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Full Online Book HomePlaysThe Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 3 - Act 5 - Scene 2. Vienna. The Imperial Palace
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The Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 3 - Act 5 - Scene 2. Vienna. The Imperial Palace Post by :Ken_Shorey Category :Plays Author :Thomas Hardy Date :May 2012 Read :1798

Click below to download : The Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 3 - Act 5 - Scene 2. Vienna. The Imperial Palace (Format : PDF)

The Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 3 - Act 5 - Scene 2. Vienna. The Imperial Palace

PART THIRD. ACT FIFTH. SCENE II.

(The fore-part of the scene is the interior of a dimly lit gallery with an openwork screen or grille on one side of it that commands a bird's-eye view of the grand saloon below. At present the screen is curtained. Sounds of music and applause in the saloon ascend into the gallery, and an irradiation from the same quarter shines up through chinks in the curtains of the grille.

Enter the gallery MARIE LOUISE and the COUNTESS OF BRIGNOLE, followed by the COUNT NEIPPERG, a handsome man of forty two with a bandage over one eye.)


COUNTESS OF BRIGNOLE

Listen, your Majesty. You gather all
As well as if you moved amid them there,
And are advantaged with free scope to flit
The moment the scene palls.


MARIE LOUISE

Ah, my dear friend,
To put it so is flower-sweet of you;
But a fallen Empress, doomed to furtive peeps
At scenes her open presence would unhinge,
Reads not much interest in them! Yet, in truth,
'Twas gracious of my father to arrange
This glimpse-hole for my curiosity.
--But I must write a letter ere I look;
You can amuse yourself with watching them.--
Count, bring me pen and paper. I am told
Madame de Montesquiou has been distressed
By some alarm; I write to ask its shape.

(NEIPPERG spreads writing materials on a table, and MARIE LOUISE sits. While she writes he stays near her. MADAME DE BRIGNOLE goes to the screen and parts the curtains.

The light of a thousand candles blazes up into her eyes from below. The great hall is decorated in white and silver, enriched by evergreens and flowers. At the end a stage is arranged, and Tableaux Vivants are in progress thereon, representing the history of the House of Austria, in which figure the most charming women of the Court.

There are present as spectators nearly all the notables who have assembled for the Congress, including the EMPEROR OF AUSTRIA himself, has gay wife, who quite eclipses him, the EMPEROR ALEXANDER, the KING OF PRUSSIA--still in the mourning he has never abandoned since the death of QUEEN LUISA,--the KING OF BAVARIA and his son, METTERNICH, TALLEYRAND, WELLINGTON, NESSELRODE, HARDENBERG; and minor princes, ministers, and officials of all nations.)


COUNTESS OF BRIGNOLE (suddenly from he grille)

Something has happened--so it seems, madame!
The Tableau gains no heed from them, and all
Turn murmuring together.


MARIE LOUISE

What may be?

(She rises with languid curiosity, and COUNT NEIPPERG adroitly takes her hand and leads her forward. All three look down through the grille.)


NEIPPERG

some strange news, certainly, your Majesty,
Is being discussed.--I'll run down and inquire.


MARIE LOUISE (playfully)

Nay--stay here. We shall learn soon enough.


NEIPPERG

Look at their faces now. Count Metternich
Stares at Prince Talleyrand--no muscle moving.
The King of Prussia blinks bewilderedly
Upon Lord Wellington.


MARIE LOUISE (concerned)

Yes; so it seems. . . .
They are thunderstruck. See, though the music beats,
The ladies of the Tableau leave their place,
And mingle with the rest, and quite forget
That they are in masquerade. The sovereigns show
By far the gravest mien. . . . I wonder, now,
If it has aught to do with me or mine?
Disasters mostly have to do with me!


COUNTESS OF BRIGNOLE

Those rude diplomists from England there,
At your Imperial father's consternation,
And Russia's, and the King of Prussia's gloom,
Shake shoulders with hid laughter! That they call
The English sense of humour, I infer,--
To see a jest in other people's troubles!


MARIE LOUISE (hiding her presages)

They ever take things thus phlegmatically:
The safe sea minimizes Continental scare
In their regard. I wish it did in mine!
But Wellington laughs not, as I discern.


NEIPPERG

Perhaps, though fun for the other English here,
It means new work for him. Ah--notice now
The music makes no more pretence to play!
Sovereigns and ministers have moved apart,
And talk, and leave the ladies quite aloof--
Even the Grand Duchesses and Empress, all--
Such mighty cogitations trance their minds!


MARIE LOUISE (with more anxiety)

Poor ladies; yea, they draw into the rear,
And whisper ominous words among themselves!
Count Neipperg--I must ask you now--go glean
What evil lowers. I am riddled through
With strange surmises and more strange alarms!

(The COUNTESS OF MONTESQUIOU enters.)

Ah--we shall learn it now. Well--what, madame?


COUNTESS OF MONTESQUIOU (breathlessly)

Your Majesty, the Emperor Napoleon
Has vanished from Elba! Wither flown,
And how, and why, nobody says or knows.


MARIE LOUISE (sinking into a chair)

My divination pencilled on my brain
Something not unlike that! The rigid mien
That mastered Wellington suggested it. . . .
Complicity will be ascribed to me,
Unwitting though I stand! . . . (A pause.)
He'll not succeed!
And my fair plans for Parma will be marred,
And my son's future fouled!--I must go hence,
And instantly declare to Metternich
That I know nought of this; and in his hands
Place me unquestioningly, with dumb assent
To serve the Allies. . . . Methinks that I was born
Under an evil-coloured star, whose ray
Darts death at joys!--Take me away, Count.--You (to the ladies)
Can stay and see the end.

(Exeunt MARIE LOUISE and NEIPPERG. MESDAMES DE MONTESQUIOU and DE BRIGNOLE go to the grille and watch and listen.)


VOICE OF ALEXANDER (below)

I told you, Prince, that it would never last!


VOICE OF TALLEYRAND

Well, sire, you should have sent him to the Azores,
Or the Antilles, or best, Saint-Helena.


VOICE OF THE KING OF PRUSSIA

Instead, we send him but two days from France,
Give him an island as his own domain,
A military guard of large resource,
And millions for his purse!


ANOTHER VOICE

The immediate cause
Must be a negligence in watching him.
The British Colonel Campbell should have seen
That apertures for flight were wired and barred
To such a cunning bird!


ANOTHER VOICE

By all report
He took the course direct to Naples Bay.


VOICES (of new arrivals)

He has made his way to France--so all tongues tell--
And landed there, at Cannes! (Excitement.)


COUNTESS OF BRIGNOLE

Do now but note
How cordial intercourse resolves itself
To sparks of sharp debate! The lesser guests
Are fain to steal unnoticed from a scene
Wherein they feel themselves as surplusage
Beside the official minds.--I catch a sign
The King of Prussia makes the English Duke;
They leave the room together.


COUNTESS OF MONTESQUIOU

Yes; wit wanes,
And all are going--Prince Talleyrand,
The Emperor Alexander, Metternich,
The Emperor Francis. . . . So much for the Congress!
Only a few blank nobodies remain,
And they seem terror-stricken. . . . Blackly ends
Such fair festivities. The red god War
Stalks Europe's plains anew!

(The curtain of the grille is dropped. MESDAMES DE MONTESQUIOU and DE BRIGNOLE leave the gallery. The light is extinguished there and the scene disappears.)

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