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Full Online Book HomePlaysThe Spanish Student - ACT II - SCENE IV
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The Spanish Student - ACT II - SCENE IV Post by :wealthget Category :Plays Author :Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Date :June 2011 Read :1177

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The Spanish Student - ACT II - SCENE IV

ACT II: SCENE IV

SCENE: PRECIOSA'S chamber. She is sitting, with a book in
her hand, near a table, on which are flowers. A bird singing in
its cage. The COUNT OF LARA enters behind unperceived.

PRECIOSA. (reads).
All are sleeping, weary heart!
Thou, thou only sleepless art!

Heigho! I wish Victorian were here.
I know not what it is makes me so restless!

(The bird sings.)

Thou little prisoner with thy motley coat,
That from thy vaulted, wiry dungeon singest,
Like thee I am a captive, and, like thee,
I have a gentle jailer. Lack-a-day!

All are sleeping, weary heart!
Thou, thou only sleepless art!
All this throbbing, all this aching,
Evermore shall keep thee waking,
For a heart in sorrow breaking
Thinketh ever of its smart!

Thou speakest truly, poet! and methinks
More hearts are breaking in this world of ours
Than one would say. In distant villages
And solitudes remote, where winds have wafted
The barbed seeds of love, or birds of passage
Scattered them in their flight, do they take root,
And grow in silence, and in silence perish.
Who hears the falling of the forest leaf?
Or who takes note of every flower that dies?
Heigho! I wish Victorian would come.
Dolores!

(Turns to lay down her boot and perceives the COUNT.)

Ha!

COUNT OF LARA. Senora, pardon me.

PRECIOSA. How's this? Dolores!

COUNT OF LARA. Pardon me--

PRECIOSA. Dolores!

COUNT OF LARA. Be not alarmed; I found no one in waiting.
If I have been too bold--

PRECIOSA. (turning her back upon him). You are too bold!
Retire! retire, and leave me!

COUNT OF LARA. My dear lady,
First hear me! I beseech you, let me speak!
'T is for your good I come.

PRECIOSA. (turning toward him with indignation). Begone! begone!
You are the Count of Lara, but your deeds
Would make the statues of your ancestors
Blush on their tombs! Is it Castilian honor,
Is it Castilian pride, to steal in here
Upon a friendless girl, to do her wrong?
O shame! shame ! shame! that you, a nobleman,
Should be so little noble in your thoughts
As to send jewels here to win my love,
And think to buy my honor with your gold!
I have no words to tell you how I scorn you!
Begone! The sight of you is hateful to me!
Begone, I say!

COUNT OF LARA. Be calm; I will not harm you.

PRECIOSA. Because you dare not.

COUNT OF LARA. I dare anything!
Therefore beware! You are deceived in me.
In this false world, we do not always know
Who are our friends and who our enemies.
We all have enemies, and all need friends.
Even you, fair Preciosa, here at court
Have foes, who seek to wrong you.

PRECIOSA. If to this
I owe the honor of the present visit,
You might have spared the coming. Raving spoken,
Once more I beg you, leave me to myself.

COUNT OF LARA. I thought it but a friendly part to tell you
What strange reports are current here in town.
For my own self, I do not credit them;
But there are many who, not knowing you,
Will lend a readier ear.

PRECIOSA. There was no need
That you should take upon yourself the duty
Of telling me these tales.

COUNT OF LARA. Malicious tongues
Are ever busy with your name.

PRECIOSA. Alas!
I've no protectors. I am a poor girl,
Exposed to insults and unfeeling jests.
They wound me, yet I cannot shield myself.
I give no cause for these reports. I live
Retired; am visited by none.

COUNT OF LARA. By none?
O, then, indeed, you are much wronged!

PRECIOSA. How mean you?

COUNT OF LARA. Nay, nay; I will not wound your gentle soul
By the report of idle tales.

PRECIOSA. Speak out!
What are these idle tales? You need not spare me.

COUNT OF LARA. I will deal frankly with you. Pardon me
This window, as I think, looks toward the street,
And this into the Prado, does it not?
In yon high house, beyond the garden wall,--
You see the roof there just above the trees,--
There lives a friend, who told me yesterday,
That on a certain night,--be not offended
If I too plainly speak,--he saw a man
Climb to your chamber window. You are silent!
I would not blame you, being young and fair--

(He tries to embrace her. She starts back, and draws a dagger
from her bosom.)

PRECIOSA. Beware! beware! I am a Gypsy girl!
Lay not your hand upon me. One step nearer
And I will strike!

COUNT OF LARA. Pray you, put up that dagger.
Fear not.

PRECIOSA. I do not fear. I have a heart
In whose strength I can trust.

COUNT OF LARA. Listen to me
I come here as your friend,--I am your friend,--
And by a single word can put a stop
To all those idle tales, and make your name
Spotless as lilies are. Here on my knees,
Fair Preciosa! on my knees I swear,
I love you even to madness, and that love
Has driven me to break the rules of custom,
And force myself unasked into your presence.

(VICTORIAN enters behind.)

PRECIOSA. Rise, Count of Lara! That is not the place
For such as you are. It becomes you not
To kneel before me. I am strangely moved
To see one of your rank thus low and humbled;
For your sake I will put aside all anger,
All unkind feeling, all dislike, and speak
In gentleness, as most becomes a woman,
And as my heart now prompts me. I no more
Will hate you, for all hate is painful to me.
But if, without offending modesty
And that reserve which is a woman's glory,
I may speak freely, I will teach my heart
To love you.

COUNT OF LARA. O sweet angel!

PRECIOSA. Ay, in truth,
Far better than you love yourself or me.

COUNT OF LARA. Give me some sign of this,--the slightest token.
Let me but kiss your hand!

PRECIOSA. Nay, come no nearer.
The words I utter are its sign and token.
Misunderstand me not! Be not deceived!
The love wherewith I love you is not such
As you would offer me. For you come here
To take from me the only thing I have,
My honor. You are wealthy, you have friends
And kindred, and a thousand pleasant hopes
That fill your heart with happiness; but I
Am poor, and friendless, having but one treasure,
And you would take that from me, and for what?
To flatter your own vanity, and make me
What you would most despise. O sir, such love,
That seeks to harm me, cannot be true love.
Indeed it cannot. But my love for you
Is of a different kind. It seeks your good.
It is a holier feeling. It rebukes
Your earthly passion, your unchaste desires,
And bids you look into your heart, and see
How you do wrong that better nature in you,
And grieve your soul with sin.

COUNT OF LARA. I swear to you,
I would not harm you; I would only love you.
I would not take your honor, but restore it,
And in return I ask but some slight mark
Of your affection. If indeed you love me,
As you confess you do, O let me thus
With this embrace--

VICTORIAN. (rushing forward). Hold! hold! This is too much.
What means this outrage?

COUNT OF LARA. First, what right have you
To question thus a nobleman of Spain?

VICTORIAN. I too am noble, and you are no more!
Out of my sight!

COUNT OF LARA. Are you the master here?

VICTORIAN. Ay, here and elsewhere, when the wrong of others
Gives me the right!

PRECIOSA. (to LARA). Go! I beseech you, go!

VICTORIAN. I shall have business with you, Count, anon!

COUNT OF LARA. You cannot come too soon!
(Exit.

PRECIOSA. Victorian!
O, we have been betrayed!

VICTORIAN. Ha! ha! betrayed!
'T is I have been betrayed, not we!--not we!

PRECIOSA. Dost thou imagine--

VICTORIAN. I imagine nothing;
I see how 't is thou whilest the time away
When I am gone!

PRECIOSA. O speak not in that tone!
It wounds me deeply.

VICTORIAN. 'T was not meant to flatter.

PRECIOSA. Too well thou knowest the presence of that man
Is hateful to me!

VICTORIAN. Yet I saw thee stand
And listen to him, when he told his love.

PRECIOSA. I did not heed his words.

VICTORIAN. Indeed thou didst,
And answeredst them with love.

PRECIOSA. Hadst thou heard all--

VICTORIAN. I heard enough.

PRECIOSA. Be not so angry with me.

VICTORIAN. I am not angry; I am very calm.

PRECIOSA. If thou wilt let me speak--

VICTORIAN. Nay, say no more.
I know too much already. Thou art false!
I do not like these Gypsy marriages!
Where is the ring I gave thee?

PRECIOSA. In my casket.

VICTORIAN. There let it rest! I would not have thee wear it:
I thought thee spotless, and thou art polluted!

PRECIOSA. I call the Heavens to witness--

VICTORIAN. Nay, nay, nay!
Take not the name of Heaven upon thy lips!
They are forsworn!

PRECIOSA. Victorian! dear Victorian!

VICTORIAN. I gave up all for thee; myself, my fame,
My hopes of fortune, ay, my very soul!
And thou hast been my ruin! Now, go on!
Laugh at my folly with thy paramour,
And, sitting on the Count of Lara's knee,
Say what a poor, fond fool Victorian was!

(He casts her from him and rushes out.)

PRECIOSA. And this from thee!

(Scene closes.)

Content of ACT II: SCENE IV (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's play/drama: The Spanish Student)

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