 Men.               I led, my lord, till illness seized--

 Nin.     Too ill to fight, but not too ill to fly!
          Hound! hound! My troops are lost! I'd kill you now
          But 'tis an hour too soon! First you must be
          Of every honor stript!

 Men.     (Kneeling) My lord and king,
          I know that I must die, but hear a prayer
          For my brave daughter's sake! Betray her not,
          Lest thou offend the gods that gave thee life,
          For she, too, is of heaven!

 Vas.                                 Ha!

 Men.                                     I swear
          'Tis true! My lord, Decreto was her mother!
          She met me on the plains of Gazim when
          This aged figure was called fair, and youth
          Still fed its fire to manhood's prime;
          Our babe she left upon a mountain crest
          And sent her doves to tend it through a year,
          Then bade me scale the mount and take my own.
          I did, and named her for Decreto's dove--
          Semiramis!

 Nin.                 What precious tale is this?

 Vas.     He thinks to fright you from the maid, my lord.

 Dok.     (Falling at the king's feet)
          O king, 'tis true! Ask thou in Gazim--

 Nin.                                             Go!

          (Dokahra vanishes through curtains left rear)

 Nin.     'T will take a better lie to save your head!

 Men.     My head? Thou'rt welcome to it! 'Tis not that!
          But she--my daughter--

 Nin.                             We will spare her life.

 Men.     (Calmly) It is my prayer that she may die with me.

 Nin.     Not while we love. If e'er she lose her charm,
          We may remember that you were her father.

 Men.     (Furiously, forgetting himself)
          She has a brother yet!

 Nin.                             A brother! So!
          We'll look to him as well! Thanks for your news!

 Men.     (Towering up) Though every god in heaven gave thee blood
          Yet would I spill it!

          (Lifts his sword; suddenly drops it and falls, pressing
          his heart. Ninus and Vassin watch him silently until he
          is still)

 Nin.                           Dead?

 Vas.     (Stooping)                  Ay, dead, my lord.

 Nin.     I would have spared him though I threatened death.

 Vas.     Have spared the coward? Why, your majesty?

 Nin.     Semiramis has spirit passing woman's;
          I have no hope to force her to my arms,
          And I'd have wrought her heart to tenderness
          By mercy to her father. Love is my aim!
          All else I can command--but that--Guards here!

          (Enter Armin and Haddo)

          Not you--my own! But wait--a word! Where sleeps
          Menones?

 Arm.     (Pointing) There, O king!

          (The body of Menones lies behind the king and Vassin,
          unseen by the guards. Exeunt Armin and Haddo. Enter the
          king's guards)

 Nin.                               Take up this body.
          Place it within.

          (Guards go in with Menones' body)

 Vas.                       What would you do, my lord?

 Nin.     You'll know in time.

          (Re-enter guards)     Hark! You saw nothing!

 Guards.  (Bowing to floor)                             Nothing.
          O mighty Ninus! (Exeunt)

 Nin.                     I will have her love!
          Vassin, this story of her goddess birth
          Is true!

 Vas.     How knows your majesty?

 Nin.                             It speaks
          In all her motions. Every glance and grace
          Revouches it. E'en your dull eye must know
          Her beauty is immortal, though her life
          Is forfeit to the clay and must have end.

 Vas.     Thou'lt find another fair! Youth blooms and goes!

 Nin.     Not such as hers! Her brow's a holy page
          Where chiselling Time dare never set a mark!
          The sun hath been her lover, and so deep
          Hath touched her locks with fire no winter hand
          May shake his kisses out!

 Vas.                               Why, thou'rt in love!

          (Confused voices without. A messenger runs in and falls
          at the feet of the king)

 Nin.     Speak, sir!

 Mes.                 Assyria wins! The Armenians fly!
          They've lost their leader--

 Nin.                                 Khosrove! Is he taken?

 Mes.     Taken or slain, I know not which, but know
          He leads no more the enemy! They fly
          Before Semiramis!

 Nin.                       Semiramis!

 Mes.     Ay, all was rout until she reached the field
          And spurred the--

 Voice of herald without.   Victory! A victory!
          Ninus is god and king!

 Cries.                           A victory!

          (Enter herald)

 Herald.  Assyria triumphs o'er his enemies!

 Nin.     Is Khosrove taken?

 Her.                         Slain, the people cry!
          The soldiers hail Semiramis their chief,
          Call her a goddess, drag her chariot,
          And shout and swear by Belus' ruling star
          To be her slaves forever!

 Nin.                               So they shall.

 Vas.     Your majesty--

 Nin.                     Peace, Vassin! Wait and see!

          (Noise and cries without as Semiramis is drawn toward
          the tent in her chariot)

 Nin.     Ho! Guards!

          (The king's guards enter. Ninus passes to right centre,
          facing entrance opposite. Guards station themselves on
          each side of him and in his rear. Semiramis enters,
          followed by officers and soldiers. Her helmet is off,
          her hair falling)

 Nin.                 Hail goddess!

          (Semiramis looks at the king in astonishment then glances
          fearfully toward Menones' room)

 Nin.                               Hail, Assyria's queen!

 Sem.     (Faintly) O king--

          (Ninus advances to her. She kneels before him)

 Nin.                         Kneel down, Menones' daughter! Rise,
          The bride of Ninus, nevermore to kneel!

                                                  (Raises her)

          This victory is proof, if proof I need,
          That you are a true daughter of the skies,
          Mate for the mightiest throne!

                            (To soldiers) Cry festival!
          The feast of triumph and the wedding revel
          We'll hold together! Go!

          (Exeunt soldiers, cheering without)

 Nin.     (Taking the hand of Semiramis)

                                    To-day thou'lt come?

 Sem.     (Withdrawing her hand and bowing her head)
          I am my king's.

 Nin.     (Passing to exit) The royal chariot,
          Within the hour, will take you from the tent
          Unto our palace.

          (Exeunt Ninus and attendants. Semiramis stands dazed.
          Sola comes out softly and looks at her)

 Sem.     (In rapture)      Ah, my father's safe!
          I'll tell him!

          (Hurries toward curtains right, rear, and stops at exit)

                          No ... I'll wait. This joy is dead
          If Artavan be lost!

          (Sola springs toward her with a cry)

 Sol.                         Be lost? Ah, no!
          Where is he? Oh, not lost!

 Sem.                                 He pushed too far
          Amid the flying troops.

 Sol.                             And you--you stole
          His last look from my eyes!

 Sem.                                 He may be saved.
          For Sumbat followed him. He must be saved!
          We'll hope till Sumbat comes.

 Sol.                                   O, you know naught
          Of love!

 Sem.               I was his sister, Sola, ere
          He made thee wife.

 Sol.                         A sister! O, such love
          Is nothing! Thou wilt smile at it
          If ever thou'rt a wife!

          (Semiramis is removing her armor. She stops and looks
          questioningly at Sola; then shakes her head)

 Sem.                             Nay, Sola, nay!...
          Help me with this.... Somehow my heart is gone
          And armor's for the brave.

          (Putting on her robe)       Now 't has come back.
          But beats and whispers like a maiden's own.
          I am but half a warrior.... Do not sob.
          Sumbat will bring us news.... Ah, he has come!

          (Enter Sumbat)

 Sol.     (Rushing to him and looking into his face)
          Oh, lost! (Flies, sobbing, through the curtains, rear left)

 Sem.     Speak.... Is it true?

 Sum.                           I fear it is.
          I could not save him, and they bore him off.

 Sem.     Alive?

 Sum.             Alive!

 Sem.                     A prisoner! Not slain!
          Then we may hope! I've captured Husak's son!

 Sum.     Khosrove! Is he not under guard without?
          A man most fair ... of lordly form, and young?

 Sem.     'Tis he! Have him brought hither instantly!
          To Husak word shall go on swiftest steed
          That I will yield the prince for Artavan!

          (Exit Sumbat)

          He's safe ... if there be time ... if there be time!...
          Husak, the Fierce ... but he must love his son,
          And will be merciful to save him. Ay....
          So brave a son. Now I recall his face,
          It would have made me pause had not my eyes
          Been dim with triumph.

          (Enter Sumbat, followed by officers with Khosrove. The
          officers fall back, leaving the captive before Semiramis.
          He is stripped of all armor, and clothed in a scant tunic
          revealing a figure of marked strength and grace. He stands
          erect, but with head bowed, and his arms bound to his
          sides)

 Sem.     (Gazes at him)          Ah!... (She advances a step)

                                          Armenian!

          (At sound of her voice he lifts his head and looks at her
          with eager recognition)

 Sem.     (Stepping back) Armenian!

 Khos.    (Proudly)                 Armenia, by your leave!
          I am my father's house.

 Sem.                             I'm glad 'tis so.
          Then he should value thee.

 Khos.                                He does.

 Sem.                                           So much
          That he will spare the life of Artavan
          If we spare yours?

 Khos.                        Who is this Artavan
          Who evens me in price?

 Sem.                             Menones' son.

 Khos.    Menones? Governor of Nineveh?
          Who fled my sword, fear-cold, and pale with terror?
          Insult not Husak with so poor a suit!
          That coward's race--

 Sem.                           Am I a coward, sir?

 Khos.    (In sudden dejection)
          These fettered arms make answer, princess.

 Sem.                                                 Nay,
          I am Menones' daughter,--Artavan
          My brother!

 Khos.                Not the Assyrian princess? O,
          Forgive me, lady! I am proud to be
          Thy brother's price!

 Sem.                           What surety have I
          That Artavan still lives?

 Khos.                              My word.

 Officer.                                     His word!
          O, noble madam, it is known to all
          That Husak takes no prisoners of war.
          They die before his tent.

 Khos.                              Such is the custom--

 Sem.     O me, my brother!

 Khos.                      But I can avouch
          That Artavan still lives.

 Off.                               Trust not the word
          Of captive foes, my lady. By what means
          Can he know this?

 Sem.                       Speak, sir.

 Khos.                                  To you alone
          I'll speak.

 Sem.                 Nay--before all!

 Khos.                                  Unto no ear
          But thine.

 Sem.                 Wouldst save thy life?

 Khos.                                        Perhaps. Wouldst save
          Thy brother?

 Sem.                   Sumbat, wilt advise me?

 Sum.                                           Trust him,
          And hear what he would say.

 Sem.                                 Out then, my friends,
          I pray you.

          (All go out but Semiramis and Khosrove.)

                      Now!

 Khos.                      My father swore to me
          Before I led his troops 'gainst Nineveh,
          All captives should be held at my disposal
          And bloody custom waived. I would not speak
          'Fore all, lest I should rob fierce Husak's name
          Of terror which is half his sword.

 Sem.                                         But now
          He thinks you dead.

 Khos.                        Not so. I've sent him word
          By a sure mouth that I'm unhurt and held
          A prisoner.

 Sem.                 O then my brother's safe!
          How gracious art thou, Heaven!

          (Steps towards entrance)        Sumbat!

 Khos.    (Stepping before her)                   Wait!

 Sem.     What more?

 Khos.                All--everything--there's nothing said!
          Ninus will spare me not! 'Tis thou must save me!

 Sem.     I! No! The king!

 Khos.                      Not he! Is Artavan
          Grown dearer than his hate to Husak? Nay--

 Sem.     Sir, fear not Ninus. He will grant my suit.

 Khos.    He will? You--you--

 Sem.                         I've saved his army!

 Khos.    (Relieved)                                Ah!
          No more than that?

 Sem.                         Enough!

 Khos.                                No! 'T will not wipe
          Revenge from out his heart,--and you have saved
          But that your father threw away.

 Sem.                                       Peace, sir!

 Khos.    There's but one way for me--escape!

 Sem.                                         No more!
          Nay--not another word!

 Khos.                            I must escape--

 Sem.                                             Not one!

 Khos.    That word unsaid slays Artavan,
          Spoken it saves him! Once in Ninus' power
          I have no hope of life, and with me dies
          Your brother.

 Sem.     (Scornfully)  Do not fear!

 Khos.                                I fear? By Heaven!
          Think you this heart is not a soldier's own
          Because 'tis captive to a woman's sword?
          A woman's sword! O little had thy sword
          To do with my defeat! Unarmed thou wouldst
          Have taken me--for 'twas thy beauty struck
          My weapon to my side! (rapidly and passionately)
                                When I bore down
          Upon your chariot, I could have swept you
          With one arm from the world! But suddenly
          A missile struck your helmet and dislodged
          The glory of your face before my eyes,
          Your hair ran gold, the shining East looked black
          Behind the star you made upon its breast!
          I knew thee for a goddess, and stood still
          Meek captive to thy wish! O blest am I
          To learn thou art not greater than myself,
          But so much less that I may lift thee up!
          Fly with me--be my queen--

          (Semiramis tries to speak)

                                      Go, call them in!
          I'll shout above their heads to reach thine ears!
          O, trust to me! In me thy brother lives!
          Come, and thy fallen father shall be brave
          Beneath Armenia's smile! Here thou mayst save
          His life, but ne'er again will he know honor!
          Help me to fly and save three lives in one!
          Give me to Ninus--give me up to death,
          And with a father and a brother lost,
          Though thou wert worshipped 'mong thy country's gods
          Still thou couldst not be happy!

 Sem.                                       Sir--

 Khos.                                            But come,
          And they are safe!

 Sem.     (Bewildered)        What do I hear?

 Khos.                                        O, come!
          Dost know what love is, daughter of Menones?
          It is the fire that dead puts out the light
          On every hearth, living makes all the world
          One altar feeding incense unto Heaven!
          It gives the soul to life, breath to the soul,
          Pulse to ambition, strength to warrior arms,--

          (Struggling with his fetters)

          Such strength that they may break all captive bonds
          To clasp their own!

          (Breaks his fetters and attempts to embrace her as she
          retreats gazing at him as if fascinated. She escapes him,
          and throws off her bewilderment. He drops to his knees
          holding out his arms to her)

                              And love I offer thee!

 Sem.     Sir, I forgive thee, for thou knowest not
          To whom you speak!

 Khos.                        Know not!

 Sem.                                   I who am now
          Menones' daughter, ere the night shall be
          The bride of Ninus, king of all Assyria!

          (Khosrove rises, bows before her, and stands with silent
          dignity)

 Sem.     You--you--were saying--

 Khos.                            Nothing, royal madam.
          Have you not friends without?

          (Semiramis hesitates, goes to door and calls)

 Sem.     Sumbat! (To Khosrove)         Thou'rt safe!

 Khos.    (Ironically)
          Assyria's queen should know!

 Sem.                                   She does!

          (Re-enter Sumbat and officers)

 Sum.                                             Unbound!

 Sem.     Ay, he is free! We only wait the word
          Of gracious Ninus. Guard him until then,
          We charge you, Sumbat. Keep you nearest him.

          (Exeunt Sumbat and officers with Khosrove)

 Sem.     My father now! He must have heard the shouts
          Of victory, yet still he hides himself.
          ... The king asked not for love. He is Assyria.
          I would not lessen him by love. Not yet....
          'Tis my triumphant arms he weds. The heart
          Must sleep....

 Voice of guard at entrance.
                          The king approaches!

 Sem.                                           Ah!... The king!
          His word, and all is done. I'll speak to him
          Before I see my father. Then I may say
          'Thou art forgiven, and Artavan is safe!'
          ... And Khosrove ... safe.... The royal chariot!...
          O, mother, send thy doves--I am once more
          A babe!

          (The king enters alone)

 Nin.             Art ready for thy king?

 Sem.                                     I am--
          And yet--a word before I go! Thou know'st
          That Khosrove is my prisoner--

 Nin.                                     Khosrove! He!
          We thought him slain!

 Sem.                           Nay, sir--

 Nin.                                       A prisoner!
          O, welcome gift! We ask no other dower!

 Sem.     But, gracious lord--

 Nin.     (Turning to entrance) Ho, Vassin! Khosrove's taken!
          Go! Find him out and drag him straight to dungeon!
          Bind him with chains until he can not move,
          Till we've devised some bitter way of death!

 Vas.     (Without) I haste, my lord!

 Nin.               At last my enemy is 'neath my feet!

          (Returning to Semiramis)

          And 'tis to thee we owe this gift of fortune!
          ... You're pale, Semiramis.

 Sem.                                 O king--

 Nin.     (Taking her hands)                    And trembling.
          Dost fear my greatness? Nay, thou ledst my army--

 Sem.     O, if for that thou ow'st me aught, grant me--

 Nin.     Whate'er thou wouldst!

 Sem.                             My brother, Artavan,
          Is Husak's captive! Thou canst save him!

 Nin.                                               I?
          Then he is saved! But how! Tell me the way!

 Sem.     Husak will yield him up for Khosrove!

 Nin.                                           What
          Send Khosrove back alive! Not though the gods
          Commanded it! Alive! 'Twas Husak slew
          My father, and his son shall die! Ten years
          I've sought for this revenge! And give it up
          For a green lad fresh from the fields of Gazim?

 Sem.     A warrior, sir, who'll win thee many a battle!
          And crest thy glory with meridian stars!
          He's worth the price though pity lent no coin!
          Save him, my lord! A bridal boon I ask!
          Give me my brother!

 Nin.                         A bridal boon I'll grant.
          Thou lov'st thy father?

 Sem.     (Choking)               You know--that he--

 Nin.                                                 I know.

 Sem.     Great king--

 Nin.                   One thou mayst save.

 Sem.                                         O gods!

 Nin.     Thy brother, or thy father? Thou mayst choose.

 Sem.     I know my duty, sir. I choose my father.

 Nin.     A noble choice. We are not harsh, my queen.
          The people know Menones' life is forfeit,
          And know how I have sought for Khosrove's death;
          Did I spare both for your sake they would say
          That Ninus' scepter is a woman's hand.

          (Shouts of rejoicing without)

          But come! The chariot waits. The people call.

 Sem.     First will I tell my father that he lives.
          He's waiting there the summons to his death.
          Ah, I must thank you sir.

          (Takes the king's hand and kisses it. Goes through
          curtains, right, rear. Her cry is heard within. She
          returns.)

                                    Too late! He's dead!
          Cold, cold, my father! Oh!

          (Sobs, her hands covering her face)

 Nin.     (Removing her hands and putting his arm about her)

                                      Thou'rt not alone,
          My bride!

 Sem.     (Withdrawing and kneeling to him, her hands upraised)
                    O king, leave me my brother!

 Nin.                                             Nay!
          Did you not have your choice? You ask too much.

 Sem.     (Rising) Ah, so I do! I should demand, not ask!

 Nin.     Demand!

 Sem.             Ay, king! ... 'Tis true I'm not alone.
          My goddess mother is again with me
          As when this morn my heart exultant rode
          The tides of triumph! When the heavens rolled
          And like a stooping sea caught up my soul
          Till ranged with the applauding gods it clapped
          My courage on below! You offer me
          A place beside your throne. I offer you
          The hearts of all your subjects now my own,--
          The love--the worship of your mighty army!

          (Cries without)

          They shout my name--not yours--great Ninus! Hear!

 Shouts:  Semiramis is queen! Semiramis!

 Sem.     I bring a hand, with yours inlocked, shall reach
          O'er Asia's breadth and draw her glory in!
          A heart ambitious with immortal beat
          To make Assyria greatest 'neath the stars!
          And in return I ask my brother's life!
          Give me your promise Khosrove goes to Husak,
          Or leave me where I stand--Menones' daughter!

 Nin.     (Slowly, reading the determination in her face)
          I promise.

 Sem.                 Swear!

 Nin.                         I swear it!

 Sem.     (Relaxes, falls at his feet, and reaches up, clasping his hands)
                                          O, god Ninus!

(CURTAIN)



ACT II.


The great hall in the palace of Nineveh. The rear is open, showing
the sky and the towers of the city. Along the floor, which is high
above the ground court, rear, are sculptured lions. On each side
of hall where right and left reach open rear are large entrances,
with steps leading up to hall, guarded by spearmen and archers.
Within the hall, between winged bulls, are entrances to chambers,
right centre and left centre. Near front, right, smaller entrance
between figures of men with lion heads. The same opposite, left.
The walls of the hall are lined with alabaster slabs on which are
sculptured and colored the conquests of Assyrian kings.

Ninus alone. Enter Vassin, left centre.

 Nin.     (As Vassin enters)
          You've told her?

 Vas.                       Ay, my lord.

 Nin.                                     What does she say?
          Does she suspect we ordered Khosrove's torture?

 Vas.     I can not answer that.

 Nin.                             Then answer this!
          You're sure that he will die? You made good work?

 Vas.     Good work, my lord. He can not live a day.

 Nin.     A day! You've hurried then! I bade you fill
          His wounds with mortal but a lingering bane!
          Go, have him brought within! He must not die
          Without my foot upon his neck!

          (As Vassin is going)            What said
          The queen?

 Vas.     She cried 'My brother's lost!'

 Nin.                                     No more?

 Vas.     O, then her soul put sorrow's grandeur on,
          And those about her saw a noble storm;
          But yet so proud her royal eyes, each drop
          That fell from them were worth a world
          To him for whom they fell!

 Nin.     (Aside)                     He loves the queen!

          (Enter Semiramis, left, centre)

 Sem.     Is this thing true my lord? O, surely Heaven
          Will cry out 'No' though thou must answer 'Ay!'

 Nin.     (To Vassin) Go! (Exit Vassin, right front)

 Sem.                     Is it true?

 Nin.                                 Too true, my queen!
          Khosrove is maimed beyond all hope of life,
          And thou must make thy husband heir to love
          That was thy brother's.

 Sem.                             Oh!

 Nin.                                 Thy grief is mine.

 Sem.     I will not weep, though I could shed such streams
          As when the clouds from riven breast pour down
          Their torrent agonies!... How strange, my lord,
          The guards should venture so without your warrant!

 Nin.     I've had their heads for it!

 Sem.     (Shocked)                     Their heads!... Why, this
          'Tis to be royal! Ah!

 Nin.                           Put by these thoughts,
          Semiramis. No theme to-day but love!

 Sem.     Love, sir?

 Nin.                 Ay, that! Thou lov'st me, dost thou not?

 Sem.     Thou art great Ninus!

 Nin.                           I'd be loved as man!
          Forget my kingdom, and put arms about me
          As doth the peasant maid her beggar lord!

 Sem.     (Moving from him)
          I thought thy greatness married my ambition
          To make Assyria brave e'en to the gods!
          I'll keep my promise ... howsoever thine
          Is broken. Crowned, my glorious purpose beats
          Higher than any dream my maiden heart
          Could nourish! I will keep my word. But love?
          If thou wouldst have it--win it!

          (Starts away, then turns back to him)

                                            Hast yet found
          A governor for the city?

 Nin.                               No.

 Sem.                                   Delay
          At this unsettled time? Dost think it safe?

 Nin.     I've ordered every tower-watch redoubled,
          Each gate close-locked, and keep the keys myself!
          None goes or comes till I have found the man
          For governor.

 Sem.                   Would not Vassin serve?

 Nin.     (With suspicion)
          I've other use for him. Perchance he'll go
          From Nineveh.

 Sem.                   My lord, there's one from Gazim,
          Sumbat, thou'lt find as true as thine own heart.
          Who with some aid from me--

 Nin.                                 From you? So, so!

 Sem.     (In surprise)
          I was my father's head and hand, my lord.
          Who knows the guardian locks and wards and plans
          Secretive for thy safety but myself?
          Whom thou dost choose must learn somewhat of me.

 Nin.     Ay, you'll nob heads together!

 Sem.                                     Sir?

 Nin.                                           Well, well--
          I'll choose a man!

          (Exit moodily, right centre)

 Sem.                         Strange ... but he is the king!
          ... Ah, Khosrove! Artavan!... Nay, I will think
          Of nothing but my duty to the crown!...
          ... "And with a father and a brother lost--"

          (Enter Sola, left, front. She sees that Semiramis is alone
          and advances)

 Sem.     "Though thou wert worshipped, thou couldst not be happy!"

 Sol.     Tell me! When does he come?

 Sem.                                 Who, child?

 Sol.                                             You ask?
          My husband--Artavan!

 Sem.                           He will not come.

 Sol.     Art thou not queen?

 Sem.                         And Ninus king.

 Sol.     He will not save thy brother?

 Sem.                                   Nay, he can not.

 Sol.     O monster king!

 Sem.                     Hush, Sola ... he forgave
          My father.

 Sol.                 Oh!--because he knew him dead!

 Sem.     He knew him dead!

 Sol.                       Ah, I will tell you now!

          (Looks about guardedly, and speaks in a low tone)

          I saw your father die--and Ninus saw him!
          Dokahra waked me--and unseen we watched!
          The king came to the tent--discovered all--
          Doomed him to death--you to dishonor! Then
          Your father rose to strike him--and fell dead.
          The king--

 Sem.                 Go! Leave me, Sola! Leave me! Go!

          (Exit Sola, left, near front)

 Sem.     (Stands in silent horror, then speaks slowly)
          ... I'll keep my oath ... and crown. Still will I make
          Assyria great. Assyria is the army,
          And I ... am queen of arms ... not love! Not love!

          (Re-enter Ninus)

 Sem.     (Softly, not seeing Ninus)
          "Dost know what love is, daughter of Menones?"

 Nin.     (Advancing) My bride!

 Sem.     (Turning to him)      My lord, I would see Sumbat. Pray
          Let him be summoned.

 Nin.                           Nay, we've sworn this day
          Shall be for us alone!

 Sem.                             'Twas he I charged
          With care of the Armenian prince.

 Nin.                                       My queen
          Shall not be troubled.

 Sem.                             'T will not trouble me,
          My lord.

 Nin.               Enough it troubles me!

 Sem.                                       He'd know
          Of this foul fault, against your will--

 Nin.                                             Again
          That theme! Forget it!

 Sem.                             O, my lord, forget
          That noble prince? So brave--so proud--so fair--

 Nin.     What do you say? O, you changed eyes with him!

 Sem.     My lord!

 Nin.               This is your grief! Your brother! Ha!

 Sem.     Your majesty--

 Nin.                     Not majesty! Fool! Fool!
          Ho, there! Bring in the Armenian! You shall see
          This noble prince! So brave--so proud--so fair!
          Her brother! O, fool, fool, fool!

 Sem.                                       This the king?

 Nin.     Why, I'm a fool, my lady!

          (Guards enter right front with a half lifeless body)

                                    Look on him!
          He's had some kisses since you saw him last
          That struck full deep!

 Sem.     (Staggering back)       Is that--

 Nin.                                       Ay, it is he!
          Look on him! 'Tis your Khosrove! Your--

 Sem.     (Majestically)                          Peace Ninus!
          When you have knelt to me I'll hear you speak!

          (Exit left centre)

 Nin.     (Stares after her and becomes calm)
          Now I have ruined all. She'll not forgive!

          (Enter Vassin, left, rear)

 Vas.     My lord, the brother of the queen has come.

 Nin.     Not Artavan?

 Vas.                   Ay, Artavan.

 Nin.                                 He's here?

 Vas.     When Husak had your oath you'd free his son,
          Prince Khosrove, Artavan was sent at once
          To Nineveh.

 Nin.                 How could he pass
          The gates?

 Vas.                 He passed before your order fell.

 Nin.     We'll welcome him.

          (Looks toward the queen's room)

                              I'll make my peace with this.

          (Goes out with Vassin, left, rear. Semiramis enters
          hesitatingly, sees that Ninus is gone and advances
          fearfully toward the figure on the floor. The guards
          stand back, right front. She retreats, covering her
          eyes; then approaches and bends over the body. Searches
          his face, and throws up her hands in sudden joy)

 Sem.     Not Khosrove! O, it is not Khosrove!

          (Leaves him and hurries to exit, trying to suppress her
          emotion. Returns to the body)

          Where is the prince? Poor wretch! Can you not speak?
          ... Are these thy ways, ambition?

 Voice without.                             Way! Make way!

          (Semiramis hurries to her room. Enter the king, left rear,
          walking with Khosrove, and followed by Vassin and Sumbat)

 Nin.     Speak not of going, Artavan!

 Khos.                                  I must,
          O king! I pray your leave to go at once
          To Gazim. Sudden troubles urge me there.
          I beg your kingly warrant I may pass
          The gates--

 Nin.     Nay, you shall stay! We shall persuade you!

          (To attendant)
          Summon the queen. Her voice we'll add to ours.

 Khos.    My lord--

 Nin.               We like you, Artavan! By Bel,
          We do! You're worthy of your sister queen!
          No more--you'll stay! ... See! This is Khosrove!

          (Bends over body on the floor)                    Is--

          Or was? ... He lives.... Think you these bones will hold
          Until they reach old Husak? Now you've come,
          We must keep faith! Ha! ha!

 Khos.                                And that--is Khosrove?

 Nin.     Truth, 'tis! ... Bear out the dog!

          (Guards bear off body, right front. Enter Semiramis.
          Sumbat crosses to her)

 Sem.     My brother? Where?

 Khos.                        Here! (Advancing to her)

 Sum.     (To Semiramis)            Be not amazed
          And Artavan is safe!

 Nin.                           This welcome's cold
          Methinks. We gave him warmer greeting.

 Sem.                                             Sir,
          Such sudden joy--My brother knows there's none
          I hold more dear.

 Nin.                       How now? Not one?

 Sem.     (Dropping her eyes from Khosrove)   Yes--one--
          Perhaps.

 Nin.     (Pleased, taking her hand)
                    We are forgiven?

 Sem.                                 Indeed, my lord.

 Nin.     And for your brother, hear our royal word.
          We make him governor of Nineveh!

 Sem.     (In alarm)
          No! no!

 Nin.             'Tis done! Go, Vassin, bring the keys!

          (Exit Vassin, right front)

          And wear this ring, my general!

 Khos.                                    My lord,
          I could not undertake--

 Nin.                             You shall!--The queen
          Will charge you with all duties.

 Sem.                                       No! I will not!

 Nin.     Ay, ay! We know we please you 'gainst your word
          And not your will.

 Sem.                         He is too young, my lord!

 Nin.     Menones was too old. And 'twas yourself
          Who taught us how to prize your brother.

          (Re-enter Vassin with a chain of great keys, which the
          king takes)

                                                    Come!

          (Throws chains about Khosrove's neck, and singles out
          the keys)

          The citadel! The southern arsenal!
          The northern wall--the secret passages--
          And these the tunnel locks and river gates!
          You'll take command at once, and so relieve
          The city which we've shut fast as a tomb,
          Fearing that spies from Husak's camp might creep
          Into our bosom.

 Khos.                    Wisely done, my lord.

 Sem.     O king, if 't must be so, I'll map for him
          My fathers safe division of the city.

 Nin.     To you we leave him.

          (Talks apart with Vassin and Sumbat)

 Sem.                           Sir, what do you mean?

 Khos.    (Hurriedly) When Vassin came to take me into charge,
          Sumbat contrived another should be sent--

 Sem.     We know the rest! But how save Artavan?

 Khos.    When I have entered Husak's camp he's free!
          You trust me?

 Sem.                   O, I must! I do! But not
          To save my brother may I trust to you
          The city's keys! You are Assyria's foe--

 Khos.    Not now! No more a foe, but truest friend!
          For in my heart you are Assyria,
          And you I'd serve--

 Nin.                         Cut short thy schooling, for
          The city waits.

 Sem.     (Aloud, mapping in her hand) The river here divides
          The eastern guard--(lowers her voice) I must not do this! No!
          Risk every soul in Nineveh--

 Khos.                                  Did I
          Not trust thee when I entered here? I knew
          The face that shone upon me in the battle
          Would not betray me! Who gives perfect trust
          Is worthy of it! Thou dost know me true
          By Heaven's sign that only souls may read!
          I can not say what I would say because
          Thou art a wife, but wert thou not a wife,
          Though thou wert thousand times a queen, I'd pour
          Such worship to your ears you would believe
          My heart would rend my body's walls and leap
          Out of my bosom sooner than beat once
          A traitor to your trust! Take Ninus' ring!
          Give me this little one--(slipping a ring from her finger)
                                    that hath enclosed
          The sovereign rose and ruby of thy veins
          That dims his purple power--and thee I serve--
          Your general--not his! Whate'er you would
          I will! Command me now--

 Sem.                               Enough! Go, go!
          Lose no more time!

 Khos.                        O, in some dream to come,
          When innocence may wear what form it will
          And on thy waking nature leave no blush,
          May words I must not speak take life and pay
          The debt they owe this hour!

 Sem.                                   I beg you go!
          Assyria's in your hands!

 Khos.                              Nay, in my heart!

 Nin.     Come, Artavan! No more delay! Your troops
          Await before the citadel.

 Khos.                              I go,
          My lord.

          (Confusion without, left rear. Enter an officer)

 Off.               Pardon, your majesty! A man
          Who says he's brother to the queen, makes bold
          To press before you!

 Nin.                           Yet another brother?

 Sem.     No, no, my lord!

 Off.                       He comes from Husak's camp.

 Sem.     It is some madman surely, or a spy
          Who plays his wits are lost and takes this way
          To force into the court!

 Khos.                              I'll thrust him out!
          He may mean danger to your person.

 Nin.                                         Nay,
          We'll sport with him. Let him come in!

          (Exit Officer)

 Sem.                                             My lord--

 Nin.     Your brother! Ho, ho, ho!

          (Enter Artavan)

 Art.                               My sister!

 Sem.     (Staring)                             Sir?

 Art.     Though queen, art thou not still my sister?

 Sem.                                                 No!

 Art.     (Bowing with scornful ceremony)
          Your majesty!

 Nin.                   Ha! ha! His sister! Then
          Thou wouldst be brother to the king?

 Art.     (Bitterly)                            My hope
          Runs not so high, and even to her I now
          Give up all claim. I'll own no blood but that
          In my own veins keeps honor! So farewell!

 Nin.     Be not so fast! Whence comest thou, my man?

 Art.     From Husak's camp. When he received thy word
          His son should go to him, he set me free.

 Sem.     Oh, set you free!

 Art.                       And now, O king--

 Sem.     (Seeing that the king is impressed) My lord,
          If he came from the camp how has he passed
          The city gates?

 Nin.                     Ah ... true ... he could not pass.

 Sem.     (Mockingly) Perhaps he scaled the hundred feet of wall,
          And crossed the rampart 'neath the arrow watch
          Of towers eighty-score!

 Art.                             I found a way,
          Proud woman!

 Nin.                   How?

          (As Artavan speaks Sola enters left front, and is held
          aside by Sumbat)

 Art.                         This morning ere the battle
          She who was then my sister gave me this.

          (Shows paper)

          'Twas some direction sent unto my father,
          The lord Menones. (Turning paper) On this side I found
          A map whose secret key I knew, that marked
          A passage 'neath the river. This I sought,
          Found it unguarded--

 Nin.                           By the seven winds!--

          (Enter an officer)

 Off.     O king!

 Nin.             You're of the northern watch?

 Off.                                           I am,
          O king! The Armenians advance upon
          The northern wall, but come with lances down!

 Art.     They come in peace to meet the son of Husak!

 Sem.     O, haste, my lord! Haste, Artavan to duty!
          Their rage when they shall learn the fate of Khosrove
          May give them courage to assail our walls!
          Go, brother!

 Nin.                   Hold! This man speaks not as madmen!

 Sem.     Should I not know my brother, sir?

 Nin.                                         You should.
          Choose which is he. The other we condemn
          To death.

 Art.     (Holding out his arms)
                    Save me, Semiramis!

 Khos.    (Holding out his arms)        Save me,
          My sister!

 Sem.     (Going to Khosrove's arms)
                      Brother!

 Nin.     (To Khosrove)         Haste thee to thy office!
          Vassin, attend him! Sumbat, be his chief!
          We trust where trusts the queen!

 Sem.     (To Khosrove)                     Give up the keys
          To Sumbat!

          (Exeunt Khosrove, Vassin, Sumbat, left rear)

 Nin.     (To Artavan) You to death! (Signs to guards)

 Sem.                                 My royal lord,
          First would I question him alone, and learn
          The truth about this passage. He may be
          In league with traitors subtler than himself.
          One moment, sir, I pray.

 Nin.                               O, ever wise!
          Bribe him with any promise death may keep
          To tell you all. But do not linger, love;
          We lose our bridal day!

          (Exit, right centre. Semiramis looks at Artavan with
          the greatest tenderness. He gazes coldly upon her, Sola
          clinging to him)

 Art.                             What would the queen?

 Sem.     To be again thy sister. Dost not guess?
          That man--

 Art.                 Who can he be you prize above
          Your honor and my life?

 Sem.                             The son of him
          Who set you free on Ninus' oath, an oath
          Broke in the heart ere it had left the lips!

 Art.     My brave Semiramis! You've saved the prince,
          And with his life my honor! O, pardon me!

 Sem.     He was escaping in your name when you
          Arrived too soon--

 Art.                         Forgive me that!

 Sem.                                           And now
          To save my brother!

 Art.                         Hope it not. Be glad
          That one is safe. Had Khosrove lost his life
          In Ninus' court, my oath had driven me back
          To Husak--and to death. No power then
          Had saved me. Now--

 Sem.                         Now thou shalt live!

 Art.                                               Nay, see!
          His guards watch well! There is no way.

 Sem.                                             No way
          But through the will of Ninus. He shall save thee!

 Art.     O, for your own dear life, Semiramis,
          Let Ninus know not I am Artavan!

 Sem.     He dare not touch me, for the army's mine!

          (Goes into Ninus' chamber)

 Sol.     My love!

 Art.               'Tis welcome and farewell, my Sola!

 Sol.     O, she will save thee!

 Art.                             Teach me not to hope.

          (A band of dancing maidens enter, left, and sing a bridal
          chorus before the doors of Ninus' chamber)

                  Love and Beauty now are one,
                    No more wandering away!
                  Love's the sky to Beauty's sun,
                    From him she can not stray.
                  And he is bright by her fair light or none!

                  Love and Beauty dreaming lie,
                    Who shall say it is not meet?
                  Who shall say, O fie, O fie,
                    To the favor sweet
                  That Love will ask and Beauty not deny?

          (Maidens dance out, right. Re-enter Semiramis)

 Sem.     He's wild with rage! I can not calm him!

 Sol.                                               Oh,
          To lose thee now!

          (Enter Ninus. He advances upon Semiramis)

 Nin.                       Who is he, then--that man--
          If not thy brother? To whose arms you went
          As you have never come to mine?

 Sem.                                     A man
          Whose life you owed to me by holiest promise
          And oath unto the gods! I saved your soul
          When I so saved--

 Nin.                       Speak! Who?

 Sem.                                   The son of Husak,
          Prince Khosrove, of Armenia!

          (Utter silence. Ninus stands choked and dumb; then moves
          to strike Semiramis)

 Sem.                                   Strike me
          You strike your army!

          (Ninus drops his hand and stares at her, livid and shaken,
          then turns fiercely upon Artavan)

 Sem.     (Rushes before him and falls, clinging to his knees)
                                Wait, O wait, my lord!
          If thou dost Hope to know my love! Dost dream
          Of bridal joy! Wouldst rest thy head in peace
          Upon my bosom, say thou wilt forgive!
          And I, too, will forgive! No more will ask
          What thou hast done or not done! All thy past
          Is fair as Heaven by this moment's sun!
          I'll love thee as thou hadst been born this hour
          That gives my brother life! O, speak the word,
          And take me to thy heart--thy wife--thy slave--

 Nin.     By earth and heaven, he shall die--and now!

          (Raises his dagger to strike. Enter Vassin)

 Vas.     (Excitedly) My lord, this is the strangest governor!
          He ordered me with Sumbat to lead out
          The city troops beyond the southern gate,
          Then spurred to north! Sumbat obeyed, but I,
          Not liking this, returned to you!

 Nin.                                       'Tis Khosrove!

 Vas.     (Staggered)
          Then we are lost!

 Nin.                       Pursue him! Fly! Call back
          Our troops!

 Vas.                 Too late! By now they're locked without
          The southern wall, and Khosrove rides to ope
          The north to Husak!

 Sem.     (Aside)             False! Down, slanderous thought
          That darkens me not him! That face that looked
          As Truth had chosen it to show her own
          To man! That voice--each word the enchanted door
          To holier worlds unspoken! No. I'll trust!

          (Enter an officer)

 Off.     O, great Assyria, the Armenians come!
          The Gazim traitor's sold thee unto Husak!
          Thy foes are pouring through the northern gate
          And bear down on the palace! Sumbat holds
          Thy troops upon the southern plain And bars
          All passage! There's no help!

          (Ninus listens speechless)

 Attendants. (Running in)               O, we are lost!

 Off.     The city will be sacked! The palace guards
          Are but a handful!

 Sem.                         False? O, Khosrove! False?
          Then there is no man true? E'en Sumbat lost
          To thy sweet promises! False! false!

          (Enter a second officer)

 Off.     (Prostrating himself)                 Oh Ninus!
          Call on thy gods! Thy enemies are at thee!
          The palace is enclosed, and every foe
          Bears in his hand a torch that blazes death
          To all within!

          (The inmates of the palace are running to and fro, rear,
          and looking fearfully out into the court below)

 Sem.                     O beauteous gods, is this
          Your earth? Where Falsehood steals your garments, nay
          Your smile, seduces with your voice, and stamps
          Your semblance upon fiends?

 Voices.                              Save us, O king!

          (Ninus stands immovable, as if made deaf and dumb by
          impending disaster)

 Voice.   We burn! They cast the brands!

 Another.                                 Not yet! They wait!

 Voices of prostrate figures.             Save us, O king!

 Voice.   See! see! The leader speaks!

 Another.                               His herald! Hear!

          (A trumpet sounds below)

 Voice of Khosrove's herald.            Assyria, come forth!

          (All within listen, silent, eager, fearful)

          Hear thou, O Ninus! Hear the word of Khosrove!
          He will depart with the Armenian troops,
          And leave the city free of sword and fire,
          If thou'lt decree that Artavan shall live
          Free and unharmed!

          (The face of Semiramis illumines with joy)

                              Deny and Nineveh
          Shall flame!

 Nin.     My herald there! Stand forth!

          (The herald of Ninus takes station centre rear)

                                        Decree
          As Khosrove wills!

 Her. of Khos.                Appear, O Ninus!

 Nin.                                           No!

 Her. of Khos.
          Appear, O Ninus!

          (Ninus goes slowly to rear and stands by his herald)

 Her. of Khos.              Hear, all Nineveh!
          Hear the decree of Ninus, king and god!
          That Artavan, the brother of the queen,
          Shall freely live, and die by no man's hand!

 Her. of Ninus. (Blows trumpet, then speaks)

          Hear the decree of Ninus, king and god,
          That Artavan, the brother of the queen,
          Shall freely live, and die by no man's hand!

          (Silence. The voice of Khosrove below)

 Khos.    Assyria, speak!

 Nin.                     I, Ninus, so decree!

          (Staggers back toward front as all press to rear to see
          the troops go out. Semiramis, Artavan and Sola stand
          together gazing out)

 Sem.     O, Khosrove! See--he rides--away--away!

          (Leans forward waving her scarf. Ninus, alone in front,
          goes toward his chamber, falls on the steps overpowered
          with rage and lifts his clenched hands)

 Nin.     O, vengeance! Vengeance for a king!

(CURTAIN)



ACT III.


Scene: The gardens over the lake. A wide bridge extends from the
bank of the lake, left, to the gardens which are partly visible on
the right. At the rear, right, is a garlanded archway. At the
left, front, steps lead from the bridge to the bank and top of the
bridge. Beyond the bridge, rear, clouds show that the sun is
setting.

A score of spearmen, with lances down, march in right, front, and
out through archway, right, rear.

Enter, right, front, the king and Sumbat. The king is royally clad
and crowned; Sumbat in official robe.

 Sumbat.  Khosrove delays.

 Nin.                       But do not doubt he'll come.
          I have his word, and couriers have seen
          His horsemen on the plain.

 Sum.                                 How noble, sir,
          To close the Feast of Peace with supreme revel
          In honor of your foe!

 Nin.                           Not foe, good Sumbat.
          We have no foes. Our queen's triumphant arms
          Have made glad subjects of all enemies
          But one, and him we make our friend. To-night
          Assyria and Armenia sup as one!

          (Turns toward right, rear)

          We'll see if all's prepared as we gave order.

          (Exeunt under the arch of garlands. Dancers enter, right,
          front, and pass out through arch. Following them, Semiramis
          with her women. All are in rich attire but the queen who
          wears simple white robe. A dove nestles on her bosom. She
          gives the women leave to pass on and they go out merrily
          through arch, right, rear. Semiramis lingers; comes to the
          railing of the bridge, centre, and leans upon it)

 Sem.     Will Khosrove come? I do not doubt the king,--
          And yet--I pray he will not come!

          (Re-enter Sumbat, through arch. He comes out to the queen)

 Sem.                                       You, Sumbat?
          Where is the king?

 Sum.                         I left him in the garden,
          Giving new orders for Prince Khosrove's honor.

 Sem.     Sumbat, you trust the king?

 Sum.                                 I do. You've wrought
          Such noble change in him that drop by drop
          He's mated all his blood unto your virtues.

 Sem.     I must believe it, lest a doubt should breed
          The weakness it suspects. But is 't not strange
          Khosrove should trust him too?

 Sum.                                     He knows that you
          Would warn him if there lay a danger here.

 Sem.     I warn him? But suppose the warning false?
          'T would wrong the king, whose purpose seems so pure
          It might have journeyed with his soul when first
          It came from Heaven! No. I'll answer for him!
          He could not counterfeit so deep my eyes
          Would find no bottom to deceit!... But now
          What hast thou heard of Artavan?

 Sum.                                       No word.

 Sem.     I fear--

 Sum.               He's safe. Be sure of that. No man
          Would dare lay finger on him!

 Sem.                                   But to go
          Without a word! Poor Sola grieves, and weeps
          As though she'd drown her wits in tears.

          (A boat glides from under the bridge and over the water
          beneath them)

                                                    See there!
          'Tis she! Alone below!

          (Sola alights from boat and runs up steps to the bridge)

                                  I'll speak to her.

          Go, Sumbat! (Sumbat goes off right)

                      Sister, stay.

          (Stops Sola as she is passing)

                                    Why do you run?

 Sol.     I'm running from the king!

 Sem.                                 The king, my love?
          There's no king here.

 Sol.                           Nay, he's below!

 Sem.                                             Below?

 Sol.     Under the bridge with Vassin!

 Sem.                                   Vassin? No.
          The king has sent him out of Nineveh!

 Sol.     He did not go. I swear that he's below!

 Sem.     What were you doing 'neath the bridge?

 Sol.                                             Ah me,
          I seek in every place for Artavan.
          I'll save him from the king!

 Sem.                                   So kind a king?

 Sol.     O, kind! As death, or plague, or leprosy!
          'Tis he has taken revenge on Artavan!
          He'll kill the prince, too, when he comes!

 Sem.                                                 My child--

 Sol.     (Pointing down)
          I heard them talking there!

 Sem.                                 Thy husband's safe.
          Bethink thee that the king's decree protects him.

 Sol.     Not from the king! From man, not from the gods,
          And Ninus is a god, or dreams he is!

 Sem.     From man--not from--no, no! I will not say
          Or think it! My poor child--

 Sol.                                   You'll save the prince?
          'Tis you he trusts, not Ninus!

 Sem.                                     Sweet, be calm.
          You did not see the king.

 Sol.                               Hear all, and save him!
          When Khosrove takes the seat of highest honor,
          Lord of the Revels by Assyria's favor,
          The floor will part, the chair fall to the lake,
          Where Vassin waits to slay him, while the king
          Strikes down in wrath the master of the feast
          For fault of accident!

 Sem.                             Where are your wits?
          See, yonder comes the king!

          (Re-enter Ninus through archway)

 Sem.     (As he approaches)          Is all prepared,
          My lord?

 Sol.     (To Semiramis)
                    'Tis true--true--true!

          (Runs off, right)

 Nin.                                       Ay, all is ready
          Except the queen. What means these simple robes,
          Semiramis?

 Sem.                 A compliment unto
          Your majesty.

 Nin.                   It shows more like affront!
          I would have Khosrove see a splendor here
          Unpainted in the daring of his dream,
          And thou the star of it! A merchant's daughter
          Would robe her handmaid with more care--lend her
          A pearl or two--a bit of scarf--or scrap
          Of tinsel sun--

 Sem.                     My lord--

 Nin.                               A compliment!
          'Tis your disdain--

 Sem.                         It grieves me, sir, that you
          Should read in outward sign what never yet
          Was in my soul. Our wars are done, my lord;
          And exultation of the conquering hour
          Calms into peace; as I laid armor by
          For victor robes and symbol of my glory,
          I now cast off the purple of the queen,
          And but remember that I am a wife.

 Nin.     (Embracing her)
          Beloved Semiramis! Forgive thy slave!
          No royal dye could shine so to my eyes
          As this soft white put on for me alone!
          Thy pardon, love, and thou shalt shortly learn
          A king, too, knows how best to compliment!
          An honor waits for thee--

          (Enter officer, left)

 Off.                               O king!

 Nin.                                       We hear!

 Off.     The Armenian approaches.

 Nin.                               Khosrove comes?

          (Semiramis watches the king closely)

 Off.     He comes, great Ninus!

 Nin.                             Well, and more than well!
          Summon our train. (Exit officer, right) But one is lacking here,
          Our brother--Artavan.

 Sem.                           My lord--you think--

 Nin.     Who would dare harm him? He is safe.

 Sem.     (Coming very near him) From man,
          Not from the gods.

 Nin.     (Stepping back)     What do you mean?

 Sem.                                           The truth!

 Nin.     (Seizing her arm)
          It is not so! I do deny it!

 Sem.     (Calmly)                    What,
          My lord?

 Nin.               What meant you when you said 'the truth'!

 Sem.     That gods may work some harm to Artavan.

 Nin.     (At ease) True, love! Uncertain is their favor. Look!
          He comes! (Gazing off left)

 Sem.     (Aside)   He's false! And if he's false in this--then is--
          O, Khosrove, thou art lured to death! And I
          Have been thy traitorous star!

          (Enter Khosrove, left, attended by Armenians)

 Nin.                                     Hail, Khosrove! Hail!

 Assyrians.
          Hail to Armenia! Hail!

 Khos.                            O, Ninus, hail!

 Armenians.
          Hail to Assyria, greatest over kings!

 Nin.     Thou'rt welcome, and we thank thee for thy trust,
          Which we'll betray when Heaven has no god
          To damn our treachery! In proof of faith,
          Wear thou the royal dagger with thy own.

          (Detaches his weapon, which he gives to Khosrove)

          Our queen--has she no word?

          (Khosrove bows low before Semiramis)

 Sem.                                 Peace and long life
          To Khosrove.

 Nin.                   Now to revel! Sound the trumpets!

          (Exeunt officers through archway. Trumpets sound from the
          gardens. Dancing maidens in white robes, each with a dove
          resting on her hand, enter right front, reach the centre
          of the stage, and begin the dance of doves. As the maidens
          describe circles in the dance the doves rise and fly in
          similar circles above their heads, and re-alight on their
          extended hands)

 Sem.     (Who has stood aside during the dance, apparently disturbed)
          It is not true! Were any man so vile
          Nature would spurn him back to chaos ere
          His mother had beheld him!

          (The dance ends. The maidens pass out under arch. All move
          to follow when Ninus speaks)

 Nin.                                 Stay! Hear, all!
          Before we feast in honor of our guest,
          We would do honor to our noble queen,
          Whose arms of might have brought our land to peace.
          Whose looks of love have brought our heart to rest!
          To-night we doff our crown that she may wear it!

          (Removing crown)

          And here decree her word shall be obeyed
          Above our own.

          (Puts crown on the queen's head)

                          Dost like our compliment?

 Sem.     It is too much, my king.

 Nin.     (Kneeling)                Nay, nay, thy subject!

          (Semiramis seems gay with a sudden resolve)

 Sem.     If it so please thee then I'll be the king!

 Nin.     (Rising) We have decreed. If any here refuse
          To honor thy command, though thou shouldst doom
          My death, himself that instant dies. (To officer)
                                                You, sir,
          Take order for it, and if your own hand fail,
          When we are king again we'll have your head!

 Off.     My arm be as your will, my lord!

 Sem.                                       O, then
          I have a wish I did not dare to voice.

 Nin.     Command it now.

 Sem.                     It hath much troubled me
          That Khosrove should be honored over you,
          Lord of the Revels.

 Khos.    (Astonished)        Lady--

 Sem.                                 King, if 't please you!
          I've laid my purple by, but I have still
          The royal color in my heart. Think'st thou
          To sit above Assyria, who wearest not
          The brave investment of the gods? who hold'st
          Thy sceptre still from warrior chiefs, not from
          Anointed kings?

 Khos.                    Because my race is proud!
          Too proud to kneel to any earthly king
          And take the sacred vestment from his hands!

 Sem.     You see, my lord, that even in his heart
          He ranks himself above you!

 Nin.                                 But, my love--

 Khos.    Farewell! Thou didst me service once, and here
          I thought to thank thee, but--

 Nin.                                     Stay, Khosrove, stay!

 Khos.    Farewell, with all my heart!

 Nin.                                   Nay--

 Sem.                                         O, my lord.
          Let him depart. He mocks our glory, and bears
          A challenge in his proud simplicity
          That puts our splendor to defense.

 Khos.                                        Nay, madam!
          I came to lay my duty at your feet,
          And lift my eyes no higher than your hand
          Without your royal leave! But now I'll cast
          My gaze upon the stars, forgetting that
          You walk beneath them! (Going)

 Nin.                             Stay, O prince!

          (To Semiramis)
          A boon, your majesty! 'T would blot our honor
          To send him from us thus! We shall be plunged
          Anew in wars, for Husak will avenge it!
          I am thy most unhappy subject, and
          Thou'lt hear my prayer!

          (Goes after Khosrove and leads him back)

                                  You'll stay, O Khosrove?

 Khos.                                                      Ay,
          On one condition.

 Nin.                       Name it!

 Khos.                                That you will take
          Our seat at feast.

 Nin.                         Nay--

 Sem.                               That is our command!

 Nin.     No, no!

 Sem.             We'll have it so!

 Nin.                               I'll not consent!

 Sem.     It is our royal order! Guards for Ninus!

 Nin.     What do you mean?

 Sem.                       To have our way! Guards here!
          You shall not do this wrong to your high self!
          We'll look unto your honor! (To guards) Bear him in!

          (Guards stand in amazement)

          Did ye not hear the king's decree? I reign!

          (Guards take hold of Ninus)

 Nin.     By Hut and Nim!

 Sem.                     Place him in Khosrove's seat!

          (Guards draw Ninus through the archway. Khosrove follows,
          then all but Semiramis, who lingers fearfully, runs
          toward front, then back and listens)

 Sem.     'Tis true! What have I done? Ye gods! 'tis true!
          He would not so rebel if 't were not true!
          But Vassin is below! He'll know his king
          And save him!

          (Kneels)      Belus, mighty Belus, pardon!

          (The sun has set, and red clouds show almost black over
          water, rear. The front of stage is nearly dark. Lights
          glimmer from the gardens, and a faint torch shows in the
          darkness under the bridge. Shouts and shrieks come from
          within. People rush out)

 Voices.  The king! the king!

 Sem.     (Retreating to railing, front)
                              'Tis done!

 Officer. (Running across)                The king has fallen
          Into the lake! Lights there! below!
          (Runs down steps leading under the bridge)

 Other officers following.                    Lights! lights!

          (Torches flare under the bridge. Darkness above as the
          last light fades from the sky. A moment of noise and
          search, and officers appear on the bridge, right, rear,
          with Vassin. A guard bears torch which throws light on his
          face)

 Sem.     (Confronting him)
          You've saved the king!

 Vas.                             I have. For I have slain
          His foe!

 Sem.               His foe? No--you have killed the king!

          (Falls back into the arms of her women. Complete darkness
          on stage. An instant later moonlight. Khosrove and
          Semiramis alone on the bridge, centre, front)

 Khos.    (Bowing ceremoniously)
          Farewell, Assyria!

 Sem.                         O, not that name!
          Not yet--not yet.

 Khos.                      Does it not please your pride?

 Sem.     My pride? 'Tis gone. Now I could lay my head
          Upon the dust.

 Khos.                    In truth! But you'll not do it!
          Humility's a word the great think sweet
          Upon the tongue, but near the heart they find
          It loseth flavor!

 Sem.                       Ah ... you do not know?
          You think the words I spoke were born of pride?
          So far from that--no, no--I will not tell,
          And yet you wrong me, prince.

 Khos.                        (Eagerly) Did you suspect
          Some danger to me here, and seek to force
          My angry leave? You did not care so much?

 Sem.     I cared so much that rather than betray you
          I would have let you go believing me
          A woman worth your scorn. Ah, there my pride
          In truth did suffer!

 Khos.                          O, Semiramis!
          Thou art the same as when I saw thee last?
          As when I rode away and left thy face--
          The only face in Nineveh--nay--I--
          Will go. Farewell, most noble queen!

 Sem.                                           Farewell!

          (He lingers)

 Sem.     Why go in haste?

 Khos.                      I left my father sick.
          He will be troubled till I come again.

 Sem.     How dared you trust--

 Khos.                          What would I not have dared
          To look on thee again?... My horsemen wait....

          (Waving toward left)

          I come!

 Sem.             Farewell!... Armenia is my friend?
          I'm sad.... The manner of this death.... It weighs
          Upon me.

 Khos.              Let it not. Thou'rt innocent

 Sem.     O, some may doubt!

 Khos.                        But who wrongs Virtue puts
          A crown upon her! If thou hadst foreknown
          The accident--

 Sem.                     The accident?

 Khos.                                  'Twas not
          Designed?

 Sem.               It was ... for you.

 Khos.                                  By Ninus?

 Sem.                                             Ay.
          You were to die.

 Khos.                      Then you--you knew--that he--

          (Starts from her in horror)

 Sem.     What's in thy mind? What thought doth paint thy face
          In dreadful silence? Oh! you think that I--

          (Looks at him with equal horror. Removes farther from him,
          regains composure, and speaks with haughty coldness)

          This serves me well! Right well, Armenian!
          Yes--yes--I knew--I knew the king would fall.
          But knew, too, sir, that Vassin was below,
          And, by my precious gods, I did not dream
          He would not save his king! While you--my guest--
          You would have gone to death!

 Khos.                                  Forgive me!

          (Semiramis walks farther, not heeding him)

                                                    Oh,
          I found a stream that ran from heavenly springs
          And in it cast the soot of hell!

 Sem.                                       Well served--
          Well served, Semiramis!... I was so sad ...
          And would not be content to let him go ...
          I wanted but a word ... a word to cheer me ...
          And now I have it--murderess!

 Khos.    (Who has advanced to her)     No, no,
          I did not say it!

 Sem.                       The tongue may well keep silent
          When eyes speak lightning. I have heard too much!
          'T were better I had let you die!

 Khos.                                      Ay, better ...
          Better than this!

 Sem.                       Now, now I am Assyria!
          No more a woman! Softness to the winds!
          And let my heart be as my armor--steel!

 Khos.    Thou canst not make it so by saying it.
          There is no cold or heat may temper hearts
          Away from their true nature. Mail thyself
          From head to foot, thou'rt still Semiramis!

 Sem.     A queen!

          (An officer enters, left)

 Off.               Your majesty, an urgent hand
          Brings this report.

          (Gives paper to her, which she reads)

 Sem.                         The Ghecs are in revolt!
          Thank them for me! They could not show me favor
          More to my heart!

          (Exit officer, left)

                            I'm sick of peace--this peace
          That gives men time to brood and breed foul thoughts
          And fouler deeds! Give me the open war whose blows
          Rain down as free as moonbeams from the sun!
          Who meets me there I know, at least, he's brave,
          And there--

 Khos.                Semiramis!

 Sem.     (Proudly)               Armenia, speak!
          You have our leave.

 Khos.                        These Ghecs--my father is
          Their ancient, sworn ally!

 Sem.                                 Well, sir?

 Khos.                                            His oath
          Binds him to give them aid.

 Sem.                                 The braver then
          The battle!

 Khos.    I am my father's son!

 Sem.                           You mean
          We'll meet upon the field!

 Khos.                                I can not take
          The field against you!

 Sem.                             No? Why not?

 Khos.                                          You know!
          Because I love you!

 Sem.                         Sir, I am Assyria!

 Khos.    Nay, but Menones' daughter! She whose heart
          I touched--

 Sem.                 You touched?

 Khos.                              Ere taint of pride or power
          Or mad ambition had laid a canker there!
          When she was maiden still, and knew no thought
          She might not whisper in her father's ear!
          Gentle as Spring when hushing the young dove,
          But strong from virgin battle, with the flush
          Of valorous purpose pure as goddess' dream
          Starting the noble war-blood in her cheek!
          'Tis she I speak to now--she that I love--
          Not the proud queen grown bold in blood and triumph!
          Love me, Semiramis! You shall have peace!
          Not this sick peace that turns your heart to hate,
          But peace that charms the beauty back to life
          And new dreams to the soul! O, no more war!
          Then lilies springing in thy steps shall say
          What fairer grace went by! These fingers shall
          Forget the sword whose music is men's groans,
          And on sweet strings draw out the heart of love
          To give the world the key of melody!
          Ah, you shall war no more--

 Sem.                                 Sir, you forget!
          These Ghecs--

 Khos.                  Will not revolt if I become
          Assyria's head! They trust me as their--

 Sem.                                               You!
          Assyria's head! You! you! O, now I see!
          I'm not yet blind, although my heart was fast
          Upstealing to my eyes to make me so!

 Khos.    O clear thy sight a second time, my queen,
          And read me true!

 Sem.                       And you had almost moved me!

 Khos.    Melt, stony eyes--

 Sem.                         The magic's left the earth
          That had the power to soften them!

 Khos.                                        Not so--

 Sem.     You'd keep me still the general's humble daughter
          While you would wear the glory I have won!

 Khos.    Nay, by Mylitta's fire!--

 Sem.                               We'd war no more.
          For who has all may well hang by the sword!

 Khos.    By Heaven, I--

 Sem.                     O, you are man as _he_ was!

          (Looks toward the garden shuddering)

          I'll trust no more! Who's worthy trust will give it!
          So saidst thou once! But thou couldst doubt--so dark
          A doubt my soul--

 Khos.                      Nay, that's not my offense!
          You are a woman, and you must forgive!
          But you are queen, too, and the queen in you
          Guards her ambition from my honest love
          Lest it divide her glory!

 Sem.                               True, she guards it!
          Out of Assyrian stone I'll make a heart
          And wear it in my bosom!

 Khos.                              Do not say it!
          I did not mean the words! They are not so!
          Thou dost not know thyself! Hard are the lips
          That never know a kiss, and thine were made
          With softness of the rose! Though all the streams
          Of power on earth poured to thy sovereign sea,
          Still wouldst thou want, and empty be the heart
          One drop of love would fill!

 Sem.                                   You speak
          As to a woman!

 Khos.                    Ay, for so thou art!
          Be now thyself! Thy peace alone I plead!
          I can bear all but thy unhappiness!
          For love--true love--forgets itself and makes
          But one prayer unto Heaven--prayer for the good
          Of the beloved!

 Sem.                     Thou wouldst not share my throne?

 Khos.    Thy throne?

 Sem.                 Ay, so I said.

 Khos.                                I care not for it,
          But since 'tis thine, I could not be a man
          Worthy thyself and take a place beneath thee.
          I'd be thy husband, and I know thou'rt not
          A woman to look down and love!

 Sem.                                     O theft
          In argument! To make my monarch soul
          Speak from thy mouth against me!

 Khos.                                      Not against thee!
          To beg thee yield to love is but to plead
          Thy greater cause! Ah, days will come to thee
          When all the maiden in thy heart will rise
          And drown the queen's! Thou canst not call me back!
          To-morrow is the battle! O, I lied
          To say thou wert ambitious and ungentle--

 Sem.     No, thou didst not! 'Tis true! I am--

 Khos.                                          No, no!
          I'll prove it is not so! See here--the dove--
          That nestles at your breast! Why is it here?

 Sem.     Because I was a woman once--and dreamed
          On foolish, woman things! (Frees bird from her bosom)
                                    Fly! fly!
          And as I pluck thee out I pluck away
          All thought of mortal love, and stand alone
          Beneath Assyria's crown!

 Khos.    (Gazes at her in despair) Then I'll be gone!

 Sem.     You've pleaded well, but my domains are broad,
          And might give tongue to wilder eloquence
          Without love's sweet excuse!

 Khos.                                  No more! I go!

          (Moves off, left. Near exit, turns)

          I lead my father's troops!

 Sem.                                 I lead my own!

          (Exit Khosrove. She looks after him without moving until
          he passes out of sight. The moonlight is less bright. Her
          dove flies over her head. She starts and looks after it.
          The bird alights. She watches it eagerly and waits. It
          circles about her, then darts to her bosom. With an
          exultant moan she clasps it to her breast)

(CURTAIN)



ACT IV.


Scene: Within Husak's tent. Husak, Khosrove, Armenian lords and
soldiers.

 Husak.   Bring in the widow!

          (Exeunt officers)

                              Now, my son, thou'lt see
          Assyria at thy feet. Ay, she who scorned
          To match her crown with thine, shall low as earth
          Cry up for favor!

 Khos.                      Sir, I would not see it!

 Hus.     Still in that humor? Well, I promise thee
          She shall have mercy.

 Khos.                          Mercy, father?

 Hus.                                           Ay.

 Khos.    What wilt thou grant?

 Hus.                           Ask of thy heart,

          (Khosrove is about to speak)            Peace, boy!
          For once we'll be a father, not a soldier! Wait!

          (Khosrove kneels and kisses his father's hand as Semiramis
          enters between guards. She is robed and crowned, her arms
          fettered with golden chains, and holds herself proudly,
          not looking at Husak. She turns to Khosrove, who watches
          her eagerly)

 Sem.     We meet again. Wert thou upon the field?
          I saw thee not. Perchance thy father thought
          'T were wise to find his health and lead his troops
          Lest _Love_ should blunt thy sword!

 Hus.                                         By Bel, his sword
          Was sharp enough to find the heart of Sumbat,--
          Your general!

 Sem.                   Sumbat slain! (Turns to Khosrove)
                                      and slain by you!

 Khos.    I had my choice--to slay him or to die.

 Sem.     (With bitter scorn)
          And did the love that makes one prayer to Heaven
          Rule in that choice?

 Hus.                           These taunts, Semiramis--

 Khos.    Nay, father, she has cause to use me so.

 Sem.     Oh, you confess you played with me! Then, heart,
          In with thy scorn for this outbraves thy own!

          (Turns away, folding her chained hands on her breast, and
          stands as if she would speak no more)

 Hus.     You make no suit for mercy?

 Sem.     (Turning to him)            What! from thee?
          Who kill your captives ere your tent is struck,
          Nor spare a guard to drive them from the field?

 Hus.     I grant what I would ask--death before serfdom!
          You'd keep them for your dogs and slaves!

 Sem.                                               And when
          Am I to die? Why breach thy custom now?

 Hus.     We like your spirit, but push not so far,
          Or we shall break the bounds we've set ourselves.
          Have you not found us gracious to your rank?
          You look not like a prisoner!

 Sem.                                   No thanks
          For that! This robe and crown, these chains of gold
          Are compliments that Husak pays himself,
          Proclaiming him a royal victory,
          Though not a royal victor!

 Hus.                                 What! Dar'st fling
          Into my face that the Armenian kings
          Rule unanointed? Dost think that I would sue
          To Nineveh or Babylon for leave
          To take my kingly emblems from their hands?
          But thou--thou shalt owe thine to me! I wear
          No proud insignia of the gods, and yet
          My hands shall strip and clothe thee as I will!

          (Tears off her robe and crown)

 Khos.    Father!

 Hus.             By sun and moon--

 Khos.                              O, sir--

 Hus.                                         Her pride
          Insults my mercy, but I'll keep my word.
          Take these. (Gives him the robe and crown)
                      Now, woman, learn that Husak--ay,
          Husak, the Fierce, can pity fallen glory!
          Stand forth, my son! Look, captive, on this prince!
          A man not made to sue to less than gods!
          Make him thy husband-king, and from his hands
          Receive thy purple and remount thy throne!

          (All are astonished. Khosrove shrinks back in shame, which
          Semiramis misunderstands)

 Sem.     Methinks this lover makes no ardent suit,
          King Husak! Why, the sun has not twice set
          Since he did swear me dearer than my crown,
          And now the crown's too much if my poor self
          Must burden it!

          (Khosrove kneels before her, holding up the crown)

 Hus.                     Rise, sir! You give, not sue!

          (Semiramis looks down on Khosrove, then turns to Husak)

 Sem.                                         Thank, thanks,
          Old man, for making me once more myself!
          For by the blood that storms through all my veins
          I know I'm still a queen! Now all the pride
          That lives in my lost crown, and all the scorn
          Should meet thy fawning suit, be in my words,--
          I do refuse your son! Assyria
          Shall owe her throne to none!

          (Khosrove springs up, trampling the robe)

 Hus.                                   Now thou wilt rise!
          A prince who might have gone with gods to wive
          Nor bated them in choice! This to my face!
          I, Husak, fawn on woman! Out with her!
          Drag her to death! To instant death! Out! out!

          (Guards approach Semiramis)

 Khos.    To _instant_ death?

 Hus.     (Looks searchingly at him.) Ha! ha! Not yet! She's thine!
          Choose thy revenge! Have now thy will!

 Khos.                                            Thou'lt grant it?

 Hus.     Ay, ay, whate'er thou wouldst!

 Khos.                                    She is thy captive.

 Hus.     I make her thine! My conqueror's right I yield
          To thee!

 Khos.              Dost swear it?

 Hus.                               Doubt me not! I swear!

 Khos.    By Belus' star?

 Hus.                     By Belus' star, whose beams
          Are death to breakers of an oath! We ask
          This crown--no more. (Takes crown from Khosrove's hand)
                                You pause. Stand not, my son.
          Thy vengeance waits. Do what thou wilt with her,
          We'll question not.

          (Khosrove strikes off the chains of Semiramis)

 Khos.                        Go free to Nineveh.

          (Husak stands in amazed silence, then understands and burns
          with speechless anger. At last he speaks slowly with intense
          wrath)

 Hus.     All madmen in my kingdom die! Bind him!

          (Guards bind Khosrove)

 Sem.     Die? No! O, sir, you would not slay your son?

 Hus.     This loathsome thing is not my flesh!

 Sem.                                           Thy son!

 Hus.     We have no son. Armenia has no heir.
          Bear him away!

 Sem.     (Holding out her hands) My chains! Dost think I'll owe
          My life to him? Thou know'st not yet my pride!
          Bind me and set him free!

 Hus.     (Thunderingly)            No! Husak breaks
          No oath! We're not a god as Nineveh,
          And bold to mock at Heaven!

 Khos.    (To Semiramis)              I knew the price,
          And chose to pay it. 'Tis my wish. Farewell!

          (Guards bear him out)

 Hus.     (To Semiramis) Go free to Nineveh!

 Sem.                                         No! O, kill me!

 Hus.     Nay, go! But go alone--on foot--and through
          A hostile country!

 Sem.                         Ah!

 Hus.                             That subject who
          Shall give thee food or drink dies in the act!
          Proclaim it, all!... Come, friends, we've not yet held
          The feast of victory. The slighted gods
          Will snatch away their favor if we long
          Delay our revels. Though we'll miss one face,

          (Suppresses a groan)

          We'll know this much--there'll be no traitor there!

          (All leave the tent but Semiramis)

 Sem.     Alone ... on foot ... and through a hostile country!
          I'll overtake thee, Khosrove, ere thou 'st reached
          Thy throne among the stars! Thou goest from love,
          And wilt look back and weep from every cloud;
          I on thy track shall pause not till our wings
          Stir the same air and lock in kisses flying!
          ... So pay my scorn? How then hadst loved if heart
          Had brought to heart its swelling measure? Then
          Our rosy hours had been the pick of time,
          And hung a flower 'mong withered centuries
          When every age had brought its reckoning in!
          O, why will we, some cubits high, pluck at
          The sun and moon, when we have that within
          Makes us the soul and centre of Heaven itself?
          Ambition, thou hast played away my crown
          And life. That I forgive thee, but not this--
          Thou 'st robbed me of the memory of his kiss.
          ... Go, world! The conqueror's trump that closed my ears
          Unto the angel in a lover's voice
          Dies to a moan that fills but one lone heart.
          And soon 'tis silent. Ah, though woman build
          Her house of glory to the kissing skies,
          And the proud sun her golden rafters lay,
          And on her turrets pause discoursing gods,
          Let her not dare forget the stanchion truth--
          Immortal writ in every mortal face--
          "Thou art the wife and mother of the world!"

          (Sees Khosrove's cloak upon the floor, and kneels by it,
          taking it in her hands)

          My Khosrove!... Methought a god struck off my chains
          So strong and fair he seemed, yet strove to hide
          The beauty of his act, as might a star
          Shrink in its own sweet light!

          (Buries her face in the folds of the cloak)

                                          O, noble prince,
          I might have kissed thy lips and not thy garment!

          (Rises and wraps the cloak about her. Spurns with her foot
          her own robe which has been left trampled)

          Thou purple rag, lie there! Love's vesture shall
          Enfold me as I go!

          (Starts out)        Alone ... on foot ...
          But I've not far to journey. Foes are kind....
          The first one met ... well, I will thank him!... Cries?
          It is the feast. A man may feast who had--
          But has no son!... (Startled) 'Tis not the feast!... I know
          That noise confused--hoarse shouts--shrieks--pawing steeds--
          And rumbling chariots! Those are the tones
          Of battle! O, the bloody work! 'Tis war!
          Did it delight me once?... Assyrian cries!
          My troops! my troops! They've rallied! How they cheer!
          What brave heart leads them on?

          (Cries come nearer)

                                          Poor creatures, they
          Would save me knowing not I died with Khosrove.
          I will not live--

          (The rear of the tent is torn away by an onslaught.
          Assyrian troops enter, led by Artavan)

 Art.                       Semiramis!

 Sem.                                   My brother!
          You live!

 Art.               And you!

 Sem.                         Praise Heaven there is one
          Will comfort my sad kingdom!

 Art.                                   Nay, all's well!
          The death of Ninus freed me from my prison;
          I gathered troops and pushed hard after you,
          To hear you had been taken; then I planned
          This rescue. Thank great Belus, I'm in time!

 Sem.     In time? Nay, thou'rt too late!

 Art.                                     Too late? When thou
          Dost live?

 Sem.                 I live? No! Thou'rt deceived!

 Art.                                               O Heaven!
          ... She's dazed! Her troubles have bewildered her.
          All's well, my sister! Husak has been taken.
          Thy crown itself is in our hands ... The crown!

          (A soldier hands it to him)

          You see 'tis safe. (She takes it idly)

 Sem.                         A crown. For such a thing
          Wouldst give thy Sola?

 Art.                             She is dear to me,
          But ay, by Heaven, I would!

 Sem.                                 You would? I know
          A greater thing than this.

 Art.                                 What, sister?

 Sem.     (Letting the crown fall)                  Love.

 Art.     O, she is crazed! This is some evil work!
          Bring in the captive Husak! He shall speak!

 Sem.     O, brother, once I thought thy love was truest
          That ever husband gave to wife, but now
          It showeth dark against my lover's truth!

 Art.     Semiramis ... sweet sister ... What dost mean?
          ... I'll know the cause of this! Call in the prince
          With Husak!

 Sem.                 Prince?

 Art.                         Ay ... Khosrove, whom we found
          In chains--I know not why--and I unbound him,
          Recalling how he saved my life,--but now
          I'll know what thou hast suffered at his hands!

 Sem.     You found him bound? I can not hear--or see!

 Art.     She swoons--she dies--O, true, we are too late!

 Sem.     No, brother, thou'rt in time! I live! I live!
          I am Semiramis! Give me my crown!
          Now this small circlet seems to me the world,
          And it is mine--to wear--or give away!
          Is 't not, good friends?

 Voices.                            Ay, 'tis!

          (Enter soldiers with Husak and Khosrove, Husak in fetters)

 Sem.                                         King Husak, hear!
          Assyria and Armenia should be friends,
          Joining true hands to bring a happy peace
          O'er all the East. And in that dearest hope
          I free thee. (Unbinds him) But thy son, the prince, must be
          Again my prisoner.

 Hus.                         O, queen, I've spent
          One childless hour, and rather would I die
          Than know another. Take my life for his.

 Art.     Dost thou forget, Semiramis, that once
          He saved thy brother?

 Sem.                           I remember all,
          But will not change his doom. He must be bound,
          Nor from my fetters may he go alive.
          These are his chains--(Putting her arms about his neck)
                                  his prison deathless love,
          And here I pray that he will wear this crown,
          And hold with me the great Assyrian throne!
          ... (calls) My chariot!

 Khos.                            My queen! my queen!

 Sem.                                                 Wilt thou
          Consent?

 Khos.    (Kisses her lips) I answer here.

          (The royal chariot appears, rear. They step in)

 Sem.     (Giving the reins to Khosrove)    To Nineveh!

(CURTAIN)



CARLOTTA


  ACT I.

    SCENE 1. Miramar.
    SCENE 2. In the mountains of Mexico.


  ACT II.

    SCENE 1. Chapultapec.


  ACT III.

    SCENE 1. Before the Imperial Theatre.
    SCENE 2. Within the theatre.


  ACT IV.

    SCENE 1. Queretaro.


  ACT V.

    SCENE 1. The Tuileries.
    SCENE 2. Miramar.



CHARACTERS


  MAXIMILIAN, Emperor of Mexico
  CARLOTTA, Empress of Mexico
  LOUIS NAPOLEON, Emperor of France
  EUGENIE, Empress of France
  BENITO JUAREZ, President of Mexico
  IGNACIO, nephew to Juarez
  RAFAEL MENDORES, friend of Ignacio
  ASEFFA, wife of Rafael
  TREVINO, ESCOBEDO, GARZA, officers in the Liberal Army
  MIRAMON, leader of the Imperial party
  MARSHAL BAZAINE, head of the French Army in Mexico
  MARQUEZ, MEJIA, MENDEZ, DUPIN, LOPEZ, of the Imperial army
  ABBOT of Lacroma
  ARCHBISHOP LABASTIDA, head of the Mexican church
  PRINCE SALM-SALM, friend and officer of Maximilian
  PRINCE ZICHY,
  RUIZ, BERZABAL, ESTRADA, Mexican nobles
  LADY MARIA, sister to Count Charles
  PRINCESS SALM-SALM
  PRINCESS ZICHY
  PRINCESS METTERNICH
  SENOR HURBET, GENERAL CASTLENAU, MARQUIS DE GALLIFET,
    in the service of Louis Napoleon
  AUSTRIAN, BELGIAN, PRUSSIAN,
    and other foreign ministers at the court of Napoleon III.

  Imperial soldiers, Liberal soldiers, guards, rabble,
  ladies of honor, officers of the court, etc., etc.



CARLOTTA



ACT I.


Scene I: Reception hall, castle of Miramar, near Trieste. Enter
Count Charles, book in hand.

 Char.    Ah, books must be put by for swords, I wot,
          When this wild journey to the West begins.
          'Tis change enough! O shifting, shuffling life!
          Come, Shakespeare, magic mason, build me worlds
          That never shake however winds may blow,
          Founded on dream imperishable! (Sits and reads.
                                          Enter Lady Maria)

 Mar.                                     Charles!
          Not reading! Dost know what day it is?

 Char.                                            Ay, sister!
          A day to make a scholar tremble, and hug
          His books in fever of farewell.

 Mar.                                     Didst see
          The splendid carriages glittering up the drive?
          And O, so many!

 Char.                    They have arrived?

 Mar.                                         Arrived!
          Why, all the Mexican deputies, arrayed
          Like their own sunsets,--the ambassadors
          From Austria, Belgium, France,--the princesses,
          And countesses, now in the guest-room wait
          The stroke of twelve to enter! 'Tis nearly time,
          And you sit here! Put by your Englishman!
          Come, put him by, I say! He's dead; we live.
          He's had his due and passed.

 Char.                                  Nay, his account
          Is writ forever current. His book of praise
          Time closes not, but waits some language new
          To enter it, and at his monument
          Fame yet stands carving.

 Mar.     (Taking book and closing it) So! She's time enough!
          We've other work. (Gently) Is not the princess sad?

 Char.    I pray her heavy tears, weighing like stones,
          Will hold her back from sea!

 Mar.                                   Hush, Charles! She comes!

          (Enter Carlotta, richly dressed)

 Car.     Ah, cousins, trimming now your smiles to greet
          The deputies?

 Char.                  Nay, calling up our tears
          To grace farewell to Miramar!

 Car.                                   No tears!
          We'll think but of an empire and a crown,
          Not Miramar!

          (Enter Maximilian, dressed in the uniform of Vice-Admiral
          of the Austrian navy)

 Max.                   An empire and a crown?
          At last I am out-rivalled in your heart!

 Car.     Nay, nay, thou know'st, my lord, thou art my empire!
          Grant me so much as now I look upon
          And I'm as rich as Jove with Saturn's sceptre
          New-swinging o'er the world!

 Char.                                  Then you risk much
          For an unstable throne.

 Car.                             Not risk!

 Char.                                      The men
          Who've governed Mexico, for the most part,
          Have paid their heads for it.

 Mar.                                   O, Charles!

 Char.                                              'Tis true.

 Car.     Our safety is in the Emperor of France.
          He's the strong angel in this noble scheme!

 Char.    Safety in him? Nay, madam, by my soul,
          The lightest smile that breaks upon his lips,
          As though a breeze but touched there, hides a plot
          May hang our hearts with lead!

 Car.                                     How you misjudge him!
          In Paris when he pledged his faith to us
          His eyes more than his words assured his heart
          Unto our cause. I trust him, yea, I trust him!

 Char.    There is a woman on the throne of France!
          She is the Eve to this slow-blooded Adam,
          Dutch-born Napoleon, and holdeth up
          The globe as 't were an apple for his hand.
          She builds mock images of dreams that died
          On Helena's lone rock, and teaches him
          They are not ghosts of dream but dream indeed!
          Mexico, burning with gold and sunset's fire,
          Pouring the crimson of internal strife,
          To her is but a jewel in crude bed
          She'd have you pick and polish for her crown!

 Car.     Had you but heard her sweet devoted voice
          Pleading with us for sake of the true Church
          To finish now this great emprise begun,
          You would believe her holy.

 Char.                                If she is holy,
          And if Napoleon be true in this,
          Then is he God's perfection of a man,
          And she earth's sole and sainted paragon!
          But wait--O wait and see ere you risk life
          And honor!

 Car.     You're wrong--so wrong--but this is strange.
          O why are we not happy? (Turning to window and gazing out)

 Char.    (Following her)         Because, my cousin,
          This is not Miramar as we have known it.
          The scholar's home, the soldier's fair retreat,
          The noble heart's sweet fane and altar spot,
          But Miramar with great ambition's storm
          Rolling its thunders 'gainst her peaceful walls!

 Max.     But to live idly is never to be born.
          Shall we sit here at ease when God has found
          The work for us? He with his pontiff finger
          Points to the sea--

 Car.               (Turning) Sweet Miramar!
          If God points to the sea, why gave he this?
          This heaven-spot, this nesting place of love,
          Hung like a garland 'tween the sea and rocks!
          Ah, dear my lord, some curse will follow us
          Who can desert this peace-embalméd place
          To seek a glory fairer but in name!
          I dare not do it!

 Max.     (Taking her hands) 'Tis you shall say, my wife.
          If to stay here's your wish, that wish is mine,
          Maybe I've dreamed too much of deeds of good,
          And visionary feats in that far land;
          Then let it be your yea or nay, my love.

 Car.     O leave it not to me, for in a yea
          My vanity will speak, and in a nay
          My fear!

 Max.               A slander on these lips? A kiss
          Were better! (Kisses her. Enter Marquis Corio)

 Cor.                   The noble guests approach. Will 't please
          Your Highnesses assume your places?

 Max.                                         Yea,
          Or nay, Carlotta?

 Mar.                       O, they come! they come!

 Char.    (Hastily and earnestly)
          Nay, if you love your lord! That is a land
          Of murder, treason, carnage and revolt!
          The very air cries out 'go not! go not!'
          E'en yon cloud-turbanned peak, that never moves
          Whate'er the circling stars propound to vex
          His silent wisdom, warns with forbidding nod!
          O noblest cousin--

 Car.         (In agitation)  An empire! Miramar!

          (Maximilian takes place centre. A table in front of him
          covered with maps and papers. Carlotta by him, Count
          Charles and Lady Maria in their rear. Enter Archduke of
          Austria, and nobles, who take position at some distance
          from Maximilian on his right. Enter Belgian Minister,
          Abbot of Lacroma, Princess of Metternich, Princess Zichy,
          Countess Kollonitz, and others. They stand at distance to
          left of Maximilian. Enter the Imperial delegate, Senor
          Hurbet, and General Frassart, Napoleon's Adjutant of the
          Field. The former takes place immediately at Maximilian's
          right, the latter at left of Carlotta. Marquis Corio at
          door. Enter the Mexican deputies, Estrada, Berzabal,
          Negrete, Ruiz, and a dozen others. Estrada, as president
          of the deputation, makes low salute)

 Max.     Welcome, my lords, to Miramar!

 Est.                                     Hail, Prince,
          And fairest princess! The grace and hope of morning
          Be ever on your lives!

 Car.                             Must noble senors,
          We give you thanks and greeting.

 Max.                                       Your presence here,
          My lords, would move our hearts although you brought
          No crown to guerdon welcome.

 Est.                                   O, gracious prince,
          Our tongues but feebly bear the mighty love
          The land of Montezuma bade us lay
          Low at your feet. Your starry virtues draw
          Her prayers and hopes and holiest desires
          Across the sea in humblest supplication.
          We make no weary tale of our misfortunes;
          They are so great the world is heavy with them,
          And Mexico means but calamity
          To every ear.

 Max.                   My dear and honored lords,
          The heart is granite and the veins are ice
          That will not stir at your deep miseries.

 Est.     Ah, sir, this crown is heavy, but you will bear
          The golden weight as 't were the aureole
          That seals the saint to God!

 Max.                                   But not without
          Consent of every subject should I wear it.
          Does Mexico send all her hearts with you?

 Ruiz.    (Spreading paper on table)
          Read here the proclamation now in force
          In all our provinces.

 Max.                           And this has been
          By each assembly ratified?

 Berzabal.                            Ay, prince!
          It is a nation, not these dozen men,
          That with a million voices prays to you!

 Max.     From childhood up I've sought to obey my God,
          But never dreamed that he would bless my life
          With such high sanction as I read herein. (Lifting paper)
          Forgive a tear, my lords.... But we must ask
          That crownéd Europe give a sacred oath
          To guarantee our empire's permanence.

 Archduke.
          Brother, I bring the word of Austria,
          Whose prayers, whose arms, whose subjects' blood are yours,
          While she has blood or arms to give!

 Belgian Minister.                              For Belgium
          I speak--the princess' true and royal father,
          Whose little kingdom measures not his heart!

 Senor Hurbet.
          And I, my lord, have here the signéd oath
          Of Mightiest France, whose fifty-thousand men
          Now guard the cradle of the new born peace
          In Mexico! Read here what he will do.

 Max.     (Reads) Enough.... My lords, should I accept this crown,
          'T would be with holiest expectation
          To reign in love and peace, but your past struggles
          Point to a term of danger and much risk
          Ere our star shines above all factious spite.
          Stood I alone I should not hesitate,
          But here is one more dear than my own life,
          Whom I must cherish more than my own life,
          Within whose heart I must find out my answer;
          And God be thanked her wisdom beams so true
          Above the hesitations of my mind
          That I can love her yea or nay as 't were
          By Heaven spoke!

 Est.                       Then to your mercy, princess,
          We now commit our hope.

 Car.                             Most worthy lords,
          I am so proud that I would wear a crown,
          So pitying I would weep my heart away
          For your sad country, and so vain I think
          The lord that married me might lead you from
          Rebellion's night to civil-kissing hours;
          But yet a woman bonded unto love,
          Not my own mistress. The life bound up with mine
          Is dearer than the peace of any state,
          And looking deep into your country's heart
          I read some cruel marks of history
          That teach me fear for any precious thing
          Consigned unto its love.

 Est.                               If ever souls
          Lay bare to human eyes, read now in ours
          The loyalty which you will find in every subject!

 Ruiz.    Be merciful! Earth aches through her rock-ribs
          With our old woes, and it is you may heal them!

 Ber.     Pity will teach thee soon to love our land!

 Car.     My lords, already I love Mexico,
          And would forego the peace of Miramar,--
          All happy days that from the future lean
          To meet my smiles, as trifles whose light thought
          Shames this great hour; but when in dream I see
          My lord beset by foes in foreign land,
          The help he needs beyond a three-months' sea,
          My princess pride flags to a peasant fear
          For one dear life!

 Est.                         Wrong not yourself, your lord,
          And Mexico, O gentlest lady--

 Car.                                   Nay--

 Est.     Say yea, and our expectant land will feel
          The thrill of that affirmative across
          The glad Atlantic! Yea--and France, whose name
          Is in our hearts as God's, will bless thy tongue!
          Say yea, and noble England, watchful Spain,
          Who with great France began the holy work
          Of blessed liberation will applaud
          With happy echoes to the guardian skies!
          Say yea, and the white spirit of the Church
          Will take 'neath her soft wings our blood-drenched land,
          That waits but for that word to hail thy lord
          Regenerator, king!

 Car.                         My lords, my lords,
          We are but human! Mayhap we will not keep
          The love that we have won!

 Senor Hur.                           Fear not, O princess!
          Behind your throne, with unretreating sword,
          Will stand the first great power of all the world!
          Thus speak I for the emperor of France!

 Princess Metternich. (Advancing)
          I for the empress! Eugenie bade me speak
          Her heart out here, and hail thee sister empress!
          To ask when your young empire blooms above
          The lily of old France, and lures the East
          To pour her golden heart into your port,
          And ocean blossoms with your argosies,
          You'll still remember that she loved you when
          You were but princess and no farther ruled
          Then stretch the gardens of small Miramar!

 Car.     O generous Eugenie! But the fear--

 Abbot of Lacroma.
          To speak of fear in this is to doubt God!
          He does not bless in vain a noble prince
          With such rare qualities as crown the mind
          Of Maximilian! 'Tis for some purpose rare
          He rounds such excellence with highest birth
          And puts a sword of power in his hand!
          From over seas unto your very feet
          A nation comes to choose from all the world
          One made by Heaven to be its sovereign lord,
          Cool hearts of passion in his amity,
          Make bitter eyes forget their ancient hate,
          And proudest knees bow with old enemies
          In worship of his star beneficent!
          There pale and crushéd Peace
          Shall take the color of the living rose,
          Hearing the voice of his protecting love
          That comes to lift her beauty from the dust
          And on that ground volcanic nobly build
          Her temple indestructible!
          There shall his kingly mind find outward means
          To write sublimity upon the world,
          And like old Egypt speak in pyramids
          To nations unbegot in dream of Time!
          And can you shock the hour with hesitation?
          Ask all the waiting world,--ay, even God,
          To pause and count the heart-beats of a woman?

 Car.     (Devoutly, with uplifted hands and eyes)
          Forgive me, Heaven, that I doubted thee!

          (Takes Maximilian's hands, turns with great dignity to the
          deputies, and speaks solemnly)

          Senors, we'll wear the crown of Mexico.

          (Silence. The abbot of Lacroma advances; Carlotta and
          Maximilian drop to their knees as he extends his arms
          above them in blessing)


Scene II: A camp in the mountains of Mexico. Night. Aseffa
preparing food by a fire. She goes aside, listens, and returns.

 Asef.    O Mexico, thou traitress unto love,
          Wilt trample every heart that's true to thee?

          (Listens. Enter Miguel and Lerdo, very ragged and gaunt)
          Miguel! Lerdo! Rafael not come? Where did you leave him?

 Lerdo.   Nowhere, Senora.

 Asef.                      Oh!

 Mig.     Don't flutter, little bird. We mean that he left us. He
          set off as fresh as the morning to make the circuit of
          another mountain while we could barely creep up to camp.

 Asef.    You are hungry! I'll give you Rafael's supper!

 Ler.     Hungry? No! I've had two biscuits since yesterday, and
          sixty miles isn't far to go on that.

 Mig.     And as much good air and water as a soldier need want!

 Asef.    Here! Take it. 'Tis good. Indeed it is!

 Mig.     Smoking meat! Ha! Who brought it? Has the Holy Virgin been
          in camp?

 Asef.    No, but I've been down to the valley.

 Ler.     You?

 Asef.    Yes,--and I've a little gold left, too!

          (Showing purse)

 Mig.     You paid five pesos for that dish!

 Asef.    A good guesser would double the price.

 Mig.     And for Rafael's supper! No, I can go two more days yet.
          (Puts food aside)

 Asef.    But you shall not. Come, eat! I'll feed you then, and you
          don't want Juarez' soldiers to be turned into babies, do
          you?

 Mig.     I'll yield! In fact, there's an orator within that speaks
          with a most convincing pinch. (They eat)

 Asef.    (Watching) Poor fellows! They'll not leave him a mouthful!

 Ler.     Where is the general?

 Asef.    (Pointing up the hill) Asleep. Have you news?

 Ler.     None to bring good dreams. Let him sleep.

 Mig.     Lord, a meal a day like this and I could drive the whole
          French army into the sea! (Rising) Now if these rags could
          be turned back to their first fortunes, I'd be Don Miguel
          de Tejada again! You wouldn't think that these tags and
          tatters had waltzed with the president's niece at the
          capital, would you now?

 Asef.    You must let me mend your clothes as I do Rafael's.

 Mig.     Faith, Senora, you would have to begin too many months
          back. No, I'll hang out my banners as a knight of liberty
          should, and be Don Miguel de Tejada still. Asleep, my
          Lerdo? A good example, too. (Lies down) Good-night, Senora
          the Blessed!

 Asef.    Good-night, Don Miguel de Tejada! (The soldiers sleep. She
          waits and listens. Runs aside and looks down the valley)

 Asef.    Rafael! (Steps approach. Enter Rafael)

 Raf.     (Embracing her) Here's Heaven for the weary!

 Asef.    So tired? And I have nothing for you! (Looks toward
          soldiers) They were so hungry.

 Raf.     They're welcome to it. (Kissing her) Here is my
          banquet,--my feast of beauty and my wine of love!

          (Staggers to a rock and sits feebly)

 Asef.    Oh! You've been so far!--too far!

 Raf.     We rode all day, but made no terms for food. The people
          are afraid. Whoever gives us bread forfeits his life and
          home.

 Asef.    I bought some meat of a poor woman to-day. She needed the
          money.

 Raf.     And if the Imperials find her out they'll murder her and
          set her hut in flames!

 Asef.    Oh! What shall we do?

 Raf.     We are an army. We'll do as armies do. Take food where we
          can find it.

 Asef.    O, Rafael!

 Raf.     Yes, love, we'll play the robber to fill the mouth of
          Liberty,--she's fed too long on thistles.

 Asef.    She's a stern mistress, Rafael.

 Raf.                                     But sweeter, love,
          Her harshest frown that summer smiles of kings!
          O, I reproach her not, even when I see
          My dearest friends lie dying in her name!
          A bed of stones is soft enough for me
          If she but rock to sleep,--a crust to-day,
          To-morrow none, and at her board I'm fed.
          But when I look on you, my traitor blood
          Flies from her service. Oh, to see these hands
          That plucked no beauty ruder than the rose,
          So meanly laboring in the basest needs!
          Your gentle body resting on cold earth,
          Glad of a blanket 'tween you and the sod,
          While in your bed the foreign robber sleeps!
          This shakes my loyalty till I could hate
          The fair, unspotted cause my sword is drawn in!

 Asef.    Stop, Rafael! O thank God these hands have known
          That blessed of all fortunes,--to toil for love!
          These eyes that sought for but a face more fair,
          A flower more sweet, have found the stars that rise
          Where Truth and Courage wander in the night!
          In southern vales maybe we'll hear again
          The morning birds sing at our bowered windows,
          But we will not forget the nobler song
          Now borne by winds about these mountain peaks,--
          The song of man made free!

 Raf.                                 We'll not forget.
          But will that sweet day come? Tell me, Aseffa,
          You who are half a sibyl,--shall we go down
          That valley to our home?

 Asef.                              'Tis not to gain
          Our father's halls, and sit 'neath fig and vine,
          We hide and starve and stagger in these hills,
          But to keep noble the last hour of life,
          That Death who gathers it may read thereon
          The seal immortal of approving God.

 Raf.     Yes--dear Aseffa--but--(Faints)

 Asef.                            Rafael! Rafael!
          Ah dying! O my prating virtue's gone!
          I care for naught but that my love shall live!
          O, Liberty, wilt spare me this one life?
          ... Ho! Miguel! Up!

 Mig.                         Hey! What! Senora!... Ah!

 Lerdo.   What's here?

 Asef.                  There's wine in the general's tent! Rafael!
          My love, my love, look up!... O Mexico,
          With all thy veins of gold thou art not worth
          One dear drop of his blood!

          (Enter General Trevino)

 Trev.                                What's this new grief?
          Not Rafael!... He faints. 'Tis hunger ... hunger.
          Miguel! Lerdo! Bear him to my tent.
          Give him what food you find there. First the wine!

          (Soldiers go out with Rafael. Aseffa follows. As she
          passes the general she drops to her knees and kisses his
          hands)

 Trev.    (Alone) Starvation now or plunder. We'll quarter where
          We can.... A horseman! If 'tis Ignacio
          We shall have news.

          (Enter Ignacio, from riding)

 Ig.                          Who's here?

 Trev.                                    Ignacio?

 Ig.      (Saluting) Your pardon, sir!

 Trev.                                  You're from the capital?

 Ig.      Three days ago I left the city. I've slept
          On horseback since.

 Trev.                        Your news!

 Ig.                                      We fight an empire.
          The Austrian is crowned.

 Trev.                              Impossible!
          Where are our people? Salas? and LeVal?

 Ig.      They shouted at his welcome. At Vera Cruz
          Began the unholy pageantry, that showed
          As Christ had come again and all men knew him!
          Each province drained its beauty by the way;
          The mules that drew him caught the vanity
          And picked their steps on flowers.

 Trev.                                        Tell me no more.
          O Gratitude, thou hast no home on earth!
          Twelve months did Juarez rule, and in twelve months
          Did what no man can do but God is with him!
          He healed contention's wounds, set up new schools,
          Released the land from priestcraft's ancient grip,
          Rebuilt our credit, destroyed by Miramon,
          The robber president, who bonded the land
          To France, then set the sword of Europe 'gainst us
          Because we could not pay the unjust debt
          From treasuries that his own hands had emptied.
          O, 'twas a crime too big for Heaven's eye,
          And so God let it pass! France could not know--
          But our own people knew--how Juarez toiled
          To shape the nation to his noble thought!

 Ig.      Yes--yes--they knew!

 Trev.                          We'll break our swords, my boy.
          We have no country.

 Ig.                          Is my uncle yet
          In Texas?

 Trev.              Ay, and we will go to him.
          ... Ungrateful ground that casts all goodness from it,
          And sucks a gilded poison!

          (Enter Rafael, Aseffa, Miguel, Lerdo, and others of the
          camp)

 Raf.     (To Trevino)                Sir, you will miss
          Your breakfast, but I pledge my sword you'll have
          To-morrow's supper!... Ignacio!

 Ig.                                      You here,
          My Rafael! (They embrace) Aseffa too!

 Asef.                                          Dear friend!
          (They greet affectionately)

 Raf.     And Maximilian is crowned?

 Ig.                                  Yes ... crowned.

 Raf.     You saw him?

 Ig.                    In the cathedral, with the empress.

 Asef.    The empress?

 Raf.                   What looks he like? This Austrian duke
          That with a stolen crown mocks majesty!

 Ig.      He looks like majesty, and yet is graced
          With Nature's gentlest stamp; his countenance
          Takes beauty from his smile; his smile, one thinks,
          Takes sweetness from a heart that has its own
          Nobility from heaven.

 Trev.                          An enemy
          Well praised!

 Asef.                  The empress? She bewitched you too?

          (Ignacio is silent)

          Come, sir! The truth of her!

 Ig.                                    The truth? Go ask
          The angels. They've tongues for such sweet purpose.

 Trev.                                                        What!
          Ignacio turned squire o' the empire?

 Ig.                                            No.
          But I can read a holy woman's face,
          Though she by some strange counterfeit of truth
          Would put an empress' foot upon our necks.

 Asef.    What is she like?

 Ig.                        Like nothing but herself.
          She is not gentle, for gentleness is but
          Rude servant to that quality in her;
          Gracious she's not, for grace herself doth serve
          A poor handmaiden to her excellence;
          Nor beautiful, for Beauty asks her name
          To wear but that and know her own no more.

          (In the silence that follows a rider rushes up and dismounts)

 Messenger.
          Where is the general, Trevino?

 Trev.                                    Here.

 Mess.    Juarez approaches. (Saluting)

 Trev.                        Juarez! Call up the camp!
          Light all the beacons! Juarez! Build up the fires!

 Shouts.  Juarez! Juarez! Hurrah! El presidente!

 Trev.    We'll let him know the hearts he left i' the hills
          Still beat with loyal blood!

 Shouts.                                Juarez! Juarez!
          (Enter Juarez. Silence)

 Jua.     Trevino!

 Trev.              Your Excellency! (They embrace)
                                      You've heard?

 Jua.                                               I know.
          Now monarchy has spread her gilded sails,
          And from the East comes like another sun
          To blind our eyes with wonder of a crown
          While shackling us by hand and foot to earth.
          But from these mountains will arise a queen,
          The figure grey of ancient Liberty,
          Mourning and wronged, but with the unpaling star
          Of God's own favor set upon her brow:
          These two shall meet--and that mock sun go down!

 Trev.    You still have hope when Mexico deserts us?

 Jua.     Dost read your country in the smile she shows
          Her conqueror? She has a heart beneath!
          Ay, sir, did she not prove it at Puebla?
          Where dead fell on the dead with gun in hand
          Still pointed to the French! Where, hope once lost,
          And the enemy pouring through the shattered gates,
          Our men blew up their city and themselves
          To keep their souls free from Napoleon!
          These men have brothers left, and sons,
          And _they are Mexico_!

 Soldiers.                        El presidente!
          Liberty and Juarez!

 A soldier. (Waving his sword) We'll be revenged,
          Or spill more blood than hell can drink!

 Soldiers.
          Down with the empire! Death to Maximilian!

 Jua.     No, not revenge,--but justice. That's enough.
          We've but to wait--and strike. Yon mists now spread
          Their fair illusion o'er the eternal mountains
          'Till 't seems they are the world, and the great hills
          Are naught. But by to-morrow's noon-sun see
          Their fortunes faded as a dream of night,
          While the rock peak looks up as if to say
          From the foundation of the world I am!
          So will this glamour o'er our godly cause
          Pass as a breath, while all the world shall read
          Our right and title to unbonded life
          In our free bosoms founded and God-set!

 A soldier.
          We'll die for freedom!

 Jua.                             Die? That's the one thing
          We can not do. We may lie down in graves,
          But from our living dust will spring new challenge
          To make in noble minds continual war
          Until our race be righted!

 Trev.                                Many fly
          From our misfortunes. Amaldo and LeVal--

 Jua.     Call 't not misfortune that teaches us our friends.
          Now are we sifted and the chaff is known!
          ... LeVal! ... But Diaz is true?

 Trev.                                      On yonder mountain
          His fires make answer for him.

 Jua.     (Looking into distance)         Forgive me, comrade!
          I know you true, and sooner will yon moon
          Make her last change and fall than you change once
          From the full circle of a complete man....
          (Turns and sees Ignacio)
          My nephew here?

 Ig.                      Just from the capital.

 Jua.     Where you must back again. Rafael, too!
          Both my young soldiers! My right arm and my left,--
          Though which is which I know not. Ignacio,
          You saw the Austrian? No matter. He's but
          The drift-piece of a rotten monarchy
          That thinks to graft upon the living tree
          Of our new-sprung republic! We'll shake him off
          As a June oak a spray of winter wreck,
          Nor ever know he clung upon our boughs!

 Ig.      The church is powerful yet, and seeks to join
          Her cause with his.

 Jua.                         The church? Say not the church,
          But mockers in Christ's name, who steal the land
          And drain its fruitage into Satan's purse,
          Keeping the poor a race of hopeless slaves
          Who worship their own shackles! O, Ignorance,
          Thou art the great slave-master! Thy very chains
          Are vital and beget themselves; and he
          Who strikes them seems the monster of the earth
          To the poor serf who thinks it is himself
          That bleeds! The church be with our foe, with us
          Be God, we'll ask no more. Hear me, my men!
          The great republic of the North's our friend.
          When her own war is done you'll hear her speak
          To France in cannon tones that will make quake
          Napoleon on his throne! That great mock-god.
          Who seeks to free all men that he may fit
          Their necks to his own yoke! (With growing intensity)
                                        That adder who
          Would coil about the world! That serpent scruffed
          With white deceit and low ambition's slime,
          That crept into the garden of my dream
          And cankered bud and root, nursed by my toil,
          Fed with my dearest blood! Ay, he will quake,
          And cry for mercy to a stony Heaven
          Whose pity drops long since were drained upon
          The woe that he hath made! Ay, he--

 Trev.    (Touching him)                      But now,
          My friend?

 Jua.     (Composed) You're right. No more of that. Nephew!

 Ig.      Here, sir!

 Jua.                 Your place will be the capital.
          We must have eyes there, and a heart to serve us.
          This hour set out. Here are instructions. (Gives papers)

 Trev.                                              Sir,
          He's had no rest.

 Jua.                       True ... true....

 Ig.                                          And need none when
          Juarez commands.

 Jua.     (Taking his hand) Thou'rt still my son. My house
          Will not fall down when I no longer prop it.

 Raf.     May I not beg this office, sir?

 Trev.                                    Send him!
          His heart is in the hills, and he'll come back.
          Ignacio's yet unanchored. Trust him not
          To high tides of a court.

 Jua.                               I trust them both.
          But my own blood I know. (To Ig.) Kneel for the oath.

          (Ignacio kneels. Murmurs around, then silence. Juarez
          takes a crucifix from his bosom and holds it over Ignacio)

 Jua.     By this true image of the bleeding Christ,
          May you be damned to everlasting fire,
          Nor prayers of saints lift up your soul from hell,
          If you prove false in what you undertake
          This night for Mexico!

 Ig.                              By Christ's own blood.
          I swear, and may that blood be powerless
          To save me from the damned if I prove false!

 Jua.                             The stars that hold
          The witness angels of the Lord have heard
          Thy oath.

 Ig.      (Rising and looking up)
                    Let them record it.

 Asef.    (Fearfully)                   Ah!

 Trev.    (Holding out a brand)             The brand!

 Jua.     Not that!

 Ig.      (Baring his arm) I choose it!

          (Trevino quickly brands his arm with a cross. Juarez, too
          late, dashes the brand from his hand)

 Ig.      (Throwing up his arm)         Sealed to the cause!

          (Hurries to go)

 Jua.     My boy! (Ignacio returns for Juarez' embrace)

 Ig.      (Going) Liberty and Juarez!

 Soldiers.                            Juarez!
          Liberty and Juarez!

          (All but Juarez follow Ignatius out, cheering)

                              Hurrah! hurrah!

          (Juarez draws his grey mantle about him and stands silent.
          The fires die down. The moon clouds. He looks up invoking)

 Jua.     Spirit of Montezuma, be thou here
          And on thy son drop wisdom out of Heaven,
          That these thy children he may lead to peace,
          And this thy country give again to him
          Who set his iron in the earth and said
          "Man, make thy weapon; there shall be no slaves!"

(CURTAIN)



ACT II.


Scene I: Palace of Chapultapec. Hall adjoining ball room. Gaily
dressed women, and men in glittering official costumes passing
doors. Marquez and Mejia talking.

 Mar.     You've caught Trevino!

 Mejia.                           Rafael Mendorez too.

 Mar.     Still better. You'll have them shot at once?

 Mejia.   They've too many friends. I must have the emperor's warrant.

 Mar.     He will sign the decree to-night.

 Mejia.   The Lord be thanked! I'm tired of risking life and men
          taking prisoners that his majesty may have the pleasure of
          pardoning them.

 Mar.     If he signs the decree he will be sure to reserve the
          right to pardon. You must try my method.

 Mejia.   And that?

 Mar.     Shoot on the spot, and report no captures.

          (Enter from the ball room Maximilian, Marshal Bazaine,
          General Miramon, and Count Charles)

 Mir.     Your majesty will sign the law to-night?

 Max.     These men wear the brave name of soldiers; fight
          Beneath a flag, and claim the rights of war.

 Baz.     They borrow war's fair name to kill and plunder!

 Max.     It was my dream when I took up this crown
          To claim each subject of the land my own.

 Mir.     And so you may, your majesty. 'Tis true.
          These men are subjects to no law or nation;
          They are not Mexico's; they are not God's;
          But from the heavenly and the human pale
          They have outbarred themselves. Our honest land
          Has cast them out as venom to her health!
          Nurse not this canker in your realm, my lord!

 Max.     I do not know ... but here's my head and heart,

          (Touching Prince Salm-Salm and Count Charles)

          And they may answer. Prince, what do you say?

 Prince Salm.
          As friend and soldier to your majesty,
          I must advise the passage of the law.

 Max.     You, Charles?

 Char.                  My lord, if as you say, these men
          Fight 'neath a flag, and for supposéd rights,
          You violate the law of noble nations
          In sentencing to death the prisoners
          Of recognizéd war.

 Baz.     (Sneering)          Sir, recognized?

 Char.    Does not the United States still call Juarez
          The president of Mexico?

 Baz.                               Why, count,
          You'd best consult those books of yours again!
          Juarez has fled and given up his cause.
          These men are robbers! Your majesty will sign?

 Max.     Forgive me, friends, if I again say no.

 Mir.     Your majesty, 'tis we should ask your pardon
          For having failed to lustre as we should
          This seeming-dark decree,--so wise, so just,
          And as undoubtedly your duteous act
          As though some stern necessity of the stars
          Enjoined it.

 Max.     (Uneasily)    Press it not now. The people wait.

          (All but Marquez go into ballroom)

 Mar.     Some fools have sat on crowns but not for long.
          He'll sign. The Liberals must be dispatched
          Fast as we capture them, for we've short time.
          The United States will soon be free again
          To turn to us, and what we wish to do
          Must be well done ere that. Dispatch! Dispatch!
          Use Maximilian and the French to crush
          The Liberals, then with the church unite
          To pull down Maximilian and set up--
          Marquez!... The Empress--and Ignacio!
          One I suspect,--a half-breed full of pride!
          Who'd have the court forget his Indian mother
          And bear in mind his father was a noble!

                                                    (Goes aside.
          Enter Carlotta and Ignacio, followed by Prince and
          Princess Zichy, Prince and Princess Salm-Salm, Princess
          Josefa de Varela, Colonel Lopez, making merry with a
          fortune teller. The Empress steps apart with Ignacio)

 Car.     Ignacio! I've met strange looks to-night!

 Ig.      But not unkind ones, noble madam?

 Car.                                       O, such
          As can not be distinguished by a word,
          Cold, warm, or dark or fair, bitter or kind!
          Ah, looks that will not advertise the heart,
          And yet betray too much!

 Ig.                                Your majesty--

 Car.     A little coldness that might melt to love,
          A little pity that might soon be hate,
          A fair 'God with you' shaping to a curse--

 Ig.      What eye can harbor evil meeting yours
          Where lies a grace that turns all ill to virtue?

 Car.     Would all were true as you, Ignacio!

          (Looks to ballroom and shudders)

          Those eyes! Would I looked not so deep in eyes!
          ... You love my lord?

 Ig.                            I do, your majesty.

 Car.     Above all other men? (He is silent) Nay, do not answer!
          'Twas wrong to ask, for you have kinsmen maybe,
          Brother, or uncle, some one dear in blood
          Whom Heaven bids you cherish. But you will guard
          Your Emperor! You'll watch with me for foes?
          For foes? He has none! How the thought
          Blasphemes his excellence! But 'tis a world
          Where whitest merit draws the darkest souls
          To prey upon it, while mere indifferent good
          Escapes!... Ignacio, is it true, Juarez
          Is not in Mexico?

 Ig.                        O, madam!

 Car.                                 Ah!
          Is 't true the Liberals are disbanded?

 Ig.                                              True?

 Car.     You do not answer, sir!

 Ig.                              It is not true.

 Car.     You know it! You? And they still hope?

 Ig.                                              They do.

 Car.     Then we are playing with an enemy!
          How do you know?... You traitor, too!... O Heaven!
          'Tis time now to be up or treachery
          Will take us all asleep! (Goes from him)

 Ig.      (Following her)           O madam! madam!
          My heart is all your own!

 Car.     (Turning to him)          Forgive me, friend,
          And I will wrong no more these honest eyes.
          But there is danger here, and we must strike!
          We hold a nation's future in our hands,
          And now defence is virtue, patience crime!

 Ig.      Your majesty--

 Car.     (Not heeding) Shall we stand here and smile
          Till rebel blows have shattered life and throne?
          ... Dupin shall drive these desperate people back--
          This law be signed--

 Ig.      (With horror)         Dear Christ!

 Car.                                         What do you mean?

 Ig.      Will Maximilian pass a law of death,
          Condemning patriots to a robber's grave?
          O, Empress, sue upon your knees that he
          Do not this thing, for every act of his
          Not marked with justice to his enemies
          Will rob him of the pity they would show
          When victory is theirs! He writes his doom
          As certainly as he doth set his name
          To that black law, and gives Dupin his will
          Among our helpless people!

 Princess Zichy. (From group about the gipsy, as all laugh)
                                      Your majesty,
          You heard?

 Car.                 I heard. (To Ignacio, much disturbed)
                                Go join them! Go! (Ignacio joins group)
                                                  He's true!
          My lord in danger!

 Princess de Varela.          Now mother, my hand next!

          (Gipsy scans her hand)

 Car.     'Rob him of pity!' 'When victory is theirs!'
          I know the pity given to the fallen
          In this blood-drunken land! There's but one way...
          We must not fall!... 'Tis war, then,--war! Not for
          An empire, no,--but Maximilian's life!
          And we must use the weapons in our hands!

 Gip.     (Reading)

                  Days of brightness, days of smiles,
                  Read I here or Fate beguiles!

 Princess S.
          O these fortunes are like lines from a fairy book!
          Surely we are not all going to be happy!

 Gip.     I'll read for you, madam.

 Princess S.
          But let not your change of song begin with me,
          dark mother!

 Gip.     (Reading)

                  Days of darkness, days of moan!
                  A friend shall sigh, a friend shall fall,
                  And wring thy bosom more than all
                  The sorrow that thou yet hast known!

 Princess S.
          O think better of it, mother!

 Gip.     Your sweet eyes deserve a better portion than tears, and
          I read too,

                  But ere thy last hour be nigh
                  Sorrow from thy breast shall fly!

 Princess S.
          A friend, you say? I thank you, 'twas not my husband!

 Gip.             And yet a husband he,
                  And many tears thou'lt see!

 Car.     (Aside) A friend--a husband--and a fall!

 Gip.     Shall I read for her majesty?

 Car.     No! no!

 Lopez.   She has peeped into Fate's urn, madam, I assure you!

 Car.     Nay, I'm content. What I choose for myself I will abide,
          and what I choose not is the gift of God and I'll abide
          that too!

 Prince Zichy.
          I congratulate you! Majesty is not always able to
          show such noble indifference to the future, and lesser
          mortals--never!

 Gip.     Please the stars, may I read for you, sir?

 Prince Zichy.
          I give you a proxy,--Senor Ignacio. If the fortune
          be fair, I take it, if not, I leave it with him.

 Ladies.  O, hear Ignacio's fortune! (They crowd about him and
          the gypsy)

 Car.     (To Lopez) A favor, sir! Will you take a message to his
          majesty?

 Lopez.   I am twice blest--to bear your message--and bear it to the
          emperor. (They talk apart)

 Gip.     Here's a secret matter, sir. Shall I speak it out?

 Ig.      O spare me! Come aside!

 Ladies.  Nay, nay, Ignacio! You heard our fortunes!

 Ig.      But yours were fair and innocent, and mine is dark and
          guilty--maybe with crime!

 Ladies.  Oh! A crime!

 Ig.      Come, witch! (They go aside, near where Marquez is
          stationed unseen) Aseffa!

 Asef.    Rafael is prisoner at Savarro! Trevino is taken, too!

 Ig.      O Heaven! (To ladies) Stay back! 'Tis crime indeed!

 Ladies.  Villain!

 Asef.    Help me to Maximilian! O, I must see him! You called him
          gentle! When I tell him what Rafael is--the fairest soul
          man ever called a foe--

 Ig.      Softly, Aseffa! You can not see the emperor to-night.

 Asef.    I must! To-morrow 't will be too late! He dies at sunrise!

 Ig.      Rafael! My friend! my brother!--

 Asef.    Quiet! quiet! Smile, Ignacio! Ha! ha! I'll pray it be not
          true, sir!

 Ig.      But you can see Count Charles. He's Maximilian's very
          heart, and once you win him the Emperor is won. Go in! Go
          in! I'll bring you to the count! Be light of heart! Our
          Rafael is safe!

 Asef.    Ignacio, the Empress is all you said.
          Prayers on their way to Heaven meeting her
          Would think their journey ended. Can you be true?

 Ig.      (Touching his arm)
          I bear the seal.

 Asef.                      God help thee!

 Ig.                                        Go!
                                    (To ladies) 'Tis done!
          I know my sins!

 Princess de V.           But what a smiling sinner!

 Princess Salm.
          A cloud is hovering. Come, sir! I shall know it!

          (Takes his arm. Mexican national dance begins. All go into
          ballroom, the Empress with Lopez)

 Mar.     Ignacio a Liberal! And branded!
          He's finished! But I'll pick my hour for it!
          Mendorez safe! Ay, if he's bullet-proof!

          (Re-enter Carlotta with Archbishop Labastida)

 Lab.     I thank your Highness for this gracious moment!
          Most holy Empress--

 Car.                         Not holy, sir, and yet
          I hope with touch of God's anointment on me.

 Lab.     Did it but rest with you His love would soon
          Like cloud of rose veil Mexico in beauty.

 Car.     But rest with me?

 Lab.                       Ay, noble lady, you.
          I bear a letter from his Holiness,
          In which he says his Empress daughter's zeal
          Is jewelled in his heart,--but urges me
          To speak to Maximilian of his strange
          Reluctance to fulfill his promise.

 Car.                                         Promise?

 Lab.     To give the Church the olden glory that
          She shone with here! Restore her rights--

 Car.                                               'Tis true
          He promised that, and he has kept his word
          As an account with God. He is convinced
          The rights claimed by the Church are stolen rights
          She wrung from ignorance for her earthly glory,
          And he's resolved to maintain Juarez' law
          So far as it accords with justice.

 Lab.                                         Madness!
          Call back Juarez to power! Yield the throne
          To the republican! For 't will so end
          If Maximilian scorns us and our help!

 Car.     He does not scorn you, sir, but seeks to find
          Where the division comes 'tween you and Christ
          And set himself upon the side of Heaven.

 Lab.     You will divorce the favor of the pope,
          Without whose help you may not hope to stand.
          Plead with your lord again to probe our claim,
          And find therein some wise and prudent reason
          To give us aid,--and thereby keep his crown.

 Car.     Yes, I will speak; but I shall not forget,
          Whate'er I say, he is an Emperor! (Exit)

 Mar.     (Coming forward) A pair of fools are jiggling with a crown.

 Lab.     You heard, Marquez?

 Mar.                         And knew before I heard.

 Lab.     And you are patient?

 Mar.                           Maximilian
          Means France, and France we must keep ours,--at least
          Till we have finished with the Liberals,--

 Lab.     And then?

 Mar.               We need not go so far to make
          A wiser choice.

 Lab.     (Looking at him meaningly)
                          Not far indeed!

 Mar.                                     I thank you.
          But that's hereafter. Come with me, your grace.
          I'd speak of something more immediate.

          (Exeunt left)

          (Enter from ballroom General Miramon, Marshal Bazaine and
          Colonel Dupin, the last a large, vain, blustering man,
          gorgeously and expensively arrayed from head to foot. A
          sombrero wonderfully trimmed with gold and silver is
          carried in his hand and used in sweeping salutations)

 Dup.     At last I am called to court! I thought his majesty would
          soon or late have need of my experience in throat-cutting.

 Mir.     But, my dear Dupin, it is not in your capacity of
          throat-cutter that we introduce you. These towns that have
          given aid to the Liberals must be punished without the
          Emperor's knowledge. You will make an example of them?

 Dup.     Will I? Hear him, Marshal! Will I?

 Mir.     But not a word to the Emperor!

 Dup.     Softish, eh?

 Mir.     His spongy heart is filled with water of compassion. Touch
          it anywhere it pours!

 Baz.     I'm not going to throw away the lives of any more
          Frenchmen just to give him a chance to play at clemency!
          An emperor should be a sort of vitalized stone, capable
          of action but incapable of impression.

 Dup.     Then I'm the man for emperor! I've always suspected my
          qualifications for the part. By the lord, I've made women
          who were hungry enough to eat their own children watch my
          soldiers throw bread into the sea! And when I was with the
          French and English in old Chinee--well, they've called me
          the 'Tigre' since then. You've heard about that! (Struts
          and sings)

                  I'm the tigre of the East,
                  Got my claws in old Pekin
                  When the yellow kids we fleeced
                  And held up the mandarin!

                  O we caught him by the queue,
                    As he from our captains flew,
                  That quaking little, shaking little mandarin.
                    And we dragged him out to view
                    By that most convenient queue,
                  When we sacked the summer palace at Pekin!

          My friends, if you will excuse me, there are several
          dozens of ladies in the ball room waiting for a dance with
          the costume par excellence of the evening. I am not always
          sure of a welcome for my face, but my costume is never in
          doubt. Ah, sweet woman! you can please me twice. I can
          dance with you--and I can kill you! When the Emperor asks
          for me I shall not decline an introduction,--though he was
          not born an emperor and I was born Dupin! (Exit)

 Baz.     Is he as villainous as his conversation?

 Mir.     His talk is but the mildest prologue to his deeds.

 Baz.     Then he's the man for us. We shall never drive back the
          Liberals but by methods of unmitigated severity.

 Mir.     There is no barbarity too great for the intimidation of
          these towns.

 Baz.     The only absolutely safe plan is to raze them from the
          earth.

 Mir.     Trust Dupin! (They go into ballroom. Enter, right, Count
          Charles and Aseffa. Her disguise is thrown back revealing
          her beauty)

 Asef.    You help me though a Liberal and your foe!

 Char.    A foe! Dear lady, when you besought my aid
          Methought it was divinity that spoke,
          So sacred sweet seemed the request. I'll save
          Your brother.

 Asef.                  Ah, dearer than a brother, sir.
          It is my husband!

 Char.                      Husband!

 Asef.                                Yes, my lord.
          And dearer than--You have a wife?

 Char.                                      No, lady.

 Asef.    O, then you can not know! But you have loved?

 Char.    I love.

 Asef.            A lover--not a husband. Ah!
          Add to thy love a thousand dearer loves
          And take their sum a thousand times a thousand,
          'T will be the smallest part divisible
          Of my dear love for Rafael! You'll save him?

 Char.    Yes--I will save him. Do you trust me?

 Asef.                                            Trust you?
          As I would Heaven! (Kisses his hands and goes out, right)

 Char.                        Gone! Aseffa! Gone?
          No, never gone! Her kisses here! O lips
          That swept like drifting roses o'er my hands--
          Both hands,--sweet equity! Still are they warm
          As they were dipped in summer, though her touch
          Was maiden light nor robbed him of a jot
          Who should have all. Her husband--'twas a word
          She used to slay me with!... Even in sorrow
          She is more fair than any other fair
          Met on a holiday. But when she smiled
          She seemed like Fortune giving away a world.
          So gracious was her splendor. Thou art revenged,
          O little demon god so long my scorn!
          Would I had given my heart by piecemeal out
          Since I was ten than to have lost it so,
          For going all at once it takes my life
          And I must lose my life or follow it.
          Ah, love should come like waves unto a shore,
          Soft creeping up and back and up again.
          Till taught to stand receptive we are firm
          When the last, highest wave envelops us.
          ... May God restore me!... O her beauty burns
          As she were limned by lightning on the night!
          Her eyes are torches that Eternity
          Lends life to read her dreams! Her cheek
          Is June within a bud! Her veins have caught
          The falling sun that in them strives to rise
          To a new dawn!... And I must save him--save him!
          This unknown man that holds the flaming sword
          Above my paradise!... If this decree
          Is signed she will be widowed ... (Stops in horror)
                                            I am mad!...
          ... She will be free ... Away, sweet hell, whose face
          Is masked like heaven!... Let solid earth be air,
          The air be lead, light change to dark, and dark
          Be as the sun, 't will be no miracle
          When murder finds a welcome in my heart!

          (Enter Maximilian, Bazaine, Miramon, Dupin, Berzabal,
          Ruiz, Estrada, Ignacio)

 Max.     (To Dupin) We're glad to welcome you. 'T will be your
          charge to guard the unprotected towns now suffering from
          the raids of Liberals.

 Mir.     Of men, your majesty, who steal that title to grace a
          brigand's life!

 Max.     So we're assured.

 Dup.     I'll see to it, sir, that these towns play no love-tricks
          with the enemy!

 Baz.     Sh!

 Max.     No danger that way. Your duty is to protect them!

 Dup.     No offense, I hope. But treason is a lively beast and hard
          to keep low. As your majesty's officer I must cudgel it
          down wherever I find it.

 Max.     If unhappily you find it, sir--

 Dup.     I'll cut the throat of every man dog of 'em!

 Max.     Sir? (Turns to Bazaine) The Colonel's speech is very
          figurative, good Marshal. (To Dupin) All instances of
          treason, (and God forbid there should be one!) will be
          reported to me for careful investigation.

 Dup.     A thousand pardons, your Highness! I was swept away by my
          devotion to your majesty! I shall remember that you wish
          me to observe the mildest temperance in dealing with your
          majesty's enemies. (As the emperor looks questioningly at
          Bazaine, Dupin snarls, then repeats suavely) The mildest
          temperance in dealing with your majesty's enemies.

 Max.     That is our wish. The mildest temperance. And this decree,
          Colonel Dupin? Would you advise its passage?

 Dup.     I should be so hot to sign it, sir, my zeal would boil the
          ink in the bottle!

 Max.     Very figurative, Marshal! (To Dupin) As yet we have not
          reconciled the matter with our conscience.

          (Lopez enters and comes up to the Emperor)

 Lop.     (Handing him a slip of paper) Your majesty, the Empress
          sends you this.

          (Maximilian reads aside:) 'Sign the decree.'

 Max.     (Aside) What has she heard?

 Dup.     (At a distance, in rear of Maximilian, folds his hands
          meekly on his breast and whistles softly)

          'When we sacked the summer palace at Pekin!' (Mimics)
          'As yet we have not reconciled the matter with our
          conscience.' Does he think he can govern Mexico with a
          prayer-book? Put him in his cradle and sing by-lo-baby!

 Max.     (To Miramon, who has spoken to him)
          There's only one left to oppose it--Charles.

 Mir.     My lord, you'd set a scholar's word against
          A general's in matters of the field?
          The count's opinion, born within a closet,
          Would die in open air but for your nursing.

 Max.     Come, Count, defend your cause.

 Char.                                    My cause, my lord?

 Max.     You are but one against the government.
          Canst talk above so big a head? If not,
          I fear we'll pass this law of blood. Come, come!
          Be eloquent! My heart would have you win!

 Char.    (Very pale and hesitating)
          Your majesty--I beg--

 Max.                           Goes it so deep
          To your good heart?

 Mir.                         My lord--

 Max.                                   Forgive me, Charles,
          For pressing you so much. We'll rest to-night.
          To-morrow there'll be time.

 Char.    (Hastily)                   No! Not to-morrow!
          Sign the decree! Sign it to-night!

          (Maximilian looks with the greatest astonishment at
          his now flushed face and eager manner, then thinks
          he understands)

 Max.                                         Ah, Charles,
          This tender heart of yours will kill you yet.
          No more of this. I'll keep you at your books.

 Char.    (Recovering, proceeds with suavity, completely sold
          to his desire)
          My mind has cleared with deeper thought, my lord,
          Discord, the ancients tell us, was at first
          So small a gnat did give her birth, but grew
          So great her feet o'erturned proud cities while
          Her head upset the gods in council. So this
          Small trouble may o'ercast your destiny--
          And is 't not better, sir, to pass a law,
          However dreaded, 'gainst the rebel few
          Than that the nation trusted to your care
          Should be broad cursed with civil slaughter?

 Max.                                                   Better?
          If such a danger threatens 'tis a crime
          Not to forfend it!

          (Enter Marquez and Archbishop Labastida)

 Lab.                         Gracious sovereign!

 Max.     Most reverend father, you would counsel us?

 Lab.     We would, your majesty. If yet the wish
          Of Heaven has power over you; and Christ
          Be your most high example, you will prove
          A careful guardian to your trusting people,
          And crush this villainous and robber race
          Now preying on the true and innocent,
          Swelling each day more poisonous and foul!

 Max.     We are decided. Are we not, good Charles?

 Mar.     (Hastily) Nay, sire--

 Max.                           We are decided--to pass this law.
          Convinced that 'tis the honest course.

          (All surprised and relieved but Ignacio, who starts with
          horror)

 Ig.      My God!

 Mir.             Blest majesty, we thank you!

 Lab.                                           You do but set
          Your name where Heaven's seal already shines.

 Ig.      The seal of Hell! O noblest man that breathes
          This corrupt air, take back that word of death
          Ere it is stamped in black upon your soul!

 Mir.     (After a silence)
          An Aztec, sire, and nephew to Juarez.

 Max.     You think that is a sin? Among our friends
          Are many whose nearest kinsmen nobly served
          The lost Republic. Hear us, Ignacio.
          This law is subject to a firm condition:
          Each officer shall make report to us,
          And every captive who deserves not death
          Shall have our pardon.

 Ig.                              Then, you'll pardon two
          Now at Savarro, Trevino and Mendorez,
          Both doomed to die at sunrise!

 Mir.                                     Ravagers!
          Brigands! Ay, murderers!

 Ig.                                No! Patriots!
          Soldiers! And martyrs if they die! My lord,
          If they have plundered, 'twas to feed an army;
          If they have killed,--that is the aim of war.
          They are your foes, but noble ones,--and men,
          Not creatures to be caught in traps and shot
          Like beasts!

 Max.                   We'll look to this. Marquez, at once
          Send a dispatch commanding they be held
          As prisoners of war until we've time
          To examine them.

 Mar.                       I will, your majesty.

 Ig.      My lord, at Callovalla when the French
          Had routed the Republicans, there came
          At night some student priests into the field
          To help the wounded and to cheer the dying.
          This man, Marquez, set on them with his troop
          And made them prisoners. The morning sun
          Beheld each saintly minister shot dead.
          And you would trust this devil with the life
          Of captive foes? A man whose hands are red
          With God's own blood?

 Mar.                           He lies! Your majesty,
          I'll prove him traitor to your very eyes!

 Ig.      Traitor?

 Mar.               Ay, sir, and spy! Lay bare his arm,
          And see the branded cross!--the sacred mark
          Of those who've sworn to die in Juarez' cause!

          (Snatches at Ignacio's arm as if he would expose it)

 Ig.      Liar and devil! do not touch me!

 Mar.                                       Spy!

 Lop.     The proof is easy, sire. Expose his arm!

 Ig.      I scorn such proof! And with my sword I'll meet
          Who dares lay hand upon me!

 Lab.                                 Justice, sire!
          Command him to lay bare his arm!

          (Silence. Maximilian approaches Ignacio slowly and lays
          his hand on his arm)

 Max.     (Turning to Marquez, his hand still on Ignacio)
          You are a soldier, able and honorable.
          I trust you with my captives.... Ignacio,
          You are no traitor,--and I trust you with
          My confidence. Both are deceived. 'Tis I
          Must study how to heal this sad division.
          ... But now, we'll sign this necessary law.
          Come in with me, my friends. (Exeunt all but Ignacio)

 Ig.                                    Too noble soul!
          Too gentle heart! O foul, most foul betrayal!
          He dooms himself. O, Maximilian,
          We go on different ways, but each to death!
          The truest heart about thee is my own,
          And I'm a spy--death-vowed to be thy foe!
          I'll warn the empress!... No. Sealed to the cause.
          Dead I may guard her. Death alone may give
          Me to her service. There's no oath can bind
          The disembodied spirit. (Takes paper from his pocket)
                                  Here's set down
          All I have learned of the Imperial plans.

          (Burns paper in candle flame)

          'Tis fixed in memory, and if I live
          Juarez shall hear it all,--and--if I die--
          The grave is asked no questions. (Suddenly) Rafael!
          This signed to-night, to-morrow Rafael dies.
          Marquez will cut off all reprieve. One way
          Is left.... I'll go. With life already lost
          Who would not fling the corpse to save a friend?
          My honor's bound to freedom and Juarez,
          My heart bound to the Empress and her lord.
          O, love, while I have life thou must command me,
          Then to save honor ... let me die!... Ah, could
          I save thee too, Carlotta! O, what woe
          Awaits thy heart, madonna, saint ... and love!
          Might I but say farewell before I go,
          Then I could spur to death with happy heart,
          And I must travel fast to reach Savarro.

          (Takes a lady's glove from his bosom)
          My treasure, come!

          (Enter Carlotta)

 Car.                         It must be signed ... it must ...
          (Sees Ignacio)

 Ig.      O, little finger casements, do you mourn
          Your pretty tenants lost?--five rose-sweet nuns
          That pray at one white shrine! (Kisses glove)

 Car.     (Advancing)                     I hope, my friend,
          She's worthy of your noble love.

 Ig.                                        O, madam,
          In her doth Heaven on earth make sweet beginning.
          And aspirations tend her from the skies.

 Car.     And she is beautiful as good?

 Ig.                                    O, fair
          As olden marble walking down to us.
          Or that immortal Helen on whose lip
          Poets still feed the dream that's never fed!

 Car.     She must be fair indeed. I hope she loves
          As much as she's beloved.

 Ig.                                Nay, she dreams not
          Of my poor worship.

 Car.                         You must tell her, sir.

 Ig.      With her I have no tongue, and can not woo.
          To see her is to think in hurrying dreams
          That move about some new desire of God.
          Nay, she's the picture finished, vision complete,
          That perfect stands where dream no farther goes
          And shuts the gates to prophecy!

 Car.                                       Would you
          But woo her thus you'd win her, never fear!
          We women would be beautiful, and love
          The tongue that makes us so. Go, talk to her
          As you have talked to me.

 Ig.                                'Tis not the same.
          There's something in your smile inviteth speech.
          Were she but you then would I kneel and say, (kneels)
          O rest me 'neath the heaven of your eye
          That gathers blessings as the sun his dews
          To give again to earth, and let your heart
          Throb once with pity sweeter than the love
          That other women give, and yet be dumb,
          That this sweet moment's balm may wrap my heart
          Till death bids it be still. O, love me not,
          But on my head lay thy madonna hand,
          And bless me as a mother would her child
          Who goes to death in going from her eyes!

 Car.     (Laying her hand on his head)
          And I will bless thee, too, as she would do,
          True knight of love, gentle Ignacio!
          And yet I hope you will ask more of her,
          And she will grant it.

 Ig.      (Rising)                More is too much. Farewell.
          I leave the court to-night,--but go content,--
          Ay, happy! (Exit)

 Car.                 He leaves the court!... What a strange youth!
          But very true and noble, and well deserves
          The fairest woman's love. (Picks up glove dropped
          by Ignacio)               He's lost her glove.
          I'll send it after him. (Calls attendant) Andorro!... Ah!
          It is my own! Yes ... yes ... the same ... here is--
          My own indeed!... And that is why he leaves
          The court!... Poor youth! (She drops glove. Enter Andorro)
                                    Ignacio just passed out.
          He dropped this glove. His lady's favor maybe.
          I'm sure 'tis prized. Haste, take it after him.

 And.     (Picks up glove)
          Your pleasure, royal madam! (Going)

 Car.                                 No--that way.

                                                    (Exit Andorro)

          ... Unhappy boy!... I'm glad I sent the glove.

          (Enter Maximilian and ministers)

 Car.     (Going to him and taking his arm)
          'Tis signed?

 Max.                   'Tis signed, my love. Come, friends! This act
          Of wisdom passed gives me a lighter heart!

          (All but Marquez go into ballroom)

 Mar.     The great death-warrant's signed. Ere its black list
          Be full, there'll be an emperor on the roll!

          (National music. Dancers seen through doors, the emperor
          and empress among them)

(CURTAIN)



ACT III.


Scene I: Before the Imperial Theatre. Brilliant lights. Crowd
confusedly assembled. All talking.

 Shouts.  Long live the Empire!

 Citizen.
          O you mob, you puppet throat, that whistles as you're
          squeezed!

 A Mob Orator.
          My friends, to-day we gloriously celebrate the
          birthday of the most glorious empire--

 Cit.     Long live the Republic! Hail to Juarez!

 Voices.  To dungeon with him! The traitor! Tear him to pieces!

          (Guards dash upon citizen and drag him off)

 1st Officer.
          Don't tell me the Republic is dead when a man is
          willing to die just to give one shout for it.

 2d Officer.
          Three-fourths of the Mexicans have hearts of that
          color. But the Empire stands. Miramon is a miracle. How
          does he manage it?

 1st Off.
          He understands the use of the bayonet. As our friend
          over the water says, you can do anything with bayonets
          but sit on them.

 2d Off.  Isn't this a rabble? Motley's the only wear in
          Maximilian's court. He might succeed in running this
          country if so many people hadn't come along to help
          him do it. You ask a French question and you get a
          Dutch answer. You give an order in Prussian and it's
          obeyed in Irish,--

 Voices.  He comes! Make way! Make way! Hail to Maximilian!

 Chief Guard.
          Back, all of you! The Emperor will greet you yonder!
          We've orders to clear the plaza! Back! Back! His carriage
          stops! Go, get your places! Out! out!

          (Guards drive mob out)

 1st Guard.
          If all the Empire's birthdays are to be like this I
          hope it will never come of age. It's work, I tell you! I'm
          dripping like a squeezed cloud!

 2d Guard.
          If it had pleased the Empire to spend a little of the
          money it has wasted to-day for the widows and orphans it
          has made--

 1st Guard.
          Sh! We're paid for our muscle, not our opinions.
          (Shouts outside)

 2d Guard.
          And the mob is paid for its lungs!

 1st Guard.
          Yes. Miramon sees to that.

 2d Guard.
          Only the Emperor's carriage approaches the door?

 1st Guard.
          None but his.

 2d Guard.
          If I were he I wouldn't make such a glittering show of
          myself in that Milan carriage--all gold and silver and
          tortoise shell, and an angel at every corner--while there
          are so many hearts breaking in sound of it.

 1st Guard.
          Ph! He knows nothing of the breaking hearts! Miramon
          sees to that.

 2d Guard.
          He'll have to know soon, or Juarez will tell him in
          the capital.

 1st Guard.
          Not a word! On your life! (Shouts without) Here they
          are! By Jesu! The fools have taken the mules from the
          carriage and draw it themselves! Now I wonder how much a
          head Miramon pays for that!

          (Enter rabble of shouting citizens drawing carriage in
          which sit the Emperor and Empress. They are followed by a
          brilliant party of ladies and gentlemen. General and Madam
          Miramon, Princess de Varela, Prince and Princess Zichy,
          Prince and Princess Salm-Salm, Lopez, Count Charles,
          Marquez, Archbishop Labastida, Estrada, Berzabal, and
          others)

 Max.     (To citizens)
          My friends, though I protest against this honor,
          I thank you from my heart for such kind proof
          Of your affection. (Alights)

 Voices.                      Long live Maximilian!

 One of the rabble, awkward and ignorant.
          Long live the President of the Empire!

 Max.     (Smiling) I've no objection to that title, friend, but I
          fear it would be criticised in Europe.

          (Crowd passes out shouting and dragging carriage)

 Max.     (To Carlotta, as he looks at theatre) A
          noble building! Fair and magnificent!

 Car.     How yonder gardens gleam beneath the lights
          Like some soft dream of worlds we do not know!

 Max.     And all is yours, my sweet,--all planned by you!
          O love, you shall be mistress of a land
          The fairest ever smiled up to the sun!
          What say you, Charles? Does not this hour repay
          Even the sacrifice of Miramar?

 Car.     (Smiling) Nay, he longs still for the old nooks and books.

 Char.    Let me admit it. This mistress Pleasure, sir,
          Though she is fair is not so wondrous fair
          As goddess Knowledge. Beautiful as bride
          To her lord's eye is she to worshippers,
          Who seek and woo her till she yieldeth up
          Her locked virginity--the Truth!

 Max.     (Affectionately) Ay, Charles,
          Get knowledge if thou canst, and yet despair not,
          For none so poor but virtue may be his;
          And though your knowledge is earth's silver key
          That opens man's and nature's heart,
          'Tis golden virtue opens Heaven and shows
          The God among his stars.... But, come, dear friends!
          Pleasure is a true goddess too. We'll show
          Her fair respect.

          (All go into theatre but Charles, who drops back unnoticed)

 Char.                      He constantly unmasks me
          And knows it not. Knowledge! 'Tis withered leaves
          Amid a world of dewy boughs! Knowledge!
          To one school will I go--one book I'll read,
          The school of love, the page of woman's eye,
          And I'll know more than sages and divines
          Who study stars and Scripture!...
          'For none so poor but virtue may be his'
          O noble soul, had I been true to thee
          I now could open thy deceivéd eyes.
          Crime seals my lips. I can but pray
          This empire built on blood may stand. We are
          The creatures of our deeds, more bound to them
          Than slave to master, for the terms of service
          Are fast indentured in the soul and know
          No razure!... But I will find Aseffa! Then,
          Though sin should set a darkness on my life
          To draw each night out to a winter's length
          That constant storms from sallow leaf to green,
          Still love's sweet lamp shall light me! In my heart
          'T will be as day!

          (Enter Aseffa veiled, her dress covered with a black
          cloak. An attendant following. She tries to cross over to
          side entrance of theatre. A guard stops her)

 Asef.                        I am a singer.

 Guard.                                       Show
          Your pass.

 Asef.                Here, sir.

          (Guard signs for her to pass on. She sees Charles
          and stops. Steps before him, throwing back her veil)

 Asef.                            You swore to save him!

 Char.                                                    You!
          Aseffa! Blest--

 Asef.                    You swore it!

 Char.                                  And would have died
          To keep my oath could I have kept it dying.

 Asef.    The Emperor refused you? (He bows his head) Demon! Oh!

          (Turns to go, moaning)

 Char.    (Aside) I lose her!... Stay! Is there no hope for grief?

 Asef.    Not mine! Can you not read it here?

 Char.                                        Too well.
          Thy sorrow is a veil through which thy beauty
          Burns like a shrouded sun.

 Asef.                                You pity me?

 Char.    As Heaven knows!

 Asef.                      Then you will help me, sir?

 Char.    I'll give my life to do it!

 Asef.                                Ah, you will?
          Then get me access to the Emperor.

 Char.    O sweet Aseffa, you ask a miracle,
          And I am sadly mortal.

 Asef.                            I knew! I knew!
          My misery is your plaything!

 Char.                                  His ministers
          So hedge him with their care--

 Asef.                                    O spare excuse!
          But I shall see him, sir! Ay, face to face!

 Char.    Why would you see him? He can not call the dead.

 Asef.    The dead! Thou hast but daggers for me! Ah!

 Char.    Aseffa--

 Asef.              Yes, I'll see him! What think you?
          Should I go shouting 'murderer' through that hall,
          Would he arise and answer to his name?

 Char.    You're mad, Aseffa!

 Asef.                        Thank Heaven I am! 'T would be
          The shame of woman to know all that I know
          And not be mad!

 Char.                    You must not go in there.

 Asef.    (Fiercely) Must not!
                (Suddenly calm) Nay, sir! Why see, I go to sing
          A welcome to the noble Emperor. (Throws back her cloak)
          As this dark cloak now hides my gay apparel,
          So shall my gay demeanor hide my woe.

 Char.    You would not harm the Emperor?

 Asef.                                    No need!
          Yon moon is worshipped for her borrowed gold,
          Though charred and cold without a leaf to dower
          Her black sterility. So Maximilian.
          Napoleon's favor is the sun that gilds
          His worthless crown. But now the French are going--

 Char.    What?

 Asef.          Ah! The French are going.

 Char.                                    No!

 Asef.    And Maximilian shall fade to air,
          Unheeded as the moon no eye could find
          Without her sun!

 Char.                      But hearts can live and love
          Though Maximilian falls.

 Asef.                              Can live--and love!
          You torture me!

 Char.                    Forgive me. But the share
          Must rip the glebe before the corn may spring.

 Asef.    What do you mean, cold Austrian?

 Char.                                      Austrian! No!
          Your southern sun has poured into my veins
          A life that makes me new! I feel as you
          Those throbs that shake the stars until they fall
          Into the heart and make it heaven! My lips
          Can move toward lips as haste rose-gloried clouds
          To swoon into the sun!

 Asef.                            Ah, yes--I know--
          You told me that you loved. But why say this
          To one who has lost all?

 Char.                              I'd have you learn
          That you must live, Aseffa, and life for you
          Means love. Your eyes, your lips, your hands, your hair,
          Like coiléd sweetness of the night, and all
          Your swaying, melting body, gather love
          As roses gather smiles, as waves draw down
          The heart-flood of the moon and hold it deep
          And trembling.

 Asef.                    Sir, your roses, waves, and smiles,
          Are poet-nothings. You play with them as shells,
          Stirring chance colors for an idle eye.
          It is your way of saying, is it not,
          That I shall love again?

 Char.                              You must! you must!

 Asef.    Such words are like bright raindrops falling in
          Another world. They glitter, but I hear
          No sound, grief has so closed my ears. Take back
          Your comfort. You would be kind, but noble count,
          You talk of what a man can never know,--
          A woman's sorrow for a husband loved.
          So high no height can reach it, so great and deep
          The sea can not embrace it, and yet her heart
          Can hold it all. O strangest of all love,
          That makes her rather stoop in beggar rags
          To kiss the happy dust where his foot pressed
          Than from a throne lean down to give her lips
          Unto a kneeling king!

 Char.                          Aseffa, grief
          Is not for you. You must--you must be happy!
          The shy and tender Dawn creeps up in fear
          That Night has laid some blight upon the world,
          But finding all is well, steps forth, and lo!
          Out of her courage the great sun is born.
          So doth the heart look outward after grief
          To find the world all dark, but nay, the light
          Is more of heaven than it was before,
          Because a face is shining from the clouds.
          You dim your loved one's eyes in paradise
          With your earth-tears. He mourns your splendor paled,--
          Though 't must be beautiful to the last tint,
          As sunset clouds that bear the heart of day
          Into the night.

 Asef.                    You but offend my grief.
          Sir, keep your flattery for her you love!

 Char.    I flatter thee? It is not possible!
          Who dares to add fire to the sun, or bring
          The Spring a flower? Be angry if you will.
          The morning's eye is not more glorious
          Rising above a storm! I flatter thee!
          When but to praise thee as thou art would put
          A blush on Poesy that ne'er has rhymed
          As I would speak! E'en thy defects would make
          Another fair, and were they merchantable
          Women would buy thy faults to adorn themselves!
          O, sweet--

 Asef.    (Shrinking in horror)
                      What do you mean?

 Char.    (Seizing her hands)           You know!
          O, all my life has been but dreams of you,
          And when I saw you first, my love!--my love!--
          As lightning makes the midnight landscape speak
          The language of the day, your beauty flashed
          O'er all my years and made their meaning clear!
          'Twas you made sweet the song of every bird,
          'Twas you I found in every book I loved,
          'Twas you that gave a soul to every star!
          I can not speak it! Kiss me once--but once--
          And you will understand!

 Asef.                              What thing is this?
          It is not man, for man respecteth sorrow,
          Nor brute, for it doth speak!

 Char.                                  O look not down!
          Thou canst not guard thee! Every silken sweep
          Of thine eyes' soft defence but whets assault!
          You shall not go! You are the element
          In which I breathe! Go from me and I fall
          A lifeless thing! Aseffa, pity me!
          'Tis I who die, not you! (Drops her hands and kneels)
                                    O blame me not
          That I must worship here--

 Asef.                                Ah, Rafael,
          I'll live an hour to pray this wrong away
          Before I meet thine eyes! (Goes. Charles grasps her cloak)
                                    Beast! Claw me not!

          (Goes in. Charles gazes after her in a bewildered way.
          Tries to steady himself, and goes into theatre by main
          entrance)

(CURTAIN)


Scene II: Within the theatre. Gay decorations. Part of stage
shown, on which chorus is assembled. The Emperor and Empress in
royal box. Imperial cabinet and friends in boxes adjoining. Part
of pit shown, filled with brightly dressed people.

 Max.     (To Carlotta)
          O, this is welcome! Are you not happy now?
          There's not a wrinkle on these smiling brows
          Where discontent may write her annals dark!
          My empire now is fixed, and strength and love
          Are gathering to my side. I can not put
          My hand out but 'tis clasped by some new friend.

 Car.     And true?

 Max.               And true. You are too fearful, sweet.

 Car.     And you too trustful.

 Max.                           Nay, we can not trust
          Too much. Brutus spoke noblest when he said
          'My heart doth joy that yet in all my life
          I found no man but he was true to me.'
          And I would hope as much.

 Car.     (Aside)                   None, none are true!
          Even I am false who fear to speak my fears
          And ease his own when I should quicken them!

          (Chorus from stage)

                  Hail, ye royal pair, O hail!
                  Like two souls within one star
                  May your heavenly light ne'er fail.
                  Empress and great Emperor!

                  Hail to thee who ruleth mild
                  As the manger-cradled child!
                  Hail to her who long may be
                  Guardian of us and thee!

                  Hail, O hail, ye pair divine!
                  As two souls within one star
                  May your light forever shine,
                  Empress and great Emperor!

          (Estrada appears on stage in front of chorus)

 Est.     Great Majesties, forgive our feeble welcome.
          We are in all things spotted and imperfect
          Save in affection for your Highnesses.

 Max.     (Rising) No, no! My friend--and friends--had you not hearts
          That turn to virtue as the flowers to sun,
          We had not made such progress to an hour
          When all the Empire wears the smile of peace,
          And we may rest like Love with folded arms
          Round his desire.

 Est.                       'Tis you have led us, sire.
          Pardon this mockery of what we'd do
          To celebrate this day had we but means.
          We shout thy name, but not above the clouds;
          We send up fires, but lightnings higher reach:
          We have adorned the city and ourselves,
          But India and the sea keep back the pearls
          We would pour here!

 Max.                         Enough--and more, my friends.
          O, far too much! None mourn now but the gods
          Who are made indigent by this display
          Of wealth and joy!

 Est.     (Making low obeisance) We thank your majesty.
          This land shall e'er be called the happy land,
          And he who rules it--

 Asef.    (Stepping wildly from chorus) Prince of Murderers!
          The happy land! O land where widows' cries
          Choke Heaven, and mothers' tears make each new day
          A flood!

 Mir.               Guards there! Take her away! The guards!

 Max.     No! Let her stay! We'll answer her!

 Mir.                                         My lord--

 Max.     Madam, we seek your country's love.

 Asef.    How do you seek it? By killing her dear sons!
          Setting your tigers loose among her children!
          Mejia from your very breast makes fire
          On patriot virtue! Dupin wets his teeth
          By day and night in infant and mother's blood!
          Maximilian,
          In brave Trevino's name, Salazar's name,
          In name of all as noble and as dear
          To Mexico as they, who daily die
          Beneath their country's flag the death of dogs,
          Shot down by your black law--signed by your hand--
          In name of him as dear to me as thou
          To that proud woman who shall know what 'tis
          To clasp a ghost where throbbed her living love,--
          I tell thee--die!

          (Leaps from stage to Emperor's box attempting to stab him.
          As she leaps Carlotta springs before the Emperor)

 Car.                       This heart--not that!

          (Aseffa drops her dagger and stands bewildered. An officer
          seizes her. Utter confusion in theatre. Maximilian goes
          onto the stage. Silence)

 Max.                                             My friends,--
          All you who love me see me here unhurt,
          And you who love me not, if any's here,

          (Cries of "none, none!")

          Take aim now as you will.

          (Cries of "No! no! no! no!")

 A Voice.
          Long live the Emperor! Maximilian!

 Max.     Then if you love me, friends, I beg you'll leave
          This place of song and go to the Cathedral.
          There pray for me to Him who spared my life,
          And, if you will, pray that He yet may spare it
          To work His will and yours.

          (Crowd goes out silently)

 Mar.     (To Labastida)              That was well done.

 Lab.     Sincerity is once a diplomat.

 Car.     (To Princess Salm-Salm)
          Princess, take this poor creature to your care.

          (Officer releases Aseffa, who goes out as in a dream
          with Prince and Princess Salm-Salm and several ladies)

 Mar.     (Approaching Maximilian) Your Majesty, let me congratulate--
          Ill, sire?

 Max.                 Sick, sick, O sick of compliments!
          If I've a friend here let me hear the truth!
          What did that creature mean? The truth, I say!
          (Silence) You, Miramon? Lopez? (Silence) Trevino's dead?

 Lop.     He is.

 Max.             And Rafael Mendorez?

 Lop.                                   Dead.
          The woman is his widow.

 Max.                             Oh!... And this!
          (Taking out message)
          This from Dupin! 'All quiet in Savarro.'
          It means--

 Lop.                 The town is ashes.

 Max.                                     O God! O God!
          You ministers! Ay, ministers of hell!
          Didst think ye served the devil?

 Est.                                       O, my lord--

 Max.     No friend! Not one! Charles! Charles! you must have known!
          These foreign hearts have their excuse, but you--
          The tower of confidence between us two,
          Built part by part by faithful mason hours,
          Is shaken to atoms!

 Char.                        I will build it o'er!

 Max.     First will the wind-strewn rose upgather all
          Her petals from the dust, and cheek by cheek,
          Hang them new-smiling on the nodding bough!

 Mir.     Your Majesty, what we have done was done
          To save our country and your beloved life.
          Your noble heart was blind to your great danger,
          And 'twas our duty and our work of love
          To save you from your fatal tenderness.

 Lop.     (Kneeling) O gracious sovereign, had I but known
          You did not know, I would have dared the wrath
          Of all the court, and spoken to you but truth!

 Max.     (Lifting him up)
          And 'twas your tongue at last that broke the silence,
          I must forgive you.

 Mar.                         By your necessity,
          Your Majesty, we may all hope for pardon.
          Juarez, encouraged by the United States,
          Is roused again to war. We have appealed
          For compromise and terms of friendly union,
          But his one answer for us all is--death!
          Yet are we faithful to you, sire.

 Max.                                       O Heaven!
          What poisonous opiate have you fed me with
          And called it peace? But war is not the worst!
          Oh, Miramon, did you not swear to me
          All prisoners taken by that cruel law
          Should be reported day or night to me
          That I might pardon or remit their sentence?

 Mir.     O, sir, you knew not your extremity,
          Nor could you know it though we told it you,
          The hearts of Mexicans once turned to hate
          Are far too deep for sincere eyes to pierce.
          But I thank God we knew the danger, sire,
          And struck the serpent raised even at your life.
          When you, all gentleness, could not have given
          The necessary blow. Ay, God be thanked, although
          You cast me from your heart. 'T will be my comfort
          To know I served you better than you dreamed.
          And 'tis the penalty of over-love
          To suffer by the hand that (kneels and
            kisses Maximilian's hand) it would kiss!

 Max.     Must I forgive him, Heaven?

 Lab.                                 Ay, sir, you must,
          For his deceit was but the greater truth
          That served your blind necessity.

 Est.                                       O, sir,
          Do not desert us! If now the Empire falls
          'Tis death to all that have been true to you.
          Juarez will give no quarter to your friends.

 Max.     The Liberals advance?

 Mar.                           Each day they're nearer;
          And towns and provinces fall by the way.

 Berz.    Without you, sir, our cause will die in blood,
          And Mexico be but a grave for those
          Who've loved and served you!

 Mar.                                   The United States has ranked
          Full sixty thousand men on our frontiers,--
          But we have France--

 Max.                           I am awake! At last!
          From now no man shall risk his life for me
          But I take equal chance with him! Ah, this
          Is war, not murder!

 Mar.                         You will lead our troops?

 Max.     I will.

 Mar.             Then Mexico is saved! The way
          To win the southern hearts is but to trust them.
          Leave at your capital the foreign troops
          And lead your native soldiers 'gainst the foe!

 Car.     (Aside) No! Never! Never! Alone with those dark hearts!

          (Enter Marshal Bazaine with envoy from France,
          Comte de St. Sueveur, Marquis de Gallifet, and General
          Castlenau)

 Baz.     My lord, we bring new messages from France.

 Gen. Cast.
          Your majesty, we beg your gracious pardon
          For this unseemly pressure.

 Max.                                 You have it, sir.
          What says Napoleon?

 Cast.    He greets you, sire, with my unworthy tongue,
          And sends this letter. (Maximilian reads)

 Max.                             My eyes, I think, turn wizards
          And conjure 'gainst the truth that must be here.
          For I read false. (Puzzled) What does he mean? Not this--

 Baz.     My lord, my letters make the import clear.
          I have instructions here to counsel you
          To make immediate abdication.

 Max.                                   No!

 Car.     What? Abdication?

 Baz.                       Ay! That is the word.

 Car.     A word for fear and weakness, not for strength,
          And Maximilian is as strong as France
          While great Napoleon respects his oath!
          His troops are ours--

 Baz.                           Nay, princess--

 Mir.     (Fiercely)                            Her Majesty!

 Baz.     (Sneers) You prize the feather when the cap is lost?
          (To the Empress) Pardon a slipping tongue, your Majesty.
          Those troops you speak of go with me to France.
          Such is my order--such the firm demand
          Of the United States.

 Car.                           Is France a province
          Of the United States? Napoleon
          Page, lackey, footboy to America?
          Is she an Empire, he an Emperor?
          Or have we dreamed he is Napoleon?

 Max.     (Recovered from his bewilderment)
          Withdraw his troops! He can not--dare not do it!
          'T would blister history's page to set it down,
          And 'tis his burning wish to be the star
          Of human chronicles. I'll not believe it,
          Though all my senses brand confirming yea
          Upon my mind. O shout it in my ears,
          And let me see the troops go marching out,
          Still I'll believe it is my eyes and ears
          That mutiny, not France turned traitor!

 Baz.     Your Majesty, you must believe the truth,
          And make you ready for a swift departure.
          'T will not be safe here let a moon go by.

 Max.     If danger's here, then here I stay to share it.
          Dost think I'll leave my friends to die alone
          While I by flight dishonor Majesty?

 Baz.     'Tis death to stay. You would not be so mad.

 Mir.     Hail to our new-born king! New-born thou art
          Unto our love. Nay, we did love before,
          But now we'll worship thee.

 Car.                                 Napoleon!
          You shall not do this monstrous thing! You shall not!

 Baz.     The crown of France doth ask consent of none.

 Car.     I'll go to him and say such words that from
          His shame-marked brow his outraged crown will fall
          In horror. I will go! Take out the troops,
          Bazaine. Ay, take them out! He will be glad
          To send them back and purchase with his blood
          Redemption from such shame. He'll empty France
          To do it! I will go. But I'll not kneel.
          A thousand years my blood has run through kings,
          And he's the _third_ Napoleon!

          (Sinks, exhausted with emotion. Ladies attend her)

 Mir.                                     The traitor!
          We have no need of him! To France, Bazaine,
          And tell your Emperor our Emperor
          Needs not his fickle strength to stand upon!
          Sire, we have men, and money in our banks--

 Lab.     A mighty church whose power is untold
          If you restore her rights, as now we hope,
          And thus united we shall defy the world!

 Max.     And Heaven, too? For that is what we do
          When we set up the church in her old wrongs.
          Nay, keep your aid, and I will keep my soul.

 Lop.     Your virtuous angel strives to make you god.

 Max.     No, but to keep me honest.

 Mar.     (Aside to Lab.)             Yield to him.
          'Tis not the hour to cast him off.

 Lab.                                         My lord,
          Your virtue conquers, and unto your hands
          I yield the power o' the church.

 Max.                                       I thank your grace,
          Nor for myself, but Mexico.

 Baz.                                 I go to France.
          What message have you for Napoleon?

 Max.     Tell him that he has placed me here between
          Death and dishonor--and my choice is made.

          (Bazaine and French ambassadors turn slowly and go out)

 Max.     (Quietly to Miramon) We'll join you at the door.

          (Exeunt all but Carlotta and Maximilian. He holds out his
          arms, and she goes silently to his embrace)

(CURTAIN)



ACT IV.


Scene I: Queretaro. Plaza La Cruz before church and convent. Grey
light before dawn. Occasional distant firing of guns. Maximilian
comes out of church and walks about plaza.

 Max.     Carlotta! Where dost thou pray to-night? In all
          Our fearful scanning of prophetic heavens
          No swart star showed us this--our separation.
          Thou wert the all of me, the breath, the soul!
          Nature conceived thee when her blood was young,
          And May was in her spirit, but stayed thy birth
          Till Time had taught her skill in all perfections!
          ... I will not weep.... Yon stars have memories too,
          And tell old tales of grandsire suns that shook
          Their locks and fell ere they were young who now
          Are eld of all!... (Walks) To lie so low.... O man,
          Who in the heavens carvest out redemption,
          Laying thy golden streets in very skies,
          Making the stars but eyets of thy port,
          Must thou compact thee to a little earth,
          Displace some few small tenants of the sod,
          And find thou 'st room enough?... (Looks up) City of dream!
          Time's far ghost inn! Eternity's mirage!
          Desire's dim temple fashioned out of prayer,
          Builded and jointured by no carpenter
          But captious Fancy!... O Carlotta, wife!
          Thou wert my Christian heart! Faith, faith, my God!
          Death to the unbeliever is to land
          Upon a coast dumb in the moonless dark,
          Where no hands wave a welcome, no eyes shine
          With promise of sweet hours, no voices call
          The greeting that makes every shore a home.
          (Listens) My officers! I can not see them yet.
          (Goes in. Enter Colonel Lopez in close talk with Lieutenant
          Garza who is disguised as an Imperial officer)

 Garza.   I'm satisfied.

 Lopez.   This hill is the key to the city.

 Gar.     Yes.

 Lop.     And yours on terms we have considered.

 Gar.     Here's Escobedo's guarantee. (Gives paper)

 Lop.     This to my pocket, and Queretaro to the Liberals!

 Gar.     'Tis heavy business. You do it lightly, colonel.

 Lop.     The world's a feather.

 Gar.     If we but think so.

 Lop.     At dawn my troops are yours.

 Gar.     And you command the Empress' regiment.

 Lop.     Yes. The pick of Maximilian's soldiers.

 Gar.     One other question. The southern gate--Hist!

 Lop.     The nuns. (They draw aside and converse. Two nuns come out
          of convent and cross plaza)

 1st Nun.
          The good Emperor is not out yet. He is often here long
          before day walking and thinking, 'Tis then, they say, his
          mind is on the blessed Empress who has gone across the sea
          to get help for him. By day he never speaks her name, but
          thinks only of our poor country.

 2d Nun.  Hark! The enemy's guns! They can not reach us.

 1st Nun.
          Can not? A shell broke here yesterday. The Emperor stood
          just there.

 2d Nun.  Holy mother! What did his Majesty do?

 1st Nun.
          He smiled, and said he might have chosen his place
          better; then moved to the very spot where the ball had
          burst, as though he hoped another would follow it.

 2d Nun.  Blessed virgin! Would he die?

 1st Nun.
          I'm sure he would not live. Come, sister. Ah, we have
          but one loaf this morning.

 2d Nun.  Let us be glad we can give that,--for many are hungry.

 1st Nun.
          Many are starved--dead.

 2d Nun.  But the good Emperor! It is so sad to think of him
          without food.

 1st Nun.
          He will give this to his officers. Yesterday I saw
          Prince Salm-Salm and the general Miramon each with a bit
          of white bread that can not be found in all Queretaro
          outside of our convent.

 2d Nun.  The good man! Holy Mother bless and keep him! (They go
          into the Cruz)

 Lop.     What will you do with Maximilian?

 Gar.     Make a Liberal of him.

 Lop.     Ha! How?

 Gar.     Shoot him!

 Lop.     Shoot him?

 Gar.     Yes. The grave's the great republican senate house,--where
          each man has the floor.

 Lop.     (Laughing) And you will introduce him!

 Gar.     Hark!

 Lop.     The Emperor! Go! (Exit Garza. Enter Maximilian and Prince
          Salm-Salm)

 Max.     (Greeting Lopez affectionately) You're early out, my boy.

 Lop.     Your majesty, I am the officer of the day.

 Max.     Yes,--I remember. Who was your friend?

 Lop.     Ramirez, of Dupin's regiment.

 Salm.    Ramirez! He's much changed if that was he.

 Lop.     Shall I call him back, your majesty, that the prince may
          convince himself that his memory of faces is not
          infallible?

 Max.     Nay, my trusted two! (Puts an arm about each) Would you
          might love each other as I love you both. My prince, whose
          courage is the very heart of my army, and my young hussar,
          dear for your own sake--dearer still because--she trusted
          you!

          (Blasio, the Emperor's secretary, comes out of the Cruz)

 Blasio.  Your majesty, I have finished the letters.

 Max.     Good. There will be no more to write. (Stumbles over
          something) What's this?

 Blasio.  A fallen Christ.

 Max.     You mean a fallen figure of the risen Christ.

 Lop.     Here is the crown of thorns.

 Max.     Give it to me. (Holds it meditatively) How well it suits
          my fortunes!

 Salm.    Nay--

 Max.     Ay, better than my golden one. (Gives it to Blasio) Hang
          it above my bed. My Queretaro crown!

 Salm.    Do not, your majesty!

 Max.     (To Blasio) Take it. (Exit Blasio) Why, prince, 'tis
          something to have won a crown. My first was given me.
          (Firing and falling of shells)

 Salm.    I beg you, sire, to move your quarters to a safer station.
          This is death at any moment!

 Max.     Death at any moment--(Regretfully) And I have been here
          sixty days.

 Lop.     Courage, sire! Marquez will come!

 Max.     (Eagerly) Has there been news?

 Lop.     Not yet, your majesty.

 Max.     Not yet! What does it mean? You heard him take the oath to
          bring me help or die. 'Twas here he swore--before us all.
          Vowed to return with troops in fifteen days! Ah, he is
          dead.

 Salm.    No, your majesty.

 Max.     But if he lives?

 Salm.    He is a traitor.

 Max.     You heard his oath--

 Salm.    A traitor's oath!

 Lop.     He's true, your majesty. His messengers are murdered.

 Salm.    He's false!

 Max.     But that means--death.

 Salm.    Or flight.

 Max.     Not flight!

          (Enter Miramon and Mendez) You're welcome, gentlemen. Your
          eyes bring news.

 Mir.     Your majesty, Metz has returned.

 Max.                                       At last!
          News of Marquez! He comes! I know he comes!

 Men.     O, sire,--

 Max.                 The faithful Metz! Where is he?

 Metz.    (Entering)                                  Sire! (Kneels)

 Max.     Rise, sir.

 Metz.                O pardon me, your majesty!
          I bring but wintry news.

 Max.                               Marquez--

 Metz.                                        Is false.

 Max.     Oh, no, no, no! He comes! I know he comes!

 Metz.    He's leagued with Labastida,--for the church
          Deserts you too.

 Max.     The church gone with him! No! no! I can't believe it!

 Metz.    You do not doubt me!

 Max.                           Not you! But in my ear
          The tale turns miracle! And I must doubt,
          Though on your tongue 'tis truth!

 Metz.                                      'Tis truth indeed!
          The troops he was to bring you from the city,
          He led for his own glory against Diaz,
          Thinking to make himself the conqueror
          And president of Mexico.

 Max.                               My troops!
          What then?

 Metz.                Porfirio Diaz routed them
          To the last man. Marquez himself escaped
          Alone,--fled unattended from the field.

 Max.     My troops! my troops!... And this is friendship! O God,
          Give me but enemies!

 Salm.                          Your Majesty--

 Max.     Who calls me majesty? There's none in me.
          I am a riven oak whose leaf-light friends
          Fly with misfortune's Autumn. (Steps away, bowed in grief)

 Salm.    (Following him)               I love you, sire.

 Lop.     (Eagerly) So do we all! Your majesty, believe us!

 Mir.     Canst not spare one who have so many true?

 Max.     Forgive me, friends. This treachery's the night
          Wherein your hearts of gold beat out like stars!

 Lop.     My life is yours, my lord!

 Max.                                 Thanks, dear Lopez.
          (Takes his hand)
          In friendship lies the joy superlative,
          And nearest Heaven. We touch God's hand whene'er
          We clasp a friend's.
                                ... But now we must take counsel.

 Salm.    No, sire, we must take action. Pardon me,
          But our sole hope of safety lies in flight.

 Max.     What! Leave the town to sack and ruin? No!
          Desert the poor inhabitants, so long our friends?
          And all our wounded, sick and dying? Never!

 Salm.    But if you stay, my lord, you sacrifice
          The living with the dying.

 Max.                                 Oh, Heaven, Heaven!

 Lop.     Your Majesty, this counsel is not wise.
          It is not honor!

 Salm.                      Honor will lead the flight!
          To stay were crime! Sire, give the order now.
          At once! The firing to the north has ceased.
          All night I've reconnoitered. The way is clear
          For the last time. We'll arm the citizens
          To cover flight, and in an hour--

 Lop.                                       We'll be
          Attacked on every side! A madman's counsel!

 Salm.    O, sire, lose not a moment!

 Mir.                                 Lopez is right.
          To fly from death is not dishonor, but who
          That values honor throws away one chance
          Of victory?

 Salm.                There is no chance. Not one!
          My word is fly, and I'm no coward, sire.

 Max.     You've led our troops where every track was blood,
          And in the throat of battle, hand to hand,
          Have fought with Death! We know you'll dare a fight
          As far as any man while there's a hope
          Of victory.

 Salm.                But I'll not make my folly
          The captain to defeat.

 Lop.                             'Tis not defeat!
          The Liberals are at their fortune's ebb.
          They're sick with fear, and tremble in their rags.

 Mendez.  Let's fight it out, my lord!

 Max.                                   With starving men?

 Lop.     We're starving, but our foes are starved.
          Our ammunition fails, but theirs has failed--

          (A shell breaks near them)

 Salm.    That, sir, unspeaks your words.

 Lop.                                     Not so. One shell
          But tells how few they are, for yesterday
          They fell in numbers. And to the north, you say,
          The guns are silent.

 Salm.                          Sire, a moment lost
          May mean the loss of all.

          (Enter Dupin with two prisoners. Lopez goes to meet him)

 Dupin.   What did you mean by your infernal order to bring these
          men here? Don't you know old Saint-face won't let them be
          shot?

 Lop.     Keep quiet. They are my captives, not yours.

 Dup.     I've plugged just ninety-eight this week, and it's too bad
          not to make an even hundred.

 Max.     (Approaching) Prisoners?

 Dup.     Deserters, your majesty. They have confessed it. I've
          brought them here for sentence. Will you have them shot at
          once, or wait till sunrise?

 Max.     None shall be shot. Not one. How often must we say it? If
          things go well here, good; if not, still is my conscience
          clear of blood. (To deserter) You've been with the enemy?

 1st Des.
          Yes, curse the day! Your pardon, blessed majesty!

 Max.     How fare our foes?

 1st Des.
          The best of them as bad as the worst with us.

 Lop.     You note that, prince?

 2d Des.  We have a little food, but they have none. The country
          is eaten bare. Diaz is trying to reach them with supplies,
          but at present there isn't enough meal in ten miles of the
          army to make an ash-cake.

 Lop.     More proof for the prince, your majesty.

 Max.     Their powder fails?

 2d Des.  Yes, sire. 'T would be all the same if it didn't, for
          they've hardly strength left to stand on their toes and
          fire the guns.

 Max.     Poor fellows!

 Lop.     You can not doubt, my lord, that we shall win with the
          next assault.

 Mir.     Cast fear to the winds, your majesty!

 Salm.    Who spoke of fear?

 Mir.     Not I! Fear is the devil's magic-glass
          He holds before us to swell out our vision,
          Turn hares to lions, stones a lamb might skip
          To beetling cliffs that ne'er knew human foot,
          And slightest obstacles, that do but make
          The mind's fair exercise and moral zest,
          To barriers, high as heaven, to success!

 Lop.     (Sneering) And Juarez' men of rags to glittering armies!

 Max.     We'll hazard battle.

 Salm.                          I beg your majesty--

 Max.     We know your courage, prince, for it is writ
          In many a scar; but you are wrong in this.

 Lop.     You'll hear no more of flight, my lord?

 Max.                                             No more.

 Lop.     Then I'll to duty, knowing all is well.

                                                  (Exit Lopez)

 Dupin.   (Aside) And I'll go find a breakfast for my little
          man-eater. (Clapping his weapon) There's never anything to
          be done around his saintship. (Exit)

 Mir.     In half an hour?

 Max.     Yes. The plans will then be ready. (Turns to go in) You,
          prince, with me. Though I've dismissed your head from
          service, I still must have your heart. (Goes into church
          with Salm-Salm)

 Mir.     (To Mendez) What do you think of it?

 Men.     Why, sir, I'd rather die fighting than running.
          And there's a chance for us. The Liberals are beggared.
          There's hardly a uniform in camp. If Marquez had kept
          true, we should have saved the empire.

 Mir.     Don't speak of him! Hell's throne is empty while he's on
          earth!

          (Exeunt Mendez and Mir.)

 1st Des.
          Well, comrade, here's promotion fast enough. We that
          were prisoners are captains of the field. Lead on!

 2d Des.  Be sure the Tigre is not around. He's got a long claw.
          Ugh! I feel shaky yet.

          (Exeunt. It grows lighter. Guard comes out of the Cruz and
          takes station by door. Enter Princess Salm-Salm, Aseffa,
          and women of Queretaro)

 Princess S. (Excitedly)
          Admit me to the emperor!

 Guard.                             Your pardon.
          He must not be disturbed.

 Princess S.                        Oh, but he must!
          The pity of it that he must!

 Guard.                                 Nay, madam--

 Princess S.
          Admit us, sir, or I will beat the door!

          (Maximilian comes to door)

 Max.     Some trouble here? The princess! Always welcome!

 Princess S.
          But such unwelcome news, your majesty!
          You know I've rooms at Senor Barrio's house.
          I've long suspected him. Last night he lodged
          Two men whose conference I overheard.
          All was not clear, but part was clear enough.
          One of your trusted officers is false,
          And you to-day--this hour--will be betrayed
          Unto your foes.

 Max.                     Impossible!

 Princess S.                          O, sire,
          Be blind no longer. This lady heard the men
          As I did. There's no doubt!

 Lady.                                'Tis certain, sire,
          That they were officers in the Liberal army,
          And spoke of things that set me all aghast.

 Max.     Good women, I thank you, but you are deceived.
          There's not a man about me whose true face
          Is not the table where fidelity
          Writes him my own.

 Princess S.                  O, sir, 'tis one whose hand
          Is in your bosom.

 Max.                       Nay--

 Princess S.                      That much I know,
          Though I know not his name.

 Max.                                 Bold Miramon
          Is staunch as death. Mendez would in his breast
          Receive the bullet meant for me. Dupin
          Has been too cruel to the enemy
          To hope for life even at treason's price.
          And Lopez is my own created love,
          The Empress' guard,--the only Mexic heart
          I've taken a very brother's to my own.

 Princess S.
          What shall I do? This moment you must fly!
          Stand not, your majesty! 'T will be too late!

          (Prince Salm-Salm comes to door)

          Thank God, my husband! His majesty's betrayed!
          You've never doubted me!

 Prince Salm.                       Betrayed?

 Max.                                         No, prince,--

 Prince Salm.
          I'll visit every post!

 Princess S.                      You but lose time.

          (The prince hurries out)

          Oh God! Oh God!

 Max.                     Sweet princess, be not troubled.
          There is no cause.

 Princess S.                  Ah, we are lost!

          (The bells of the city begin to ring)

 Max.                                           You hear?
          The bells! The enemy has raised the siege!
          O joyous news!

 Princess S.              No, no, your majesty.
          That is the traitor's signal of success.
          Oh Heaven!

 Max.                 What madness! 'Tis impossible!

 Princess S.
          Those bells proclaim that every Imperial post
          Is in a Liberal's command. We're lost!

          (Enter citizens and soldiers in confusion)

 1st Cit.
          What mean the bells?

 2d Cit.                        That Escobedo's fled!

 3d Cit.  Marquez has come!

 1st Soldier.               No, no! The city's taken!

 2d Soldier.
          Juarez is here! The Liberals are on us!

          (Confused talking and shouts continue. Re-enter
          Prince Salm-Salm)

 Max.     What is it, prince?

 Prince Salm.                 O dearest majesty--

 Max.     The worst!

 P Salm.              'Tis treachery. We are surrounded!

 Max.     Those bells--

 P Salm.                Ring out the enemy's success.
          Each post is captained by a Liberal.

 Max.     (Calmly to princess)
          Forgive me. You were right.
                (To Prince Salm-Salm) Who is the traitor?

 P Salm.  Ask not, I beg you.

 Max.                         His name!

 P Salm.                                Lopez.

 Max.                                           Lopez? (Staggers)
          Unsay that word--and take my crown!

 P Salm.                                      O, would
          I could, your majesty! It is too true!

 Max.     Lopez! Carlotta's chosen officer!
          And heaped with favors high enough to make
          A pyramid to faith!... Is this the world,
          Or some strange fancy spinning in my eyes?

 P Salm.  My dearest liege--

 Max.                         Who would not leave a life
          Where such things be, though death were sleep eternal?
          ... Lead me 'mong shells and bayonets. But not
          To kill. My God, there's blood enough been shed.
          Bid all surrender. Let no more lives be lost.
          Farewell, my prince.... Now for a friendly shell!--
          Just here! (Striking his heart, rushes out)

 Princess S.          O save him! I am safe! Go! go! (Exit Salm-Salm)

 1st Woman.
          We shall all be butchered!

 Aseffa.  Juarez is no butcher.

 2d Woman.
          'Tis Escobedo leads,--and many have bled by him.

 Aseffa.  Be not afraid. I know the Liberals.

 Voices.  They come! they come!

          (Miramon and Dupin rush in)

 Mir.     Where is the Emperor?

 Dup.     Emperor dunce-cap! We must look to our own skins.

          (Enter a score of ragged Liberals led by Rafael. Aseffa
          stares at him, speechless)

 Mir.     Too late for that!

 Raf.     You are our prisoners. (Liberals take Dupin and Miramon)

 Soldiers.
          Shoot them! Shoot them! Miramon and Dupin!
          The butchers! The dogs!

 Raf.     Hold! You are soldiers! Not murderers!

 Dup.     (To soldiers) You rags and bones! Go wash and eat before
          you touch a gentleman!

 Sol.     You'll not be so nice to-morrow when the worms are at you!

 Asef.    Raphael! (Flies to him)

 Raf.     You here! O blessed fortune! My love! my love!

 Asef.    O, is it true? You are alive! Alive!
          I too am resurrected, for I was dead,
          Slain with the news that you were murdered!

 Raf.     I've news too bitter for so sweet a moment.
          Ignacio bribed my guard--stood in my place--
          And died.

 Asef.    (Recoiling) You let him die for you?

 Raf.                                           No, no!
          He carefully deceived me. I thought he planned
          His own escape with mine.

 Asef.                              O noble friend!...
          Juarez! He knows?

 Raf.                       Not yet.

 Asef.                                What grief for that
          Great heart!... But you are here--my Rafael!

 Raf.     By all these kisses--yes!

 Asef.                              These are your lips--
          Your eyes--your hands--alive! I hear your heart!
          Your arms are round me, yet this is the earth!
          My country and my husband safe!

 Raf.                                     God gives
          Some moments out of Heaven, and this is one!

          (Enter a soldier)

 Sol.     The Emperor is captured by Escobedo!

 Princess S.
          Not killed! not killed! Thank Heaven for that!

 Sol.                                                   'Twas strange
          To see him stand like this (folds his arms) among the shells!

 Asef.    Now I could pity him, for he must die.

 Princess S.
          Die, woman! Die? You know not who he is!
          Why all the outraged world would rise and raze
          This devil's country from the face of earth
          Were Maximilian slain! Let Juarez dare
          To harm this son of kings and he will learn
          His beggar's power is but an infant's breath!

 Asef.    Good madam, you have been my noble friend.
          I would not wound you, but would have you know
          That better men than Maximilian
          Have died for lesser crimes.

          (Enter Juarez with soldiers. Dawn has gradually opened and
          it is now broad sunlight)

 Voices.                                Juarez! Juarez!
          El Presidente! El Presidente!

 Jua.                                   My men,
          The town is ours, and with it Mexico.
          Citizens of Queretaro. I give you back
          More than your homes,--your liberated country.

 Voices.  Long live the Republic! Liberty forever!

          (Enter Escobedo)

 Esc.     Your Excellency will see the prisoner?

 Jua.     The illustrious duke? Ay, bring him here.

 Esc.                                               He comes.

          (Enter Maximilian under guard)

 Jua.     Great duke, I grieve that I have cause for joy
          To see you thus. What wishes would your grace
          Prefer to us?

 Max.                   I have but one request,
          Your excellency. If more blood must be spilt,
          Let it be mine alone.

 Jua.                           We grant it, sir,
          With two exceptions justice doth demand.
          Dupin and Miramon must die with you.
          Dupin, who put to most ignoble death
          The noblest prisoners of righteous war.
          Dark Miramon, whose cowardly ambition
          Has sunk his country in her own dear blood,
          And would do so again did life permit
          Him opportunity. And you, my lord,
          Who signed the foulest, most inhuman law
          Writ down since Roman Sulla's hand grew cold.

 Princess S.
          O spare him! Spare him, sir! He was deceived
          By treacherous ministers!

 Jua.                               His ministers
          Were but his many hands, and for their deeds
          His heart must answer.

 Princess S.                      O could you know that heart!

 Max.     Dear lady, peace.

 Princess S.                Beloved majesty,
          I speak for her who prays beyond the sea.
          ... O, sir, you can not mean that he must die!
          Help me, Aseffa! Help me plead for him!
          Does not your Rafael live?

 Asef.                                He lives because
          Ignacio is dead. (Juarez starts) I must be just.

 Princess S.
          What has a woman's heart to do with justice?
          'Tis mercy is its heavenly quality!

 Jua.     Is this thing true? My boy.... Speak, Rafael.
          ... Tears in your eyes. You need not speak. My boy ...
          Ignacio.... Unto God I give thee!...

 Princess S.                                    'Tis right
          That they who would be gods to others' woe
          Should be proved human by their own.

 Jua.     (Not hearing her)                     And this
          Is what so many hearts have borne since first
          The Austrian came.

 Princess S.                  O mercy, mercy, sir!
          By your own woe show pity unto those
          Whose hearts must bleed if Maximilian dies!
          Be merciful! These tears of mine are but
          The first few drops of the unbounded tide
          That weeping as the sea weeps round the world
          Shall drink thy hated land if this good man
          Dies by your word! Be Christ, not man, and spare him!

 Juarez.  Madam, it is the people and the law
          Demand this expiation, not Juarez.
          I grieve to see you on your knees before me,
          But did each queen of Europe--ay, and king,--
          Kneel in your place, I could not spare that life.

          (Silence. Sobs. Juarez signs to Escobedo, who leads
          prisoners away. Dupin's broad hat is pulled low. Miramon
          steps proudly. At exit Maximilian turns and salutes the
          people)

 Max.     Mexicans! Long live Mexico!

(CURTAIN)



ACT V.


Scene I: Audience chamber, the Tuileries. Louis Napoleon alone.

 Lou.     Succeed or fail! However men may run
          The goal is marked. Yet will we race with Fate
          In forgone match. Some free of foot and hand,
          Some stumbling with huge empires on our backs
          Less certain than the overburdened ant
          Housing a winter crumb.... Victoire!

          (Enter Secretary)

 Sec.                                           My lord.

 Lou.     If any dispatch from the West arrives
          Bring it at once.

 Sec.                       Yes, sire. (Exit)

 Lou.                                   America!
          Thou strange, new power where each man is a king,
          I have obeyed thy will. Pulled down my empire,
          Built up that France might the Atlantic stride
          And stand firm-footed in two worlds. This slap
          Upon the cheek imperial insults
          All monarchy, yet Europe shrugs and smiles,
          When she should blush to ruddy rage of war.
          ... The West must go ... but here I'll be supreme.
          Austria and Prussia I urge again to conflict,
          And promise aid to each, but in my dream
          They both are doomed and France shall reign alone.

          (Enter Chamberlain)

 Chamb.   Your majesty, the Marechal Bazaine.

 Lou.     Bazaine! Admit him.

          (Exit Chamberlain)

                              'Tis penance night with us,
          And this man is the mirror of our conscience,
          Showing its foulest spots.

          (Enter Bazaine)

 Baz.                                 Sire, I salute you.
          Now Paris is the star that all eyes seek.
          The Exposition draws the world to you,
          Who glitter here as you were made for heaven.

 Lou.                                                   Ay,
          Here we would shine that none may see our star
          I' the West grow dark!... Now Maximilian?

 Baz.     He will be shot.

 Lou.                       No jests! I ask you, sir,
          What terms he may arrange for freedom.

 Baz.                                             None.

 Lou.     You speak not to a fool.

 Baz.                               I trust not, sire.

 Lou.     You know the Mexicans. Tell me the truth.

 Baz.     I know the Mexicans. He will be shot.

 Lou.     God, no! That noble man!

 Baz.                               Pray, sir, what fate
          Had you in mind for Maximilian
          When finding him too true to Mexico
          For your proud aims, you sent such covered word
          To one Bazaine he could but read therein
          A revolution and the Emperor's fall?

 Lou.     I would have spared his life.

 Baz.     (Taking out paper)            Then what means this?
          (Reads)
          'France weeps no death that brings her better fortune.'

 Lou.     You'd spy a warrant in the alphabet
          Did you but wish to find one! Think you that
          Meant--death?

 Baz.     (Closer)      I know it.

 Lou.                               What dare you?

 Baz.                                               Anything--
          With this safe in my pocket. (Puts up paper)

 Lou.                                   Beware, Bazaine!

 Baz.     When one so mighty as your Majesty
          Is my protector?

 Lou.                       You--

          (Enter Chamberlain)

 Chamb.                           The Count von Ostein
          Beseeches word with you.

 Lou.                               He's welcome to it.

          (Exit Chamberlain)

          Adieu, le marechal.

 Baz.                         My lord--

 Lou.                                   Adieu,
          Le marechal.                          (Exit Bazaine)

                                    Prussia's ambassador.
          Now for our role of cheat and crowned dissembler.
          O for a throne where Truth might keep her head!

          (Enter the Prussian Minister)

          Welcome, my lord.

 Prus.                      Most gracious majesty,
          The foreign ministers have come in body
          To speak congratulations and confirm
          The triumph of the Exposition.

 Lou.     They have our truest thanks. But first, my lord,
          A word in private with you. Is 't Prussia's wish
          That we withhold our aid from Mexico?

 Prus.    A question, sire. You know that Austria threatens.
          Is France in this the friend or enemy
          To Prussia? There's not an inch of middle ground
          To stand on. If our foe, then pour your strength
          To Mexico. If friend, keep it at home,
          Ready for Prussia's need.

 Lou.                               To be your friend
          May cost some blood to France.

 Prus.                                    I've heard it said
          The left bank of the Rhine is a fair country,
          And worth a little blood.

 Lou.                               Enough, my lord.
          Let Prussia know she has a friend in France,
          And with your sanction cover our retreat
          From Mexico.

          (Enter Chamberlain)

 Chamb.                 Pardon, your majesty.
          The Empress of Mexico begs audience.

 Lou.     Carlotta? No!

 Chamb.                 She presses urgently
          To enter.

 Lou.               Here?... We sent our word to her
          At Miramar!... And yet--she comes--she's here.
          ... Admit the deputation, and summon, too,
          Our Empress.

 Chamb.                 The Empress comes. (Enter Eugenie attended.
          Exit Chamberlain. Enter guards)

 Eug.                                       I hear the ministers
          Have come to us with state congratulations,
          And though unbidden, I'll not leave my chair--
          The co-seat of imperial dignity--
          Vacant at such a time.

 Lou.                             Welcome, Eugenie.
          We were about to summon you.

 Eug.                                   Thanks even
          For tardy courtesy.

 Lou.                         But we have more
          Than compliments to hear. Carlotta waits
          Our audience.

 Eug.                   Carlotta! I can not see her! (Rises)

 Lou.     Nay, it was you first cast ambitious eye
          To Mexico. Now see the end.

 Eug.                                 My lord--

 Lou.     Be seated, madam.

 Eug.                       You command me, sir?

 Lou.     We do.

 Eug.     (Going) Come, ladies!

 Lou.     (To guards)           Let no one pass out!

 Eug.     France, sir, shall know this outrage!

 Lou.                                           When you wish
          To make it known.

          (Enter ambassadors, Austrian, Russian, Italian,
          Belgian, and others)

 Rus.                       Most glorious Majesty!

 Belg.    Mighty France!

 It.                      Italy's savior!

 Aus.                                     Christendom's king!

 Lou.     I thank you, my good lords; but we're too sad
          To smile at compliments; Carlotta comes
          To beg our power to uphold her throne,
          Though Heaven has decreed her empire's fall.
          We ask you hear our open clear defence,
          And help set forth our duty, that the Empress
          May see our wisdom through our tears.

 It.                                            We'll lend
          Your Majesty what voice we can.

 Lou.                                     I thank you.
          (Aside to Austrian)
          My lord, a word. The Prussian talons creep
          Toward Austria. France is your friend.

 Aus.                                             O, sire!

 Lou.     If you would have her strong pray that no sword
          Of hers be lost in Mexico.

 Aus.                                 I will,
          My lord.

          (Enter Carlotta, attended by Count Charles, Count
          de Bombelles, her priest, and women. She goes to Louis
          and would kneel. He takes her hand)

 Lou.               An Empress must not kneel.

 Car.                                           I'm still
          An Empress, sir?

 Lou.                       Once to have worn a crown
          Is always to be queen.

 Car.                             Sire, mock me not.
          Didst mean no more than that?

 Lou.                                   Lady, you come
          To beg your empire?

 Car.                         I do not beg, Napoleon.
          I come to ask you keep your sacred oath,
          But do not make a beggar of me, sir,
          Who was a princess in my cradle.

 Lou.                                       Nay,
          Royal Carlotta, if beggar here must be,
          See one in us who sue your gentle patience.
          While strength was ours to give we gave it you,
          But now is France grown needy of her troops,
          With Europe surging to a conflict round her.

 Car.     My lord--

 Lou.               America turns baying on us.
          Should we make war on one who twice o'ercame
          Our island neighbors when she was but child
          To what she now is grown?

 Prus.                              Your majesty,
          'T would be a folly for a clown, not king.

 Car.     America? Easier to stop her now
          Than it will be when she wears Mexico
          Like sword at her right side. Austria, Prussia,
          Strike you no more at neighbor throats, but come
          And win a fight for God. Napoleon, come!
          There lies a world that's worth the price of war.
          Whose swelling breasts pour milk of paradise,
          Whose marble mountains wait the carver's hand,
          Whose valley arms ne'er tire with Ceres' load,
          Whose crownless head awaits the diadem
          That but divine, ancestral dignity
          May fix imperishably upon it! A bride
          For blessed Rome! And will you give her up
          To ravishers? To enemies of the Church?
          To unclean hands ne'er dipped in holy chrism?

 Aus.     The time's not ripe for our united swords
          To ransom her.

 Car.                     The time is always ripe
          For a good deed. Napoleon, you will come!
          And though you fail, failure will be majestic.
          Withdraw like frightened schoolboy and you make
          Your throne a penance stool whereon you sit
          For laughter of the nations. But come, and though
          You fail, when time has brought America
          To her full, greedy strength, these scornful kings
          Will then unite in desperate endeavor
          To give your great conception form and face,
          And at your tomb they'll lift their shaken crowns
          And beg a pardon from your heart of dust!

 Prus.    (Aside) He'll yield to her!... Most noble lady, we--

 Car.     I speak, sir, to Napoleon.

 Lou.                                 What help
          Can Austria give?

 Aus.                       Sire, she has many troubles.
          The clouds of war threat her with scarlet flood,
          And little strength has she to spare abroad
          When foes besiege at home.

 Car.                                 And Austria's chief
          Is Maximilian's brother! It was not so
          That day at Miramar when three proud crowns
          Took oath to serve him in an hour like this.
          Austria powerless! And Belgium--dead.
          But France--Ah, France, she will prove noble, loyal
          To God and honor!

 Lou.                       My honor, dearest lady,
          Permits me not to risk my country's life
          That you may wear a crown in Mexico.
          I can not save your empire.

 Car.                                 Then let it fall,
          But save--my husband's life!

          (Astonishment and silence)

 Lou.                                   You speak but madly.
          America has sent us guaranties
          She will demand that Maximilian
          Be held but as a prisoner of war.
          The Mexicans dare not proceed against him
          Contrary to the mighty government
          That is sole friend unto their scarce born state.

 Car.     America demands with paper words
          That can be torn and laughed at. Would she save him?
          Let her demand his life with cannon turned
          Upon his murderers. Then, sire, I'll trust
          To their obedience. Till then I'll plead
          With you. All hope is here.

 Lou.                                 Not so, dear lady.
          Italy, Austria, and your Belgium,
          Have sent their ablest counsel to defend him.

 Car.     Troops, troops, my lord, not wordy men of law,
          Are his sole need. Should God send angels there
          He'd choose but those who bear the flaming sword.
          ... Here, here, my lords! Look here! His guaranties,
          In his own hand set down! Here he vows faith
          To Maximilian--and to Heaven! Hear!
          'I, Louis Napoleon, take solemn oath
          Upon the honor of a man and king--'
          Shall I go on, my lord? Have you forgot?
          Then let my tongue be as a burning pen
          To write it new upon your heart!

 Lou.                                       No! no!
          In God's name, no!

 Aus.                         Dear lady, this is torture.

 Car.     Torture for you?--for him? Then what is it
          For me, my lord?

 Prus.                      Wouldst have his majesty
          False to his country to be true to you?

 Aus.     The oath he took was, by the courtesy
          Of nations, subject to the change that time
          Visits on countries as on men.

 Car.                                     You'd win
          His sword from me that you may use it! Sirs,
          He plays you 'gainst each other as the eagle
          Sets ospreys in contention over prey
          That he may filch the prize!

 Lou.                                   Carlotta!

 Car.                                             Be warned!
          He'll know no ease till in your capitals
          He has re-crowned the great Napoleon!

 Lou.     Nay--

 Car.           Stop me not! Here you shall stand as bare
          To these men's eyes as you do to my own!

 Lou.     My lords, you will not let her troubled mind
          Weaken your trust in me?

 Prus.                              Your majesty,
          We know you noble.

 Car.                         Noble! Napoleon,
          This wondrous city is aflame with joy,
          The blazing fires now dart aloft and write
          In golden light your name upon the skies,
          But in your heart will burn a torch of hell
          Unquenchable, if you deny me aid!

 Lou.     Dear madam, pray believe that I am helpless.

 Car.     You are as strong as France, Eugenie, help me!
          If e'er you held a dear head on your breast--
          You have!--for you've both son and husband! Ah,
          I have no child. My lord is all to me.
          O put your two in one and you will know
          What now I plead for! By the kisses dropped
          Upon your baby's cheek, and by the hope
          That you will see him grow up at your side,
          Another self with heart-strings round your own,
          I pray you, lady, soften that stone heart!
          I kneel to you, an empress though my crown
          Has fallen, as yours I pray will not,
          And at your footstool beg my husband's life!

          (Eugenie rises)

          By your child's love, I beg you for one word!
          Help me, Eugenie, or the day will come
          When you will know a crown is but a band
          Of metal cold, and one warm kiss more dear
          Than all such circling glory! When you will grow
          Mad with the longing but to touch the hand
          Now lies in yours as it would never part,
          Strain for the face whose beauty fed you once
          Until your madness builds it out of air
          To gaze with sweet unhuman pity on you
          Yet come not near for kisses! O, even now
          I look through sealed up time unto a night
          When sleep will fly from your woe-drownéd eyes,
          And you will cry to Heaven for blessed death
          To lead you from the midnight desolation!
          Eugenie, save thyself! For thy own sake
          Show pity unto me, and in that hour
          Receive the mercy that thou now dost give!

 Eug.     (Going) Help me! I'm ill! (Her women assist her out)

 Car.                               Gone! Gone? And yet a woman!
          Ah, there's a God will suffer not this wrong!
          ... Napoleon--

 Lou.                     Nay, madam, we've said all.
          I can not cast my country into war.
          You but fatigue yourself.

 Car.                               O Heaven! Fatigue!
          Canst think of that when Maximilian
          Is facing bayonets for honor's sake?

 Lou.     Believe me, he is safe!

 Car.                             I tell you no!
          To-day the guns from Mont Valerien
          Pealed out your glory! Your arm was in the arm
          Of Prussia's monarch, and Waterloo forgot!
          You laughed with Austria's chief, as though the duke
          Of Reichstadt were not dead! The bloody snows
          Of Moscow melt in Alexander's smile!
          Edward's in France, St. Helena's a myth!
          And all the world is trooping here to feed
          Your monstrous vanity! But let the morn
          Bring news of Maximilian's death,
          These kings will shudder from you as from plague,
          The conscious earth refuse your feet a base
          For shame to bear you! Then will begin your fall.
          Down, down you'll creep to an unpitied death,
          And winds that shriek around your exile bed
          Will cry me prophetess!

 Lou.     (After a silence)       Your audience
          Is over. Pray go and rest. You need much sleep.

 Car.     A woman sleeps not till her heart is safe.
          My eyes shall not be closed till I've your answer.

 Lou.     You have it, lady, and we beg you leave us.

 Car.     Leave! leave! O sir, it is a lie I hear! (Falls at his feet)
          You did not say it! See! I kiss your feet! O sir--

 Lou.     (Withdrawing) You put us to discourtesy.
          Since you will not withdraw, we leave you.

 Car.     (Leaping up)                                Coward!
          Then, Louis Napoleon, Emperor of France!
          Thou art a murderer, and I have kissed
          The devil's hoof! (Exit Napoleon)

          (Carlotta stands dazed, looking after Napoleon. Puts her
          hand over her eyes. Count Charles goes to her)

 Char.    Dear madam, come with me. (She looks about bewildered)

 One of her women.                  Your majesty,
          We pray you come.

 Car.     (Strangely)       Yes--yes-- I'll go. Away!

          (Exit with her attendants)

 Aus.     A gloomy business, truly.

 Prus.                              'T has wrought upon me.

          (Re-enter Napoleon)

 Lou.     My lords, believe me grateful for your help
          In this most wretched business.

          (Enter Secretary)

 Sec.     A dispatch, sire, from Mexico.

 Lou.                                     We'll hear it.
          All here should share this news with me.

 Sec.                                               'Tis short,
          Your majesty.

 Lou.                   The sooner read. We wait.

 Sec.     (Reads) 'By order of Juarez, the Austrian duke, Ferdinand
          Maximilian, has been shot.'

          (Silence. Napoleon groans)

 It.      It can't be true!

 Bel.                       'Tis false! I'll not believe it!

 Prus.    Grieve not, your Majesty. This is a mock
          Dispatch.

 Aus.               A noble archduke! Bound by ties
          Of blood and love to every court of Europe!
          Believe this not, my lord!

 Sec.                                 Your Majesty,
          This second message from America
          Confirms the other.

 Lou.                         'Tis true! My God, 'tis true!

 It.      Carlotta! Who will tell her?

 Lou.                                   None shall do it!
          She must not know.

 Rus.                         Pardon me, sire, she must.

 Lou.     Then his death bullet has not stopped its flight.
          'T will end but in her heart.

          (Re-enter Count Charles. Napoleon silently gives him the
          despatch, which he reads with great agitation)

 Char.    (To himself)                  O terrible! And yet
          No news to me--to me.

 Lou.                           You'll tell her, sir?

 Char.    There is no need, my lord. Her reason's fled.
          She's mad.

 Bel.                 'Tis Heaven's mercy!

 It.                                        Unhappy woman!

 Char.    She is not wild, but gentle, and thinks, my lord,
          You've granted her request.

 Lou.                                 Noble Carlotta!
          My lords, forbear awhile. I'd be alone.

 It.      God grant you rest.

          (All go out but Napoleon)

 Lou.     These kings I've called here to a dance must lead
          A funeral. What can I say to them?
          To Austria--his brother! England--his own cousin!
          To Belgium--_her_ brother! Spain-- O, all
          The _world_, that loved him!... An Emperor--and shot.

          (Musical procession passes in street. Shouts of
          'Vive l'empereur! Vive l'empereur!')

          He too heard shouts like those--saw fires ascend
          To write his triumph--ay--and he is cold--
          Quite cold--shot dead.... Carlotta! prophetess!
          I feel--I know--thy oracle's from God!

          (Falls at the foot of the imperial chair)

(CURTAIN)


Scene II: Miramar. A balcony overlooking the sea. Lady Maria
alone.

 Mar.     Here they went out together--arm in arm,--
          Sweet, healing spirits to a bleeding land.
          Down yonder terrace to the sea they passed,--
          He unto death, and she--to--(Sighs deeply)

 Car.     (Without)                     Cousin!

 Mar.                                           Ah!

          (Turns smiling to greet Carlotta who enters carrying
          flowers)

          So early out? What treasures have you there?

 Car.     The sweetest flowers that ever peeped up head.
          They grow along the path in that dear wood
          Where Maximilian took me gypsying
          When we grew weary of the world.

 Mar.                                       I'm sure
          That was not often.

 Car.                         True. We loved too well
          Our work among the people to hide ourselves
          In little corners of delight. But oh, those times!
          How he would catch me as I ran and say
          His little wild-girl with her flower crown
          Was dearer than his princess ermine-gowned.
          And so I'll wreathe these buds into my hair,
          And meet him as he loved me best.

          (Goes to edge of the balcony and looks to sea)

                                            To-day!
          This blessed, beauteous day our eyes shall see him!

          (Drops flowers in trance of happiness)

 Mar.     Sweet Empress--

 Car.                     Empress? No! To-day I am
          His little wild-girl with her wreath of flowers.
          O, I must make my crown! Now, now, how careless!

          (Picks up flowers, sits and weaves them)

          You see this flower?

 Mar.                           'Tis very beautiful.
          What is it?

 Car.                 I've seen it only in our wood.
          Maximilian says it grows but for my hair. (Sings)

                  In a young, sweet hour of Spring
                  I sat 'neath an old tree to sing
                                          Of love, only love!
                  The little brook took up my tune
                  And to his soft green banks did croon,
                  The green grass rippled to the tree
                  And every leaf shook melody
                                          Of love, only love!
                  And then the birds that flitted by
                  Told it the clouds that told the sky,
                  And all the world to song did start
                  With what I sang but to my heart!
                  Ay, all the world sang back to me
                  A little maiden 'neath a tree
                                          Of love, only love!

          (Puts down flowers and goes to Lady Maria)

          Ah, cousin, do you think he'll be delayed?

 Mar.     Dear madam, I fear me so.

 Car.     These ships! these ships!
          How slow their wings when they do bear our loved ones!
          The wandering treasures of our empty arms!
          The western waters must have sirens too,
          And will not let him pass.

 Mar.                                 Indeed they would not,
          Did they but know what majesty is in him.

 Car.     (Embracing her)
          O help me love him, dear. My heart's too small.

          (Enter Count Charles)

 Char.    A message.

 Car.                 Oh! a message! I do not want
          A message.

 Char.                The admiral of the port has word
          The Emperor's ship's delayed.

 Car.                                   Why, we'll not weep....
          'Tis but a day.... (Goes forward, looking out)
                              To-morrow, then--to-morrow!
          (To Lady Maria) Why do you weep? A day's not worth a tear.
          See, I can smile!... But my poor flowers will fade.
          I plucked them all.... No more grow by the path....
          (Suddenly) Cousin, why wear you black?

 Mar.     (Confused)                              I--madam--I--

 Car.     Such sable hues for this so rosy day?
          Go dress your body like our happy hearts!
          Dost think a coffin comes across the sea?
          A coffin--(Shudders) Go! I can not bear this black!

          (Exit Lady Maria)

          I am displeased. Have I not reason, Charles?
          'Twas very wrong of her to dress in black
          When Maximilian comes. I will go in.
          I'm tired--but I am very happy. Ah! (Exit)

 Char.    O wounded heart! Thus every day she hopes,
          And every day begins her hope anew.
          It is my penance now to watch her sorrow,
          To guard perfection's wreck in her sad body,
          And hear the name of Maximilian fall
          Each moment from her lips. O, God, remember
          When once I am in hell, I've suffered here!

          (Re-enter Carlotta)

 Car.     I can not stay away. This is my place.
          Here will I catch the first light on his sail.
          O Charles, dear Charles, to-morrow we shall see him!
          Look in his noble eyes,--ah me, what eyes!
          Dost not remember? Talk of him, cousin.
          It brings him faster to me. My heart! my heart!
          This waiting breaks it though 'tis but a day!
          An hour that keeps him from me lengthens like
          The drawn out ages 'tween the ends of time!
          But oh, to-morrow! Let me think of that!
          Then will the small globe of mine eye contain
          The wide and complete world of my desires!
          ... Have you forgot Aseffa? You do not speak;
          But you have not forgot. She said--Oh, cruel!--
          That he, my Maximilian, should lie cold
          While yet my arms were warm and reaching for him.
          How could she say it? But you stood by him--you--
          His faithful friend. You knew 't would ne'er be true!
          ... Do you remember, Charles, the winter day
          He climbed to Valtelina's ice-bound huts
          To bear the starving people food?

 Char.                                      Yes--yes!
          'Tis my sole virtue to remember his!

 Car.     And when the flooding Ambro left her banks,
          Rolling a very sea o'er farm and town,
          Who was the first to ride the dangerous waves,
          A rescuing angel saving man and child?

 Char.    'Twas Maximilian!

 Car.                       Yes, our Maximilian.
          I feared the Mexicans would take his life.
          Was not that foolish, cousin? I should have known
          God could not spare him from His world. Hast heard
          The men of Licio tell how he was first
          To bring them aid when all their silkworms died
          And silence struck the looms that gave them food?
          This man will say 'I have a son alive
          Because of Maximilian!' And that will say
          'I have a daughter now to tend my age,
          Because the Lombard governor brought bread
          Unto her cradle.'... And he is coming back.
          ... Beautiful Miramar! We'll never leave thee,
          Though stars should beckon to a golden world!
          To-morrow he'll come! Maximilian!

                                            (Holds out her arms
          toward the sea, looking radiantly into distance)

                                            Charles!
          (Turns suddenly, laying her hand on his arm)
          Look! What men are those? Do you not see them?

 Char.    There's nothing, cousin,--nothing but the sea.

 Car.     Oh, look! They wear the Mexican dress!

 Char.                                            Come in,
          Sweet princess!

 Car.                     Ah yes, they're Mexicans.

 Char.                                              Come!
          You've had some fever. 'Tis a sick-room vision.

 Car.     No, no! I'm well! Ah, never in such health!
          I see like God! O look! A score of them!
          Moving but silent as death! Where are they marching?
          The sun gleams on their guns! O see, Charles, see!
          There is a prisoner! Poor man! poor man!
          I can not see his face. He walks most sadly,--
          And proudly too! An upright soul, I know!

 Char.    Dear cousin, come away!

 Car.                             He's humbly dressed,
          And but for that I'd think he might be royal,
          Ah, royal as Maximilian! O Charles,
          I am so glad he's safe upon the sea!
          Safe--safe--and coming to me!

 Char.    (Most pleadingly)             Come, wait within,
          Dear princess! Come!

 Car.                           I will not leave him! No!
          The poor, sad prisoner! Those cruel weapons!
          I fear--I fear--he is condemned to die.
          ... Perhaps he has a wife. Ah me, I pray not.
          Then would be tears! He is a noble man,--
          But still his face is from me.... They reach the field.
          The soldiers halt and lift their guns. O how they gleam!
          ... I can not see.... Why is the face so dim?
          Will no one save him? Let us pray for him!
          We can do that! Down on our knees and pray!
          O men, men, men! What sin beneath the sun
          Can give excuse for such a deed as this?
          O, Heaven, are you looking too? A man
          So noble! Oh, he turns--he turns--his breast
          Is to the weapons! Now they fire! He falls!
          His face! (Gives a wild cry) Oh God! 'tis Maximilian!

          (Falls forward on her face)

(CURTAIN)



THE POET


  ACT I.

    SCENE 1. Helen's room, Truelord house, New York.


  ACT II.

    SCENE 1. Exterior of Clemm cottage, near Richmond.


  ACT III.

    SCENE 1. Interior of Clemm cottage.
    SCENE 2. The Same.


  ACT IV.

    SCENE 1. An old book store, New York.
    SCENE 2. Poe's cottage, Fordham.


  ACT V.

    SCENE 1. Poe's lodging, Baltimore.
    SCENE 2. A bar-room.



CHARACTERS


  EDGAR ALLAN POE
  VIRGINIA CLEMM
  MRS. MARIA CLEMM
  HELEN TRUELORD
  MRS. TRUELORD
  ROGER BRIDGMORE
  NELSON CLEMM
  MRS. DELORMIS
  DOCTOR BARLOW
  MRS. SCHMIDT
  GEORGE THOMAS, Barkeeper
  HAINES, JUGGERS, SHARP, BLACK, gamblers
  BOOKSELLER
  MUM ZURIE, TAT, BONY, servants at Clemm cottage.

  Gertrude, Mabel, Annie, Sallie, Dora, Gladys, Ethel, Alma, Allie,
    friends of Virginia.



THE POET



ACT I.


Scene: Room in the Truelord House. Helen lies on a couch before
large windows, rear, reading by light from a small lamp on table
near couch. She wears a loose robe over night-dress.

A light knock is heard at door, left centre.

 Hel.     (Sitting up) Mamma?

 Voice.   Yes, dear.

 Hel.     (Kissing book and closing it) Good-bye, my poet! (Drops
          book on couch and goes to door)

 Voice, as Helen opens door.
          I saw your light. (Enter Mrs. Truelord) Forgive me,
          love. I could not rest. (Helen is closing door) No!
          Kate is coming.

 Mrs. Delormis. (In door) Yes, I'm here, too, Helen.

 Hel.     Come in, Cousin Catherine.

          (All three advance)

 Mrs. Del.
          Madela had a feminine version of the
          jim-jams--tea-nerves, you know--so must get
          us both up.

 Hel.     (Drawing forward a huge chair for Mrs. Truelord while Mrs.
          Delormis takes a smaller one) I was not in bed.

 Mrs. Tru. (Looking toward bed in alcove, right) But you have
          been! You could not sleep either. Ah!

          (Sighs deeply)

 Hel.     (Goes to couch) Now, mamma!

 Mrs. Tru. (Embarrassed by Helen's straightforward look)
          Helen--I--I've just got to have it out to-night. You are
          only my step-daughter, but I've loved you like my own.

 Hel.     (Quaintly) Yes.

 Mrs. Tru.
          Haven't I always treated you as if you were my
          daughter born?

 Hel.     (Slowly) You have indeed!

 Mrs. Tru.
          And I can't bear for you to--to--O, I just can't bear
          it, I say!

 Hel.     Bear what, mamma?

 Mrs. Tru.
          This--this man--

 Mrs. Del.
          Edgar Poe, Helen.

 Mrs. Tru.
          You are going to give up Roger--Roger who has
          worshipped you since you were a baby, who has lived under
          the same roof and been a brother to you since you were two
          years old--you are going to give him up for a strange
          man--a man without a penny--a man you have seen but
          once--(Almost shrieking)--but once--(Rising)

 Hel.     (Crosses, and stands before her, speaking calmly) We know
          angels at first sight, mamma.

 Mrs. Tru. (Grabbing Helen by the shoulders and staring at her)
          You have done it already! (Falls to chair as if fainting)

 Hel.     Soothe her, Catherine. I will get some wine. (Exit)

 Mrs. Tru. (Sitting up, at once recovered) She's made up her
          mind. When her eyes shine like that it's no use to argue.
          And all of Roger's fortune in Mr. Truelord's hands! We've
          considered it a family resource for years!

 Mrs. Del.
          What a fool Roger was to bring Edgar Poe to the house!

 Mrs. Tru.
          He's crazy about the man. Says he's a genius, and all
          that stuff.

 Mrs. Del.
          Well, he is. But to introduce him to a girl like
          Helen! They'll be off before morning!

 Mrs. Tru.
          Oh-h! Don't, Kate! Roger actually wants me to ask him
          to stay in the house.

 Mrs. Del.
          Idiot! He deserves to lose her.... But your guest!
          (Laughs) Poor Madela! How he would upset your nice,
          comfortable theories of life! Why, you couldn't hand him a
          cup of tea without feeling the planet quake.

 Mrs. Tru.
          But what are we to do? Kate, you _must_ help me.

 Mrs. Del.
          I'm going to. You can't tell her father, because Helen
          must be persuaded, not opposed. And don't speak about the
          money. If she loved a beggar she would trudge barefoot
          behind him.

 Mrs. Tru. (Despairingly) O, don't I know it?

 Mrs. Del.
          Now you leave this to me, Madela. I will say a few
          things to Helen about meeting Mr. Poe in Europe--and--you
          know--

 Mrs. Tru. (Kissing her violently) O, Kate! Tell her all--and
          more, if necessary! Don't think about your reputation if
          you can save Roger's fortune--

 Mrs. Del.
          Sh!--

          (Enter Helen, with wine and a glass)

 Mrs. Tru. (Feebly) Thank you, dear, but I'm better now. (Rising)
          I'll try to rest. (Goes to door)

 Hel.     I would see you to your room, mamma, but I'm sure you
          would rather have Catherine. (Mrs. Delormis makes no
          move to go)

 Mrs. Tru.
          O, I am quite well--I mean--I need no one--no one at
          all! Goodnight, my dears! (Exit)

 Hel.     (Politely) And is there anything which you must have out
          to-night, cousin Catherine?

 Mrs. Del.
          Sit down, Helen. (Helen takes a chair) You have never
          loved me, but I have always had a warm heart for you,
          little girl. And you will take a warning from me in good
          part, won't you?

 Hel.     A good warning, yes.

 Mrs. Del.
          I told you about meeting Mr. Poe last summer in
          Normandy. But--I did not tell you how often I met him.
          (Helen rises, then Mrs. Delormis rises) Helen, I prove my
          love for you by saying what it is so hard to utter to your
          pure self. My life has not been--all you would wish it to
          be--and Mr. Poe knows more about it than any other man.

 Hel.     You lie! I have seen his soul!

          (She goes to door and opens it for Mrs. Delormis to pass
          out. Mrs. Delormis sweeps through with an attempt at
          majesty)

 Hel.     (Motionless with clenched hands) Wicked, wicked woman!...
          (Goes to window, rear, opens it, draws long breaths as if
          stifling, and turns back into room) Edgar! My love! I was
          a thing of clay. One look from your eyes has made me a
          being of fire and air.... (Lies down on couch and takes up
          her book) ... I can not read ... or sleep ... or pray.
          There's too much whirling in my heart for prayer....
          (Starts) What moan is that?... (Rises, takes light from
          table, goes to window, leans out, casting the rays down)
          Nothing.... I'm fanciful.... The moon is rising. (Goes
          back, putting light on table) O, Edgar! God help me to be
          what love must be to thee. Love that can look on miracles
          and be sane. What a face when he said goodnight! Like an
          angel's whose immortality is his wound.... Poor Roger!...
          What will my father say?... (Moonlight floods the window)
          Welcome, soft nurse of dreams! (Extinguishes lamp) A
          little rest.... Ah, I know _he_ does not sleep.... (She
          lies on couch in the moonlight, her eyes closed. Poe
          enters by window, gazes at her, and throws up his arms in
          gesture of prayer)

 Hel.     (Looking up, and springing to her feet) Edgar! My God, you
          must not come here!

 Poe.     Is this love's welcome?

 Hel.     Go! go!

 Poe.     I was dying out there.

 Hel.     Leave me!

 Poe.     Life was passing from my veins. Only your eyes could draw
          back the ebbing flood.

 Hel.     I will light the lamp! (Turns hastily)

 Poe.     And put out Heaven's! (She drops her hand)

 Hel.     Go, O go at once!

 Poe.     Again I am alone! The twin angel who put her hand in mine
          is flown!

 Hel.     Edgar, be calm!

 Poe.     Calm! With such a look from you burning me as if I were a
          devil to be branded? Such words from you hissing like
          snakes through my brain?

 Hel.     O, I beg you--

 Poe.     I would but touch the hand that soothes my blood--look in
          the eyes that wrap my soul in balm--and you cry out as
          though some barbarous infidel had trampled you at prayers!

 Hel.     My father--Roger--they will not understand.

 Poe.     O, you would bring the world in to say how and when we
          shall love! Take note of the hour, and kiss by the clock!
          Great love is like death, Helen. It knows no time of day.
          If a man were dying at your gates would you keep from him
          because 'twas midnight and not noon, and you were robed
          for sleep? It was your soul I sought. Must you array that
          to receive me? O, these women! On Resurrection day they'll
          not get up unless their clothes are called with them from
          the dust! 'Excuse me, God, and send a dressmaker!' Ha! ha!
          ha! (Walks the floor in maniac humor)

 Hel.     Edgar, for love's sake hear me!

 Poe.     Speak loud if you would drown the winds!

 Hel.     Listen!

 Poe.     (Turning upon her) If my body bled at your feet you would
          stoop to me, but when my spirit lies in flames you cry
          'Don't writhe! Don't be a spectacle!'

 Hel.     (Putting her hands on his shoulders and speaking steadily)
          The spirit does not murmur. Only the body cries.

 Poe.     (Calming) Forgive me, Helen!

 Hel.     Yes, love. (Draws him to couch and sits by him soothingly)
          ... O, your forehead is on fire.

 Poe.     No wonder, when I have just come out of hell.... Keep your
          cool hand over my eyes.... O, this is peace!... (Takes her
          hand from his forehead and holds it) I made you a song out
          there, in the darkness. I was fainting for one gleam of
          light when you opened the window and stood as beautiful as
          Psyche leaning to the god of love. Listen ... and believe
          that my heart was as pure as the lines. (Sings softly)

                  Helen, thy beauty is to me
                    Like those Nicean barks of yore
                  That gently o'er a perfumed sea
                    The weary, wayworn wanderer bore
                    To his own native shore.

                  On desperate seas long wont to roam,
                    Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
                  Thy Naiad airs, have brought me home
                    To the glory that was Greece
                  And the grandeur that was Rome.

                  Lo, in yon brilliant window-niche
                    How statue-like I see thee stand,
                    An agate lamp within thy hand,--
                  Ah! Psyche, from the regions which
                    Are holy-land!

          (Drops his head to her hand and kisses it gently)

 Hel.     Edgar, my life shall be my song to thee. (They are silent
          for a second. His hand touches her book)

 Poe.     A book! Who could write for such an hour? (Holds book in
          moonlight) Shelley! Lark of the world! You would know!...
          You will give me this book, Helen?

 Hel.     It is precious. You will love it?

 Poe.     Always! (Kisses book, and puts it inside his coat. Taking
          her hand) O, all our life shall be a happy wonder! Wilt
          lie with me on summer hills where pipings of dim Arcady
          fall like Apollo's mantle on the soul? Dost know that
          silence full of thoughts?--and then the swelling earth--the
          throbbing heaven? Canst be a pulse in Nature's very body?
          (Leaping up) Take forests in thy arms, and feel the little
          leaf-veins beat thy blood?

 Hel.     (Rising) Yes--yes--I know. Come to the window, love. The
          soft Spring air begins to stir.

          (They move to window)

 Poe.     O, what a night! 'Tis like a poem flowing to the sea. Here
          I shake death from my garments. Oh, had my soul a tongue
          to trumpet thought, men from yon planets now would stare
          and lean to earth with listening ears!... Hark! 'Tis
          music!

 Hel.     (Looking down) A serenade.

 Poe.     Canst call it that? I hear nothing that comes not from the
          stars. 'Tis Israfel! The angel whose lute is his own
          heart!

                    If I could dwell
                    Where Israfel
                      Hath dwelt, and he where I,
                    He might not sing so wildly well
                  A mortal melody,
                    While a bolder note than his might swell
                      From my lyre within the sky!

          Some day we shall live there, Helen, and then I will sing
          to thee!

 Hel.     But now--my love--you must rest--you must sleep.

 Poe.     Sleep! Nothing sleeps but mortality!

 Hel.     And you are mortal, Edgar.

 Poe.     I! Nay, thy love has given me kinship with the deities!
          Sleep? Ay, when Nature naps, and God looks for a bed! When
          yonder moon forgets her starry whirl and nodding falls
          from heaven! When Ocean's giant pulse is weary and grows
          still! When Earth heaves up no seasons with their buds!
          No, no, we will not sleep! But see--there gleams the
          river--and yonder rise the hills touched new with Spring!
          Wilt go there with me, Helen? Now!

 Hel.     Now?

 Poe.     To-night!

 Hel.     To-night?

 Poe.     Why not? You say it as though night and day were not the
          same to the soul--except that night is more beautiful! Why
          not go?

 Hel.     I will tell you, love. (Drawing him back to the large
          chair) Come, listen. (She sits in chair, and he kneels by
          her, the moonlight covering them) Because I love you more
          than you love beauty, God or night, and you must live for
          me. And to live means--rest--sleep--

 Poe.     Do you love me so much? O, 'tis like cool waters falling
          about me to hear you say it.

 Hel.     I will help you, Edgar. Already I feel my strength. Where
          I may serve you I'll not meekly go, but go exultant. The
          thorns and stones so harsh to human feet, I'll press as
          they were buds, and leave my blood for kisses.

 Poe.     Oh, go on.

 Hel.     Yes, I've more to tell you. It is--that you must help me,
          too. To-day--before you looked at me the first time--I was
          dying. Ah, more,--I was about to set the seal of death on
          my soul. My mother, who died at sea when I was born, gave
          me a heritance with winds and waves and stars. But I was
          nursed by hands through whose clay ran no immortal
          streams. Cradled in convention, fed on sophistries, I wove
          a shroud about my soul, and within that hardening
          chrysalis it was dying away when you called it forth in
          time to live--dear God, in time to live! Now you see how
          much you are to me, Edgar. I must not lose you. But you
          must be careful and patient with me, for my newly-bared
          soul shrinks from the wonders so familiar to you, and I
          may fly back to my chrysalis to escape the pain.

 Poe.     I am not afraid. Would a mother leave her babe? And I am a
          child now, Helen. This strange, new rest you give me is
          like a gentle birth. I have been old all my life. Now the
          longing comes for a little of the childhood that was never
          mine. The years fall from me, and I have no wish but to
          lie on a mother's bosom and hear her voice prattling above
          me.

 Hel.     (Archly, leaning over him as he sits at her feet) Does my
          little boy want a story?

 Poe.     (Smiling) About the fairies, mama?

 Hel.     About the fairies--and a big giant--and a little girl lost
          in a wood--

 Poe.     And a little boy too?

 Hel.     Yes, a little boy, too! And the little girl was crying--

 Poe.     And the little boy found her?

 Hel.     Yes, and he told her not to cry, that he could kill the
          big giant, and he hid the little girl in a cave--

 Poe.     Was it a dark cave, mama?

 Hel.     No-_o-o_! It was a cave--with--windows in it! And by and
          by he heard the giant coming--

 Poe.     Oh! (Hides his face on her breast. She holds him to her,
          her hands on his hair) And when the little boy heard the
          leaves rustling closer and closer he climbed a great
          tree--

 Poe.     (Lifting his head) But he wasn't afraid, mama?

 Hel.     O, _no-o_!

 Poe.     Because that little boy was me!

 Hel.     Yes. And when you got to the top of the tree--

 Poe.     O, what did I do then?

 Hel.     Why, you see this was the biggest giant that _e-v-e-r_
          lived--and his head was just as high as the top of the
          tree--so when he came by--

 Poe.     I know! I know! I just out with my sword, and off went his
          head!

 Hel.     So it did! And then you climbed down from the tree--

 Poe.     And the little girl came out of the cave--

 Hel.     And you went off together happy ever after!

 Poe.     What was that little girl's name, mama?

 Hel.     Why, I don't think you ever told me that, did you?

 Poe.     I was just thinking--

 Hel.     What, darling?

 Poe.     That I wish you weren't my mama, so you could be that
          little girl!

 Hel.     O, I can, dear. For there were the fairies. We forgot the
          fairies. They gave me this pretty ring, so that when I put
          it on I can be whoever I please, and I please to be just
          whoever my little boy likes best.

 Poe.     (Rises, and speaks in his own manner) Madonna, Oh,
          Madonna! You will save me. (Kisses her forehead)
          Good-night. To-morrow I will tell you about my work--our
          work. There are miracles yet to be. And Poesy shall speak
          them.

 Hel.     But do not try to write out all your soul, Edgar. That
          cannot be. Poetry is but one gate. The soul goes out by a
          thousand ways.

 Poe.     True. And we will find those ways together, Helen. We will
          gather truth in every path,--truth that flowers out of the
          struggle and carnage of life like the bloom of song on the
          crimson of war.

 Hel.     But we may not know all. Man's greatest knowledge is but
          the alphabet of the eternal book. We must be content with
          the letters, and not unhappily strive to read.

 Poe.     I will remember. But what mortal can attain shall be mine.
          Already thoughts that fled my agony come to me as gently
          as the alighting of birds. Truths open about me like the
          unfolding of roses yet warm with God's secret. Good-night.
          (Takes her hand) I am not the greatest genius, Helen, for
          I can not stand alone. (Drops her hand and goes to window.
          Hesitates and turns back) One kiss. (Kisses her) O, look
          at me! I lose divinity when you close your eyes! Look at
          me, and I can not fall for Heaven bears me up!

 Hel.     (In sudden alarm) I hear a step!

 Poe.     (Looking at her reproachfully) Listen better, you will
          hear God's footfall.

 Hel.     Some one is up.

 Poe.     And do you care? Would you put a stain upon this hour?
          This flower of love blown perfect from the skies?

 Hel.     Ah, it is gone.

 Poe.     (Wildly) O, you will leave me, Helen! You can not stay!
          For I will play the madman to thy sense when I am sanest,
          and like a shivering Atlas shake thy world when most thou
          wouldst be still. This body wraps more lives then one, my
          girl. When I was born no pitying angel dipped my spirit-fire
          in Lethe. I weep with all the dead as they my brothers
          were, and haunt the track of time to shudder with his
          ghosts. Wilt fare with me, brave Helen? Wilt tread the
          nadir gloom and golden paths of suns? Canst gaze with me
          into the fearful, grey infinitude--

 Hel.     That grey infinitude is yet the circle of your being. The
          mind can not leave itself. You are always in your own
          country. Why should you fear?

 Poe.     The mind that can not leave itself knows nothing. Not the
          'I am' but 'Thou art' is God. O, there is a realm of which
          imagination is but a shadow--where the mind is burnt away
          in His vision's fire, and thought becomes celestial angel
          of itself! And you turn back with the first step--already
          I am alone--

 Hel.     No! I, too, have hung upon the boundaries of the world to
          catch God's flying dreams! O, trust me! Thou shalt fling
          no lance but I will cast it on to gleam in a farther sun!
          Bring me roses from Jupiter, I'll bring thee lilies from
          Uranus! O,--

 Poe.     Mine, by Heaven! (Catches her to him) Here we'll begin the
          immortal pilgrimage! We need not wait for death! From
          world to world--

 Hel.     (Springing from him) It _is_ a step!
          Go, Edgar! Go!

 Poe.     No! By the god in my bosom, you are mine from this moment!

 Hel.     My father! my father! He will tear me from you--You do not
          know him!

 Poe.     I know he's mortal. Heaven could not part us. I will not
          move!

          (He is standing in the window. She hastily draws the
          curtain before him)

 Hel.     Then keep your word!

          (A knock at the door. Helen is silent)

 Voice.   Helen?

 Hel.     It is you, Roger? Come in.

          (Roger enters, carrying a lamp. Looks about and sees
          Helen.)

 Rog.     I heard voices.... Who was with you, Helen?... I could not
          be mistaken.... (puts lamp on a table, and comes nearer
          Helen.) Look at me, Helen.... I am your brother. Who was
          here?... I know that Love has laid his mighty hand upon
          you, but yet you are an angel. I thought--it was--his
          voice.... Tell me what this means.... _He_ was not here!
          O, I shall die when I learn that you are but a woman!

 Poe.     (Leaping out) I am here, sir, to defend that lady's honor!

 Rog.     (Staggers back, regains composure, and bows ironically) I
          rejoice to hear it, sir, for you alone can do it. It is
          wholly in your keeping. (Turns to go)

 Hel.     Roger!

 Rog.     Madam.

 Hel.     You forsake me?

 Rog.     You have forsaken yourself.

 Hel.     Oh! (Swoons. Poe bends over her wildly affectionate. Roger
          stands apart, proud and despairing)

 Poe.     Helen! Speak! Speak to me!

 Hel.     Leave me! Leave me!

 Poe.     It is I, Helen! Your lover! Edgar!

 Hel.     You, you, I mean! (Rising) Thou wing of hell across my
          life! Away from me!

          (Poe stands back speechless with bewilderment. Roger goes
          to Helen, takes her hand, and leads her from the room)

 Poe.     Lost! lost! lost! (Looks about the room) This place!...
          O, I was mad to come here!... She will never forgive me!
          (Falls on the couch and lies motionless. After a moment
          enter Mrs. Delormis.)

 Mrs. Del.
          Where is the wild man?... Oh, he has fainted! The
          wine! (Goes to the table and pours wine)

 Poe.     Oh!

          (Mrs. Delormis turns to him. He rises ceremoniously, with
          effort) Well?

 Mrs. Del.
          Well, indeed! Here I am to your rescue, and you reward
          me with a 'well' (mimicking) up to ceiling.

 Poe.     What are they saying to her? I must go to her! I must!

 Mrs. Del.
          Must _not_! Listen! (Grasps his arm to detain him)

 Poe.     (Releasing his arm and bowing stiffly) Mrs. Delormis.

 Mrs. D.  (Copying his manner) Mr. Poe!... Mr. Truelord has not
          yet been roused. No one will wake him unless you choose
          to do it yourself by increasing the hubbub. Roger defends
          you to Mrs. Truelord--says you are ill--out of your
          senses--and other complimentary things. Both of them
          are soothing and mothering Helen, and--(dropping into
          tenderness) I wanted you to have a little mothering, too--

 Poe.     Do you really want to help me?

 Mrs. Del.
          O, if you would only let me be your friend!

 Poe.     You may! Stay here with me till she comes! I know she will
          come. She can not let me go without one word. It would be
          too terrible. She can not! Stay till she comes. Talk to
          me. Do not let me think!

 Mrs. Del.
          I'll make myself comfortable then, and we'll have a
          good chat. You know I've been told that I talk my best
          between two and three in the morning.

          (Takes pillow from couch to make herself cosy in chair)

 Poe.     Do not touch that pillow!

 Mrs. Del. (Dropping into chair) Well!

 Poe.     Do not sit in that chair!

 Mrs. Del. (Rising) May I stand on the carpet, or shall I take
          off my slippers before the burning bush of your love?

 Poe.     Forgive me! Don't you see that I have lost her?

 Mrs. Del.
          Well, you _were_ out of your senses to come here and
          think Helen would understand it.

 Poe.     I was not! She did understand! The vision that led me to
          her feet was as clear as an archangel's! It is now that I
          am mad, and see everything gross and darkened with earth
          and flesh! (Overcome, sinks on couch. She hastily brings
          wine)

 Mrs. Del.
          Drink it. You must.

 Poe.     No! You offer me hell! And you know it. Put it down. If
          you want to help me, go to her and bring me one word.

 Mrs. Del.
          Drink this for me, and I will.

 Poe.     (Taking glass) You will?... No! (Puts glass down)

 Mrs. Del.
          My dear boy, you are too weak to stand! It's that old
          habit of not eating. I don't believe you have tasted food
          for days.

 Poe.     True ... but.... (Faints. Mrs. Delormis gives him wine. He
          rouses)

 Mrs. Del.
          Now will you kill me?

 Poe.     (Brightening) No. You were right. 'Twas what I needed. 'T
          will keep life in me till she comes. Go to her now. Tell
          her I will leave her--I will go away for a year--a
          thousand years--if she will only say I may come back some
          day. I will live in a desert and pray myself to the bone!
          Bring me one word from her--a curse--anything!

 Mrs. Del. (Pouring wine) A little more of this then, so I shall
          be sure to find you alive when I return.

 Poe.     (Drinks eagerly) 'Tis life! Life! I've drunk of Cretan
          wines against whose fragrant tide the Venus-rose poured
          all her flood in vain, but never thrilled my lips till now
          with drop so ravishing! And you brought it to me! Helen
          left me to die ... cruel ... cruel ... cruel.... (Sits on
          couch, taking his head in his hands. Looks up) Florimel!

 Mrs. Del.
          My Calidore!

 Poe.     You are a very beautiful devil.

 Mrs. Del. (Pouring wine) Thanks. I'm glad you like my style.
          (Sips wine) It _is_ good, isn't it?

 Poe.     'Tis an enchantment to pilot grief to new and festal
          worlds! Another cup! (Drinks) O, 'tis a drink to rouse the
          drooping soul for warrier quest till on the conquered
          shores of dream man strides a god!... (Pours another
          glass) Again? No ... no more!... (Sinks down) O, my bird
          of Heaven, come quickly, or I am lost!... Florimel!

 Mrs. Del.
          My knight of Normandy!

 Poe.     Since we are going to hell let us be merry about it.

 Mrs. Del.
          At last you are sensible.

 Poe.     Wine! wine!

 Mrs. Del. (Holding glass) I mean to have my price for this.

 Poe.     Take my soul!

 Mrs. Del.
          Something better--a kiss!

 Poe.     'Tis yours! (Kisses her) Why not? For but a kiss did Jove
          forsake the skies, and jeopard his high realm!

 Mrs. Del.
          For but a kiss did Dian leave her throne and waste her
          goddess dower on shepherd lips! (Sits by him) Now you are
          going to tell me something. Why did you fly from Normandy,
          and not a word, not a word to me? Come, my Calidore! Why
          did you fly from me?

 Poe.     (Momentarily sober) Because--a woman shall never become
          less holy than God made her through me. (Rises and walks
          away) Helen ... my amaranth, I may not pluck thee!...
          (Staggers) One cup more ... one.... (Pours wine, and holds
          up glass apostrophizing as Roger and Helen enter unnoticed)
          O, little ruby ocean that can drown all mortal sighs! Call
          buried hope to put life's garland on, and limping woes to
          trip like Nereids on a moonlit shore! For thee, frail
          sickness casts her pallid chrysalis and blooms a rosy
          angel! For thee, Death breaks his scythe and owns Life
          conqueror! (Drinks) Were this Antonius' cup.... Ha! Are
          you there, my devil? Another kiss, sweetheart! (Throws
          his arm about Mrs. Delormis. Helen cries out. Poe turns
          and faces her)

 Hel.     (To Poe, speaking slowly and mechanically) I came, sir, to
          ask you to forgive me. (Turns to Roger) It is to you,
          Roger, that I make my plea.

          (Poe looks at her helplessly, then understands, and with a
          terrible face, turns and leaps through the open window.
          Helen, with a sob, droops, and Roger takes her in his
          arms)

(CURTAIN)



ACT II.


Scene: Lawn in front of Clemm cottage, near Richmond. Bony and Tat
on a side porch shelling peas.

 Tat.     Sho' Mars Edgah come in good time! Pea-vines jes a hangin'
          low, an' sweet as honey!

 Bony.    Mars Edgah hab peas ebry day wha' he came f'om! Big city
          hab ebryting!

 Tat.     Dey can't hab ebryting when it don' grow!

 Bony.    Sho', dey hab it when it don' grow same lak when he do
          grow!

 Tat.     You nebah did hab no sense!

 Bony.    I ain't got no sense? Take dat, Tatermally Clemm! (Strikes
          at her. They scuffle and bring Zurie to side door)

 Zu.      Dem chillun' jes kill me! Why de Lawd make ol' Zurie bring
          dem two twins to dis heah worl' she nebah could tell! Dey
          haint shell 'nuf fo' a hummin' bird's stomach, an' de pot
          bilin' mad fo' 'm dis minute! Wha' yo' do, yo' black
          niggahs? Come in heah! I make yo' sit still an' do nuffin'
          an' yo' ol' mammy wu'kin' hussef to def! (Picks up basket
          and drives children into the kitchen. Calls after them
          beamingly) Wha' yo' reckon yo' ol' mammy cookin' in dat
          ubbin fo' two little no 'count niggahs?

 Children. (Within, scampering with delight) Cherry cobblah!
          Cherry cobblah!

 Zu.      (Shutting the door) Don' want dat wind blowin' on my poun'
          cake! It'll fall sho'!

          (Virginia comes out at the front door of cottage, and
          walks across the lawn to the shade of a bay tree where Poe
          lies in a hammock as if asleep. A book on the ground. She
          goes up softly and sits on a garden chair near him. He
          opens his eyes)

 Vir.     O, I have waked you!

 Poe.     No, little houri. I was not asleep. I would not give one
          breath of this sweet world to cold, unconscious sleep.

 Vir.     You are happy, cousin Edgar?

 Poe.     No, Virginia. This is all too delicious to be called
          happiness. Too calm, like the stilling of a condor's wings
          above sea-guarding peaks. He flies when he is happy. When
          more than happy, it is enough to pause in the blue and
          breathe wonders.

 Vir.     Is it wonderful here, Edgar? It has always seemed so to
          me, but I have been afraid to tell anyone. It seems like a
          great fairy house with God in it. Is it wonderful, cousin?

 Poe.     _You_ are wonderful.

 Vir.     O, no, no, no! I want to tell you too, Edgar, I have never
          felt that I quite belong here. It is all too good for
          me--so beautiful, and I am not beautiful.

 Poe.     (Rising) Why, my little aspiring Venus, let me tell you
          something. I have wandered somewhat in life--at home and
          over sea--and I have never looked upon a woman fairer than
          yourself.

 Vir.     (Springing up in delight) O, I am so happy! You would not
          flatter me! You are the soul of truth!

 Poe.     It is no flattery, little maid, as the world will soon
          teach you.

 Vir.     I have nothing to do with that world, Edgar. My world is
          the circuit of our mocking-bird's wing. O, where is he?
          (Calls) Freddy! Freddy! He is not near or he would come.
          But he never goes farther than the orchard. Freddy!... He
          has not sung to me this morning. You haven't heard his
          finest song yet. O, 'tis sweeter than--

 Poe.     (Picking up book) Than Spenser?

 Vir.     Yes--than Spenser. Though he makes music too, and we were
          just coming to the siren's song. Shall I read?

 Poe.     Do! I knew not how to love him till he warbled from your
          tongue.

 Vir.     'Tis where the mermaid calls the knight.

          (Reads)

                  O, thou fair son of gentle faery,
                  That art in mighty arms most magnifyde
                  Above all knights that ever battle tried,
                  O, turn thy rudder hetherward awhile!
                  Here may the storm-bett vessel safely ride;
                  This is the port of ease from troublous toil,
                  The world's sweet inn from pain and wearisome turmoyle!

 Poe.     No more--no more!

 Vir.     Why, cousin?

 Poe.     I shall have the water about my ears presently. I thought
          I was drowning on a mermaid's bosom. Read no more,
          Virginia. One nibble at a time is enough of Spenser. He
          ought to be made into a thousand little poems. Then we
          should have a multitude of gems instead of a great granite
          mountain that nobody can circuit without weariness.

 Vir.     You know so much, Edgar. Will you teach me while you are
          here, if I try very hard to learn?

 Poe.     (Plucking a flower) My little girl, what lore would you
          teach this bud? God makes some people so. Be happy that
          you are a beautiful certainty and not a struggling
          possibility.

 Vir.     But the rose has no soul, Edgar--no heart, as I have. It
          does not sigh to see you look so pale, and read these
          lines of suffering here, (touching his brow) but I--it
          kills me, cousin! (He hides his face) Forgive me! O, I am
          so unkind!

          (Mrs. Clemm comes out of cottage and crosses to them. She
          gently takes Poe's hand from his face and kisses him)

 Mrs. C.  My dear boy!

 Poe.     (Seizing her hand and holding it) Don't--don't be so kind
          to me, aunt! It tells too much of what has never been
          mine. Curious interest--passing friendship--love born in a
          flash and dead in an hour--these I have had, while my
          heart was crying from its depths for the firmly founded
          love that shakes but with the globe itself.

 Mrs. C.  (Taking his head on her breast) My dear Edgar! You will
          be my son--Virginia's brother!

 Poe.     (Lifting his face smiling) I _will_ be happy! No more of
          that solitude lighted only by the eyes of ghouls! Here I
          have come into the light. I have found the sun. I see what
          my work should be--what Art is. She is beauty and joy. Her
          light should fall on life like morning on the hills. The
          clouds of passion and agony should never darken her face.
          O, I can paint her now ready for the embrace of the soul!

 Mrs. C.  I can not see things with your rapturous eyes, Edgar,
          but I know that your work will be noble, and I love you.

 Poe.     O, aunt, you and this little wonder-witch have enchanted
          me back to happiness. I promise you never again shall you
          see a tear on my face or a frown on my brow. (Virginia,
          looking toward the road, bows as to some one passing)

 Poe.     Blushing, cousin? Who is worth such a rosy flag? (Stands
          up and looks down the road) Brackett! I do believe!

 Mrs. C.  You know him, Edgar? He is staying with my
          brother-in-law, Nelson Clemm, for a short time, and has
          asked to call on us--on Virginia, I mean, for of course I
          don't count, now that my little girl is suddenly turned
          woman.

 Poe.     Don't for Heaven's sake!

 Mrs. C.  You don't like him, Edgar?

 Poe.     Like him! We were at West Point together. He refused to
          accept a challenge after slandering me vilely, and I was
          obliged to thrash him. That's all. (Turns suddenly to
          Virginia) And you were blushing for him!

 Vir.     It was not because I like him, Edgar.

 Poe.     (Looking into her eyes) You are a wise little piece.

 Mrs. C.  This is painful, Edgar. Of course he must not call.

 Poe.     Call! Let him but look toward the house again, and I'll
          give him a drubbing that will make him forget the first
          one! The coward! He wouldn't meet me--after--

 Vir.     How about the frowns, Edgar?

 Poe.     (Smiling) Let him go!

 Mrs. C.  You should not make such bitter enemies at the beginning
          of life, my boy.

 Poe.     He can not touch me. He is not of my world.

 Mrs. C.  We are all of one world, Edgar, and never know when we
          may lap fortunes with our foes. Mr. Brackett is going into
          literature too.

 Poe.     Yes. The trade and barter part of it. I shall be in the
          holy temple while he keeps a changer's table on the steps.
          (Shrugging) Brackett! Pah!... But goodbye for half an
          hour. I'm going to the orchard to take counsel with the
          birds on my new philosophy. (Starts away) Come, (turning
          to Virginia) my mocking bird, there won't be a quorum
          without you! (Virginia goes to him. Zurie puts her head
          out of a window and calls.)

 Mum Zurie.
          Mars Nelson comin' up de lane!

 Mrs. C.  Come back, Virginia, you must see your uncle. Edgar,
          won't you wait and meet him?

 Poe.     Thank you aunt, but I don't think it would give him any
          pleasure. (Exit)

 Vir.     (Coming back reluctantly) O mama, we _will_ make him
          happy!

 Mrs. C.  We'll try, my dear. But you must get ready for the picnic.
          The girls will be here soon. Is Edgar going with you?

 Vir.     No, mother. He said he would go to a picnic only with
          nymphs and naiads.

 Mrs. C.  Here is uncle.

          (Enter, from the road, Nelson Clemm)

 Mr. C.   How d' do, Maria! Howdy, girl! Go get your hat.

 Mrs. C.  What now, Nelson?

 Mr. C.   Nothin'. Only I'm tired o' foolin' and talkin' about that
          girl's education. I've come to take her this time.

 Vir.     To send me to school?

 Mr. C.   High time, ain't it? I couldn't make up my mind before
          whether 'twas to be the seminary at Bowville or Maryburg.
          But I had a letter this morning which settled it for
          Bowville. Suits me exactly--suits me _exactly_. So get
          your hat and come along. I drove across the ridge and left
          my trap at Judge Carroll's.

 Mrs. C.  Her clothes, Nelson! There's nothing ready--

 Mr. C.   You mean to say! When we've been talkin' this thing a
          whole year? And you a thrifty woman tell me her clothes
          ain't ready? Well, she'll come without 'em, that's all.
          You can send 'em along afterwards. I've got it all
          fixed up, I tell you. My brother's child shall have her
          chance--she shall have her chance, so long as I've got
          a dollar in my pocket and she walks exactly to please
          me--walks _exactly_ to please me. It's for you to say,
          Maria, whether you'll stand in the way o' your own flesh
          and blood or not.

 Mrs. C.  Of course, Nelson, I am very grateful, and do not dream
          of depriving Virginia of this opportunity, only--

 Mr. C.   That's all there is to it then. No onlys about it. Go get
          your hat, girl. (Virginia goes slowly into the house. At
          the door she meets Zurie who turns back and goes in with
          her)

 Mrs. C.  Now, Nelson?

 Mr. C.   It's just this. My brother's child shan't stay another
          hour in the same house with Edgar Poe. That's the plain
          tale of it, Maria.

 Mrs. C.  Nelson Clemm!

 Mr. C.   O, I've been hearin' things--I've been hearin'! He didn't
          cover all his tracks at West Point--or New York either!

 Mrs. C.  Lies! All lies! Every one of them! He is the soul of
          honor! Already Virginia loves him like a brother! I trust
          her instinct! I trust my own!

 Mr. C.   O, I'm not arguin', I'm just doin'. You can't turn him
          out, of course. Wouldn't do it myself. Nobody'll ever say
          Nelse Clemm was an inhospitable dog! But I can look out
          for Virginia, and I will. She goes with me now, or I'm
          done with you and yours--and you know that mortgage ain't
          paid off yet.

 Mrs. C.  Yes, she shall go. She ought to be in school and again
          I thank you for helping us. But you are wronging my
          nephew,--one of the noblest of men. You don't know him!

 Mr. C.   It's plain enough _you_ don't!

 Mrs. C.  Has Mr. Brackett--

 Mr. C.   Mr. Brackett is a guest in my house. Now, Maria, say what
          you please. (Virginia comes out of cottage carrying a
          small satchel) That's a good girl! We'll fix up a fine
          trunk and send it after her, won't we, mother?

 Vir.     (Putting her arms about her mother's neck) He--wasn't in
          the orchard, mama. Won't you say goodbye to him for me?

 Mr. C.   Come, come now! (Leads her away) Don't worry, Maria. I'll
          drive you over to Bowville every Sunday Doctor Barlow
          doesn't preach. (Half turning) By the by, I saw him down
          the lane at the widow Simson's. Reckon he'll be along here
          pretty soon. Seems to be on his widow's route to-day. Good
          morning! (Exeunt)

 Mrs. C.  (Looking after them) I shall go to her myself to-morrow.
          My little daughter! A stately woman now, but always my
          little daughter! (Starts into the house, pausing on steps)
          Poor Edgar! How he is misjudged! (Goes in)

          (Zurie, Tat following, comes out of the side door and sets
          to work digging up a shrub)

 Zu.      (Muttering) Wha' Mis' Clemm gwine ter say ter all dem
          young ladies comin' heah fo' de picnic? An' who gwine ter
          eat dem pies Zurie been two days makin'? An' sech a poun'
          cake! It ought to be a weddin' cake, deed it ought! (Bony
          comes out of kitchen with a knife in his hand) Heah,
          niggah, gimme up dat knife an' don' be so slow-back! Dis
          heah bush done grow an' bloom till yo' get heah!

          (Enter Poe, left, singing)

                  Old winter is a lie
                    As every spring doth prove,
                  And care is born to die
                    If we but let in love--

          Hey Mum Zurie, what are you doing?

 Zu.      I's diggin', honey.

 Poe.     That rosebay is the most graceful shrub in the yard. You
          kill one leaf of it, if you dare!

 Zu.      Miss Virginia she say how her bru'r Edgah lub dis heah
          tree, an' she want it under her window.

 Poe.     Oh! Can't I help you, Zurie? Tenderly now!

 Zu.      Miss Babylam' ax me to move it yistiddy but I don't git no
          time, an' I ain' gwine to leab it now jes cause she's gone
          away.

 Poe.     Gone away?

 Zu.      O Lawd, I forgot you don' know! Why, honey, Mars Nelson he
          come jes now an' frisk her off to school. Zip! an'
          Babylam' gone! An' law, ef you seen dat po' chile cryin'!

 Poe.     She cried, Zurie?

 Zu.      Deed she did, and she ax me twenty hundred times to tell
          her bru'r Edgah goodbye.

 Poe.     Virginia gone?

 Zu.      I done tol' yo, Mars Edgah! Sho' yo' don't think ol' Zurie
          know how ter tell lies, does yo', honey?

 Poe.     No, Zurie, I know she is gone. The birds have all stopped
          singing.

 Zu.      Law, Mars Edgah, dey jes be a chipperin'! Heah dat now?

 Poe.     That is not a song, Zurie. It is a wail from Stygian
          boughs.

 Zu.      O, yo' go way!

 Poe.     Gone! I'll not permit it! My aunt must bring her back!
          (Hurries into house)

 Zu.      Wha' make him ac' so now? An' wha' make Miss Babylam' cry
          hussef sick when she's gwine away ter be a fine lady? Mars
          Nelson he mighty good to gib her eddication, but true fo'
          sho he might jes' well gib it to my Tatermally fer all de
          thanks he's gittin'. Ol' Zurie reckon it a sin to cry ober
          de goodness ob God!

          (Mrs. Clemm and Poe come out of cottage, both disturbed)

 Poe.     But, aunt, how are we going to live without her?

 Mrs. C.  My dear Edgar, we must not let our affections root so
          deep in mortal things.

 Poe.     Mortal? Virginia mortal! She is a sister to Psyche,
          immortal as the breath that blew her into beauteous bloom!

 Mrs. C.  While I am glad, my son, to see you so devoted to your
          sister--

 Poe.     Sister! Thank Heaven she is not my sister! Aunt, Virginia
          must be my wife!

 Mrs. C.  (Bewildered) Are you mad, Edgar?

 Poe.     No. Sane at last. I have been mad until now. I have drunk
          loneliness and death. Here I breathe, grateful, glad as a
          flower! My breast swells and falls as a bird's throat with
          happy song! O, aunt, help me to accept this fair new
          life--the only real life! Do not drive me back to gloom
          and the devils! Give me your Virginia!

 Mrs. C.  A child, Edgar! A child!

 Poe.     To you--only to you. She has her full dower of
          beauty--womanhood's portion.

 Mrs. C.  She has a right to her education. I can not wrong my
          child.

 Poe.     I will teach her--teach her more than she will ever learn
          at the great mess table of knowledge where the genius must
          take his treacle and the blacksmith his ambrosia! O, aunt,
          you will give her to me?

 Mrs. C.  Edgar, I love you dearly,--but--my little girl--my
          Virginia--

 Poe.     (Bitterly) There is a difference then. She is yours, I am
          not.

 Mrs. C.  Do not be cruel. I am a distracted mother!

 Poe.     My dear aunt!

          (Virginia runs into yard and flings her arms about her
          mother)

 Vir.     O, mama, uncle had to stop at Judge Carroll's and they got
          into an argument and Mrs. Carroll said they would be at it
          for hours--she knew by the way the judge was filling his
          pipe--and told me to run back if I wanted to--Mama! Edgar!
          What is the matter?

 Mrs. C.  Edgar does not want you to leave home, dear.

 Poe.     Tell her all, aunt. (Mrs. Clemm is silent. Poe takes
          Virginia's hand)

 Poe.     Virginia, you who have the face of a houri, the form of a
          sylph, and the heart of an angel, will you be my wife?

 Mrs. C.  Edgar!

 Poe.     My gentle one, can I not teach you to love me?

 Vir.     Teach me? Ah, I love you now, Edgar!

 Mrs. C.  Virginia!

 Vir.     I do! I do, mama! And oh, what happiness beyond my
          dream--to be--his wife!

          (Poe embraces her gently and draws her toward the garden,
          right. They go out slowly. Mrs. Clemm turns toward the
          cottage, weeping. At the step she hesitates, looks toward
          the garden, and slowly goes after them, murmuring
          distractedly)

 Zu.      (Who has observed the scene with growing horror) Fo' de
          Lawd, fo' de Lawd, bless dem two babies! O, de signs am
          all wrong! Miss Babylam' came back when she done start
          away! An' Freddy bird hop right on my ol' wool dis
          mawnin', kase why, he want tell me sumpin gwine happen to
          Babylam'. An', oh, dis po' ol' niggah is kilt, kase dis is
          de day Miss Babylam's fadder done die! De missus she go
          'bout cryin' dis mawnin, an' I allus 'member she do dat
          dis bery day! Wha' make Mars Nelson come fo' Babylam'? O,
          fo de Lawd, fo de Lawd! (Tat and Bony stare at their
          mother in terror as she proceeds) I see de black hawk what
          flies outen de dead swamp! Ooo! I see knives a drippin'
          an' guns a poppin'! Oooooooo! I see de coffin, de
          coffin--an' it's all dark night, an' de rain comin' down
          de chimney--an' de wind--de wind--it say "Ooooooooooo!"
          (Bends her knees and body, and stares moaning. Tat and
          Bony cling to her skirts. She turns on them with a scream,
          at which they tumble to the ground) Wha' yo' doin' heah,
          yo' black no 'count niggahs?

          (Enter from the gate the old minister, Doctor Barlow)

 Doctor B.
          Good morning, Mum Zurie. You seem to be agitated. Can
          I help you?

 Zu.      Lawd, no! beg yo' pahdon, sah! I's jes so mighty tickled!
          Dese heah two niggahs so comicky like! Lawd, no, I wasn't
          alligated at all, beg yo' pahdon, sah!

 Doctor B.
          I'm glad to hear it, Zurie. Is your mistress at home?

 Zu.      Yes, sah. Dey all be in de gahden.

 Doctor B.
          I'll just take a walk in there then.

          (Exit, right)

 Zu.      Wha' make me le'm go in de gahden? My brain it jes all
          wool and no sense at all! Wha' now he fin' Mars Edgah
          kissin' Miss Babylam'? Well, ain't dey gwine ter be
          married? Married! O, lawd! (Throws her apron over her head
          and sits on the ground. Re-enter Mrs. Clemm and Doctor
          Barlow. He carries his hat in one hand and mops his brow
          with the other)

 Doctor B.
          Well, well, well! Upon my word! Your nephew--pardon
          me--is possessed of a rather impetuous spirit--rather
          impetuous, pardon me!

 Mrs. C.  O, Doctor Barlow, what must I do? You heard him! He
          wants to be married now--this hour!

 Doctor B.
          Trust me, Mrs. Clemm, I shall perform no ceremony
          without your full consent.

 Mrs. C.  O, I am sure of that! But must I consent? If I refuse
          him he may take her away from me. And Nelson will make
          trouble if we wait. Edgar will let no one oppose him.

 Doctor B.
          _I_ should not attempt it, Mrs. Clemm.

 Mrs. C.  If it _is_ to be, it is better to let it be now. What
          makes me so helpless is the fact that Virginia is against
          me. She loves him.

 Doctor B.
          Naturally, Mrs. Clemm, naturally.

          (They enter the cottage)

 Zu.      Wha' dat man talk so now? He better quit preachin' ef he
          can't hep folks no more 'n dat! Sho', ol' Zurie hussef
          know dat much!

          (Enter from the road a swarm of girls. They wear graceful
          organdie gowns, and large ricestraw hats trimmed with bows
          and streamers. Some carry baskets, which they drop, and
          all troop about the yard)

 Gertrude.
          Where's Virginia, Mum Zurie?

 Zu.      (Hesitating) She wa' in de house 'bout so long ago.

 Ger.     I'll see!

 Zu.      Wait a minute! Mis' Clemm she an' de minister talkin' on
          impo'tant business. Maybe it's dat mortgage, I dunno!
          (Grimaces)

 Ger.     We'll go into the garden then. (All start, right)

 Zu.      Law, you jes oughter see dat cherry tree hangin' full by
          de back gate!

 Girls.   O! O! O! (They rush off, disappearing behind the cottage.
          Re-enter Poe and Virginia from the garden as Mrs. Clemm
          appears at the front door)

 Vir.     O, 'tis too sweet to be true! How have I won you, Edgar?

 Poe.     By beauty, that speaks loudest when most silent. (Mrs.
          Clemm meets them) God bless you, aunt. I see 'yes' in your
          eyes. You could not deny me.

 Mrs. C.  No.

 Poe.     Run, Virginia, and put on your fairy's dress! I want you
          to look as if you were leaping out of a flower into my
          heart! (Virginia goes in) O this beautiful world! Just to
          live, my aunt! Is it not enough? Literature is disease!
          The sick-robe of the soul! Who can write that does not
          _live_--and who that _lives_ would write! But I must do
          it--I must work for her. Not a wind shall blow upon my
          Virginia! I will find the fairy paths for her feet! Not a
          satyr shall leer from the wood! She will be ready soon. I
          shall wait for her in the orchard. I would not see her
          again until she is mine--all mine!

          (Exit, left, singing)

                  'Come, Apollo's pipes are merry--'

          (Mrs. Clemm goes in)

 Zu.      (Rising) I don' reckon it make no difference 'bout dis
          heah bush now! (Goes to side door and sits on step
          disconsolately. The girls come running back)

 Mabel.   Here's the finest cherry on the tree for the prettiest
          mouth! Open, who gets it! (Girls open their mouths. Mabel
          eats cherry)

 Gertrude.
          O, vanity!

 Mab.     No, I just took it for Virginia.

 Annie.   Let's play _Ant'ny Over_ while we're waiting! Where's a
          ball? Bony, get a ball!

 Bony.    Can't do it, missis! Y'all los' it las' time yo's all
          here!

 Dora.    _Marlow Bright_ then! Half with me and half with Mabel!
          (Girls divide, the two companies taking opposite bases
          some distance apart)

 Dora.    Marlow, marlow, marlow bright!
          How many miles to the old turnpike?

 Mab.     Three score and ten!

 Dora.    Can we get there by candle light?

 Mab.     Yes, if your toes are tripping light!

 Dora.    Any robbers on the way?

 Mab.     Three blind witches, so they say,
          And Robin Hood with all his _men_!

          (With the last word the girls exchange bases, the
          travellers, with Dora, trying to reach the opposite
          base without being caught by the robbers with Mabel.
          Virginia comes to the door of cottage)

 Annie.   There's Virginia! (Girls stop playing as Virginia joins
          them)

 Gert.    How pretty you look!

 Mab.     You're a _real_ nymph!

 Annie.   Come, let's be off now! (Picks up a basket)

 Vir.     Girls--I--there isn't going to be any picnic.

 Girls.   No picnic!

 Vir.     But a wedding.

 Girls.   A wedding! Where? Where?

 Vir.     Right here--under the bay tree.

 Girls.   Who? Who?

 Vir.     Why--cousin Edgar--and--

 Girls.   You! you! (All talk at once in excited babble. Virginia
          breaks from them and runs into the house. Girls keep
          tumultuous talk partly distinguishable)

 Gert.    He's so handsome!

 Sallie.  He's a prince!

 Annie.   Too young to be married!

 Ethel.   He's twenty!

 Gladys.  Older!

 Mab.     No!

 Mamie.   Virginia is a baby!

 Alma.    She's taller than any of us!

 Annie.   But younger!

 Sallie.  Yonder's Allie Kirby!

 Mamie.   Won't she be surprised! I wasn't one bit!

 Annie.   Nor I!

 Other Girls.
          Nor I! Nor I!

 Ethel.   I'll tell her!

 Annie.   No, let me!

 Other Girls.
          I will! I will!

          (As Allie enters all the girls rush to her and talk at
          once, trying to tell her the news. Mrs. Clemm and Virginia
          come out of the house and join them)

 Mrs. C.  My little yard never held so many flowers before.

 Allie.   Is it true, Mrs. Clemm?

 Annie.   Of course it is! But you're not going to let him take her
          away from us!

 Mrs. C.  No, my dears. She will be one of you still.

 Vir.     Where is Edgar?

 Bony.    'Deed, he wah in de orchard 'bout two drecklys ago.

 Vir.     He doesn't know I'm ready. I'll go tell him!

 Girls.   Do! do!

 Mrs. C.  Daughter!

 Girls.   Do let her go, Mrs. Clemm!

 Mab.     We'll all go! What fun!

 Gert.    We'll play 'hunt the bridegroom!'

          (Girls run off, disappearing in various directions)

 Mrs. C.  What will Doctor Barlow think? (Goes in. Allie, the last
          of the girls, pauses as she passes to the side door where
          Zurie is sitting)

 Allie.   Why, Mum Zurie, you look as if Miss Virginia were going to
          be buried instead of married.

 Zu.      (Jumping at the word 'buried') Sho' now, can't Zurie hab
          de toothache wheneber she please, missus?

 Allie.   Toothache? O, I'm sorry, Mum Zurie.

 Zu.      Mars Edgah he's a mighty fine young man! Yo' won't see no
          sech grow up roun' _heah_!

 Allie.   But what a pity he isn't rich!

 Zu.      Rich? Wha' fo' Mars Edgah want to be rich? All he got to
          do is jes scribble, scribble on a piece o' papah, an' de
          gol' come rollin' down de chimney! Rich! Yo' better say
          yo' prayers yo' get a Mars Edgah too!

 Allie.   I'll get you to pray for me, Mum Zurie.

          (Runs away laughing)

 Zu.      Wha' fo' now she say I look lak Miss Babylam' gwine ter be
          buried? O, de good Lawd hep ol' Zurie!

          (Goes in. Enter Poe, left. He is moody and disturbed)

 Poe.     I feel it--a wind from out that solitude. It calls me back
          ... it calls me back....

 Vir.     (Without, calling) Edgar!

 Poe.     Sweet voice from the fields of the sun! (Prays) Jehovah,
          guide thou me! (Virginia peers around a shrub) Who could
          lock life's door on such a face? It is God's gift. I take
          it. (Virginia comes to him slowly. He takes her in his
          arms. Mrs. Clemm and the minister come out of the house
          and pause on the steps looking at them. The girls come
          rushing back laughing and shouting, and at sight of Poe
          and Virginia become suddenly silent)

(CURTAIN)



ACT III.


Scene I: Interior of Clemm cottage. A large room simply furnished.
Low fire burning in fireplace. Poe at table writing. Suddenly
drops pen and picks up two letters)

 Poe.     I must destroy these. She must not know.... My wife....
          (drops letters absentmindedly) ... Married. Married? What
          spirit so subtly fine can mingle here?... Back, back, ye
          troops of devils damned or angels blest--I know not which
          to call ye--summoning me to those lone regions of the mind
          where none may follow! None?... Helen could tread those
          airy worlds with me!... Helen!... Far, far as zenith stars
          that ride the blue meridian thou art, and I, deep, deep,
          to nadir sink! (Drops his head to the table)

 Virginia. (Without) Edgar! (He lifts his head smiling as she
          enters)

 Vir.     (Holding out a book) O, I know the alphabet! I can say it
          all! (Gives him the book) Watch now, and see if I make a
          mistake!

 Edgar.   (Smiling.) I'll hardly need the book, dear.

 Vir.     (Pouting.) O, I forget that you know everything!

 Poe.     Not everything. (Taking her face between his hands as she
          sits on his knee, the book falling at their feet) I do not
          know how to be happy when this beautiful face is gone. My
          wife is the fairest lady in all the world.

 Vir.     Then what does it matter about this old Greek, Edgar?
          (Touching book with her foot)

 Poe.     Just this. You can not always be young and beautiful, and
          when you are no longer the fairest I want you to be the
          wisest.

 Vir.     And if I am you will love me always?

 Poe.     Always.

 Vir.     Give me the book! (Picks it up) O, I will eat Greek! I
          will breakfast with the heroes, dine with the bards, and
          sup with the gods! But what a pity one must begin with the
          alphabet to end with--what were those lovely lines I found
          in your book yesterday?

                  And Helen on the walls rose like a star,
                  And every Trojan said 'she's worth our blood,'
                  And every Greek ploughed new his way to her--

          Go on, Edgar! I'm sure you know them!

          (As she repeats the lines he presses her head to his
          shoulder and puts his hand over her eyes. His face is full
          of agony, but there is only sweetness in his voice.)

 Poe.     Not now, my little wife. Some other time.

 Vir.     Helen is such a beautiful name. I wish I had been named
          Helen.

 Poe.     Thank God you are not!

 Vir.     (Looking up hastily) Why--

 Poe.     I mean that I want you to be just as you are--my
          Virginia--nothing else!

 Vir.     (Seeing he is troubled) I am keeping you from your work.
          You should have sent me away. I'll be angry with you,
          Edgar, if you let me disturb you. Now I'm going to find
          the last rose of summer for you.

 Poe.     But you haven't said your lesson.

 Vir.     O! (begins) Alpha, beta,--now if I say them right you are
          to give me a kiss for reward!

 Poe.     And if you miss one, I'll give you a kiss for
          encouragement.

 Vir.     (Seeing letter) O, a letter from New York! You've made me
          your secretary, you know, and of course I must read your
          letters! (Picks it up and glances at it) He says Mr.
          Willis will certainly give you a place on his paper.
          (Drops letter and looks at him quietly) It is your chance
          for fortune.

 Poe.     I am not going, love.

 Vir.     If you go now it means success, if you wait failure.

 Poe.     I shall not go, Virginia.

 Vir.     If you were not married you would go.

 Poe.     Then I am glad I can not go.

 Vir.     But you _can_ go, Edgar.

 Poe.     My darling, I will never take you away from your mocking
          birds and roses. Don't you think any more about it. Run
          away now and find me a flower. You will have to look sharp
          under the leaves, for the wind is whistling to-day. Our
          little sham winter has begun to bluster. (Exit Virginia)
          She shall not suffer. She shall not! Though my heart
          surges like a prisoned sea hers shall not move her bosom's
          alabaster!... Why didn't I burn that letter. (Throws it
          into the fire. Take up the other one) I must keep the
          lawyer's. I shall need it. (Puts it in his pocket) Now
          work--work--work--(Resumes writing) '_The Kingdom of the
          Sun is peopled with beings whose distinguishing attribute
          is color instead of form as with us. This color varies
          with each thought of the spirit that it invests, and also
          with the eye that beholds it. There is no need to pellet
          the ear with rude words, for the most refined meanings and
          emotions are conveyed by these subtle variations of color
          coming and going like breathing light. Were--_' (Enter
          Mrs. Clemm)

 Mrs. C.  Edgar, dear, your breakfast has been waiting two hours.

 Poe.     O, thank you, aunt. Don't trouble about me this morning. I
          shall want nothing.

 Mrs. C.  But, Edgar, my son, I must speak. You do not sleep and
          eat as people should who wish to live long for those who
          love them.

 Poe.     Dear aunt, pray--we'll talk about it some other time. I
          _must_ work now!

 Mrs. C.  I am sorry to disturb you, love, but there is one question
          I must ask you. Have you heard from the lawyer? (Poe is
          silent) A letter came. I thought you would tell me, and
          not force me to ask about what I must know. Is the place
          sold?

 Poe.     No.

 Mrs. C.  But it will be? We must lose our home?

 Poe.     No, darling mother! I am going to pay off everything! This
          very article I am writing will bring me fame if I finish
          it. So please help me by not worrying one bit, and don't
          let our Virginia suspect anything.

 Mrs. C.  It would kill her! O, Edgar, I have been wanting to tell
          you how grateful I am to you for your gentleness to her.
          Though she looks so strong, she has been frail from her
          birth. I know that she must die early. I ought to have
          told you--that day--but I could think of nothing. You will
          forgive me, Edgar? She is such a child. I wonder at your
          patience. But you will never be impatient with her, Edgar?

 Poe.     If I am, may God that moment end my villain's life! Go
          now, sweet mother, for I must work, and remember that you
          are to be troubled about nothing. (Exit Mrs. Clemm, right,
          rear) Goodbye, Art! Thou pure chrystalline dream! I must
          turn my brain into a mint and coin money! O, Poesy, thou
          only divine mistress given to man, some day I will return
          to thee! (Writes) '_Were zephyrs made visible by means of
          ever changing hues--_' (Bony and Tat rush into the room.
          Poe glares at them with a face of fury. They turn to fly
          panic-stricken. Tat trips on a chair and lies moaning. Poe
          goes to her)

 Poe.     (Gently) Are you hurt, Tatsy?

 Bony.    (At door, turning back, suddenly impudent at sound of
          Poe's softened voice) She jes sullin', Mars Edgah. She
          play possum like dat wid me!

 Poe.     Get out, you little imp! (Bony vanishes) Where are you
          hurt, Tatsy? (She moans bitterly) Poor little girl! Her
          foot is twisted. A sprain perhaps. (Picks her up and
          carries her to sofa) Never mind! I've got a fairy in a
          bottle will cure that in a jiffy. Just rub it on, and ho,
          Tatsy is well again!

          (Enter Zurie, Bony clinging to her)

 Zu.      Wha' my chile? Lawdy God, my chile sho' 'nuf hurt! (Goes
          to Tatsy)

 Poe.     It's the foot, Zurie. Be careful!

 Zu.      Yas, I's seen dat foot befoh! (Gives foot a yank) Dat's
          her ol' trick, Mars Edgah. She jes foolin' yo'! Don' yo'
          be so soft hearted next time. Yo' jes take her by de back
          ob de neck and wring her head off!

 Poe.     I certainly will!

          (Exit Zurie, drawing Tat. Poe goes back to his work.
          Groans, and looks with desperation at his manuscript)

 Poe.     O, if this eludes me! I must not lose it now! (Writes)
          '_In this Kingdom of the Sun there is a central creating
          light that plays upon these color-beings with its own
          transmuting--_'

          (Re-enter Mrs. Clemm, bearing a tray)

 Mrs. C.  My dear, I've brought you some toast and an egg.

 Poe.     (Jumping up and staring at her) They don't eat toast and
          eggs in the Kingdom of the Sun!

 Mrs. C.  Edgar!

 Poe.     Forgive me! It's just something I'm writing here. But for
          God's sake take the stuff away!

          (Mrs. Clemm turns to go, the tray trembling in her hands.
          Poe runs to her and kisses her) You sweetest and best of
          mothers, don't you see that if I eat this I'll spend the
          next two hours digesting toast and eggs, and if I don't
          eat it I'll be making our fortune, putting a roof over our
          heads, and keeping our Virginia happy!

 Mrs. C.  I only meant to be kind, Edgar.

 Poe.     I know you did, and you're my darling mother,--but don't
          be kind any more.

          (Exit Mrs. Clemm. Poe sits despairingly at table. Enter
          Ethel and Annie)

 Eth.     O, Edgar, where is Virginia? We want her to go nutting
          with us.

 Annie.   We shall have her now! You shan't keep her all to yourself
          just because you've married her!

 Poe.     Take her by all means!

 Eth.     You needn't be vicious about it. Where is she?

 Poe.     I don't know,--and pardon if I say that just at this
          moment I don't care!

          (Gathers up papers and goes toward stairway in corner of
          room)

 Annie.   You needn't run from us. I'm sure we're glad to go. I'll
          find Virginia.

 Eth.     And I'll write that note to Gladys while you're gone.
          (Seats herself in Poe's chair. Exit Annie, left, rear)
          Come back, if you want to, Edgar. You won't disturb me at
          all. (Writes. Poe pauses on stairway and looks at her.
          Ethel lifts her eyes) You needn't look so far to see me.
          I'm not the North Pole! What _are_ you thinking of, Edgar?

 Poe.     Of what Anacreon said to a fly that lighted on his brow
          when he was composing an ode to Venus.

 Ethel.   O! What was it?

 Poe.             Away, thou rude and slight impertinence,
                  That with thy puny and detested bill
                  Dost think to feed on immortality.

          (Goes upstairs)

 Ethel.   Beast! (Writes) Virginia spoils him. If I had him now I'd
          soon make a nice comfortable husband out of him!... An
          envelope?... Yes.... (Takes one) Stamp?... Yes.... (Takes
          one) I'll get Bony to mail this for me.

          (Exit, right, rear. Poe comes down stairway)

 Poe.     Gone? Deliverance! It's too chilly for work upstairs.
          (Coughs) What shall I do here this winter with only one
          comfortable room in the house? Keep warm by the fire in my
          brain, I suppose. (Sits and writes. Virginia is heard
          without, humming a song. She enters, left, front, with a
          rose in her hand)

 Vir.     Darling, I found it deep under the leaves--Oh! (Starts out
          softly. Poe writes on without looking up. At the door she
          turns and throws the rose towards him. It falls onto the
          table and upsets ink over papers)

 Poe.     (Leaping up) By every fiend in hell!

          (Mrs. Clemm rushes in, followed by Zurie, Tat and Bony)

 Mrs. C.  My son, what is the matter?

 Poe.     See what that child has done!

 Mrs. C.  (With dignity) Your wife, Edgar.

 Poe.     My wife! Great God! O, Helen! Helen! (Rushes from the
          room, left rear)

 Bony.    I tol' yo' he wah mad! I done tol' yo' Mars Edgah gone
          mad! He look at me jes so! (Mimics)

 Tat.     (Looking through window) Dah he go now troo de orchard jes
          a runnin'!

 Bony.    Obah de fence!

 Tat.     An' no hat on!

 Zu.      Stop yo' mouf an' come out o' heah, yo' wussless niggahs!
          I make yo' know wha' yo' b'longs!

          (Takes them out)

 Mrs. C.  O, Virginia! What an hour for you!

 Vir.     What an hour for _him_, mamma!

 Mrs. C.  Strange child! Not to think of yourself!

 Vir.     How can I, when he is suffering so?

 Mrs. C.  My angel daughter!

 Vir.     (Kissing her) We will be brave, my mother. I hear the
          girls. Go to them one moment--do! (Exit Mrs. Clemm) ...
          Helen! Dear God above! (Drops on her knees by a chair.
          After a moment of agony, rises, goes to table and looks at
          papers) What is it I have ruined? (Reads silently) O, what
          beauty!... I think I can make this out and copy it for
          him. But now he may never finish it. The heavenly moment
          is gone ... and I robbed him of it.... I, who should guard
          him and keep the world away. That is my little part--too
          little, God knows! O, if I could really help him!

          (Enter Ethel and Annie)

 Eth.     O, Virginia, now that we're rid of that troublesome
          husband let's have one of our good old-fashioned times!
          We'll sit by the fire and tell tales. It's too cold anyway
          to go to the woods.

 Vir.     (Absently) Edgar is there.

 Annie.   And there let him stay! I'm sure it's better for both of
          you. You hang about him too much, Virginia. He'll quit
          loving you, mamma says he will, if you're not more
          sensible. Help me draw up this sofa, Ethel. (They pull
          sofa to the fire. Annie settles herself comfortably) I
          feel just like giving you a lecture, Virginia. You must
          make Edgar go out more. Anybody will get queer shut up
          here. The other day when mamma asked him to come to our
          party he wasn't more than half polite when he refused, and
          we were going to have Mr. Melrose Libbie to meet him too.
          Said his work would keep him at home! Now you know,
          Virginia, that poetry isn't work. It's just dash off a
          line now and then, and there you are! Mr. Libbie said so.
          O, he had the sweetest thing on the woman's page in last
          Sunday's paper! Did you see it? You'd better call Edgar's
          attention to it. Mamma read it to all of us at the
          breakfast table, and--

 Eth.     O, stop your chatter, Annie, and let Virginia tell us one
          of her fairy stories just as she used to do. We'll forget
          all about Edgar and make believe she isn't married at all.

 Vir.     (Painfully) Forgive me, dear girls, but I've some work
          that I must do to-day.

 Mabel.   Must do! Who ever heard the like?

 Vir.     I was wrong. It is some work that I choose to do--that it
          will be my happiness to do.

 Ethel.   For Edgar?

 Vir.     Yes.

 Annie.   You are a little fool!

 Vir.     Yes ... I am a little fool.

 Ethel.   O, there's help for you if you know it!

 Vir.     If I were not a little fool I could be of more help to
          Edgar.

 Ethel and Annie.
          Oh!

 Annie.   (Jumping up) Then we can't stay to-day!

 Vir.     I am so sorry--but--

 Annie.   O, we might as well give you up first as last!
          (Exeunt girls)

 Vir.     (Sits at table and stares at the papers) ... A little fool
          ... a little fool.

(CURTAIN)


Scene II: Same room as before. Night. Virginia sits motionless in
the dim firelight. Mrs. Clemm comes softly down the stairs)

 Mrs. C.  Virginia?

 Vir.     Naughty mamma! You said you would sleep. What a story to
          tell your little girl!

 Mrs. C.  (Advancing) The rain--wakes me. (Comes to fire) Did Edgar
          take his cloak, dear?

 Vir.     No, mother.

 Mrs. C.  Are you not cold in that dress, darling?

 Vir.     O no--quite comfortable--and Edgar likes me in white, you
          know. (A window rattles. Both look anxiously toward the
          door)

 Mrs. C.  What a gust!... I wonder what winter is like at the north.
          (Virginia looks at her quickly, and both drop their eyes)
          ... To think of him out on a night like this! And he has
          not been well lately. Had he no purpose? Did he say
          _nothing_ when he went out?

 Vir.     He said he was going to seek Truth.

 Mrs. C.  And what does he mean by truth, Virginia?

 Vir.     O, I don't know. When he is talking I understand, but when
          he is gone it all fades and I know nothing about it.

 Mrs. C.  Nor does Edgar, mark me, dear. He is trying to know things
          that the wise God decreed should remain unknown to mortals.
          That is what makes him so unhappy.... Did he eat his
          breakfast this morning, Virginia?

 Vir.     No, mamma.

 Mrs. C.  Did he take any food yesterday?... Tell me, daughter. I
          can not help you if I do not know. (Virginia begins to
          sob) There! there, darling! A little patience and we'll
          get him over this.

 Vir.     O, mother!

 Mrs. C.  Come here, my little girl. (Takes Virginia in her arms)
          Now tell me! Don't let the heart go heavy when mother ears
          are waiting.

 Vir.     He ... goes out at night ... and I follow him because it
          kills me to think of him wandering alone. We were on
          Burney hill last night.

 Mrs. C.  Five miles!... Then that is what these pale cheeks and
          dark eyes mean! And Edgar let you go!

 Vir.     No! I _go_! I am not a child, mother. Ah, I knew you would
          not understand!

 Mrs. C.  Yes, yes, I do, Virginia. I know he suffers, but you--

 Vir.     Don't speak of me! You shame me! Were I to lie down on
          those coals my torture would be less than his. Remember
          that, mother. When you doubt, as you surely will, remember
          that I told you, and I know. His mind is a _living_ thing,
          throbbing through his body and leaving him no shield of
          flesh. O, mamma, help him! Promise me! You will never
          forsake him?

 Mrs. C.  Never, my love.

 Vir.     I would not have told you, but my strength is gone, and
          somebody must know,--somebody who is strong. (A gust
          shakes the window) O, my darling! Out in that blackness
          alone! And if I were there I could say nothing. That is
          the pity of it, mamma. I have no words, and thought
          without tongue is nothing so long as we are mortal and
          wear these bodies. Some day it may be enough just to _be_
          a soul, but not now--not now!

 Mrs. C.  O, my daughter!

 Vir.     Promise me, mamma, that if I die you will find Helen.
          _She_ could help him!

 Mrs. C.  (Rising) Virginia, if you say another word like that I
          shall think you are mad--or I am! (Bursts into weeping)

 Vir.     Darling, darling mother! Now I have given you all my
          burdens you will grow weak under them, and I want
          strength, strength by my side!

 Mrs. C.  (Calm) You must go to bed, dear. I will wait for Edgar.

 Vir.     No, no!

 Mrs. C.  I will coax him to eat something.

 Vir.     (Smiling sadly) Coax him, mamma?

 Mrs. C.  Yes, dear. Go now.

 Vir.     I can not.

 Mrs. C.  I command you, my daughter.

 Vir.     Please do not command me. You have never had to pardon
          disobedience in me.

 Mrs. C.  Nor shall I have cause now. Obey me, Virginia.

 Vir.     Would you send me into hell, mother?

 Mrs. C.  Daughter!

 Vir.     That is what a bed is to me when Edgar is out like this.

 Mrs. C.  You make too much of these wanderings. Night and day are
          alike to him.

 Vir.     Ah, it is not the night that I fear!... Go, mamma! It is
          you who must rest. O, how we need these strong arms--this
          clear head! I shall nod in my chair for the thought of you
          getting your needed rest will bring the winks to my own
          eyes. Come! (Draws her toward stairway) I promise you that
          I will sleep in the big chair as snug and tight as kitty
          herself. (Kisses her)

 Mrs. C.  (On the stairs) I can not leave my sick child to watch.
          You ask me to do an inhuman thing, Virginia. I will not
          go.

 Vir.     Mother!... Do not let me hurt you ... the dearest, the
          most unselfish of mothers ... but it is better for me to
          meet my husband alone.

          (Mrs. Clemm turns and goes slowly upstairs. Virginia goes
          back to fire)

 Vir.     Watch and pray! I can but watch and pray!... He said 'twas
          love he wanted ... and I brought him that ... love that
          shakes but with the globe itself. But it does not help ...
          'twas all wrong ... all wrong! (Weeps. Rises, and busies
          herself about an oven on the hearth) Three times I have
          prepared his supper that it might be fresh enough to tempt
          him. But now ... I am so tired. I must try to keep this
          warm. The sight of it may make him angry ... but I must
          try. (Arranges some clothes on a chair) He will be so wet
          with the rain. Ah, I can do nothing ... nothing. (Looks
          toward door) He is coming! Strength, strength. O my God!

          (Poe throws door open. Turns and speaks as if to
          companions outside)

 Poe.     Goodnight, goodnight, brave Beauty's fearless angels!
          (Comes in) Well, Dame Venus, what thoughts for your
          hobbling Vulcan?

 Vir.     (Brightly) My Hermes, you mean. I'm sure you're
          feather-footed, you go so far and fast.

 Poe.     Why, sweet-mouth, a kiss for that! (Kisses her)

 Vir.     O, my love, you are dripping with the rain.

 Poe.     Well, and so are the trees. Not a leaf out there but is
          shaking her pearls. Who flies from Nature but man? Let her
          be terrible, glorious, worthy of his eyes and his heart,
          and forthwith he takes to his hole.

 Vir.     I hate her to-night. She kept me from following you.

 Poe.     Virginia! (Seizes her hands, crushing them in his, and
          gazing at her with fierce earnestness) Never do that
          again! Never again! (Lets her hands fall, and turns toward
          door as if he must go out. Her eyes follow him eagerly,
          but she tries to speak carelessly)

 Vir.     Here are your dry things, dear, and I've kept something
          hot for your supper.

 Poe.     (Turning) Yes ... this is a very valuable skin of mine.
          Make it comfortable. But what of me, Virginia? That
          something here burning with fires that would brighten
          Olympos' head! Have you no welcome for me? (Virginia is
          silent) Why are you so pale? Light all the lamps! You
          should not sit in the dark. There are no stars in this
          den!

 Vir.     (Hurriedly lighting lamp) I'm sorry, love, but last night
          you wanted the dark--don't you remember?

 Poe.     No, I don't remember. Memory is a hyena, always scratching
          up our dead selves! You must not remember, Virginia!

 Vir.     Yes, dear.

 Poe.     Forgive me, love. O, I am driving myself mad! Selling
          myself to the devil of prose that I may bring in that
          fool's litter--money, money, money--and for what? That we
          may feed the flesh that devours our souls, and hang such
          rubbish as this on our backs! (Sweeps garments from chair)
          O, Virginia, if you were brave enough we would forget
          these rags of the body and go like spirits to meet our
          brothers of the night! They are all out there! Will you go
          with me, my bride?

 Vir.     O, Edgar!

 Poe.     Ha! You would rather ask them in to have something dry and
          something hot! But I must have the air! (Throws door open.
          Lightning flashes on falling rain. Virginia shrinks from
          the wind) Hear those winds! Gathering lost souls to the
          bosom of Night! Feel those drops! Every one of them the
          tear of a fallen god! O, is it nothing but rain? Ha! ha!
          ha! (Virginia coughs. Poe closes the door hastily. She
          coughs again)

 Poe.     Don't, Virginia!

 Vir.     Yes, dear.

 Poe.     My angel! (Embraces her. She coughs) O, it is these wet
          clothes! (Throws off coat, picks up dressing gown from the
          door and puts it on hurriedly)

 Vir.     (Eagerly) Your slippers too, dear!

 Poe.     Yes, yes, my slippers! (Puts them on. Sits in big chair,
          taking her on his knee, and embracing her tenderly) What
          made you cough, Virginia?

 Vir.     O, 'twas nothing, dear. 'Tis all right now. Everything is
          all right.

 Poe.     Is it, little wisdom? O, ye gods!

 Vir.     (Concealing anxiety) Darling?

 Poe.     What, my beautiful earth-bird?

 Vir.     You will take your supper now?

 Poe.     (Impatiently) No, no! Is there any wine in the house?

 Vir.     Yes, love, but--

 Poe.     I must have it! Quick! I shall faint.

 Vir.     (Rising) No, Edgar. It is food you need.

 Poe.     (Rising) Where is it?

 Vir.     O, my dearest!

 Poe.     Tell me, Virginia! (Goes toward a closet)

 Vir.     (Getting before him) If you were reaching for a cup of
          poison, Edgar, I would risk my life, ay, risk your love,
          to dash it from you. And wine is your poison. I can not
          let you drink death.

 Poe.     Death! It is all the life that is left to me, and you deny
          it!

 Vir.     Be quiet, love. You will wake our mother.

 Poe.     Down, gods, and let the lady sleep!

 Vir.     She is not well, Edgar.

 Poe.     But she will be well to-morrow, and I--I am immortally
          sick and you deny me a drop of wine.

 Vir.     O, my poor boy! I'm so sorry for you!

 Poe.     And is that all, O Heaven? I'm her poor boy, and she is so
          sorry for me! Why, here's a heart that loosens in its
          throbs the birth-song of new stars! Come, strike thy chime
          with mine, and though all bells upon the planet jingle, in
          us will still be music!

 Vir.     O, Edgar!

 Poe.     Well?

 Vir.     I can not speak.

 Poe.     Virginia, Virginia! I pour out my soul to you! I keep back
          no drop of its sea! From the infinite, shrouded sources of
          life I rush to you in a thousand singing rivers, only to
          waste, to burn, to die on the sands of silence! (She
          remains motionless, her head bowed) ... It is so still
          upon the eternal peaks. Will you not come up with me and
          be the bride of my dreams? You need not speak ... you need
          not say a word. Only put the light of poesy in your eyes
          and let me _see_ that through the channel of their beauty
          course the mysteries that begin with God and end not with
          time! (She looks at him. He gazes into her eyes) ... Tears
          ... only tears. (Turns away) Can a soul's _eyes_ be dumb?
          (She sits, weeping silently) ... Come then ... talk of
          what you will. Only talk! You have read a little Byron
          to-day? The new magazine came? And you have made me a
          handkerchief? (She sobs. He looks at her remorsefully,
          crosses the room, gets her harp and brings it to the
          fireside) Come ... sing to me, Virginia. You can do that.

 Vir.     (Taking harp) What shall I sing, dear?

 Poe.     Something to charm the very heart of Æolus! That will turn
          a tempest into a violet's breath!

 Vir.     Ah, my love!

 Poe.     O, sing--sing anything!

 Vir.     (Sings)

                  Great and calm, cool-bosomed blue,
                  Take me to the heart of you!
                  Not where thy blue mystery
                  Sweeps the surface of the sea,
                  Leaving in a dying gleam
                  Living trouble of a dream;
                  Not where loves of heaven lie
                  Rosy 'gainst the upper sky
                  Burning with an ardent touch

                  Where an angel kissed too much;
                  But where sight and sound come not,
                  All of life and love forgot,
                  All of Heaven forfeited
                  For thy deep Nirvana bed.
                  Wide and far enfolding blue,
                  Take me to the heart--

          (Her voice breaks suddenly)

 Poe.     Virginia! (She coughs) Don't! (Her cough increases. She
          puts her handkerchief to her lips. Poe takes it from her
          hand and looks at it.) Blood! (Throws handkerchief into
          the fire, and stands as if paralyzed, gazing at Virginia.
          Falls at her feet and begins kissing her skirt) My angel!
          my angel! I have killed my little bride!

 Vir.     (Urging him gently up) No, dear. I was marked for this
          from birth. My doom was written by Heaven, not you.

 Poe.     Not doom, my Virginia! (Rising) I will save you, my
          darling! You shall have everything! With the sickle of a
          wish you shall harvest the earth! We will sail southern
          seas! We will follow the Spring as she flies! I will knock
          at the orient gates and bring thee the health of morning!
          I'll make the world so bright for thee, Hyperion's self
          shall wear new gold and shame remembered suns from
          chronicle! Spring from perfection's heart shall pluck her
          buds, and set such gloss on Nature she may laud her old
          self in one violet's requiem! O, I'll sing the world into
          a flower for thy bosom! My love, my love, my love! (She
          coughs restrainedly. He hides his face till she stops)
          Even the senseless oak velvets its rude sides to the
          tender vine! But I--a man--O, beast too vile for hell! too
          low to be damned!

 Vir.     Edgar!

 Poe.     Do not touch me! is not the mark here? (Touching his brow)
          O, where shall I hide it?

 Vir.     (Drawing him to her) On my bosom, Edgar. (Presses him to
          the large chair and sits on the arm of it, caressing him)
          This forehead is as pure as heaven-lit ivory of angels'
          brows!

 Poe.     O, golden heart! (Kisses her over her heart) I will work
          so hard, Virginia! We shall be rich, and I will take you
          to some wonderful land where beauty can not die! Will you
          forgive me then when you are bright and strong in some
          happy isle of roses?

 Vir.     I will forgive you now, dearest, if you will do one thing
          for me.

 Poe.     O, what, my darling?

 Vir.     Eat the poor little supper I have cooked for you.

 Poe.     Yes--yes--I'll eat it though it be hell's coals!

 Vir.     Now that's a compliment to your cook, isn't it? (Takes
          food from oven and puts it on table. Poe eats, at first
          reluctantly, then hungrily)

 Poe.     It is late--so late! O, my Lenore, you kept up for me!
          Your weary eyes would not close until they had found their
          lover! O, can you forgive me, and take me back to your
          heart? You will love me again?

 Vir.     Ah, Edgar, if love were enough we should always be happy.

 Poe.     Love me, love me, dear! I want no more! And this cough ...
          we shall stop all that, darling! O, how weary you must be,
          and you tried to have everything so beautiful for me! How
          pretty your dress is! You look like a Naiad smiling out of
          a lily. But it's too cold! Here, I will wrap you! (Puts
          shawl about her) Ah, little wife, little wife, what evil
          power locked your gentle heart with mine? Bear with me,
          love. It will all be different soon. I shall try so hard
          the gods for pity will not let me fail! See how I have
          eaten! You may give me more, love. You did not cook this,
          I know. You stole it from Jove's kitchen.

 Vir.     (Getting food) Yes, I did, and Jove caught me, but he let
          me go when I told him it was for a poet.

 Poe.     Little witch! (Kisses her) How happy we shall be,
          Virginia, as soon as I have money. I shall go to New York
          for a year. It will take only a year. Then I shall come
          back bringing the lady Fame with me, and you must not be
          jealous of her.

 Vir.     (Slowly) You--would not--take me?

 Poe.     Why, the north-wind would blow the Spring from my little
          girl's cheek! Just a year! That is the first step--a cruel
          one--but we shall be happy when it is over. Just a year,
          sweetheart! I must take no chances now! I _must_ win!

 Vir.     You shall not leave me! A year will not hurt me, Edgar!
          But it would kill me to be left here ... and not know ...
          every minute....

 Poe.     Do you care so much, Lenore? Then we will both stay here.
          It will take longer, but I will work harder--

 Vir.     Enough for to-night. We are too happy for to-morrows,
          Edgar. Now you must have a long, long sleep--

 Poe.     No, no! No bed for me to-night! I must work!

 Vir.     No bed, indeed! I did not say bed, my lord! You are going
          to sit down here (Places him on footstool) and I shall sit
          here, (settles in chair) and your head in my lap--my hands
          on your head--and the crooningest of little songs will
          bring you the sweetest snatch of sleep that you ever, ever
          had!

 Poe.     O, 'tis heaven, Virginia! But you are too tired, my angel.
          _You_ must sleep.

 Vir.     And so I shall when my lord shows me the way.

          (Poe drops his head on her lap. She turns down light. He
          falls asleep as she sings softly)

                  Like a fallen star on the breast of the sea
                  My lover rests on the heart of me;
                  The lord of the tempest hies him down
                  From his billow-crest to his cavern-throne,
                  And 'tis peace as wide as the eye can see
                  When my lover rests on the heart of me.

          (Silence. Virginia droops in sleep. No light but dull red
          coals.)

(CURTAIN)



ACT IV.


Scene I: An old bookstore, New York. Bookseller arranging books.
Helen at one side looking over shelves. Poe enters. He wears a
military cloak and jaunty cap. Throws book on table and whistles
carelessly.

 Bookseller. (Looking book over doubtfully)
          Forty cents.

 Poe.     (Loudly) Forty devils! (Helen turns and recognizes him. He
          does not see her) Look at that binding. You can't get a
          Shelley put up like that for less than ten dollars.

 Hel.     (Aside) My book!

 Bookseller.
          It's badly marked.

 Poe.     Marked! Of course it's marked. And every mark there worth
          its dollar. In ten years you'll wish the marks were as
          thick as the letters.

 Bookseller.
          Say fifty, and strike off. Not a cent more.

 Poe.     Take it.

 Hel.     To sell my book! (Moves slowly to door) How pale he is!
          But he is neatly dressed. He can not need fifty cents. To
          sell my book! I'll speak to him and see if he is past
          shame. (Steps before Poe as he turns to go out)

 Hel.     Mr. Poe! Don't you remember me? 'Tis delightful to meet an
          old friend.

 Poe.     (Bowing low) Mrs....

 Hel.     Yes, I am Mrs. Bridgmore.

 Poe.     My dear Mrs. Bridgmore! The pleasure of years gathers in
          this happy moment. Are you making holiday purchases?

 Hel.     No ... just poking about. I love these old stores. I see
          you've made a sale. 'Tis a relief to get rid of old books
          when we've lost our love for them, isn't it? They take up
          good room on our shelves pretty much as people do in our
          lives long after we have ceased to care for their
          friendship. But what one is weary of another is ready to
          take up. (To bookseller) May I see the book the gentleman
          has just disposed of? (To Poe) Anything you have liked
          will be sure to please me.

 Poe.     O, you are mistaken! I am simply leaving the book to be
          duplicated if possible for a friend of mine who has taken
          a fancy to my copy. (Gesticulates to bookseller) One
          glance, Mrs. Bridgmore, will tell you that the book is not
          for sale.

 Hel.     Ah ... of course not. Pardon the mistake. It seems to be
          my fate to blunder where you are concerned. (Icily) Good
          morning, Mr. Poe.

          (As she is going out she drops her purse. Poe hastens to
          pick it up and restores it to her with a bow. In doing so
          he forgets his shabby coat and throws back his cloak over
          his arm, exposing a badly worn sleeve. He becomes suddenly
          conscious of her observation, and straightens up in his
          most dignified fashion)

 Hel.     Thank you. (Goes out)

 Poe.     (Turning to bookseller) Here! Take your damned silver!
          Give me my book!

 Bookseller.
          A bargain's a bargain, sir.

 Poe.     Bargain! bargain! Do you call that theft a bargain? You
          parasite! you bookgnat! You insect feeding on men's
          brains! You worm in the corpse of genius! My book, I say,
          or by Hector I'll tear your goose-liver from your body,
          you pocket-itching Jacob!

 Bookseller.
          Here! take it!

 Poe.     There's your Judas' blood! (Throws down money and starts
          out with the book. Enter Brackett)

 Brackett. (Stopping Poe) Mr. Poe, I believe.

 Poe.     Right, sir. And Brackett, I think your name was when I
          knew you.

 Bra.     Quite right, Mr. Poe. I saw you coming in here, and though
          you have changed somewhat with the help of years I was
          sure it was you.

 Poe.     And how, Mr. Brackett, may that knowledge be of interest
          to you?

 Bra.     Well, perhaps it does concern you more than myself.

 Poe.     Kindly tell me in what way that I may regret it.

 Bra.     Your pen has been supplying matter for _The Comet_, I
          believe.

 Poe.     If you have any doubt of it a perusal of that magazine's
          issues for the past two years will satisfy you.

 Bra.     The returns therefrom have contributed somewhat to your
          comfort, I suppose.

 Poe.     Do you?

 Bra.     Ah, I am mistaken? Then I have less hesitation to tell you
          that the articles recently submitted are unavailable.

 Poe.     _You_ tell me! What have you to do with it? Who are you?

 Bra.     I am the present editor of _The Comet_.

 Poe.     You!

 Bra.     I! You see I am in a position to speak with
          authority,--and it is only just to tell you that your
          articles will meet with no further recognition in that
          quarter.

 Poe.     Brackett ... I have been very ill. I wrote those things on
          what I believed to be my death bed. My wife....

 Bra.     I should say then that you are in great need of money.

 Poe.     God help me, I am! You know I am not one to beg!

 Bra.     But it's beg or starve with you, eh? (Poe looks at him
          silently) Well, I should advise you to make application
          without loss of time to some one who does not know you
          quite so well as the new editor of _The Comet_. Good
          morning.

 Poe.     (Calling to him as he stands in door) I say, Brackett!
          (Brackett turns) _I_ should advise _you_ to change the
          name of _The Comet_ as well as its editor. Suppose you
          call it _The Falling Star_? Ha! ha! (Exit Brackett) Curse
          me for a whining dog--but Virginia--

          (Goes out)

 Bookseller. (Arranging books) Queer chap. We public men get to
          know all sorts. That book will be mine yet. It's a good
          seller at ten dollars, and blest if I wouldn't like to
          help the wretch out with fifty cents. He'll be back.

          (Enter Helen)

 Hel.     I wish to buy the book the gentleman has just left with
          you.

 Bookseller.
          Why ma'am, he's gone and took it with him.

 Hel.     Took it with him?

 Bookseller.
          Yes, ma'am, and thereby I've lost time and trade.
          (Aside) She'd give fifteen!

 Hel.     He needed money?

 Bookseller.
          Well, I should _guess_ so, ma'am. That's the last
          book he had. He told me about it before. He's been
          bringin' them all here. I _think_ he'll be back, ma'am,
          and I'll keep the book for you.

 Hel.     Thank you. (Turns to go. Sees letter on the floor and
          picks it up) Why, 'tis ... he dropped it! I wonder if I
          may ... he is suffering ... that shabby coat ... and he is
          so proud. I think I ought to read it. I must know where to
          find him. (Looks at letter) Fordham! (Reads)

              My Dear Son: One last prayer the mother of your
              Virginia makes to you. She is dying. Come and sit by
              her and she will carry a smile to her grave. Do not
              stay away because you can not bear to witness her
              suffering,--because you have nothing to give her.
              Come, and by your loving presence lessen her pain.
              God bless you! Your devoted mother,
                                                    MARIA CLEMM.

          (Helen stands trembling and holding the letter) ...
          And I hurt him ... I hurt him....

(CURTAIN)


Scene II: Poe's cottage, Fordham. A room almost bare. Virginia
sleeping on bed. Poe's cloak over her. Mrs. Clemm kneeling in
prayer beside her. Poe enters, carrying a bundle of broken sticks
which he lays down softly, one by one, on the hearth, looking
anxiously toward the bed. Mrs. Clemm rises and comes to the fire)

 Mrs. C.  My child, you have been out in the snow without your
          cloak! (Brushes snow from his shoulders)

 Poe.     Could I take the least warmth from yon shivering angel?

 Mrs. C.  You forget that you, too, are ill. O, my boy, be careful,
          or I shall soon be childless in the world. One is already
          lost....

 Poe.     Not lost. See how she sleeps! She is better. I know she is
          better.

 Mrs. C.  Since you came. We will hope so, dear.

 Poe.     If she would only speak to us! O, why does she not speak?
          Not once to-day.

 Mrs. C.  She is very weak, my son.

 Poe.     I could bear it so long as she could tell us there was no
          pain ... but now she only looks at us.... Oh--

 Mrs. C.  You will control yourself for her sake.

 Poe.     Yes, yes, for her sake.

 Mrs. C.  It will take her last breath to see you disturbed.

 Poe.     I know! I know! Have no fear, mother. I am strong now.

 Vir.     Edgar! (He flies to the bed)

 Poe.     My darling!

 Vir.     I am better, dear. Mamma! (Mrs. Clemm goes to her) I feel
          so rested, mamma.

 Poe.     I told you! She is better! And you will sit up a little
          now, dear? I will carry you to the fire.

 Mrs. C.  My boy!

 Poe.     O, mother, don't you see how well she is? Look at her
          cheeks--her eyes--how beautiful!

 Vir.     (Smiling) Hear him, mamma! How proud he is! He must always
          have it that his wife is beautiful.

 Poe.     But it is so true, my dearest!

 Vir.     Let me believe it, for it is sweet to think that I have
          been that, at least, to you.

 Poe.     O, my darling, you have been everything!

 Vir.     You think so now, dear, and I love to hear you say it.

 Poe.     And you will get well for me?

 Vir.     No, O no! That would bring all your troubles back. You
          will live a great life, Edgar, when you have left this
          little care-bundle of a wife behind you.

 Poe.     O, don't, Virginia! I shall do nothing without you!

 Vir.     You will do everything. I am the wise one now, Edgar. And,
          dear, while I can talk ... I must ask you ... must beg you
          ... I must hear you say that you forgive me.

 Poe.     Forgive you!

 Vir.     Yes, dear. I was so young ... I thought I could help you
          ... and so I let you marry me. I did not know. I thought
          because I loved you so much that I could make you happy.
          But women who can only love are not the women who help.
          They must be wise and strong too, and oh, so many other
          wonderful things. If they are not, then all the love only
          hurts and makes things go wrong.

 Poe.     O, little angel!

 Vir.     Yes ... little angel ... when I ought to have been a
          brave, great angel who could bear heaven on her wings.
          Long ago I knew it, Edgar. When the truth came I looked
          every way and there was no help. Then when I found I was
          to die, it seemed that God had pitied and helped me. For
          that was the only way.... O, these little women who can do
          nothing but love! I wish I could take them all with me.
          These tears are for them, not for myself, darling. O, I am
          happy, but they must wait ... they can not die. How you
          shiver! You must take your cloak. I am warm now. Indeed, I
          am quite comfortable.... Don't--don't weep. You must be
          happy because I am. Let us smile the rest of the time,
          darling,--it--is such a little while.

 Poe.     (Brokenly) Yes ... yes.... O little flower, little flower,
          dropping back to God's bosom, how have I dared to touch
          thee!

 Vir.     (Rubbing her hand on his arm) 'Tis damp! You have been
          out? O, my dear, you must, must take your cloak! I am
          quite, quite warm! See, feel my hands! (Smiling)

 Poe.     (Taking her hands) Little icicles!

 Vir.     You have been out! O, save yourself for the great things
          ... now I am going out of your way. Don't let my death be
          as vain as my life. Let that count for something, Edgar.
          O, promise me you will live for your genius' sake, you
          will be true to your heavenly gift! Kneel by me and
          promise!

 Poe.     I ... promise.

 Vir.     Dear husband ... I.... (faints)

 Mrs. C.  O, she is gone!

 Poe.     No! She faints! My beautiful idol! O, some wine! Heaven
          and earth for some wine!

 Mrs. C.  She looks at us! My daughter!

 Poe.     O, do not try to speak! Let your beautiful eyes do all the
          talking!

 Mrs. C.  She looks toward the fire. She would have you go, Edgar,
          and try to keep warm. Come, dear. (Poe kisses Virginia
          gently, and goes to fireside, looking back adoringly) Do
          not look at her, and she will sleep again.

 Poe.     Ah, God! It will take more than sleep to help her. And I
          can give her nothing--nothing!

 Mrs. C.  Don't, Edgar! Remember your terrible illness--how you
          worked for her when fever was burning your brain--until
          your pen fell from your hand.

 Poe.     I brought her to this land of ice and snow!

 Mrs. C.  No. Destiny brought her. We lost our home. Your work was
          here--and she would not stay behind you.

 Poe.     A _man_ would have saved her!

 Mrs. C.  O, my boy, do not take this burden on your soul! For
          once spare yourself!

 Poe.     I can not even give her food!

 Mrs. C.  (Restraining him) My son, she sleeps.

 Poe.     Yes ... sleep ... let me not rob her of that too! Be quiet
          ... just be quiet ... while she dies. (Seats himself with
          strange calmness) Come, mother, let us be cheerful. Take
          this chair. Let us be rational. Let us think. Death is
          strange only because we do not think enough. God must
          breathe. Life is the exhalation, death the inhalation of
          deity. He breathes out, and the Universe flames forth with
          all her wings--her suns and clusters of suns--down to her
          mote-like earth, the butterfly of space, trimmed with its
          gaudy seasons, and nourishing on its back the parasitical
          ephemeran, Man!

 Mrs. C.  My love--

 Poe.     Be calm, mother. Be calm. Then the great inbreathing
          begins. The creative warmth no longer goes out. The
          parasites vanish first, then the worlds on which they
          ride, and last the mighty suns,--all sink into the still,
          potential unity, and await the recurrent breath which may
          bear another universe, unlike our own, where the animate
          may control the inanimate, the organic triumph over the
          inorganic,--(rising) ay, man himself may dominate nature,
          control the relentless ecliptic, and say to the ages of
          ice and fire 'Ye shall not tread on me!'

 Mrs. C.  Edgar!

 Poe.     I beg your pardon. We must be calm. (Resumes his seat) But
          God will not stop breathing (with bitter sarcasm) though
          your daughter--and my wife--is dying. (Mrs. Clemm weeps.
          He turns to the window) Do you know that elephants once
          nibbled boughs out there where the snow is falling? They
          ran a mighty race--and died--but no tears were shed. In
          the records of the cosmos, if man is written down at all,
          I think he will be designated as the 'weeping animal.'

 Mrs. C.  Are you human?

 Poe.     I regret that I belong to that feeble and limited variety
          of creation, but with the next self-diffusion of the
          concentrated Infinite I may be the Sun himself!

 Mrs. C.  O, my mother-heart!

 Poe.     Think a little more and you will forget it. The heart
          makes the being there on the bed your daughter--my
          wife--but the mind makes her a part of the divine force
          which has chosen her shape for its visible flower. The
          heart is wrung by the falling of the bloom, for it is
          endeared to that only, but the mind rejoices in its
          reunited divinity. Come.... (Moves a step toward the bed)
          I can look on her now ... and be quiet. Sweet rose, I can
          watch your petals fall. But they fall early ... they fall
          early ... blasted in the May. Not by the divine breath
          drawing you home, but by my mortal, shattering hand! I
          promised you sun and dew.... I have given you frost and
          shadows. O God! O God! let me _not_ think! Keep me a
          little, weeping child!

 Mrs. C.  Dear son, cast out this bitterness. Only your love and
          devotion have kept her alive so long.

 Poe.     No! I touched her like a wing of doom, and she fell
          blasted! (She tries to soothe him) No, no! Call devils
          from hell to curse me!

          (A knock at the door. Mrs. Clemm opens it and a basket is
          delivered to her. Poe, deep in agony, does not notice. She
          takes things from the basket)

 Mrs. C.  O, Edgar! Wine, and soft blankets!

          (He looks up, and rushes across to her)

 Poe.     Wine! wine! O, spirit that bendest from pitying clouds, a
          mortal thanks thee! Quick, mother, these drops of strength
          will give her back to us!

 Mrs. C.  She sleeps, my son, which is ease more precious than
          these drops can give.

 Poe.     (Taking bottle) Give it to me!

 Mrs. C.  Edgar, Edgar, do not wake her!

 Poe.     Lenore, Lenore, out of thy dream, though 't were the
          fairest ever blown to mortal from Elysium! This will put
          thee to such smiles that dreams--

 Mrs. C.  Be quiet, for God's sake!

 Poe.     Quiet! 'Tis a word for clods and stones! You'd hold me
          from her when my hand brings life? (Rushes to cupboard and
          gets a glass which he fills)

 Mrs. C.  Just a little, Edgar. Too much would--

 Poe.     She shall drink it all, by Heaven! I will save her!

          (Mrs. Clemm sinks to a chair, helpless and sobbing. A
          knock at the door which neither hears. Enter Helen. As Poe
          turns to approach the bed he faces her, stares, and lets
          the glass drop shivering)

 Poe.     You!

 Hel.     I, Edgar. You see I can remember my friends--and I've come
          to scold you for not--letting me know--

 Poe.     It was you who sent--

 Hel.     Some blankets soft as summer clouds for the most beautiful
          lady in the world? And wine delicate enough for a fairy's
          throat? I knew you would not have it else. (Turns to Mrs.
          Clemm) You do not know me, but--

 Mrs. C.  (Taking her hand) I know you are a good woman reaching a
          hand to me in my sorrow.

 Hel.     (Embracing her) No ... my arms!

          (Poe goes to bed and kneels by Virginia. Speaks softly to
          her, then rises and brings a little wine)

 Poe.     Just a drop, dear,--a butterfly's portion.

          (Virginia drinks)

 Hel.     (To Mrs. Clemm) How is she?

 Mrs. C.  She will have but one more word for us--goodbye.

 Hel.     Can I--may-- O, you must let me do something for her--for
          you! Do not make me miserable by saying there is nothing I
          can do.

 Mrs. C.  There is ... something. I have never begged--

 Hel.     Do not use such a word. It is you who give--make me happy.

 Mrs. C.  But I will beg this. Some linen for her last robe.

 Hel.     God bless you for telling me!

 Poe.     (Rising from his knees by Virginia) Helen, Virginia would
          speak to you.

 Hel.     O, save the precious breath! (Approaches bed) Ah ... how
          lovely ... I understand....

 Vir.     (Lifting her head) Helen ... help my Edgar. (Sinks back.
          Poe lays his head on her pillow. Helen stands with her arm
          about Mrs. Clemm. Curtain falls, and rises on same room at
          night. Virginia's body lies on the bed. Poe watches alone.
          A candle burns on table)

 Poe.     (Standing by bed) ... So low in sleep, little girl?... I
          took thee mid thy roses. O, broken gentleness, little
          saint-love, move but a hand, a finger, to tell me thou art
          still my pleading angel!... Not one breath's life. Still
          ... quite still. O, might such rest be mine! (Turns away)
          I'll write. (Goes to table) I promised. Yes ... I'll
          write. Behind the glorious chancel of the mind still
          swings the incense to the deathless gods!... (Sits and
          writes) ... No. (Rising) No rhymes--for Poesy must mourn
          to-night. (Goes toward bed) Too much of her is dead.
          (Gazes at Virginia) Cold ... cold. What art thou death? Ye
          demons of a mind distraught, keep ye apace till I have
          fathomed this!... Ha! What scene is that? (Stares as at
          visions) A valley laid in the foundations of darkness! The
          unscalable cliffs jut to heaven, and on the amethystine
          peaks sit angels weeping into the abyss where creatures
          run to and fro without escape! Some eat, some laugh, some
          weep, some wonder. Now they make themselves candles whose
          little beams eclipse the warning stars ... and in the
          pallid light they dance and think it sun! But on the revel
          creeps a serpent, fanned and crimson, with multitudinous
          folds lapping the dancing creatures in one heaving
          carnage! The candles die.... The stars cannot pierce the
          writhing darkness.... Above on the immortal headlands sit
          the angels, looking down no more, for the dismal heap no
          longer throbs.... I must write this! Now! While I see it!
          That moaning flood ebbing to silence ... those rosy
          promontories lit with angel wings ... and over all as
          large and still as heaven, the cold, unweeping eyes of
          God!... (Writes.... A tapping at the door. He does not
          hear. Another tapping. He looks up) Who's there?... This
          is my vigil. Nor devil nor angel shall share it!...
          (Listens. Tapping. He goes to door and throws it open) ...
          Nothing ... nothing ... but darkness. (Stands peering, and
          whispers) Lenore!... (Closes door, bolts it, returns to
          table and writes silently. Utter stillness, then a
          rattling at the window. Poe leaps up) What's that? (The
          shutter is blown open. Poe stands watching. A raven flies
          in and perches above door) Out, you night-wing! (He looks
          at raven silently) You won't? Why, sit there then! You're
          but a feather! (Sits and writes. After a moment rises and
          reads)

                  Out--out are the lights--out all!
                    And over each quivering form,
                  The curtain, a funeral pall,
                  Comes down with the rush of a storm--
                  And the angels all pallid and wan,
                    Uprising, unveiling affirm
                  That the play is the tragedy 'Man!'
                  And its hero the Conqueror Worm!

          Ah! the thought pales from these lines like light from
          dying cinders. Poetry is but ashes telling that a fire has
          passed. (Sits gloomily. Suddenly remembers the raven,
          turns and stares at it) You bird of damnation, leave me in
          peace with my dead!... O, dreaming fool, 'tis nothing....
          My mind's a chaos that surges up this fancy. (Tries to
          write, stops, goes on, trembles, and looks up) ... Can I
          know fear? I, the very nursling of dreams? Who have lived
          in a world more tenanted with ghosts than men? I can not
          be afraid.... (Tries to write. Drops pen. Shudders,
          looking with furtive fear at the raven) ... I am ... I am
          afraid.... Virginia! (Creeps toward bed) Stay with me,
          little bride. My little rose-bride! (Fingers along
          coverlet, looking at raven) Do not leave me. Quick, little
          love! Give me life in a kiss! (Touches her hand, shrinks,
          and springs up) Dead!... (Leans against foot of bed,
          wildly facing the raven) Speak, fiend! From what dim
          region of unbodied souls hast come? What hell ungorged
          thee for her messenger? What sentence have the devils
          passed upon me? To what foul residence in some blasted
          star am I condemned? Speak! By every sigh that poisons
          happy breath!--by every misery that in me rocks and
          genders her swart young!--by yonder life that now in
          golden ruin lies!--I charge thee speak! How long shall I
          wander without rest? How long whirl in the breath of
          unforgiving winds? Or burn in the refining forges of the
          sun? When will the Universe gather me to her heart and
          give me of her still, unthrobbing peace? Speak! When--O
          when will this driven spirit be at home?

          (Silence. Poe listens with intense expectation and fear.
          The raven flies out) It spoke! (Hoarsely) It spoke! I
          heard it! (Whispers) Nevermore! (He falls in a swoon.
          Candle flickers in the wind and goes out. Darkness)

(CURTAIN)



ACT V.


Scene I: Poe's lodging, Baltimore. Small room. Cot, table, and one
chair. Poe writing)

 Poe.     (Pressing his temples) Throb--throb--but you shall finish
          this. (Writes) You, too, rebel, old pen? On, on like a
          lusty cripple, and we'll scratch out of this hole.
          (Lifting pen) Why, old fellow, this will buy bread. O,
          bread, bread, bread, for one sweet crumb of thee to feed
          an angel here! (Touching his forehead) Gordon will not
          fail me. His letter will come to-day. And with his help
          I'll get on good ground once more. And _then_!... (Writes.
          Drops pen with a groan) ... Gordon's letter _must_ come
          to-day. O, I would live, would live, for seeds are
          gendering in my mind that might their branches throw above
          the clouds and shake immortal buds to this bare earth!...
          (Looks at writing) Words! Ye are but coffins for
          imagination! No more of you! (Crushes paper) Eternity's in
          labor with this hour! (Leaps up) I could make Time my page
          to carry memories from star to star! O Heaven, wouldst
          thou vouchsafe thy visions to these eyes, then fill them
          with cold clay? Pour to these ears thine own philosophies,
          then send the crawling worm to pluck their treasure out?
          (Falls to chair. Enter Mrs. Schmidt)

 Mrs. S.  (Holding out letter) Here it is, sir.

 Poe.     (Rousing) What, Smidgkin?

 Mrs. S.  The letter's come, sir.

 Poe.     Thank you. (Takes letter. Mrs. Schmidt waits expectantly)
          If you will be so good, Smidgkin--I mean if you will be so
          cruel as to bereave me of your presence while I break this
          very personal seal--very personal, I assure you--

 Mrs. S.  No, sir. I stay to see what's inside o' that!

 Poe.     Since you desire it, madam. (Starts to open letter and
          hesitates) I--hope you are well, my good Smidgkin.

 Mrs. S.  Always am. Hadn't you better see what's in it?

 Poe.     To be sure.... I hope you have a good fire in your room
          this chilly weather, Smidgkin.

 Mrs. S.  Always do. I'll break it for you, Mr. Poe.

 Poe.     O, no, no! I couldn't think of troubling you. The rain
          beats very heavily. I hope your-er-roof will not be
          injured.

 Mrs. S.  Law me, I had every leaf tinkered up them sunny days
          last week. I believe in preparin' for a rainy day, _I_ do,
          Mr. Poe.

 Poe.     Indeed, yes,--if only we were all so wise, but, alas, my
          dear Smidgkin, some of us build so high that the angels
          have to come down and tinker our roofs ... and when they
          won't, Smidgkin ... when they won't (Lays letter on the
          table) ... I hope you have no errands to take you from
          your cheerful fireside in weather like this, Mrs.
          Smidgkin.

 Mrs. S.  My name is Schmidt, Mr. Poe.

 Poe.     Pardon me, madam.

 Mrs. S.  Air you a goin' to open that letter or air you not?

 Poe.     Why, good woman, to be sure I am. I did not know you were
          particularly interested. Excuse me. Here goes--and God
          mend the devil's work. (Opens letter and reads) 'I have
          talked with Brackett--' Brackett! (Drops letter and sits
          dumb)

 Mrs. S.  He sent you the ten dollars, hey? Where is it, hey?
          Seems to me that's white paper with mighty few marks on
          it! Not much like a ten dollar bill! Where is it, I say?
          Lost in the mailbags, I reckon! It will come by next post!
          You're certain--quite certain, Smidgkin! I tell you, Mr.
          Poe, this is once too often!

 Poe.     A bare, unfurnished room like this--

 Mrs. S.  Is worth just a dollar a week to me, which is exactly a
          dollar more than you can pay!

 Poe.     Mrs. Smidgkin, there is a legend in the world that pity
          never wholly leaves the breast of woman.

 Mrs. S.  Shame to your tongue, Mr. Poe, that says I haven't been
          as kind to you as your own mother--sister! Haven't you had
          this room nigh to a month since I've seen a cent for it?
          Didn't I give you stale bread a whole week, an' coffee a
          Sunday mornin'? An' you dare say I'm not a Christian,
          merciful woman? You come out o' here, or I'll put hands on
          you, I will!

 Poe.     Mrs. Smidgkin, Mrs. Smidgkin, are you aware that the rain
          pours outside like the tears of the Danaides on their
          wedding night? And speaking of weddings, Smidgkin--

 Mrs. S.  Schmidt! As you'll find on my good man's tombstone, an'
          some day on my own, bless God!

 Poe.     O, don't talk so, I beg you!

 Mrs. S.  Why now, Mr. Poe! Law me, who'd a thought you could be
          so softhearted--about a tombstone, too!

 Poe.     As I said, my dear madam--speaking of weddings--pray take
          this chair. 'Tis all I have to offer. Gladly will I stand
          before you, though I am but slightly bolstered within for
          the attitude. Speak to me, madam. Let one thought fly from
          thy caging brow to me a beggar vile.

 Mrs. S.  O, Mr. Poe!

 Poe.     Thanks for the burden of those syllables.

 Mrs. S.  My dear Mr. Poe!

 Poe.     Again? You overwhelm me? Dare I speak? You have suspected?
          You know why I linger in this dear room--dear as the
          barrier that staves off guttery death? This kindness is
          sincere? I may trust it and speak?

 Mrs. S.  You may, Mr. Poe.

 Poe.     Well then, sweet Smidgkin, will you open the broad gates
          of genial widowhood to admit a fallen wretch to the warmth
          of your bosom and hearthstone--particularly the latter?

 Mrs. S.  (With dignity) I presume, Mr. Poe, that I am addressed
          by an offer of marriage. I have had offers before, Mr.
          Poe,--one an undertaker who drove a good business, but he
          looked for all the world like one of his own corpses an'
          what is business says I to a woman in good circumstances
          with a longin' heart? I don't mind sayin' it, Mr. Poe, a
          nice lookin' man always did take my eye, an' you'll be a
          pretty figure when you're plumped out a bit, indeed you
          will, but your addresses of this offer is somewhat
          unusual, an' if you'll give me time--

 Poe.     The weather, madam, will admit of no delay. Since you are
          so determined, I must give up hope and seek shelter under
          Jove's great canopy.

 Mrs. S.  O, don't go there, Mr. Poe--it's a bad place, that Canpy
          house, an' I've heard Jove talked about for a vile
          barkeep! I guess since you're so impetus I'll say yes to
          these addresses of marriage, Mr. Poe.

 Poe.     Ha! ha! ha!

 Mrs. S.  What do you mean, Mr. Poe? My dear Eddie, I should say!

 Poe.     I mean, madam, that death loves a joke.

 Mrs. S.  O, my sweet Eddie, don't be talkin' about death. You're
          so pale I don't wonder--and a'most starved out I'll
          venture my word for it. But you won't know yourself in a
          week. I've got the sweetest room downstairs--all in blue
          an' white, with a bed three feet o' feathers, soft as a
          goosebreast, I warrant, an' I'll tuck you in an' bring you
          a toddy that'll warm you to your toes, it will, an'--

 Poe.     Ha! ha! ha! Well, why not? I seize this wretched plank or
          sink with all that in me is. Men have done it. But not
          Edgar Poe! Sell my soul for a broth-dish--a saucepan--a
          feather-bed--

 Mrs. S.  O, he's out of his mind, sure he is! My sweet Eddie, he's
          loved me distracted!

 Poe.     Can this be woman?

 Mrs. S.  Law me!

 Poe.     The sex that knew a Virginia--that knows a Helen? No!
          there are men, women ... and angels!

 Mrs. S.  Look here, Mr. Poe, don't you mention no women 'round me!
          O, Eddy, my Eddy! (Offers to caress him)

 Poe.     Away! You wench from Venus' kitchen! (Going) This weather
          ... once I could have braved it with the wildest wing that
          ever flew. But now.... (coughs wretchedly)

 Mrs. S.  No rent an' no husband either!

 Poe.     Up, heart, we go! Henceforth I live by spirit-bread! Lead
          me, ye unseen comrades, to immortal feasts! (Exit)

(CURTAIN)


Scene II: An hour later. A bar-room. Door in center, rear. Four
men at table, left, rear, playing cards.

 Haines.  Was afraid you wouldn't show up to-night, Juggy.

 Juggers.
          Nothing like a stormy night for a good game. Never miss
          one. Rain brings me luck.

 Black.   Then, by Jacks, you'll have it all your way to-night. It's
          pouring hogsheads. Your deal, Sharp. (They play in
          silence. Poe enters, rear, walks uncertainly across the
          room and takes a seat, right, front. There seems to be
          life only in his eyes, their burning light revealing a
          soul struggling free from a corpse. He sits unnoticed for
          a short time)

 Sharp.   (To barkeeper) Say, Thomas, I thought this was a
          gentleman's house. What's that in the corner? Looks like a
          coffin might 'a' spilt it on the way to the graveyard.

 Bark.    (In lower tone) He's one o' these writin' fellers in hard
          luck. I've let him hang around here a good deal, for he's
          always quiet and gives me no show for kickin' him out. But
          say the word and he goes.

 Haines.  Looks more like a sick man than a bum.

 Sharp.   Bah! He can drink till he wets his boots. I know that sort
          of a face.

 Bark.    Never drinks anything 'round here.

 Sharp.   Good reason. You don't wear a charity medal.

 Jug.     Let him stay for luck.

 Sharp.   Whose luck? You're doing all the winning to-night,
          Juggers. He's a Jonah for the rest of us. I want his eye
          off me, I say.

 Black.   O, let him alone. I'd ask a burglar to have a seat in my
          house a night like this--'pon honor, I would. Play up.
          (They play on)

 Poe.     What a noble palace is here! How the gleaming vault
          reaches to heaven and mocks the stars! What resplendent
          lights! As though the master had taken burning planets for
          his candles! How far they throw their beams--around the
          world and into the nether sea!

 Jug.     (To Haines, who is looking at Poe) Mind your play there,
          Haines.

 Poe.     I know this place. It is the poet's house of dream that
          all my life I've sought to reach. I am dying now, and they
          let me in, because I have been true to them. The master
          will read it in my face. I have not eaten of the
          flesh-pots! I have beggared my body, but I have not
          beggared my soul!

 Sharp.   Curse it, Juggers! It's yours again!

 Haines.  Take your medicine, Sharp. A man must know how to lose
          as well as win.

 Poe.     Yonder is the master, arrayed all in white and gold and
          sapphire. Those angels that attend him are poets wrapped
          in fires of love. They talk about me now, and ask if I am
          worthy to come in. O, I have loved ye well, immortal dead!
          Through noons that burnt the world I've tracked your dewy
          shadows! No day died in my eyes but ye were whispering
          priests! And midnight stars have learned your names of me!

 Sharp.   (Throwing down cards) It's that hoodoo in the corner!

 Poe.     How wonderful their voices! They speak a strange language,
          but I can interpret it.

 Sharp.   I'll not play another card until he goes!

 Poe.     He says that by the trembling of the planet-lights an
          earth-soul come this way. He sees me!

 Black.   Well, by Jacks, I've got a dollar for his supper and bed.

 Poe.     He says that 'tis a strange creature carrying a burning
          brand in his bosom.

 Sharp.   You can afford to be a fool. You've helped Juggers rake
          in.

 Poe.     Not a brand, he says, but an immortal star.

 Sharp.   Thomas, set that oil painting outside, will you?

 Poe.     They ask the master if they may come to meet me.
          (Barkeeper approaches Poe) Ah, the master comes himself,
          for I am one of the chosen.

 Barkeeper.
          Get out o' this!

 Poe.     (Rising slowly) Thou mighty one, thy servant hears thee!

 Bark.    Eh?

 Poe.     I'll be the humblest round thy throne.

 Bark.    Look here, I was a little soft about you, but now you just
          shove along!

 Poe.     I beg your pardon,--may I ask the name of this planet?

 Bark.    Eh?

 Poe.     Is it--the earth?

 Bark.    (Shaking him) None o' your squibs!

 Poe.     (Recognizing and throwing him off with momentary strength)
          Do not touch me, George Thomas. I will go.

 Black.   (Flinging him a piece of silver, which falls to the floor)
          There's a bed for you.

 Poe.     I dare not touch it, sir, lest I be infected, for the
          angels who look upon us know that I shall be in health
          when fever shall sit on your bones and agues make their
          bed in your marrow!

 Jug.     A gentleman can't stand that jaw. Kick him out, Thomas, or
          I will.

 Poe.     Do not touch me! You walking clay! who button your coats
          about three meals a day and think you have belted in the
          universe! Go listen to the sea lapping rock and bone to
          her oblivious mill, and know your hearts shall sleep as
          sand within her shells! By the dead worlds that drift in
          yonder void, and long have sung the swan-song of their
          deities, this too shall pass, and ere it passes flesh
          shall learn its impotence! Grey stalkers from the past
          shall clutch the throat of days! All wrongs shall rise and
          gather their revenge! And man--

 Sharp.   Here you crazy Tom! That's just enough!

          (Tries to take hold of Poe)

 Poe.     Off! See what I see! The Conqueror Worm! Fold on fold the
          red-fanged monster creeps! Look! your doom, ye swine with
          sodden eyes fast shut against sublimities! Ye--

 Jug.     (Taking Poe by the throat) I'll stop your croaking!

          (Haines and Black pull Juggers from Poe, who falls to seat
          utterly exhausted)

 Haines.  Can't you keep your hands off a sick man?

 Jug.     Sick! He's the devil!

 Haines.  Then you might as well make his acquaintance.

 Poe.     'Tis here ... death ... and all is yet to say. O, I have
          chattered as a babe! Now, I could speak, and dust is in my
          mouth!... Helen, you told me to be content with the
          letters.... I have tried to read ... to steal God's book.
          He has punished ... but death pays my bond. Soon I shall
          read with His eyes and be at peace. Peace! (Gives a dying
          shudder) Nevermore!... (Rises, staggers to door and opens
          it wide) O, Night, with thy minstrel winds, blow gently on
          me dead ... for I have been thy lover! (Looks back at the
          men who are gazing at him intently, and speaks lowly,
          erect and godlike) In His own image created He man!...
          (Turns and steps into the darkness.)

(CURTAIN)





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