Act 2, Scene I

Scene: Antechamber to Evadne's Bedroom in the Palace.

Enter EVADNE, ASPATIA, DULA, and other Ladies.

Dula.
Madam, shall we undress you for this fight?
The wars are nak'd that you must make to-night.
Evadne.
You are very merry, Dula.
Dula.
I should be merrier far, if 'twere
  With me as 'tis with you.
Evadne.
How's that?
Dula.
That I might go to bed with him
 With the credit that you do.
Evadne.
Why, how now, wench?
Dula.
Come, ladies, will you help?
Evadne.
I am soon undone.
Dula.
And as soon done:
Good store of clothes will trouble you at both.
Evadne.
Art thou drunk, Dula?
Dula.
Why, here's none but we.
Evadne.
Thou think'st belike, there is no modesty
When we're alone.
Dula.
Ay, by my troth, you hit my thoughts aright.
Evadne.
You prick me, lady.
Dula.
'Tis against my will.
Anon you must endure more, and lie still;
You're best to practise.
Evadne.
Sure, this wench is mad.
Dula.
No, 'faith, this is a trick that I have had
Since I was fourteen.
Evadne.
'Tis high time to leave it.
Dula.
Nay, now I'll keep it, till the trick leave me.
A dozen wanton words, put in your head,
Will make you livelier in your husband's bed.
Evadne.
Nay, 'faith, then take it.
Dula.
Take it, madam? where?
We all, I hope, will take it, that are here.
Evadne.
Nay, then, I'll give you o'er.
Dula.
So will I make
The ablest man in Rhodes, or his heart ache.
Evadne.
Wilt take my place to-night?
Dula.
I'll hold your cards 'gainst any two I know.
Evadne.
What wilt thou do?
Dula.
Madam, we'll do't, and make 'em leave play too.
Evadne.
Aspatia, take her part.
Dula.
I will refuse it.
She will pluck down a side; she does not use it.
Evadne.
Why, do.
Dula.
You will find the play
Quickly, because your head lies well that way.
Evadne.
I thank thee, Dula. 'Would thou could'st instil
Some of thy mirth into Aspatia!
Nothing but sad thoughts in her breast do dwell:
Methinks, a mean betwixt you would do well.
Dula.
She is in love: Hang me, if I were so,
But I could run my country. I love, too,
To do those things that people in love do.
Aspatia.
It were a timeless smile should prove my cheek:
It were a fitter hour for me to laugh,
When at the altar the religious priest
Were pacifying the offended powers
With sacrifice, than now. This should have been
My night; and all your hands have been employed
In giving me a spotless offering
To young Amintor's bed, as we are now
For you. Pardon, Evadne; 'would my worth
Were great as yours, or that the king, or he,
Or both, thought so! Perhaps he found me worthless:
But, till he did so, in these ears of mine,
These credulous ears, he pour'd the sweetest words
That art or love could frame. If he were false,
Pardon it, Heaven! and if I did want
Virtue, you safely may forgive that too;
For I have lost none that I had from you.
Evadne.
Nay, leave this sad talk, madam.
Aspatia.
Would I could!
Then should I leave the cause.
Evadne.
See, if you have not spoil'd all Dula's mirth.
Aspatia.
Thou think'st thy heart hard; but if thou be'st caught,
Remember me; thou shalt perceive a fire
Shot suddenly into thee.
Dula.
That's not so good; let 'em shoot anything
But fire, I fear 'em not.
Aspatia.
Well, wench, thou may'st be taken.
Evadne.
Ladies, good-night: I'll do the rest myself.
Dula.
Nay, let your lord do some.
Aspatia.
[Sings.] Lay a garland on my hearse,
  Of the dismal yew.
Evadne.
That's one of your sad songs, madam.
Aspatia.
Believe me, 'tis a very pretty one.
Evadne.
How is it, madam?

SONG,

Aspatia.
Lay a garland on my hearse,
  Of the dismal yew;
Maidens, willow branches bear;
  Say I died true:
My love was false, but I was firm
  From my hour of birth.
Upon my buried body lie
  Lightly, gentle earth!
Evadne.
Fie on't, madam! The words are so strange, they are able to make one dream of hobgoblins. “I could never have the power:” Sing that, Dula.

SONG.

Dula.
  I could never have the power
  To love one above an hour,
  But my heart would prompt mine eye
  On some other man to fly;
  Venus, fix mine eyes fast,
Or if not, give me all that I shall see at last.
Evadne.
So, leave me now.
Dula.
Nay, we must see you laid.
Aspatia.
Madam, good-night. May all the marriage joys
That longing maids imagine in their beds,
Prove so unto you! May no discontent
Grow 'twixt your love and you! But, if there do,
Inquire of me, and I will guide your moan;
Teach you an artificial way to grieve,
To keep your sorrow waking. Love your lord
No worse than I: but if you love so well,
Alas, you may displease him; so did I.
This is the last time you shall look on me.—
Ladies, farewell. As soon as I am dead,
Come all, and watch one night about my hearse;
Bring each a mournful story, and a tear,
To offer at it when I go to earth.
With flatt'ring ivy clasp my coffin round;
Write on my brow my fortune; let my bier
Be borne by virgins that shall sing, by course,
The truth of maids, and perjuries of men.
Evadne.
Alas, I pity thee.
[Exit Evadne.
All.      
Madam, good-night.
1 Lady.
Come, we'll let in the bridegroom.
Dula.
Where's my lord?

Enter AMINTOR.

1 Lady.
Here, take this light.
Dula.
You'll find her in the dark.
1 Lady.
Your lady's scarce a-bed yet; you must help her.
Aspatia.
Go, and be happy in your lady's love.
May all the wrongs, that you have done to me,
Be utterly forgotten in my death!
I'll trouble you no more; yet I will take
A parting kiss, and will not be denied.
You'll come, my lord, and see the virgins weep
When I am laid in earth, though you yourself
Can know no pity. Thus I wind myself
Into this willow garland, and am prouder
That I was once your love, though now refused,
Than to have had another true to me.
So with my prayers I leave you, and must try
Some yet-unpractised way to grieve and die.
[Exit.
Dula.
Come, ladies, will you go?
All.      
Good-night, my lord.
Amintor.
Much happiness unto you all!—
[Exeunt Ladies.

I did that lady wrong: Methinks, I feel
Her grief shoot suddenly through all my veins.
Mine eyes run: This is strange at such a time.
It was the king first moved me to't;—but he
Has not my will in keeping.—Why do I
Perplex myself thus? Something whispers me,
“Go not to bed.” My guilt is not so great
As mine own conscience, too sensible,
Would make me think: I only break a promise,
And 'twas the king that forced me.—Timorous flesh,
Why shak'st thou so?—Away, my idle fears!

Enter EVADNE.

Yonder she is, the lustre of whose eye
Can blot away the sad remembrance
Of all these things.—Oh, my Evadne, spare
That tender body; let it not take cold.
The vapours of the night will not fall here:
To bed, my love. Hymen will punish us
For being slack performers of his rites.
Cam'st thou to call me?

Evadne.
No.
Amintor.
Come, Come, my love,
And let us lose ourselves to one another.
Why art thou up so long?
Evadne.
I am not well.
Amintor.
To bed, then; let me wind thee in these arms,
Till I have banish'd sickness.
Evadne.
Good my lord,
I cannot sleep.
Amintor.
Evadne, we will watch;
I mean no sleeping.
Evadne.
I'll not go to bed.
Amintor.
I pr'ythee do.
Evadne.
I will not for the world.
Amintor.
Why, my dear love?
Evadne.
Why? I have sworn I will not.
Amintor.
Sworn!
Evadne.
Ay.
Amintor.
How! sworn, Evadne?
Evadne.
Yes, Sworn, Amintor; and will swear again,
If you will wish to hear me.
Amintor.
To whom have you sworn this?
Evadne.
If I should name him, the matter were not great.
Amintor.
Come, this is but the coyness of a bride.
Evadne.
The coyness of a bride?
Amintor.
How prettily that frown becomes thee!
Evadne.
Do you like it so?
Amintor.
Thou canst not dress thy face in such a look,
But I shall like it.
Evadne.
What look likes you best?
Amintor.
Why do you ask?
Evadne.
That I may show you one less pleasing to you.
Amintor.
How's that?
Evadne.
That I may show you one less pleasing to you.
Amintor.
I pr'ythee, put thy jests in milder looks;
It shows as thou wert angry.
Evadne.
So, perhaps,
I am indeed.
Amintor.
Why, who has done thee wrong?
Name me the man, and by thyself I swear,
Thy yet-unconquer'd self, I will revenge thee.
Evadne.
Now I shall try thy truth. If thou dost love me,
Thou weigh'st not anything compared with me:
Life, honour, joys eternal, all delights
This world can yield, or hopeful people feign,
Or in the life to come, are light as air
To a true lover when his lady frowns,
And bids him do this. Wilt thou kill this man?
Swear, my Amintor, and I'll kiss the sin
Off from thy lips.
Amintor.
I will not swear, sweet love,
Till I do know the cause.
Evadne.
I would thou would'st.
Why, it is thou that wrong'st me; I hate thee;
Thou should'st have kill'd thyself.
Amintor.
If I should know that, I should quickly kill
The man you hated.
Evadne.
Know it then, and do't.
Amintor.
Oh, no; what look soe'er thou shalt put on
To try my faith, I shall not think thee false:
I cannot find one blemish in thy face,
Where falsehood should abide. Leave, and to bed.
If you have sworn to any of the virgins,
That were your old companions, to preserve
Your maidenhead a night, it may be done
Without this means.
Evadne.
A maidenhead, Amintor,
At my years?
Amintor.
Sure, she raves!—This cannot be
Thy natural temper. Shall I call thy maids?
Either thy healthful sleep hath left thee long,
Or else some fever rages in thy blood.
Evadne.
Neither, Amintor: Think you I am mad,
Because I speak the truth?
Amintor.
Will you not lie with me to-night?
Evadne.
To-night! you talk as if I would hereafter.
Amintor.
Hereafter! yes, I do.
Evadne.
You are deceived.
Put off amazement, and with patience mark
What I shall utter; for the oracle
Knows nothing truer: 'tis not for a night,
Or two, that I forbear thy bed, but for ever.
Amintor.
I dream! Awake, Amintor!
Evadne.
You hear right.
I sooner will find out the beds of snakes,
And with my youthful blood warm their cold flesh,
Letting them curl themselves about my limbs,
Than sleep one night with thee. This is not feign'd,
Nor sounds it like the coyness of a bride.
Amintor.
Is flesh so earthly to endure all this?
Are these the joys of marriage? Hymen, keep
This story (that will make succeeding youth
Neglect thy ceremonies) from all ears;
Let it not rise up, for thy shame and mine,
To after-ages: We will scorn thy laws,
If thou no better bless them. Touch the heart
Of her that thou hast sent me, or the world
Shall know, there's not an altar that will smoke
In praise of thee; we will adopt us sons;
Then virtue shall inherit, and not blood.
If we do lust, we'll take the next we meet,
Serving ourselves as other creatures do;
And never take note of the female more,
Nor of her issue.—I do rage in vain;
She can but jest. O, pardon me, my love!
So dear the thoughts are that I hold of thee,
That I must break forth. Satisfy my fear;
It is a pain, beyond the hand of death,
To be in doubt: Confirm it with an oath,
If this be true.
Evadne.
Do you invent the form:
Let there be in it all the binding words
Devils and conjurers can put together,
And I will take it. I have sworn before,
And here, by all things holy, do again,
Never to be acquainted with thy bed.
Is your doubt over now?
Amintor.
I know too much. Would I had doubted still!
Was ever such a marriage night as this!
Ye powers above, if you did ever mean
Man should be used thus, you have thought a way
How he may bear himself, and save his honour.
Instruct me in it; for to my dull eyes
There is no mean, no moderate course to run:
I must live scorn'd, or be a murderer.
Is there a third? Why is this night so calm?
Why does not Heaven speak in thunder to us,
And drown her voice?
Evadne.
This rage will do no good.
Amintor.
Evadne, hear me: Thou hast ta'en an oath,
But such a rash one, that, to keep it, were
Worse than to swear it: Call it back to thee;
Such vows as those never ascend the Heaven;
A tear or two will wash it quite away.
Have mercy on my youth, my hopeful youth,
If thou be pitiful; for, without boast,
This land was proud of me. What lady was there,
That men call'd fair and virtuous in this isle,
That would have shunn'd my love? It is in thee
To make me hold this worth. Oh! we vain men,
That trust out all our reputation,
To rest upon the weak and yielding hand
Of feeble woman! But thou art not stone;
Thy flesh is soft, and in thine eyes doth dwell
The spirit of love; thy heart cannot be hard.
Come, lead me from the bottom of despair,
To all the joys thou hast; I know thou wilt;
And make me careful, lest the sudden change
O'ercome my spirits.
Evadne.
When I call back this oath,
The pains of hell environ me!
Amintor.
I sleep, and am too temperate! Come to bed!
Or by those hairs, which, if thou hadst a soul
Like to thy locks, were threads for kings to wear
About their arms——
Evadne.
Why, so, perhaps, they are.
Amintor.
I'll drag thee to my bed, and make thy tongue
Undo this wicked oath, or on thy flesh
I'll print a thousand wounds to let out life!
Evadne.
I fear thee not. Do what thou dar'st to me!
Every ill-sounding word, or threatening look,
Thou show'st to me, will be revenged at full.
Amintor.
It will not, sure, Evadne?
Evadne.
Do not you hazard that.
Amintor.
Have you your champions?
Evadne.
Alas, Amintor, think'st thou I forbear
To sleep with thee, because I have put on
A maiden's strictness? Look upon these cheeks,
And thou shalt find the hot and rising blood
Unapt for such a vow. No; in this heart
There dwells as much desire, and as much will
To put that wish'd act in practice, as ever yet
Was known to woman; and they have been shown,
Both. But it was the folly of thy youth
To think this beauty, to what land soe'er
It shall be call'd, shall stoop to any second.
I do enjoy the best, and in that height
Have sworn to stand or die: You guess the man.
Amintor.
No: let me know the man that wrongs me so,
That I may cut his body into motes,
And scatter it before the northern wind.
Evadne.
You dare not strike him.
Amintor.
Do not wrong me so.
Yes, if his body were a poisonous plant,
That it were death to touch, I have a soul
Will throw me on him.
Evadne.
Why, it is the king.
Amintor.
The king!
Evadne.
What will you do now?
Amintor.
'Tis not the king!
Evadne.
What did he make this match for, dull Amintor?
Amintor.
Oh, thou hast named a word, that wipes away
All thoughts revengeful! In that sacred name,
“The king,” there lies a terror. What frail man
Dares lift his hand against it? Let the gods
Speak to him when they please: till when let us
Suffer, and wait.
Evadne.
Why should you fill yourself so full of heat,
And haste so to my bed? I am no virgin.
Amintor.
What devil put it in thy fancy, then!
To marry me?
Evadne.
Alas, I must have one
To father children, and to bear the name
Of husband to me, that my sin may be
More honourable.
Amintor.
What a strange thing am I!
Evadne.
A miserable one; one that myself
Am sorry for.
Amintor.
Why, show it then in this:
If thou hast pity, though thy love be none,
Kill me; and all true lovers, that shall live
In after-ages cross'd in their desires,
Shall bless thy memory, and call thee good;
Because such mercy in thy heart was found,
To rid a ling'ring wretch.
Evadne.
I must have one
To fill thy room again, if thou wert dead;
Else, by this night, I would: I pity thee.
Amintor.
These strange and sudden injuries have fallen
So thick upon me, that I lose all sense
Of what they are. Methinks I am not wrong'd:
Nor is it aught, if from the censuring world.
I can but hide it. Reputation!
Thou art a word, no more.—But thou hast shown
An impudence so high, that to the world,
I fear, thou wilt betray or shame thyself.
Evadne.
To cover shame, I took thee; never fear
That I would blaze myself.
Amintor.
Nor let the king
Know I conceive he wrongs me; then mine honour
Will thrust me into action, though my flesh
Could bear with patience. And it is some ease
To me in these extremes, that I knew this
Before I touch'd thee; else had all the sins
Of mankind stood betwixt me and the king,
I had gone through 'em to his heart and thine.
I have left one desire: 'tis not his crown
Shall buy me to thy bed, now I resolve,
He has dishonoured thee. Give me thy hand;
Be careful of thy credit, and sin close;
'Tis all I wish. Upon thy chamber-floor
I'll rest to-night, that morning-visitors
May think we did as married people use.
And, pr'ythee, smile upon me when they come,
And seem to toy, as if thou hadst been pleased
With what we did.
Evadne.
Fear not; I will do this.
Amintor.
Come, let us practise: and as wantonly
As ever loving bride and bridegroom met,
Let's laugh and enter here.
Evadne.
I am content.
Amintor.
Down all the swellings of my troubled heart!
When we walk thus intwined, let all eyes see
If ever lovers better did agree.
[Exeunt.