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ACT V, SCENE i
THEORGUS, ULFADUS, RUFFINUS, SIX HOBGOBLINS TRANSFORMED INTO THE GUISE OF GODS, AND LIKEWISE SIX OTHERS DISGUISED AS THEIR PAGES
Theorgus resorts to various arts to defeat Ulfadus, but in vain.
The princes are visible, as each sleeps in his cell.THE. Everywhere it is night. The prison and the world are equally thick with shadows. What a strange thing! They lie, oppressed by steel and by their confinement, not far removed from the stroke of death, and yet repose caresses them with its sweet sleep. Now, if anything remains of my art and my command over the nimble shades, let Morpheus play his part and beguile the lads with a fair choir of he gods. When a knotty problem, greater than human art, occurs, sway the gods. If you cannot, summon up the Underworld. There is a small difference between heaven and Hell, as long as they do as they are asked. The wand held by a powerful hand opens both doors. I am heard, there’s a sound. Jupiter will supply honors, Plutus Attalid wealth, Phoebus a famous name, Mars an indomitable spirit amidst evils, and Alcides strength.
Here the false gods make their entrance, each preceded by his page. The pages sing, praising the gods with respect to each one’s personal endowments.
Jupiter, the ruler of men and gods, who has a rightful claim on the foremost altars, parcels out to the world the scepters of kingdoms and the robes of kings.
Phoebus will bestow the glory of enviable brilliance, and of a name flying through cities far and wide. Enduring fame, you will go as a companion to eternal life.
Mars, that father of wars, breathes forth weapons, and, fearful with his savage sword, he kindles the blazing fires of an indomitable heart.
Mercury, you spokesman of supreme Jove and the other gods, you on whose mouths sits the virtue of eloquence, you will provide vigor of mind and the ability to produce the tongue’s rapid stream.
Alcides confirms the strength of a well-knit body and bestows solid powers on the sinews of limbs capable of carrying the sky on their shoulders.
Rich Pluto will purvey secret veins of gold, and friendly gifts for the scepters of this earth. Your royal court will abound with tawny golden plate.
And so, you sweet pair of lads, you should worship these six gods with pious gifts of Panchaean incense. Let the consecrated blood of sacrificial beasts soon drench your rich altars.
After the boys’ song is completed, the gods engage in dances. And when these are not yet finished —
ULF. Oh God, dispel these spectres, scatter these hobgoblins.
The imps suddenly disappear.
THE. (To himself.) My trick has been defeated. It remains for me to terrify them with their father’s command. (Aloud.) Wake up. You will have an eternity for sleeping.
ULF. Who disturbs my peace, awakening me to my cares?
THE. (Displaying a water-clock.) You destiny’s final day. Do you see this? An hour will impose a limit on your years. When it has passed, you will roast on a slow fire and give up your ghost, hateful to the gods, to the shades below, as Dis gives a cheer. These are your father’s commands, your inevitable doom.
ULF. So I must die? A welcome announcement! A lovely tune! But before I meet my fate, I beg a small favor. Allow me to enjoy a single look at my brother.
THE. I would like to, but I am forbidden by the king’s strict injunction.
ULF. Oh, in the name whatever is dear to you, yield to my request.
THE. I’ll try to persuade your father. (Exit, leaving the clock with Ulfadus.)
ULF. Good. We are blessed. A single hour will consume the remainder of our life, flowing with its unseen ebb. Oh hasten, sweet water, be friendly and make your drips quick ones. With your blessed flood swiftly bring me across life’s open sea to harbor. A teacher of manners, you make an image of myself. We are both exiles, you from your source, I from heaven. We are both confined. You are held by a glass container, I am equally oppressed by bonds of iron and of this earth. Being bound, you seek your source, the ocean’s bosom. There your care, your weight, your falling, your plashing bear you. You run forwards, you run backwards, as you fretfully seek your way. Where you cannot go with a watery flood, you at least send a trickle. A river breaks up into streams, streams into rivulets, and rivulets flow from drops. Each wave follows upon its predecessor, driving it forward, trickle presses upon trickle, drop upon drop. Thus a slender stream of water goes and returns, ebbs and flows, and no effort retrieves it in its passaqge> Water demands no rest, nor does its course require repose. My life, driven by similar impulses, carries me along and summons me back to my origins, to my sweet Creator. Time, produced from the bosom of eternity, circles back to that same place. Time flies by in centuries, centuries in years, and a year in months. Months flow along in days, days in hours, and an hour flees, divided into tiny minutes. We have come to an hour, which a moment cuts into its seconds, and, come the final minute lacking any division, boundless God will disclose the boundless sea of His eternity. Oh hasten, sweet water, hurry, make speed, open wide your channel, and use your waters to bring me to the fires. Fire will take me to heaven. (Theorgus returns.)
THE. (Aside.) Ulfaldus choose to see what outburst of anger he will suffer when he catches sight of his brother’s dead, or with what stupid amazement he will surpass stone and flint in his chill. (Aloud.) Be happy. You are going to be granted a look at your brother. (He shows Ulfadus Ruffinus head in a dish placed on a table. But this is the head of a still-living Ruffinus.) Behold here a hideous image of your doom, and discover to what punishments Christ summons you.
ULF. You bloodthirsty beast, you pool of gore. Here I behold a hideous image of your mind, and I discover to what punishments Christ summons you. And so, dear brother, although you are the younger you anticipate the fate of your elder brother? Having attested your faith by shedding your blood, do you enter the heavenly citadel as a victor? Go, you soul blessed in your lot, dwell in the starry spheres as their new guest. As a glory added to the heavenly bodies, shine bright in that serene tract, a nova. Oh, when shall I embrace you as your companion? Part of me has gone on before. The stars have stolen the half of me, I am only half alive. Oh, rather let me die, so I may wholly enjoy you in your blessedness. Only a small body of water, bounded by narrow banks, separates us, and it is soon to be navigated. Meanwhile I joyfully congratulate you on your triumph, thanks to whose brilliance a surviving glow hovers on your face. You shine with a heavenly flame, just as you did before. Nothing of you has perished in death, and your majesty, commingled with beauty, lives on. O thrice, four times blessed day which took you away!
THE. Oh you cruel monster, born on a cliff in the Caucasus, do you thus rejoice in the death of your lost brother? Go back to your lair, you beast. Soon you will follow him. (Ulfadus’ cell is closed.)
Admitted to Ruffinus and preparing to baptize him, the priest Tityrus is caught. Ruffinus eludes Lycamber and escapes from prison.
LYC. Do you want to laugh, father? Behold this sheep. He comes from the countryside, bearing a great gift for Ruffinus, a bird. Let us retire and watch as he greets the prince and bestows his gift.
THE. Good. Let the cell be unlocked. (He opens the other cell and displays Ruffinus.)
LYC. See, the door’s open. Go ahead, you see Ruffinus.
TIT. As a stream soothes meadows, rain parched fields, a breeze the flowers, and crops a farmer, the sight of your pleasant face delights Tityrus, kind boy. I bring you this gift, a little bird pretty with its plumage and its song. Its singing will please your ears, and its color your eyes.
RUF. (Aside.) I am hanging in doubt whether virtue or deception is concealed within his gift. Rarely does good faith consort with misfortune. But, whether this gift is that of a friend or an enemy, I happily accept it, and I perceive a living image of my lot. It is kept in a cage, yet consoles itself on its exile by cooing with its artful mouth. So why shouldn’t I pass my days happily in song, bound by the love of Christ? (Aloud.) Oh sweet comrade. If my mind’s intentions can repay you, I shall do so. Out of my former riches only my good will remains. (Tityrus looks around to see if the place is free of onlookers.)
TIT. This place is free of spies. Noble soldier of Christ, champion of heaven, I am here at Ceadda’s behest.
RUF. You are a consecrated priest of Christ.
TIT. The very same.
RUF. What proof do you have of your good faith?
TIT. ONE GOD serves as my password. (Ruffinus falls at Tityrus’ feet.)
RUF. Oh blessed good fortune! O dear favor of the celestials! Come here, holy priest, and let me plant three thousand kisses on your feet.
TIT. Heaven forfend! We both bear the yoke of Christ’s servitude. You are closer to the stars, and God has chosen to try you by means of these woes, and is leading you through victory-palms to the citadels of the celestials. Be noble and keep your courage high. If life denies you this transitory existence, rich in triumph and the spoils of death you will mount up to the blessed homes of heavenly light.
RUF. Oh priest dear to heaven, first wet me at the hold font, as is the custom, I request baptism. Wash away my sins with its water. After the holy water has consecrated me to Christ, let all of Orcus scourge my single person. Supported by God, Ruffinus will endure.
TIT. This is the concern that made me hasten here.
RUF. Oh, who will provide the basin and the water? God?
TIT. Calm your mind. This friendly little bird will supply its waters.
RUF. Oh, the stroke of good fortune! (He kneels to receive baptism.) Receiving the water on my knees — (Theorgus suddenly bursts forth from concealment.)
THE. Oh, the hellish crime! Is this how you lay low a king’s high stock at your feet? Does this disguise, this comportment, this trickery mock the royal court? Lock up Ruffinus tightly, Lycamber. I shall hand over the architect of this scheme to Ulferus’ wrath for the killing. Come, you priest of the Furies. (He leads off Tityrus to Ulferus.)
LYC. Prince Ruffinus —
RUF. Keep far, far away, you screech-owl of Avernus, you contriver of evil. Oh you beings of heaven, have a look at the face of this beast! No sense of shame, no power subdues this bold-faced rascal. Even now this traitor displays the same cheeks, brow, and eyes. Faith still mocks us in his deceitful face, while virtue dwells in his mouth but perfidy in his heart. Oh just God, strip off his cheating mask, clean his face, let his deceit become clear in it, lest his pretense draw the royal court into deception thanks to its fools How I fear lest the earth break open and swallow us both in its great maw! Get away from me immediately.
LYC. Oh that heart of yours, born to be cautious! Oh your unfeeling self! Suppose I did slip. Do you wish for me, abandoned, to consign my soul strait down to the chaos of the Pit? Do you want me to roar among the shades, forever an exile, and to assail the stars, nature, and the gods with my reproaches? Do you want me, devoid of hope, to trample Christ’s great blood underfoot? But I deny that I have committed any sin. It was my hand that scattered the incense, my mind is untouched. Christ resides in my innermost being. Ulfadus, having followed my example, has already escaped the blazing fire. Behold this sign of my faith. (He returns the cross he had received from Ulfadus). Thus you may avoid the doom of the burning pyre.
RUF. (To himself.) (Aside entreated you with this pledge, that his mind silently worships Christ, while his hand gives incense to Phoebus? I understand that pledge! Christ, bring my undertaking to fulfillment. (He stands for a moment, plunged in thought.) Well then, let a pen be readied. I’ll write a short note to my father.
LYC. A sound plan. (To the audience.) Ho for the triumph, I have conquered. I’ll gladly provide pen and paper. (He exits to fetch writing materials.).
RUF. This is a happy place of darkness, the air is sweet, and I find the weight of the chains to be pleasant. Among all these delights, the single concern for the holy water troubles me. Oh God of Christians, if I ask for just things, open the way for my requests. Open an easy path to the living waters.
LYC. See, everything’s here.
RUF. I’ll set down a few words to Father.
LYC. You’ll lift your father up to the stars with great joy.
RUF. Oh, this very blunt pen! I need a pen-knife, I’m writing for the benefit of a father and a king.
LYC. Take this knife. (Ruffinus seizes Lycamber by the neck, holding the knife to his throat.)
RUF. Now I hold you at knife-point, you villain, you perjurer against heaven, you sower of unspeakable fraud, you architect of deceit, a man such as the Styx has never belched up from its riverbed. You stand in inescapable striking-range of your death.
LYC. Oh spare me!
RUF. Say one word, you die. Come, remove these chains. Quickly strike off the lock.
RUF. You delay, you thief? Now bind your own feet with the chains and the lock. (Compelled by fear, Lycamber takes the bonds removed from Ruffinus and places them on himself.)
LYC. Oh prince!
RUF. You hiss, you snake? Quickly, if you don’t want your throat to gape with a terrible gash. Close the lock and give me the keys. Go now, and mock God with your lying mouth. (He exits, having thrown away the knife. Lycamber slowly surveys the cell, the chains, and everything else.)
LYC. These are the rewards of deception? This is the happy honor gained by fraud? These chains weigh down on Lycamber. Flight has rescued Ruffinus? Oh me, born on an unlucky day! Plague take my father, plague take the house of Ulferus, plague take the Thunderer, Phoebus, and the gods. I shall be a laughing-stock and a joke to the royal court forever. For what should I wish? This disgrace must be redeemed by death. (He takes up the knife.) Come here, you accursed blade, which a Cyclops forged in his evil fire, a weapon fashioned for your master’s final ruin, and open a way to the shades. Drive out my life? Should I receive my wound in this part? Or here? Or there? Let my hand pierce my throat. (He fondles the knife.) This steel is cold to the touch, but let me endure it. You to whom bloodshed, the punishments of sinners, and the dire band of Furies are dear, witness this deed, a deed such as would befit even those handmaidens of Dis. I am seeking Pluto’s realms. Farewell, you gods of the upper regions, greedy chaos beckons. (Shaking all over, he gradually moves the knife to his throat, but when it has scarcely touched him he suddenly casts it away.) Ah, I die. A cruel paralysis cruelly penetrates me.
After killing Lycander, Verebodus commands that Ulfadus should be freed to return to Ceadda.
VER. Thus it stands. Now I must stage the final act of my revenge play. I have driven the father to wrathfulness, and the sons to chains. Is my rage to fail under the weight of such great developments? I want to inspect the gloomy dungeon, lest some trick enable them to escape in the darkness and still of the night. What’s this? Lycamber in chains?
LYC. They hold me down with their burden.
VER. Where’s Ruffinus?
LYC. Free. He escaped.
VER. Who loosened his bonds?
LYC. He himself, chanting spells with his Thessalian mouth and binding me against my will.
VER. You base fellow, did a boy thus stretch you out, helpless? Go, die, and follow the fugitive as a sad shade. (Here the cell is suddenly closed while the killing is accomplished. Then it is reopened.)
LYC. I die. I am butchered. Come to my aid, fellow citizens.
VER. He has it. It’s done. His pretty blood paints my avenging blade. How well Mother Nature has fashioned this breed of sheep, these mindless souls, toadstools sprung up on the ground, in human shape, so that they might be of service to great men, even when they require killing! Let crime be heaped on crime. Let the same escape be afforded a freed Ulfadus, so that he blame for his dire murder might fall on the brothers. Whoever is able to stifle his fury by taking counsel and hide the wrath on his face, will achieve the summit of his desires, even if the arts he plies are savage. (He opens Ulfadus’ cell and speaks to him. Get your feet out of these brazen chains, my prince. You may leave.
ULF. Oh, the sound of this blessed statement! Gladly I undertake my life’s final journey. Let me die.
VER. By no means. Sooner may the earth open its jaws and swallow Verebodus than that I should obey sinful commands. I am opening the door for your escape, and I shall come along as your comrade, sharing all your adventures. Let your journey quickly take you to Ceadda, and may that father sprinkle us both with holy water. If death should overtake us once we are cleansed, it will overtake us in safety. This baptismal water will open up the eternal citadel.
ULF. Is there good faith in your words?
VER. A good faith which God, Who scrutinizes our silent minds, sees and confirms.
ULF. You convince me by His testimony. I am not one to turn tail on evils, overwhelmed. I am only inflamed by thirst for that celestial water, I am only gripped by a zeal for assuring my salvation.
VER. Protected by the good offices of night, make your way under a silent moon. I shall follow as you lead the way.
ULF. Christ, star of the world, give light for my escape. (Exit.)
VER. Oh, how my ship is carried along by a following wind! I am being sped over the deep sea. I shall follow along after the boys, but an irate Ulferus will join me in following hard at their heels. His sword-point will supply vengeance.
Ruffinus is captured by the robbers and tied up in the forest, but is freed when Ulfadus happens along.
They bring a captive Ruffinus into the forest.
CHOR. Oh, what very pretty prey! We have enough by way of loot. Our good fortune has given gems to you, Faustus, and coins to me. Now let this traitor have his well-deserved punishment. First let our wrath rip out his tongue, and then his guts, and finally his heart and disloyal liver. Chopped up into bits, his torso wil lfeed vultures and wild beasts.
FAUST. We are enriched enough by our loot, there’s no need for bloodshed. It’s a crime to brandish a sword against a royal son.
CHOR. I suppose he should be released, so that he might vengefully take up arms and a savage hunt for me would get all this woods to shaking.
FAUST. Let’s follow a middle course Alone and his hands tied to this tree-trunk, let him take his chances.
CHOR. Come, let’s tie him up. The screech-owls can look here for their food. (They abandon him, tried to the tree.)
FAUST. While the world stands silent, alone, wakeful because of my cares, I pass my night in the forest, my hands bound to this trunk. Poor lonely Ruffinus offers food for beasts, a refugee from the royal court, from his brother, his servants, his house, and (which pains my marrow more greatly), from his brother. Great God of Christians, Whose care lasts throughout the night, Whose eye is ever watchful, behold me bound here I do not beg you to relieve my sufferings. Love triumphs in adversity. With a lustful heart I pray for baptismal water. Let me die amidst the water itself, so that I may live as Your servant. (Enter Ulfadus.)
ULF. If I am retracing my way aright, now I’m nearing Ceadda’s home.
RUF. Brother —
ULF. I’m shaken, astonished by my brother’s familiar voice. A ghost can even pretend to be blessed souls. Its shape resembles Ruffinus, so it imitates his carriage, his face, and his eyes. Tell me, blessed intelligence, why you ask for your brother? Sweat soaks my limbs. An unhappy tree holds it, its hands tied behind its back. He happily mounted up to Olympus and yet here is tied up, inhabiting the dark forest on this gloomy night. Perplexed dread assaults my shuddering mind. In the name of Christ almighty, Whom I worship, I order you to tell me what you are. Are you who create these apparitions a good spirit or an evil one? Tell me, thus God commands.
RUF. Cease your fear, brother, and remove these bonds. I’m Ruffinus, who enjoy this light of life as much as you do, I’m not bereft of that light. Let our slogan be ONE GOD.
ULF. Oh, Theorgus’ deception! Brother, do you breathe the air, alive?
RUF. I am living.
ULF. Use a gem to prove that. (Untied, Ruffinus removes a ring from his mouth and displays it.)
RUF. I recognize the token.
ULF. Having returned, join an embrace. Let our arms wrap tight, wholly rush to my bosom.
RUF. Oh brother, the sole salvation of your afflicted brother! How you have blessed me!. How the happy star of your brow has eased my bind! Oh how much favor has rained down on us undeserving men from friendly heaven! Even in this good fortune I discover God almighty. His divinity resides in this, God wafts into port.
ULF. With you found, heaven has topped off my desires. With this face you show kingdoms, palaces in your eyes. With this mouth you display throne, scepter, and lordship. Blessed by my one brother, I care for nothing on this earth, its vapors, its riches, the great confusion of its fortune. But tell me what adventure brought you here in bondage.
RUF. To tell you would require a long delay in our affairs. In the sky, the moon is setting. Let us both amuse ourselves on our journey by swapping tales.
While Ulferus is considering the princes’ punishment, he is infuriated by Verebodus’ misrepresentation and goes in pursuit of the princes, with Madness his companion.
ULFER. My company of lords, well-tried in high matters of state, you strength of our lofty realm, the Jewish error has taken away the two hopes of their father. You yourselves have seen how much madness has infected their foolish minds, when a black hand pulled down Phoebus and overthrew his altars. You, to whom Astraea, steadfast for justice, has entrusted the responsibility of judgement, must weigh this case. Let no favor interfere. I swear by the holy fire of the sun which looks down on us, the accused must be haled off to their deaths, should their guilt demand.
ETH. Although it is a foul crime to refuse the gods their incense, let this be blamed on Christ’s Thessalian spell. The crime is foreign to the boys, this was a childish error. Let the guilt be attributed to the one truly responsible.
EAD. He who lets crimes committed against heaven go unpunished is recommending that no sin be forbidden. But, lest a punishment worse than the crime be meted out, I am of the opinion that the Golden Mean must be observed. Let a long period of imprisonment tame these dissenters. If a magical plague grips their mind and it cannot be removed, let them be debarred from the right of succession to their ancestral throne and banished. Let them visit places across the surging sea as dishonored, poverty-stricken, homeless vagabonds.
JUM. Oh, the pleasant wrath of Themis! Oh, heaven’s shame! Does no god complain when he is kicked by an insulting schoolboy’s foot? My complaint concerns Jove downcast, Phoebus overthrown, and all the gods contained in heaven being mocked, abandoned, and held cheap.
THE. Someday our temples will be demolished, the houses of the gods set afire far and wide, and incense, statues, sacrifices, and whatever else a god-fearing world provides, will be wholly abolished.
JUM. I suppose their youthful age prevents us from fearing them. A huge conflagration grows from a tiny spark. Who would ever imagine that a piglet which hung from its mother’s teats, once harmless, is now dashing about amidst our happy crops, attacking our hounds with its lightning-like tusks? A plague is something that grows. I swear, final ruination threatens our holy things. So let prison keep them confined? How often a guilty man breaks his bonds, slips away, and fills the world with murder, the market-place with theft? But let them go into exile? Pardon them, Ulferus, but then you must shudder at the fearful evils which will result if you banish your sons. Fickle Fortune spins her blind wheel, exchanging forfeits for triumphs, exile for one’s nation, servitude for mastery. A man can easily attract the wealth of entire realms, even if he is in the thriving springtime of his youth. Acquiring the scepters of foreign kings as allies, they will seek to regain their home by waging war. Polynices once gave great proof of this, after having been exiled by his brother’s crime. Did he not rely on King Adrastus of the Argives and attack Amphion’s trophies and the high walls of Thebes, having come back to wage civil war? While his enemy breathes, no man should regard himselfas safe. Great king, do you permit me to say what this case requires? The Thunderer is angry at our realm, and only blood can appease him.
FAB. Piety cries out against you staining yourself with your children’s blood.
THE. But nature has decreed death for the enemies of the gods, a death of which the Furies approve.
FAB. But by their father’s hand? Whoever rages, bloodthirsty against his dear children, you may accuse of being a monster.
ULFER. Am I to consider my children dear when they are hateful to heaven, rebels against the gods, boys who hate the word of father (that sacred, reverend name)? Am I to call them my sons? Let them perish, let them be put to death. (Enter Verebodus.)
VER. Blood, alas, blood is flowing.
ULFER. Bloody words!
VER. The ground is covered by pools of innocent blood. Your royal household is soaked in blood. Revenge, prince!
ULFER. Horror grips my heart.
VER. Ulferus, you are betrayed.
ULFER. For what reason? How, Why? Where? By whom? (They all draw their swords.) Come, my lords. Tell me, who was consigned to his destruction?
VER. Innocent Lycamber has fallen. (He falls in a faint.)
THE. Servants, place the fallen man on a couch. Tell me, who put him to death?
VER. Ulfadus and Ruffinus.
ULFER. They — ? Such a crime — ? (The cell is open and the murdered man’s corpse is visible.)
VER. Have a look. His familiar clothes cover the body. After killing their jailor and breaking out of the cell, they made their escape. And now they are hastily running to Ceadda’s hut, cloaked by the dark of night. There they plan on inflaming a band of peasants to take up arms, and then soon to return and destroy you lords, their father, and their nation.
ULFER. Could anybody believe this. Hasten and go, Verebodus my comrade. I myself shall follow the fugitives. I shall follow by myself, and when I have caught them I’ll sacrifice them to Jove. Meanwhile, Jumina, call out the royal guard, and come a-flying where we show the way.
How well you hasten, Ulferus, carried away by the ferocious impulse of your passions! Just as lightning flies from a cloudburst, so the father rushes towards the murder of his harmless children. Oh you, destined to commit a beautiful slaughter! A father rages against his sons. Be torn asunder, piety, impiety is spurring on a father. Gnash your teeth, piety, your laws are being trampled. Mourn, you fathers. Your good faith is damaging itself. Come hither, you tigers, let some of this dire ferocity be instilled in you. A father is raging against his offspring. Here we have the triumph of madness. I shall be present to urge on this horrific murder. I seek the threshold of Ceadda.
Having been baptized by Ceadda, the princes hear of their father’s arrival and with mutual embraces steel each other for death.
The newly-baptized princes, wear ankle-length tunics notable for their whiteness.
CEAD. Now this snow-white tunic covers your persons and proclaims the snowy brightness of your minds, for which day has now dawned. Now Christ has registered you as heirs of His royal realm, rightfully granted a share of His crown.
ULF. Oh blessed me! Like a man who has long lain in a secluded cave, where neither the brightness of the golden daylight has penetrated or the splendor of it tawny light, if ever he is freed and escapes to the open air, stands amazed, scarcely able to withstand the sight of the light restored to him, so I am astonished, seeming to behold the unexpected fire of heaven’s brightness. I rejoice that the night has withdrawn far away, and I worship the light’s Creator.
RUF. Now I clutch at the nourishing gifts of life. I seem to be breathing better air. Oh, with what lucky feet we kept our way through the trackless forest! What a longed-for fall, when the man who takes it is permitted to raise his head to the stars. Serene the sleep which brings such a vision! That hunt was more than worth its weight in gold, wherein God Himself fell to us as our prey. How my heart silently congratulates itself and gives a cheer!
ULF. Now the pretence of the royal court, now the lifted eyebrow that rules the world grows stale for us. Here our cast of mind is untouched by the stain of iniquity. How greatly the peace of heaven surpasses the benefits of holding power!
CEAD. Noble youth, Only One creates this peace of mind, He Who governs all things with His serene nod, Christ. It is right to follow Him through the enticements of a proud family, through unsheathed swords, through a thousand ways of death, through whatever Ulferus’ wrath sets in motion.
BOTH We shall follow Him.
ULF. No turning of Fortune’s wheel will overturn my resolve, even if the ruler of the Ausonian court should put me on trial. No, not even if baleful Orcus should plot to punish me with a threatening scourge.
RUF. How happily would a sword further my wishes, by whose stroke a way would be opened for our blood! Whatever circulates in my veins would freely flow, and with my last escaping breath I would attest that You are God, oh Christ.
CEAD. I recognize that fire has come down from heaven. Faith fortifies your hearts. (Enter a messenger.)
MESS. Oh flee, princes, flee! Your father is at hand, he hurries along under the guidance of Verebodus, furiously brandishing his drawn sword. Flee, if safety is dear to you.
RUF. The deceit we had already suspected now comes to light.
CEAD. Stay where you are, you blessed champions. Now it is right to dye your bright tunics with a purple dew. The beauty of a lily garland is enhanced by roses’ crimson. Your father has come to kill, dare to confront him. God will inspire you with strength. Nor be ashamed to spurn the cheap light of mortality’s light. You perceive the bright lights of God’s golden house. There you will pass blessed days in His royal sunlight, undisturbed by misfortunes. Rather, lofty amidst the martyred saints, you will both cheer at rejoicings, at triumphs and victory-dances for all eternity. Who would refuse to purchase such rewards at the cost of shedding his blood?
ULF. Oh, the strength of heaven! What onbreathing soothes my heart? I recognize God.
RUF. What warmth suddenly steals into my inner being? My scornful mind has no fear of Father’s darts.
ULF. Brother, my sweet other half, your brother’s darling, worthy to live to a Cumaean age, flee, flee in safety. I will meet Father’s sword by myself. I’ll go, and by myself I’ll slake his thirst for blood.
RUF. How could I drag out my life after you had been killed, my brother? My brother’s blood should preserve me unharmed? I shudder at the omen. Let rage and violence seek me out. It is you, brother, who should go on breathing the air of life.
ULF. Stop, Ruffinus. (He restrains Ruffinus as he is trying to depart.)
RUF. Let Ulfadus stop first.
ULF. I am the elder.
RUF. So by better right you can live. A younger brother’s life has less rights.
CEAD. A contest of love! Either brother, pious towards his brother, strives to forestall the other’s death. But let an equal fate take off the both of you. Neither should go to confront his father. It is better that we seek assistance at the holy altar, where it is right to devote to God our Creator both our life and our death.
ULF. Unless we stop our raging father in his tracks, he’ll give you over to an unjust destruction, together with myself. Let me go to meet my death.
CEAD. Oh dear offspring, when we have prayed to Him, God will make this turn out for the best.
MESS. 2 Flee, flee, prelate. Ulferus is at hand, flee.
CEAD. You souls devoted to Christ, let us piously settle this love-contest. Embrace. Soon no day will part you, when you are joined above the stars. Farewell. March on to heaven with a brave step.
ULF. Farewell, reverend prelate.
RUF. A final farewell, dear father. Someday with His great hand Christ will reward you. (They cling in a mutual embrace.)
ULF. Oh brother, joined to me in an eternal bond, come into my embrace. Confessing Christ with equal strength, let us both enter our starry home.
RUF. Brother, my comrade in our extremities, we are compelled to shun the transitory glory of the royal court and of this life. Christ is readying an eternal court and life. Keep on. The altar summons us.
Urged on by Verebodus, Ulferus finally kills his sons in Ceadda’s chapel, with his own hand.
VER. This is the cottage of spell-muttering Ceadda. Here the Cyclopes are preparing weapons for use against a father. Go, hasten, avenge Phoebus, piously gain revenge for Jove. Avenge the murder of an innocent man.
ULFER. I shall go and destroy these rebellious sons, being their father. What do I seem to have said? A father, against his sons? Ulfadus, the heir to my throne, the rose of your generation, Ruffinus, the light of the royal court, Ulferus’ darling, shall they die by this spear-point? Gods give us better! Let this not be.
VER. Is your anger attempting to escape, forgetful of the fugitives?
ULFER. These runaways are renouncing their father, being followers of Christ? Do they foreswear their father’s gods? My fury returns, with increased passion. Let them be slaughtered, let them be put down. And yet what crime did these innocent lads commit? All the blame falls on Ceadda, that infernal old man. What could ignorant boys accomplish? I shall be called an unhappy father, for having committed my sons to death. Oh let my offspring live on as it has, let it live!
VER. Offspring that would overthrow their father with their handiwork, consigning their nation to its downfall, its temples to ashes, and its gods to oblivion.
ULFER. Am I to call these boys innocent, by whom these crimes are being hatched? Am I to call them my sons, who being barbarians, being born of a race of vipers, are marking down their father for death? Am I to call them mine, who are gathering weapons lest any part of me survive? These ungrateful children? For the murder of their father? Rage, rage burns within me. My chagrin regains its former wrath, I take up arms once more, I forget that I am a father.
ULF. (Offstage, as if addressing God.) Kindly father —
ULFER. My inward self quakes at the word “father.” My hand grows feeble for the killing.
RUF. (Offstage.) Supreme father — |
ULFER. Oh the mighty, the sweet word “father.” Paternal love checks my impulse.
VER. You allow your divine impulses to be checked by a feeble word? Are you soft and abandon your heavenly rage? Jupiter guides your mind. Avenge the gods.
ULF. (Offstage.) Christ, subdue our father.
ULFER. I to be subdued, traitor? You’ll learn he is not subdued.
Verebodus, his deceit revealed by his insanity, receives divine punishment. Ulferus, overwhelmed by grief over his crime, is converted to Christ by the prayers of his sons
VER. He’s going ahead. The way is open for him to dash into the cottage. I want to see the manner of the horrible slaying. Both sons are praying at the altar. The the king is uncertain which of the two should first gain death’s eternal sleep. He kills Ulfadus, as his steel slashes his throat with a cruel stroke. The other son rushes at his father. The father, steeled by his cruel deed, attacks Ruffinus’ heart and lays him low, cut open. His corpse falls over his brother. Let infernal Chaos resound with “ho, the triumph.”
MADNESS Let infernal Chaos resound with “ho, the triumph.”
VER. Now I rule, now I triumph, now I assault the skies with my uplifted head. As a victor and as an avenger, I sing “ho, the triumph.”
At this point, Christ is seen in the clouds, standing between two avenging angels. One of these carries red banner, and the other a black one.
VER. Now let the little boys call on their Christ.
ANG. 2 Avenge the murder of innocents.
CHRIST I am.
VER. Now I cast aside the marks of my grievous lot. I glow red. How this bloody color delights my eyes! (the first angel unfurls the red banner and, walking around Verebodus, wraps him within it.) What’s this? Heaven’s taking on the appearance of blood. Blood lies red on the locks of Diana and the stars, blood stands on the earth, blood lies red on the tract of the sky. Bloody visions! The bloody world cries out at me, and I am guilty. The murder damns the guilty father. I like the spattered gore. It pleases me to behold the bloody theater of heaven and earth. (With a similar pantomime the second angel surrounds him with the black banner.) Alas, the face of the dark Styx! Black, black horror! The world seeks to return to ancient Chaos. Where am I? Beneath the stars? Am I alive, or being borne to Pluto’s dark court? Jupiter, take hold of me as I depart. I am being plunged in the deep, I am. I think it safe to sink down to these hiding-places. My sword in my hand is my companion. If Rhadamanthus should ask me of my doings, good and bad, I shall confess my crimes. But with this sword I shall ward off the Furies’ flails.
THE. (Bearing a burning torch before him, he mindlessly seeks for Lycamber in the forest.) Alas, Lycamber! Alas, Lycamber! Lycamber.
VER. Lycamber’s pallid shade makes me tremble.
THE. Lycamber! Oh Lycamber!
VER. Deathly shade, away with that horrid torch and its bloody light. I am not Lycamber.
THE. Whoever you are, show this father his Lycamber.
VER. Greedy Chaos has sought him out.
THE. Lycamber, oh Lycamber (Exit.)
JUM. His home lies this way.
VER. Stay, you deathly crew. What is the madness of your journey?
JUM. Am I seeing Verebodus? (Verebodus says these things while out of his mind.)
VER. But he refuses to be haled before Rhadamanthus’ bar. Go and tell these things to Jove of the Underworld. Verebodus was responsible for the death of Lycamber. He slyly urged the boys to escape from prison, and encouraged their father to slay his offspring. And now, triumphant, he refuses to submit to punishment for his crimes. Go on.
FAB. For heaven’s sake!
VER. (As if attacking the Furies.) You remain?
JUM. Restrain his hands, soldiers. He is attacking me, me.
VER. I am attacking you, Megaera, you black sister of the shades. You will die.
JUM. Die, madman. Go and hunt for Charon. This blade will pay for your passage.
VER. May my supreme rage bury my sword in your breast!
JUM. Now the Fates and Furies are calling you down to Orcus.
ULFER. Stay your hands.
ETH. They have killed each other.
MADNESS Let infernal Chaos resound with “ho, the triumph.” (Jumenta exits, mortally wounded, with the previously-disguised priest following him.)
JUM. Baptism! I am dying. Who will give me water —
CLYT. I shall, I am a priest of Christ. My holy water is hidden here (He points to the pommel of his sword, in which he has been carrying the water.)
ULFER. What caused this fight?
ETH. My amazement prevents me from speaking.
ULFER. But my amazement prevents your hateful silence.
ETH. Oh, the unspeakable deceit? Verebodus killed Lycamber. He slyly urged the boys to escape from prison, and encouraged their father to slay his offspring. These things he himself said before dying. He dispatched Jumina to the Styx, and likewise died by his enemy’s hand.
ULFER. I have killed innocents? Hasten, cruel monsters of the pools of Tartarus! Gorgons, the bane of Lerna, the fire-wreathed Chimaera, fierce Centaurs, double-shaped Scyllas, vulture Harpies, hell-hound, strike, drive, snatch, smash my unhappy person. Accursed rage! A king’s horrific hand! Brutal hand! Cruel blade, which bereft him of his sons! But a father more cruel than all Hydras, the ruin of his offspring! So much has Ulferus surpassed the wild beasts. Oh holy earth, if you are tainted by my sin, open wide your maw, open wide your depths, let the highway to Hell lie open. I shall follow my sons, bent on making atonement in the courtroom of that unkind lord. But of what crime am I guilty? It was my obligation to avenge the gods with the blood of my sons. It was he, he, the leader and prime mover of their witchcraft, that profane divinity, cheap and unlucky for me, I mean Christ, it was he who inspired a father to kill his sons. (Christ is seen once more, standing between Ulfadus and Ruffinus, now blessed.)
ULF. Oh stay your hand, Christ. We sons, now saved, beg you on our father’s behalf.
CHRIST He’s not your father.
RUF. He sired us.
CHRIST He killed you.
ULF. Deceived by fraud.
RUF. Blood demands forgiveness.
CHRIST And forfeits.
ULF. Of his own free will he will give them, if he lives. Christ, enlist our rescued father in Your service.
CHRIST It shall be done.
ULFER. Oh, what god transforms me within, stealing me from myself and restoring me as someone else? A great chaos of the vices hovers before my eyes. How the image of sins hangs over me with its savage appearance! The fear of a guilty mind makes my mind quake, it’s a tormentor with its awful flail. I am being torn asunder. Pain, alas, pain rages in the fibers of my heart, caused by this cruel wounding. Heave, my breast. I am whirled about, I am helplessly whirled about by this great upheaval.
FAB. Ease this evil, my prince.
ULFER. Oh Faba, my heart breaks into a thousand pieces, unequal to this agony. My inner being is agape with a thousand wounds, guilty of black murder and of the life I have led. Come to my aid prelate. Alas, give this wretch a hand. Father Ceadda, Father Ceadda! (He kneels at the chapel gate.)
CEAD. Who calls?
CEAD. That murderer of his own children?
ULFER I am that man, I who destroyed my own vitals. I rejected the divinity of God Almighty, worshiping stones. The pain of my boundless sin pricks me, it pricks me again and again. Rescue my mind from its bites.
CEAD. You who lately banished Christ’s servant from your presence, do you now humbly seek my home and my presence?
ULFER. Oh, spare a guilty man. I did wrong, I admit. Prostrate on the ground, I beg your forgiveness and acknowledge the might of Christ’s power. Join me to Christ, father.
CEAD. Rise up, prince, lift your eyes to heaven. (Ulferus remains kneeling.)
ULFER. Should I behold the stars, injured by such a monstrous deed? Should I live and breathe the air, which in my sinfulness I stole from innocent boys? Should I enjoy nature’s right, having broken its bonds? Can I hear the title of king, being the murderer of my offspring? Oh, send down Your just fire on my guilty head! Oh, God, vengefully punish this hideous crime.
CEAD. Break off your lamentation, Ulferus, and get up off the ground. You have your pardon. We Christians worship a kind and gentle God. Although your sin may be boundless, God has pity on you as long as you rue your crimes. Come now, do you abandon your gods?
ULFER. I abjure those gods.
CEAD. Do you worship a single, blessed, all-powerful divinity?
ULFER. I worship it.
CEAD. Do you embrace Christ, the Prince of human salvation, God and man?
ULFER. I embrace Him.
CEAD. Do you confess that the scepters of dukes and kings are subject to the will of our everlasting King?
ULFER. I confess this, and I gladly submit the badges of my kingship to Christ. (He casts aside his crown.) Let the scepter not weigh down my hand, nor the crown my hair, nor the robe of state my shoulders until baptismal water has cleansed my person.
CEAD. Without delay. When the boys have received their final rites, I shall bathe your heart in heaven’s stream.
ULFER. You friendly company of lords, my loyal servants, whom my rage has harmed by setting a bitter example, retrace your steps and follow me as your guide to a better life. Walk where Christ summons you. Trust a man who knows by experience, it is vain error that worships Jove. God alone rules the world. Christ alone governs the British empire.
PRAISE BE TO GOD