Bijou, 1828

Poetess Archive: Collections

The Bijou Annual, 1828

The Night before the Battle of Montiel: A Dramatic Sketch     


The Night before the Battle of Montiel: A Dramatic Sketch From the Spanish of Don Juan Algalaba

[The battle of Montiel was that which determined the fate of Pedro the Cruel. Just ten years before it took place he and Edward the Black Prince had utterly defeated at Nejara Henry (called of Transtamara) Pedro's natural brother, the competitor for the throne of Castile: But in the interval Pedro's cruelties had alienated the affection of his subjects, and the murder of his wife Blanche of Bourbon, sister to the King of France, had stirred up an enemy whom, being deserted by the English Prince, he had no longer any sufficient means to resist.

Pedro's famous mistress, Maria de Padilla, was in the castle of Montiel when the battle was fought, and after her lover was slain received the body and was permitted to bury it.

The French army was commanded by the illustrous Bertrand du Guesclin -- in whose memoirs the highly picturesque details of the conflict, the subsequent meeting of the brothers, and the death of Pedro, may be found. Le Begue was the French knight who stabbed Pedro.]

SCENE I.

SCENE I -- The Camp of Henry.

ALAIN DE LA HOUSSAYE AND LE BEGUE.

HOUSSAYE.
--> I do remember even on such a sky
--> Kind Pedro's banner flaunted, even so calm
--> And heavy hung yon selfsame royal blazon
--> Upon the air, as the slow sun went down
--> The night before Nejara.5

[40]

LE BEGUE.
                              ‘Twas in Paris,
--> I heard the tidings of that filed; -- I knew not
--> That my old friend rode in Prince Henry's host
--> Else had I not rejoiced.
HOUSSAYE.
--> Rejoiced? 10
LE BEGUE.
                    Yes, Alain -- --
--> I had heard many things against Don Pedro,
--> Yet, truth to speak, it seemed to me foul scorn,
--> That one whose mother never had been married,
--> Should put his hand forth -- clutching at the crown.15
HOUSSAYE.
--> I hope we'll have no thoughts like these to-morrow.
LE BEGUE.
--> Not I, the fleurdelys will be i'the van.
HOUSSAYE.
--> My thoughts shall be upon the Lady Blanche.
LE BEGUE.
                     Aye, well they may --
--> That bloody Jewess -- is it known if she20
--> Be still with Pedro? Follows she the camp?
HOUSSAYE.
--> They say she doth -- but see! Lord Onis comes,
--> And he can tell us further.
LE BEGUE.
                              The old lord
--> Walks very solemnly methinks to-night,25
--> His pace is sober as a hooded priest.
HOUSSAYE.
--> Aye, and I'll warrant ye his thoughts more sober,
--> Than oft lie hid beneath the gown and cowl.
LE BEGUE.
                               In the hot hour
--> The chance is equal! be we French or Spaniard -- 30
--> But if the day go darkly, and Don Henry
--> Find on Montiel the fortune of Nejara, --
--> No ransom for a traitor.
HOUSSAYE.
                               Look upon him!
--> There sits no selfish fear on Onis' brow;35
--> He is a Spaniard, and we war in Spain.
--> The rival chiefs are brothers -- and the swords
--> That glow even now in many a strenuous hand
--> As they receive the polish and the point,
--> Must gleam ere long before the eyes of kindred.40
--> Where'er may fall the chance of victory,
--> Yon stream, amidst to-morrow's noontide brightness,
--> Will be more purple with Castilian blood,
--> Than now the broad sun sinking paints its face.
LE BEGUE.
--> He passes on -- he takes no note of us.45
HOUSSAYE.
--> We greet you well, Lord Onis!
ONIS.
                               Ha! fair Sirs!
--> I crave your pardon. Whither be ye bound?
HOUSSAYE.
--> Du Guesclin's trumpet hath not sounded yet?
ONIS.
--> They are together in the royal tent.50
--> Anon we shall be summoned.
LE BEGUE.
                               Doth the prince,
--> (I crave your grace, the king) doth he to-morrow
--> Charge on the centre of his brother's battle?
ONIS.
--> I would it were not so; but, if I know him,55
--> It would be heavy tiding for his ear,
--> That any sword but his had found its sheath
--> Within the breast of Pedro.
HOUSSAYE.
--> Don Pedro's cuirass hath turned swords ere now --
--> And wielded by as ready hands as Henry's.60
ONIS.
--> You speak the truth, Sir Alain de la Houssaye,
LE BEGUE.
--> You look for stubborn work, my Lord of Onis.
ONIS.
--> Sir Alain Houssaye has seen Pedro's plume
--> Rising and falling like a falcon's wing,
--> As far i'the front as e'er Plantagenet65
--> Shewed his black crest.
LE BEGUE.
                               And yet the old adage
--> Hangs cruelty and cowardice together.
ONIS.
--> The man that coined the phrase had known no Pedro.
--> The old ancestral sense of dignity70
--> Exalts our excellence if we be good,
--> And even if we be vicious, that high pride
--> Is not more inborn than inalienable;
--> At least ‘tis so with Pedro. ‘Twas the same
--> When Pedro stood no higher than his hilt,75
--> A most imperious boy. God he defies,
--> And man he never feared.
LE HOUSSAYE.
                               This nobleness
--> Of kingly nature props e'en now a cause
--> That, had he been in aught a vulgar villain80
--> Had been as bare of man's aid as of God's; --
--> But hark! The trumpet.
LE BEGUE.
                               Let us to the tent.

[Exeunt Houssaye and Le Begue.

ONIS.
--> Beautiful Valley! What a golden light
--> Is on thy bosom. Ha! the bells are ringing85
--> In the church towers along yon green hill side
--> The vesper chaunt! Alas! What dreary knells
--> Must shake, next sunset, their gray pinnacles!

[Exit.

SCENE II.

The Tent of Henry of Transtamara.

HENRY -- DU GUESCLIN -- BISHOP PEREZ -- ONIS -- HOUSSAYE -- LE BEGUE.

HENRY.
--> Sit, gentlemen. Onis, we waited for thee.
DU GUESCLIN.
--> There is no need we should be long together;
--> We may do better service in our quarters:
--> My humble mind it was, most certainly,
--> That you, sir king, should take the right to-morrow,5
--> Where, if our scouts bring true intelligence,
--> Don Pedro plants his Moors ---
HENRY.
                               Noble Du Guesclin,
--> We fight on Spanish ground, and I have here
--> Three thousand true men of Castile and Leon10
--> Who serve me as their king -- the which I am
--> By the free choice of nobility
--> In open Cortes, aiding right of blood,
--> My brother having forfeited all title
--> By bloody acts of murder and oppression15
--> Not to be counted -- some of them ye know --
--> The which dissolved all claim to our allegiance,
--> And left us free (I mean the Lords of Spain)
--> To choose another wearer for the crown
--> Of old Pelayo; -- of Pelayo's line20
--> Am I, and justly now I wear that crown,
--> Though once there was a baton on my shield,
--> That stain being erased and nullified
--> By the decree I spake of --- Now their hearts
--> Would scarcely brook to see the post of honour25
--> Filled by a stranger, howsoever noble
--> In blood, and whatsoever pennon rearing,
--> When I their king am present. Other reasons
--> I have already to your private ear
--> Sufficiently expounded. Is there need30
--> That I recount them also?
DU GUESCLIN.
                               Since his highness
--> Is so resolved in this, my Lord of Onis,
--> I yield the matter -- for myself I speak:
--> What says La Houssaye?35
HOUSSAYE.
                     May it please the king,
--> Although your courtesy, noble Du Guesclin,
--> Hath brought me to the council, I am here
--> Not to oppose my voice to voice of yours --
--> But having learned your pleasure and my part,40
--> To tender, if need be, humble suggestion
--> Touching what falls to me -- and crave your guidance --
--> Ride we then on the right?
DU GUESCLIN.
                     You and Le Begue,
--> Be there with Burgundy and Picardy,45
--> Ye'll have the Moors to deal withal. Myself
--> Will set my light-limbed Bretons on the left;
--> Perchance, while that King Henry from our centre
--> Bears with his Spaniards on the bridge, the old ford
--> May serve our need as well. I think ‘tis certain,50
--> Don Pedro, with his own Castilian spears,
--> Will bide your highness' onset—Spain to Spain!
HENRY.
--> Ay, and for Spain.
BISHOP.
--> Now God protect King Henry!
--> The Lord of Hosts will battle for the right.55
LE BEGUE.
--> We all shall do our best, my good Lord Bishop.
ONIS.

[Aside to La Houssaye.]

--> 'Twere vain you see for anyone to fight
--> Against the king's determination.
HOUSSAYE.
--> ‘Tis a most wild one! Heaven defend the issue.
HENRY.
--> What says La Houssaye?60
LE BEGUE.
--> He prays heaven, my lord,
--> To send fair issue of to-morrow's field.

[46]

HENRY.
--> 'Tis well; and now brave gentlemen of France
--> Good e'en be with you all. Let the dawn find us
--> Each at his post.65
DU GUESCLIN.
--> My word shall be—QUEEN BLANCHE!
HENRY.
--> And mine—KING HENRY!
DU GUESCLIN.
--> They'll do well together.

[The lords rise from their seats; a Trumpet is heard.

HENRY.
--> What means this trumpet? thrice, too?

[The Enter a Castilian Herald in his tabard, attended by Officers &c.

HERALD.
                               By my mouth70
--> Thus to King Sancho's baseborn son, Don Henry
--> Of Transtamara, speaks his rightful liege
--> The King, Don Pedro of Castille. Bold bastard,
--> That darest, not remembering the black curse
--> Which lies upon the memory of Count Julian,75
--> To ape his ancient treason, and become
--> The guide of foreign spears into the heart
--> Of the fair Spanish land -- I, born thy prince,
--> The lawful son and heir of thy dead father,
--> Whose erring love begot thee of a slave,80
--> Bearded by thee within mine heritage,
--> Thee and the Bourbon's vassals whom thou guidest,
--> I full of scorn and wrath, as well I may be,
--> Have pity on all of those their fair allegiance
--> Due to the Majesty of France hath led85
--> Thus far within my realm -- albeit their swords
--> Are girded on their thighs to serve the cause
--> Of my most sinful rebel; nor against
--> Even those, my own born liegemen, whom thy cunning
--> Hath led astray, so that forgetting oath90
--> And fealty and solemn plight of homage,
--> They stand with thee against their sovereign's banner,
--> Am I entirely steeled. Therefore, in presence
--> Of brave Du Guesclin and his captains and
--> The Spaniards that are with them, I make offer95
--> Of truce from this time till to-morrow's sunset,
--> Within which space -- at the cool dawn ‘twere best --
--> Let lists be set upon the open field
--> Between these camps; and let the Lord Du Guesclin,
--> Upon the part of Henry Transtamara,100
--> And the most noble Castro upon mine,
--> Be umpires of the day -- and man to man,
--> And horse to horse -- with lance, sword, mace, and knife --
--> Let two, whose hostile banners bear one sign,
--> Appeal to the unseen eye of God for judgment105
--> On their conflicting titles; let the winner
--> Be undisputed king; unfearing love
--> Rest between him, whoever he may be,
--> And all that are this day encamped here,
--> Moor, Frenchman, Spaniard; and let him who loses110
--> Have death or exile; so shall knightly blood
--> Keep knightly veins, and wives' and mothers' eyes
--> On either side the rugged Pyrenees
--> Retain their tears unwept; so France in honour,
--> And Spain in peace, sweep from all memory115
--> The traces of this tumult. I, the king,
--> Speak so: -- Don Henry, called of Transtamara,

[Flings down his gauntlet.

--> Liftest thou King Pedro's glove?
ONIS.
                               Now heaven defend!--
--> That voice! --120
HENRY.

[Stepping forward.]

--> Right willingly ----
DU GUESCLIN.

[rising, and laying his own hand on Henry's arm.]

--> Forbear, rash king!
--> Herald! go back in safety as thou camest,
--> And tell thy master that the King Don Henry
--> Would willingly have lifted up the glove125
--> Thy had flung down -- but that Du Guesclin stayed him.
HENRY.
--> French Lord, I do command thee, let me pass.
DU GUESCLIN.
--> Nay, nay King Henry -- thou art not my king.
HENRY.
--> Thou art the vassal of my brother of France,
--> And thou art here because my quarrel's his.130
DU GUESCLIN.
--> Yes; but his quarrel is not thine, Lord King ----
--> Nor, when he kissed my baton at the Louvre
--> Did he command me to entrust the vengeance,
--> For which dead Blanche's blood doth cry to heaven
--> And him, the royal brother of her blood,135
--> To any Spanish hand -- prince's or king's.
--> We, De la Houssaye, and Le Begue, and I,
--> And ten good score of noblemen besides,
--> With all the spears that love or chivalry
--> Has clustered at our backs -- must we stand by140
--> And let the murderer of the Lady Blanche,
--> The sister of our king, conquer or fall,
--> According as one Spaniard or another
--> Couches his lance the firmest, in our sight --
--> Had Henry of Transtamara ne'er been crowned --145
--> Aye, had ne'er been born, thinkest thou my king
--> Would have sat still upon his father's throne,
--> And bid his priests sing masses for the soul
--> Of unrevenged Blanche.
                               I lift this glove;150
--> I place it in the front of this my basnet,
--> Which here, for lack of worthier, represents
--> The coronetted helmet of King Philip.
--> Do as ye will, thou, and the Lord of Onis,
--> This bishop, and as many Spaniards more155
--> As are encamped with us -- I speak for France,
--> And I will have a field, an open field,
--> A bloody field for Blanche!
HERALD.
                               A bloody field!
--> So be it—I shall know my glove again.160
DU GUESCLIN.
--> Thy glove?
HERALD.
--> King Pedro's glove. I speak for him.
DU GUESCLIN.
--> Thou speakest in safety whatsoe'er thou speakest.
HERALD.

[taking of his cap.]

--> I speak in safety since Du Guesclin says so,
--> I am King Pedro! Doth Henry know me? Kneel slave!165
HENRY.

[starting back, and drawing his sword.]

--> Thou murderer! hast no sword?
DU GUESCLIN.
--> If he had fifty none were drawn to-night.
--> This sacred garb which God and man respect,
--> And mine own words do save thee. Go in peace.
PEDRO.
--> I came not hither to make speeches, nor170
--> See I fit judge to sit and hold the balance
--> Between my breath and thine. Therefore, Du Guesclin,
--> Farewell. We meet to-morrow. Ynigo Onis
--> Thou hadst a playmate once. Ha! Father Joseph,
--> Who drew that bare scalp from a monkery,175
--> And clapped a mitre on't? Sweet lords, good night.

[Exit Pedro.

DU GUESCLIN.
--> Le Begue, attend the Herald to the barrier.

[Exit Le Begue.

--> Bold, dark, and haughty soul. I knew him not.
ONIS.
--> There was something in the voice -- and yet
--> I could not think but that I dreamed. ----180
HENRY.
                              Ten years
--> Have changed my brother much. His brow is wrinkled,
--> His hairs are grey.
LA HOUSSAYE.
--> His fierce eye is the same.
HENRY.
--> Once more, kind gentlemen, farewell.185
-->

[Exeunt Du Guesclin, &c.]

Lord Bishop.
--> Do thou remain with some little space.
-->

[Aside.]

stage>I've seen my brother -- something whispers me
--> That one more meeting, and no more shall be.

SCENE III.

The French Camp.

[Enter Pedro, Le Begue, & a crowd of soldiers.

FIRST SOLDIER.
--> I warrant ye lie has worn both plate and mail,
--> His stuffed tabard sits like a shirt upon him.
SECOND SOLDIER.
                               And fifty lances!
--> I never heard of herald so attended.
FIRST SOLDIER.
--> He is some noble gentleman, besure,5
--> The Lord Le Begue, you see, is squiring him.
THIRD SOLDIER.
--> Faith! and I think he walks a-foot behind him.
PEDRO.
--> Le Begue de Villaines? Ha! a noble name!
--> A very noble race of Burgundy;
--> I've heard of them ere now. My Lord Le Begue10
--> You've had a hasty march from Salamanca,
--> Some fifteen days, I think. I have been near you,
--> Almost as near as now within that time.
LE BEGUE.
--> An' please your Highness, had we known thereof,
--> We should, as now, have tendered ye our escort.15
PEDRO.
--> I doubt it not. You've chosen your quarters shrewdly.
--> I know the spot of old. There is a well
--> Beside yon oak that ye may slake your thirst in,
--> If ye were thrice as many as I count ye.
--> A very pleasant fountain, --20
LE BEGUE.
--> I have not drunk thereof.
PEDRO.
--> A true Burgundian! -- Well, Sir, blood flows out
--> And wine flows in -- such is the soldier's course.
--> I wish I had ye in Montiel this night. --
--> Your lads, I see, have lips of the same savour,25
--> By Jove they seem right merry underneath
--> These old trees -- there's no lack of skins among them.
--> Well, drink to-night. If some of these red lips
--> Be white enough, and dry withal ere long,
--> The blood ye might have kept, and the good wine30
--> Ye might have drunk—I shall be blamed for neither.
--> Captain, are these your soldiers?
LE BEGUE.
                               Some of them?
PEDRO.
--> Yon tall black fellow, leaning on his spear,
--> Is he not Spanish?35
LE BEGUE.
                     Is his leathern doublet?
--> I know him not -- his face is new to me.
PEDRO.
--> But not to me -- Rodrigo Perez! Look ye
--> Sir knight, how the slave bends. His Spanish blood
--> Is not all washed from out his veins. --40
LE BEGUE.
                               An' please you, Sir,
--> I can permit no talk -- the barrier's near,
--> I'll see you safe among your followers.
PEDRO.
--> What? stop a Herald's mouth! well well, pass on,

[throwing money to the soldiers.]

--> Drink all men's friend, the Herald, when he's gone.45

[Exit Pedro.]


[54]

FIRST SOLDIER.
--> Thanks for the largess! Fill a cup to him.

[drinks.]

SECOND SOLDIER.
--> Aye, sure; a noble generous gentleman.

[drinks.]

OLD SPEARMAN.
--> Why do ye not pledge the toast?
--> He is your countryman. ----
RODRIGO PEREZ.
                              If ye knew his face50
--> As well as I, ye would not fill so cheerily.
FIRST SOLDIER.
--> You've seen him heretofore? how runs his name?
--> A don I'll warrant ye, and then some dozen
--> Of fine high sounding long words after it.
--> You've half an ell of names yourself, I'll swear.55
PEREZ.
--> A short one serves him. --
FIRST SOLDIER.
--> Speak it out.
PEREZ.
--> Your pardon -----
FIRST SOLDIER.
--> Old man you stare as if this lordly Herald
--> Had been your father's ghost. Come, speak, who is he?60
--> He spoke to you; he called you by your name.
SECOND SOLDIER.
                               By our Lady,
--> It seems as if this Pedro's coat of arms
--> Painted upon a fool's coat, were enough
--> To frighten some that must expect to see65
--> His floating banner and his dancing crest,
--> Ere long -- if, as they say, we fight to-morrow.
PEREZ.
--> Talk on, young men: to-morrow's not far off.
THIRD SOLDIER.
--> No, and for that cause my most sober comrade,
--> It is my mind that we should drink to-night,70
--> To-morrow we'll have neither shade nor wine.
PEREZ.
--> Nor thirst it may be --

[Exit.

FIRST SOLDIER.

[sings.]

--> To-morrow when the sun is high
--> Up in the glowing burning sky,
--> When trumpets sound, and pennons fly,75
                    And lances gleam.
--> No resting on the spear
--> To drain the wine cup clear:
--> Of jollity and cheer
                    I shall not dream.80
SECOND SOLDIER.
--> To-morrow when the sun is low,
--> For some a jovial cup may flow,
--> But who can tell, and who can know
                     For me? -- for whom?
--> A cold earth bed perchance,85
--> Beside a broken lance,
--> Far, far from merry France,
                     May be my doom.
THE TWO SOLDIERS.
--> To-night yon sun goes down in gold,
--> His purple clouds around him rolled,90
--> What eyes his next descent behold,
                     May none reveal.
--> Fill, fill your goblets high,
--> Bright as yon glorious sky,
--> Wine will not make us die95
                     On hot Montiel.
THIRD SOLDIER.
--> Pass round the cup -- I think our dry old Spaniard
--> Has moved himself.
FOURTH SOLDIER.
                     Now saw ye e'er a man
--> Look wilder when yon Herald as he passed100
--> Fixed his black eye, and named him?
FOURTH SOLDIER.
--> Quite aghast!

SCENE IV.

Another part of the camp.

RODRIGO PEREZ.

[alone.]

--> It was but yesterday this King and Onis
--> Stood by while I was digging here i the ditch,
--> And looked upon me for some minutes' space,
--> I did not work less lustitly because
--> There eyes were on me -- by my troth I watered5
--> The clay with my best sweat -- but never a word --
--> "Rodrigo Perez, hot work, old Rodrigo ----"
--> To say so much had been no mighty matter,
--> "The ditch will do." "The barrier will be good,"
--> Good! good! good barrier! nothing of good soldier.10
--> Well, ‘tis all one.

Enter GIL FRASSO.

GIL.
--> Perez, comrade Perez,
--> Hast heard this story?
PEREZ.
--> Story! I've heard none --
--> What is't?15
GIL.
--> I scarcely can believe 'tis true --
--> The old king -- black Don Pedro, man, -- Yon Herald
--> Whose trumpet we all heard -- they say ‘twas he --
--> 'Twas he himself -- and that he came disguised
--> In those gay trappings to fling down his glove,20
--> And challenge Henry face to face to the combat --
--> The single combat -- but Du Guesclin barred it.
PEREZ.
                               Where hast thou heard this news?
GIL.
                               Why, but this moment
--> I left a knot of our companions gathered25
--> Beneath the big oak, close beside the well,
--> And this was all their talk.
PEREZ.
                               The single combat!
--> By Saint Iago, in my humble mind,
--> Du Guesclin did Don Henry a good turn.30
GIL.
--> Hush! do not say so. Dost thou then believe it?
PEREZ.
--> Why not, Gil Frasso? Pedro's worst of foes
--> Will scarce deny that give them equal chance
--> Of wind and sun, within a guarded ring,
--> The old King mounted as we all have seen him,35
--> Might raise a clatter on the new King's helm
--> In spite of the fair coronet that girds it.
GIL.
--> Faith! Pedro always had a heavy hand.
--> But can ye credit it that he came here?
PEREZ.
--> Why that I scarce can doubt. I saw him Frasso,40
--> I saw him, man, with mine own eyes.
GIL.
                               And knew him?
PEREZ.
--> Aye, Gil—what's stranger, may be, he knew me.

[58]

GIL.
--> Nay, nay, old Perez, I can scarce go with you --
--> But come let's hear the story.45
PEREZ.
                               Look'ye, Gil,
--> It was down yonder, where those gay French sparks
--> Are drinking and carousing in the shade;
--> I stood beside them leaning on my spear,
--> To see the Herald passing to the barrier;50
--> Well, up he came, the Lord Le Begue came with him,
--> And as they passed us, suddenly the Herald
--> (We had ta'en notice of his lordly step,)
--> Halted, and said "are these your soldiers, Sir?"
--> And then he pointed with his finger thus,55
--> "My Lord Le Begue," quoth he, "there stands a Spaniard,"
--> And then he loooked more sternly yet, and waved
--> His hand, and named my name "Rodrigo Perez."
--> These were his words -- they're ringing in my ears.
--> Rodrigo Perez! -- Well, say what they will,60
--> It is no shame I think, even for a King,
--> To know an old man that has shed his blood
--> Beneath his banner. -- 'Twill be just ten years
--> Next Thursday (if we see it) since Nejara --
GIL.
--> It was a noble day -- a glorious day!65
RODRIGO.
--> Say that within the hearing of Lord Onis --
GIL.
--> No 'faith -- but yet it was a glorious field.
RODRIGO.
--> Aye, and the morrow after, I remember
--> I wakened stiff enough -- this arm was bandaged,
--> And this leg too -- I woke and sat upright,70
--> And looked about me, in the crowded place
--> All full of comrades shattered like myself,
--> Some worse, some better, and there stood the King,
--> Aye there he stood himself among the leeches
--> And priests (they all were busy), and he said --75
--> It seems as if all had passed but yestereven, --
--> "Lie down good fellow, rest a day or two,
--> And ye'll be well again."
GIL.
--> I would he had not slain the Lady Blanche.
RODRIGO.
--> She was a pretty lady -- so say all --80
--> But French -- why seek they wives from France? -- I love not
--> The men -- no nor the women of that land.
GIL.
--> No more did Pedro. -- He should have not killed her
--> And for a Jewess too!
RODRIGO.
                     We hear black tales:85
--> Who knows what may have been before she died?
GIL.
--> In faith I know not, Perez.
RODRIGO.
--> So we had at Nejara: There Don Henry
--> Was beat -- aye, man, like chaff, before black Wales
--> And the old king. He wants those English spears,90
--> None better ever thrust, but as men speak,
--> There are some thousands of the Moorish horse
--> Within Montiel to-night. Our gay French comrades
--> May find the scimitar's as good's the sword.
--> And old De Castro is with Pedro still.95
GIL.
--> God knows the issue. Would the day were over.
RODRIGO.
--> Aye, would it were. If riding in the front
--> Among the Bishop's men it so fall out,
--> That we come near the king -- I mean King Pedro, --
--> And I behold him charging on the French --100
--> I know not. --
GIL.
--> Comrade. --
RODRIGO.
                               He's but a bastard,
--> We may get easily beyond the barrier --
--> Down yon Green Lane -- your hand: -- The true old king105
--> Will let us in, I warrant him, right kindly.
--> Why, Gil, I think it would have chilled our bloods,
--> And made our arms like withs, if we had seen
--> King Pedro's plume at work, and heard his voice
--> High above all the meacute;leacute;e as of yore,110
--> And we old followers, Nejara-men,
--> Been there against him.
GIL.
                               That oath to the bishop
--> Sticks in my gizzard.
RODRIGO.
                               So, man, gulp it down115
--> While yet he was but plain old Father Joseph --
--> And Henry -- my Lord Bastard ---
--> I had ta'en oaths enough to serve Don Pedro.
--> Hark to yon Frenchmen how they boose and sing.
GIL.
--> Come -- we'll have cups of welcome from the king.120

Exeunt.

SCENE V.

A chamber in the Castle of Montiel.

MARIA DE PADILLA, her SON, and SARAH, seated by a window.

MARIA.
--> Your father will come home anon, my love.
SARAH.
--> The sun's gone down, and if it please my lady
--> I'll see him to his chamber.
BOY.
                               Let me stay
--> Until my father be come home again,5
--> I will not sleep till he has said good night,
--> And kissed me.
MARIA.
                               Kiss me darling --
--> So, -- you shall stay and get the other too.
--> Speak truly, Sarah -- they're the king's own eyes.10
SARAH.
--> In part 'tis so; the long lids are the same --
--> 'Tis a sweet mixture -- fair and gentle boy!
MARIA.
--> Aye, fair and gentle now -- gentle and fair!
--> But look beneath the shadow of the oak,
--> And see how delicate the nursling plant15
--> Fruit of some late chance-scattered acorn shews
--> Its smooth slim stem, its tiny trembling shoots --
--> Its little glossy leaves—one scarce could dream,
--> That in the course of nature these must be
--> Transformed into the rough wide girdled trunk20
--> Scornful of tempests, and the giant boughs,
--> Whose massive umbrage darkens noon below them --
--> And yet 'tis so -- when the stout parent tree
--> Has mouldered into age's dust, or yielded
--> Perchance to the dread flash of heavenly fire --25
--> Aye, or been battered down before its day,
--> By common woodman's axe -- that little budling
--> Shall be the pride of all the grove around. --
--> One down -- another rises -- this smooth chin
--> Will ere men think that many years have flown,30
--> Be rough and back enow -- this ivory forehead
--> Plaited with wrinkled lines, the legacy
--> Of sorrows, it may be -- most certainly
--> Of cares -- the wind, the sun, foul weather
--> Will all have done their work to tan this cheek,35
--> And this white shoulder, (now it hath a dimple,
--> The prettiest bride in all Castile might envy),
--> Will be deep ploughed with trace of buckled mail,
--> And clasped plate -- Pedro will be a man --
--> I hope a noble soldier like his father.40
SARAH.
--> Aye, and a prince as once his father was
--> And in God's time a king as he is now.
MARIA.
--> I hope my god will hear my nightly voice,
--> And let me sleep in dust before that day --
--> For my fair child -- come Pedro to my knee --45
--> My sinless child, or ere thou close thine eyes
--> This night, be sure thou kneel – alone -- for I
--> Must not be with thee then, and pray to God
--> To send down victory on thy father's sword --
--> Pray strongly for thy father: -- simple child,50
--> See, Sarah, how he stares with his black eyes!
SARAH.
--> Now, prithee, cease my lady,
--> You'll send us all a weeping to our beds
--> If you look thus. I met the Lord de Castro
--> But now as I was coming through the court,55
--> He smiled upon me courteously and gaily:
--> I'm sure he thinks 'twill all go well to-morrow.
MARIA.
--> The old soldier will not let shis eye betray him.
--> His counsel and his prudence are my hope
--> Next to the strong arm of my fearless king.60
--> As for these Moors --
--> I cannot trust them -- Yon old crafty Zagal,
--> Although his words be of the readiest
--> I doubt he he'll pause before he sheds much blood
--> Of faithful Mussulmen in this debate: --65
SARAH.
--> If you suspect him, speak it to the king.
MARIA.
--> I would the king were here -- he tarries long.

[64]

SARAH.
--> He hath rode something further than he thought for
--> In reconnaissance -- he will soon be here;
--> De Castro, Zagal, and the other lords70
--> Are but assembling in the hall as yet.
MARIA.
--> Sleepy, my boy? Well, Sarah, carry him
--> Up to his chamber: when the king returns
--> We both will come together -- soon I hope.
SARAH.
--> Come, darling, you have watched too long already.75

[Exit with the boy.

MARIA.
--> And now 'tis dark all over -- hot and dark --
--> The heavens must be relieved from this oppression --
--> We from this doubting which is worse than death.
--> What matters it whether the thunder growl
--> Once or a thousand times? If it light here --80
--> The spirit of one must be unclad -- a king
--> Or nothing ---- I -- what must I be? -- no matter --
--> At least if things go darkly I can share
--> His gloomier destiny -- have my full half
--> Of all that brings -- and be at least his equal85
--> As well as bedfellow within the grave.
--> The grave! Dead Blanche I fear thee --
--> And yet God gives to kings the arbitrement
--> Of life and death -- and Pedro is a king --
--> She knew that I had lain on Pedro's breast,90
--> And yet she couched her curls there: -- my sweet boy
--> On thee she had no pity, nor thy mother --

[Scene closes.



Date: 1828 (Web page revisions: 10/24/2005) Author: From the Spanish of Don Juan Algalaba (Web page revisions: Laura Mandell and Zach Weir).
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