Poetical Tragedies

Mordred: A Tragedy in Five Acts.

by William Wilfred Campbell


 

ACT I.


 

SCENE IV.—Leodegrance's Castle at Camelard.

Enter LEODEGRANCE and Pages.

     Leo.     Now is the day auspicious to my house

When Guinevere will wed the mighty Arthur.
Golden the mornings, happy speed the nights,
With constellations soft and wooing hours
That speed the bride and bridegroom to their bowers.
Splendid be my prime and soft mine age,
Who am a father to this mighty realm.
Ho there, without!
[Trumpets heard, enter pages.

 

     Page.     Mighty Sire, with trumpet and with drum,

The lofty Arthur with his host hath come.
A world of spears and pennons fill the town,
And all the burghers feast their eyes with seeing.
[A clatter of arms without. Enter Launcelot who kneels.

 

     Launcelot.     Sir King!

 

     Leo.     Where tarries the great Prince Arthur?

 

     Launcelot.     He cometh not, my lord.

 

     Leo.     And why?

 

     Launcelot.     The king on sudden sick at Camelot

Hath sent me with his heart to Camelard
To plead his absence with thee and the Princess,
And guard her glad way forth to Camelot.
I am that Launcelot, that knight-at-arms,
Who loveth Arthur more than maid or king.
Perchance if thou wild trust her to my care,—
Here is great Arthur’s order.
[Presents a ring.

 

     Leo.     Welcome to Camelard, most noble knight,

Well ken we of thy name and nobleness.
It grieves us much great Arthur could not come,
And guest of our poor hospitality,
Receive our noble daughter at our hearth,
And lead her home from out our very doors.
This much perforce had willed a father’s pride.
This much had satisfied a father’s love.
But seeing Chance hath given us none of it,
We must be gracious to her messenger
And thank her for the safety she hath sent.
Tomorrow’s dawn we give into thy hands.
The maiden daughter of our kingly love,
To guard in safety to great Arthur’s court,
There to be wedded as his faithful queen.
Meanwhile receive our hospitality.
This castle and this town are thine to-night
In honor of the Princess and the King.

 

     Launcelot.     We thank thee Sire for this thy hospitality.

 

     Leo.     Yea one thing further, knowing our daughter’s nature,

And fearing a maiden’s pride might feel a hurt,
At the King’s absence, we would therefore advise
That this be kept a secret till tomorrow,
When we will break it softly to Her Highness;
Though she hath never seen him, as thou knowest,
She now half loves him for his kingly virtues,
And being her father’s daughter thinks it will
To act a daughter’s just obedience.
She hath a wayward nature, ’tis a pride
We have in common, therefore we defer
This matter till tomorrow. ’Twould not do
To let her sleep on such sharp disappointment.

 

     Launcelot.     As you will, noble lord.

[Curtain.