Shame fills me for the words I have spoken. Hide me then; from my eyes the tear-drops stream, and for very shame I turn them away. ’Tis painful coming to one’s senses again, and madness, evil though it be, has this advantage, that one has no knowledge of reason’s overthrow.
Nur. There then I cover thee; but when will death hide my body in the grave? Many a lesson length of days is teaching me. Yea, mortal men should pledge themselves to moderate friendships only, not to such as reach the very heart’s core; affection’s ties should be light upon them to let them slip or draw them tight. For one poor heart to grieve for twain, as I do for my mistress, is a burden sore to bear. Men say that too engrossing pursuits in life more oft cause disappointment than pleasure, and too oft are foes to health. Wherefore I do not praise excess so much as moderation, and with me wise men will agree.
Cho. O aged dame, faithful nurse of Phædra, our queen, we see her sorry plight; but what it is that ails her we cannot discern, so fain would learn of thee and hear thy opinion.
Nur. I question her, but am no wiser, for she will not answer.
Cho. Nor tell what source these sorrows have?
Nur. The same answer thou must take, for she is dumb on every point.
Cho. How weak and wasted is her body!
Nur. What marvel? ’tis three days now since she has tasted food.
Cho. Is this infatuation, or an attempt to die?
Nur. ’Tis death she courts; such fasting aims at ending life.
Cho. A strange story! is her husband satisfied?
Nur. She hides from him her sorrow, and vows she is not ill.