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Huon, I charge thee quit the service of the Empress !
Huon. 'Twere against all honour.
her service! Huon. 'Twere ingratitude. Coun. Ingratitude !—for what?
Huon. She has advanced me
Coun. No! I deny it! No!
Not equal to them! No! Thy golden deeds
She has repaid with tinsel !
Enter ULRICK, R
Ulrick. Please you, sir,
The Empress summons you.
Coun. You are not going?
Huon. My presence is commandea.
Coun. Are you going?
Ulrick. My lord !
Huon. I come.
Coun. You are going, then ?
Huon. I must go.
Coun. You must ? Then go! Go, and farewell for
ever! (The Countess sinks into a chair. Exeunt
Huon and Ulrick, R.
SCENE I.-- The Hall of the Castle.---The EMPRESS, Ul.
RICK, COURTIERS, KNIGHTS, HERALDS, 8c., prepared to
proceed to the Tournament.
Empress. [To Ulrick. Why wait we for the Countess ?
What delays her?
This day is dedicate to her; for her
We are convened; and comes she last of all ?
Ulrick. Madam, she craves your favor for this pause.
Relieve 'tis not remissness, but mischance,
Retards her. Doubtless, she will come, anon.
Empress. Anon, my lord! Anon is not our time For friends to greet us, when they summon us. Enter three Attendants, the first bearing a coronet on a
cushion, the second a pile of parchments, the third fol-
lowed by Vassals, carrying money-coffers; then the
Countess, plainly attired, followed by her Women, in
costly dresses. She stops before the Empress.
Empress. Why, lady! what is this?
Coun. My liege, receive
This emblem of that pomp which I resign,
Because 'tis aıljunct to conditions such
As render it a burden to me, past
The faculty of sufferance to bear.
Coun. So please you, madam, give me leave :-
As joint executor with this worthy lord,
Into your hands I also yield all right
And title to this fair chateau, besides
The lands and forests, its appendages,
As well as vassals, natives of the soil.
Empress. But, lady
Coun. Madam, suffer me to conclude :-
These are the coffers which my father left;
And as he left them, rendered to your highness ;
And with them all resigned, save such endowment
As shall entitle me to that retreat,
Holy and calm, wherein I mean to pass,
I'll say, the remnant of my days, i' th' hope,
Though few are passed, still fewer are to come :
Which option, as you know, my father's will
Has left to me.
Empress. Then will you not abide
The cast of fate in the tournament ? nor take
The husband she may send—nor yet select
Coun. I cannot, madam.
Coun. I am
Empress. By whom?
Coun. By you !
Empress. Let every one Repair to the tournament.
Let it proceed, As we ourself were there. [To Ulrick.] And you, my lord, Preside for us. It is our will the lists Be opened straight. The Countess stays with me.
(Flourish.-All go out except the Empress and Coun
Wo are alone! Now, how am I a let
To such espousals as your choice would make ?
Coun. Do you not know?
Empress. Girl, be direct with me,
Nor in the headlong passion of your soul,
That seems to joy in strife and wrack, forget
'Tis your liege lady that vouchsafes
Coun. That I forget, and everything beside,
Except one thing, in still revolving which
The earth hath shrunk in estimation
Into a grain-the sun into a spark !
Naught hath kept substance but my dosolation,
Which seems to me to fill up space itself
Till nothing else hath room.
Empress. Thy desolation
Who made it for thee?
Coun. Thou !
Empress. In what regard ?
Coun. In thy attractive favor shown to Huon!
Empress. I made thy desolation? Thou thyself
Didst make it with thy pride, the greater, but
Worse portion of thee!
Coun. By my pride ?
Empress. Thy pride,
Which evil counsellor to thy love, advised it
To blush with shame at homage from the which
It could not yet refrain, because 'twas due-
Tribute to such desert, as far behind
Left all desert beside, and might have worn
The subject's heart—whose mistress's it wonl
Thy story-everything are known to me
Coun. Then thou confessest it?
Coun. What ?
I brook not such a tone from thee.
Coun. The heart
Will speak, despite the checks of shows and forms,
Shadows compared to its realities !
It is not so with thee?-e'er hast thou felt
A pang ?-and if thou hast, whose, then, thy palace ?
Thy retinue ?-thy guards ?-thy empire ?-Gone
With all their proud appurtenances, and
No habitation left thee but thy breast,
The only house of happiness or woe!
How shall it be with me, then, with a heart
Maddened with torture ? Shall I cast about
To furnish looks, and words, and tones for things,
I have no interest in, and thou, that hast,
In equal case wouldst give to disregard ?
Empress. Remember thou’rt a subject !
Coun. So I will
While thou'rt the Empress; but when thou becomest
A woman—a mere woman like myself-
Stepp'st from the eminence that lifts thee 'bove me
Level'st thee to me in one common nature-
I deal with thee as woman deals with woman!
I own thy power! I must, and do! Thy breath
Can doom me exile, bondage, what it will!
There I submit! Thou art the Empress there.
But when thou thwart'st me in the interests
Which are the right not more of one than all-
Trenchest upon my private peace-my love
Thou dost me wrong, for which I challenge thee
As equal may an equal.
Empress. Come! Thy challenge ?
What dost allege against me?
Coun. Thou dost love him!
Empress. Ay, by my troth, as much as thou didst scorn
Coun. He did accuse me to thee ?
Empress. Wayward woman, He never spoke of thee, except with love! Coun. How couldst thou love him then? How could
thy greatness Forget itself to try and steal a heart, Thou knew'st to be another's ?
Empress. Steal ?
Coun. Ay, steal !
Must we coin terms for those that are above us,
To make offences gracious to their ears,
When they commit them-which, by us enacted,
Would blast with damning names !
Empress. Thou hast a spirit!
Coun. Thou knew'st he loved me, and didst covet him ! Covet a heart at second-hand-an Empress ! Hear me, that am a subject, and thy subjectHis heart was rnine, till thou didst rob me of it ; Not of it all, but of a part-though if A part be gone, go all! Well, as I said, His heart was mine at first. 'Tis gone-my peace, Hopes, everything, along with it! What then? Would I have it back ?-No! I would sooner die ! Its worth was its fidelity—that lost, All's lost. Thou covetedst a faithless heart !
Empress. Didst thou deserve that heart ?
Coun. [Weeping.) I did !—I loved him Better than thou couldst do !
Empress. I'faith, thou'rt brave ! Thy love of him was persecution.
Coun. [Weeping.) Yet I loved him!
Empress. Loved him! It was tyranny
Enforced without the mercy of a pause.
Coun. (Weeping still, and more bitterly.) The more I
Empress. Luved him !--and constrained him
To nuptials he abhorred!
Coun. I did-and then
(In an agony of tears. I loved him most !
Empress. How had it fared with him, Hadst thou been I ?
Coun. Far differently.
Coun. I then had been above rebuke or blame !
I would have given his merits their fair field,
Encouraged them to challenge their deserts,
Rewarded them till they had lifted him
So near equality to me, the seat
I filled, he might have shared along with me.