|Sullivan > Major Works > The Beauty Stone > Web Opera > Act I
PHILIP (holding up his hand). Rest! a pause! (To those seated around him, with a frown.) Say you?
SAIDA. Ha! (To the DEVIL.) Those from the alley or from the dyke-side — which are the more graceless, sir Count?
PHILIP (impatiently). What, are they not passable?
DEVIL. Sooth, sir, I have seen no girl yet, for her freckles. (The knights and the ladies laugh.)
SAIDA. Yea, these raw-bones are for a winter's ever, when the candles smoulder and the wood flickers.
DEVIL. E'en then such noses would cast most monstrous shadows. (Another laugh.)
PHILIP (rising angrily). A truce! (To NICHOLAS.) Good Burgomaster, I trow our Flanders maids are richer in virtue than in beauty. Give them ten groats apiece, and set their ill-made faces homeward. I am a-weary.
NICHOLAS. Nay, I do entreat your lordship! In sooth the wenches are but a sorry batch, but 'tis holiday and the folk are here to see thee bestow the wreath and girdle. This is to cheat them of their sport.
DEVIL (advancing to them). Sir, may I speak? I do propose, in pure merriment, that sith there is so little beauty to be gathered in Mirlemont we do ensample the town's ugliness. Ha, ha! I have perceived a most knavish dwarf i' the crowd.
NICHOLAS. 'Tis Peppin; an excellent and loathsome dwarf.
DEVIL. Cry therefore an end to this mummery of beauty, and, for sport, let these honest folk witness the betrothal of this misbegotten little fellow to the uncomeliest maid in Mirlemont. Know you of a fit mate for the dwarf, sir Burgomaster?
NICHOLAS. Truly, do I — one Laine, daughter of the weaver Limal. Their house is in yonder foul alley. By St. Bavon, a choice notion!
PHILIP (to the DEVIL). What! I rode hither to find beauty, and you would make me an instrument in the breeding of monsters .
DEVIL. Ha, ha, ha! for a jest! a jest!
PHILIP. Play out the time then in this grisly fashion, an' you list. (To NICHOLAS.) Give the dwarf's mate fifty — an hundred groats, for portion, (impatiently) and let me to horse. (PHILIP joins SAIDA, who claps her hands delightedly. )
DEVIL (following PHILIP). Use despatch, sir Burgomaster.
NICHOLAS (to the populace). Ho, worthy people of Mirlemont! the lord Philip doth declare these maids to be of beauty so equal that no one of them may lay her claim to the wreath and girdle offered for prize. (There is a murmur of discontent from the crowd.)Hold your peace till you have heard! The Lord of Mirlemont doth graciously bestow upon each and every maid the sum of ten groats. (A murmur of approval.) And further, that ye shall not be defrauded of your full sport, the lord Philip, out of the lightness of his heart, doth grant an hundred groats for portion unto the maid, whomsoe'er ye shall deem her to be, that is the ugliest in all Mirlemont, commanding her to appear before him on the instant, and to make her vows of betrothal here in your presence, with the dwarf Peppin Swertz. (Cries of satisfaction and delight.) Come forward, Peppin, thou most unsightly knave. (PEPPIN is pushed forward; he makes his obeisance to PHILIP. From the crowd there is a murmur, gathering in force till it becomes a shout, of "Laine! Laine! Laine Limal!") Beshrew me, but you follow mine own thought! The weaver's cripple! Laine Limal!
A party of men and girls rush up the alley. Some one in the crowd gives PEPPIN a
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