SESAK. [Without.] Down with thee! Now for Memnon! Where is he? [Enters.]
[Reënter MEMNON in full armor.] MEMN. I answer to that name; come, what is thine?
| SES. [Raising his sword.] This tongue shall tell it thee.|
MEMN. Ha! Thy voice does that.
|Well, we have met at last.|
SES. At last, indeed. [Unmasks.]
|Well, whats the gossip?|
MEMN. Villain of the world,
|Hell starves for malice till I send thee there!|
| SES. Why, to it, then! [They fight. After a few passes MEMNON strikes SESAKS sword from him. SESAK recoils several paces.]|
[Enter PHANES with Persian soldiers. PHANES rushes between MEMNON and SESAK.] PHA. Stay, Memnon! Memnon, hold!
|Seize him! [Two soldiers seize SESAK.]|
MEMN. Why come between me and my prey?
|Hold off thy meddling hands, I say! Touch not|
|The tiger in methat has tasted blood,|| 10|
|And I am dangerous.|
SES. Why, let him come.
| PHA. Nay, sir, you would not strike a pinioned man!|
| MEMN. Oh, thou hast robbed me! [Enter NITETIS, attended.]|
PHA. Is it so? Behold!
| NITET. My father, father! [Enter ASSETH.]|
ASSETH. It is dawn.
| MEMN. Oh, never fairer blossomed in the east!|| 15|
| NITET. My father!|
MEMN. Closer, girl! this is the day
|Which pinnacles my calendar. Close, close!|
| NITET. How I have hungered for this hour!|
|What guide like heaven? Through the grime of war|
|She comes unblackened.|
ASSETH. [To SESAK.] Well, my dog?
SES. Laugh on.
| PHA. Sir,|
MEMN. Thou art hungry, too? [Looses NITETISS arms from his neck, leads her to PHANES, then approaches SESAK.]
Thou art to die.
| ASSETH. Hearst that, my dog?|
SES. I do; I am to die.
[Enter MENEPHTAH with drawn sword, a slave fanning him.] MENEPH. A Persian! a Persian, I say! show me a Persian. Great Memnon, where are the Persians? [Sees Persians, and stops short, hiding his sword and getting behind the slave.]
| PHA. O, if thou givst her me [A flourish.]|
MEMN. What trumpets that?
[Enter PREXASPES, attended; after him two pages bearing the Egyptian crown upon a cushion veiled.] PHA. Prexaspes!
PREX. [To MEMNON.] Mightiest, hail!
[To NITETIS.] Hail, flower of the world; and joy to all!
|Thus great Cambyses greeting. [Kneels and offers a scroll to MEMNON.]|
MEMN. What is this?
|To Hophras daughter|
| PREX. [Unveiling the crown.] Hophras crown. [ASSETH directs SESAKS attention.]|
SES. Laugh on!
| PREX. Hail, Queen of Egypt!|
PHA. [Aside, turning away.] Queen? Then never mine. [NITETIS looks at PHANES, then goes to MEMNON.]
| NITET. Father, what would you have me do?|
MEMN. My girl,
|Art thou not Hophras daughter?|
NITET. [Pointing to PHANES.] But for him?
| MEMN. Well, girl? There is thy golden heritage,|
|Thy fathers crown.|
NITET. But he?
MEMN. Think not of him.
|He will surrender thee.|
NITET. Surrender me! [Turns to PHANES.]
| MEMN. Thou canst not marry with a foreigner,|| 35|
|And sit on Egypts throne. [PHANES points to the crown and turns away.]|
MEMN. What! Weep?
|And in thy grasp the majesty and rule|
|Of half the world?|
NITET. No, not my world.
|Still dumb? Tis written of thy womankind,|
|They may love povertytill wooed by gold.|| 40|
| NITET. Ist so? Then pray correct the lying scroll.|
|Were this the diadem of fifty worlds,|
|To sit immortally upon my head,|
|It could not tempt me.|
MEMN. Why, thou foolish one?
| NITET. O, who can analyze a young girls heart,|| 45|
|Or single out the wherefore of her love?|
|She only knows she loves, and that one love|
|Outshines the jewels on an empress brow.|
|I love him, sir,thats my philosophy.|
|O, my dear love, how proud I am of you! [To PHANES.]|| 50|
|Take it away; I am a subject, sir. [To PREXASPES.]|
|Here is my king.Father, approve my choice. [Kneels before MEMNON.]|
| MEMN. Approve! [Raises her and takes her in his arms.] [To PREXASPES.]|
This brow would shame the diadem.
|We thank Cambyses.|
PREX. Then farewell, my lord.
[Exit PREXASPES and pages. SESAK steals knife from the girdle of the soldier guarding him, and secretes it in his bosom.] MEMN. Approvemy girl of noble heart! approve?
|Why, hadst thou faltered but a moment; touched|
|Nay, looked upon the crownand so forsworn|
|The love thoust plighted himI swear to thee,|
|Thou never shouldst have called me father more.|
|My Greek, have I not proven her? Link your hands.|| 60|
[NITETIS and PHANES, joining hands, kneel.]I give her to thee wholly. Guard her well:
|She will reward thee. Shell not love at morn,|
|And ere the evening wasteth love thee not;|
|Nor harbor giddy tales, nor count thy purse|
|In her decision, nor decry thy gods|| 65|
|That they are different. Shell be wife to thee,|
|At worst in sunshine, best in doubt and night,|
|As comforting as is the pilots star;|
|Wife to thy spirit, closer than thy body.|
|My girl, be this thy dower for all life|| 70|
|Thy husband, unto thee, stands next to God.|
| PHA. My own, my own at last! [SESAK whispers ASSETH, who approaches MEMNON.]|
ASSETH. Noble my lord,
|He craves a word with you.|
MEMN. Ha! On what theme?
| ASSETH. Your brother, sir|
MEMN. [Starting forward.] My brother!
ASSETH. Nay, my lord,
|He does confess him innocent|
PHA. Away! [Guards lay hold of SESAK.]
| SES. Great Memnon, hear me!|
NITET. Hear him, father.
| NITET. Upon our wedding daysee it is dawn!|
|Let us be merciful.|
SES. [Aside.] Ill crack this tune!
|Rare virgin, thanks.My lord, I pray you, hear.|
| MEMN. What wouldst thou say to me? Devil thou art;|| 80|
|But if thou showst my brother guiltless, lo!|
|Thoult play the angel to me. Speak, I say.|
|Thou hast the vipers tooth, but I do swear|
|Didst lead him on?didst lie to him?say that;|
|Unburden me and wash his memory,|| 85|
|And though thou showest blacker than the fiends,|
|Ill call thee charitable. Speak to me!|
| SES. Great sir, am I to utter like a slave?|
|These vile ears nearest?Stand aside from me! [To the guards.]|
| PHA. Has he a weapon?|
SES. Fear ye these hands?
|Why, were these fingers each a knifebut sure|
|Aside from me! [At a signal from MEMNON, the guard falls back.] I humbly thank you, sir;|
|You, ladyyou, most gallant general.|
|Now may I speak, indeed.|
MEMN. Well? Come to it.
| SES. Nay, yet a little.Pray you, general, [To PHANES.]|| 95|
|Stand yonder for a moment; tis a whim,|
|A vagary.I am so soon to die,|
|And you so happy thereI pray you, sir!|
| PHA. Why, this is folly|
NITET. There is reason in t.
|I do beseech you, go.|
SES. O, thanks to you.
| PHA. Quickly confess thee|
SES. Ay, so please you, sir.
|Stand further from me, knave! Pardon, sweet sirs;|
|Though Im your cagèd rat, I must have room,|
|A little room to creep and breathe awhile.|
|Be patient yet.I do confess me, sir, [To MEMNON.]|| 105|
|I led your brother on.Your mercy, sir, [To PHANES.]|
|Twas I that sent her into Persia. Then,|
|I do acknowledge that my dearest aim|
|Fulfilled, fulfilled!was to destroy|
|And scatter Egypts glory like a chaff|| 110|
|Before the whirlwindnay, a moment, sir! [To PHANES.]|
|This much I tell ye freely, with my heart!|
|Ye were my tools. Your brawn, your souls, your hands,|
|Were my good servitors, and I thank ye for it!|
|Now for my mystery,catch it who can!|| 115|
|What should I speaksave of the hates I bear ye?|
|What doexcept complete my sworn revenge?|
|I am a viperlook to itbehold,|
|Ye tread on me! I turn and sting yethus!|
[Runs toward NITETIS with a knife drawn; MEMNON throws himself quickly between, and receives the blow.] ASSETH. Disarm him!
| SES. Sister, sister! sleep! [Stabs himself and falls.]|
| PHA. Justice! where is thy sword! [Bending over SESAK.]|
MEMN. [Pointing upward.] Nay, peace to death! [Sinks.]
| NITET. O, father!|
PHA. Bring a surgeon. Asseth, go!
| ASSETH. Nay, it is mortal.|
PHA. Jupiter! twas foul.
| NITET. O father, speak to me!|
MEMN. Be happy, girl,
|Cherish her, Greek.|
PHA. O Memnon, Memnon, live!
| MEMN. Nay, this is better.Lifes an empty dream,|
|Guessed only by the dead.|
MEMN. My girl,
|I loved thee fondly; give thy lips again.|
|Nay, gentle, mourn me not; my storm-tossed soul|| 130|
|Is at its anchorage, and all is calm. [Dies.]|