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Full Online Book HomePlaysThe Spagnoletto - Act 4
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The Spagnoletto - Act 4 Post by :winwayne Category :Plays Author :Emma Lazarus Date :May 2012 Read :1178

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The Spagnoletto - Act 4

ACT IV

SCENE I.

(Night. RIBERA'S bedroom. RIBERA discovered in his dressing-gown, seated reading beside a table, with a light upon it. Enter from an open door at the back of the stage, MARIA. She stands irresolute for a moment on the threshold behind her father, watching him, passes her hand rapidly over her brow and eyes, and then knocks.)


MARIA.
May I come in, dear father?


RIBERA
(putting down his book and looking at her affectionately).

Child, you ask?


MARIA
(advancing).

You study late. I came to bid good-night.


RIBERA.
Poor child, thou must be weary. Thou art pale
Still from thy swoon.


MARIA
(with a forced laugh).

I had forgotten it.
Nay, I am well again.


RIBERA.
But I forget it not,
Neither forgive myself. Well, it is past,
Enough! When the Prince left I sent for thee;
Thou wast still sleeping?


MARIA
(with confusion).

Yes, I was outworn.
What didst thou wish of me?


RIBERA.
Merely to tell thee
Don John leaves Naples. He expressed regret
Most courteously that thou wast suffering.
He had fain ordered us his parting thanks
For our kind welcome--so he deigned to say.
To-morrow he may steal a moment's grace
To see us both once more; but this is doubtful,
So he entrusted his farewells to me.


MARIA.
May peace go with him.


RIBERA.
We are alone--
Are we not, darling? Thanks for the calm content
Wherewith thou biddest him farewell, to nestle
Once more in mine embrace. Not long, I feel,
May these old horny eyes be blest with sight
Of thy full-flowering grace, these wrinkled lips
Be pressed against thy brow. I am no more
What I have been; at times both hand and brain
Refuse their task. Myself will follow soon--
The better part of me already dead.
So the worm claims us by slow torture, child.
Thou'lt bear with me, if as to-day I wrong
Thy gentle spirit?


MARIA.
Father, no more, no more!
You break my heart.


RIBERA.
Mine angel-child, weep not
So bitterly. I thought not thus to move thee.
Still thou art overwrought. I would have asked
At last a promise of thee. I am selfish,
But I would sleep less startingly o'nights,
And bear a calmer soul by day, were I secure
That thou wilt bide with me until the end.

(A pause.)

To-night I will not press thee. Thou art weary;
Thy nerves have scarce regained their tension yet;
But from thy deep emotion I can see
'T will cost thee less than I have feared. To-morrow
We will talk of this again.


MARIA.
To-morrow!


RIBERA.
Now,
Good-night. 'T is time thou shouldst be sleeping.


MARIA.
Father,
I cannot leave thee! Every word of thine
Gnaws like a burning coal my sore, soft heart.
What! thou shalt suffer, and thine own Maria
Will leave thee daughterless, uncomforted?
What! thou shalt weep, and other eyes than mine
Shall see the Spagnoletto's spirit broken?


RIBERA.
There, there, poor child! Look up, cling not so wildly
About my neck. Thou art too finely touched,
If thus the faint foreshadow of a grief
Can overcome thee. Listen? What was that?


MARIA
(starts up, shudders violently, and,
all at once, masters her emotion).

Why, I heard nothing, father.


RIBERA.
Yes, a sound
Of footsteps, and a stifled call.

(He goes toward the casement. MARIA tries to detain him.)


MARIA.
Dear father,
Surely 't was naught. Your ears deceive you.
The wind is rising, and you heard the leaves
Rustling together.


RIBERA.
Nay, I will look forth.

(He opens the casement and looks out in silence. MARIA stands behind him, with her hands clasped in an agony of fear.)


RIBERA
(calling).

Hist, answer! Who goes there?

(a pause.)

No sound. Thou'rt right,
Maria; I see naught; our garden lies
Vacant and still, save for the swaying branches
Of bush and tree. 'T is a wild, threatening night.
A sultry breeze is blowing, and the sky
Hangs black above Vesuvius. Yonder cloud
Hath lightnings in it. Ah, a blinding bolt
Dims the volcano's pillared fire. Enough.

(He closes the casement and returns to MARIA.)

Hark, how the thunder rolls! My child, you tremble
Like the blown leaves without.


MARIA.
I am oppressed
By the same stormy influence. Thou knowest
I dread the thunder.


RIBERA.
Thou, who art safely housed,
Why shouldst thou dread it? Try to sleep, my darling;
Forget the terror of the tempest; morn
Will break again in sunshine.


MARIA.
Father, say
You love me and you trust me once again,
Before I bid good-night.


RIBERA.
If it will calm thee,
I love thee and I trust thee. Thou art to me
My genius--thou, the breathing image still
Of thy saint-mother, whom the angels guard.
Even as thou standest now, vested in white,
With glowing eyes and pale, unsmiling face,
I see her as she stood the day her heart
Went forth from home and kin to bless the stranger
Who craved her father's alms.


MARIA.
Thanks, thanks. Good-night.
God bless us through these wild, dark hours.


RIBERA.
Good-night.

 

SCENE II.

(RIBERA'S garden. Half the sky illuminated by an over-clouded moon, the rest obscured by an approaching storm. Occasional thunder and lightning. On on side of the stage a summer-house open to the audience, on the other side the exterior of the dwelling. DON JOHN discovered waiting near the house. The door opens, and enter MARIA.)


DON JOHN
(springing forward and embracing her).

At last! at last!


MARIA.
Juan, beware! My father's fears,
I cannot guess by whom or what, are roused.
(She extends her arms gropingly to embrace him.)
Oh, let me feel thee near me--I see naught.
Follow me; here our voices may be heard.

(She hastens towards the summer-house, leaning
upon his arm, and sinks upon a seat.)

Have not slow ages passed with crowding woes
Since we last met! What have I not endured!
Oh, Juan, save me!


DON JOHN.
Dearest child, be calm.
Thou art strangely overwrought. Speak not. Await
Till this wild fear be past.


MARIA.
How great you are!
Your simple presence stills and comforts me.
While you are here, the one thing real to me
In all the universe is love.


DON JOHN.
And yet
My love is here, if I be far or nigh.
Is this the spirit of a soldier's wife?
Nay, fiery courage, iron fortitude,
That soul must own that dares to say, "I love."


MARIA.
And I dare say it. I can bear the worst
That envious fate may heap upon my head,
If thou art with me, or for hope of thee.


DON JOHN.
Art sure of that? Thou couldst not part from me,
Even for thy father's sake?


MARIA.
Talk you of parting?
For God's sake, what is this? You love no more?


DON JOHN.
Rather I love so truly that I shrink
From asking thee to share a soldier's fate.
I tremble to uproot so fine a flower
From its dear native earth. I--


MARIA
(putting her hand on his lips).
Hush, no more!
I need no preparation more than this,
Your mere request.


DON JOHN.
There spake my heroine.
The King, my father, bids me to repair
Unto Palermo.


MARIA.
Shall we sail to-night?


DON JOHN.
My Princess! Thou recoilest not from all
Thou must endure, ere I can openly
Claim thee my wife!


MARIA.
The pangs of purgatory
Were lightly borne with such a heaven in view.
I were content with one brief hour a day,
Snatched from the toils of war and thy high duties,
To gaze on thy dear face--to feel thy hand,
Even as now a stay and a caress.


DON JOHN.
Angel, I have no thanks. May God forget me
When I forget this hour! So, thou art firm--
Ready this night to leave thy home, thy kin,
Thy father?


MARIA (solemnly).
I am ready and resolved.
Yet judge me not so lightly as to deem
I say this with no pang. My love were naught,
Could I withdraw it painlessly at once
From him round whose colossal strength the tendrils
Of mine own baby heart were taught to twine.
I speak not now as one who swerves or shrinks,
But merely, dear, to show thee what sharp tortures
I, nowise blind, but with deliberate soul,
Embrace for thee.


DON JOHN.
How can I doubt the anguish
So rude a snapping of all ties must smite
Thy tender heart withal? Yet, dwell we not
On the brief pain, but on the enduring joys.
If Ribera's love be all thou deemest,
He will forgive thy secret flight, thy--


MARIA.
Secret!
May I not bid farewell? May I not tell him
Where we are bound? How soon he may have hope
To hear from me--to welcome me, thy Princess?
I dare not leave him without hope.


DON JOHN.
My child,
Thou art mad! We must be secret as the grave,
Else are we both undone. I have given out
That I depart in princely state to-morrow.
Far from the quay a bark awaiteth us.
I know my man. Shrouded by careful night,
We will set secret sail for Sicily.
Once in Palermo, thou mayst write thy father--
Sue for his pardon--tell him that, ere long,
When I have won by cautious policy
King Philip's favor, thou shalt be proclaimed
Princess of Austria.


MARIA
(who has hung upon his words with trembling excitement,
covers her face with her hands, and bursts into tears).

I cannot! no! I cannot!


DON JOHN
(scornfully).

I feared as much. Well, it is better thus.
I asked thee not to front the "worst of ills
That envious fate could heap upon thy head"--
Only a little patience. 'T was too much;
I cannot blame thee. 'T is a loving father.
I, a mere stranger, had naught else to hope,
Matching my claim with his.


MARIA
(looks at him and throws herself at his feet).

Oh, pardon, pardon!
My Lord, my Prince, my husband! I am thine!
Lead wheresoe'er thou wilt, I follow thee.
Tell me a life's devotion may efface
The weakness of a moment!


DON JOHN
(raising her tenderly and embracing her).

Ah, mine own!

 

SCENE III.

(Morning. The studio. Enter RIBERA.)


RIBERA.
How laughingly the clear sun shines to-day
On storm-drenched green, and cool, far-glittering seas!
When she comes in to greet me, she will blush
For last night's terrors. How she crouched and shuddered
At the mere thought of the wild war without!
Poor, clinging women's souls, what need is theirs
Of our protecting love! Yet even on me
The shadow of the storm-cloud seemed to breed.
Through my vexed sleep I heard the thunder roll;
My dreams were ugly--Well, all that is past;
To-day my spirit is renewed. 'T is long
Since I have felt so fresh.

(He seats himself before his easel and takes up his
brush and palette, but holds them idly in his hand.)

Strange, she still sleeps!
The hour is past when she is wont to come
To bless me with the kiss of virgin love.
Mayhap 't was fever in her eyes last night
Gave them so wild a glance, so bright a lustre.
God! if she should be ill!

(He rises and calls.)

Luca!

(Enter LUCA.)


LUCA.
My lord?


RIBERA.
Go ask Fiametta if the mistress sleeps--
If she be ailing--why she has not come
This morn to greet me.

(Exit LUCA.)


RIBERA
(begins pacing the stage).

What fond fears are these
Mastering my spirit? Since her mother died
I tremble at the name of pain or ill.
How can my rude love tend, my hard hand soothe,
The dear child's fragile--

(A confused cry without.)

What is that? My God!
How hast thou stricken me!

(He staggers and falls into a chair. Enter hastily FIAMETTA, weeping, and LUCA with gestures of terror and distress.)


FIAMETTA.
Master!


LUCA.
Dear master!

(RIBERA rises with a great effort and confronts them.)


RIBERA.
What is it? Speak!


LUCA.
Dear master, she is gone.


RIBERA.
How? Murdered--dead? Oh, cruel God! Away!
Follow me not!

(Exit RIBERA.)


FIAMETTA.
Help, all ye saints of heaven.
Have pity on him! Oh, what a day is this!


LUCA.
Quiet, Fiametta. When the master finds
The empty, untouched bed, the silent room,
His wits will leave him. Hark! was that his cry?

(Reenter RIBERA calling.)


Maria! Daughter! Where have they taken thee,
My only one, my darling? Oh, the brigands!
Naples shall bleed for this. What do ye here,
Slaves, fools, who stare upon me? Know ye not
I have been robbed? Hence! Ransack every house
From cave to roof in Naples. Search all streets.
Arrest whomso ye meet. Let no sail stir
From out the harbor. Ring the alarum! Quick!
This is a general woe.

(Exeunt LUCA and FIAMETTA.)

The Duke's my friend;
He'll further me. The Prince--oh, hideous fear!--
No, no, I will not dream it. Mine enemies
Have done this thing; the avengers of that beggar--
Domenichino--they have struck home at last.
How was it that I heard no sound, no cry,
Throughout the night? The heavens themselves conspired
Against me--the hoarse thunder drowned her shrieks!
Oh, agony!

(He buries his face in his hands. Enter ANNICCA; she
throws herself speechless and weeping upon his neck.)

Thou knowest it, Annicca!
The thief has entered in the night--she's gone.
I stand and weep; I stir not hand or foot.
Is not the household roused? Do they not seek her?
I am helpless, weak; an old man overnight.
The brigands' work was easy. I heard naught.
But surely, surely, had they murdered her,
I had heard that--that would have wakened me
From out my grave.


ANNICCA.
Father, she is not dead.


RIBERA
(wildly).

Where have they found her? What dost thou know? Speak, speak,
Ere my heart break!


ANNICCA.
Alas! they have not found her;
But that were easy. Nerve thyself--remember
Thou art the Spagnoletto still. Last night
Don John fled secretly from Naples.


RIBERA.
Ah!
Give me a draft of water.
(He sinks down on his chair.)


ANNICCA
(calling).
Help, Tommaso!
Luca! Fiametta! Father, lookup, look up!
Gaze not so hollowly.

(Enter DON TOMMASO and SERVANTS.)

Quick! water, water!
Do ye not see he swoons?

(She kneels before her father, chafing and kissing his hands. Exit LUCA, who returns immediately with a silver flagon of water. ANNICCA seizes it and raises it to RIVERA'S lips. He takes it from her hand and drinks.)


RIBERA.
How your hand trembles!
See, mine is firm. You had spilt it o'er my beard
Had I not saved it. Thanks. I am strong again.
I am very old for such a steady grasp.
Why, girl, most men as hoary as thy father
Are long since palsied. But my firm touch comes
From handling of the brush. I am a painter,
The Spagnoletto--

(As he speaks his name he suddenly throws off his
apathy, rises to his full height, and casts the
flagon to the ground.)

Ah, the Spagnoletto,
Disgraced, abandoned! My exalted name
The laughing-stock of churls; my hearthstone stamped
With everlasting shame; my pride, my fame,
Mine honor--where are they? With yon spilt water,
Fouled in the dust, sucked by the thirsty air.
Now, by Christ's blood, my vengeance shall be huge
As mine affront. I will demand full justice
From Philip. We will treat as King with King.
HE shall be stripped of rank and name and wealth,
Degraded, lopped from off the fellowship
Of Christians like a rotten limb, proclaimed
The bastard that he is. She shall go with him,
Linked in a common infamy, haled round,
A female Judas, who betrayed her father,
Her God, her conscience, with a kiss. Her shadow
Shall be my curse. Cursed be her sleep by night,
Accursed her light by day--her meat and drink!
Accursed the fruit of her own womb--the grave
Where she will lie! Cursed--Oh, my child, my child!

(He throws himself on the floor and buries his head among the cushions of the couch. DON TOMMASO advances and lays his hand on RIBERA'S shoulder.)


DON TOMMASO.
Mine honored sir--


RIBERA
(looks up without rising).

Surely you mock me, signor.
Honored! Yes, honored with a rifled home,
A desecrated heart, a strumpet child.
For honors such as these, I have not stinted
Sweat, blood, or spirit through long years of toil.
I have passed through peril scathless; I was spared
When Naples was plague-stricken; I have 'scaped
Mine enemies' stiletto--fire and flood;
I have survived my love, my youth, my self,
My thrice-blest Leonora, whom I pitied,
Fool that I was! in her void, silent tomb.
The God of mercy hath reserved me truly
For a wise purpose.


ANNICCA.
Father, rise; take courage;
We know not yet the end.


RIBERA.
Why should I rise
To front the level eyes of men's contempt?
Oh, I am shamed! Cover my head, Annicca;
Darken mine eyes, and veil my face. Oh, God,
Would that I were a nameless, obscure man,
So could I bury with me my disgrace,
That now must be immortal. Where thou standest,
Annicca, there she stood last night. She kissed me;
Round mine old neck she wreathed her soft, young arms.
My wrinkled cheeks were wet with her warm tears.
She shuddered, and I thought it was the thunder
Struck terror through her soul. White-bearded fool!


FIAMETTA.
I found this scrip upon the chamber-floor,
Mayhap it brings some comfort.


RIBERA
(starts up and snatches the paper she offers him,
reads it rapidly, then to ANNICCA wildly).

Look, look there--
'T is writ in blood: "My duty to my lord
Forbids my telling you our present port."
I would track her down with sleuth-hounds, did I not
Abhor to see her face. Ah, press thy hands
Against my head--my brain is like to burst--
My throat is choked. Help! help!

(He swoons.)

SCENE IV.

(A street. Enter LORENZO and a GENTLEMAN, meeting. They salute, and LORENZO is about to pass on.)


LORENZO.
Good-morning, sir.


GENTLEMAN.
Hail and farewell so soon,
Friend dreamer? I will lay a goodly sum
The news that flies like fire from tongue to tongue
Hath not yet warmed thine ear.


LORENZO.
What's that? I lay
A sum as fair thy news is some dry tale
Of courtly gossip, touching me as nigh
As the dissensions of the antipodes.


GENTLEMAN.
Done for a hundred florins! In the night,
'Midst the wild storm whose roar must have invaded
Even thy leaden sleep, Prince John left Naples.
We should have had a pageant here to-day,
A royal exit, floral arches thrown
From house to house in all the streets he passed,
Music and guard of honor, homage fitting
The son of Philip--but the bird has flown.


LORENZO.
So! I regret our busy citizens,
Who sun themselves day-long upon the quays,
Should be deprived of such a festival.
Your wager's lost--how am I moved by this?

GENTLEMAN.
Hark to the end. 'T would move all men whose veins
Flow not clear water. He hath carried off
The Rose of Naples.


LORENZO.
What wouldst thou say? Speak out!
In God's name, who hath followed him?


GENTLEMAN.
Ah, thou'rt roused.
Thy master hath been robbed--the Spagnoletto--
Maria of the Golden Locks--his daughter.


LORENZO.
How is this known? 'T is a foul slander forged
By desperate malice. What! in the night, you say?--
She whose bright name was clean as gold, whose heart
Shone a fixed star of loyal love and duty
Beside her father's glory! This coarse lie
Denies itself. I will go seek the master,
And if this very noon she walk not forth,
Led by the Spagnoletto, through the streets,
To blind the dazed eyes of her slanderers,--
I am your debtor for a hundred florins.


GENTLEMAN.
Your faith in womanhood becomes you, sir.
(Aside.) A beggar's child the mistress of a Prince;
Humph! there be some might think the weight of scandal
Lay on the other side. (To Lorenzo.) You need not forth
To seek her father. See, he comes, alone.
I will not meddle in the broil. Farewell!

(Exit Gentleman.)

(Enter RIBERA, without hat or mantle, slowly, with folded arms and bent head.)


LORENZO.
Oh heart, break not for pity! Shall he thus
Unto all Naples blazon his disgrace?
This must not be (advancing). Father!


RIBERA
(starts and looks up sharply).

Who calls me father?


LORENZO.
Why, master, I--you know me not? Lorenzo.


RIBERA.
Nor do I care to know thee. Thou must be
An arrant coward, thus to league with foes
Against so poor a wretch as I--to call me
By the most curst, despised, unhallowed name
God's creatures can own. Away! and let me pass;
I injure no man.


LORENZO.
Look at me, dear master.
Your head is bare, your face is ashy pale,
The sun is fierce. I am your friend, your pupil;
Let me but guide my reverend master home,
In token of the grateful memory
Wherein I hold his guidance of my mind
Up the steep paths of art.

(While LORENZO speaks, RIBERA slowly gains consciousness of his situation, raises his hand to his head and shudders violently. LORENZO'S last words seem to awaken him thoroughly.)


RIBERA.
I crave your pardon
If I have answered roughly, Sir Lorenzo.
My thoughts were far away--I failed to know you--
I have had trouble, sir. You do remind me,
I had forgot my hat; that is a trifle,
Yet now I feel the loss. What slaves are we
To circumstance! One who is wont to cover
For fashion or for warmth his pate, goes forth
Bareheaded, and the sun will seem to smite
The shrinking spot, the breeze will make him shiver,
And yet our hatless beggars heed them not.
We are the fools of habit.

(Enter two gentlemen together as promenading; they cross the stage, looking hard at RIBERA and LORENZO, and exeunt.)


LORENZO.
Pray you, sir
Let me conduct you home. Here is no place
To hold discourse. In God's name, come with me.


RIBERA.
What coupled staring fools were they that passed?
They seemed to scare thee. Why, boy, face them out.
I am the shadow of the Spagnoletto,
Else had I brooked no gaze so insolent.
Well, I will go with thee. But, hark thee, lad;
A word first in thine ear. 'T is a grim secret;
Whisper it not in Naples; I but tell thee,
Lest thou should fancy I had lost my wits.
My daughter hath deserted me--hath fled
From Naples with a bastard. Thou hast seen her,
Maria-Rosa--thou must remember her;
She, whom I painted as Madonna once.
She had fair hair and Spanish eyes. When was it?
I came forth thinking I might meet with her
And find all this a dream--a foolish thought!
I am very weary. (Yawning.) I have walked and walked
For hours. How far, sir, stand we from the Strada
Nardo? I live there, nigh Saint Francis' church.

LORENZO.
Why, 't is hard by; a stone's throw from this square.
So, lean on me--you are not well. This way.
Pluck up good heart, sir; we shall soon be there.

(Exeunt.)

 

SCENE V.

(Night. A Room in RIBERA'S House. ANNICCA seated alone, in an attitude of extreme weariness and despondency.)


ANNICCA.
His heavy sleep still lasts. Despite the words
Of the physician, I can cast not off
That ghastly fear. Albeit he owned no drugs,
This deathlike slumber, this deep breathing slow,
His livid pallor makes me dread each moment
His weary pulse will cease. This is the end,
And from the first I knew it. The worst evil
My warning tongue had wrought were joy to this.
No heavier curse could I invoke on her
Than that she see him in her dreams, her thoughts,
As he is now. I could no longer bear it;
I have fled hither from his couch to breathe--
To quicken my spent courage for the end.
I cannot pray--my heart is full of curses.
He sleeps; he rests. What better could I wish
For his rent heart, his stunned, unbalanced brain,
Than sleep to be eternally prolonged?

(Enter FIAMETTA. ANNICCA looks up anxiously, half rising.)


ANNICCA.
How now? What news?


FIAMETTA.
The master is awake
And calls for you, signora.


ANNICCA.
Heaven be praised!

(Exit hastily.)


FIAMETTA.
Would I had followed my young mistress! Here
I creep about like a scared, guilty thing,
And fancy at each moment they will guess
'T was I who led her to the hut. I will confess,
If any sin there be, to Father Clement,
And buy indulgence with her golden chain.
'T would burn my throat, the master's rolling eyes
Would haunt me ever, if I went to wear it.
So, all will yet be well.

(Exit.)

 

SCENE VI.

(RIBERA'S Room. RIBERA discovered sitting on the couch. He looks old and haggard, but has regained his natural bearing and expression. Enter ANNICCA. She hastens towards him, and kneels beside the couch, kissing him affectionately.)


ANNICCA.
Father, you called me?


RIBERA.
Aye, to bid good-night.
Why do you kiss me? To betray to-morrow?


ANNICCA.
Dear father, you are better; you have slept.
Are you not rested?


RIBERA.
Child, I was not weary.
There was some cloud pressed here (pointing to his forehead) but
that is past,
I have no pain nor any sense of ill.
Now, while my brain is clear, I have a word
To speak. I think not I have been to thee,
Nor to that other one, an unkind father.
I do not now remember any act,
Or any word of mine, could cause thee grief.
But I am old--perchance my memory
Deceives in this? Speak! Am I right, Annicca?


ANNICCA
(weeping).

Oh, father, father, why will you torture me?
You were too good, too good.


RIBERA.
Why, so I thought.
Since it appears the guerdon of such goodness
Is treachery, abandonment, disgrace,
I here renounce my fatherhood. No child
Will I acknowledge mine. Thou art a wife;
Thy duty is thy husband's. When Antonio
Returns from Seville, tell him that his father
Is long since dead. Henceforward I will own
No kin, no home, no tie. I will away,
To-morrow morn, and live an anchorite.
One thing ye cannot rob me of--my work.
My name shall still outsoar these low, mirk vapors--
Not the Ribera, stained with sin and shame,
As she hath left it, but the Spagnoletto.
My glory is mine own. I have done with it,
But I bequeath it to my country. Now
I will make friends with beasts--they'll prove less savage
Than she that was my daughter. I have spoken
For the last time that word. Thee I curse not;
Thou hast not set thy heel upon my heart;
But yet I will not bless thee. Go. Good-night.


ANNICCA
(embracing him).

What! will you spurn me thus? Nay, I will bide,
And be to thee all that she should have been,
Soothe thy declining years, and heal the wound
Of this sharp sorrow. Thou shalt bless me still,
Father--

(RIBERA has yielded for a moment to her embrace; but, suddenly rising, he pushes her roughly from him.)


RIBERA.
Away! I know thee. Thou art one
With her who duped me with like words last night.
Then I believed; but now my sense is closed,
My heart is dead as stone. I cast thee forth.
By heaven, I own thee not! Thou dost forget
I am the Spagnoletto. Away, I say,
Or ere I strike thee.

(He threatens her.)


ANNICCA.
Woe is me! Help, help!

(Exit.)


RIBERA.
So, the last link is snapt. Had I not steeled
My heart, I fain had kissed her farewell.
'T is better so. I leave my work unfinished.
Could I arise each day to face this spectre,
Or sleep with it at night?--to yearn for her
Even while I curse her? No! The dead remain
Sacred and sweet in our remembrance still;
They seem not to have left us; they abide
And linger nigh us in the viewless air.
The fallen, the guilty, must be rooted out
From heart and thought and memory. With them
No hope of blest reunion; they must be
As though they had not been; their spoken name
Cuts like a knife. When I essay to think
Of what hath passed to-day, my sick brain reels.
The letter I remember, but all since
Floats in a mist of horror, and I grasp
No actual form. Did I not wander forth?
A mob surrounded me. All Naples knew
My downfall, and the street was paved with eyes
That stared into my soul. Then friendly hands
Guided me hither. When I woke, I felt
As though a stone had rolled from off my brain.
But still this nightmare bides the truth. I know
They watch me, they suspect me. I will wait
Till the whole household sleep, and then steal forth,
Nor unavenged return.

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