Page images




Students of Alcalá.

Gentlemen of Madrid.

Count of the Gipsits.

A young Gipsy.



Lara's servant.

Victorian's servant.


A Gipsy girl.

4 poor girl.

The Padre Cura's niece,

Preciosa's maid.
Gipsies, Musicians, dc.

[ocr errors]



The Count OF LARA's chambers. Night. The Count in his dressing-gown,

smoking and conversing with Don CARLOS.

LARA.-You were not at the play to-night, Don Carlos;

How happened it?

I had engagements elsewhere.
Pray, who was there?

Why, all the town and court.
The house was crowded ; and the busy fans
Among the gaily dressed and perfumed ladies
Fluttered like butterflies among the flowers.
There was the Countess of Medina Celi;
The Goblin Lady with her Phantom Lover,
Her Lindo Don Diego; Doña Sol,

And Doña Serafina, and her cousins.
Don CARLOS.-- What was the play?




It was a dull affair;
One of those comedies in which you see,
As Lope says, 20 the history of the world
Brought down from Genesis to the Day of Judgment.
There were three duels fought in the first act,
Three gentlemen receiving deadly wounds,
Laying their hands upon their hearts, and saying,

Oh, I am dead !” a lover in a closet,
An old hidalgo, and a gay Don Juan,
A Doña Inez with a black mantilla,
Followed at twilight by an unknown lover,

Who looks intently where he knows she is not!
Don CARLOS.—Of course, the Preciosa danced to-night!
LARA.—And never better. Every footstep fell

As lightly as a sunbeam on the water.

I think the girl extremely beautiful.
Don Carlos.-Almost beyond the privilege of woman!

I saw her in the Prado yesterday.
Her step was royal, queen-like, -and her face

As beautiful as a saint's in Paradise.
LARA.- May not a saint fall from her Paradise,

And be no more a saint? DON CARLOS.

Why do you ask?
LARA.-Because I have heard it said this angel fell,

And, though she is a virgin outwardly,
Within she is a sinner; like those panels
Of doors and altar-pieces the old monks
Painted in convents, with the Virgin Mary

On the sutside, and on the inside Venus !
Don CARLOS.— You do her wrong; indeed you do her wrong!

She is as virtuous as she is fair.
LARA.—How credulous you are! Why, look you, friend,

There's not a virtuous woman in Madrid,
In this whole city! And would you persuade me
That a mere dancing-girl, who shows herself
Nightly, half-naked, on the stage for money,
And with voluptuous motions fires the blood
Of inconsiderate youth, is to be held

A model for her virtue?

You forget
She is a Gipsy girl.

And therefore won
The easier.
Don Carlos.—. Nay, not to be won at all!

The only virtue that a Gipsy prizes
Is chastity. That is her only virtue.
Dearer than life she holds it. I remember
A Gipsy woman, a vile, shameless bawd,
Whose craft was to betray the young and fair;
And yet this woman was above all bribes.
And when a noble lord, touched by her beauty,
The wild and wizard beauty of her race,
Offered her gold to be what she made others,

She turned upon him with a look of scorn,

And smote him in the face !

And does that prove
That Preciosa is above suspicion?
Don CARLOS.-It proves a nobleman may be repulsed.

When he thinks conquest easy. I believe
That woman, in her deepest degradation,
Holds something sacred, something undefiled,
Some pledge and keepsake of her higher nature,
And, like the diamond in the dark, retains

Some quenchless gleam of the celestial light!
LARA.-Yet Preciosa would have taken the gold.
Don CARLOS (rising).- I do not think so.

I am sure of it.
But why this haste? Stay yet a little longer,

And fight the battles of your Dulcinea.
Don CARLOS.—'Tis late. I must begone; for if I stay

You will not be persuaded.

Yes; persuade me. Don CARLOS. No one so deaf as he who will not hear! LARA.—No one so blind as he who will not see! Don Carlos.—And so good night. I wish you pleasant dreams, And greater faith in woman.

[Exit. LARA.

Greater faith!
I have the greatest faith; for I believe
Victorian is her lover. I believe
That I shall be tomorrow; and thereafter
Another, and another, and another,
Chasing each other through her zodiac,
As Taurus chases Aries.
(Enter FRANCISCO with a casket.)

Well, Francisco,
What speed with Preciosa ?

None, my lord.
She sends your jewels back, and bids me tell you

She is not to be purchased by your gold.
LARA.—Then I will try some other way to win her.

Pray, dost thou know Victorian ?

Yes, my lord;
I saw him at the jeweller's to-day.
LARA.—What was he doing there?

I saw him buy
A golden ring that had a ruby in it.
LARA. Was there another like it?

One so like it,
I could not choose between them.

It is well.
To-morrow morning bring that ring to me.
Do not forget. Now light me to my bed. (E.ceunt.

A street in Madrid.

Enter CAISPA, followed by musicians, with a bagpipe, guitars,

and other instruments. CHISPA.—Abernuncio Satanas !21 and a plague on all lovers who ramble about at night, drinking the elements, instead of sleeping quietly in their beds. Every dead man to his cemetery, say I; and every friar to his monastery. Now, here's my master Victorian, yesterday a cowkeeper, and to-day a gentleman; yesterday a student, and to-day a lover; and I must be up later than the nightingale ; for, as the abbot sings, so must the sacristan respond. God grant he may soon be married, for then shall all this serenading cease. Ay, marry! marry! marry!' Mother, what does marry mean? It means to spin, to bear children, and to weep, my daughter! And, of a truth, there is something more in matrimony than the wedding-ring. [To the musicians.] And now, gentlemen, Pax vobiscum! as the ass said to the cabbages. Pray, walk this way; and don't hang down your heads. It is no disgrace to have an old father and a ragged shirt. Now, look you, you are gentlemen who lead the life of crickets; you enjoy hunger by day and noise by night. Yet, I beseech you, for this once be not loud, but pathetic ; for it is a serenade to a damsel in bed, and not to the Man in the Moon. Your object is not to arouse and terrify, but to soothe and bring lulling dreams. Therefore, each shall not play upon his instrument as if it were the only one in the universe, but ģently, and with a certain modesty, according with the others. Pray, how may I call thy name, friend?

FIRST MUSICIAN.—Gerónimo Gil, at your service.

CHISPA.—Every tub smells of the wine that is in it. Pray, Gerá nimo, is not Saturday an unpleasant day with thee?


CAISPA.—Because I have heard it said that Saturday is an unpleasant day with those who have but one shirt. Moreover, I have seen thee at the tavern; and if thou canst run as fast as thou canst drink, I should like to hunt hares with thee. What instrument is that?

FIRST MUSICIAN.–An Aragonese bagpipe.

CHISPA.—Pray, art thou related to the bagpiper of Bujalance, who asked a maravedí for playing, and ten for leaving off ?

FIRST MUSICIAN.-No, your honour.
CHISPA.-I am glad of it. What other instruments have we?
SECOND AND THIRD MUSICIANS.-We play the bandurria.
CAISPA.-A pleasing instrument. And thou?

CHISPA.“I like it; it has a cheerful, soul-stirring sound, that soars up to my lady's window like the song of a swallow. And you others?

OTHER MUSICIANS.—We are the singers, please your honour.

CHISPA.—You are too many. Do you think we are going to sing mass in the cathedral of Córdova? Four men can make but little use of one shoe, and I see not how you can all sing in one song. But follow me along the garden-wall. That is the way my master climbs to the lady's window. It is by the vicar's skirts that the devil climbs into the belfry. Come, follow me, and make no noise. [E.ceunt.


PRECIOSA's chamber. She stands at the open window.
PRECIOSA.-How slowly through the lilac-scented air

Descends the tranquil moon! Like thistle-down
The vapoury clouds float in the peaceful sky;
And sweetly from yon hollow vaults of shade
The nightingales breathe out their souls in song.
And hark! what songs of love, what soul-like sounds,
Answer them from below

[ocr errors]

Stars of the summer night!

Får in yon azure deeps,
Hide, hide your golden light!

She sleeps!
My lady sleeps!

Moon of the summer night!

Far down yon western steeps,
Sink, sink in silver light!

She sleeps!
My lady sleeps!

Wind of the summer night!

Where yonder woodbine creeps,
Fold, fold thy pinions light!

She sleeps!
My lady sleeps!

Dreams of the summer night!

Tell her, her lover keeps
Watch! while in slumbers light

She sleeps!
My lady sleeps!


(Enter VICTORIAN by the balcony.) VICTORIAN.—Poor little dove! thou tremblest like a leaf! PRECIOSA.— I am so frightened ! 'Tis for thee I tremble!

I hate to have thee climb that wall by night!

Did no one see thee? VICTORIAN.

None, my love, but thou. PRECIOSA.—'Tis very dangerous; and when thou art gone

I chide myself for letting thee come here
Thus stealthily by night. Where hast thou been?

Since yesterday I have no news from thee.
VICTORIAN.–Since yesterday I've been in Alcalá,

Ere long the time will come, sweet Preciosa,
When that dull distance shall no more divide us;
And I no more shall scale thy wall by night

To steal a kiss from thee, as I do now.
PRECIOSA.- An honest thief, to steal but what thou givest.


« PreviousContinue »