« ÎnapoiContinuă »
and when the ship was going through the water with all the stress of oars and sails, she struck upon a rock, called the Catee-raze, with such violence that several planks were started, and she instantly began to fill. A boat was immediately lowered, and the Prince was escaping in it, — which he might easily have done, for the shore was at no great distance, when his sister, whom there had been no time to take off, or who in the horror of the moment had been forgotten, shrieked out to him to save her. It was better to die than turn a deaf ear to that call : he ordered the boat to put back and take her in ; but such numbers leapt into it at the same time that the boat was swamped and all perished. The ship also presently went down with all on board : only two persons, the one a young noble, son of Gilbert de Aquila, the other a butcher of Rouen, saved themselves : by climbing the mast, and clinging to the top, they kept their heads above water. Fitzstephens rose after the vessel had sunk, and might have taken the same chance of preservation ; but calling to mind, after the first instinctive effort, that he had been the unhappy 'occasion of this great calamity, and dreading the reproaches, and perhaps the punishment that awaited him, he preferred present death as the least evil. The youth became exhausted during the night ; and commending his poor companion to God's mercy with his last words, he lost his hold, and sunk. The butcher held on till morning, when he was seen from the shore and saved ; and from him, being the only survivor, the circumstances of the tragedy were learnt.
53.—THE WRECK OF THE WHITE SHIP.
Barfleur-near the Harbour. Enter Prince William : Countess de la Perche-Lords, Ladies and Minstrels. Servitors with golden flagons. A confused noise of revelry is heard before they enter.
Prince (crowned with vine-leaves.) Here stand ! There comes a
faintness o'er the sky,
As if it paled to think its joy was over,
At sight of the white moon o'er yonder hill.
Countess. Moonlight is sweetest ever on the sea.
Prince. Then be thou happy, sister, for its horns
Point lovingly for England. To her health !
A brimming cup, brave friends, and then on board !--
Voices. A song! a song !
Prince. Sing, Eustace, with a voice
Fit for our bacchanal ears. We listen. Sing.
The sea foams white o'er rock and shoal,
And gathers to a heap,
Where the wild wind pipes, and the waters roll,
And high o'er the Godwins leap.-
I hate the sea with land on our lea,
A merrier life for me !
A foam I know more dazzling white
Than waves o'er rock and shoal ;
That dances and leaps with bound more light-
Tis the bright wine in our bowl.
I hate the sea with land on our lea,
A merrier life for me !
No rock lurks here, no shoal is found
In all this ocean wide !
But yet if there's one that is born to be drown'd
There's depth enough in this tide.-
I hate the sea with land on our lea,
A merrier life for me.-
Prince. Ill omen'd croaker, with your rock and shoal,
You've cast a shadow o'er my sister's face
That drowns the flush that wine and joy had given.
Countess. I think 'twere better to embark.-
You hecd not what an idle minstrel sings.
Countess. No, William ; I should fear if he were pilot;
His hand would scarcely guide the helra so surely
As now it guides the tune along the chords-
Prince (looking to the harbour.) Hark! mirth on board—'Tis right;
'twere pity, sister,
It happiness were a lubber all his days,
And never went to sea.
I wish, dear brother,
They made not happiness so dolphin-like,
With so much of the fish in't; it may visit
Its native element. Let's stay the right :-
To morrow we shall sail, and if the wind
Blow not the harder, we shall catch the king
A sleeping in the calm.
No! we'll aboard :
And pass the silken sails where dallying winds
Do make their cradle not their working ground;
And scarce the lazy helmsman shall have time
To say an ave 'gainst a witch's presence
Ere the White Ship, with sixty silver oars,
Faint from his vision like a spectral shape ;
And we shall touch the shores of England first,
Tho' Henry gained the start by six good hours.
You fear not, sister ? See how calm the waves !
Lying in lazy folds like the huge snake
We saw, when gorged, coil up its glossy length
And sleep so calmly.
Countess. (alarmed.) Dreaming of fresh food
And ready for the spring. Stay here the night-
You are too happy ; too o’erjoyed, my brother ;
So crowned with these deep vine leaves that their spirit
Has slipt within, and your poor soul lies sleeping
Half buried 'neath the clusters of Champagne !
Prince. Tlien cover it all over ! for no King
E'er rested 'neath so rich a canopy !
But here the Pilot comes. (Enter Pilot). What weather, master,
Hope we to night ?
Pilot (flustered with wine.) I call it not weather at all-
'Tis but the corpse of weather, wanting breath,
As wanting breath man's but the corpse of man-
So as you said, sir—(takes a flagon from servitor and drinks.)
Prince ! my service to ye-
Milksoppy weather-weather only fit
For painted boats; weather, where little maids
Some fifteen years or so, might stretch a helm
Of ostrich plume and steer a nautilus shell
As well as I could steer the good White ship.
Countess (more alarmed.) Have you been long a pilot ?
Never a time.
When I was anything else.
Countess. And know the sea ?
Pilot. As if I had married her like the Doge of Venice ;
And rule her better ;-and care less for her frowns
Than e'er a husband in the realm of France
[ Music and dancing heard on board.
Prince. Away! the sound of merry feet on deck
Beats the pulsed air to music—Your fair hand ;-
Sister-your heart holds a divided blood
Drawn from two founts, one kingly, one a churl's-
Let the red half find mastery in the struggle,
And glow ’mid terror like a rose in snow-
Countess (with an effort.) The daughter of a King knows nought of terror: Come, brother; and the lightest step and voice Shall be your sister's. Prince. Way there ; sound the horn !
Horn is sounded. Exeunt towards the ship.
The Castle in Dover.—Henry.—Hubert of Chester.
Henry. So long detained, and not a wind in heaven
To stir the pear-trec blossom.
Heeds not of wind--Along the shores of France
His Highness, doubtless, draws a line of light
With his ships' gilded prow—and into nooks
And calm recesses where the rivers creep,
Between high flowery banks, his course is borne
Up to the inland levels,—there they'll land
And dance, or sitting round some babbling fountain
Listen to Eustace' songs.
'Twould please me better
If William cared to share our troubles more-
To taste his pleasures less. Once more, I pray you,
Go to the toppling cliff and watch their coming. [Exit Hubert.
We sit in judgment here, and it were fit
Our heir should help this arm now feeble grown,
To bear the upright sword.
Enter Arnulf of Lancaster,— Yvo his son, bound; guards, &c.-
Is there no hope ?
No throb of pity for a father's grief
Within that heart filled with a father's joys?
Henry. Arnulf of Lancaster, if lowlier state
Were ours, we might have ears to hear the throb;
But there's a tumult in the soul of kings
That drowns all voices save the trumpet tongue
Of justice; we have doom'd your son to death.
Yvo. As Heaven bears witness 'twas no treasonous aid I promised to your Norman rebels.
Rests with the Judges who with searching eyes
Viewed the whole cause; their voice pronounced you guilty.— It fits not the King's office to withstand
The course of RIGHT, which as a mighty river,
Passing right onward from the throne of God,
Enriches every land through which it flows!
Woe be to him who checks that sacred stream,
Diverts it, stains it—or to fraudulent use
Turns its clear waters. They have doom'd your death:
I meddle not. I stir not.
Oh my liege!-
He is mine only son. I say no word
Against the justice that has spoke the doom;
You are a King. Ah sir, you are a father
Now greyed with age as I am; we were young
Together, and our sons were friends and playmates ;-
If, as a King, your hand obdurate holds
The unbending scale, let Yvo owe his life
To mercy to the sweet companionship
"Tween him and princely William.
Let me at least have room for secret speech
Henry. But to shew you that his heart
Is fixed as mine in such a cause as this,
You shall survive his coming by an hour.
But build no hope of safety on delay--
If you were nearer to my blood than he is—
And you, brave Arnulf, were you twice my brother,
Nothing should change his fate. He dies. Retire.
Arnulf. You shall not hear me claim your ruth again.
Come, son,-you've ever been my pride, my hope,
And now I see you dying pulse by pulse,
I would, sir king, I had known how hard your heart
Ere I had emptied these poor veins of blood
In Brenneville field-and you, my gallant Yvo,
You bled there too. I take you in my arms
And plant this woman's kiss upon your bro
Where late your dying mother's lips were placed;
Then to my lonely home, and desolate hearth.
Come Yvo-If the time should e'er arrive
That one soft word would save your William's life
I pray you think of this
[they are retiring, Henry.
I cannot bend-
Enter Hubert-hurriedly-a Mariner.
Hubert. Oh sir, prepare !-encase your soul in steel
For fierce and biting as a falchion's blade
The dreadful news I bring-
A prisoner ?-
Hubert. Oh worse !-imprisoned in such binding chains
That nought shall loose them till the judgment day!
Henry. How? dead ?
Even so—Here stands a man whose tongue
Shall frame the words mine has no power to utter
Henry. (to the Mariner.) Speak, and be bold ; stand not in breathless
There is no greatness in a sonless King.
Mariner. 'Tis grief not fear. Last night the crescent moon
Looked down on a calm deep without a wave
Doubtful of which was heaven and which was sea :
On the smooth water glided the White Ship
With mirth and music filling all the air-
My lord the Prince and Countess de la Perche-
Henry. My Marie too !-proceed-
-Headed the band
Of Knights and noble ladies in the dance;
Goblets went round, and from the fiery lip
Of passion gush'd, at times, the stream of song.
Seated in groups, hiding them from the moon
Behind the shadowing mast, the brave and fair
Looked o'er the side and counted as they dript
The pearls that sparkled from the chiming oars,
Or talked of home, and pressed each other's hands.
Sudden a shock startled that happy dream!
The blinded Helmsman reeling from his cup,
Looked round in vain. Another shock! Ah me!
And the white ship groan'd like a living thing
As the black waters rushed within her planks,
And mingled with the screams and shouts and fears
That filled all hearts and ears. But soon a boat
Was hauled to th’ side ;—within it stept the Prince,-
And ere the rest could follow, the brave crew
Which manned it, pushed away ;-a look he cast
On the now reeling ship, and at the side
-Her clasp'd hands raised within the calm moon light,
And nothing saying,—the young Countess stood :
“ Back ! back again !” we heard Prince William say
My sister must be saved or I will die."
Henry. Thank God for that!
And back he forced the boat, -
But when within the spring of desperate men,
The small boat came, leaping as if from death,
But finding death more surely by their leap,
Knight, noble, seaman-aye, the timorous maid