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LIONI.

Be but now

Silent: I bid thee now no more: but this

Thou shalt be.

STENO.

See now, sweet, what friends he hath,

Our good grey head of Venice! if one speak
At hunting-time of horns or tusks or spoil
That hot young hunters laugh at, straight they cry,
Peace, and respect, and spare our master. Christ!
What friends! were I fourscore, and thou-thyself,
Wouldst thou be half so good a friend of mine?
Ha? Nay, but answer-nay, thou shalt.

LADY.

I will

Once, and no more. Keep silence and forget
If ever word of such a tongue as thine

Found audience of me.

STENO.

Am I then indeed

Fourscore, that I should not remember? Ha!

Nor woman am I, to forget-but some

Love dotards more than men.

LADY.

Who loves not men

May love such things as grovel of thy kind,

And deem such love not monstrous.

STENO.

Nay, but this

Asks answer of man's lips-not of his tongue

Nay!

FALIERO.

Who is there that knows not where he is

And dreams the place a brothel? Gentlemen,

If here be any, need is none to bid

You spurn him out of sight.

LIONI.

Go; if thou hast

Or shame or sense, abide not here till men
Hurl thee with fists and feet away.

STENO.

By God,

[Exit.

I will be-God forsake me else—revenged.
Sirs, lay not hand upon me.

FALIERO.

Dear my child,

Thine eyes are still set sunwards: hast thou heard

Nought of this brawl?

DUCHESS.

I would not.

FALIERO.

Thou dost well

God knows, no base or violent thing should come,

Had I God's power, in hearing or in sight

Of such as thou art.

DUCHESS.

Then were earth too soft

For souls to look on heaven; but what I may
I would eschew of meaner knowledge.

FALIERO.

God

Guard thee from all unworthy thee, or fit
For earthlier sense than feeds thy spirit and keeps
Heaven still within thine eyeshot. Dost thou see
There, in that fiery field of heaven that fades
Beyond the extremest Euganean, aught

Worth quite the rapture of those eyes that yearn
Too high to look on Venice?

DUCHESS.

Sir, methought

We were not worthy-nor was ever man
Made in God's loftiest likeness-even to see
Such wonder and such glory live and die.

FALIERO.

And yet we live that look on it.

This sight

Is verily other far than we beheld
When first October brought thy husband back
From Romeward, here to take on him the state
Wherein we now sit none the lower or less
For the ominous entrance to it. I never saw

A noon so like a nightfall: that we breathe
Unwithered yet of wicked signs, and see
The world still shine about us, might rebuke
All fearful faith in evil.

DUCHESS.

Yet was that

A woful welcome: all about the prow
Darkness, and all ahead and all astern
And all beside no sign but cloud adrift,
All blind as death and bitter

and at last

I would not bring it on your memory back
Who fain would cast it out of mine.

FALIERO.

At last

To land between the columns where they die
Whom justice damns by judgment. Nay, are we
Traitors or thieves or manslayers, that the sign
Should make us wan with forethought? This foretold,
If aught foretell men aught, that he who came
Should bring men equal justice; do them right,
Or die—as gladlier would I die than stand
In equal eyes of equitable men

A judge approved unrighteous. Be not thou
Moved, when the world is gracious and the sun
Speaks comfort, by remembrance of a sign
That lied, and was not presage. We came in
Darkling and lo now if this earth and sea
Be not as heaven about us, and the time
Not more elate with fair festivity

Than should our hearts be-yea, though nought were

here

Save this bare beauty shown of wave and sky
To lift them up for love's sake. Has the world,
Think'st thou, so good a gift as this to give
Men's eyes that know not Venice?

DUCHESS.

Nay but you,

Lord of two wives, love least the first espoused

Albeit the younger of them: more than me
You love that old hoar bride who caught your ring
Last autumn, and to-day laughs large and loud

On all that sail or swim: you dare not say

You have not loved her longest.

FALIERO.

But I dare

Swear, though no little thing this be to swear
For one whose heart and hand, whose praise and pride,
Were still mine old Adriatic's, mother and wife

And wellspring of mine honour, that I love
Not her nor heaven nor Venice more than thee
Whose laughter mocks us and whose lip maligns ;
Nay, not so much, thou knowest, were I not old
Or thou not young, I would not fear to say,
As now, lest youth reprove mine age of love
And shame chastise it for infirmity,

And thou-but in thine heart, I think, there lurks
No thought that should reprove it or chastise
With less than tender laughter; though, being old,

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