Don Bernard’s house.
(Leonora; Julio; Henriquez; Don Bernard; Churchman; Ladies Attending on Leonora; Servants)
Leonora has waited for a reply from Julio, but receiving none is frantic, worrying that Julio has given her up to Henriquez. Julio enters in disguise, however, and they reassure each other of their love, though as they hear the musicians tuning for Leonora’s wedding ceremony they realize there is little time for them to decide what to do. Julio threatens to kill Henriquez, but Leonora points out that this would not improve matters. Julio has no better thoughts, but Leonora has considered matters, and hides him behind a tapestry, warning him not to emerge, no matter what. She threatens to kill herself if he disobeys. The doors open to show the large hall and chapel where the wedding is to take place. Henriquez tells Leonora to cheer up, but she launches into a diatribe against him and fidelity. Don Bernard accuses her of madness. Despite her speech, however, Don Bernard grabs her and forces her to take hands with Henriquez — but at that moment Julio steps out from behind the arras and makes his claim. Henriquez pulls rank, reminding Julio that he was sent to court at his command, and that it is treason for him to return without permission, but Julio replies that the injury Henriquez has done him is stronger than allegiance. Julio attempts to seize Julio, but Henriquez has him thrown out by the servants. Leonora faints, and as the men crowd around her to revive her they find a suicide note she had written in case she needed to kill herself to avoid marrying Henriquez, as well as the dagger with which she planned to do the deed. They have her carried to her chamber, and Henriquez assures Don Benard that with Julio gone, Leonora will soon come around. (191 lines)
I’ve hoped to th’ latest minute hope can give:
He will not come: h’as not receiv’d my letter:
May be, some other view has from our home
Repeal’d his chang’d eye: for what business can
Excuse a tardiness thus willfull? None.
Well then, it is not business.—Oh! That letter,—
I say, is not deliver’d; or he’s sick;
Or, O suggestion, wherefore wilt thou fright me?
Julio does to Henriquez on mere purpose,
On plotted purpose, yield me up; and he
Hath chose another mistress. All presumptions
Make pow’rful to this point: his own protraction,
Henriquez left behind;—that strain lack’d jealousy,
Therefore lack’d love. So sure as life shall empty
It self in death, this new surmise of mine
Is a bold certainty. ’Tis plain, and obvious,
Henriquez would not, durst not, thus infringe
The law of friendship; thus provoke a man,
That bears a sword, and wears his flag of youth
As fresh as he: he durst not: ’tis contrivance,
Gross-dawbing ’twixt them both. But I’m o’erheard.
Enter Julio, disguised.
Stay, Leonora; has this outward veil
Quite lost me to thy knowledge?
O my Julio!
Thy presence ends the stern debate of doubt,
And cures me of a thousand heartsick fears,
Sprung from thy absence: yet awakes a train
Of other sleeping terrors. Do you weep?
No, Leonora; when I weep, it must be
The substance of mine eye. Would I could weep;
For then mine eye would drop upon my heart,
And ’suage the fire there.
You are full possess’d
How things go here. First, welcome heartily;
Welcome to th’ ending of my last good hour:
Now summer bliss and gawdy days are gone,
My lease in ’em ’s expir’d.
Not so, Leonora.
Yes, Julio, yes; an everlasting storm
Is come upon me, which I can’t bear out.
I cannot stay much talk; we have lost leisure;
And thus it is: your absence hath giv’n breeding
To what my letter hath declar’d, and is
This instant on th’ effecting, hark!
Is now on tuning, which must celebrate
This bus’ness so discordant. Tell me then,
What you will do.
I know not what: advise me.
I’ll kill the traitor.
O! Take heed: his death
Betters our cause no whit. No killing, Julio.
My blood stands still; and all my faculties
Are by enchantment dull’d. You gracious pow’rs,
The guardians of sworn faith, and suff’ring virtue,
Inspire prevention of this dreaded mischief!
This moment is our own; let’s use it, love,
And fly o’th’ instant from this house of woe.
Alas! Impossible: my steps are watch’d;
There’s no escape for me. You must stay too.
What! Stay, and see thee ravish’d from my arms?
I’ll force thy passage. Wear I not a sword?
Ne’er on man’s thigh rode better. If I suffer
The traitor play his part; if I not do
Manhood and justice, honor; let me be deem’d
A tame, pale, coward, whom the night owl’s hoot
May turn to aspen leaf: some man take this,
Give me a distaff for it.
And trust to me: I have fore-thought the means
To disappoint these nuptials.
These are the bells knoll for us. See, the lights
Move this way, Julio. Quick, behind yon arras,
And take thy secret stand. Dispute it not;
I have my reasons, you anon shall know them:
There you may mark the passages of the night.
Yet, more:—I charge you by the dearest ties,
Whate’er you see, or hear, whate’er shall hap,
In your concealment rest a silent statue.
Nay, hide thee straight,—or, see, I’m arm’d and vow
Shews a dagger.
To fall a bleeding sacrifice before thee.
Thrusts him out, to the arras.
I dare not tell thee of my purpose, Julio,
Lest it should wrap thee in such agonies,
Which my love could not look on.
Scene opens to a large hall: an altar prepared with tapers.
Enter at one door servants with lights, Henriquez, Don Bernard, and Churchman. At another, Ladies Attending on Leonora.
Henriquez runs to her.
Why, Leonora, wilt thou with this gloom
Darken my triumph; suff’ring discontent,
And wan displeasure, to subdue that cheek
Where love should sit enthron’d? Behold your slave;
Nay, frown not; for each hour of growing time
Shall task me to thy service, ’till by merit
Of dearest love I blot the low-born Julio
From thy fair mind.
So I shall make it foul;
This counsel is corrupt.
Come, you will change.
Why would you make a wife of such a one,
That is so apt to change? This foul proceeding
Still speaks against itself, and vilifies
The purest of your judgment. For your birth’s sake
I will not dart my hoarded curses at you,
Nor give my meanings language: for the love
Of all good things together, yet take heed,
And spurn the tempter back.
I think, you’re mad. Perverse, and foolish, wretch!
How may I be obedient, and wise too?
Of my obedience, sir, I cannot strip me;
Nor can I then be wise: grace against grace!
Ungracious, if I not obey a father;
Most perjur’d, if I do. Yet, lord, consider,
Or e’er too late, or e’er that knot be tied,
Which may with violence damnable be broken,
No other way dissever’d: yet consider,
You wed my body, not my heart, my lord;
No part of my affection. Sounds it well,
That Julio’s love is lord Henriquez’ wife;
Have you an ear for this harsh sound?
No shot of reason can come near the place,
Where my love’s fortified. The day shall come,
Wherein you’ll chide this backwardness, and bless
Our fervour in this course.
No, no, Henriquez,
When you shall find what prophet you are prov’d,
You’ll prophesie no more.
Have done this talking,
If you will cleave to your obedience, do’t;
If not, unbolt the portal, and be gone;
My blessing stay behind you.
Sir, your pardon:
I will not swerve a hair’s breadth from my duty;
It shall first cost me dear.
Well then, to th’ point:
Give me your hand. My honor’d lord, receive
My daughter of me,—nay, no dragging back,
But with my curses; whom I frankly give you,
And wish you joy and honor.
As Don Bernard goes to give Leonora to Henriquez, Julio advances from the arras, and steps between.
Hold, Don Bernard,
Mine is the elder claim.
What are you, sir?
A wretch, that’s almost lost to his own knowledge,
Struck through with injuries.—
Ha! Julio? Hear you,
Were you not sent on our commands to court?
Order’d to wait your fair dismission thence?
And have you dared, knowing you are our vassal,
To steal away unpriviledg’d, and leave
My business and your duty unaccomplish’d?
Ungen’rous lord! The circumstance of things
Should stop the tongue of question. You have wrong’d me;
Wrong’d me so basely, in so dear a point,
As stains the cheek of honor with a blush;
Cancells the bonds of service; bids allegiance
Throw to the wind all high respects of birth,
Title, and eminence; and, in their stead,
Fills up the panting heart with just defiance.
If you have sense of shame, or justice, lord,
Forego this bad intent; or with your sword
Answer me like a man, and I shall thank you.
Julio once dead, Leonora may be thine;
But, living, she’s a prize too rich to part with.
Vain man! The present hour is fraught with business
Of richer moment. Love shall first be serv’d:
Then, if your courage hold to claim it of me,
I may have leisure to chastise this boldness.
Nay, then I’ll seize my right.
What, here, a brawl?
My servants,—turn this boist’rous sworder forth;
And see he come not to disturb our joys.
Hold, dogs!—Leonora,—coward, base, Henriquez!
Julio is seized, and dragged out by the servants.
She dies upon me; help!
Leonora swoons; as they endeavour to recover her, a paper drops from her.
Throng not about her;
But give her air.
What paper’s that? Let’s see it.
It is her own handwriting.
Bow her head:
’Tis but her fright; she will recover soon.
What learn you by that paper, good my lord?
That she would do the violence to herself,
Which nature hath anticipated on her.
What dagger means she? Search her well, I pray you.
Here is the dagger.—Oh, the stubborn sex,
Rash ev’n to madness!
Bear her to her chamber:
Life flows in her again.—Pray, bear her hence:
And tend her, as you would the world’s best treasure.
Women carry Leonora off.
Don Bernard, this wild tumult soon will cease,
The cause remov’d; and all return to calmness.
Passions in women are as short in working,
As strong in their effect. Let the priest wait:
Come, go we in: my soul is all on fire;
And burns impatient of this forc’d delay.
Exeunt; and the scene closes.