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NICHOLAS. Ho, Philip, Lord of Mirlemont, of Renaix, and of Acquelle! please Heaven and the Saints to grant thee long life! Lo you now! we, the Burgomaster, and the aldermen, and the office-holders of Mirlemont, have, at thy command, by proclamation, summoned hither the most personable females that do dwell within or without thy proper township. And truly these trusty eyne have ne'er before been so feasted and regaled —

PHILIP. Good Burgomaster, but these beauties wither whiles you discourse.

SAIDA (to herself).Would they could!

DEVIL (to SAIDA). Eh, madam?

SAIDA. I spake not, sir.

NICHOLAS (at the inn door). Will display them instantly. (Loudly.) Ho, beauties, come forth! (He enters the inn. )

GUNTRAN (to PHILIP). Prithee be at ease; this cattle hath been well fed, waiting your presence.

PHILIP (rising in anger). Peace, Guntran!

SAIDA (joining him as he paces to and fro). Guntran saith wisely — cattle. And must thou do thy branding, in sight of all!

PHILIP. Why, thy tongue is as rough as Guntran's. Come, sweet gossip! I tell thee 'tis but wisdom to freshen the sense upon what this dull world holds of loveliness; the zest of life droops else. Therefore, an't will not pleasure thee, grudge me not the sight of this posse of simple maids with their sun-kissed faces and lips like the ripe fruit o' the earth.

SAIDA. The low-born wenches!

PHILIP. Nay, beauty maketh its own degree.

SAIDA (in his ear). Am I not beautiful enow for thee? Thou didst once swear so.

PHILIP. Truly. Yet, because a man wears a rare flower in's jerkin, shall he not glance at humbler blossoms by the wayside?

SAIDA (intensely). My love, I cannot bear thee — to glance.

PHILIP. Tush! Paragon, what has thou to fear? Ah! cometh the show.

NICHOLAS returns, followed by the maidens competing for the prize of beauty. PHILIP
and SAIDA return to their places, while NICHOLAS busies himself in marshalling the competitors. Then, under his direction, certain of them advance, in turn, and pass

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