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- The Duke of Gandia - 4/6 -


SCENE III

The Vatican

ALEXANDER and LUCREZIA

ALEXANDER

The day burns high. Thou hast not seen them--thou?

LUCREZIA

My brethren, sire? Nay, not since yesternight.

ALEXANDER

The night is newly dead. Since yestereven?

LUCREZIA

Nor then. I saw them when we parted here Last.

ALEXANDER

I believe thou liest not. Girl, the day Looks pale before thy glory. Brow, cheek, eye, Lips, throat, and bosom, thou dost overshine All womanhood man ever worshipped. Once I held thy mother fairest born of all That ever turned old Rome to heaven. Thou hast read Her golden Horace?

LUCREZIA

Else were I cast out From all their choir who serve the Muses.

ALEXANDER

Ay. 'Fair mother's fairer daughter,' dost thou deem That praise was ever merited as by thee? I cannot.

LUCREZIA

I concern myself no whit If so it were or were not.

ALEXANDER

Thou dost well. Thou hast not seen, thou sayest, Francesco?

LUCREZIA

Nay - Give me some reliquary to swear it on - Some rosary--crucifix or amulet, Sorcerous or sacred.

ALEXANDER

Never twins were born More like than thou and he--nor lovelier: yet No twins were ye.

LUCREZIA

What ails thy Holiness?

ALEXANDER

I am ill at ease: my heart is sick. Last night No revel here was held, and yet the day Strikes heavier on me wearier, body and soul, Than though we had rioted out with raging mirth The lifelong length of darkness.

LUCREZIA

Evil hours Fret somewhiles all folk living; none sees why: No child sleeps always all night long.

ALEXANDER

Wast thou Wakeful? No trouble clung about thee? Nought Made the air of night heavier with presage felt As joy feels fear and withers? I am not Afraid: methinks I am very fear itself.

Enter an Officer of the household

OFFICER

His holiness be gracious towards me.

ALEXANDER

Speak. Thy face is death's: let death upon thy lips Live.

OFFICER

Sire, the humblest hireling knave in Rome - A waterman that plies his craft all night - Craves audience even of thee.

ALEXANDER

A Roman?

OFFICER

Nay. Some outlander--some Greek--they call the knave George the Slavonian.

ALEXANDER

They?

OFFICER

The fisherfolk On Tiber.

ALEXANDER

Bid him in: bid God himself Come in with doom upon me. [Exit Officer. Hear'st thou, child - Daughter?

LUCREZIA

What horror hangs on thee?

ALEXANDER

Abide, And thou shalt know as I know.

Enter GIORGIO SCHIAVONE

Speak. I say, Speak. What thou art I know: and what I am Thou knowest--and yet thou knowest not.

GIORGIO

Holiest sire, Last night I kept my boat on Tiber--Sire, The thing I saw was nothing of my deed - It shook me out of sleep to see it--Lord, Have mercy: look not so upon me.

ALEXANDER

Dog, Speak, while thy tongue is thine.

GIORGIO

Two men came down And peered along the water-side: and two Came after--men whose eyes raked all the night, Searching the shore--I lay beneath my boat - Beside it on the darkling side--and saw. Then came a horseman--Sire, his horse was white - The moonshine made his mane like dull white fire - And on his crupper heavily hung a corpse, Arms held from swaying on this side, legs on that, I know not which on either--but the men Held fast that held: and hard on Tiber side They swung the crupper towards the water--sharp And swift as man may steer a horse--and caught And slung their dead into the stream: and he Drifted, and caught the moon across his face That shone like life against it: and the chief Till then sat silent as the moon at watch, And then bade hurl stones on the drifting dead And sink him out of sight; and seeing this done, Rode thence, and they strode after.

ALEXANDER

Man, and thou - Thou?

GIORGIO

Sire, I set my heart again to sleep:


The Duke of Gandia - 4/6

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