Regent. God pardon her! I would what blood of mine clung to the blade Might mix with hers and sweeten it for mercy.
Lucio. Will you forgive her? Then forgive not me!
Regent. Dear Lucio!—You’ll not pluck away your hand This time? Hush! Where’s Cesario?... Friend, farewell. Where lies the body?
Cesario. Sooth, madonna, I flung it To the river’s will, to roll it down to sea Or cast on muddy bar, for dogs to gnaw.
Regent. The river? Ah! How strong the river rolls! Hold me, my lord—
Duke. Love, love, I hold you
The child, too—You will hold the child?...
Deafens but will not drown us.
[Within the Chapel the choir is chanting a dirge. Gamba goes and closes the door on the sound: then creeps to the foot of the couch. The dying woman gently motions aside the cross a priest is holding to her, and looks up at her husband.
[Below the terrace a voice is heard singing the Rondinello song.
Be waters where no galley moves with oar,
So wide, so waveless,—and, between the woods,
Meadows—O land me there!... Hark, my lord’s voice
Singing in Vallescura! Soft my, love,
I am so tired—so tired! Love, let me play!
[The Courtiers lift the body in silence and bear it to the Chapel, the Duke and his train following. The doors close on them. On the stage are left only Cesario, standing by the balustrade; and Gamba, who has seated himself with his viol and touches it, as still the voice sings below—
Addio, Addio! ed un’altra volt’addio!
La lundananza tua, ’l desiderio mio!
[On the last note a string of the viol cracks, and with a cry the Fool flings himself, heart-broken, on the empty couch. Cesario steps forward and stands over him, touching his shoulder gently.
I. VASHTI’S SONG
Over the rim of the Moor,
And under the starry sky,
Two men came to my door
And rested them thereby.
Beneath the bough and the star,
In a whispering foreign tongue,
They talked of a land afar
And the merry days so young!
Beneath the dawn and the bough
I heard them arise and go:
And my heart it is aching now
For the more it will never know.
Why did they two depart
Before I could understand?
Where lies that land, O my heart?
—O my heart, where lies that land?
From my farm, from her farm
Furtively we came.
In either home a hearth was warm:
We nursed a hungrier flame.
Our feet were foul with mire,
Our faces blind with mist;
But all the night was naked fire
About us where we kiss’d.