|Sullivan > Major Works > The Beauty Stone > Web Opera > Act II
SAIDA rises and slowly approaches PHILIP. She is about to lay her hand upon his arm enticingly, when a white-haired SENESCHAL appears, entering from the left.
SENES. My lord —
PHILIP (rising, eagerly). What! is she come?
SENES. The weaver's daughter, my lord?
PHILIP. Aye, and no worse for being daughter to a weaver.
SENES. My lord, the maid entered the castle an hour agone.
PHILIP. By St. Paul! think ye she is commanded hither to be so slighted? Is it not fit that her name should be called aloud by thee?
SENES. Truly, my lord, but thou didst charge the women to apparel this maid becomingly, and fingers are but fingers, ply as busily as they may.
PHILIP (turning away). I had forgot.
SENES. (following him). My lord, I broke in upon the game to tell thee the gallant Sir Baldwyn of Ath is arrived.
PHILIP (impatiently). See him rested and refreshed.
SENES. Nay, he rideth in hot haste as herald summoning all valiant men to Maestricht, to the standard of Duke John of Burgundy.
PHILIP. Bid him ride on then. And summon thou the weaver's daughter. My patience is out.
He resumes his game at the table as GUNTRAN and BALDWYN — the latter disordered
SAIDA. (aside to GUNTRAN, in bitter mockery). Nay, Guntran, if my lord Philip is to set forth to Maestricht, 'tis a stout horse will be needed for the burden methinks.
SAIDA. Yea, I promise you he will not budge unless a certain bold wench rides pillion behind him.
GUNTRAN (in her ear). Why, madam, art thou for Maestricht.
SAIDA. (with clenched hands). Thou knowest I speak of the weaver's daughter.
GUNTRAN. H'm! she would ride lighter than thou by a dozen years.
SAIDA. Ah! how I hate thee! (She leaves him and returns to her seat by the window.)
GUNTRAN (in a loud voice). Sir Baldwyn of Ath.
PHILIP (rising). He is welcome. (To the card-players.) Give me leave.
The card-players move away and join the knights and ladies in the arcade.
BALDWYN. Philip, lord of Mirlemont, our lord the Duke of Burgundy lies with his host tonight at Flourines. On the morrow he rides straightway to Maestricht, where, as thou know'st, the good Bishop is besieged by the accursed rebel-rout from Liége.
PHILIP. Well, sir?
BALDWYN. Sir, the Duke doth enjoin all those of authority that are not yet under his banner to set out at dawn with their retinues, and such followers as they can levy, for Maestricht. The lords of Sirault, of Velaines, and St. Sauveur are already hitherward, and I pray that they may lie here tonight within the castle of Mirlemont.
PHILIP. They are not less welcome than thyself.
BALDWYN. Another word. Remembering the gallant days of thy youth, when thou didst face with him the Paynim hordes, the Duke would know thee still for one of spirit and valour. Come, lord, wilt not bear thine own answer to Duke John?
GUNTRAN. Say'st thou?
PHILIP. Carry thou my answer, Baldwyn of Ath. I am a man of peace in these days, not of war.
GUNTRAN. Now would I were deaf!
PHILIP. I say I would not have our fair land made sore and ugly by the waste of battle. By Heaven and St. Bavon, I cry Peace — peace that shall scatter with untiring hands the seeds of beauty.
GUNTRAN (an imprecation). Beauty! beauty!
PHILIP. Aye, Guntran, 'tis my watchword — Peace and Beauty! Look that Sir Baldwyn be well tended. (Turning away.) The minstrels! Strike the lutes! (He joins his knights and the ladies under the arcade.)
BALDWYN. And this was a brave man, that now pillows his head upon rose-leaves! To horse!
He goes out quickly, on the left, followed by GUNTRAN. From the arcade comes
DEVIL (to himself). Beauty! beauty, beauty, beauty!
JACQUELINE, gaily and prettily attired as a boy, enters, a little unsteadily, with
DEVIL (steadying her). What, my little Jacques! Hast supped, eh?
JACQ. Supped! oh, right well, master!
DEVIL. Are the meats rich?
JACQ. Rich — and plenty.
DEVIL. And the wine?
JACQ. Why, there is a fountain of burgundy that plays in the dining-hall; it sends up jets of rubies. I did dip my cup into its basin and drink my fill. Ha, ha, ha, ha!
DEVIL (slapping her on the shoulder). Ha, ha, ha!
SAIDA. (coming to JACQUELINE). Boy.
JACQ. (bowing low). My duty, madam.
SAIDA. (stroking JACQUELINE's head). Pretty boy. (To the DEVIL.) Have I your leave?
DEVIL (bowing). Sweet lady!
SAIDA (to JACQUELINE). Boy, go you to my women. Bid them do on their dancing shoon, and to assemble upon the terrace. For to-night we dance before the lord Philip.
JACQ. Dance! oh, beautiful lady!
SAIDA. Hence! (JACQUELINE runs out, on the right.)
DEVIL. Dance, madam?
SAIDA. Aye, good friend — for so thou hast professed thyself.
DEVIL. And truly.
SAIDA. Dance! dance! dance! 'twas thus I first gained my lord's favour.
DEVIL. And 'tis thus thou wilt regain him, doubtless. Thy ripe charms against this shoot of maidenhood, hey? To it, madam, to it!
SAIDA (sinking on to a seat). Nay, but of late my limbs have lost some of their suppleness, I ween. Oh!
DEVIL (beside her). 'Tis hard. Such a common girl!
SAIDA. Who to-day was a cripple, the jeer of the town.
DEVIL. These miracles! they put one out of reckoning.
SAIDA. She shall yet be burnt for a witch. Will show thee that sport in Mirlemont, sir Count. Burnt!
DEVIL (shaking his head sadly). Nay, 'twould be no novelty. I've seen so much o' that sort o' thing in my time. Natheless I do marvel, like thyself, whether 'tis holy miracle or naughty charm that hath wrought this strange transformation.
SAIDA. I swear 'tis a devil's charm brewed by the weaver's hag-wife.
DEVIL. Sooth, I fear so.
SAIDA (rising and pacing the apartment). Therefore shall they be burnt — the daughter, and all her folk to boot.
DEVIL. What! and their secret with 'em?
SAIDA. (pausing). Why, 'tis likely.
DEVIL. Tush! thou must play more cunningly. Dear lady, if the Devil be i' the bounteous mood, I counsel thee to put aside thy pious distaste for his doings.
SAIDA. That would I, to be as lovely as this maid; and once again as fresh, to my lord's eye.
DEVIL. Come then! if charm there be in all this, 'tis thou must possess the mystery.
SAIDA. Wilt aid me?
DEVIL. Yea, or any distressful dame.
SAIDA. I thank thee, sir Count. An' if I fail to wrest the secret from the weaver's daughter, I will kill myself ere my lord shall miss the glow of summer from my cheeks. The tinkling of the lutes ceases.)
DEVIL. Nay, be hopeful.
SAIDA. Aye, and light o' foot. To-night will I keep sway without help o' the devil! The dance!
PHILIP returns, and the knights and ladies are seen gathered in the arcade.
PHILIP. Saida, what do thy women here?
SAIDA (caressingly, in his ear). Sweetheart, I have bethought me — while this pretty guest is attiring, I will dance before thee, to stay our impatience.
PHILIP. 'Tis a good thought. (To the knights and dames.) The lady Saida dances, to pleasure us.
He seats himself upon the throne-chair, but with a heavy brow. The knights and
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