Fiction > Harvard Classics > Percy Bysshe Shelley > The Cenci
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822).  The Cenci.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act IV
Scene II
Before the Castle of Petrella.
Enter BEATRICE and LUCRETIA above on the Ramparts
  Beatrice.  They come not yet.
  Lucretia.                ’Tis scarce midnight.
  Beatrice.                How slow        5
Behind the course of thought, even sick with speed,
Lags leaden footed time!
  Lucretia.                The minutes pass…
If he should wake before the deed is done?
  Beatrice.  O, mother! He must never wake again.        10
What thou hast said persuades me that our act
Will but dislodge a spirit of deep hell
Out of a human form.
  Lucretia.                ’Tis true he spoke
Of death and judgment with strange confidence        15
For one so wicked; as a man believing
In God, yet recking not of good or ill.
And yet to die without confession!…
  Beatrice.                Oh!
Believe that Heaven is merciful and just,        20
And will not add our dread necessity
To the amount of his offences.
Enter OLIMPIO and MARZIO, below
  Lucretia.                See,
They come.        25
  Beatrice.  All mortal things must hasten thus
To their dark end. Let us go down.  [Exeunt LUCRETIA and BEATRICE from above.
  Olimpio.  How feel you to this work?
  Marzio.                As one who thinks
A thousand crowns excellent market price        30
For an old murderer’s life. Your cheeks are pale.
  Olimpio.  It is the white reflection of your own,
Which you call pale.
  Marzio.                Is that their natural hue?
  Olimpio.  Or ’tis my hate and the deferred desire        35
To wreak it, which extinguishes their blood.
  Marzio.  You are inclined then to this business?
  Olimpio.                Ay.
If one should bribe me with a thousand crowns
To kill a serpent which had stung my child,        40
I could not be more willing.
Enter BEATRICE and LUCRETIA, below
                Noble ladies!
  Beatrice.  Are ye resolved?
  Olimpio.                Is he asleep?        45
  Marzio.                Is all
  Lucretia.  I mixed an opiate with his drink:
He sleeps so soundly…
  Beatrice.                That his death will be        50
But as a change of sin-chastising dreams,
A dark continuance of the Hell within him,
Which God extinguish! But ye are resolved?
Ye know it is a high and holy deed?
  Olimpio.  We are resolved.        55
  Marzio.                As to the how this act
Be warranted, it rests with you.
  Beatrice.                Well, follow!
  Olimpio.  Hush! Hark! What noise is that?
  Marzio.                Ha! some one comes!        60
  Beatrice.  Ye conscience-stricken cravens, rock to rest
Your baby hearts. It is the iron gate,
Which ye left open, swinging to the wind,
That enters whistling as in scorn. Come, follow!
And be your steps like mine, light, quick and bold.  [Exeunt.        65


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