Velasco/Act V

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Velasco by Epes Sargent
Act V

ACT V[edit]

SCENE I[edit]

Royal audience room.


( Enter Carlos. )


Carlos

'Twill be a joyous bridal! Even the skies are flaunting in their robes of festival, to grace the nuptials of the brave and fair! All Burgos is in motion; and the streets are spann'd by arches, and bestrewn with garlands. Balconies gleam with tapestry and flowers, and columns rise, flashing with shields and helms, and twined with olive branches. Oh! 'twill be a braver wedding than the world e'er saw. What shows and banquets shall we have!---The King!

[ Exit.

( Enter Ferdinand, with Favillo and Attendants. )

Ferdinand (on his throne)

Summon the culprit! Justice must have way.

( Enter Hernando, with Guards.

Hernando! out of mercy to thyself, we have appointed, for thy final sentence, this day---a day, when he, on whose decision thy fate hangs trembling between life and death, may be of all most leniently disposed. Let conscience say whom thou hast injured most. Then wait from him thy doom.

Hernando

Velasco?

Ferdinand

Ay.

Hernando

Oh! doom me to the galleys---banish me---but leave me not to certain death, great king!

Ferdinand

He comes---the arbiter of fate to thee.

( Enter Velasco. )

Velasco! we would mar not with one cloud this day to joy devoted, but the fate of this unhappy man is in thy hands. Pronounce his sentence: it shall be fulfilled.

Velasco

My liege, thou'rt ever just. Stand forth, Hernando! I will not speak to thee of wrongs, which lie between ourselves---thy baseless calumny---the frail abortions of thy active hate---but it was thou who did relume the feud betwixt my noble father and Gonzalez; urging a blow that death alone could heal. 'Twas thou, who would have wrong'd my promised bride:---and, for all this, thy punishment shall be---to live! thy chain, the chain that Conscience forges; link'd with remorse and hateful memories---a heavier chain than now is on thy limbs. Ay, live! and be th' infliction for thy crimes---remembrance! Go! I pity and forgive thee.

[ Exit.

Ferdinand

Release him.

Favillo

But one moment, stay, my liege: There was another charge, young Carlos brought. Tell us, Hernando, if in any way, thou wert accessary to Julio's death?

Hernando

I take the dead to witness---

( Enter Julio, who starts at seeing Hernando in fetters. )

Ah! he comes here to confound me with a miracle! I do confess. Away!

Ferdinand

Don Julio here!

Julio

My liege, forgive me the astonishment which did arrest the homage of my knee.

Ferdinand

Thou'rt welcome. We had credited the rumour that told us thou wert slain.

Julio

Alone, my liege, of all my train, I have escaped from slaughter. Robb'd of my parchments, thwarted in my mission, no course remain'd to me but to return. My sister's bridal this? I did not think to be so fortunate. It should have been---

Ferdinand

Ay, Julio; but it was not. Thou shalt hear the causes why; but give thy promise first, whate'er I may disclose, thou wilt not thrust a quarrel on Velasco.

[ Exit Favillo.

Julio

Strange request! Methinks I should gain little in a quarrel with such a foe---the child of victory! I know, my king would not entrap mine honour---and so, to the effect, I pledge my word.

Ferdinand

Thou shalt hear all. Let prudence and compassion then counsel thee to bear and to forbear.

Julio

This mystery, my liege! A strange foreboding runs darkening through my brain. I am impatient.

Ferdinand

No sooner wast thou gone upon thy mission, than, by base hints and gradual intimations, the prisoner here inflamed thy father's rage against De Lerma, whom encountering, Gonzalez struck.

Julio

They fought? De Lerma fell?

Ferdinand

Scarce could he draw his sword, before 'twas wrench'd by his opponent from him. Then, with scorn, thy father left him vanquish'd and disgraced.

Julio

It was not well. My father is too choleric. And this untoward chance delayed the nuptials?

Ferdinand

De Lerma felt the insult but too keenly; and call'd Velasco to remove the stigma from his attainted honour.

Julio

Ah! Velasco? He did not---no! it is too horrible!

Ferdinand

Thy father fell beneath Velasco's sword.

Julio

My father dead! my dear, my valiant father! Slain! Oh! the retribution shall be sure.

Ferdinand

Regard thy promise, Julio. Let revenge be stifled in the bud. It must be crushed!

Julio

And she---my sister---weds in festal bravery the homicide who robb'd her of a father!

Ferdinand

By my command she weds him. Hear me, Julio---hadst thou but seen thy sister, day by day, while life ebb'd swiftly from her fading cheek, now sadly patient, and now stung to frenzy, invoking Vengeance until reason fled---thou wouldst be merciful.

Julio

Oh! not to him!

Ferdinand

He saved thy sister from a villain's grasp---will that appease not thy insane revenge? Long did I sue in vain to Izidora for her permission to renew these nuptials. With earnest plea I urged, that she was left an orphan---brotherless---but in reply she raised her eyes to Heaven in silent trust. A holy priest I sent to sway her soul, and offer absolution---but his craft did not avail. At length, the whispering Court dared to revive Hernando's baseless charge, that by foul means thy father had been slain; that, dying, he reveal'd unto thy sister what fill'd her with unconquerable hate against Velasco. To her ears it came, the slanderous rumour, and in one wild burst of renew'd love, of sympathy and scorn, she proved it false, consenting to these nuptials!

Julio

Here let them end.

Ferdinand

How, Julio! wouldst thou dare dispute my ordinance. Attend thy sister, and lead her to the banquet-room. Anon, I, with Velasco and the bridal train, will meet you there; and thou shalt pledge with him in drowning cups oblivion to the past. Then to the church to seal the nuptial bond. Remand the culprit. I've thy promise, Julio.

[ Exit.

Julio

My promise! is not perjury a virtue in such a juncture?

Hernando (advancing)

Ay; it is a virtue. Hear me.

[ Julio motions back the guards, who are advancing.

They tell thee, I provoked this mischief. Let my accusers prove it. No! Velasco, t' evade or palliate his monstrous guilt, has fix'd on me this charge.

Julio

Could I believe it!

Hernando

Learn more. Thy father dying, with an oath bound Izidora to pursue to th' death the man to whom she gives her hand this day.

Julio

It must not be! Religion shudders at it, and filial piety recoils with horror! It must not be.

Hernando

But how wilt thou prevent it? Th' appointed hour is near: the king commands; and Izidora, urged to madness, yields. If thou dost push a quarrel on Velasco, thy solemn pledge is broken; and the king forbids the contest, stripping thee perchance even of thy knighthood, and thy right to challenge. And more, Velasco never will contend, whate'er the provocation, with thyself.

Julio

Great heavens! What's to be done!

Hernando

One way is left. What said the king? That, in the banquet-room, thou shouldst await Velasco---there to pledge the happy bridegroom in forgiving cups.

Julio

Well?

Hernando

Lest Velasco's beaker be not brimm'd---

[ Offers a phial of poison.

Julio

Villain!

Hernando

Reflect; it is the only way to save thy sister from a fearful crime, and to avenge thy father.

Julio (hesitating)

To avenge! Say'st thou---

Hernando

Conceal it quickly in thy vest. That eavesdropper, young Carlos, is approaching. Consider. Take it.

( Enter Carlos. )

[ Julio convulsively grasps the phial and conceals it.

Carlos

Are you here, Don Julio? Ah, ha! what token pass'd between you?
Nothing.

Carlos (looking distrustfully at each)

Nothing? Does nothing glitter so?

Julio (with asperity)

What wouldst thou?

Carlos

I meant not to offend---to play the spy.

Hernando

What hast thou seen?

Carlos

Oh! nothing.

Hernando (to his guards)

I am ready.

Carlos (to Hernando)

They tell me, Don Velasco has reprieved thee. I trust thou'lt show thy gratitude.

Hernando

I will.

[ Exit with guards.

Carlos

I will! There's mischief in that ruffian yet. Don Julio! I was bidden to attend you.

Julio (in a revery)

I cannot do't! 'Twas infamous to tempt me.

Carlos

How so?

Julio (still musing)

How so?

( suddenly rousing himself. )

Carlos!

Carlos

Nay; look not on me so terribly, my lord. They bade me come but to attend thee hence.

Julio

Lead on! Lead on!

[ Exeunt.


SCENE II[edit]

An apartment in the Royal Palace.


( Enter Izidora, sumptuously attired. )


Izidora

I will believe that I am borne along to this day's purpose in the arms of Fate! For, though my better angel warns me back with earnest gesture and imploring eyes, yet am I weak, resistless as a child!

[ Shouts are heard.

Shout on, glad voices! Swell your acclamations! It is my bridal day---a day of joy! My heart is lifted on those waves of sound, and thrills with the first gladness it has known since---since---away! away! thou fiend, remembrance! Is there no spell can lay thee? Thou art hideous, yet there's a fascination in thy horror that bids me gaze and gaze till I am frenzied. Ah me! on what a base is reared the joy, a single flash of memory can shiver! What have I done? Brief is the time elapsed since, with the ashes of his great forefathers, all that is mortal of my sire was blended. And now, death's sable livery is changed for bridal pomp---the wail of lamentation for shouts of mirth, and nuptial harmonies! And he, I wed, is---reason cannot breathe it!---yet in that little space---that sand of time---what weary lives of anguish have been crowded! What maddening thoughts! What passions and what terrors! Revenge and love and duty and despair! The fury of the elements! the shock of adverse fleets on a tempestuous sea! But, over all, riding the topmost wave, love's bark still floats triumphant!

( Enter Velasco. )

Velasco

Solitary?

Izidora

Oh truant bridegroom! Thou hast lagg'd behind the heels of expectation.

Velasco

I have counted the tedious hours that kept me from thy side.

Izidora

And me, sad thoughts have visited in thy absence.

Velasco

Oh! banish them.

Izidora (regarding him steadfastly)

I know that thou art good! Impregnable in honour! brave and noble! But dost thou not condemn me in thy heart, for the blind weakness of that sense of duty, or, for the strength of that o'ermastering passion, which wrongs a father for a lover's sake?

Velasco

Why, what a restless conjurer of ill thy fancy is! Thou know'st, that all my hopes are staked upon the promise of this day.

Izidora

Thou'rt pale, methinks.

Velasco

And thou art beautiful!

Izidora

We should be happy at a time like this.

Velasco

Am I not happy? Is it not a joy to look into thy face? to hear thee speak?

Izidora

Why should we not be happy? Why, when time has soften'd to the tenderness of grief the bitter recollection of the past---should we not be---Who spake?

Velasco

I heard no voice.

Izidora

Didst thou not say, thy oath?

Velasco

I did not speak.

Izidora

'Twas fantasy. Ha, ha!---Who laughed?

Velasco

Thyself.

Izidora

Forgive my feebleness. What did I ask?

Velasco

Why should we not be happy?

Izidora

Ah! look there! My father comes! Oh! what a wedding guest! The grave could not withold him! There he stands, as I beheld him last, pale, pale and dying! Oh! thou august and dreadful monitor! Wouldst thou remind me of my broken vow? Art thou my marshal to eternity, or, but the herald of thine own revenge?

Velasco

Nay, Izidora---

Izidora

Ah! he turns to thee! There's no forgiveness in his spectral glare! He spurns me from him with his filmy arms! Recoiling now, he draws his mantle's fold, and,---horror! points unto a reeking wound!

Velasco

las! my love---

Izidora

He vanishes in darkness!

Velasco (supporting her)

It was delusion! rouse thee, Izidora! Oh Fate! should she be---No! she breathes, she moves. Cheer, cheer, my love.

[ Music is heard.

Dost hear? The bridal train expect our coming. 'Twas a fleeting dream---

Izidora

Is there no portent in the troubled air to blast my senses, if I look around?

Velasco

Ah, no! come forth! The blessed sunshine streams o'er the green earth; and every human heart is dancing in its brightness. Look, and hear! Fair sights, glad sounds, for us are fair and glad.

Izidora

I hear a step; whose is it?

( Enter Julio and Carlos. )

Mine own brother!

Velasco

Julio!

Carlos (to Velasco)

My lord, the king requires your presence.

[ Velasco and Julio regard each other a moment in silence.

Velasco (to Julio)

I thank thee, that thou has conveyed thy thoughts by looks not words, which haply had been harsh. I need not tell thee, by my knighthood's faith, I will account to thee for all in honour.

[ Exeunt Carlos and Velasco.

Izidora

I knew thou wouldst return to me unharm'd; that our false kinsman's words were false like him; thrice welcome home, my own, my only brother! Is this thy greeting? No fraternal kiss? No arm to clasp me, and no voice to bless? Statue-like, silent, cold!

Julio

I give thee joy.

Izidora

Oh! memory! It blazes on me now.

Julio

Thou art to wed, my sister. As I pass'd through the gay streets, I ask'd---what means this pageant? They told me, it was Izidora's bridal. Through our own halls I strode---they were deserted; not even a solitary watch-dog growl'd. Then, hastening to the palace, I look'd round searchingly on the bright-rob'd, laughing throng, that through the royal valves mov'd to and fro, but could not find my father. Where's my father?

Izidora

Go! ask the dead.

Julio

Ah!

Izidora

Do not feign surprise. 'Tis useless cruelty. Thou know'st it all.

Julio

I do; but till I hear from thine own lips, that thou wilt wed the homicide, I cannot credit the monstrous story.

Izidora

It is true.

Julio

Thou shalt not do it.

Izidora

Shalt not!

Julio

Oh! my sister! By the fond recollections of our childhood, of those bright days when we two, hand in hand, roam'd through the fragrant fields in Andalusia---

Izidora

Go on, go on! Oh! those were blessed days! That I might once again before I die welcome the morning with as light a heart!

Julio

By all that memory hallows of the past, by all that hope prefigures of the future, forego these nuptials.

Izidora

No! It is too late. My word is pledged.

Julio

Thy word! 'Tis well for thee to be so scrupulous---thou, who hast kept so faithfully thy word unto the dead! Ah! that strikes home. Conscience is not yet torpid!

Izidora

Oh! I am tried beyond my human strength. Spare me, my brother.

Julio

Wilt arrest these nuptials?

Izidora

Never!

Julio

I do implore thee. I command thee!

Izidora

It is in vain. I tell thee, that the dead himself hath risen to fright me from my purpose! And dost thou hope, by mortal agency to shake my steadfast, unappalléd soul?

Julio

Then may the Furies wait upon thy nuptials! Despair and discord be thy marriage lot! And ere thy husband's kiss is on thy cheek, may thy wrong'd father's image shoot between, and with his angry eyes transfix thee, till thou'rt petrified with horror! If thou hast children, may they be fratricides, avenging upon each other's head their grandsire's doom!

Izidora

Now do I fear, that those keen miseries, those bitter pangs that should have broke my heart, have made it hard as adamant, or else why quail'd I not beneath thy imprecations?

[ Music heard.

The bridegroom waits.

Julio

By force I will withold thee. Sister! thou shalt not go to him.

Izidora

Stand back! 'Tis Fate's coercion hurries me along; and Death must drag me at his chariot-wheels, ere we again are parted!

[ Exit.

Julio

She is gone. And what is Frenzy she believes is Fate---shall I submit? No, no! it must not be. The terrible alternative is left.

[ Exit.



SCENE III[edit]

The royal banquet-room. A banqueting table superbly set out with vessels of wine, goblets, &c.


( Enter Julio through the folding doors. )


Julio

How like a cautious, trembling, guilty thing, I glide with stealthy paces toward my purpose. Can that be good, of which the outward signs are the thief's posture and the coward's tread? Away, reflection! 'Tis too late to waver when half the crime is in th' intent committed. Decision gives a virtue even to vice, and gilds its black deformity. Oh! think of all the fierce incentives to the act. Quick! or the occasion's gone!

[ He advances rapidly towards the table,---hesitates as he is about to poison the goblet, and finally, recoiling from the undertaking, rushes to the front of the stage. ]

Was I struck blind? Ere I could do the deed, a shadow fell on all around me; and the flashing board changed to funereal blackness! Indistinct was every object to my blasted sight;---and the gemm'd goblet faded, and the floor sank in and reel'd like the sea's undulations! I'll not renew th' attempt.

[ A burst of sprightly music is heard from a distance. ]

Ah! they approach! With dulcimer and cymbal, they approach! Ghost of my slaughter'd father! Now transfuse into this frame thy immaterial essence! Nerve the obedient muscles of mine arm, and be thine own avenger!

[ He again approaches the goblet and with a steady hand infuses the poison. Just as he is turning from the perpetration of the deed, Carlos and Izidora appear at the door in the back ground. The former, after a significant gesture, withdraws; and the latter comes forward unperceived by Julio, and lays her hand upon him, which causes him to start with terror ]

It is done!

Izidora

What hast thou done?

Julio

Sister! What have I done?

Izidora

Ay; there is no evasion; for I know what thou hast done. Art thou my brother, Julio? Undo thy foul attempt! undo it quickly, or, by my hopes of heaven, I will proclaim it!

Julio

Hold! 'tis my turn to be obdurate now. Dare to reveal it, and the lightning's flash is not more nimble than this steel shall be to make my vengeance certain. Hush! They come.

Izidora

My brother! do not---I will---stop these---

Julio

Hush!

[ He supports her.

( Enter to music, Ferdinand, with Velasco, followed by De Lerma, Favillo, Carlos, Ladies, Knights, and Banner-bearers, who form in the back-ground. )

Ferdinand

Julio! thy prompt compliance claims our thanks. I bring to thee a brother. In that pledge, which is the sacred symbol of forgiveness, greet ye each other first. Then, trumpets! sound! And let us all hail the propitious union in flowing cups.

Julio

My liege, my heart goes with it:---and I will play the Ganymede myself.

[ He leaves Izidora, who stands motionless and unconscious, but gradually revives as Velasco speaks. Julio fills two goblets, and hands the poisoned one to Velasco, who replaces it on the board so abruptly as to excite Julio's apprehensions lest he is aware of the treachery. But Velasco advances and frankly offers him his hand. ]

Velasco

Julio! thy hand! thou makest me, by this act, bankrupt in gratitude. I slew thy father---my honour forced me, while my heart revolted! I will requite thee with a brother's kindness, cherish thy sister with a parent's care, and with a lover's duty. To our union!

[ As Velasco lifts the goblet, Izidora utters a faint exclamation, which arrests his hand.

Julio (aside to Izidora)

Beware!

Velasco

What says the bride?

Julio

'Twas naught---the joy---the transport---Come! our union!

Izidora (seizing the goblet from Velasco)

Give it me.

[ Trembling she returns the goblet to the cupbearer.

Velasco

What wouldst thou, Izidora?

Izidora

Taste it not. Thou wouldst not quaff before the bride has sipp'd?

Julio

I'll not be thwarted by thee.

Ferdinand

Ah! Prevent him.

Julio

My father aims the blow! It is Gonzalez!

( As Izidora springs to meet Velasco, he falls at her feet. )

Izidora (bending over him)

Oh, fatal treason! terrible revenge!

Velasco

Thy love supports me---and thy arm enfolds me---my ebbing sight heaves its last glance on thee---thus dying, death is grateful. Oh, farewell!

[ Dies.

Izidora

Are ye all speechless? I should be, were't not I know that I full soon shall follow him. Faint! very faint!

[ Seizes the poisoned goblet.

Here's that which shall revive me!

[ Drains it.

Julio

It is the poison'd goblet!

Izidora

Not a drop remains for thee.

[ Gazing upon Velasco.

Alas! my only love! The brave, the glorious, and the beautiful! In death we are united; never more to part! The expiation is complete!

[ She sinks gradually from the arms of her brother towards Velasco, and dies.


CURTAIN FALLS.