Away! I will return no more!
Here is a casket, with a store
Of jewels, which I got elsewhere.
Just lay it in the press; make haste!
I swear to you, ’twill turn her brain;
Therein some trifles I have placed,
Wherewith another to obtain.
But child is child, and play is play.
I know not—shall I?
Do you ask?
Perchance you would retain the treasure?
If such your wish, why then, I say,
Henceforth absolve me from my task,
Nor longer waste your hours of leisure.
I trust you’re not by avarice led!
I rub my hands, I scratch my head,—
[He places the casket in the press and closes the lock.]
Now quick! Away!
That soon the sweet young creature may
The wish and purpose of your heart obey;
Yet stand you there
As would you to the lecture-room repair,
As if before you stood,
Arrayed in flesh and blood,
Physics and metaphysics weird and gray!—
MARGARET (with a lamp)
Here ’tis so close, so sultry now,
[She opens the window.]
Yet out of doors ’tis not so warm.
I feel so strange, I know not how—
I wish my mother would come home.
Through me there runs a shuddering—
I’m but a foolish timid thing!
[While undressing herself she begins to sing.]
There was a king in Thule,
True even to the grave;
To whom his dying mistress
A golden beaker gave.
At every feast he drained it,
Naught was to him so dear,
And often as he drained it,
Gush’d from his eyes the tear.
When death came, unrepining
His cities o’er he told;
All to his heir resigning,
Except his cup of gold.
With many a knightly vassal
At a royal feast sat he,
In yon proud hall ancestral,
In his castle o’er the sea.
Up stood the jovial monarch,
And quaff’d his last life’s glow,
Then hurled the hallow’d goblet
Into the flood below.
He saw it splashing, drinking,
And plunging in the sea;
His eyes meanwhile were sinking,
And never again drank he.
[She opens the press to put away her clothes, and perceives the casket.]
How comes this lovely casket here? The press
I locked, of that I’m confident.
’Tis very wonderful! What’s in it I can’t guess;
Perhaps ’twas brought by some one in distress,
And left in pledge for loan my mother lent.
Here by a ribbon hangs a little key!
I have a mind to open it and see!
Heavens! only look! what have we here!
In all my days ne’er saw I such a sight!
Jewels! which any noble dame might wear,
For some high pageant richly dight
This chain—how would it look on me!
These splendid gems, whose may they be?