Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

The sea be meeter for my bride, and show
A wrinkled face with hoary fell that seems
More like mine own than thou canst show me.

DUCHESS.

How

Man's courtesy keeps time with falsehood, though
Truth ring rebuke unheeded! Look, my lord,
How the sea bids the sun and us good night,
With what sweet sighs and laughter, light and wind
Contending as they kiss her, till the sigh

Laugh on her lip, and all her sunward smile
Subside in sighing to shoreward: will you say
God hath not given you there a goodlier bride
Than his who mates with woman?

FALIERO.

She is fair

Heaven, in our dreams of heaven, not fairer; nay,
The heaven that lends her colour not so fair,
Being less in men's eyes living: but in thee,

Were even thy face no fairer found than hers,

There sleeps no chance of shipwreck. See, they come,
The hunters with their trophies, and in front,
If the sun play not with an old man's eyes,
My boy it is that leads them.

DUCHESS.

And unhurt.

[Voices below: Long live Faliero! live Bertuccio long!

DUCHESS.

God and St. Mark be praised for all!

FALIERO.

Nay, child,

Wouldst thou make him a child or girl, to thank
God that he bears him like a man and takes
No hurt for lack of skill or manfulness

In young men's craft or pastime? Welcome, sirs;
Well done, and welcome. Hither, son, to me.

Enter BERTUCCIO and Hunters.

Give this good lady thanks, who hath at heart
Such care of thee she might not choose but doubt
If manhood were enough in heart of thine

Or strength in hand for sportful service.

I said so never.

DUCHESS.

Nay;

BERTUCCIO.

Sir, my thanks to both.

We have seen good sport; but these my friends, who lay The hunt's main honour on my single hand,

Malign themselves to praise me.

FALIERO.

Yet for that

Thy cheek need put not on the dye wherewith
The sunset's flag now hoisted strikes twice red

These westward palace-columns. Come: the dance

Will try thy mettle till the first bell sound
And bid the banquet in. A fairer night
Spring could not send us.

Come beside me: so.

[Exeunt.

SCENE II.-The Piazzetta.

Enter STENO and LIONI.

STENO.

I will not and I shall not be revenged?
It cannot be? Thou sayest it?

LIONI.

This I say,

Thou shalt do well to get thee home and sleep.

STENO.

Sleep? and forgive? and pray, before I sleep,
God love and bless and comfort and sustain
With all the grace that consecrates old age
Faliero? Is my badge a hare—a dove—
A weasel-anything whose heart or gall
Is water, or is nothing? God shall first
Give up his place to Satan-heaven fall down
Below the lowest and loathliest gulf in hell—
Ere I take on me such dishonour.

LIONI.

Shame

Thou hast laid upon thyself already, nor

Canst hurl it off with howling words can wash

:

No part of ignominy away that clings

As yet about thee: 'time and sufferance may,
And penitence, if manful. I would fain

Think thee, being noble, not ignoble; as

Must all men think the man born prince or churl
Whom wrath or lust or rancorous self-regard

Drives past regard of honour.

STENO.

Look you, friend:

What, think you, shall these all men think, who read

Writ up to-morrow on the ducal seat,

The throne of office, this for epigraph

'Marin Faliero of the fair-faced wife :

He keeps and others kiss her '-eh? or thus'Others enjoy her and he maintains her '—ha?

LIONI.

Thou art not such a hound at heart: thy tongue
Is viler than thy purpose.

STENO.

Wilt thou swear

This? Vile-why, vile were he that should endure
Insult; not he that being offended dares
Take insolence by the beard-be it white or black-
And shake and spit upon it. Ay? by God!

Back turned and shoulder shrugged confute not me:

Abide awhile: be dawn my witness wait,

And men shall find what heart is mine to strike,
What wit to wound mine enemy: meet me then,
And say which fool to-night spake wiselier here.

[Exeunt severally.

« IndietroContinua »