Wal. Then the serfs
Lewis. Why not? This day to them, too, blessing brings, Which clears from envious webs their guardian angel’s wings. [Exeunt.]
A Chamber in the Castle. Sophia, Elizabeth, Agnes, Isentrude, etc., re-entering.
Soph. What! you will not? You hear, Dame
She will not wear her coronet in the church,
Because, forsooth, the crucifix within
Is crowned with thorns. You hear her.
Eliz. Noble mother!
How could I flaunt this bauble in His face
Who hung there, naked, bleeding, all for me—
I felt it shamelessness to go so gay.
Soph. Felt? What then? Every foolish
wench has feelings
In these religious days, and thinks it carnal
To wash her dishes, and obey her parents—
No wonder they ape you, if you ape them—
Go to! I hate this humble-minded pride,
Self-willed submission—to your own pert fancies;
This fog-bred mushroom-spawn of brain-sick wits,
Who make their oddities their test for grace,
And peer about to catch the general eye;
Ah! I have watched you throw your playmates down
To have the pleasure of kneeling for their pardon.
Here’s sanctity—to shame your cousin and me—
Spurn rank and proper pride, and decency;—
If God has made you noble, use your rank,
If you but know how. You Landgravine? You mated
With gentle Lewis? Why, belike you’ll cowl him,
As that stern prude, your aunt, cowled her poor spouse;
No—one Hedwiga at a time’s enough,—
My son shall die no monk.
Isen. Beseech you, Madam,—
Weep not, my darling.
Soph. Tut—I’ll speak my mind.
We’ll have no saints. Thank heaven, my saintliness
Ne’er troubled my good man, by day or night.
We’ll have no saints, I say; far better for you,
And no doubt pleasanter—You know your place—
At least you know your place,—to take to cloisters,
And there sit carding wool, and mumbling Latin,
With sour old maids, and maundering Magdalens,
Proud of your frost-kibed feet, and dirty serge.
There’s nothing noble in you, but your blood;
And that one almost doubts. Who art thou, child?
Isen. The daughter, please your highness,
Of Andreas, King of Hungary, your better;
And your son’s spouse.
Soph. I had forgotten, truly—
And you, Dame Isentrudis, are her servant,
And mine: come, Agnes, leave the gipsy ladies
To say their prayers, and set the Saints the fashion.
[Sophia and Agnes go out.]
Isen. Proud hussy! Thou shalt set thy foot on her neck yet, darling, When thou art Landgravine.
Eliz. And when will that be?
No, she speaks truth! I should have been a nun.
These are the wages of my cowardice,—
Too weak to face the world, too weak to leave it!