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Your courage helps mine: you did well to speak
To-night, the night that crowns your twelvemonths' toil:
But still I had not waited to discern

Your heart so long, believe me! From the first
The source of so much zeal was almost plain,
In absence even of your own words just now
Which opened out the truth. "T is very strange,
But takes a happy ending

- in

your

love

Which mine meets : be it so! as you choose me,
So I choose you.

Nor.

And worthily you choose.
I will not be unworthy your esteem,
No, madam. I do love you; I will meet
Your nature, now I know it. This was well.
you dare and you are justified:

I see,

But none had ventured such experiment,
Less versed than you in nobleness of heart,
Less confident of finding such in me.

I joy that thus you test me ere you grant
The dearest richest beauteousest and best
Of women to my arms: 't is like yourself.
So back again into my part's set words
Devotion to the uttermost is yours,

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But no, you cannot, madam, even you,
Create in me the love our Constance does.
Or something truer to the tragic phrase -
Not yon magnolia-bell superb with scent
Invites a certain insect that's myself -
But the small eye-flower nearer to the ground.
I take this lady.

Con.

Stay, Norbert

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- that mistake were worst of all!

He is too cunning, madam! It was I,
I, Norbert, who

Nor.

You, was it, Constance? Then,

But for the grace of this divinest hour

Which gives me you, I might not pardon here!
I am the Queen's; she only knows my brain:
She may experiment therefore on my heart
And I instruct her too by the result.

But you, Sweet, you who know me, who so long
Have told my heartbeats over, held my life
In those white hands of yours, it is not well!
Con. Tush! I have said it, did I not say it all?
The life, for her the heartbeats, for her sake!
Nor. Enough! my cheek grows red, I think. Your test?

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There's not the meanest woman in the world,
Not she I least could love in all the world,
Whom, did she love me, did love prove itself,
I dared insult as you insult me now.
Constance, I could say, if it must be said,
"Take back the soul you offer, I keep mine!

But- "Take the soul still quivering on your hand,
The soul so offered, which I cannot use,

And, please you, give it to some playful friend,
what's the trifle he requites me with?"

For

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I, tempt a woman, to amuse a man,

That two may mock her heart if it succumb?
No: fearing God and standing 'neath his heaven,
I would not dare insult a woman so,

Were she the meanest woman in the world,
And he, I cared to please, ten emperors!
Con. Norbert!

Nor.

I love once as I live but once.

What case is this to think or talk about?

I love you.

Would it mend the case at all

Should such a step as this kill love in me?
Your part were done: account to God for it!
But mine could murdered love get up again,

And kneel to whom you please to designate,

And make you mirth? It is too horrible.

You did not know this, Constance? now you know

That body and soul have each one life, but one:

And here's my love, here, living, at your feet.

Con. See the Queen! Norbert-this one more last word

If thus you have taken jest for earnest - thus
Loved me in earnest

Ah, no jest holds here!

Nor.
Where is the laughter in which jest breaks up,
And what this horror that grows palpable?
Madam - why grasp you thus the balcony?
Have I done ill? Have I not spoken the truth?
How could I other? Was it not your test,

To try me, and what my love for Constance meant?
Madam, your royal soul itself approves,

The first, that I should choose thus! so one takes
A beggar, asks him, what would buy his child?
And then approves the expected laugh of scorn
Returned as something noble from the rags.

Speak, Constance, I'm the beggar! Ha, what's this?
You two glare each at each like panthers now.
Constance, the world fades; only you stand there!

You did not, in to-night's wild whirl of things,

Sell me
No no

your soul of souls, for any price?

Was it your

't is easy to believe in you! love's mad trial to o'ertop Mine by this vain self-sacrifice? well, still Though I should curse, I love you. I am love And cannot change: love's self is at your feet!

[The QUEEN goes out. Con. Feel my heart; let it die against your own! Nor. Against my own. Explain not; let this be! This is life's height.

Con.
Nor.

Yours, yours, yours!

You and I

Why care by what meanders we are here
I' the centre of the labyrinth? Men have died
Trying to find this place, which we have found.
Con. Found, found!

Nor.

We are past harm now.

Con.

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Sweet, never fear what she can do!

On the breast of God.

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What measured heavy tread? It is one blaze

About me and within me.

Nor.

Oh, some death

Will run its sudden finger round this spark

And sever us from the rest!

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And envy, gnash their teeth for hate
O' the warm safe house and happy freight

Thee and me?

III.

God help you, sailors, at your need!
Spare the curse!

For some ships, safe in port indeed,

Rot and rust,

Run to dust,

All through worms i' the wood, which crept,
Gnawed our hearts out while we slept :

That is worse.

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