LUCILE
A PLAY
ADAPTED FROM OWEN MEREDITH
BY
Marie Emblin Carr

[submitted to the Library of Congress Copyright Office, 8 April 1901]

Synopsis of Scenery

Act I.

Parlor in Continental Hotel, at Bigorre, France. Open windowshowing distant view of the Pyrnees. Writing desk, bell cord, etc.

Act II.

Scene I. In the French Pyrnees. An inn where travelers stop to refresh themselves and their horses.

Scene II. Room in Lucile's chalet at Serchon, France,furnished with equisite taste. Light blue hangings and bamboo furniture. Flowers in profusion. Must suggest coolness and repose. Anythng to enhance refinement.

Act III.

Scene I. Same as scene I. in Act II.

Scene II. Room in an lonely old inn. Furnished with extremp simplicity. An antique brass lamp on table - lighted. The shadows are darK, throwing the figures into strong relief. A door at side of stage and one at back.

Act IV.

Time - 1851.

Scene I. On lawn in front of gambling casino at Ems, Germany. A full moon softens the effect. An arch of linden-trees at left over walk where characters enter. A ball is going on at a hotel. Orchestra faintly heard at intervals. An arbor in fforeground overhung by flowers and vines. Any romantic acessories in this scene. Rustic seats, statuary,etc.

Act V.

Time-1854.

Scene - Crimea. Defense of Careenage. Pass at the Battle of Inkerman. See Kinglake's Graphic History of the Crimea.

Cast of Characters

Eugene, Duke de Luvois.
Lord Alfred Vargrave.
John Vargrave.
Sir Ridley McNab.
Lord Raglan.
French officer.
Aide-de-camp.
Sentry.
Guide.
Mrs. Darcy.
Matilda Darcy.
Lady McNab.
Balla.

and
Lucile, Countess de Nevers.

Soldiers of English, French and Russian Armies.
Servant.
Groom.

Description of Characters.

Duke de Luvois,-- A Parisian man of the world.
Lord Alfred Vargrave, -- A handsome Englishman in the diplomatic service.
John Vargrave,— Bluff in manner.
Sir Ridley McNab,-- Belonging to a former regime.
Lord Raglan,— Historical. Reproduction of portrait.
Mrs. Darcy, — Still handsome, with prematurely white hair.
Matilda Darcy, -- An ingenuous young girl; very blond.
Lady McNab,— Young and ambitious.
Balla,-- Lucile's Indian nurse:face stained.
LUCILE, -- Consumate mistress of herself. A dark woman of great beauty.
Officer, Aide-de-camp and sentry, French soldiers.
The other characters fitted to station.

Costumes

Time-1850.

Act I.- Lord Vargrave: English morning costume of the times.
Jack Vargrave: An affectod costume, half mountain air and half English.
Sir Ridley McNab: In traveling attire.
Mrs. Darcy: Quiet in morning costume.
Matilda Darcy: Very stylish riding-habit, with hat, whip, etc.

Act II.-Scene I. Lord Vargrave: English riding clothes of the period.

Duke de Luvois: Riding clothes cut after the French fashion.

Scene II.-Lucile: Fetching white costume, a half blown red rose in her hand.
Lord Vargrave: Morning costume very correct in style.
Duke de Luvois: Very elegantly attired in morning costume.
Indian nurse: Very fantastic Oriental costume.

Act III.- Scene I. Lord Vargrave and the Duke de Luvois, same,as Scene I, in Act II.
Guide: Red silk sash about waist: long boots: short jacket - loose canvass trousers and woolen carpote.

Scene II.-Duke de Luvois: same costume.
Lucile: Travelling dress.
Indian nurse: same dress.

Act IV. Time 1851. All characters in full evening dress. Toilets of the ladies very elegant: Men in most correct style.

Act V.- Time 1854. DuKe de Luvois: Uniform of General in French Army.
Lord Raglan: British General in command.
Lord Vargrave: Captain in Coldstream Guards.
Lieut. Jack Vargrave: Lieutenant in Coldstream Guards.
Aide-de-camp: French regulation dress.
Lucile: Sister of Charity. Most picturesque headdress is that worn by the order of the St. Vincent de Paul. Dark blue habit, rosary hanging at side.
Soldiers in French, English and Russian Army dress.

ACT I

Time – 1850

Scene: -- Parlour in Hotel at Bigorre. Lord Alfred Vargrave musing over letter. He walks to the open window.

Alfred.
Confound it! A man is— (Jack rushes in.)

Jack.
A fool, Alfred, a fool, a most motley fool!

Alfred.
(Wheels around.) “Who?”

Jack.
The man who has everything better to: and yet so far forgets himself as to travel about with a woman in love,-- unless she’s in love with himself.

Alfred.
(Dryly) Why are you here, then, dear Jack.

Jack.
Can't you guess it?

Alfred.
Not I.

Jack.
Because I have nothing that’s better to do. I am bored by myself, you bore me, Matilda’s mother drives me to imaginary suicide, and your golden-haired beauty has led us a dance through these hills I’ll not soon forget.

Alfred.
You’ve quarreled with Matilda?

Jack.
No, no! She is the only one who contrives to keep one’s eyes and one’s feet too from falling asleep for even one half-hour of the long twenty-four.

Alfred.
You're out of sorts --- What’s the matter?

Jack.
Why, Matilda's the matter: the more I consider her—the more she demands.

Alfred.
Of course, that belongs to her sex.

Jack.
Does a woman ever let us forget that she is -- a woman – and charming in all moods: it passes my patience.

Alfred
Never! But my own is worse tired.

Jack.
Yours, Alfred?

Alfred. Read this, if you doubt it. (Hands Jack letter.)

Jack.
(Reads aloud.) I hear you now in Bigorre. I am told you are going to marry Miss Darcy. (Breaks off) What is this?

Alfred.
Read on to the end, and you’ll know.

Jack.
(Continues reading.) When we parted, your last recorded a vow. (Breaks off.) Hang it! This smells all over, I swear, of adventures, and a mysterious perfume,(holds letter to his nose) which steals all my senses. Was it your hair you promised a lock of?

Alfred.
Don’t jest! Read on, you’ll discern.

Jack.
(Continues.) I asked you, my lord, to return my letters (Breaks off.) Humph! Letters! The matter is worse than I thought I have my misgivings--

Alfred.
Well, read out the rest and advise me.

Jack.
Eh!---- Where was I? (Continues.) These letters I desire to receive from your hand. Miss Darcy will spare me one leaf – one brief page from the summer romance of her courtship. (Breaks off.) Nonsense! A romance I’d forego every page of, and not break my heart.

Alfred.
Please to remember that I am engaged to Matilda.
Jack.
She is not to be envied—

Alfred.
You are inconsistent. Read on.

Jack.
(Reading.) And spare you one day from your place at her feet—(Breaks off.) Really, Alfred, that’s too ridiculous – As that has been my place.

Alfred.
You are maddening! Resume!

Jack.
(Reading.) The distance to Serchon is short. I remain a month in these mountains—(Breaks off.) Bless me! Your friend always,- Lucile. The Countess de Nevers! (Jack hands the letter to Alfred.)

Alfred.
Yes!

Jack.
You can’t go.

Alfred.
I must.

Jack.
And Miss Darcy?

Alfred.
Oh, that you must manage.

Jack.
Must I? I decline it though—flat. I received a message from Matilda before I had finished my breakfast,- you were in bed. The contents were briefly thus: (Tells on his fingers.) Would I leave at the jeweler’s the bracelet that you broke last night? I must call for some music— a song you expressed a preference for. Alfred does not like my new hat. Will I send for the milliner? Of course, I can just stop in passing to order her horse— and, oh, yes, poor Beau has the mumps. Will I see the dog-doctor? Hang Beau! I will not.

Alfred.
Tush! Tush! You are exciting yourself over a woman’s vagaries.-- (Taps letter.) This is serious.

Jack.
(With mock gravity.) It is.

Alfred.
Very well, don’t be selfish! You must think of,--

Jack.
Some story that will silence the Mater. Matilda’s in love, I can manage her.

Alfred.
Oh, tell Mrs. Darcy that— Lend me your wits, Jack! The deuce!

Jack.
(Taps his forehead.) If you can find them in this maze. I am nearly off my own head.

Alfred.
Can you not stretch your genius to fit your friend’s use? Excuses are clothes, which Good Breeding spares to Naked Necessity. You must have a whole wardrobe, no doubt.

Jack.
It is growing threadbare in your service. Why go to Serchon?

Alfred.
Not go to Lucile! I haven’t a choice. Besides, shall I own a strange sort of desire to see the woman who roused in me first the latent shadow of love,-- that strange inexplicable disease that attacks us poor mortals.

Jack.
You weary me!

Alfred.
I am wasting time trying to convince you. This letter must be answered. (He goes to writing desk and writes letter.)

Jack.
Shall I answer the letter for you?

Alfred.
(Ignores him.) How does this sound? (Reads.) Your note reached me to-day at Bigorre. I shall be at Serchon to-night, where a line will find me at Duval's- awaiting your orders. I leave in an hour.

Jack.
Rather conservative. I could do better. A brilliant idea strikes me! I will go in your place--

Alfred.
You go to—(Rings the bell. Enter servant.) Dispatch this letter at once. (Exit servant.) Lucile will—

Jack.
Lucile, Lucile! the name is musical, and sounds like the falling water in the mountains. Do you hear? I can be poetical, though not in love.

Alfred.
You’re in love with yourself.

Jack.
0ne word, are you really in love with Matilda?

Alfred.
Love, eh! What a question! Of course.

Jack.
Were you really in love with Lucile?

Alfred.
What, Lucile! No, by Jove, never really.

Jack.
She’s pretty?

Alfred.
Decidely so. As soft and sallow as autumn with hair neither black nor yet brown, that tinge which the twilight takes in September Eyes-- the night of that twilight. And a hand fit for love-- white, soft and moist. A voice vibrant and sweet, as the tune that one knows. There was something in her that set one thinking of those strange backgrounds in Raphael's pictures.

Jack.
Coquette?

Alfred.
Not at all. 'Twas her one fault. Had she less loved me, I had loved her the better. You remember the old simile: "The heart of a man must be trampled on boldly indeed, to extract the fragrance-“

Jack.
Women change so.

Alfred.
Of course.

Jack.
And if one can believe rumor, the Countess de Nevers, was the rage at Baden last year-- held an absolute court of devoted admirers, and really made sport of her subjects.

Alfred.
Indeed! Then she is changed.

Jack.
When she broke off her engagement with you, her heart did not break with it.

Alfred.
Pooh! Pray would you have her dress always in black, and shut herself up in a convent? Besides,‘twas my fault the engagement was broken.

Jack.
Most likely. How was it?

Alfred.
She bored me.-- I showed it.— She reproached.— I retorted.- She sulked. So did I.— She cried.— I was contrite, submissive. She softened.— I hardened. At noon I was banished, at eve I was pardoned. She said I had no heart. I said she had no reason. I swore and talked nonsense. She sobbed, I talked treason. In short, my dear fellow, 'twas time things should come to a crisis, and finish. She released me. I lingered. I lingered, she thought, with too sullen an aspect. I flew in a rage and declared myself uncomprehended,- and So we parted. The rest of the story you know.

Jack.
No, not all of the story.

Alfred.
Well, we parted-- ten long years have flown. (Sighs.) Of course, We could not continue to meet. Paris was charming just then, but I asked to be changed to the embassy at Naples-- I obtained it-- and so joined my new post at once: but scarce reached it, when my first news from Paris informs me that Lucile is ill, and in danger. Conceive what I suffer. I fly back. I find her recovering, but looking pale as a lily. I am seized with a contrite regret. I ask to renew the engagement.

Jack.
And she?

Alfred.
Reflects, and declines. We part, swearing to be friends ever, friends only.— We keep our letters,-- a portrait,-- a ring. With a pledge to return them whenever one or the other shall call for them back.

Jack.
I did not give you credit for so much constancy.

Alfred.
'Tis a matter of sentiment, my dear boy, I have always carried them about with me, knowing—she would redeem them. (Sinks into a reverie and rolls a cigarette.) Of course, I enjoin on Lucile all those trite maxims, that a man who is bankrupt in love, preaches to the woman he has loved, or fancied. I preach, she obeys. (Vargrave is sunk in retrospection.) She goes out in the world: takes to dancing— a pleasure she has rarely indulged in before. I go back to my post at Naples and collect antiques and male sapphires. Now, Jack, you know all.

Jack.
Of your story, yes, but tell me more of Lucile?

Alfred.
She was born in India under those tropical suns, which bequeathe such a dower to her daughters. Her father, a Frenchman of good birth, her mother,- an Indian Princess of great beauty,- that half Eastern blood is her greatest charm. She remembered little of her childhood. Her parents died young and she was sent back to France with her Indian nurse to her father's sister, a lone woman, the last of the race. Lucile was educated in a convent. At seventeen, her aunt married her to a rich, dreary, old count, who sullenly died-- he had no claim on her tears.

Jack.
A widow! Thrice as fascinating as a maid. Oh, Alfred, beware of these clever French women of heart!

Alfred.
What know you of heart, Jack, either French ones or English?

Jack.
I am a layman, 'tis true: but your Lucile," as you paint her, enthralls me.

Alfred.
(Sighs.) Which is best, Jack, Regret or Remorse?

Jack.
Why, Regret.

Alfred.
No, Remorse. Regret is an old cloistered nun, but Remorse HAS been wed to young Pleasure. I banish regret,- as I banish this smoke.

Jack.
You are resolved then to go back to that worst of all places- the past.

Alfred.
To make sure that the Past from the Future is shut it were worth the step back.

Jack.
(Resignedly.) Well, what is it you want me to do?

Alfred.
You must tell Matilda, I meant to have called- to leave word- to explain- but the time was so pressing.

Jack.
Your lordship's obedient, but I really can't do that you know.

Alfred.
(Severely.) You wish then to break off my marriage with Miss Darby?

Jack.
No, no! But I can't see why you yourself need take these letters.

Alfred.
(Bitterly.) Your heart is as dry as a reed. The dew of your youth is rubbed off you. At honor you jest: you are cold as a stone to the warm voice of friendship. You are heartless, unconcerned. At the sight of such callous indifference--

Jack.
Have you done? Is that all? Now, listen to me. I presume when you made up your mind to propose to Miss Darcy, you weighed all the drawbacks against the equivalent gains, ere you finally settled the point. What remains but to stick to your choice. You want money: ‘tis here a settled position: 'tis yours. A career: you secure it. A wife, young and pretty, and rich, whom all men will envy you. Why should you run away from all this to a woman whom you have not missed in all the years you have separated. Who knows what might happen? This letter to me is a palpable trap. The woman has changed since you knew her. She may seek to renew the broken romance of her youth, to recall the once reckless, indifferent lover. When women begin to feel that the summer-tide of their beauty is slipping from them, they let nothing else slip away unsecured. I'll wager, Lucile's a coquette, to the end of her fingers. I will stake my last farthing, and think of her triumph. You risk everything for this mad dream you have dreamed. By Gad! I'll marry Matilda myself.

Alfred
Don't exaggerate, Jack.

Jack.
Nothing can change the same Vargrave of old- brittle, bold and unstable.

Alfred.
This to my face! Now, Mentor, in three days at the most I'll be back.

Jack.
Ay, but how – discontented, unsettled, upset. – preoccupied, and most likely Miss Darcy will break off her engagement in a huff,-- then I’ll carry her off like a young Lochinvar.

Alfred.
Only three days at the most—

Jack.
I can now see how persistency will win against the field. But in three days who knows what might happen? I don’t nor do you. (Jack walks to window.) Here comes Matilda cantering down the street, followed by her groom. How that girl loves the horse! What a fine English mare! She is looking up and by Jove, she is frowning.

Alfred.
Good-bye, Jack. I'm off to Lucile. (Exit Alfred.)

Jack.
(Shouts.) You would better go and hang yourself. (Aside.) I envy all married men at this moment, for as a bachelor, I am the butt of the family. I'll the first woman who asks me. (Enter Matilda with her poodle Beau in leading string.)

Jack.
Now for it. I envoke Ananias and Sapphira!

Matilda.
(In an aggrieved tone.) Why, Jack, where is Alfred? I have not seen him this morning.

Jack.
Alfred! Why, eh, am I not here? Alfred has been called Serchon, most serious affair-- and old affair-- in fact, an affair of the heart. His most intimate friend is dying of heart failure. (Aside.) Complicated by an acute of-- love. (Enter Mrs. Darcy unobserved.)

Matilda.
Dying! Why he told me that you were his most intimate friend, and the only man he cared about.

Jack.
I should say so, but you see this is not a parallel case. She is—

Mrs. Darcy.
(In an awful voice.) Matilda! I beg of you not to cause Mr. Vargrave any further elasticity of his marvelous inventive powers- (They both start.)

Jack.
(Aside.) Which are stretched to the utmost.

Mrs. Darcy.
(To Matilda.) Remember, you are my daughter, and you will not forget your dignity. (To Jack.) I heard Lord Vargrave shouting in the corridor and absolutely swearing at his man. Now, why this haste? (Mrs. Darcy out of breath.)

Jack.
The case is very urgent, Mrs. Darcy.

Matilda.
(Puts her hand in Jack's arm.) Poor Jack. Don't nag him, mamma.

Mrs. Darcy.
Stable slang from my daughter's lips! Oh, if your poor father--

Matilda.
(With spirit.) My poor father is better dead. (Begins to cry.)

Mrs. Darcy.
You are an unnaturl child. (Jack puts his fingers in his ears and then embraces Matilda. Beau snaps at his heels.) Release her this instant. You behavior is shocking-- positively shocking.

Jack.
I know it. I am a monster. Don't choose your words, but say anything and say it quickly. I prefer the guillotine to the dungeon.

Mrs. Darcy.
Lord Alfred broke his engagement with me this morning. Am I not considered, as the mother of his betrothed. (To Matilda.) Dear child, you may as well face it at once. Lord Alfred does not love you,-- your-

Matilda.
Not another word, mamma, you are going to drag in that everlasting money of mine—

Jack.
Don't despise money, child. It is good in its way, and I can assure you there is no everlasting mint in England. But Alfred loves you, be sure of that, Miss Darcy.

Mrs. Darcy.
You are a promising student, and I congratulate you on your finesse.

Jack.
I am but a poor diplomat.

Mrs. Darcy.
Diplomacy is the trade of your family, but you should have begun younger, Mr. Vargrave.

Jack.
(Aside.) That was a nasty one! (Aloud.) Our inheritance is not ours to choose. Now, Matilda's birthright is her beauty and sweetness of temper-- a most royal gift.

Mrs. Darcy.
I had a fine spirit at her age.

Matilda.
(Throws her arms about her mother's neck.) Oh, mamma, what can I do? Be kind to poor Jack.

Jack.
(Aside.) She is worth all the Luciles in the world.

Mrs. Darcy.
You need not apologize anymore for your cousin. When I was young, Mr. Darcy knelt at my feet. Now, the case is reversed and Matilda must be the suppliant, and also humiliated by the tidings that her betrothed has deserted her-- for what? for whom? I don’t understand it.

Jack. (Kisses her hand.)Nor I, Mrs. Darcy. I fear I am a poor ambassador at beauty's Court-- but Matilda forgives me. Spare me, dear lady. (To Matilda.) I am aweary of the world, and fain would rest.

Matilda.
And a jester to the last ditch.

Mrs. Darcy.
Matilda! You shall never ride to hounds with my permission.

Matilda.
(Ignores remark and laughs merrily.) Oh, mamma, just fancy Jack with a cap and bells-

Jack.
In the time of King Alfred, the Great-- Vargrave.

Mrs. Darcy.
(Aside.) 'Tis all he needs-- a fool's cap.

Matilda. (To Jack.) You are an antidote for the blues. (Mrs. Darcy walks to window.) but I am jealous- Who is she? Tell me, tell me, tell me!

Jack.
She is Matilda Darcy, and he will return in three days. Believe me, but ask me no questions. Remember Bluebeard's wife-- and her fatal curiosity. Throw away the key to the closet and be happy.

Matilda
(Pouts.) Alfred might have made his excuses in person: as his betrothed I am titled to more consideration.

Mrs. Darcy.
(Turns from window.) Lord Alfred shall account for this escapade to my brother, Sir Ridley McNab. He is now on his way to the Pyrnees. He may reach here to-day.

Jack.
Escapade! Believe me, you are taking things too seriously. I shall be very glad to meet your brother. (Aside.) A man in this situation will be welcome.

Mrs. Darcy.
And Matilda too lightly. The child does not, understand men and their ways- but I have been married.

Jack.
I should hope so, indeed,-

Mrs. Darcy.
Mr. Vargrave!
(Servant enters with card on tray, which he proffers to Mrs. Darcy.)

Mrs. Darcy.
Sir Ridley McNab! Show him up at once. (Exit servant.) Most opportune! My way is now clear. (Enter Sir Ridley McNab.) Oh, my brother! (Hysterically.) You are welcome- more than welcome.(He disengages her arms from his neck.)

McNab.
Hysterics. You are forgetting the warning of your physician. Really, Minerva, you have disarranged my tie. (Kisses Matilda on the tip of her, nose and arranges tie.) Bless my soul, child, you are Aphrodite after her bath in the sea. What is it, Virgil says, about youth and purpureal light? Those old duffers had an eye for the fair sex!

Mrs. Darcy.
(Who is trying to present John.) Allow me, Sir Ridley McNab, Mr John Vargrave. (They shake hands.)

McNab.
(Puts up his eye glass.) Matilda’s betrothed?

Jack.
No such luck.

Matilda.
He's my dear cousin Jack.

Mrs. Darcy.
Lord Alfred Vargrave is not here.

McNab.
Egadi Not here! How is that? The engagement is announced, and I have come on for the-

Matilda.
(Takes her poodle in her arms and looks at him seriously.) Jack, we must see the dog-doctor at once. Beau is feverish.

Jack. (With alacrity.) By all means, and I will consult him on my own account, for I am threatened with nervous prostration.

Matilda. (Kisses her mother.) Good-bye, mamma. (Exit Jack and Matilda.)

Mrs. Darcy.
A complication has arisen—

McNab.
Nonsense. Matilda seems happy.

Mrs. Darcy.
Matilda does not comprehend.

McNab.
Thank God for that, if there is anything wrong. Now, Minerva, remember your own married life and don’t distill poison before Matilda is a bride.

Mrs. Darcy.
You, then, take sides with a stranger?

McNab.
I take sides, with no one. I have some on as your broker to arrange the settlements, and to do the best I can for Matilda.

Mrs. Darcy.
To return to Lord Vargrave- 1 think there is a woman in the case.

McNab.
So! Sets the wind that way! A woman in the case— you interest me.

Mrs. Darcy.
At your time of life?

McNab.
(He walks to mirror.) At my time of life- I am in my prime- never felt younger in my life-

Mrs. Darcy.
(Sneers.) A sort of second childhood!

McNab.
(Solemnly facing her.) Athena! Goddess of Wisdom! (Ironically.) From the bottom of my soul, I pity the late Mr. Darcy, as I never did before. Did it never occur to you, that even the beautiful Mrs. Darcy (bowing low) has now a grown up daughter— about to be married, by Gad-- and you may be a grandmother- the whilom beauty- a grandmother,-- the former toast of the count—- ha! ha! ha! ha!

Mrs. Darcy.
This is unseemly-

McNab
Run up your flag of truce, then Minerva, and we'll stop these pleas- and family jinglings. Now tell me, what do you wish? Lord Vargrave for a son-in-law? If so, we'll hasten the wedding.

Mrs. Darcy.
Matilda fancies herself in love with him.

McNab.
Will you leave this affair in my hands? I know the world and men of his calibre. If he has not already eloped, I'll book him to time. I'm not averse to Lord Alfred's penchant for pretty women, I love them too well myself.

Mrs. Darcy. (Severely.) What dotage! Are you never to grow old?

McNab.
Not wholly. I shall not starve in the sight of luxurious things. Wine, women and song! I shall still taste the wine and hear the music-- the tune is still sweet.

Mrs. Darcy.
And life's grand possibilities, which you have missed.- You might have been a statesman!

McNab.
A live banker is better than a dead statesman- politically. I am satisfied. You can bring up the future Vargraves to be statesmen and
Dutchesses-- and thus realize your ambition. As for me, I shall return to London and Blanche.

Mrs. Darcy.
(Ignores her name.) And some day you'll die.

McNab.
Not having discovered the fountain of perpetual youth-- eventually. (Aside.) In this atmosphere one's soul might take flight without a struggle to retain it.

Mrs. Darcy.
And when you look back and review your past life?

McNab.
I can reflect that I never lost an occasion to please myself. What boots it, a stone at his head and a brass on his breast-- when a man is once dead. Yet I would fain believe, as a Mohammedan, because it is a pleasant belief-- a future Paradise of black-eyed houris where softly falling fountains perfume the air.

Mrs. Darcy.
You imbibe your paganish tastes from that actress with whom you associate.

McNab.
I wish I could imbibe more freely. You are talking of the future Lady McNab.

Mrs. Darcy.
You could never make such a mesalliance. A woman who toils for a living-- and on the stage!

McNab.
The dearest and pluckiest little woman in the world and the most famous Juliet in a decade. I am not fit to tie her shoe-laces.

Mrs. Darcy.
But you need not marry her—

McNab.
No morganatic marriage for Blanche. Her undisputed title will be Lady McNab.

Mrs. Darcy.
The women of our family have been stainless.

McNab.
Hark back to your portotype, which hangs in the old picture gallery at home. Was she stainless?

Mrs. Darcy.
She was the favorite of a great king, and privately married to him-- Our records show that.

McNab.
Well, calm yourself, my dear Minerva, society wiil receive Blanche as the wife of a rich banker, Sir Ridley McNab. But enough of this-- I have traveled a long distance and I am weary. (Stretches himself.) I am also an optimist— and hungry. "O hour of all hours, the most blessed upon earth, blessed hour of our dinners!" I have ordered mine at a very unfashionable hour (looks at watch. He spouts)
“The land of his birth:
The face of his first love: the bills that he owes;
The twaddle of friends and the venom of foes:
The sermon he hears when to church he last went:
The money he borrowed, the money he spent:--
All of these things a man, I believe, may forget,
And not be the worse for forgetting: But yet

Never, never, oh never, earth's luckiest sinner
Hath unpunished forgotten the hour of his dinner.

CURTAIN.

Act II.

Scene I, Lord Alfred rides down mountain path.

Alfred.
Hello there! (Groom runs out, as Lord Alfred dismounts.) Give her a good rubbing down and feed her well. (Groom touches his tap and leads off horse.) Duke de Luvois closely follows. Same ploy with servant. Duke tosses a coin.)

Duke,
Take good care of my horse!

Alfred.
(Lights a cigar, The Duke fumbles in his pockets) You smoke! Sir.--
Allow me. (Offers the Duke a cigar.)

Duke.
Many thanks! Such cigars are a luxury here. Do you go to Serchon?

Alfred,
Yes! And you?

Duke.
I fear since our road is the same, that our journey must be somewhat closer than our acquaintance, I am tempted to ask your permission to finish the cigar you have given me-- really a prize-- in your company.

Alfred.
Charmed, sir, to find your road lies in the way of my own. (Puffs his cigar.) This weed is a talisman, which makes all men brothers. A calumet of peace! That incipient blaze between England and France has ended where Wisdom begins, sir,-- in smoke. Our journalist united their wits and the press put it out. Great are the scribes!

Duke.
To quote from your brilliant writer of Richelieu: "The quotation is mightier than the sword!”

Alfred.
Yes, in the hand of a priest.

Duke.
(Laughs.) We men may settle affairs of the State, but not of the Church-- she needs no defenders. (Looks at the mountains.) Ah, what a scene!

Alfred.
Humph! Nature is here too pretentious. Her mien is too haughty. One likes to be coaxed, not compelled to notice such beauty, which if not admired, that beauty resents. She seems to be saying too plainly "Admire me"! and I answer, yes, madam, but you tire me.

Duke.
(The sun sets.) That sunset, just now though!
Alfred.
A very old trick! One would think by this time, that the sun must be weary of blushing at what,-- she must know too well to be shot by the world.

Duke.
Ah, 'tis so with us all. 'Tis the sinner that best knew the world at twenty, whose lip is at sixty most curled with disdain of its follies. You stay at Serohon?

Alfred. A day or two only.

Duke.
The season is done.

Alfred,
Already!

Duke.
'Twas shorter this year than the last. Folly soon wears he shoes out. She dances so swiftly,-- we are all of us tired.

Alfred.
You know the place well?

Duke.
I have been there two seasons.

Alfred.
Who is the Belle of the Baths at this moment?

Duke.
The same who has been the belle of all places in which she is seem: the belle of all Paris last winter:-- last season the belle of all Baden.

Alfred.
An uncommon thing!

Duke.
Sir, an uncommon beauty!-- I rather should say an uncommon character, truly, one often meets women whose beauty is equal, or greater, but none with the charm of Lucile de Nevers.

Alfred.
Madame de Nevers!

Duke.
Do you know her?

Alfred.
(Stammers.) I know-- or rather-- I knew her-- many years since-- I almost forget--

Duke.
What a wit! What a grace in her language! Her movements! What play in her eyes! And yet what a sadness she seems to conceal.

Alfred.
(Jealous.) You speak like a lover!

Duke.
That remains to be proved. What interests me so in her,-- at the same time forbids me to give name-- the name we men give to an hour's pastime,-— a night’s passing passion,-- a dancing girl's ankles—

Alfred.
Yes, I quite comprehend. But this sadness-- this shade which you speak of? Your gay countrymen, sir, less adroit must have grown, since when as a strippling, at Paris, I found in them formidable rivals,-- if they have all lacked the skill to console this regret,-- if regret be the word I should use-- or fulfill this desire, which seems to endure unappeased. For I take it for granted-- from all that you say-- that her suitors are many.

Duke.
Yes, I know sometime since, Castelmar was refused-- though a prince—
with at least half a million a year.

Alfred,
There must be some reason.

Duke.
I have heard that an Englishman-- Lord Vargrave-- one of your nation, I presume, and if so, I must beg you to pardon,-- the contempt which I--

Alfred.
Pray, sir, proceed with your tale. My compatriot, what was his crime?

Duke.
His folly was not so sublime as to merit that term. If I blamed him just now, just not for the sin but the silliness.

Alfred.
How?

Duke.
I own I hate Botany. Still, I admit that the cold man of Science who walks all alert through a garden of flowers, and knifes the lilies’ gold tongues, and the roses red lips with a ruthless disection, has, I suppose, some purpose in view beyond the mere mischief he does. But the stupid and mischievous boy that tramples an exotic for a boy's brutal pastime, and only because he knows no distinction ‘twixt heartsease and the commonest weed that grows-- one could wish to catch the young rascal and have him well whipped!

Alfred.
(Musingly.) Some compatriot of mine,-- with a cold Northern heart and a rude English hand has injured your rosebud of France?

Duke.
Sir, I can tell you but little, yet, some faces show the last act of a tragedy in their regard,-- though the first scenes be wanting. One can divine more or less what the plot may have been, and what sort of actors have passed o'er the scene. And whenever on the face of Luclle, with its pensive and passionless languor, I see that some feeling hast burned there,-- burnt out-- and burnt up passion and hope. So you feel when you gaze on the cup of extinguished volcanoes-- you judge of the fire by the ravage you see-- by the apathy left in its wake.

Alfred.
Humph! I see your light has gone out. May I offer another, cigar?

Duke.
No, thank you. We must start for Serchon. (The twilight deepens.) I will see what cheer the inn offers. (Walks into inn) Will you accompany me?

Alfred.
No. (Duke enters inn.) The fellow's good-looking, and yet a coxcomb. He, too, goes to Lucile. If he love her let him win here. (Duke comes out of inn.)

Duke.
The horses will soon be ready. We must ride fast, I wish to reach Serchon
in time for a ball.

Alfred.
Some fair lady awaits your coming?

Duke.
She awaits no one, but I would ride furiously to claim but one waltz.

Alfred.
(Looks at watch.) And I fear I too, shall be late.

Duke.
Not too late for the ball, you must surely attend it. The Countess Lucile will be there. Her first waltz is mine.

Alfred.
(Stiffly.) You are favored,-- that enjoy so much of her regard.

Duke.
I might feel flattered, were I not so uncertain of the position I hold.

Alfred.
She is the magnet for you at Serohon?

Duke.
She in the star that I follow. (The horses are brought out.)

Alfred. You know the road well.

Duke.
I have often been over it. (They ride off in the darkness.)

Act II.

Scene II. Room in Lucile's chalet. The door bell rings. Old Indian nurse enters room and admits Lord Vargrave.

Alfred.
(Aside.) Lucile's nurse! (Aloud.) You remember me, Balla?

Balla.
Lord Alfred Vargrave! (Shows delight.)

Alfred.
Your mistress expects me. (Exit Balla.) What a shrine of sweet thoughts! (Picks up a boquet from table.) Violets! Her favorite flower! (She has quietly entered undiscerned by him, a sharp cry escapes his lips as he turns.) Lucile!

Lucile.
(Simulates indifference throughout.) You are welcome, Lord Vargrave. You received my note? Why did you not come to the ball?

Alfred.
(Gloomily) I was there.

Lucile.
At the ball! At what time!

Alfred. The clock struck twelve as entered the door.

Lucile. What detained you?

Alfred.
I dined late-- and I did not make up my mind to go till--

Lucile.
Till when my Lord Vargrave?

Alfred.
Till I received your note— It was not delivered-in time.

Lucile.
I am sorry.

Alfred.
The ball was a bore!

Lucile.
As balls go, a perfect success. You once like to dancem but you were so late—I had given you up.

Alfred.
Yes, the last waltz was just over-- a crowd blocked the door.

Lucile.
(Archly.) And you could not find me? When the clock struck twelve I vanished like Cinderella in the fairy tale, and the Prince was disconsolate.

Alfred.
And the Prince's name-- Madame?

Lucile.
That I'll not tell you. Let me thank you sincerely for the honor with which you adhere to your word.

Alfred.
Your latest command, Madame, has secured my immediate obedience. You restore me my freedom to-day. (Lays letters on talbe.)

Lucile.
Freedom! Have you rested in my chains till now I had not so flattered myself!

Alfred,
For Heaven's sake, Madame,-- do not jest. Has the moment no sadness?

Lucile.
‘Tis an ancient tradition-- a tale often told—- this tale of love-- and our position is one only too sure to prevail in the end of all legends of love. We have recalled from the other, the poor foolish records of all those emotions, whose pain, when recorded seemed bliss. Should we write as we wrote in our youth? But Lord Vargrave, one thinks not of time. We write-- believing eternal the frail vows we light. Alas! So easily broken, and we smile with a confident pity, because we are above the vulgar results of all poor human passion. (She gives him his letters from a jewel casket.) Be assured I retain you no more in my fetters.

Alfred.
(Tries to surprise her into a betrayal of her old love.) Ah, Lucile, you are changed. Do not make sport of the holiest emotions of our nature Shall we not--

Lucile.
Shall we not smile at the results of our poor human lot? Because we dreamed without vanity common to youth that our love was an exception. You remember, Lord Vargrave?

Alfred.
Has life left illusions?

Lucile.
Ah, no! ‘Twas the youth of our youth, my lord. Shall we blame it because we survive it?

Alfred.
You have pronounced the death warrant of all the best emotions of 1ife.

Lucile.
You know me well enough, or what I would say is, you yet recollect enough of my nature to know that these pleasures (touches letters on table) of what was perhaps a foolish affection' I do not recall from those motives of prudence which actuate most women, when their love ceases. If you have such a doubt, to dispel it, I need but remind you that ten years, these letters have rested unclaimed in your hands.

Alfred.
(With fine irony.) You are generous, Madame. You trace life’s epitaph with a cold finger.

Lucile.
(Gayly.) Come! Do not think I abuse the occasion. We gain justice, judgement with years. You shall not hear a single reproach from me. I have sinned to myself-- to thet world-- nay, to you chiefly.

Alfred.
(Sighs.) No, no! Could I make reparation, I alone was to blame. I was a perfect Niobe-- always in tears. As your countrymen say-- "I wore my heart on my sleeve."

Alfred.
But how changed you are. You were a mere slip of a girl then.

Lucile.
(With humor.) And what scenes I made, and how patient you were—- till the last. How I yielded myself to every transient emotion of grief, not knowing that sorrow can beautify only the heart-- not the fact of a woman.

Alfred.
(Sadly.) You loved me, then, Lucile.

Lucile.
The woman who loves should be the friend of the man that she loves. She should heed not her selfish and often mistaken desires, but his interest. She should use all her skill that his place in the world find its place in her heart. I, alas! perceive not this truth till too late: I tormented your youth. Forgive me the ill I have done for the sake of its long expiation. (He lifts her hand to his lips.)

Alfred.
I forgive the girl, Lucile, for the perfect woman, the Countess de Nevers.

Lucile.
(Quickly changes subject.) Tell me of Miss Darcy. I hear she is charming and blond. One of your blooming English girls so much like a flower.

Alfred.
(Sighs.) She is all that you hear-- but so young. What can she understand of that subtle sympathy that should exist between man and wife!

Lucile.
But if she loves, you you can mold her to your will.

Alfred.
I should, marry a woman who understands me. Lucile, tell me of yourself.

Lucile.
After we parted, I went back to the land of my birth. To the land of the pain and its fountain! To the tombs! To the still sacred River! With my old nurse, I sat on the house-top, and watched night after night the stars-- the large Indian moon as it shone on the old ruined fane of the old ruined God. 'Twas a sublime experience, and that grief of the past became vague. My storm-beaten heart found repose. (Forgets his presence.) If I go there again, shall I find the child-heart that I left there, or find my lost youth?

Alfred.
You are far more beautiful. You have gained that matchless charm-- that appeal to one's homage which only an anchorite could withhold. You have acquired a caressing and exquisite grace—

Lucile.
And you have become an adept in flattery-- a gallant and a squire of dames.

Alfred.
(Passionately catches her hand.) And you a woman of the world: but sorrow has crossed the life-line in your palm. (Door bell rings, a quick foot-step is heard.)

Lucile.
(Holds up her hand.) Listen!

Alfred.
And we are to be interrupted-- (Enter nurse.)

Balla.
The Duke de Luvois has just entered, and insists—

Lucile.
The Duke! Say I do not receive till the evening-— Explain! I have business of private importance.

Alfred.
(Shows jealousy.) Let not me interfere with the claims on your time, lady. When you are free from more pressing engagements-- when this favored Luvois-- this lover--

Lucile.
(with hauteur.) Tell the Duke he may enter. (Exit nurse,)

Alfred.
Then I am dismissed. (Enter, Duke.)

Lucile.
Sir Alfred Vargrave, the Duke de Luvois. (They salute as perfect strangers, but look volumes. Duke walks to front of stage.)

Duke.
(Aside) Sir Alfred Vargrave! The Englishman!

Alfred.
(Bows over Lucile's hand.) Allow me to wait on you later. (Aside.) So the "Prince” is the Duke de Luvois. (Exit Alfred.)

Duke.
I disturbed a tete-a-tete with a former admirer. We're not both on the same errand? (Walks up to table.) Old love letters! Does he seek to renew broken pledges?

Lucile.
(Coldly.) You speak in charades, Duke.

Duke.
Ah, Lucile, have you not kept the thread of the story? 'TIs an easy solution.

Lucile.
A story which interests me but little. Duke, I scarcely conceive--

Duke.
Ah! Forgive me. I desired so deeply to see you to-day,-- you gave me few dances last night. The whole you were pale, silent, preoccupied. Forgive me, Lucile, I know that I am a rash fool-- but I love you!

Lucile.
(Tries to stop him.) 'Tis a passing caprice!

Duke.
Do not deem that the love I no longer have strength to conceal is a “passing caprice"! It is strange to my nature. It has made me unknown to myself a new being. I implore you to sanction and save my new self which I lay at your feet. Be my wife! (Kneels.) Stoop and raise me!

Lucile.
Rise! Duke de Luvois, I have nothing to offer you in return for this devotion. I must trust love.

Duke.
(Rises) A woman needs love as those flowers the sun. You were made to be loved. You mistake your own feelings,-- I fear you mistake mine, I interpret them so ill. My feeble convey but a tithe of my passion.

Lucile.
I suffered too much of yore.

Duke.
Tell me nothing, Lucile, I know all. This Englishman, Sir Alfred Vargrave--

Lucile.
You know all, Duke, well, then, know from that rude lesson taught to my youth, I have learned to shelter my life: to mistrust the heart of another, I know that one hour assures not the next.

Duke
Oh! Madame! You fence with a feeling you know to be true and intense. Does not my life, Lucile, that I plead for alone, your nature will prey on itself: 'twas made to influence others. Consider that genius craves power,-- what scope for it in the life you now lead? I offer you, lady a name not unknown,-- a fortune which will be worthless without you. All my life I lay down again at your feet. My heart beats only for you!

Lucile.
That heart, Duke, that life-- I respect both the name and position you offer, and all that you claim in behalf of their nobler employment. I now ask you-

Duke.
Lucile!

Lucile.
I ask you to leave me—

Duke.
You do not reject me?

Lucile.
I ask you to leave me.

Duke.
Say one word-- May I hope?

Lucile.
Give me time to reflect. (Duke kisses her hand and goes.) Lucile sits in profound meditation.(Balla admits Lord Vargrave. Lucile gives a slight nervous exclamation.)

Alfred.
I was far from your thoughts.

Lucile.
You entered unannounced. Where were you?

Alfred.
I was in the garden. Bulla admitted me, the same as in those old happy days. O, Lucile! My pride fights in vain with the truth that leaps from me. I can fee1 nothing here but your presence. I humble my head and my heart. I entreat your pardon for the past-- I implore for the future your mercy,-- implore it with more of passion than prayer ever breathed.

Lucile.
Recall your rash words!

Alfred.
I can never recall what my lips have avowed.

Lucile.
And your duty—

Alfred.
The duty most sacred and sweet is that which has led me to you. O speak! and restore me the blessing I lost when I lost you. Let me give back to your own life its youth, and the vision, the rapture, the passion we both felt ere our hearts were changed by the world. To be once again young-- ah, Lucile.

Lucile.
No, no!

Alfred.
By the rights I have over you, I demand. (Ceases her hand.)

Lucile.
The rights! (Withdraws her hand.)

Alfred.
Yes, the right to repair in the future, the wrong in the past. I who injured your life urge the right to repair it. Be my wife, my guide, my godangel, my all upon earth.

Lucile.
(Faintly.) And your pledge to another? Your honor?

Alfred.
My honor will live where my love lives, unashamed. 'Twere poor honor to give to another that life of which you keep the heart. Could I live in the light of those young eyes, suppressing a lie? Alas, no! Your hand holds my whole, destiny.

Lucile.
Then I command you to return to Bigorre.

Alfred.
To Matilda! Her youth will renew its emotions. But who else can revere the passionate Nature, the sublimity in you as I. Come to me, Lucile!

Lucile.
No, no! 'Tis best as it is.

Alfred.
I love you and all else is naught.

Lucile.
And what would your world ssy?

Alfred. The least of your regard is worth all the world can offer. You and I, Lucile, know how hollow are all earthly enjoyments-- without love.

Lucile.
I have wearily wandered from place to place in search of rest-- and forgetfulness.

Alfred.
Then you consent?

Lucile.
No, Alfred. The glamor of the past is over you. Our two paths are plain-- and those paths divide us.

Alfred.
You once loved me--

Lucile.
Forgive, forgive me. I have made you forget what was due to yourself-— and that other one. Yes! mine was the fault, and mine the repentance. If for one moment--

Alfred.
O, Lucile, be true to yourself!

Lucile.
When I asked you to cone to Serchon, I foresaw not the sorrow—

Alfred.
Which you feel, oh, my own--

Lucile.
True, this meeting I sought-- I, alone! But it was not with the thought to regain your heart or to rewaken the past, no! Believe me, it was with the firm and unshaken conviction, at least, that our meeting without pain to you.

Alfred.
You avow your love for me in those very words.

Lucile.
I own when the rumor first reached me— your engagement-- my heart and my mind suffered torture intense. ‘Twas cruel to find that so much of my life-- unknown to myself-- had been silently settled on one— upon one-- whom it would soon be a crime but to think. Then I said to myself, there rests but one hope of escape from thralldom which Time has not weakened. I will see him again. The being I love in a phantom. I only behold the young hero of my dreams. So, we meet, but the danger I did not foresee has occurred-- the danger, alas!-- to yourself.

Alfred.
But erelong I shall be free as air. I will tell the truth to Matilda. She will release me.

Lucile.
But she loves you! Return to that young living love,-- and oh, believe me whenever I go, I will treasure the words you have spoken.

Alfred.
You would then doom me to unhappiness. How can I live without you Lucile? You are the life of my life!

Lucille.
You will be happy,-- I, too, in the bliss I foresee for you, I shall be happy,-- and this proves me worth your friendship.

Alfred.
Friendship between us--

Lucile.
(Brokenly.) Yes,-- I do not respond to your love. Be convinced that I could not-- never, never, have made you happy. And if you are false to the vows you have plighted, when emotion was over, you would feel not alone the remorse of honor, but also disappointed affection.

Alfred.
You are placing great barriers between us, but I can remove them.

Lucile.
Oh, do not suppose that I blame you.

Alfred.
But if I return—free-- free, Lucile, to implore that great blessing on my life you alone can confer-- then,-- I might hope?

Lucile.
You have made to me, Alfred, an offer I know all the worth of, believe me. I cannot reply without time for reflection. (Rises.) If you love me, abide by my answer tomorrow.

Alfred.
And this is not parting?

Lucile.
Who knows? If this farewell is our last, Alfred Vargrave, in life, let us part-— (breaks down)

Alfred.
(Embraces her.) I shall hope, I shall hope!

Lucile.
Go. If you love me, obey me. (Exit Alfred.) His voice and his presence held the name familiar charm. There was a time when in beholding him, I could not help but reveal the rapture, the fear which wrenched every nerve in my being: but I was calm, smiling, perchance-- indifferent. (Lucile takes up letters.) Have I struggled and striven in vain to shut out that man from my life? Did I show my girl's heart through my woman’s reserve? (She unloosens silken band and letters scatter on the floor.) Life's lost blossoms! Poor perished flowers! Their perfume is dead-- gone forever! (Kisses a letter.) The petals are bruised like my heart. Oh, Alfred, I love you with a woman's passionate love—- yet I must be true to myself-- I must not sacrifice another. Farewell, again to my dream and to you!

Curtain.

Act III.

Scene-same as Act II.

Lord Vargrave seated on fragment of stone in front of inn.

Alfred.
(Reads aloud from letter.) No, Alfred, your hand and your honor are pledged to another. My course is decided. Doubt is over. The world was too much in your heart, and too little in mine, when, we parted long years ago, and this last fatal meeting should but deepen the old demarcations, which then placed our natures'asunder. And we two again, as we then were, would still have been strangely at variance. In that self-independence which is to my life a necessity, I would have shocked without meaning to do so all those social creeds which you live by. Deem these words life's good-night, which I write on the grave of the past. If there fell any tear on this page, 'twas a friend's. I shall be far from Serchon when this letter reaches you. (Stops reading and spreads out letter on his knee. The Duke comes out of inn and walks by him a few times-- undiscerned.) This letter breathes love-- I will not resign her! If I were free-- I will be free! I'll hasten to Bigorre and demand my release, then I'll follow her to the end of the earth.

Duke.
(Sneers.) I have doubtless intruded on an entrancing revery of love.
Milord would better fold up his letter-- the writing is well-known to me.

Alfred.
You have followed me here, Duke, to force a quarrel on me. I decline to put a lady's fair fame in jeopardy,-- for a moment's anger. Think of Lucile! Where is your chivalry, man?

Duke.
And yours? I am no saint, and I was never in love before with a woman, who was not a wife: but I protect the women I love, Milord,-- and
there is only one way with a Frenchman—(Alfred turns on his heel.) Hold, Lord Alfred! Away with disguise! I will own that I sought you a moment ago to fix on you a quarrel. I prefer to be honest. I admit not a rival in fortune or rank to the hand of a woman-- whatever be hers or her suitor's. I love the Countess de Nevers. I believed ere you crossed my path, she would be mine. You return to her sight and the woman is suddenly changed. You step in between us—you! who are now betrothed to another, you! whose name with Luclle's was coupled ten years ago. You! the man I reproached on the day of our first acquaintance--, here on this spot. You! that left her so lightly. I cannot believe that you love her, as I love her, nor can I conceive you indeed have the right so to love her. Milord, I will not thus tamely yield what a few days ago, I believed to be mine! I shall yet persevere, I shall yet be a rival you dare not despise. It is time to settle this contest. There can remain but one way-- need I say what it is?

Alfred.
I decline to accept your aggressive hot-headed challenge. Allow me to explain,-- Lucile has refused me.

Duke.
Are you free tc have offered? Ah! you dare not reply,-- you are silent. Because 'twas from vanity, wanton and cruel, and to gain your lost ascendancy, that you stepped in between her and me.

Alfred.
No! I am sincere.

Duke.
If you be really sincere, I ask only one word-- say at once you renounce her, then, I'll ask your forgiveness with all my heart, and there can be no quarrel between us. Say it!

Alfred.
You have not the right, sir, and still less the power to make terms and conditions with me. I refuse to reply. (A guide rushes on, raises his capote, and delivers a note to the Duke.)

Guide.
For the Duke de Luvois! I await an answer. (Duke tears open letter. His whole aspect changes.)

Duke.
Say your, dispatch will be answered at night-fall-- in person. (Exit guide.) A pressing request from Lucile! You are quite right, Lord Alfred
we're fair rivals at worst! We may change places. You are not accepted, nor free to propose. I, perrchance, am accepted, already. I warned you, Milord, I should still persevere. This letter-- but stay! You can read it. (Alfred takes letter and reads aloud.)

Alfred.
Your letter which followed me here, makes me stay till I see you again. I entreat you, I conjure you by all you profess to come to me directly. I am now in the inn at Saint Savior. Lucile. (Hands back letter to the Duke.) Sir, do not let me detain you.

Duke.
I have triumphed. Lucile bids me to a rendezvous--

Alfred.
Don't try me too far-- you insolent-- (Raises his riding-whip.)

Duke.
'Tis my turn to preach now. Remember the honor of a woman is at Stake! Ha! Ha! Lord Vargrave!

Alfred.
(Aside.) How imprudent of Lucile! (Aloud.) Man, remember your honor-- and hers.

Duke.
I remember only-- that I go to the arms of Lucile! (Walks towards inn.) Ho! my horse! (Mounts and rides away.)
Alfred.
(Reads again from letter.) My course is decided. Doubt is over. (Looks up.) Her course? What! To wed with that-- no, no! but what a strange rendezvous! to that lone inn high on the mountains, she has bidden that man. The Duke, then, will pass the night in that unfrequented place! Have I been mistaken in Lucile? True, her life is free from all ties. There are women in her world who love intrigue-- who love liberty-- liberty, yes! to choose and to leave-- rather than the legalized stress of the lovingest marriage. But she-- is she so? I will not believe it-- not Lucile! But the look of that man and his laughter! The slanderous jest! (Recklessly) Jack was right after all-- the coquette!

ACT III

Scene II. Room in old inn. Lucile seated at table. Luvois enters and closess the door at back of stage.

Duke.
You relent! And your plans have been changed by the letter I wrote you?

Lucile.
Your letter! Yes, Duke, for it threatens man's life - woman's honor.

Duke.
The last, Madame, not.

Lucile.
Both. I glance at your own words. (Produces letter.) Blush, son of the knighthood of France, as I read them. You say in 'this letter (Reads.) I know why now you refuse me: ‘tis for the man who has trifled before, and now trifles again with the heart you deny to myself. But he shall not! By man's last wild law I will seize on the right-- the right, Duke, to avenge for you the past and to give to your future its freedom. That man shall not live to make you as wretched as you have made me.

Duke.
Well, Madame, in those words what word do you find that threatens the honor of woman?

Lucile.
What word do you ask? Every word. Would you stain your hand and your name by a crime? These words menace a crime. Woman's honor, you ask? Is there, sir, no dishonor in the smile of a woman, when men gazing on her can shudder and say-- "In that smile is a grave." No! you have no cause, Duke, in the contest you mendace. That contest but draws every right into ruin. By all human laws of man's heart, I forbid it, by all sanctities of man's social honor!

Duke.
I obey you, but beware how you play fast and loose with my despair and the storm in my heart. Madame, yours was the right, when you saw that I hoped, to extinguish that hope forever. You should have done this at first-- for you knew from the first that I loved you.

Lucile.
You are severe, but perhaps not unjust. I thought you too self-conscious to lose all in love. Was I wrong? Is it so? Your right to reproach me. You say that I knew that you loved me. But what if this knowledge were known at a moment in life when I felt most alone and least able to be so-- a moment when I strove to be free from one haunting regret, and once more to fulfill woman's destinies, and duties. Would you still so bitterly blame me, Eugene de Luvois, if I wished to see the promise of united affection? I deemed my heart free from all-- saving sorrow. I thought that in me there was yet strength enough to mold it once more to my will. To uplift it once more to my life. Do you still blame me, Duke, that I did not then bid you refrain from hope? Alas! I too then hoped.

Duke.
Oh, again, yet again, say that thrice blessed word!

Lucile.
Yes! To hope I could feel and could give to you that without which all else given, were but to deceive and to injure you even:-- a heart free from thoughts of another. Then I had to own to my heart that the dream it had cherished was over, and forever I said to you then,-- "Hope no more!" I myself hoped no more.

Duke.
What, then! He recrosses your path - this man - and you have but to see him, despite his troth to another, to take back that false worthless heart to your own-- which he wronged years ago.

Lucile.
(Brokenly.)No, no.! 'Tis not that-- but alas! I have not forgotten. I could not accept all these gifts on your part,-- in return for what-- ah, Duke, what is it?-- a heart, that is only a ruin.

Duke.
Though a ruin it be, trust me yet to rebuild and restore it, so dear is that ruin. Ah, yield it to me! (Approaches and she shrinks back.) Am I right? You reject me, and would accept him-- were he free to offer?

Lucile.
I have not done so.

Duke.
Not yet—no! But will you with accents as firm, promise me, that you will not accept him?

Lucile.
Accept? Is he free? Free to offer?

Duke.
You evade me. Ah, you will not avow what you feel! He might make himself free. Oh, you blush-- turn away! Dare you openly look in my face while you deign to reply to one question from me? I may hope not, you tell me: but tell me, may he?—What! Silent? I alter my question. If he were freed in faith from this troth might he hope, then?

Lucile.
(Softly.) He might.

Duke.
You’ve crushed all that is good in my nature and roused all that's fierce and evil. Beware, Lucile!— You are alone with me! (Stares wildly around.) You are defenceless before me. Shall I yield you to the triumph and bliss of my rival? No! The red glare of Hell shines before me. You have killed my last scruple! What remains but to possess you,-- ay, as Tarquin possessed Lucrece-- if not my wife then my-- (springs towards her. Lucile gives one cry and Balla appears in door behind her, facing the Duke, who recoils. Lucile does not see Balla, who withdraws into shadow.)

Lucile.
(Dazed.) 'Tis a rude awakening from a dream.

Duke.
My soul by your beauty was slain in its sleep.

Lucile.
Your fierce passions have chased from its realm human reason, and like a wild beast you would rend and involve all things in your fangs.

Duke.
‘Twas a reckless emotion beyond my control.

Lucile.
In this Mask of the Passions called Life-- there's no human emotion so ghastly in its ugliness, Eugene de Luvois, as the one you have shown me to-night,-- for truth is appalling.

Duke.
What can a woman know of the desire of possession? Oh, Lucile, how can I resign you to another?

Lucile.
Ah! A woman is too slight a thing to trample the world without feeling its sting. You have shown me that passion that brings on its breath to the being it embraces, destruction and death-- for you should not live-- nor I—

Duke.
Your mood matches my own. I would sooner plunge a dagger into your soft white throat than give you to his arms. My hate shall yet him!

Lucile.
Cease your threats. You who came from an old princely house and an ancient religion-- once potent to bless or to ban-- whose ancestors fought for the Cross-- to sink to such degradation. Is it yours to bestow or to take human life?

Duke.
I would take his life as a tiger drinks blood.

Lucile,
Oh, man of an infidel age you have been your own god, your own devil and I, a frail woman, who believed in your love and your protection—

Duke.
Your honor is safe, Lucile.

Lucile.
You have pealed the knell of your last hope. Not for a moment did I fear you. I come from a house as brave as your own, and the Lucifer in you would have been killed by this amulet I wear in my bosom. (Draws a small Eastern dagger.)

Duke.
Ah, my Oriental Princess! The display of that half-savage blood becomes you. Then, give me one kiss, one embrace, and I am willing to die at your, hands.

Lucile.
Farewell! We, alas! have mistaken each other. Once again, illusion in my one word is over. Adieu, Duke de Luvois, you are out of my life forever. (Lucile goes into room at side and locks door.)

Duke.
What scorn in her face! If Lucrec at Tarquin but once had looked so, she had needed no dagger next morning. Return. I-repent. (Throws himself against door and shakes it violently.) Come, back, Lucile, forget my wild words. It was madness, not love, that spoke in this dark soul of mine! I was delirious-- I saw you return to him-- not to me: and I felt my reason totter with a fierce thirst for vengeance-- and thus-- let it pass, Lucile! So, brief the moment-- and so long is life. You go your way and I mine, to meet nevermore—nevermore!

CURTAIN.


Act IV
Time - 1851

Scene— On lawn in front of Casino at Ems. An orchestra is heard playing an overture in the distance. Sir Ridley and Lady McNab come out of Casino.

Lady.
(Playfully) The moon's in a soft swoon, and the stars, nod asleep.

McNab.
'Tis a night fit for old Verona, and the balcony of a Juliet!

Lady.
(Holds up her finger) And your Juliet's name?

McNab.
Is Blanche The most bewitching Juliet that ever enslaved a Romeo, or a Sir Ridley McNab,

Lady.
Ah, how jealous you were of my last stage lover! The feud of the Montagues and Capulets paled in intensity.

McNab.
He tried to carry off my little Blanche under my very nose - but you loved your Ridley (Some small endearments.)

Lady.
Must I always be rehearsing the same scene?

McNab.
I don't need a prompter. Are you not happy? Do I refuse you anything?

Lady.
You refuse to go back to Paris. I wish to see Rachel again. What an actress! That woman in Phedre is a miracle.

McNab.
And Hyacinth's nose is superb. Comedy appeals to me. l am as fond of a Punch and Judy show as any street gamin in London.

Lady.
Because-- you are a comedian.

McNab.
(Severely) I am always your lover—- my lady. (Lady pouts) Never mind, I will win enough gold to-night to deck you with jewels like that old Russian Princess, who gambles half the day, and all night.

Lady.
No doubt, you’ll break the bank.

McNab.
The Duke de Luvois and Lord Alfred are making a close running: but I am in the lead.

Lady.
Lord Alfred plays recklessly. It is rumored that he was in love with the Countess de Nevers when he married your niece.

McNab.
(Troubled) He did kick over the traces, but a firm hand on my part and a little sugar from Matilda brought him to time. It was neck and neck between the two women, and his old sweetheart had the pole, too. There was "jockeying" somewhere, and Lady Vargrave won by a length-- I think the race was sold.

Lady.
(Laughs) I would not trust him.

McNab.
(Suspiciously)The members of my family treat you well, Blanche?

Lady.
(Naively) The men do.

McNab.
(Fiercely) Lord Vargrave has not been paying compliments to you? I would challenge him, were he the best swordsman in Europe.

Lady.
Ha! Ha! Why, he’s gloomy as Hamlet.

McNab.
(Gayly) And I am as merry as Falstaff.

Lady.
Here comes Jack.

McNab.
(Scowls) Jack! You are very familiar, My lady (Enter Jack.) (Aside.) Another gay Lothario!

Jack.
Where are all these honeymoon couples?

McNab.
Where you ought to be-- honey mooning!

Jack.
(Bows over Lady M's hand) “O, that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that cheek".

McNab.
Another Don Juan masking! (Aside.) He pretends he was never in love. (scowls) I believe he is fond of Blanche.

Jack.
(Looks at McNab.) Have you been toying with Madame Roulette again, or eating too heavy a dinner?

McNab.
My dinner never disagrees with me. I'll lay you five to one that I can drink more port and'digest it – mind -

Jack
Than any man in England. Same old story! When you and Lady McNab come to my place for the shooting, I'll put you under the table with a famous vintage of 1800.

Lady.
And what will you do for me?

Jack
"While's there's life on the lip, While there's warmth in the wine, one deep health I'll pledge, and that health shall be thine,--" in the same old vintage.

McNab.
Why don't you marry? You are always poaching on other men's preserves.

Jack.
How can I? Unless you die. When you go off the hooks, I am first on Lady McNab's list.

Lady.
Now, I know three married women, you've said the same thing to. Fie, Jack!

McNab.
Did you call on Mrs. Darcy while in London?

Jack.
Yes, but she has never forgiven me.

McNab.
Nor me

Lady.
(Changes subject.) What’s the news in deal, old England?

Jack.
“The markets in London were noisy about
Young ladies, and strawberries,-- “only just out”.
Fresh strawberries sold under all house eaves,
And young ladies on sale for the strawberry-leaves". (The orchestra is heard playing Von Weber’s Invitation to the Waltz.)
Alright the ball is now in full swing. Listen! Von Weber’s Invitation to Waltz! Now, you can hear him asking her to dance!

Lady.
(Enters into spirit.) Does she consent?"

Jack.
She has consented. He tucks her arm in his and walks off with her.)

McNab.
(Strikes an attitude.) That buck needs a lesson, and I’ll yet him one with a moral. Jack Vargrave would dice with the Devil, and yet rise up winner! (Looks about.) The evening is still young, I'll tread the primrose paths of dalliance with Dame Fortune. (Goes into Casino. Orchestra is still playing. Men and women in evening dress moving about. Lord Alfred comes out of Casino and meets the Duke who enters from walk.)

Duke.
(Holds, out his hand) Let us be better friends. Your wife is most charming, and now that you are married, there can never be any more
rivalry between us. (Lord Alfred stiffly responds.) We have met her once more-- the woman for whom we two mad men-- laugh, mon cher Alfred,-- laugh-- were about to destroy one another.

Alfred.
The champagne is heady, Eugene de Luvois, else you'd not raise the ghost of that once troubled time. Can you recall it with coolness and quietude now?

Duke.
Yes! I am a true Parisian. Now, the Red Revolution, the tocsin and then the dance and the play-- I am now at the play.

Alfred.
At the play, are you? Then, may I presume to ask you some questions?

Duke.
OK! Ask what you will. I spread out my cards on the table.

Alfred.
Duke, you were called to a meeting-- no doubt you remember it yet-- with Lucile. It was night when you went-- and before you returned-- it was morning. That I ascertained-- no matter how. And the net time we met, you accosted me with a brow bright with triumph. Your words were then "Let us be friends."

Duke.
Well?

Alfred.
How then, after that can you and she meet as acquaintances?

Duke.
What! Did she not herself solve the riddle with those lips of hers?

Alfred.
We have, avoided the past--

Duke.
Indeed! But that question, Milord, stirs your heart-- your passion for her is not conquered.

Alfred.
Yes! Esteem may remain, although love be no more. Lucile asked me this night to my wife, understand, to my wife to present her I did so.
They are now in the Casino together.

Duke.
Fascinated by the whirling of the wheel and the spinning of the ball?

Alfred
(Scowls.) You interrupt me. We, gentlemen, owe respect to the name that is ours-- and to the woman who bears it, a two-fold respect. Answer! Duke de Luvois! Did Lucile then reject the proffer you made of your hand and your name, or did you relinquish a hold on her love you possessed long before? I ask bluntly this question, because my title to do so is clear, by the codes that all gentlemen honor. Make only one sign that you know aught of Lucile, in short,-- your own virgin sister were by, would you shield her from approaching Lucile? If so, Matilda and I leave Ems on the morrow.

Duke.
(Aside.) Leave Ems! Would that suit me? That would mar all (Aloud.) Nay! Madame Nevers had rejected me. I threatened you-- my rival. She feared for your life. She wrote me that letter-- Which I showed you-- to save you, Lord Vargrave. We met, and again she refused me, and so, (jestingly) 'Tis all for the best. You are wedded -- blessed Englishman -- wedded, to one, whose past can be called into question by no one, and I fickle Frenchman, can still laugh. I am lord of myself and the Mode: and Lucile still shines from her pedestal, frigid and cold as yon German moon o'er the linden-tops. A Dian in marble that scorns any troth with the little love-gods. Stay at Ems! (Turns on his heel Lucile and Matilda come out of the Casino. Vargrave walks toward them.)(Aside.) Good! the gods fight my battles tonight. I foresee that the family doctor's, the part I must play. Very well! but the patients shall pay for my visits (Lucile, Matilda and Vargrave come forward. Duke bows low before Lucile)

Lucile.
(In a low tone) You still remain Duke,at Ems? (He turns on her a sullen look - then looks at Matilda.)

Duke.
Perchance, I have here an attraction.

Lucile.
Beware, then, Eugene de Luvois! (Lucile turns her back on him and talks to Alfred and Matilda)

Duke.
(Aside) So they reweave the old charm, and she would banish me from Ems, with the air of a Queen. My imperial Countess, what if I show you that I too can be loved by one-- your own rival! (Alfred offers Lucile his arm and Luvois to Matild.)

Duke.
(To Matilda) I claim my promised dance, my lady. (Exit Duke and Matilda.)

Alfred.
I have much to say to you, Lucile. (They take seats in the arbor.)

Lucile.
Yes, and I, too, have, much to explain.

Alfred.
Pardon me, Lucile. I have learned all tonight. 'Twas to save my life-- and for that I doubted you,-- a light word-- a look. The mistake of a moment has been the mistake of a one word.

Lucile.
Speak not of the past!

Alfred.
Lucile, let me speak of it. I know now, though I know it too late, what passed, at that meeting.

Lucile.
Oh, spare me! (Aside.) He does not know all.

Alfred.
Nay; interrupt me not yet: but say what is due to yourself--, due to me, say it, Lucile.

Lucile.
Hush! Hush! all be well.

Alfred.
Oh, Lucile, what was left me, when my life was defrauded of you, but to marry Matilda? She loved me! I strove to fill up the void in my heart. And if I have failed to renew what I felt in my youth—- I, at least, have been loyal. Lucile, I speak not of love now, nor love's long regret.

Lucile.
No, no!

Alfred.
I would not offend you, nor do I forget the ties that are round me. But may there not be a friendship yet hallowed between us? May we not be friends, friends the dearest?

Lucile.
Alas! for one moment, did it pass through my own heart, that dream which forever hath brought to those who indulge that innocent thought so fatal and so evil a waking. No! for in lives such as ours, the dream tree would bloom on the borders of Hades - beyond it what lies? The wheel of Ixion, and the cries of the lost, and tormented. The days are departed when we could discuss dreams like these—- with innocence. Oh, believe me, the best friend you have is that pure child. I bow to the beauty of her nature. I felt on my brow not one blush when I first took her hand, with no blush shall I clasp it tonight when I leave you.

Alfred.
Do not leave me.

Lucile.
Do not think that years pass and find us the same. The woman you knew long ago-- long ago-- is no more. You yourself have within you a germ of joy in the years yet to come, whereby, the past years will bear fruit. As for me I go my own way-onward-ever onward. Let me thank you for that which ennobles regret. It has beautified the love I once felt for you. True, it is dead, but it is not corrupted. I, too, have at last lived to learn that love is not-- such love as is past,-- such love as youth dreams of-- the sole part of life, which is able to fill up the heart-- of even a woman.

Alfred.
And yet your eyes answer my own. Your life is my life.

Lucile.
Between you and me yawns a gulf: we each of us stand on the opposite shore. Trust a woman's opinion for once. Women learn by an instinct men never attain to discern each other's true natures. Matilda is young, she must love and be loved.

Alfred.
Matilda's a statue!

Lucile.
Yesterday all that you say might be true: it is false, wholly false though to-day.

Alfred.
How? What mean you?

Lucile
I mean that to-day, the statue with life has become vivified. I mean that the child to a woman has grown, and that, woman is jealous.

Alfred.
What! She! She jealous! Matilda! -of whom? Pray not me?

Lucile.
She is jealous of no one but you-- trust me, and thank Heaven, too, that this passion has grown so lately, for who shall declare, if for months she had known, what for days, she has known all too keenly,-- that knowledge might have cost you most dear?

Alfred.
Explain! explain, Madame! (With surprise and anger.)

Lucile.
How blind are you men' Can you doubt that a woman, young, fair, and neglected—

Alfred.
Speak out, Lucile, you mean what-- do you doubt her fidelity?

Lucile.
Certainly not. What I wish to unfold is so hard, to shape into words. I could almost refrain from touching a subject so fragile. However, bear with me awhile if I frankly invade for one moment your innermost life. Your honor, Lord Alfred, and that of Matilda are dear to me-- most dear, and I am convinced that you rashly are risking that honor--

Alfred.
Stay, Lucile, what in truth do you mean by these vaguely framed words? You alarm me! Matilda?—- My wife-- do you—

Lucile.
I know that your wife is as spotless as snow. But I know not how your continued neglect might affect her nature, as well as her life, till, at last, by degrees, that serene atmosphere her unconscious purity would depart and disperse in the glances of me. For jealousy is to a woman, a disease healed too often by a criminal cure.

Alfred.
Such thoughts could have never reached the heart of Matilda.

Lucile.
Matilda? Oh, no! but reflect-- when such thoughts do not come of themselves to the heart of a jealous woman, there rarely is wanting some voice at her side to conjure them to her.

Alfred.
Oh, lady, beware! At this moment I search for a clew to your words. Woe to him that shall feel such a hope! for I swear if he show but one glimpse-- it shall be the last hope of his life!

Lucile.
You forget that you menace yourself. Alas! Alfred Vargrave, we stand in our own light wherever we go, and fight our own shadows forever! The trial from which you strong men shrink,-- you ask woman the weaker one to endure. You bid her be true to the laws which you break,-- to abide by the ties you yourself rend asunder: where the contract exists, it involves obligation on both husband and wife. ‘Tis an equal relation. You unloose in asserting your own liberty, a knot, which leaves another as free.

Alfred.
Well, Lucile, I both understand and obey you.

Lucile.
‘Tis well.

Alfred.
One word, I beseech you. You have shown my pathway to me: but say what is your own?

Lucile.
I know not. I follow the way Fate will lead me. I cannot forsee to what end. I only know that far, far way from all places in which we have met, or might meet—

Alfred.
Wheresoever it be-- may all angels attend you. (He kisses her hand. Matilda and Duke enter and see the caress. Exit Lucile and Alfred from one end of the arbor, while the Duke and Matilda enter the arbor at the other end.)

Duke.
(Feigns sympathy.) Ah, lady, in life there are meetings which seem like a fate.

Matilda.
Leave me! I need a moment of solitude and silence.

Duke.
Do not grieve. I knew years ago of the singular power which Lucile exercised over your husband. Have I by a word or a look betrayed his secret? No! Do me justice. And have I not lady, respected his rights, till he neglected your rights as a wife. Lord Vargrave is in love with Lucile—

Matilda.
No, no! He and Lucile are old friends. He loves me-- and yet—- he leaves me often alone.

Duke.
If my heart be the reflection of yours, lady-- you are not alone.

Matilda.
You would then read my heart?

Duke.
If I could, but you, are yet of an age, when a woman conceals from a mann what it would interest him most to know. Yet I can read that clear page as I read in a book.

Matilda.
Well, Duke, and what read you within it?

Duke.
A profound weariness, perhaps, and some sadness.

Matilda.
How can you tell?

Duke.
You are sad, Lady Alfred, because the first need of a young and beautiful woman is to love and be loved. You are sad, for you know that your husband adores Lucile. Yes, yes, you are sad, because knowledge is sad.

Matilda.
What gave you such insight?

Duke.
To read your thoughts! Because I love you, Madame, even as your husband loves Lucile.

Matilda.
I beseech you, have pity.

Duke.
Have pity for what-- for him? Has he pity? He, the lord of a life, fresh as new-fallen dew! I swear, he neglects you-- for whom? For- a fairer
than you? No! You are fair as a rose. He neglects you for-- but I will not judge her,

Matilda.
(Timidly) Duke, you too knew then, this—lady?

Duke.
Too well!

Matilda.
True! Yet you drew with emotion her portrait when first she came here to the Baths.

Duke.
With emotion?

Matilda.
Yes, yes,! You described her as possessed of a charm all unrivaled.

Duke.
Alas! You mistook me completely. You, Madame, surpass this lady as moonlight doth lamplight: as youth surpasses its best imitations.

Matilda.
Yet, you said— that you quite comprehended (her voice shakes) a passion so strong as—

Duke.
True, true! but then I had not loved you.

Matilda.
Hush, hush! between man and woman these things differ so. It may be that the world pardons in you what it visits on us, or (naively) it may be that we women are better than you.

Duke.
Who denies it? The world in its judgment some difference may make ‘twixt the man and the woman, so far as one respects its social enchantments-- but not as it affects the one sentiment, which, is the sole law I look too-- the moment I love.

Matilda.
I don't quite understand--

Duke.
You are yet inexperienced, but has marriage not taught you?

Matilda.
I know that one's heart cannot always repress the feelings which sway it.

Duke.
(Sighs) That is too true, indeed, and yet, what avails to woman the gift of a beauty like yours.

Matilda.
Like mine! Lucile de Nevers is a beauty!

Duke.
(Irritably) Have you ever seen in your husband's eyes that rapturous glow which that pale woman sees, yet betrays no surprise. Follow them now and you may view-- and old story to her.

Matilda.
I never had cause to suspect my husband, but should I see in his looks or his acts some moment's oblivion of me-- I trust that I, too, should forget it, for you must have seen that my heart is my husband's. (She
Trembles.)

Duke.
You say that your heart is your husband's: you think so, of course, lady,-- but there can be no true love without jealousy.

Matilda.
Perhaps you judge me by yourself, Duke.

Duke.
(Surprised) By myself! Oh, then, lady, when you feel in your heart that poisonous pain let me be by your side to console you.

Matilda.
Duke, I continue to hear, but permit me to say I don't understand you.

Duke.
Forgive! (Feigns confusion.) I forgot that you knew me so slightly. Beneath an exterior, which seems worldly, frivolous, careless, my heart hides a sorrow which draws me to side with all things that suffer. (Matilda laughs.) Nay, laugh not at so strange an avowal. I am no Quixote, hut I seek to console where I can.

Matilda.
Your life, it would seem then, must be one long act of devotion.

Duke.
(Looks at her sharply) Well, the day may yet come, when you will perceive the difference ‘twixt the heart that neglects and the heart
that can wait. Your husband signed your release by that kiss! (Catches her hand.) Come with me to Paris and your life shall be full of love and devotion.

Matilda.
Duke, Duke! Let me go! We must not be seen here together. The night is advancing. I feel overwhelmed with afright. It is time to return to my lord.

Duke.
To your lord! Do you think he awaits you? Is he anxiously missing your presence? Return to your lord! and hinder the glances which are not for you. No, no! At this moment-- another is there in your place-- another consoles him-- another receives his soft speech. (Enter Lucile undiscerned.)

Lucile.
You mistake, Sir! That other is here! (They both start)

Matilda.
(With a half-stifled cry.) Lucile!

Duke.
What! Eavesdropping Madame? and so you were listening?

Lucile.
Say rather that I heard without wishing to hear it, that infamous word--heard-- and therefore reply.

Duke.
Belle Countess! (With wrath.) You know that your place is not here.

Lucile
(Slowly.) My place is where my duty is, and therefore-- I am here. O, lady, my place has been beside your husband because (She sighs.) Heaven yet spared me time to save for the love of an innocent wife-- your husband. You alone can save his honor. (Puts one arm around Matilda.) Go, Duke de Luvois! (Exit Duke.)

Matilda.
Saved, Lucile! But saved to what fate? tears, prayers, yes! not hopes.

Lucile.
Hush! Your husband is fooled by a fancy again. He must return to your side. Give him love-- the love that you yearn for. Love is nourished by love.

Matilda.
What gives you such strange power o'er me that I am thus drawn to obey you? What are you, Lucile?

Lucile.
(With deep sadness) The pupil of sorrow, perchance--

Matilda.
Of sorrow? Oh, confide to my heart your affliction. In all you make known I can find some instruction.

Lucile.
And I some consolation, for the tears of another have hot flowed for me-- in many long years. (Enter Lord Alfred. Comes between them and takes each by the hand.)

Alfred.
Tears! Matilda! What means this, Lucile?

Lucile.
Make of your wife a confessor She will absolve you.

Matilda.
(Throws herself on his breast.) Oh, Alfred, love me, love me! (Exit Alfred and Matilda. Lucile stands alone. Enter the Duke.)

Duke.
Have I been mistaken in you, Lucile? If so,--

Lucile.
Enough! I shall try to forget every word I have heard, every sight that has grieved and appalled me in this wretched night.

Duke.
I have then, wronged you-- forgive me, forgive me—

Lucile.
I feel only sad, very sad to the soul-- far, far too sad for resentment.
I must go-- far away—

Duke.
Yet stand as you are for one moment. I think could I gaze thus awhile on your face, the old innocent days would come back, and this scorching heart free itself in hot tears. Do not depart thus—

Lucile.
Could I help you? But what can I say that your life will respond to?

Duke.
My life? Nay, my life hath brought forth only evil. With all other men, first love, though it perish from life, only goes like the violet to make way for the rose. If one love fails another succeeds! But I gave you the sole love of my life.

Lucile.
We are our own fates. Our own deeds are our doomsmen. Man's life was made not for men's creeds, but men's actions, and Duke de Luvois, I might say that all life attests, that the will makes the way. Is the land of our birth less the land of our birth, or its claims the less strong, or its cause the less worth upholding, because the white lily no more is as sacred as all that it bloomed for of yore? I am but a woman, and France has for me simpler duties. Large hopes though, Eugene de Luvois, should be yours. There is purpose in pain. Cease to sin with the sorrow! Let hate and despondency die with the night. Vulgar natures alone suffer vainly. I plead for the future. I plead for a hope: I plead for a memory: let the hope be your own-- be the memory mine. Think not of me, but yourself, for I plead for your own destiny: for your life, with its duties undone. I plead for all that you miss and for all that you need.

Duke.
Ah! Is it not too late?

Lucile.
No! For Time is a fiction. Thought alone is eternal. There is no too late. You must work out the hope and the good that is in you. When the soul arms for battle, she goes forth alone. Life has set no landmarks before her. We may meet by the death-bed, in the crowd, in the street, or in solitude even, but this I will promise, if from afar, I still watching, know that you falter or hesitate, in that hour of need, I shall be at your side and again, once, again, we shall meet, soul to soul!

CURTAIN

Act V.

Time-1854

Scene-- Crimea: Inkerman: Defense of Careenage Pass, The Duke de Luvois seated in his tent bending over some plans on a camp-table by candlelight. French officer standing near. French sentry marching up and down in rear.

Time-- early-morning-- before daybreak.

Sentry.
Halt! Who goes there?

Aide.
Friend, with the one word.

Sentry.
Advance, friend, and give the one word. (Aide-de-camp advances to the point of the sentry's bayonet, leans over and whispers. Sentry resumes his beat.) Pass on! (Aide-de-camp enters General's tent and salutes.)

Aide.
Sir! Your commands have been obeyed to the letter.

Duke.
And the hospital service?

Aide.
It is now very efficient, owing to the solicitous devotion of the Sisters of Charity-- one is known through the camp as a seraph of grace. She is seen in all places where suffering is seen. Silent, active,-- the Sister-- Sister, how do they call her?

French officer.
The Sister Seraphine?

Duke.
Ay, truly of her I have heard much; and we owe her already unless rumor lies, the lives of not few of our bravest. I have much wished to see her. I fancy, I trace something more than the grace of an angel-- I mean an acute mind, ingenious, constructive and intelligent.

Sentry.
Halt! Who goes there?

Outside.
Lord Raglan and staffs. Commanding officer.

Sentry.
Advance with the one word. (Officer rides in on horse-back, stoops low in the saddle and whispers.) Advance commanding officer and staff. (Enter Lord Raglan and staff. Orderly in rear with a pennant. Sentry presents arms. General Luvois and French Officer come out of tent. All salute.)
Raglan.
Bosquet moves his troops to the front!

Duke.
Then, Federoff will attack us to-day, or I am much in error. (Bells are heard ringing faintly in Sebastopol. They all listen.)

Raglan.
So the Russians go to early mass to pray for victory. The fanatics!

Duke.
Did they know of our real strength or rather our weakness, they might have made a night attack, and the Russian Bear would not have shown his claws in vain.

Raglan.
He will fight at bay, then, as fights a hunted bear.

Duke.
But we need more men to defend Careenage Pass.

Raglan.
(Setting his teeth.) Not a man! I shall station a company of the Guards here under Captain Vargrave.

Duke.
Vargrave?

Raglan.
Yes, Lord Vargrave of the Coldstreams. Move out of this! This is too dangerous ground for the hospital corps. The attack will be serious and we wish your support-- I must be off! (Salutes and rides off. Sentry presents arms.)

Duke.
(Aside.) That hated name follows me even here-- to the lair of the Russians! (Enters tent followed by French officer.)

Sentry
Halt! Who goes there?

Lucile.
(Without.) A Sister of Charity!

Sentry.
Advance! (He salutes and she enters.)

Lucile.
(To aide-de-camp outside of tent.) I would speak to the Duke de Luvois,--alone. (Aide-de-camp salutes and enters tent.)

Aide.
Sir! A Sister of Charity craves the grace of brief private speech with you. (Sentries in distance pass these words along the line, receding and growing louder in tone, then fading away as the cry is taken up,-- long drawn-out.)

Sentries.
Five o'clock and all's well! (The reville is heard in the distance. Corporal's detail marches by and picks up sentry. It is gradually growing lighter.)

Duke.
Bid her declare her mission.

Aide.
She craves to be seen and be heard.

Duke.
Well, her name, then?

Aide.
The Sister Seraphine!

Duke.
Clear the tent! She may enter. ((Exit Aide and French officer. He turns to his papers. Enter Lucile.) Sit, Holy Sister. Your worth is well known to the hearts of our soldiers. I owe you some thanks: in the name of all those you have saved to our army. (Aside.) Strange! strange! any face should so strongly remind me of her! Fool! again the delirium, the dream! does it stir? does it move as of old! Psha! (Aloud.) Now, then, your mission. My time halts but hurriedly. State the cause why you seek me?

Lucile.
The cause! Ay, the cause! (Droops her head and folds her hands over bosom.) Eugene de Luvois, which recalls me again to your side, is a promise that rests unfulfilled, I come to fulfill it.

Duke.
(Looks closely in her face.) Lucile? Thus we meet then,-- here-- thus?

Lucile.
As I pledged you my word we should meet again. Dead-- long dead! all that lived in our lives-- thine and mine-- saving that which even life’s self survives-- the soul. 'Tis my soul seeks thine own. What may reach from my life to thy life? To thy soul I would speak.

Duke.
Speak to me.

Lucile.
The hopes of our youth-- the loves-- all are scattered.

Duke.
Mine was not a love-- 'twas my world. 'Twas my life that lay ruined.

Lucile.
From ruins like these, rise the deeds that shall last.

Duke.
Has the Nun Seraphine, buried the woman, Lucile?

Lucile.
Lucile! 'Tis like a voice from the tomb. Ay, that name was buried long ago in the fair land of France. Let the nun then retrace the life of the soldier. I have watched your career step by step. You have done penance-- and when you unsheathed the old sword of St. Louis, the sword ever true and loyal of your ancestors, your work and your fame became the pride of a nation. With how many a blessing, how many a tear, and how many a prayer, I have watched every stage of the strife:-- guessed the thought in the deed: traced the love in the life. Blessed the man in the man's work.

Duke.
Thy work-- oh, not mine! thine, Lucile-- all the worth of it,-- thine, If worth there be in it. And you, sweet spirit, a poor Sister of Charity. Your life spent in one silent effort for others.

Lucile.
But for you, I might have been now-- not this wandering nun, but a mother, a wife, blessing some child of my own. His-- the man's that I once loved. I have seen him-- face to face-- he knew me not. He passed me by.

Duke.
Then to him I owe these late greetings-- for him you are here-- for
his sake you seek me, and have deigned at the last to bethink you again of my long forgotten existence, now that danger menaces him. He will be in the thickest of the fray.

Lucile.
Lay your hand on your sword and swear that if peril surrounds him, you will befriend him, and let this day upon one final victory set, and complete a life's conquest.

Duke.
Enough! Foes we were-- foes we are-- to the end.

Lucile.
Then, my life's work is not complete. For one moment, I was human—- a woman again, the lone woman standing here has no claim upon earth, and is passed from the sphere of earth's wrongs and earth's reparations. But she, the dead woman, Lucile, she whose grave is in me, spoke, from the Past. (Firing is heard in the distance. Aide-de-camp rushes on.)

Aide.
Sir, the enemy are advancing down the ravine with overwhelming numbers! Federoff is driving in our pickets! (Three or four pickets rush on firing.)

Duke.
Come, Lucile. This is no place for you. (Exit Lucile and Duke.)

Aide.
Strike the tent. (Soldiers take down tent. Enter a company of the Guards, under command of Lord Vargrave. Company comes from left,-- in columns of fours.)

Alfred.
Column-- right! Fours-- left! Company—halt! (Looks through his field glasses.) (Aside.) Does Lord Raglan expect me to hold this position long with this handful of men?

There is a battalion advancing! (Turns to his company) Attention! Men, we have a responsibility upon us, and we must face it like soldiers of the Queen! (Firing grows louder.) Steady! Fix bayonets! Load! (Steps to right of company.) Ready! Aim! Fire! (Men fire a volley, Alfred repeats orders.) Fire at will! (Walks up and down behind the company, repeating words of encouragement.) If it comes to the worst, fight hand to hand. Slate 'em! Slate 'em! my boys! (A couple of men drop in the front ranks. Company retreats slowly-- firing.) Give ground stubbornly, lads! (Russians advance in a thick mass to center of stage, firing incessantly. Occupy this position for a few moments, then slowly retreat. Men fall. English advance slowly, firing at will-- traverse from one side to the other and off stage. Enter English reinforcements under Lieut. Jack Vargrave.)

Jack.
Follow me, my lads! Not only fight for victory but life! Keep close together. Forward! Fix bayonets! Charge! I'm damned-- there are scores of them. Make 'em bite the dust! Hurrah! (Jack waves his sword. Soldiers yell and charge forward-- off stage. Firing in the distance. Bugles blow- "Cease Firing!" Cheering is heard. Band back of stage plays, "God Save the Queen." Hospital corps and ambulance come on and carry off the wounded. Reenter both companies under command of the Vargraves.)

Alfred.
Companies halt! First sergeants front arid center! (Sergeants take places and salute.) Sergeants, dismiss your companies!

Sergaants.
Port-arms-dismissed! (Men lie about stage as if fatigued. Clean rifles, etc.)

Alfred.
Well, Jack, old boy, we put up a rattling good fight, and I thank my lucky star you arrived in time.

Jack.
We repulsed them with an easy and masterful grace. Careenage Pass is the key to the situation (Enter French Aide-de-camp.)

Aide.
I am in search of Captain Vargrave of the Coldstream Guards.

Alfred.
I am Captain Vargrave.

Aide.
(Salutes.) I have a message for you, sir.

Alfred.
From whom?

Aide.
From the Slater Seraphine!

Alfred.
Sister Seraphine? (Enter Duke.)

Duke.
'Tis Lucile, and she has been mortally wounded by a stray shot. (Enter two men of the ambulance corps with Lucile on litter. Soldiers all
uncover.)

Alfred and Jack.
Lucile!

Duke.
At her request, she is here. She has but a few moments to live. (Alfred goes to her and supports her in his arms. Men fall back.)

Alfred.
I am with you, Lucile.

Lucile.
At last-- in your arms-- once more! My voiceless love has been shut in my heart all these years-- so long. Oh, Alfred, my beloved!

Alfred.
I will hold you fast m my arms—- close—- close-- then Death shall not claim you.

Lucile.
His angel has been kind to me. Life's last vigil is over.-- The long days and nights-- the death in life-- and now-- see! The dawn everywhere! Light! Silence!

Alfred.
Lucile! only love of my life-- must I lose you forever?

Lucile.
Rejoice with me! Rest is sweet after strife! (She beckons to the Duke, and joins their hands.) My mission on earth is over! (Wanders.) Do I dream? The bright herald angel-- there! what sumptuous splendor! What solemn repose! To the land of my birth! To the land of the palm and the fountain! To the still sacred River! To the tombs! (Duke holds crucifix to her lips.)

Duke.
O soul to its sources departing away! Pray for mine!-

Alfred.
She sleeps.

Duke.
The last long sleep that knows no waking!

CURTAIN

Last revised: 9 September 2010