Pieces People Ask For/Scene from "Ingomar"

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Ingomar. Leader of a band of Alemanni.

Parthenia. A Greek girl.[1]

(Parthenia clasps her hands before her face, and stands sobbing in the foreground.)
Ingomar. (Who has been standing on a rock looking at the proceedings of his followers.)

No violence! Ho! how he runs! and now
He stops and cries again! Poor fearful fool!
It must be strange to fear: now, by my troth,
I should like to feel, for once, what 'tis to fear!
But the girl— (Leaning forward.) Ha! do I see right?

you weep. [To Parthenia.

Is that the happy temper that you boast?
Par. Oh, I shall never see him more!
Ing. What! have we
For a silly old man, got now a foolish
And timid weeping girl? I have had enough
Of tears.
Par. Enough, indeed, since you but mock them!
I will not — no, I'll weep no more.

[She quickly dries her eyes, and retires to the background.

Ing. That's good ! come, that looks well;
She is a brave girl; she rules herself, and if
She keep her word, we have made a good exchange—

"I'll weep no more!" Aha! I like the girl.
And if— Ho! whither goest thou?
[To Parthenia, who is going off with two goblets.
Par. Where should I go? to yonder brook, to cleanse the cups.
Ing. No ! stay and talk with me.
Par. I have duties to perform. [Going.
Ing. Stay — I command you, slave!
Par. I am no slave ! your hostage, but no slave.
I go to cleanse the cups. [Exit l.
Ing. Ho! here's a self-willed thing — here is a spirit!
[Mimicking her.
"I will not, I am no slave ! I have duties to perform!
Take me for hostage!" and she flung back her head
As though she brought with her a ton of gold!
"I'll weep no more," — Aha! an impudent thing.
She pleases me! I love to be opposed;
I love my horse when he rears, my dogs when they snarl,
The mountain torrent, and the sea, when it flings
Its foam up to the stars; such things as these
Fill me with life and joy. Tame indolence
Is living death! the battle of the strong
Alone is life!
[During this speech Parthenia has returned with
the cups and a bundle of field flowers. She seats
herself on a piece of rock in front.
Ing. Ah ! she is here again. (He approaches her, and leans
over her on the rock.) What art thou making there?
Par. I? garlands.
Ing. Garlands?
(Musing.) It seems to me as I before had seen her
In a dream! How! Ah, my brother! — he who died
A child — yes, that is it. My little Folko —
She has his dark-brown hair, his sparkling eye:
Even the voice seems known again to me;
I'll not to sleep — I'll talk to her. [Returns to her.
These you call garlands,
And wherefore do you weave them ?
Par. For these cups.
Ing. How ?
Par. Is it not with you a custom ? With us
At home, we love to intertwine with flowers
Our cups and goblets.

Ing. What use is such a plaything?

Par. Use? They are beautiful; that is their use.
The sight of them makes glad the eye; their scent
Refreshes, cheers. There!
(Fastens the half -finished garland round a cup and presents it to him.) Is not that, now, beautiful?
Ing. Ay—by the bright sun ! That dark-green mixed
Up with the gay flowers! Thou must teach oar women
To weave such garlands.
Par. That is soon done: thy wife
Herself shall soon weave wreaths as well as I.
Ing. (Laughing heartily.) My wife! my wife! a woman
Dost thou say?
I thank the gods, not I. This is my wife—

[Pointing to his accoutrements.

My spear, my shield, my sword ; let him who will
Waste cattle, slaves, or gold, to buy a woman;
Not I—not I!
Par. To buy a woman?—how?
Ing. What is the matter? why dost look so strangely?
Par. How ! did I hear aright? bargain for brides
As you would slaves — buy them like cattle?
Ing. Well, I think a woman fit only for a slave.
We follow our own customs, as you yours.
How do you in your city there?
Par. Consult our hearts.
Massilia's free-born daughters are not sold,
But bound by choice with bands as light and sweet
As these I hold. Love only buys us there.
Ing. Marry for love—what! do you love your husbands?
Par. Why marry else?
Ing. Marry for love; that's strange!
I cannot comprehend. I love my horse,
My dogs, my brave companions—but no woman!
What dost thou mean by love—what is it, girl?
Par. What is it? 'Tis of all things the most sweet—
The heaven of life—or, so my mother says,
I never felt it.
Ing. Never?
Par. No, indeed.

[Looking at garland.

Now look how beautiful ! Here would I weave
Red flowers if I had them.
Ing. Yonder there,
In that thick wood they grow.
Par. How sayest thou?
(Looking off.) Oh, what a lovely red ! Go, pluck me some.
Ing. (Starting at the suggestion.) I go for thee?
the master serve the slave!

[Gazing on her with increasing interest.

And yet, why not ? I'll go — the poor child's tired.
Par. Dost thou hesitate?
Ing. No, thou shalt have the flowers
As fresh and dewy as the bush affords.[He goes off, r.
Par. (Holding out the wreath.)
I never yet succeeded half so well.
It will be charming! Charming? and for whom?
Here among savages 1 no mother here
Looks smiling on it—I am alone, forsaken!
But no, I'll weep no more! No, none shall say I fear.
Re-enter Ingomar, with a bunch of flowers, and slowly advancing towards Parthenia.
Ing. (Aside.) The little Folko, when in his play he wanted
Flowers or fruit, would so cry "Bring them to me;
Quick! I will have them—these I will have or none;"
Till somehow he compelled me to obey him,
And she, with the same spirit, the same fire—
Yes, there is much of the bright child in her.
Well, she shall be a little brother to me!
There are the flowers. [He hands her the flowers.
Par. Thanks, thanks ! Oh, thou hast broken them
Too short off in the stem!

[She throws some of them on the ground.

Ing. Shall I go and get thee more?
Par. No : these will do.
Ing. Tell me now about your home — I will sit here,
Near thee.
Par. Not there: thou art crushing all the flowers.
Ing. (Seating himself at her feet.)
Well, well ; I will sit here, then. And now tell me,
What is your name?
Par. Parthenia.
Ing. Parthenia!
A pretty name! and now, Parthenia, tell me
How that which you call love grows in the soul;
And what love is: 'tis strange, but in that word
There's something seems like yonder ocean — fathomless.
Par. How shall I say? Love comes, my mother says,
Like flowers in the night—reach me those violets—
It is a flame a single look will kindle,
But not an ocean quench.
Fostered by dreams, excited by each thought,-,
Love is a star from heaven, that points the way
And leads us to its home—a little spot
In earth's dry desert, where the soul may rest—
A grain of gold in the dull sand of life—
A foretaste of Elysium; but when
Weary of this world's woes, the immortal gods
Flew to the skies, with all their richest gifts,
Love staid behind, self-exiled for man's sake!
Ing. I never yet heard aught so beautiful!
But still I comprehend it not.
Par. Nor I.
For I have never felt it ; yet I know
A song my mother sang, an ancient song,
That plainly speaks of love, at least to me.
How goes it? Stay—

[Slowly, as trying to recollect.

"What love is, if thou wouldst he taught,
Thy heart must teach alone,—
Two souls with but a single thought,
Two hearts that beat as one.

And whence comes love? like morning's light,
It comes without thy call;
And how dies love?—A spirit bright,
Love never dies at all!"

And when—and when—

[Hesitating as if unable to continue.

Ing. Go on.
Par. I know no more.
Ing. (Impatiently.) Try—try!
Par. I cannot now; but at some other time
I may remember.
Ing. (Somewhat authoritatively.) Now, go on, I say.
Par. (Springing up in alarm.) Not now, I want more
roses for my wreath!
Yonder they grow, I will fetch them for myself.
Take care of all my flowers and the wreath!

[Throws the flowers into Ingomar's lap and runs off.

Ing. (After a pause, without changing his position, speaking to himself in deep abstraction.)

"Two souls with but a single thought,
Two hearts that beat as one."

Maria Lovett's translation from the German.

  1. Parthenia's father having been taken prisoner by Ingomar's followers, Parthenia voluntarily offers herself as hostage, while her father returns to Massilia to raise his ransom. Her offer has been accepted, and her father released.