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SCENE.The garden of SEBASTIAN's palace. On the

right a flight of broad steps leading to the palace ; on the left a stone seat.

ARNFELD discovered alone.

ARNFELD.

A malediction on the luckless hour
That led me to the halls of Schlafenstein,
To slave for this grim Duchess and her Duke!
A prince's court forsooth! A fiddlestick !
By Heaven, 'tis duller than the catacombs,
Without their quiet. Do I walk in sleep,
Or are we, in our antique garniture,

B

Forgotten travellers of an age outworn,
Left on the wayside by the wheels of time,
That
pass
and pass

us ? Oh, to play the man !
Come danger, revolution, anything,
Better than one bare swamp of nothingness,
Dotted with countless nothings for events !
And this old tattered windmill of a State-
Her sails stock-still, or only worked for show,
Click-clack, with idle winnowings of the air !
And see! what shifts to patch the paltry sham !
Why, here am I, a simple gentleman,
Count Arnfeld, chamberlain and chancellor,
Premier and Privy Council all in one,
Paymaster of the force, high almoner
(A title with no duties for the nonce),
My lady's messenger to all and some,
And scarce a doit to do with! What of that
Beside the thriftless, hard, unhappy lives,
All toil, no pleasures, and alas ! no pay,
Led by our starving peasants? Were it not
For that sweet maid, the rose of Schlafenstein,
Fair blossom grafted on a graceless stem,
Who loves the poor-well, that is every one-
The light and fragrance of their dark, foul lives,
I would— What would I ? lead them to revolt ?
I know not, and belike 'tis fortunate
Arnfeld lacks time to think what he would do.
Well, I may snatch one moment for repose,
Now, while Prince Rudolph's love-ambassadors
Crave private audience—that's a mighty match,
If he be worthy, and her will be free;
But should she leave us, how could I endure
This multitude of petty miseries ?
The “Arnfeld !” here, and " Arnfeld !” there--

CLARISSA (behind the scene).

Count Arnfeld !

Enter CLARISSA.

ARNFELD.
Ah! that's another voice! Mistress Clarissa!
Why, how now? Never did you look so pale.

CLARISSA.

Count Arnfeld, I came early to the copse-
By the south entrance—where the clearing is-
The Princess sent me, to pick flowers for Klein's
Poor dying daughter—she must have them wild-
When suddenly I overheard them say—--

ARNFELD.

Heard whom ?

CLARISSA.

66

The woodcutters—“We will have bread : If he refuse us-- Then they muttered low; Till the cry rose, “ Fell no more timber, men ; Fell root and branch, the stock of Schlafenstein ! ” I tarried not the rest. Oh, here they come !

ARNFELD.

Child, get you quickly in, but let no breath
Of these wild rumours reach your lady's ear !
Farewell. Be secret ; leave the rest to me.

[Exit CLARISSA. Are rash ejaculations heard in heaven? My prayer for peril brings its answer quick.

Enter several Woodcutters, with axes, billhooks, etc.

Now, my men, this is a brave trick to frighten ladies with ; or is it, perchance, a merry frolic for the Princess on her betrothal-day ? Her Highness will be grateful for this proof of your allegiance; she ever loved the people, as you all know; and it is but meet you show the envoys of the Prince, her future lord,

ز

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