Ireton: Yes. It is done.
(MRS. CROMWELL slowly moves across to the window and stands with the others.)
Mrs. Cromwell: Poor, silly king. Oliver will be here directly. Shut the window, Henry.
(IRETON shuts the window. He, ELIZABETH, and BRIDGET stand looking out. MRS. CROMWELL returns to her seat. All are very still, and there is a long pause. Then, unseen and unheard, CROMWELL comes in, moving slowly, his coat and hat still on, his boots carrying snow. He looks at his people, all with their backs to him. He walks across the room, and stands behind his mother, looking into the fire.)
A November night in 1654, six years later. MRS. CROMWELL’S bedroom in Whitehall, where CROMWELL is now installed as Protector.
MRS. CROMWELL, now aged ninety-four, is on her death-bed. Standing beside her is ELIZABETH, ministering to her.
Elizabeth: Is that comfortable?
Mrs. Cromwell: Yes, my dear, very comfortable.
Elizabeth: Bridget is coming now. I must go down to Cheapside. I must see that man there myself.
Mrs. Cromwell: Very well, my dear. Bridget is a good girl. I may be asleep before you come back. Good-night.
(Softly, at the door.)
Bridget (from the next room): Yes, mother.
Elizabeth: Can you come? I’m going now.
(She comes in and ELIZABETH goes.)
Bridget: Shall I read, grandmother?
Mrs. Cromwell: Yes, just a little. Mr. Milton was reading to me this afternoon. Your father asked him to come. He has begun a very good poem, about Eden and the fall of man. He read me some of it. He writes extremely well. I think I should like to hear something by that young Mr. Marvell. He copies them out for me—you’ll find them in that book, there. There’s one about a garden. Just two stanzas of it. I have marked them.
How vainly men themselves amaze
To win the palm, the oak, or bays,
And their incessant labours see
Crown’d from some single herb or tree,
Whose short and narrow-verged shade
Does prudently their toils upbraid;
While all the flowers and trees do close
To weave the garlands of repose.
And then this one?
Meanwhile the mind from pleasure less
Withdraws into its happiness;
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas;
Annihilating all that’s made
To a green thought in a green shade.
Mrs. Cromwell: Yes. Far other worlds, and other seas. I wish your father would come. I want to go to sleep, and you never know.