C. Pama. Then she refused them?
C. Wal. ‘It ill befits,’ quoth she,
’my royal blood,
To take extorted gifts; I tender back
By you to him, for this his mortal life,
That which he thinks by treason cheaply bought;
To which my son shall, in his father’s right,
By God’s good will, succeed. For that dread height
May Christ by many woes prepare his youth!’
C. Pama. Humph!
C. Wal. Why here—no, ’t cannot be—
C. Pama. What hither comes
Forth from the hospital, where, as they told us,
The Princess labours in her holy duties?
A parti-coloured ghost that stalks for penance?
Ah! a good head of hair, if she had kept it
A thought less lank; a handsome face too, trust me,
But worn to fiddle-strings; well, we’ll be knightly—
[As Elizabeth meets him.]
Stop, my fair queen of rags and patches, turn
Those solemn eyes a moment from your distaff,
And say, what tidings your magnificence
Can bring us of the Princess?
Eliz. I am she.
[Count Pama crosses himself and falls on his knees.]
C. Pama. O blessed saints and martyrs!
And hide my recreant knighthood in thy gulf!
Yet, mercy, Madam! for till this strange day
Who e’er saw spinning wool, like village-maid,
A royal scion?
C. Wal. [kneeling]. My beloved mistress!
Eliz. Ah! faithful friend! Rise, gentles,
rise, for shame;
Nay, blush not, gallant sir. You have seen, ere now,
Kings’ daughters do worse things than spinning wool,
Yet never reddened. Speak your errand out.
C. Pama. I from your father, Madam—
Eliz. Oh! I divine;
And grieve that you so far have journeyed, sir,
Upon a bootless quest.
C. Pama. But hear me, Madam—
If you return with me (o’erwhelming honour!
For such mean bodyguard too precious treasure)
Your father offers to you half his wealth;
And countless hosts, whose swift and loyal blades
From traitorous grasp shall vindicate your crown.
Eliz. Wealth? I have proved it, and have
tossed it from me:
I will not stoop again to load with clay.
War? I have proved that too: should I turn loose
On these poor sheep the wolf whose fangs have gored me,
God’s bolt would smite me dead.
C. Pama. Madam, by his gray hairs he doth entreat you.
Eliz. Alas! small comfort would they find in
I am a stricken and most luckless deer,
Whose bleeding track but draws the hounds of wrath
Where’er I pause a moment. He has children
Bred at his side, to nurse him in his age—
While I am but an alien and a changeling,
Whom, ere my plastic sense could impress take
Either of his feature or his voice, he lost.
C. Pama. Is it so? Then pardon, Madam,
but your father
Must by a father’s right command—