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ACT I.

SCENE I. The balcony of the ducal palace overlooking the Piazza San Marco.

MARINO FALIERO and the DUCHESS, seated: Lords, Ladies, and Attendants behind: among them SER MICHELE STENO and SER NICCOLÒ LIONI.

FALIERO.

The sun fights hard against us ere he die.

Canst thou see westward?

DUCHESS.

Not the huntsmen yet.

FALIERO.

Nay, nor the bull, belike: but ere they come

There should be stirring in the crowd far off:

Some wind should wake these waters, and some wave Swell toward us from the sunset: but the square

Seems breathless as the very sea to left

That sleeps and thinks it summer. Thou shalt know Full soon if love and liking toward mine own

Have made mine old eyes blind or wrecked the wits That once were mine for judgment.

DUCHESS.

Nay, my lord,

I doubt not-nor did ever

FALIERO.

Nay, my love,

But thou didst never trust: I say, my son,
My brother's born, made mine by verier love
Than every father bears his own, shall find
For manfulness and speed and noble skill
No master and no match of all his mates
In all the goodliest flower of lordliest youth
That lightens all this city. Dost thou think
The day's chase shall not leave him spirit and strength
To dance thy merriest maidens down to-night

Even till the first bell ring the banquet in?

Nay, we shall find him as thy sire and I

Were fifty years or sixty since, when life

As glad and gallant spurred our light strong limbs
As quickens now these young men's toward the chase
That knits their thews for battle.

DUCHESS.

How the sun

Burns, now so near the mountains! even at noon

It smote not sorer.

FALIERO.

Old men set not so.

A goodly grace it were to close up life
And seal the record fast of perfect days

If we might save one hour of strength and youth
To reap and be requickened ere we die

With royal repossession of the past

For sixty sovereign heartbeats pulsed of time,
And with one last full purple throb let life

Pass, and leave death's face glowing: yet perchance
It should but seem the harder so to die.
This is no festal fancy: but thy brow
Is graver than the time is. Art thou not
Weary ?

DUCHESS.

Not yet nay, surely, no.

FALIERO.

Thy smile

Is brighter than thy voice.

DUCHESS.

My heart may be

More light than rings my tongue, since neither knows A cause to teach it sadness.

That?

STENO.

Did you mark

[Aside to the lady next him.

LADY.

What? no, nothing, I.

STENO.

She knows no cause :

What cause of sadness may so fair a face

Know, mated with so blithe a bridegroom's? Nay,

If fourscore years can pleasure not a wife,
There is no cheer nor comfort in white hairs,
No solace in man's dotage.

LADY.

Hush!

STENO.

And Fie!

Should not those words run still in couple? Ha!
The woman that cries Hush bids kiss: I learnt
So much of her that taught me kissing.

LADY.

Then

A foolish tutoress taught a graceless knave

Folly.

STENO.

That cries on vengeance: should my lip

Retaliate, would you cry not louder?

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You wrong this

presence and yourself, and me

Most, and with least respect, of all.

STENO.

Respect !

Nay, I revere you more than mine own heart,
Which rests your servile chattel: for myself,
I know not aught worth reverence in me, save
Love, love of one too sweet and hard, that wears
A flower in face, at heart a stone, and turns
My face to tears, my heart to fire, and laughs
As loud for scorn as men for mirth who look
To see the duke's brave nephew bring him back
For gift and trophied treasure of the chase
A broad bull's pair of tributes.

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Ay-to whip thee dumb,

Or strike thy folly dead at once. Be still,

For shame's sake-not for honour's would I bid

Thee.

STENO.

While this lady's eyes regard us, dumb

I will be but hereafter

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