Poetical Tragedies

Mordred: A Tragedy in Five Acts.

by William Wilfred Campbell


 

ACT III.


 

SCENE VII.—A passage near the Queen's apartments.

Enter VIVIEN.

     Vivien.     Now slave but do the bidding of thy master,

And soon the boding hour will draw anigh
When Guinevere will queen a royal hunch-back.
Now serve me well my wits until I play
The issue of this matter to my mind.
[Retires into an alcove.

 

Enter UNID the QUEEN's Maid, with a ring.

 

Now drat that page! What can the matter be?
This ring must go but who will be the bearer,
It bothereth me to discover?
[Passes out on left.

 

Enter DAGONET on right.

 

     Dagonet.     O me! me! me! that ever I did that deed.
(To Spirit) Nay! nay! Spirit, come not here!
Hide, hide that woeful face. Sleep, sleep
Quiet ’i the grave! Dagonet meant it not.
Ha! ha! I’ll laugh and be merry. 'Tis but my wits.
I’ll think on Vivien.—Nay, nay, not that face!
I slew thee not, Away! away!
'Tis but a fancy, but it lifts the hair
In frosty bristles, makes the eyeballs stare,
And turns me to a horror. Away! Away!

 

Re-enter Maid.

 

What play is now, Sir Fool, that thy wit playeth?

 

     Dagonet.     Oh! tis thou!

 

     Unid.     ’Tis said that thou art looking at the Queen,

And wouldst oust Sir Launcelot. Thou art a bold fool.

 

     Dagonet.     Nay, nay, tis thou sweet Unid rendeth my heart.

 

     Unid.     Now art thou a kind fool.

 

     Dagonet.     Is the Queen within?

 

     Unid.     She sleepeth.

 

     Dagonet.     I will sing thee a song. (Sings.)

“It rose upon the month o’ May,
When woods were filled with laughter,
Came Margery tripping up the way,
And Jock a stealing after.
(To spirit.) Away! away!

It rose in Autumn’s afternoon
When love was dead and laughter,
That Jock went striding ’neath the moon,
And Margery pining after.
(To spirit.) Away! I say, away!

 

     Unid.     Well acted, Fool, and well sung.

 

     Dagonet.     Yea, it is a part of me.

 

     Unid.     (Aside) he will do. (To DAGONET) Fool, wilt thou deliver a

  message for me?

 

     Dagonet.     Yea, by my love.

 

     Unid.     It be a pressing business, and a private one.

[Speaks in a low voice.

 

Thou seest this ring. It is the Queen’s. Thou needs must find Sir

  Launcelot, and deliver it to him privately and say! “This night afore midnight.”

 

     Dagonet.     What doth it mean?

 

     Unid.     It meaneth, do thy part, and shut thy ears and mouth, and put

  a padlock on thine inward thoughts. Wilt thou do it?

 

     Dagonet.     Yea that I will, ’tis for the Queen, (to spirit) Away! away!

  Haunt me not!

 

     Unid.     What aileth thee?

 

     Dagonet.     Did I speak?

 

     Unid.     Thou spokest as to someone.

 

     Dagonet.     ’Tis but an infirmity.

 

     Unid.     ’Tis a queer one. Thou wilt be speedy and private?

 

     Dagonet.     That I will. Not one kiss?

 

     Unid.     Away! away! Haunt me not.

[Exit.
[VIVIEN comes from the alcove.

 

     Vivien.     Ha! thou false lover!

[DAGONET drops the ring.

 

     Dagonet.     ’Tis thou!

 

     Vivien.     Caught in the act, soft words and lovers songs,

And rings exchanged, and even kisses proffered.
Thou Double-Dealer! Thou wouldst seek my love?

 

     Dagonet.     I tell thee thou art wrong. ’Tis the appearances are at

  fault.

 

     Vivien.     Thou liest! Didst thou not offer to buss her?

 

     Dagonet.     ’Twas but a sally to cover mine inward thoughts.

 

     Vivien.     Thou liest again. What were those low words she spake,

  when she took thy hand?

 

     Dagonet.     ’Twas but a message she gave me on a private matter.

 

     Vivien.     Oh! oh! very private! Dagonet, very private!

 

     Dagonet.     I cannot tell thee of its import.

 

     Vivien.     Nay, thou canst not, for thou liest.

 

     Dagonet.     I tell thee, Vivien, thou wilt madden me. I tell thee, I love

  thee only, and thou knowest it.

 

     Vivien.     What was the substance of that message?

 

     Dagonet.     If thou must have it, and thou draggest my heart out, it

  was from the Queen. The words “tonight afore midnight.”

 

     Vivien.     A true story! To thee?

 

     Dagonet.     Nay, to Sir Launcelot.

 

     Vivien.     Thou liest! Canst thou explain that ring she gave thee?

  (picks it up.)

 

     Dagonet.     ’Tis the Queen’s.

 

     Vivien.     Ho! ho! And thou the trusted messenger! ’Tis a likely story.

  Wouldst have me believe it?

 

     Dagonet.     Vivien, I tell thee that I love thee, and am in Hell for thee,

  aye, in Hell!

 

     Vivien.     Thou forgettest thine important message, thou most trusted

  lover and messenger.

 

     Dagonet.     Vivien, wilt thou not believe me?

 

     Vivien.     Go, go, I tell thee, I will see thee again.

[Exit Dagonet.

 

     Vivien.     Now cometh the hour when my revenge approacheth,

Now winds my web about doomed Camelot,
An angered fate hangs o’er these castle walls.
There will be bloody deeds abroad tonight.
Rise Spirits of old vengence and affright!
Vivien conquereth. Wait! wait!
[Curtain.