Charlemagne – Act Three, Scene Two

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Enter EUDON, ELDEGRAD, BERTHA, and GABRIELLA.

EUDON
I’ll sooner shrink back when my life’s assaulted
Than when my promise shall be claim’d, good madam.
I promis’d to your lord that Bertha here
My daughter should be married to his son,
And I’ll perform’t, for only to that end
I’ve brought her now.

ELDEGRAD
And, sir, ‘tis nobly done.
I know the match is more desired by him
Than the king’s favours, which at this time he
Is labouring to recover; but’s return,
I know, will be most sudden.

EUDON
We’ll attend it.

GABRIELLA
Heigh ho.

BERTHA
Why sighs thou friend?

GABRIELLA
Not at your joys, but mine affections.
You’re in a good way, Bertha; ride spurr’d on
May come unto your journey.  I must tire.
There’s not a switch or prick to quicken me.

BERTHA
Yes, when young Richard hunts purlieu ground,
Come, I do know you will not change your rider.

GABRIELLA
Not if a’ would fall to his exercise.

BERTHA
Th’art still thy self, all madness; but not more.
Here comes your brother.

Enter GANELON and LA BUSSE.

EUDON
Health to my noble lord!

GANELON
You wish me my worst enemy.  Yet, sir,
‘Tis welcome since your wish it.  O, I am
At this time nothing bur extreme disgrace!

EUDON
Shake you for that.  Why, noble lord, you know
Disgrace is ever like the great assay
Which turns imperfect metals into fume
And shows pure gold to have an absolute value
Because it still remains unchangeable.
Disgrace can never scar a good man’s sense.
‘Tis an undaunted heart shows innocence.
Shame in a guilty man, like wounds and scratches
In a corrupted flesh, may rankle deep.
Good men’s dishonours heal before they weep.

GANELON
Pray thee, noble Eudon, save thyself
And come not near me; I am pestilent.

EUDON
I do not fear infection.

GANELON
I know th’art noble and a man of war;
One that hath fear’d no mortal wound so much
As to be reckon’d fearful; but the cause,
The cause of my dull ruin must affright you.
You have not flint enough to arm your soul
Against compassion, and that kills a soldier.
Let me have room to breathe at large my woes
And talk alone, lest the proceeding air
That easeth me beet in you a pain
Leave me, pray leave me.  My rude violence
Will half distract your spirits.  My sad speec
Like such a noise as drowns all other noise
Will so afflict your thoughts and cares on me
That all your care beside must be neglected.
My turn of patience is expir’d; pray leave me.

ELDEGRAD
I’th’name of wonder, sir, what doth afflict you?

EUDON
You bore your banishment most brave, till now.

GANELON
I did, and could as quietly endure
To be expos’d upon the public scaffold
To all mine enemies’ contempt; but now
I’m more than banish’d; all my honours lost,
My wealth, my places, every one the kings.
I hardly am a private gentleman;
And more than this, mine only dearest friend,
My Richard, I <m>ust never see aga<in.>

GABRIELLA
Excellent news!  Hold, there I’ll honour thee.

EUDON
Why all this is a trifle.  Such a blast
As should not move a weak reed.  Come, I love
Yourself and not your fortunes.  Pray, forget ‘em.
See, I have brought my daughter and desire
The match betwixt us may be consummate.

GANELON
O, you are noble that can pity scorn
And wert not for my friend’s loss, all the rest
I should lose like my shadow.

ELDEGRAD
Ay, and him
When I have told you mine intelligence.
Come, he’s not half so good as you imagine.

GANELON
Go, y’are a woman, and that still implies
Can be malicious.  But are you then resolv’d
To match will mine ill fortunes, sir?

EUDON
Sir, I am.

GANELON
What says fair Bertha?

BERTHA
That my free will doth bind
My love to his commandment.

GANELON
Then take her, boy.  We will be henceforth friends
And howsoever crosses come and go
I’ll leave thee clothes enow for winter time.

LA BUSSE
Sir, I am bound to you and to my mistress
And will so arm my service with delight
That, madam, you shall count this marriage yoke
The only list of pleasure.

BERTHA
That’s my hope.
Bate me the pleasure and believe it, sir.
I shall cry out o’th’bargain.

LA BUSSE
Fear me not.

GANELON
Come, we will have this marriage solemnized
In which I mean to fight with agony
And show the world I can cast honours off
More easily than my garments.  Wisdom’s thought
Most piteous ever when ‘tis dearest bought.           [Exeunt all but GABRIELLA.

GABRIELLA
Sure this should be the day of Valentine
When every bird doth couple.  Only I,
Poor forlorn turtle, having lost my mate,
Must die on a bare branch.  Wit, defend me!
Youth and my pleasures will not suffer it.
I’ve here contrived a letter to my friend
In mine ill brother’s name; it may work
Something to gain my wishes; at the worst
I cannot make me more than I am accurst.

Enter LA FUE.

 

And here’s my messenger.  How now, Monsieur Fue.
Whither goest in such a sweating passion?

LA FUE
O madam, sweating is good for the itch, and the rascal Didier, having played the rogue with my lord, is’t possible but I should itch to be about his ears when I see the knave’s countenance?  Therefore, to avoid trouble, I affect sweating.

GABRIELLA
Why, thou dost not see him nor art thou likely.

LA FUE
O, by all means, I cannot miss the devil.  Why, I am going to the court, madam, and the knave will be in every corner.  Didier, I mean, by all means, so that if I do not sweat, I shall scratch the skin from my elbows.

GABRIELLA
Then, to further your sweating, take pains with this letter.  Tell noble Richard, the son of Aimon, your master sent it, but do not tell your master I employ’d you.  Take this reward, and deal wisely.

LA FUE
As wisely as my blue coat will suffer me.                          [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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