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Down the grass-path grey with dew,

Under the pine-wood, blind with boughs,
Where the swallow never flew

As yet, nor cicale dared carouse

Dared carouse !

[She enters the street.

I.-MORNING. Up the Hill-side, inside the Shrub-house.
Wife, OTTIMA, and her Paramour, the German SEBALD.

Seb. (sings.) Let the watching lids wink!

Day's a-blaze with eyes, think—
Deep into the night, drink!

LUCA'S

Otti. Night? Such may be your Rhine-land nights, perhaps ;

But this blood-red beam through the shutter's chink,
-We call such light, the morning's: let us see!
Mind how you grope your way, though! How these tall
Naked geraniums straggle! Push the lattice—
Behind that frame!-Nay, do I bid you?-Sebald,
It shakes the dust down on me! Why, of course
The slide-bolt catches.—Well, are you content,
Or must I find you something else to spoil?

Kiss and be friends, my Sebald! Is it full morning?
Oh, don't speak then!

Seb.

Ay, thus it used to be!
Ever your house was, I remember, shut
Till mid-day-I observed that, as I strolled
On mornings thro' the vale here: country girls
Were noisy, washing garments in the brook-
Hinds drove the slow white oxen up the hills--

But no, your house was mute, would ope no eye—
And wisely-you were plotting one thing there,
Nature, another outside: I looked up-
Rough white wood shutters, rusty iron bars,
Silent as death, blind in a flood of light;
Oh, I remember!—and the peasants laughed
And said, "The old man sleeps with the young wife!
This house was his, this chair, this window-his!

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Otti. Ah, the clear morning! I can see St. Mark's: That black streak is the belfry. Stop: Vicenza Should lie . . . There's Padua, plain enough, that blue! Look o'er my shoulder-follow my finger

Seb.

It seems to me a night with a sun added:

Morning?

Where's dew? where 's freshness? That bruised plant,

I bruised

In getting thro' the lattice yestereve,

Droops as it did. See, here's my elbow's mark

In the dust on the sill.

Otti.

Oh shut the lattice, pray!

Seb. Let me lean out. Foul as the morn may be

I cannot scent blood here,

There, shut the world out!

How do you feel now, Ottima? There-curse

The world, and all outside!

Let us throw off

This mask: how do you bear yourself? Let's out

With all of it!

Otti.

Best never speak of it.

Seb. Best speak again and yet again of it,

Till words cease to be more than words.

66

"His blood,"

For instance-let those two words mean His blood"

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Seb.

Notice-I'll say them now,

Assuredly if I repented

Repent? who should repent, or why ?

What puts that in your head? Did I once say

That I repented?

Otti.

No-I said the deed

Seb. "The deed," and "the event❞—just now it was "Our passion's fruit "the devil take such cant!

Say, once and always, Luca was a wittol,

I am his cut-throat, you are

Otti.

Here is the wine

I brought it when we left the house above

And glasses too-wine of both sorts. Black? white, then?
Seb. But am not I his cut-throat? What are you?
Otti. There, trudges on his business from the Duomo
Benet the Capuchin, with his brown hood

And bare feet-always in one place at church,
Close under the stone wall by the south entry;
I used to take him for a brown cold piece

Of the wall's self, as out of it he rose

To let me passat first, I say, I used—
Now-so has that dumb figure fastened on me-
I rather should account the plastered wall
A piece of him, so chilly does it strike.
This, Sebald?

Seb.

No-the white wine-the white wine!

Well, Ottima, I promised no new year

Should rise on us the ancient shameful way,
Nor does it rise: pour on! To your black eyes!
you remember last damned New Year's day?

Do

Otti. You brought those foreign prints. We looked

at them

Over the wine and fruit. I had to scheme

To get him from the fire.

Nothing but saying

His own set wants the proof-mark, roused him up

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your life

Fondle me, then! who means to take

For that, my Sebald?

Seb.

Hark you, Ottima,

One thing's to guard against. We'll not make much
One of the other-that is, not make more
Parade of warmth, childish officious coil,
Than yesterday as if, sweet, I supposed
Proof upon proof was needed now, now first,
To show I love you—yes, still love you-love you
In spite of Luca and what 's come to him
-Sure sign we had him ever in our thoughts,
White sneering old reproachful face and all!
We'll even quarrel, love, at times, as if
We still could lose each other-were not tied
By this-conceive you?

Otti.

Seb.

Love

Not tied so sure

Because tho' I was wrought upon-have struck
His insolence back into him-

-am I

So surely yours?-therefore, forever yours?

Otti. Love, to be wise, (one counsel pays another)
Should we have-months ago-when first we loved,
For instance that May morning we two stole
Under the green ascent of sycamores-

If we had come upon a thing like that
Suddenly-

Seb. "A thing".. there again-" a thing!"
Otti. Then, Venus' body, had we come upon
My husband Luca Gaddi's murdered corpse
Within there, at his couch-foot, covered close-
Would you have pored upon it? Why persist
In poring now upon it? For 'tis here-
As much as there in the deserted house-
You cannot rid your eyes of it: for me,
Now he is dead I hate him worse-I hate-
Dare you stay here? I would go back and hold
His two dead hands, and say, I hate you worse
Luca, than-

Seb.

Off, off; take your hands off mine!

'Tis the hot evening-off! oh, morning, is it?

Otti. There's one thing must be done-you know

what thing.

Come in and help to carry. We may sleep

Anywhere in the whole wide house to-night.

N

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