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- Six Plays - 40/62 -
LADY CULLEN. Dear me, what a gathering to be sure.
HER LADY. Indeed it is an unusual sight.
LADY CULLEN. And O what a sad infatuation on the part of my poor boy.
HER LADY. The war has been known to turn many a brain.
LADY CULLEN. And yet my son holds his own with the brightest intelligences of the day.
HER LADY. Only one little spot of his lordship's brain seems to be affected.
LADY CULLEN. Just so. But here he comes, poor misguided youth.
[LORD CULLEN comes slowly over the green, looking to right and to left. He mounts the dais and sits down by his mother, and the music plays for a country dance. "The Twenty Ninth of May." The girls arrange themselves, and during the dance LORD CULLEN scans each face very eagerly. The dance ends and the girls pass in single file before the dais.
LORD CULLEN. No, no--that was not the music of it, that was not the dance--not a face among them resembles the image I carry in my heart.
LADY CULLEN. [Aside.] Thank goodness. May that face never be seen again.
[A fresh group come up and another dance is formed and danced.
LORD CULLEN. [At the end of it.] Worse and worse. Could I have dreamed both the music and the dance and the dancer?
LADY CULLEN. [Soothingly.] I am sure this was the case, my dear son.
LORD CULLEN. [Rallying.] I heard her voice singing in the forest before ever she began to dance. It was the sweetest voice and song I ever heard. [Looking around.] Can any of these maid, sing to me, I wonder?
MARION. [Steps forward.] I only know one song, my lord.
[LORD CULLEN signs to her to sing, and she stands before the dais and sings a verse of "Bedlam."
LORD CULLEN. [Impatiently.] No, no--that is not in the least what I remember. [Turning to ROSE.] You try now.
ROSE. I don't sing, my lord--but--[Indicating another girl in the group] she has a sweet voice, and she knows a powerful lot of songs.
[A girl steps out from the others and sings a verse of "The Lark in the Morn."
LORD CULLEN. Not that. Mine was a song to stir the depths of a man's heart and bring tears up from the fountains of it.
[He leans back in deep dejection--and at this moment LADY MILLICENT and ALICE come forward.
LORD CULLEN. [Eagerly.] I seem to know that russet skirt--those bare, small feet. [Standing up quickly.] Mother, look at that maid with the red kerchief on her head.
LADY CULLEN. Some sort of a gipsy dress, to all appearance.
LORD CULLEN. [Doubtfully.] The skirt she wore was torn and ragged-- that day in the forest. She had no gold rings to her ears, nor silken scarf upon her head--But this might be her dress for holidays.
[JOCKIE advances and begins to play the tune of "Princess Royal."
LORD CULLEN. [Eagerly.] That is the right music--O is it possible my quest is ended!
[LADY MILLICENT and ALICE, standing opposite one to another begin to dance--slowly and clumsily, and in evident doubt as to their steps. LORD CULLEN watches them for a moment and then claps his hands angrily as a sign for the music to stop. The dancers pause.
LORD CULLEN. This is a sad mimicry of my beautiful love. But there lies something behind the masquerade which I shall probe.
[He leaves the dais and goes straight towards LADY MILLICENT, who turns from him in confusion.
LORD CULLEN. From whom did you take the manner and the colour of your garments, my maid?
[LADY MILLICENT remains obstinately silent.
LORD CULLEN. [To ALICE.] Perhaps you have a tongue in your head. From whom did you try to learn those steps?
[ALICE turns sulkily away. JOCKIE comes forward.
JOCKIE. I'll tell your lordship all about it, and I'll take your lordship straight to the right wench, that I will, if so be as your lordship will give a shilling to a poor little swine-herd what goes empty and hungered most of the year round.
LORD CULLEN. A handful of gold, my boy, if you lead me rightly.
[JOCKIE leads the way to the tree where SUSAN is sitting. She stands up as LORD CULLEN approaches, and for a moment they gaze at one another in silence.
GRANDMOTHER. You might curtsey to the gentleman, Susan.
LORD CULLEN. No--there's no need of that, from her to me. [Turning to JOCKIE and putting his hand in his pocket.] Here, my boy, is a golden pound for you--and more shall follow later.
[He then takes SUSAN'S hand and leads her to the foot of the dais.
LORD CULLEN. Will you dance for me again, Susan?
SEVERAL OF THE GIRLS. [Mockingly.] Princess Royal is her name.
MARION. [Rudely.] Or Princess Rags.
SUSAN. 'Tis all took out of my hands now, I can but do as your lordship says. Jockie, play me my music, and play it bravely too.
[JOCKIE places himself near her and begins to play. SUSAN dances by herself. At the end of her dance LORD CULLEN leads the applause, and even the ladies on the dais join faintly in it. He then takes SUSAN by the hand and mounts the dais with her and presents her to his mother.
LADY CULLEN. [Aside, to her companion.] I wonder if the young person understands that my poor boy is a little touched in the brain?
LORD CULLEN. Here is your daughter, mother.
[LADY CULLEN and SUSAN look at one another in silence. After a moment SUSAN turns to LORD CULLEN.
SUSAN. I'm a poor ragged thing to be daughter to the likes of she. But the heart within of me is grander nor that of any queen, because of the love that it holds for you, my lord.
[LORD CULLEN takes her hand and leads her to the front of the dais.
LORD CULLEN. We will be married to-morrow, my princess. And all these good people shall dance at our wedding.
MARION. [Springing up.] And we'll do a bit of dancing now as well. Come, Jockie, give us the tune of "Haste to the Wedding."
ROSE. That's it. Come girls -
LADY MILLICENT. [To ALICE.] I pray he won't find out about me.
[The old GRANDMOTHER has come slowly towards the middle of the green.
GRANDMOTHER. Ah, and my little wench will know how to pay back some of the vipers tongues which slandered her, when she sits on her velvet chair as a countess, the diamonds a-trickling from her neck and the rubies a-crowning of her head. Her'll not forget the snakes what did lie in the grass. Her'll have her heel upon they, so that their heads be put low and there shan't go no more venom from their great jaws to harm she, my pretty lamb--my little turtle.
[The music begins to play and all those on the green form themselves for the dance. LORD CULLEN and SUSAN stand side by side in front of the dais, and the GRANDMOTHER lights a pipe and smokes it as she watches the dance from below. At the end of the dance LORD CULLEN, leading SUSAN, comes down from the dais and, followed by LADY CULLEN and her ladies, passes between two lines of girls and so off the stage. The girls follow in procession, and lastly the GRANDMOTHER preceded by JOCKIE, beating his drum.
THE SEEDS OF LOVE
JOHN DANIEL, aged 30, a Miller. ROSE-ANNA his sister. KITTY, aged 16, his sister. ROBERT PEARCE, aged 26. LIZ, JANE elderly cousins of Robert. JEREMY, John's servant--of middle age. MARY MEADOWS, aged 24, a Herbalist. LUBIN. ISABEL.
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