A. S. Kline © 2007 All Rights Reserved
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Between us, I admit my anger was too harsh,
Stirred by a word, I carried things too far;
Yet the deed is done, thereís no remedy.
Bend your pride to the kingís authority:
He takes an interest, and his irritation
Will be displayed in no uncertain fashion.
Nor do you have a viable defence.
The manís rank, the magnitude of the offence,
Demand your concession and submission,
Beyond the customary reparation.
The King may dispose of my life, as he will.
You are possessed by too much anger, still.
The King loves you yet: witness his dismay.
He has said: ĎI wish it.í Will you disobey?
Sir, to defend all that I hold sublime,
Such minor disobedience is no crime;
However great it seems, you will allow
My service is such as to efface it now.
However great you are, you must accept
That a king owes nothing to his subject.
You deceive yourself, for you must know
Who serves his King but does his duty so.
You will lose, sir, by your false confidence.
I will test your views by my experience.
You should dread the power of the King.
One error cannot render me as nothing.
Let all his grandeur seek my punishment,
If I meet ruin, the Stateís is imminent.
What! You fear the sovereign power so littleÖ
Of a sceptre which would be but metal
Without me: he values my great renown,
My head in falling would dislodge his crown.
Allow your feelings to respond to reason.
Listen to good advice.
I adopt my own.
What shall I tell him? I must bring him word.
That I reject all shame, as you have heard.
Yet know that royal power is absolute.
The die is cast, sir, I am resolute.
Adieu, since my effort here appears in vain.
For all your laurels, fear the godís disdain.
I wait here without dread.
He will take action.
Then Don Diegue will have satisfaction.
(Exit Don Arias)
I have no fear of death, or harassment.
My courage is above all punishment;
I can be forced by other men to suffer,
But not to live a life devoid of honour.
A word with you, Count.
Relieve my doubts.
You know of Don Diegue?
Do you know my father was the virtue,
The valour of his age, the power too?
The ardour in my gaze you see,
Is of his blood, that too?
Whatís that to me?
Take four paces from here, and you will know.
Ah, have no fear, though.
Young I may be; but in the noble heart
Valourís no need of years, a thing apart.
Against me, youíd measure your mettle,
You who have never even seen a battle?
We never need testing twice, men like me,
Our trial strokes are masterstrokes, you see.
Do you know who I am?
At the mere sound of your name might quiver.
The laurels with which your head is wreathed
Might seem to give warning of my defeat.
I attack an arm that was made to conquer,
But given courage, I will find the power.
To vengeance, nothing proves impossible.
Your armís unconquered, not invincible.
That courage which shines out in your speech
And your eyes, each day, my eyes did reach;
Believing in you I saw
My soul destined you for my daughter.
I know your love, and am pleased to see
All its force yield to the force of duty.
It has not weakened your noble ardour;
And your great virtue inspires my favour;
Wishing a perfect warrior for my son,
I made no error in thus choosing one.
But now my pity is involved, in truth,
I admire your courage, but regret your youth.
Do not attempt this fateful trial;
Spare my courage an unequal battle:
There is no honour for me in victory:
The lack of risk will deny me glory.
Men will know I conquered easily;
And only my regret would be left me.
Your boldness is followed by ignoble pity:
Youíll steal my honour yet fear to kill me!
Withdraw from here.
Come then, without speaking.
So tired of life?
So afraid of dying?
Well, do your duty, the son proves lesser
Who seeks to outlast his fatherís honour.
Be calm, Chimene, calm your mindís disturbance,
Be steadfast in the face of this mischance,
Youíll find fresh peace after this brief storm,
Over your joy light cloud has merely formed,
You will lose naught if joy must be deferred.
My troubled mind dares hope for nothing there.
So swift a tempest stirring a calm sea
Threatens to bring on sure catastrophe:
I doubt it not, I perish in the harbour.
I loved, was loved, agreed were both our fathers;
I was telling you the delightful news
At the sad moment when they quarrelled too,
Which fatal telling, as soon as it was done,
Ruined all hope of its consummation.
Cursed ambition, detestable obsession
Whose tyranny sways the noblest of men!
Honour inimical to my dear prize,
Youíll cost me yet a world of tears and sighs!
In their quarrel youíve naught to brood upon:
Born in a moment: in a moment gone.
It has caused too much stir to be allowed,
And already the King its end has vowed;
You know my soul, sensitive to your pain,
Will work to quench it at its source again.
Vows and accommodations will do nothing:
Such mortal insults are unforgiving.
Force and prudence are invoked in vain;
The illness that seems cured appears again.
The hatred upon which the heartís intent,
Nourishes fires, hidden, yet more ardent.
The sacred bond twixt Rodrigue and Chimene
Will quench the hatred between warring flames;
And we shall swiftly see your love the stronger:
Through a happy marriage, stifling all anger.
I hope for it more than I expect it now;
Don Diegue is, like my father, too proud.
The tears I would retain, I feel them flow;
The past torments me, I fear the future so.
Fear what? The failing powers of an old man?
Rodrigue is brave.
He is simply young.
Such men are valorous in their first outing.
In this, you have no need to fear a thing.
He is too much in love to court displeasure;
Two words from you will arrest his anger.
If he disobeys, the increase to my pain!
And if he obeys, then what will others say?
Of such high blood, to suffer such outrage!
Yield or resist the flames that in us rage
My spirit must be ashamed or confused,
By respect, or a request justly refused.
Chimeneís a noble soul, and though distressed
She will not countenance a thought thatís base;
But if, until that day the King shall proffer,
I make a prisoner of this perfect lover,
And thus prevent his outpouring of courage,
Will your loving spirit then take umbrage?
Ah! Madame, then Iíll have naught to fear.
Page, go find Rodrigue, and bring him here.
The Count Gomes and heÖ
My God! I tremble.
Left the palace after their quarrel.
Alone, yes, and arguing together.
Surely they fight: itís useless to speak further.
Madame, forgive me this my promptitude.
In my mind, alas, thereís such inquietude!
I pity her pain, her lover enchants me;
Peace vanishes, and desire inflames me.
What separates Rodrigue from Chimene
At once rekindles all my hope and pain;
Their separation I regret: its treasure
Floods my charmed mind with secret pleasure.
Is the lofty virtue reigning in your soul
So swift to pursue this ignoble goal?
Not ignoble, now, since here within me,
Great and triumphant, it is judge and jury.
Show it respect, it proves itself so dear.
Despite virtue and myself, I hope and fear;
My fragile heart, by folly crazed almost,
Follows the lover whom Chimene has lost.
Will you thus know the quenching of all courage,
Abandoning within you reasonís usage?
Ah! How weak is the effect of reason,
When the heart is touched by subtle poison!
And if the sufferer loves the malady,
Thereís scarcely call for any remedy!
Your hope seduces, your malaise proves sweet;
Rodrigueís not great enough to clasp your feet.
I know it well; though virtue seems to fade,
How love flatters the heart it does invade.
If Rodrigue should emerge as victor,
If that great soldier yields to his valour,
I may esteem him, love him without shame.
If he defeats the Count, thereís endless fame.
I dare to imagine that his slightest deeds
Will bring entire kingdoms to their knees;
And then loveís flattery persuades, I own,
That he shall occupy
The Moors defeated, trembling and adoring,
Bearing his destiny beyond the wave,
The blood of
And everything writ of famous mortals
Iíll expect of my Rodrigue in victory,
Making his love a subject for my glory.
But Madame, how far your thoughts leap apace
From a duel which perhaps may not take place.
Rodrigue the offended, the Count the offender;
What more is needed? They have left together.
Well! Let them fight, as you wish: but then,
Will Rodrigue be as youíve imagined him?
What would you have? Iím mad, my mind strays;
You see with what ills love will fill my days.
Come to my room, console me within;
Donít leave me in the misery Iím in.
The Count then is still proud, unreasonable!
Does he still think his error pardonable?
I addressed him from you, about the insult.
I did what I could, Sire, with no result.
Heavens! Is this how the presumptuous subject
Shows his consideration, and respect?
He scorns his king, insults Diegue, I see!
Before my court lays down the law to me!
Brave soldier and great general he may be,
But Iíve the means to lower pride so lofty;
Were he valour itself, the god of war,
He shall know the full weight of my law.
Despite the punishment for insolence,
I had at first voted for lenience;
But since he abuses it, go, today,
Whether he resists or not, lock him away.
Time may make him less of a rebel;
He was still heated from his quarrel;
Sire, in the first glow of such anger
To calm so noble a heart takes longer.
He knows heís wrong, but his proud spirit
Wonít let him confess his error, as yet.
Sanche, be silent now, and be advised
To take his partís a crime to my eyes.
I obey and am silent: yet Sire, mercy,
One word in his defence.
What may that be?
That a spirit accustomed to great action
Cannot bow readily in submission:
It cannot see what justifies such shame:
The word alone the Count resists, I say.
He found this duty too harsh, in truth,
If he had less heart, heíd bow to you.
Command his arm, strengthened in battle
To repair the injury and fight his duel;
He will give satisfaction; come what may,
He expects to hear, this answers him I say.
You lack respect; Iíll allow for your age,
Excuse the ardour of your youthful courage.
A king, whose prudence has finer objects,
Takes care to save the blood of his subjects.
I guard my people, my thought preserves them,
As the head cares for the limbs its servants.
Thus your logic is not mine: however
I speak as a king, you as a soldier;
Whatever you say, whatever he believes,
No honour is lost in obeying me.
Then this insult touches me, the honour
Of one whom I have made my sonís tutor;
To contest my choice, is to challenge me,
Make an assault upon the power supreme.
No more. Besides, we observe ten vessels
Of our old enemies, flaunting their banners;
They have dared to approach the river-course.
The Moors have learnt to know you by force.
Conquered so often now they will no more
Chance themselves against the conqueror.
Ever with envy they view the power
Of my sceptre over
This noble country, they long possessed,
With jealousy in their eyes they address.
That is why, according to my will,
To be nearer them, and be the swifter
To oppose whatever threat they offer.
To the great cost of their leaders, and their fleet,
They know your presence assures their defeat.
Thereís naught to fear.
Neglect nothing, either.
Overconfidence attracts new danger.
You know yourself how easy it would be
For the flood tide to carry them to me.
Yet Iíd be wrong, since all is uncertain,
In spreading fear in the hearts of men.
The panic that a vain alarm would bring,
In the darkness, would be a cruel thing:
Double the watch on the walls instead,
Guard the port, tonight.
Sire, the Count is dead.
Don Diegue, through his son, takes his revenge.
On news of the insult, I foresaw its end;
Thus I wished to prevent this calamity.
Chimene arrives, plunged in her misery;
Tearful she comes here, to plead for justice.
Though my heart sympathises with her grief,
The Countís deed merited this penalty,
One he had earned by his temerity.
Yet despite the justice of his fall,
I regret the loss of such a general.
After his lengthy service to the State,
After the blood he spilt for me of late,
Whatever sentiments his pride inflicts,
His loss enfeebles me, his death afflicts.
Sire, Sire, justice!
Ah, Sire! Hear my pleas.
I throw myself at your feet
I clasp your knees.
I demand justice.
Hear my defence.
The youth is rash, punish his insolence.
He has destroyed the pillar of your throne,
He has killed my father.
He has avenged his own.
His subjectsí justice is a kingís intent.
Just vengeance deserves no such punishment.
Rise both of you, and speak more calmly.
Chimene, I share in all your misery;
My soul is now marked by a like taint.
(To Don Diegue)
You may speak next, I sanction her complaint.
Sire, my father is dead; and as he died
I saw the blood pour from his noble side;
That blood which often preserved your walls,
That blood which often won your royal wars,
That blood, which shed still smokes in anger,
At being lost, not for you but another.
What in the midst of flame war did not dare
To shed, Rodrigue has, on the courtyard stair.
I ran to the place, drained of strength and colour,
And found him lifeless. Forgive my pallor,
Sire, my voice fails me in this tale, oppressed;
My tears and sighs should rather speak the rest.
Courage, my child, and know this very day
Your king shall act the father in his place.
Sire, honour too great attends my distress.
As I have said, I found him there, lifeless;
His side was pierced, and to rouse me truly
His blood in the dust inscribed my duty;
Or rather his valour, reduced to such a state,
Spoke to me through his wounds, urging haste;
And, to be heard by the most just of kings,
Lends me the voice of those sad openings.
Sire, do not permit such wilful licence
To rule where you reign so in eminence.
Or allow the bravest, with impunity,
To be exposed to the blows of temerity;
A bold youth to triumph over his glory,
Bathe in his blood, defy his memory.
So valiant a warrior snatched from you,
Un-avenged, kills the wish to serve you.
My father is dead, and I ask vengeance,
For your interest not mine in this instance,
You lose by a death one of noble breath;
Avenge it by another, death for death.
Slay him, not for me, but for your crown,
For your grandeur, for your own renown;
Slay him, I say, Sire, for the royal good,
A man so proud of spilling noble blood.†
How enviable, yes,
On losing strength to swiftly meet with death,
See how old age prepares for noble spirits
After long careers, miserable exits!
I, whose great labours had acquired glory,
I, who was ever pursued by victory,
Find that having lived far too long
I must rest un-avenged for a wrong.
What combat, siege, ambush could not farther
Neither your foes, nor yet the envious,
The Count has perpetrated on us,
Hating your choice, proud of the advantage
Granted him by my weakness at my age.
Sire, thus these hairs whitened in harness,
This blood of mine poured out in such excess,
This arm once dreaded by your enemies,
Would have perished, lost to infamy,
If I had not produced a worthy son,
Worthy of his land, and of your person.
He lent me strength, killed the Count this day;
Preserved my honour, washing shame away.
If to display courage in resentment,
If to avenge a wrong, earns punishment,
The tempestís wrath should fall on me instead:
When the arm errs, one punishes the head.
Whether you call our quarrelís cause a crime,
Sire, I am the head, he but an arm of mine.
Chimene complains he has killed her father,
Yet Iíd have done so, if Iíd been younger.
Take this head the years have aged: preserve
A younger arm which will remain to serve.
By shedding my blood, appease Chimene:
Iíll not resist, I consent to every pain;
With no complaint of harshness, Iíll yet
Die without dishonour, without regret.
The matterís vital, the case put well,
And it merits debate in open council.
Escort Chimene to her house, Don Sanche.
Your bounds are my court, your word, Diegue.
Bring me the son. I will mete out justice.
It is just, great King, that a murderer perish.
Take some rest, my child, and calm your grief.
To command I restís to see my grief increase.
End of Act II