BRANGAENA (scarcely able to control herself). O deepest grief!
ISOLDA. Now, wilt thou obey?
BRANGAENA. O woe supreme!
ISOLDA. Wilt thou be true?
BRANGAENA. The draught?
KURVENAL (entering). Sir Tristan!
(BRANGAENA rises, terrified and confused. ISOLDA strives with immense effort to control herself.)
ISOLDA (to Kurvenal). Sir Tristan may approach!
[KURVENAL retires again. BRANGAENA, almost beside herself, turns up the stage. ISOLDA, mustering all her powers of resolution, walks slowly and with dignity towards the sofa, by the head of which she supports herself, turning her eyes firmly towards the entrance]
(TRISTAN enters, and pauses respectfully at the entrance.)
TRISTAN. Demand, lady,
what you will.
ISOLDA. While knowing not what my demand is, wert thou afraid still to fulfil it, fleeing my presence thus?
Held me in awe.
ISOLDA. Scant honor hast thou shown unto me; for, unabashed, withheldest thou obedience unto my call.
TRISTAN. Obedience ’twas
forbade me to come.
ISOLDA. But little I owe thy lord, methinks, if he allows ill manners unto his own promised bride.
TRISTAN. In our land it is the law that he who fetches home the bride should stay afar from her.
ISOLDA. On what account?
TRISTAN. ’Tis the custom.
ISOLDA. Being so careful, my lord Tristan, another custom can you not learn? Of enemies friends make: for evil acts amends make.
TRISTAN. Who is my foe?
ISOLDA. Find in thy fears!
gets between us.
TRISTAN. That was absolved.
ISOLDA. Not between us.
TRISTAN. In open field, ’fore all the folk our old feud was abandoned.
ISOLDA. ’Twas not there
I held Tantris hid
when Tristan was laid low,
He stood there brawny,
bright and brave;
but in his truce
I took no part:
my tongue its silence had learnt.
When in chambered stillness
sick he lay
with the sword I stood
before him, stern;
But that which my hand
and lips had once vowed,
I swore in stealth to adhere to:
lo! now my desire I’m near to.
TRISTAN. What hast thou sworn?
ISOLDA (quickly). Vengeance for Morold!
TRISTAN (quietly). Mindst thou that?
ISOLDA (animated). Dare you to flout me?—
Was he not my betrothed,
that noble Irish knight?
For his sword a blessing I sought;
for me only he fought.
When he was murdered
no honor fell.
In that heartfelt misery
my vow was framed;
if no man remained to right it,