Poetical Tragedies

Mordred: A Tragedy in Five Acts.

by William Wilfred Campbell


 

ACT V.


 

SCENE II.—The Kentish Coast. Landing of ARTHUR’s troops opposed by MORDRED. Battle going on in the distance. Enter GWAINE borne ashore on a litter. Battle comes near.

     A Soldier.     They come this way, here will we stand and guard thee.

  (They put down the litter.)

 

     Gwaine.     How goes the fight?

 

     A Squire.     Desperate hard. The enemy be strong,
As if half England would shove the other ’i the sea.

 

     Gwaine.     Give me my sword, and help me up, I’ll fight.

 

     A Leech.     Sir Knight, if you rise up it is your death.

 

     Gwaine.     Damn thee. to lie here helpless is to die,
With those fierce sounds of battle in mine ears.
Quick! my sword! mine old stregnth cometh back.

(A Squire hands him his sword, he leaps to his feet. The battle comes near and they are all borne out fighting. Re-enter GWAINE borne by Soldiers and the Leech.)

 

     Leech.     I told thee thou wouldst die.

 

     Gwaine.     And so wilt thou some day, and like a milksop, ’i thy bed.
’Twas a poor prophesy though a sure one. It is naught.
Turn me over. Yea, I wedged some skulls, and clipped
Damned Mordred’s wings o’ some pen-feathers.

 

Enter ARTHUR.

 

     Arthur.     So far the battle’s ours, this edge at least
Of Britain’s soil doth Arthur own to-night.
What be this?

 

     Gwaine.     ’Tis Gwaine, King, brought to bay at last.

 

     Arthur.     Thou wert mad to fight.

 

     Gwaine.     ’Twas madness not to fight with all that battle
Ringing its clarion thunders in mine ears.
All life be madness and death but the healing of it.
I have reft some brain-pans, i’ my time, ha! ha!
Tell traitor Launcelot.—Yea turn me softly,
’Twas a deft hand did give me that last stroke.

 

     Leech.     What be thy message knight, thy time groweth short?

 

     Gwaine.     Yea, take away,—tell Launcelot, Gwaine’s vengence waits

  him i’ the nether black. (Dies.)
 
[Curtain.