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The Flight Of The Queen Post by :tony53 Category :Plays Author :Lord Dunsany Date :August 2011 Read :1877

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The Flight Of The Queen

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

THE PRINCE OF ZOON.
PRINCE MELIFLOR.
QUEEN ZOOMZOOMARMA.
LADY OOZIZI.
OOMUZ, a Common Soldier.
THE GLORY OF XIMENUNG.
THE OVERLORD OF MOOMOOMON.
PRINCE HUZ.


SCENE I

(Time: June.

Scene: In the Palace of Zoorm; the Hall of the Hundred Princes.

The Princes sit at plain oaken tables with pewter mugs before them. They wear bright grass-green cloaks of silk; they might wear circlets of narrow silver with one large hyacinth petal rising from it at intervals of an inch.

OOMUZ, a Common Soldier, huge and squat, with brown skin and dense black beard, stands just inside the doorway, holding a pike, guarding the golden treasure.

The golden treasure lies in a heap three or four feet high near the right back corner.

SENTRIES, also brown-skinned and bearded, carrying pikes, pass and repass outside the great doorway.)


THE GLORY OF XIMENUNG.
Heigho, Moomoomon.

THE OVERLORD OF MOOMOOMON.
Heigho, Glory of Ximenung.

XIMENUNG.
Weary?

MOOMOOMON.
Aye, weary.

ANOTHER.
Heigho.

PRINCE MELIFLOR
(_sympathetically_):

What wearies you?

MOOMOOMON.
The idle hours and the idle days. Heigho.

OTHERS.
Heigho.

MELIFLOR.
Speak not against the idle hours, Moomoomon.

MOOMOOMON.
Why then, lord of the sweet lands?

MELIFLOR.
Because in idleness are all things, all things good.

XIMENUNG.
Heigho, I am weary of the idle hours.

MOOMOOMON.
You would work then?

XIMENUNG.
No-o. That is not our destiny.

MELIFLOR.
Let us be well contented with our lot. The idle hours are our sacred treasure.

XIMENUNG.
Yes, I am well contented, and yet ...

MOOMOOMON
(_contemplatively_):

And yet ...

XIMENUNG.
I sometimes dream that were it not for our glorious state, and this tradition of exalted ease, it might, it might be pleasant ...

MOOMOOMON.
To toil, to labour, to raid the golden hoards.

XIMENUNG.
Yes, Moomoomon.

MELIFLOR.
Never! Never!

OTHERS.
No. No. No.

ANOTHER.
And yet ...

MELIFLOR.
No, never. We should lose our glorious ease, the heritage that none may question.

XIMENUNG.
What heritage is that, Prince Meliflor?

MELIFLOR.
It is all the earth. To labour is to lose it.

MOOMOOMON.
If we could toil we should gain some spot of earth that our labour would seem to make our own. How happily the workers come home at evening.

MELIFLOR.
It would be to lose all.

PRINCE OF ZOON.
How lose it, Meliflor?

MELIFLOR.
To us alone the idle hours are given. The sky, the fields, the woods, the summer winds are for us alone. All others put the earth to uses. This or that field has this or that use; here one may go and another may not. They have each their bit of earth and become slaves to its purpose. But for us, ah! for us, is all; the gift of the idle hours.

SOME.
Hurrah! Hurrah for the idle hours.

ZOON.
Heigho. The idle hours weary me.

MELIFLOR.
They give us all the earth and sky to contemplate. Both are for us.

MOOMOOMON.
True. Let us drink, and speak of the blue sky.

MELIFLOR
(_lifting mug_):

And all our glorious heritage.

XIMENUNG
(_putting hand to mug_):

Aye, it is glorious, and yet ...

(Enter the RAIDERS of the Golden Hoard with spears and, in the other hand, leather wallets the size of your fist; these they cast on the heap. Nuggets the size of big filberts escape from some so that the heap is partly leather and partly gold. These wallets should be filled with nuggets of lead, about the size described, not one lump of lead and not sawdust or rags. Nothing destroys illusion on the stage more than a cannon ball falling with a soft pat. They look scowlingly at the Princes.)

(Exeunt the RAIDERS. The Princes have scarcely noticed them.)

MELIFLOR.
See how they waste the hours.

XIMENUNG.
They have brought treasure from the Golden Hoard.

ZOON.
Yes, from the Golden Hoard beyond the marshes. I went there once with old brown Oomuz there.

MELIFLOR.
Of what avail is it to come back burdened thus? Has not the Queen more wealth than she'll ever need?

MOOMOOMON.
Aye, the Queen needs nothing more.

ZOON.
How can we know that?

MOOMOOMON.
Why not?

ZOON.
The Queen obeys old impulses. Her sires are dead. Who knows whence those impulses come? How can we say what they are?

MOOMOOMON.
She cannot need more wealth than what is here.

MELIFLOR.
No, no, she cannot.

ZOON.
She needs more, for she has bidden them go again to the Golden Hoards. Her impulses have demanded it.

MOOMOOMON.
Then there is no reason in her impulses.

ZOON.
They do not come from reason.

MOOMOOMON.
So I said.

ZOON.
They come from Fate.

MOOMOOMON.
From Fate!

(There is a hush at this. OOMUZ comes nearer and kneels down.)

OOMUZ.
Oh, Masters, Masters. If there be anything greater, greater than the Queen, speak not of it, Masters, speak not its name.

ZOON.
No, Oomuz. We need nothing greater.

OOMUZ.
The name frightened me, Mighty Highness.

ZOON.
Yes, yes, Oomuz; there is only the Queen.

MOOMOOMON.
No, there is nothing greater than the Queen, and she has no need of anything more than the treasure that he guards there.

OOMUZ.
There is one thing more.

MOOMOOMON.
More? What is that?

OOMUZ.
There is one thing more. The Queen needs one thing more. This has been told us and we know.

MOOMOOMON.
What is it?

OOMUZ.
How should we know that? None knows the need of the Queen.

(OOMUZ returns to guard his heap.)

ZOON.
What think you, Oomuz? What think you is this need of the Queen?

(OOMUZ shakes his head about three times. PRINCE OF ZOON sighs.)

SEVERAL PRINCES
(_together wearily_):

Heigho.

MELIFLOR.
Take comfort in our heritage, illustrious comrades. Come! We will drink to the sun.

SOME.
To the sun! To the sun! (They drink.)

MELIFLOR.
To the golden idle hours!

(He drinks.)

Let us be worthy, glorious companions, of our exalted calling. Let us enjoy the days of idleness. Sing to us, mighty one of Zoon, as the idle hours go by. Sing us a song.

MOOMOOMON
(_idly_):

Yes, sing to us.

ZOON.
As you all know, I can but hum. But I will hum you a song that I heard yesterday; very strange it was; sung in the meadows by two that were not of our people; sung in the evening. I heard it as I loitered home from the meadows beyond the marshes. There is no ease in the song, and yet ...

MOOMOOMON.
Hum it to us.

ZOON.
They sang it together, the two that were not of our people.

(He hums a song. They all lift up their heads from their listlessness.)

MELIFLOR
(_wonderingly_):

That is a song that is new.

ZOON.
Yes, it is new to me.

MELIFLOR.
It is like an old song.

ZOON.
Yes, perhaps it is old.

MELIFLOR.
What is the song?

ZOON.
It tells of love.

THE PRINCES.
Ah-h!

(They seem to wake as though young and strong out of sleep. There is a great commotion among them. The sentries outside are utterly unmoved. OOMUZ, without sharing any of the excitement of the Princes, now nods his head solemnly as he had once shaken it.)

MOOMOOMON.
Love! It must have been that that I felt that day in the twilight as I came back round the peak of Zing-gee Mountain.

XIMENUNG.
You felt it, Moomoomon? Tell us.

MOOMOOMON.
All the air seemed gold, seemed gold of a sudden. Through it I saw fair fields, glittering green far down, glimpsed between clumps of the heather. The gold was all about them, yet they shone with their own fair colours. Ah, how can I tell you all I saw? My feet seemed scarce to touch the slope of the mountain; I too seemed one with the golden air in which all things were shining.

XIMENUNG.
And this was Love?

MOOMOOMON.
I know not. It was some strange new thing. It was strange and new like this song.

MELIFLOR.
Perhaps, it was some other strange new thing.

MOOMOOMON.
Perhaps. I know not.

ZOON. No.
It was Love.

MOOMOOMON.
And then that evening in the golden light I knew the purpose of Earth and why all things are.

XIMENUNG.
What is the purpose, Moomoomon?

MOOMOOMON.
I know not. I was content. I troubled not to remember.

ZOON.
It was love.

XIMENUNG.
Let us love.

OTHERS.
Aye.

HUZ.
Aye, that is best of all.

MELIFLOR.
No, Princes. The best is idleness. Out of the idle hours all good things come.

HUZ.
I will love. That is best.

MELIFLOR.
It is like all things, the gift of the idle hours. The workers never love. Their fancies are fastened to the work they do, and do not roam towards love.

ALL.
Love! Let us love.

MELIFLOR.
We will love in idleness and praise the idle hours.

XIMENUNG.
Whom will you love, lord of the shimmering fields?

MELIFLOR.
I have but to show myself loitering by lanes in the evening.

XIMENUNG.
I too will be there.

MELIFLOR.
And when they see me ...

XIMENUNG.
They will see me too ...

MELIFLOR
(_rising_):
Behold me.

XIMENUNG.
So I do.

MELIFLOR.
Will they look towards you when this is there?

XIMENUNG.
Are birch-trees seen at dawn fairer than I?

MELIFLOR.
Behold me; not a poplar is straighter, not a flower is fairer. I will loiter along the lanes at evening.

(He draws his sword. XIMENUNG does the same. MOOMOOMON draws his too and places it between them.)

MOOMOOMON.
Be at peace. _I_ will go to the lanes, and there need be no quarrel between you, for _I_....

OTHERS.
No, no, no....

HUZ.
We will all go.

ANOTHER.
We will all love. Hurrah for love.

(They have all risen. They wave their swords on high, not threatening each other. Zoon alone has not risen.)

MOOMOOMON
(_to_ ZOON):

You do not speak, Prince of Zoon. Will you not love along the idle hours?

ZOON.
Yes, yes. I love.

MOOMOOMON.
Come then to the lanes to loiter. It draws towards evening. Let us all come to the lanes, where the honeysuckle is hanging.

ZOON.
I love not in the lanes.

MOOMOOMON.
Not in the lanes? Then...!

OTHERS.
Not in the lanes?

ZOON.
I love her than whom there is no greater on earth--(_Some_ PRINCES: Ah!) unless it be that name that frightens Oomuz.

MOOMOOMON.
He loves the...!

XIMENUNG.
The ...

MELIFLOR.
The Queen!

(OOMUZ nods his head again.)

ZOON.
The Queen.

MOOMOOMON.
If the Queen knew such a thing she would flee from the palace.

ZOON.
I would pursue.

MOOMOOMON.
She would go by Aether Mountain, where her mother went once before her.

ZOON.
I would follow.

HUZ.
We would all follow.

MELIFLOR.
I would follow too. I would dance after her down the little street: the bright heels of my shoes would twinkle: my cloak would float out behind me: I would pursue her and call her name, beyond the street and over the moor as far as Aether Mountain: but I would not come up with her: that would be _too_ daring.

ZOON.
Love is not a toy, Prince Meliflor. Love is no less than a mood of Destiny.

MELIFLOR.
Pooh! We must enjoy the idle hours that are for us alone.

ZOON.
There will be no idle hours on Aether Mountain, following from crag to crag; if it be true that she would go that way.

MOOMOOMON.
It is true. They know it. They say her mother went that way before. It is one of the royal impulses.

ZOON.
Oomuz, did the mother of the Queen go once up Aether Mountain?

OOMUZ.
Aye, and _her_ mother.

ZOON.
It is true.

XIMENUNG.
You are sure of this?

OOMUZ.
We know it. It has been said.

HUZ.
We will all follow her up Aether Mountain.

MELIFLOR.
We will follow merrily.

XIMENUNG.
If we did this what would they do when we returned?

MELIFLOR.
Who?

XIMENUNG.
They.

MELIFLOR.
They? They would not dare to speak to _us_.

XIMENUNG.
Who knows what they would dare if we dared go after the Queen?

MOOMOOMON.
They would dare nothing, knowing whence we come.

XIMENUNG.
They care not whence we come.

MOOMOOMON.
But they care for the event that is in our hands. They dare never touch us because of the event.

MELIFLOR.
We are the heirs of the idle hours. For them is work. Surely they dare not leave their work to touch us.

MOOMOOMON.
They care only for the event. Because it is prophesied that we are needed for the event we are sacred. Were it not for the event, why ...

MELIFLOR.
Were it not for the event we might not dare to do it; but, being sacred, let us enjoy our idle hours.

XIMENUNG. What if the event should one day befall?

MELIFLOR. It was prophesied long ago and has not come. It will not come for a long time.

MOOMOOMON.
No, not for a long time.

(A sentry passes.)

MELIFLOR.
So we will follow the Queen.

HUZ.
Yes, we will follow.

MOOMOOMON.
We shall be a merry company.

MELIFLOR.
Splendid to see.

ZOON.
I would follow though I were not guarded for the event. Though the event should befall and we be immune no longer, still I should dare it.

MELIFLOR.
I would dare it if I knew what they would do. But knowing not ...

MOOMOOMON.
What matter? We are guarded by the event.

ZOON.
I say I care not.

MELIFLOR.
Let us drum with our heels and beat with our scabbards against the benches so that we frighten the Queen. She will run from the palace then, and we will go after her with all our merry company.

MOOMOOMON.
Yes, let us drum all together. I will give the word. All together and she will run from the palace. We will go after and our cloaks will stream behind us.

HUZ.
Brave! And our scabbards will show bright beneath them.

MELIFLOR.
No, I will give the word. When she flees from the palace I will follow her first. Crowd not about my cloak as it streams in the wind. We must throw up our heels as we run to make our shoes twinkle. We must show gaily in the little street. Afterwards we can run more easily.

HUZ.
Aye, in the street we must run beautifully.

MOOMOOMON.
I think that I should give the word when we rattle our scabbards and all drum with our heels; but I waive the point. But I do not think that the Queen can run far. She has never left the palace. How could she run over the moor as far as Aether Mountain. She will faint at the end of the street and we shall come up with her and bow and offer her our assistance.

MELIFLOR.
Good, good. It would be cold and rocky on Aether Mountain.

MOOMOOMON.
The Queen could never go there over the moor.

HUZ.
No, she is too dainty.

XIMENUNG.
They say she could.

MELIFLOR.
They; what do they know? Common workers. What should they know of queens?

XIMENUNG.
They have the old prophesies that came over the fields from the dawn.

MELIFLOR.
Yet they cannot understand the Queen.

XIMENUNG.
They say her mother went there.

MELIFLOR.
That was long ago. Women are quite different now.

XIMENUNG.
Well, give the word.

MELIFLOR.
Nay. You shall give the word, Moomoomon. When you raise your hand we will all drum with our heels together and rattle our scabbards together, and frighten the Queen.

MOOMOOMON.
I honour your courtesy, lord of the deep meadows.

MELIFLOR.
We are ready then. When you raise your hand----

(A gust of laughter is heard off, from a far part of the palace.)

MOOMOOMON.
Hark! Hark!

MELIFLOR.
It is the Queen! She laughed.

HUZ.
Could she have guessed...?

MOOMOOMON.
I trust not.

MELIFLOR.
She--she--cannot have been thinking of _us_.

MOOMOOMON.
She--she--seldom laughs.

HUZ.
What can it be?

MOOMOOMON.
Perhaps it was nothing and yet ...

MELIFLOR.
Yet it makes me uneasy.

MOOMOOMON.
It is not that I fear, but, when a queen laughs--it makes a feeling in the palace--as though all were not well.

HUZ.
It makes one have forebodings. One cannot help it.

MELIFLOR.
Perhaps; perhaps later we could return to our gallant scheme; for the present I think I'll hide a while.

MOOMOOMON.
Yes, let us hide.

MELIFLOR.
So that if there be anything wrong in the palace it will not find us.

(Exeunt MOOMOOMON and MELIFLOR.)

HUZ.
Let us hide.

(Exeunt all but ZOON and OOMUZ.)

(ZOON has sat always with bent head at table. He sits so, still.)

ZOON
(_bitterly_):

They would follow the Queen.

OOMUZ.
Mighty Highness----

ZOON
(_still to himself_):

They will come back boasting that they dared follow the Queen.

OOMUZ.
Mighty Highness.

ZOON.
Yes, good Oomuz.

OOMUZ.
In other times once princes followed a queen and came back boasting. Master, the workers were angry. Be warned, Master, because you and I went together once to the hoard beyond the marshes. Be warned. They were angry, Master.

ZOON.
I care not for the workers.

OOMUZ.
Master, be warned. It was long ago and they say they were very angry.

ZOON.
I care not, Oomuz. I come not boasting back from the hills under Aether Mountain. I shall not halt till I have told the Queen my love. I shall wed with her who is less only than Fate, if less she be. I am not as those, Oomuz. Who weds the Queen is more than the servant of Fate.

OOMUZ.
Master----

(He stretches out his hands towards ZOON imploringly.)

ZOON.
Well, Oomuz?

OOMUZ.
Master. There is a doom about the Queen.

ZOON.
What doom, Oomuz?

OOMUZ.
We know not, Master. We are simple people and we know not that. But we know from of old there is a doom about her. We know it, Master; we have been told from of old.

ZOON.
Yes, there could well be a doom about the Queen.

OOMUZ.
Follow not after, Master, when she goes to Aether Mountain. There is surely a doom about her. A doom was with her mother upon that very peak.

ZOON.
Yes, Oomuz, a doom well becomes her.

OOMUZ.
Doubt it not, Master; there is a doom about her.

ZOON.
Oomuz, I doubt not. For there is something wonderful about the Queen, beyond all earthly wonders. Something like thunder beyond far clouds or hail hurling from heaven; there should be indeed a terrible doom about her.

OOMUZ.
Master, I have warned you for the sake of the days when we raided the golden hoard beyond the marshes.

ZOON
(_taking his hand_):

Thank you, good Oomuz.

(He goes towards door after the others.)

OOMUZ.
But where go you, Master?

ZOON.
I wait to follow the Queen when she goes to Aether Mountain.

(Exit. OOMUZ weeps silently on to the Queen's Treasure.)


CURTAIN.

 

SCENE II

(The Palace of Zoorm: the Hall of Queen Zoomzoomarma.

Time: Same as Scene I.)


THE QUEEN.
Is none worthy to kiss my hand, Oozizi; none?

LADY OOZIZI.
Lady, none.

(The QUEEN sighs.)

You should not sigh, great lady.

QUEEN.
Why should I not sigh, Oozizi?

OOZIZI.
Great lady, because such things as sighs pertain only to love.

QUEEN.
Love is a joy, Oozizi; love is a glow. Love makes them dance so lightly along rays of the sunlight. It is made of sunlight and gladness. It is like flowers in twilight. How should they sigh?

OOZIZI.
Lady! Great lady! Say not such things of love!

QUEEN.
Say not such things, Oozizi? Are they not true?

OOZIZI.
True? Yes, great lady, true. But love is a toy of the humble; love is a common thing that the lowly use; love is ... Great lady, had any overheard you speaking then they might have thought, they might have madly dreamed ...

QUEEN.
Dreamed what, Oozizi?

OOZIZI.
Incredible things.

QUEEN
(_meditatively_):

I must not love, Oozizi.

OOZIZI.
Lady! The common people love.

(She points to door.)

Lady, the green fields going from here to the blueness, and bending towards it, and going wandering on, and the rivers they meet and the woods that shade the rivers, all own you for their sovereign. Lady, a million lime-trees mellow your realm. The golden hoards are yours. Yours are the deep fields and the iris marshes. Yours are the roads of wandering and all ways home. The common delights of love your mere soldiers know. Lady, you may not love.

(The QUEEN sighs. OOZIZI continues her knitting.)

QUEEN.
My mother loved, Oozizi.

OOZIZI.
Lady, for a day. For one day, mighty lady, As one might stoop in idleness to a broken toy and pick it up and throw it again away, so she loved for a day. That idle fancy of an afternoon tarnished no pinnacle that shone from her exalted station. But to love for more than a day--(QUEEN'S _face lights up_)--that were to place your high unequalled glory below a vulgar pastime. One alone may sit in the golden palace to reign over the green fields; but all may love.

QUEEN.
Do all love but I, Oozizi?

OOZIZI.
Wondrous many, lady.

QUEEN.
How know you, Oozizi?

OOZIZI.
The common shouts that come up at evening, the clamour of the lanes; they are but from love.

QUEEN.
What is love, Oozizi?

OOZIZI.
Love is a foolish thing.

QUEEN.
How know you, Oozizi?

OOZIZI.
They came tittering to me once; but I saw the foolishness of it.

QUEEN
(_a little sadly_):

And they came no more?

OOZIZI
(_a little sadly too_):

No more.

(Both look thoughtfully out into dreams, the_ QUEEN _on her throne, chin on hand.)

(Suddenly a stir is heard from the Hall of the Hundred Princes.)

QUEEN
(_alarmed_):

Hark! What was that?

OOZIZI
(_rises, listening anxiously_):

It sounded ... to come from the Hall ... of the Hundred Princes.

QUEEN.
They were never heard here before.

OOZIZI.
Lady, never.

QUEEN
(_anxiously_):

What can it mean?

OOZIZI.
I know not, lady.

QUEEN.
Sound never troubled our inner chamber before.

OOZIZI.
All is quiet now.

QUEEN.
Hark! (_They listen.)

OOZIZI.
All is quiet.

QUEEN.
Sound from beyond our wall, Oozizi. How it disturbs. I could not rule over the green fields if sounds came up to me from the further halls full of their strange thoughts. Why do sounds come to me, Oozizi?

OOZIZI.
Great lady, it has never been before. It will never be again. You must forget it, lady. You must not let it disturb your reign.

QUEEN.
It brought strange thoughts with it, Oozizi.

OOZIZI.
All is quiet now.

QUEEN.
If it came again....

OOZIZI.
Lady, it will not come again. It will come no more. It is quiet.

QUEEN.
If it came again ... Is the door open, Oozizi? Yes ... If it came again I should almost flee from the palace.

OOZIZI.
Lady! Think not of leaving the golden palace!

QUEEN.
If it came again.

OOZIZI.
It will not come again.

(The heels of the Princes drum louder, off.)

QUEEN.
Again, Oozizi:

(OOZIZI pants. The QUEEN waits, listening, in fear. Again the heels are heard.)

(The QUEEN runs to the small door. She looks out.)

OOZIZI.
Lady! Lady!

QUEEN.
Oozizi.

OOZIZI.
Lady! Lady! You must never leave the palace. You must never leave it. You must not.

QUEEN.
Hark, it is quiet now.

OOZIZI.
Lady, it would be terrible to leave the golden palace. Who would reign? What would happen?

QUEEN.
It is quiet now. What would happen, Oozizi?

OOZIZI.
The world would end.

QUEEN.
It is quiet now; perhaps I need not fly.

OOZIZI.
Lady, you must not.

QUEEN.
And yet I would fain go over those green fields all gleaming with summer, and see the golden hoards that no man guards, glittering with such a light as glows this June.

OOZIZI.
O, speak not, great lady, of the green fields and June. It is these that have intoxicated the Princes so that they do this unrecorded thing, letting sound of them be heard in your sacred room.

QUEEN.
Has June intoxicated them, Oozizi?

OOZIZI.
Oh, lady, speak not of June.

QUEEN.
Is June so terrible?

(She returns towards OOZIZI.)

OOZIZI.
It does strange things.

(The noise breaks out again.)

Hark!

(The QUEEN runs to the door again. OOZIZI stretches out her arms to the QUEEN.)

O, lady, never leave the golden palace.

(The QUEEN listens; all is silent; she looks outside.)

QUEEN.
I see the green fields gleaming. Strange flowers are standing among them, like princes I have not known.

OOZIZI.
Oh, lady, speak not of the bewildering fields. They are all enchanted with Summer, and they have maddened the Princes. It is dangerous to look at them, lady.

(The QUEEN gazes on over the fields.)

And yet you look.

QUEEN.
I would fain go far over the strange soft fields; far and far to the high heathery lands----

OOZIZI.
Lady, all is quiet; there is no danger; you must not leave the palace.

QUEEN.
Yes, all is quiet.

(The QUEEN returns.)

OOZIZI.
It was a passing madness seized the Princes.

QUEEN.
Oozizi, when I hear the sound of all their feet it is dreadful, and I must fly. And when I see the wonderful fields in the sunlight sloping away to lands I have never known, then I long to fly away and away for ever, passing from field to field and land to land.

OOZIZI.
Lady, no, no!

QUEEN.
Oozizi.

OOZIZI.
Yes, great lady.

QUEEN.
There is a mountain there that towers above the earth. It goes up into a calm of which our world knows nothing. Heaven, like a cloak, is draped about its shoulders. Why have none told me of this mountain, Oozizi?

OOZIZI
(_awed_):

Aether Mountain.

QUEEN.
Why has none told me?

OOZIZI.
When your glorious mother, lady, loved for a day ...

QUEEN.
Yes, Oozizi ...

OOZIZI.
She went, as all songs tell, to Aether Mountain.

QUEEN
(_entranced_):

To Aether Mountain?

OOZIZI.
So they sing at evening, when they throw down their loads of gold and rest.

QUEEN.
To Aether Mountain.

OOZIZI.
Lady, Destiny sent her; but you must not go. You must not leave your throne to go to Aether Mountain.

QUEEN.
There is a calm upon it not of earth.

OOZIZI.
You must not go, lady, you must not go.

QUEEN.
I will not go.

(The Princes drum again, still louder with their heels.)

Hark!

(OOZIZI is frightened, The QUEEN runs to the door.)

It is louder! They are nearer! They are coming here!

OOZIZI.
No, lady. They would not dare!

QUEEN.
I must go, Oozizi; I must go.

OOZIZI.
No, lady. They will never dare. You must not. Hark! They come no nearer. June has maddened them, but they come no nearer. They are quiet now. Come back, lady. Leave the door, they come no nearer. See, it is all quiet now. They come no nearer, lady.

(OOZIZI catches her by the sleeve.)

Lady, you must not.

QUEEN
(_much calmer, gazing away_):

Oozizi, I must go.

OOZIZI.
No, no, lady! All is quiet; you must not go.

QUEEN
(_calmly_):

It is calling for me, Oozizi.

OOZIZI.
What is calling, lady? Nothing calls.

QUEEN.
It is calling, Oozizi.

OOZIZI.
Oh, lady, all is silent. No one calls.

QUEEN.
It is calling for me now, Oozizi.

OOZIZI.
No, no, lady. What calls?

QUEEN.
Aether Mountain is calling. I know now who called my mother. It was Aether Mountain, Oozizi; he is calling.

OOZIZI.
I--I scarce dare look out of the golden palace, lady, to where we must not go. Yet, yet I will look. (She peers.) Yes, yes, indeed; there stands old Aether Mountain. But he does not call. Indeed he does not call. He is all silent in Heaven.

QUEEN.
It is his voice, Oozizi.

OOZIZI.
What, lady? I hear no voice.

QUEEN.
That great, great silence is his voice, Oozizi. He is calling me out of that blue waste of Heaven.

OOZIZI.
Lady, I cannot understand.

QUEEN.
He calls, Oozizi.

OOZIZI.
Come away, lady. It is bad to look so long. Oh, if the Princes had not made their clamour heard! Oh, if they had not you had not gone to the door and seen Aether Mountain, and this trouble had not come. Oh! Oh! Oh!

QUEEN.
There is no trouble upon Aether Mountain.

OOZIZI.
Oh, lady, it is terrible that you should leave the palace.

QUEEN. There is no trouble there. Aether Mountain goes all calm into Heaven. His grey-blue slopes are calm as the sky about him. There he stands calling. He is calling to me, Oozizi.

OOZIZI (_reflecting_): Can it be?

QUEEN. What would you ask, Oozizi?

OOZIZI. Can it be that it is with you, great lady, as it was with the Queen, your mother, when Destiny sent her hence to Aether Mountain?

QUEEN.
Aether Mountain calls.

OOZIZI.
Lady, for a moment hear me. Come with me but a little while.

(She leads the QUEEN slowly by the arm back to the throne.)

Lady, be seated here once more and take up the orb and sceptre in your small hands as of old.

(The QUEEN patiently does as she is told.)

Now, if Destiny calls you, let him call to you as to a Queen. Now, if it be for no whim of those that pass, that you would go so far from here to that great mountain, say, seated upon your throne in the golden palace with sceptre and orb in hand, say would you go forth, lady?

QUEEN
(_almost dreaming_):

Aether Mountain calls.

(OOZIZI bursts into tears. She helps the QUEEN by the arm from her throne and leads her part of the way to the door. There she stops. The QUEEN goes on to the door alone.)

OOZIZI.
Farewell, lady.

(The QUEEN gazes out rapturously towards Aether Mountain. Then she walks back and embraces Oozizi.)

QUEEN.
Farewell, Oozizi.

OOZIZI.
Farewell, great lady.

(The QUEEN turns, then suddenly she runs swiftly and nimbly through the door and disappears.)

(At once there is a murmur of voices from the Hall of the Hundred Princes.)

VOICES
(_off_):

Ah, ah, ah.

(OOZIZI stands still weeping.)

(Enter the Princes, exquisite and frivolous. They crowd past each other.)

MELIFLOR.
And where is our little Queen?

(OOZIZI answers with a defiant look through her tears, which has its effect on them.)

MOOMOOMON
(_foppishly_):

There, there.

XIMENUNG.
Gone!

MELIFLOR.
Come! Let us follow.

MOOMOOMON.
Shall we?

SEVERAL.
Yes.

MOOMOOMON.
Come.

(They stream across from the side door R to the door in back, OOZIZI regarding them haughtily.)

OOZIZI
(_menacingly_):

It is Aether Mountain.

(Entranced, silent, last of all ZOON follows. Exeunt all the Princes. Sounds as of rough protest heard from the workers off. The grim brown heads of two or three peer round the door by which the Princes entered. Many come on, dumb, puzzled, turning their brown heads, searching. At last they cluster round OOZIZI. "Er"? they say.)

OOZIZI. Aether Mountain has called her.

(They nod dumb heads gravely.)


CURTAIN.

 

SCENE III

(On the base of Aether Mountain.

Right, heather sloping up to left, which is rugged with tumbled grey rocks.

Further left all the scene is filled with the rising bulk of Aether Mountain.

Low down, far off and small in the background to the right appears a little palace of pure gold.

Enter right the_ QUEEN running untired and nimble, unchecked by those grey rocks.

Following her the tired PRINCES come.

ZOON is no longer last, but about fourth, and gaining.

MELIFLOR leads.)


MELIFLOR.
Permit me, great lady. My hand over the rocks. Permit ...

(He falls and cannot rise.)

MOOMOOMON.
Permit me.

(He falls too.)

These rocks; it is these rocks.

XIMENUNG
(going wearily):

Great lady. A moment. One moment, great lady. Allow me.

(But ZOON does not speak. Exeunt L. the Queen and those Princes that have not fallen. The curtain falls on stragglers crossing the stage.)


CURTAIN.

 

SCENE IV

(The Summit.

On the snow on the pinnacle of Aether Mountain, with only bright blue sky all round and everywhere, recline QUEEN ZOOMZOOMARMA and the PRINCE OF ZOON.)


THE QUEEN.
You had known no love before, First of a Hundred?

PRINCE OF ZOON.
There is no love on earth, O Queen of all.

QUEEN.
Only here.

ZOON.
Pure love is only here on this peak lonely in heaven.

QUEEN.
Would you love me elsewhere if we went from here?

ZOON.
But we will never go from here.

QUEEN.
No, we will never leave it.

ZOON.
Lady, look down. (She looks.) The earth is sorrowful. (She sighs.) Cares. Cares. All over the wide surface we can see are troubles; troubles far off and grey, that harm not Aether Mountain.

QUEEN.
It looks a long way off and long ago.

ZOON
(_wonderingly_):

Only to-day we came to Aether Mountain.

QUEEN.
Only to-day?

ZOON.
We crossed a gulf of time.

QUEEN.
It lies below us, all drowsy with years.

ZOON.
Lady, here is your home, this peak that has entered heaven. Let us never leave your home.

QUEEN.
I knew not until to-day of Aether Mountain. None had told me.

ZOON.
Knew you never, lady, of love?

QUEEN.
None had told me.

ZOON.
This is your home; not Earth; no golden palace. Reign here alone, not knowing the cares of men, without yesterday or to-morrow, untroubled by history or council.

QUEEN.
Yes, yes, we will return no more.

ZOON.
See, lady, see the Earth. Is it not as a dream just faded?

QUEEN.
It is dim indeed, grey and dream-like.

ZOON.
It is the Earth we knew.

QUEEN.
It is all dream-like.

ZOON.
It is gone; we can dimly see it.

QUEEN.
Was it a dream?

ZOON.
Perhaps. It is gone now and does not matter.

QUEEN.
Poor Earth. I hope it was real.

ZOON
(_seizing her hand_):

Oh, Zoomzoomarma, say not you hope that Earth was real. It is gone now. See; it is so far away. Sigh not for Earth, oh lady, sigh not for Earth.

QUEEN.
Why not, King of Aether Mountain?

ZOON.
Because when you sigh for tiny things I tremble for your love. See how faint and small it is and how far away.

QUEEN.
I do not sigh for Earth, King of the Mountain. I only wish it well.

ZOON.
Oh, wish it not well, lady.

QUEEN.
Let us wish the poor Earth well.

ZOON.
No, lady, no. Be with me always wholly, living not partly in dreams. There is no Earth. It is but a dream that left us. See, see (_pointing down_) it is a dim dream.

QUEEN
(_looking down_):

The people move there still. See, there is Prince Ximenung. Something down there seems almost unlike dreams.

ZOON.
No, lady, it cannot be.

QUEEN.
How know you, Lord of the Mountain?

ZOON.
It was too unreal for life. Love was not there. Surely it was a dream.

QUEEN.
Yes, I knew not love in the golden palace of Zoorm.

ZOON.
Then indeed it was unreal, Golden Lady. Forget the dream of Earth.

QUEEN.
If love be real ...

ZOON.
Can you doubt it?

QUEEN.
No. It was a dream. Just now I dreamt it. Are dreams bad, my Prince?

ZOON.
No. They are just dreams.

QUEEN.
We will think of dreams no more.

ZOON.
This is where love is, and here only. We should not dream too much or think of dreams, because the place is holy.

QUEEN.
Is love here only, darling?

ZOON.
Here only, Golden Queen. Do any others elsewhere love as we.

QUEEN.
No, I think not.

ZOON.
Then how can pure love be elsewhere?

QUEEN.
It is true.

ZOON.
On this clear peak that just enters Heaven love is and only here. The rest is dreams.

QUEEN.
Could we awake from love and find Earth true?

ZOON.
No, no, no. Sweet Lady, let not such fancies alarm you.

QUEEN.
And yet folks wake from dreams. It would be terrible.

ZOON.
No, no, there are things too real for dreams. You cannot waken from love. Dreams are of fantastic things, things fanciful and weak, and things confused and intricate like Earth. When you think of them in your dreams you see their unreality. But if love were not real what could there be to wake to.

QUEEN.
True. How wise you are. It was but a fancy that troubled me. (Looking down.) It was one of those dreams at dawn. It is faint and far-off now.

ZOON.
Will you love me for ever, Golden Queen?

QUEEN.
For ever. Why not? You will love me for ever?

ZOON.
For ever. I cannot help it.

QUEEN.
Let us look at the dream far off, in the dimness our thoughts have forsaken.

ZOON.
Aye, let us look. It was a sad dream somewhat; and yet upon this peak where all is love all that we see seems happy.

QUEEN.
See the dream there. Look at those. They seem to walk dreamily as they walk in the dream.

ZOON.
It is because they have not love, which is only here.

QUEEN.
Look! Look at those dreamers in the dream.

ZOON.
They are running.

QUEEN.
Oh! Look!

ZOON.
They are pursued.

QUEEN.
The brown ones are pursuing them with spears.

ZOON.
It is Prince Meliflor, Prince Moomoomon, Prince Ximenung that run in the dream. And the Prince of Huz. The brown men are close.

QUEEN.
The brown ones are overtaking them.

ZOON.
Yes, they are closer.

QUEEN.
Look! Prince Ximenung!

ZOON.
Yes, he is dead in the dream.

QUEEN.
The Prince of Huz?

ZOON.
Speared.

QUEEN.
Still, still they are killing them.

ZOON.
It is all the Hundred Princes.

QUEEN.
They are killing them all.

ZOON.
A sad sight once.

QUEEN.
Once?

ZOON.
I should have wept once.

QUEEN. It is so far off now.

ZOON. It is so far, far off. We can only feel joy upon this holy mountain.

QUEEN. Only joy. (He sighs as he looks.) Look! (He sighs again.)

ZOON.
There falls the poor Prince Meliflor.

QUEEN.
How huge a thrust it was with the great spear.

ZOON.
He is dead.

QUEEN.
Are you not happy?

ZOON.
Yes.

QUEEN.
In your voice there seemed to sound some far-off thing. Some strange thing. Was it sorrow?

ZOON.
No; we are too high; sorrow cannot come. No grief can touch us here, no woe drift up to us from the woes of Earth.

QUEEN.
I thought there was some strange thing in your voice, like sorrows we have dreamed.

ZOON.
No, Golden Queen. Those fancied sorrows of dreams cannot touch reality.

QUEEN.
You will never be sorry we have woken and left the dream of Earth?

ZOON.
No, glorious lady; nothing can bring me trouble ever again.

QUEEN.
Not even I?

ZOON.
Never you, my Golden Zoomzoomarma, for on this sacred peak where there is only love you cannot.

QUEEN.
We will dwell here for ever in endless joy.

ZOON
(_looking down_):

All dead now, all the Princes.

QUEEN.
Turn, my Prince, from the dream of Earth, lest trouble come up from it.

ZOON.
It cannot drift up here; yet we will turn from the dream.

QUEEN.
Let us think of endless joy upon the edge of heaven.

ZOON.
Yes, Queen; for ever in reality while all else dream away.

QUEEN.
It is the years that make them drowsy. They dream to dream the years away. Time cannot reach so high as here, the years are far below us.

ZOON.
Far below us, making a dream and troubling it.

QUEEN.
They do not know in the dream that only love is real.

ZOON.
If time could reach us here we should pass, too. Nothing is real where time is.

QUEEN.
How shall we spend the calm that time does not vex, together here for ever?

ZOON.
Holding your hand.

(She gives it.)

And kissing it often in the calm of eternity. Sometimes watching, a moment, the dream go by; then kissing your hand again all in eternity.

QUEEN.
And never wearying?

ZOON.
Not while eternity lingers here in heaven.

QUEEN.
Thus we will live until the dream goes by and Earth has faded under Aether Mountain.

ZOON.
And then we shall watch the calm of Eternity.

QUEEN.
And you will still kiss my hand at times.

ZOON.
Yes, while eternity wiles Heaven away.

QUEEN.
The silence is like music on Aether Mountain.

ZOON.
It is because all is real. In the dream nothing was real. Music had to be made and then soon passed trembling away. Here all things always are as the desire of Earth, Earth's desire that groped among fantasies finding them false.

QUEEN.
Let us forget the dream.

ZOON
(kissing her hand):

I have forgotten for ever.

QUEEN.
Ah!

ZOON.
What trouble has drifted up to you from Earth?

QUEEN.
An old saying.

ZOON.
It was said in the dream.

QUEEN.
It was true!

(She snatches her hand away.)

Ah, I remember it. It was true.

ZOON.
All is unreal but love, my crownéd Zoomzoomarma. Where there was not love it cannot have been true.

(He tries to take her hand again.)

QUEEN.
Touch not my hand. It was true.

ZOON.
What was the saying heard in the dream of Earth that was true?

QUEEN.
None is worthy to touch my hand; no, none.

ZOON.
By Aether Mountain, I will kiss your hand again! What is this saying out of a dream that dares deny reality?

QUEEN.
It is true! Oh, it is true!

ZOON.
Out of that hurried, aimless dream, that knows not its own end even, you have brought me a saying and say it against love.

QUEEN.
I say it is true!

ZOON.
Nothing is true against love. Fate only is greater.

QUEEN.
Then it is Fate.

ZOON.
Against Fate I will kiss your hand again.

QUEEN.
None are worthy. No, none.

(She draws her rapier.)

ZOON.
I will kiss your hand again.

QUEEN.
It must be this (_pointing with rapier_) for none are worthy.

ZOON.
Though it be death I kiss your hand again.

QUEEN.
It is certain death.

ZOON.
Oh, Zoomzoomarma, forget that troubled dream, and things said by dreamers, while I kiss your hand in heaven if only once again.

QUEEN.
None are worthy. It is death. None are worthy. None.

ZOON.
Though it be death, yet once again upon Aether Mountain in heaven I kiss your hand.

QUEEN.
Away! It is death. Upon the word of a Queen.

ZOON.
I kiss your h ...

(She standing kills him kneeling. He falls off Aether Mountain, behind it out of sight.)

(As he falls he calls her name after intervals. She kneels upon the summit and watches him falling, falling, falling.)

(Fainter and fainter as he falls from that tremendous height comes up her name as he calls it.)

Zoomzoomarma! Zoomzoomarma! Zoomzoomarma!

(Still she is watching and he is falling still.)

(At last when his cry of ZOOMZOOMARMA comes almost unheard to that incredible height and then is heard no more, she turns, and with infinite neatness picking up her skirts steps down daintily over the snow.)

(She is going Earthward as the curtain falls.)


(CURTAIN.)


(The end)
Lord Dunsany's play: The Flight Of The Queen

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