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Dialogue following No. 21



Darine. So may I fall if I forsake my trust!
Thy punishment is just. Thou wast a Queen!
What art thou now?
Selene.   I have a kingdom yet!
  I have a kingdom here in Ethais' heart.
A kingdom? Nay, a world — my world — my world!
A world where all is good, and pure, and brave —
A world of noble thought and noble deed —
A world of brave and gentle chivalry —
A very goodly and right gallant world!
This is my kingdom, for I am its Queen!
  [Turning to ETHAIS, who comes down.
Darine. Thou art no Queen of his, for he is mine;
Aye, by the token that thou gavest him,
Thou fond and foolish maiden! (showing ring).
Selene. (looking at it).   No, no, no!
  It is a counterfeit! No, no, Darine!
The punishment of heaven are merciful!
  [Takes ETHAIS' hand to kiss it; she sees that the ring is not there.
  Oh, Ethais!
Is that the ring with which I plighted thee?
Ethais. (sullenly).
  Aye, that's the bauble. I have naught to say!
Selene. (to DARINE).
  It fell from him! Where didst thou find it? Speak!
Ethais. I sold it for a charm, that I might have
An arm to flog a lying cur withal;
A traitor devil, whose false breath had blurred
My knightly honour — dearer to my heart
Than any love of woman, hers or thine!
I had no choice, my honour was at stake!
Selene. Thine honour! Thou dost well to speak of that!
Can devils take the face and form of gods?
Are truth and treachery so near akin
That one can wear the other's countenance?
Are all such men as thou? Or art thou not
Of thine accursed race, the most accursed?
Why, honourable sir, thou art a knight
Who wars with womankind! Thy panoply
A goodly form, smooth tongue, and fair, false face;
Thy shield a lie, thy weapon an embrace.
The emblem of thy skill a broken heart!
Thine is a gallant calling, Ethais!
Thou manly knight — this soul of chivalry —
Thou most discreet and prudent warrior! [He approaches her.
Away, and touch me not! My nature's gone!
May Heaven rain down her fury on thy soul!
May every fibre in that perjured heart
Quiver with love for one who loves thee not!
May thine untrammelled soul at last be caught
And fixed and chained and riveted to one
Who, with the love of Heaven upon her lips
Carries the hate of Hell within her heart!
Ethais. Stay! Hear me out.
'Tis true I trifled with thy love, but then
Thy love is not as mortal woman's love.
I did not know that it would move thee thus!
Selene. Thou didst not know!
Art thou so dull that thou canst understand
No pain that is not wreaked upon thy frame?
Has thou no knowledge of the form of woe
That comes of cheated hopes and trampled hearts?
Ethais. Nay, hear me. I have wronged thee bitterly;
I will atone for all.
Selene.   Thou shalt atone!

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