|Sullivan > Major Works > The Beauty Stone > Web Opera > Act I
Then there is a hubbub, and PEPPIN, the dwarf, rushes in, flying in terror from JACQUELINE, who pursues him. They are followed by the mischievous lads and girls of the first scene. PEPPIN trips and falls, and JACQUELINE belabours him with the weaver's staff. He is rescued by the bystanders, as NICHOLAS DIRCKS, the burgomaster, enters from the "Golden Head."
NICHOLAS. How now, rude people! Know ye not how to bear yourselves when at any moment ye may be within hearing of the lord Philip?
JACQ. Faith, if our behaviour liketh not the lord Philip, let him hie where Lord of Mirlemont should be at the hour of this telling — with his kith and kind at the tails of the Liége rebels.
NICHOLAS. Holy St. Bavon! what sedition is here?
A MATRONLY WOMAN. Worse than sedition, most honourable Burgomaster. Yon she-devil, saving your presence, hath cudgelled the poor dwarf till I doubt he hath a whole bone in's body.
PEPPIN howls; JACQUELINE cuffs him soundly.
NICHOLAS (to JACQUELINE). Peace, unmannerly wench!
JACQ. Sooth, I have but made the manikin pay the price for trying to buss Laine Limal, the weaver's crippled daughter, an hour agone.
NICHOLAS. Beshrew me, a pretty pass! Shall dwarven be denied the small privilege of saluting gallantly such females as are halt and hump-backed? Let heaven's afflicted herd together, an' we be merciful. Hence, trollop, lest I have thee whipped for inhumanity!
JACQ. Whip — whip me! nay, all Mirlemont could not do it!
NICHOLAS (to the bystanders). Stand aloof. I do espy the brave Guntran; I would speak with him. Those attracted by the riot disperse.
GUNTRAN OF BEAUGRANT — grizzled and well on in years, but still upright and stalwart — appears on the steps of the town-hall.
NICHOLAS. God save thee, Sir Guntran!
GUNTRAN (with a grunt — descending the steps). Ugh! for what?
NICHOLAS. 'Mongst other favours, for the witnessing of the glorious show of beauty that the lord Philip hath commanded. I have the maids mustered at this most respectable hostelry, the "Golden Head" —
NICHOLAS. But the lord Philip! 'tis well past the appointed time.
GUNTRAN. Was card-playing with the lady Saida and her demoiselles when I rode from the castle.
GUNTRAN (contemptuously). Bid thy beauties sup milk, lest their skins shrink from fasting and delay.
NICHOLAS. Will do't. (He re-enters the inn.)
The DEVIL, dressed gaily in red, his habit fashioned in the Italian mode, comes from among the crowd and confronts GUNTRAN.
DEVIL. Heaven save you, sir!
GUNTRAN. Again! thou'rt the second to utter that prayer within a dozen breaths. Heaven save you, sir, to pray for my salvation.
DEVIL. Amen. Sir Guntran of Beaugrant?
GUNTRAN. None other.
DEVIL. The right hand of the lord Philip of Mirlemont?
GUNTRAN. Nay, I would not dub myself so for as much wealth as poor soldier could dream.
DEVIL. Why, prithee?
GUNTRAN. Because the right hand of the lord Philip is shamed.
GUNTRAN. Sir, it grasps no sword — (abruptly) but who art thou?
DEVIL (producing some letters). Antonio, Count of Foscano in Lombardy. I bear letters from those that love me, who commend me to all of high estate in Flanders. (Giving the letters to GUNTRAN.) I do desire you, present these to the Lord of Mirlemont.
GUNTRAN. That will I. What quest is thine, sir Count, in Flanders, in these troublous days?
DEVIL. Pleasure, pleasure — naught but pleasure.
GUNTRAN. Ha! thou'lt be welcome at Castle Mirlemont.
DEVIL. Spoke with a most reproving frown, as becometh a man of war.
GUNTRAN. Nay, no such fellow am I, or I stood not here talking with thee. Age is in my bones; my time is past. For all, I am inclined to rust in Mirlemont no longer, but to follow my bent an' I cannot follow this lord's.
DEVIL. War is not to the taste of the Lord of Mirlemont, they whisper.
GUNTRAN. No, by St. Jude! and I that taught him arms, and have loved him as my own, live to say't!
DEVIL. H'm! he is for lighter pastimes?
DEVIL. And those — ? but we talk scandal.
GUNTRAN. The children babble it in Mirlemont. Sir, the mischief lies thus — the lord Philip hath an eye for beauty.
DEVIL. One were blind else. The world is so beautiful.
GUNTRAN. Aye, but it would seem there is naught so beautiful in the world as woman. Therefore he hath an eye for —
DEVIL. Women. Then the gossips speak sooth when they declare this Eastern lady whom he favourites to be most fair?
GUNTRAN. Nay, was — her day is waning. Why, look you, sir Count, these Orients keep not their bloom as do our Northern dames and demoiselles; and this she was renegade from Cephalonia when Philip of Mirlemont sailed thence in the train of the ransomed John of Nevers — and that's not yestere'en.
DEVIL. Yet your lord delighteth in the lady Saida's company?
GUNTRAN. Yea, till fresher flower perfumes the air. By the finger nails of St. Luke, I would they were all drowned!
DEVIL. All — ?
GUNTRAN. All women. (The town bell rings out merrily.) (To the DEVIL.) The cavalcade entereth the North Gate. Follow an' you will.
He re-enters the town-hall. The aldermen and officials also withdraw into the
DEVIL (to himself). And I was on the point of passing by the gates of this Mirlemont, deeming it but a dull hole! Yet within a trice I came upon a vastly interesting cripple; and
JACQ. Who are you?
DEVIL. A gentleman travelling for pleasures.
JACQ. Thy attire is not of our cut.
DEVIL. It was botched in Italy.
JACQ. And where were you botched?
DEVIL. H'm! there or thereabouts.
JACQ. Italy is bright and warm, is't not?
JACQ. How comfortable it must be to dwell in a place that is always warm!
DEVIL. It becomes monotonous.
JACQ (suspiciously).You call yourself a gentleman. (Shaking her head.) Pooh! I fear thou'rt bragging.
DEVIL. What sign belies me?
JACQ. Thou wilt stand here chattering with a poor, mop-headed wench such as I.
DEVIL. A gentleman hath no false pride. Tell me, art content to be so low i' the world?
DEVIL. Yet thou'rt mightily ragged and skinny.
JACQ. (laughing). Ha, ha, ha, ha! Because I will not do the work they put upon girls that are humble and parentless in these parts. Content! yea, am I not free to lie snug every day till the sun has taken the keen edge off the morning? Whatever I am sharp-set, will not Jorian, the baker, chuck me a loaf of bread? And as for sport, can I not run, leap, fight, with any big-boned lad o' the town?
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