Wal. By Siegfried’s sword,
My words are true, and I came here to say them,
To thee, my son in all but blood.
Mass, I’m no gossip. Why? What ails the boy?
Lewis. Loves me! Henceforth let no man,
Through the dim glittering mine of future years,
Say to himself ‘Too much! this cannot be!’
To-day, and custom, wall up our horizon:
Before the hourly miracle of life
Blindfold we stand, and sigh, as though God were not.
I have wandered in the mountains, mist-bewildered,
And now a breeze comes, and the veil is lifted,
And priceless flowers, o’er which I trod unheeding,
Gleam ready for my grasp. She loves me then!
She who to me was as a nightingale
That sings in magic gardens, rock-beleaguered,
To passing angels melancholy music—
Whose dark eyes hung, like far-off evening stars,
Through rosy-cushioned windows coldly shining
Down from the cloud-world of her unknown fancy—
She, for whom holiest touch of holiest knight
Seemed all too gross—who might have been a saint
And companied with angels—thus to pluck
The spotless rose of her own maidenhood
To give it unto me!
Wal. You love her then?
Lewis. Look! if yon solid mountain were all
And each particular tree a band of jewels,
And from its womb the Niebelungen hoard
With elfin wardens called me, ’Leave thy love
And be our Master’—I would turn away—
And know no wealth but her.
Wal. Shall I say this to her?
I am no carrier pigeon, Sir, by breed,
But now, between her friends and persecutors,
My life’s a burden.
Lewis. Persecutors! Who?
Alas! I guess it—I had known my mother
Too light for that fair saint,—but who else dare wink
When she is by? My knights?
Wal. To a man, my Lord.
Lewis. Here’s chivalry! Well, that’s
soon brought to bar.
The quarrel’s mine; my lance shall clear that stain.
Wal. Quarrel with your knights? Cut your
own chair-legs off!
They do but sail with the stream. Her passion, Sir,
Broke shell and ran out twittering before yours did,
And unrequited love is mortal sin
With this chaste world. My boy, my boy, I tell you,
The fault lies nearer home.
Lewis. I have played the coward—
And in the sloth of false humility,
Cast by the pearl I dared not to deserve.
How laggard I must seem to her, though she love me;
Playing with hawks and hounds, while she sits weeping!
’Tis not too late.
Wal. Too late, my royal eyas?
You shall strike this deer yourself at gaze ere long—
She has no mind to slip to cover.
We’ll back—we’ll back; and you shall bear the message;
I am ashamed to speak. Tell her I love her—
That I should need to tell her! Say, my coyness
Was bred of worship, not of coldness.