BRANGAENA (despairingly). The love-potion!
ISOLDA (staring with horror at TRISTAN). Tristan!
ISOLDA. Must I live, then?
(Falls fainting upon his breast.)
BRANGAENA (to the women). Look to your lady!
TRISTAN. O rapture fraught with cunning!
O fraud with bliss o’er-running!
ALL THE MEN (in a general burst of acclamation).
Hail to King Mark!
[People have clambered over the ship’s side, others have extended a bridge, and the aspect of all indicates the immediate arrival of the expected ones, as the curtain falls.]
[A Garden before ISOLDA’S Chamber which lies at one side and is approached by steps. Bright and pleasant summer night. At the open door a burning torch is fixed. Sounds of hunting heard.]
[BRANGAENA, on the steps leading to the chamber, is watching the retreat of the still audible hunters. She looks anxiously back into the chamber as ISOLDA emerges thence in ardent animation.]
ISOLDA. Yet do you hear?
I lost the sound some time.
BRANGAENA (listening). Still do they stay:
clearly rings the horns.
ISOLDA (listening). Fear but deludes thy anxious ear; by sounds of rustling leaves thou’rt deceived, aroused by laughter of winds.
BRANGAENA. Deceived by wild desire art thou, and but hear’st as would thy will:— I still hear the sound of horns.
ISOLDA (listens). No sound of horns were so sweet: yon fountain’s soft murmuring current moves so quietly hence. If horns yet brayed, how could I hear that? In still night alone it laughs on mine ear. My lov’d one hides in darkness unseen: wouldst thou hold from my side my dearest? deeming that horns thou hearest?
BRANGAENA. Thy lov’d one hid—
oh heed my warning!—
for him a spy waits by night.
I light upon him:
he lays a secret snare.
Of Melot oh beware!
ISOLDA. Mean you Sir Melot?
O, how you mistake!
Is he not Tristan’s
May my true love not meet me,
with none but Melot he stays.
BRANGAENA. What moves me to fear him makes thee his friend then? Through Tristan to Mark’s side is Melot’s way: he sows suspicion’s seed. And those who have to-day on a night-hunt so suddenly decided, a far nobler game than is guessed by thee taxes their hunting skill.
ISOLDA. For Tristan’s sake contrived was this scheme by means of Melot, in truth: now would you decry his friendship? He serves Isolda better than you his hand gives help which yours denies: what need of such delay? The signal, Brangaena! O give the signal! Tread out the torch’s trembling gleam, that night may envelop all with her veil. Already her peace reigns o’er hill and hall, her rapturous awe the heart does enthral; allow then the light to fall! Let but its dread lustre die! let my beloved draw nigh!