(Scene: Garden before the house. The lovers walk on, arms entwined.)
Many the nights we two have spent like this,
And many more; eternal happiness
Would be my lot if so eternall
Could we two meet.
And why the doubt, my love?
Why the forboding? Dost though know of aught
That thou hast kept in secrecy from me?
Tell me, why should we not love on and on,
All through this world, and through the next?
The next –
For that, only our faith and hope can bring
Us any satisfaction; in this world
We must cement our joy, or lose it all.
We are too happy for this care-worn world,
None know such happiness as we two know,
And so we are not of the world a part,
For of the world such happiness is not,
But something foreign, making a discord,
A sweet discord ‘mid the clashing chords,
And must our music cease, or we transport
It to another sphere.
Catreena: Thou makest fear
Thou makest fear
To creep unbidden to my heart, my joy
Is dulled, our night of bliss is marred; and why?
Because thou lettest thoughts that shame a man
Cloud up thine eyes and dull thy very brain;
Or, woe is me that such a thought should pass
My lips, yet I must speak it now or die,
Is it that thou, my Illiam, seekest out
A sweet excuse for unrequited love,
For coolness thou hast shown me? Art thou dead
Now to my love, and dost thou choose this way
Of telling me?
Darling, thou know’st I love;
How can’st thou charge me thus, and knowing that
My life and love and all I dedicate
To thy sweet self?
Catreena: I never doubted thee;
I love to hear thee speak th’impassioned words
Almost as much as I love thee.
Lost in a wonderland of dreams we strayed
Together through the wood, our feet made noise
In the dead leaves that strewed the winding path,
And we spake not, for nought was there to say;
And slanting down through the great trees above
Came shafts of moonlight – fairies seemed to dance
As motes along these shimmering rays; and then
We stood beside our mystic pool and tried
To guess its depth and what its waters hid,
And faintly the small trickle of the brook
Came to us, and the rustle of the trees,
Making the silver patches move upon
The rich dark bosom of the pool as though
Some giant denizen did walk beneath
The surface and did ever move his lamp
About in his deep chamber, and it shone
On the translucent ceiling.
Catreena: Yes, and we
Yes, and we
Stood hand in hand, we did not move, we stood
For an eternity; it seemed that we
Had ever been like that and nothing else,
Lost in a great rapture that we felt
But could no more define than we could say
What gives the sun his light, what makes the reeds
Grow round the pool, our pool, like sentinels.
And like the pool my heart was full, so full,
I thought no happiness like that could come
To man, or such joy ever visit him;
And that is why I say it cannot last,
This, our exquisite, mutual harmony,
For it is much too pure, too fine, too high
And brings us too much pleasure to be all
That will befall us in our earthly life.
Something will happen – that I feel – I know,
Something will part us, we can never live
As we are living now unto the end –
But, if by unseen hands, thou, thou, my love,
Art taken from me, then I will triumph
O’er the hands’ owner and defeat his aim,
For my own hands will finish what he starts,
And leaves unfinished, these two strong hands
Shall instrumental be in freeing me
From my vile body so my soul can join
Yours in the boundless vasty space, and live!
Oh, nobly spoken, my brave warrior!
My gallant thou, my champion in the cause!
That thou can’st speak with such fervour, yet
Thou hintest at small fears that make thee start.
And oh, a morbid note thou choosest, dear,
To end our lovely night; myself would say,
Since earth is all so wicked as thou think’st,
And the whole world is full of naughtiness,
Should not our love be as a torch to them
Who know not love save as devouring lust?
Does not the thinnest line of white stand out
Upon the jettest black? And is not one
Small candle to be seen by all, if it
Be fixed in a position high enough?
The night is gone; my darling, leave me now;
Thou to thy home where waits for thee thy bed,
To shelter and protect thee till the morning light
Breaks round to hasten in the day when thou
Wilt see me yet again.
I would the night
Would never come, or else that thou and I
Did’st never part, not for the briefest hour;
I cannot live without thee; I am dull
When thy dear self is no more by my side,
For thou art all my with; I cannot see,
For thou art of my eyes the light; the bed
Is empty and my only friends are thoughts,
And thoughts are strange bed-fellows!
Soon, my dear,
Our dreams will all come true; till then we meet
As often as we may, and steal our joy
Where none may find us; now unto our beds.
Goodbye, my Illiam –
‘Tis not, goodbye, sweet one.
Goodnight, I meant:
O strange, strange youth, thy passion moves thee so
That thou hast most meticulous become
So that I wonder if I ever knew
Thee, thou art changed so wonderfully now.
Goodnight, dear Illiam, we to-morrow eve
Will meet in our old haunt beside the pool,
Our pool, his pool, where dwells the water-bull,
Yn Taroo Ushtey. Maybe we shall see
The noble beast.
I would not jest at him,
My fair Catreena.
Tush, thou frightened boy,
He is long dead, if ever he did live;
To-morrow eve, then; Won’t you say, Evie?
To- morrow eve it is; may Time put forth
His quickest foot and speed the hours. Evie!
(The second scene is a forest glade, stream and dark pool. It is moonlight. Enter Catreena alone.)
Ah, leaden hours, that seemed to crawl along
The path of time; the old say Time is fleet,
The young do chafe at his slow lingering;
To-day each minute was an hour and I
Moved on as slowly as the clock: but now
The hour is come; her is our secret pool,
Circled around with weeds; it hath no depth
So legend says, yet therein dwells the bull,
The snow-white water-bull. Has any seen
The beast? Yet tales are told of his great powers,
His kindliness, again his great ferocity.
And did he live? If that be so, is he
Now dead? What if he now from out our pool
Should rise, all wet and gleaming in the light
Of yonder moon; should I stand here and say,
“O gentle beast!”, or should I flee afar,
Trembling in fear.
The lake is very still,
Yet it was ever thus, I have not seen
The smallest ripple on its sleeping breast;
The moonlight rests on it as if on glass,
In lovely milky pools that seem to sleep,
Their bosoms heaving with their gentle sleep.
Did it then move?
No, ‘twas the moving trees
Caused the white pools to glide a little way,
And settle back into their slumber still.
Was that a wave rolled gently to the reeds,
The dark mysterious reeds upon the shore,
And made them sway?
No, ‘twas the gentle breeze.
And yet there is a sound, a little sound
Comes from the black depths – what – what –
It moves now!
See how the middle swells, see how the lake
Parts in the centre – ah, it moves, it moves.
Illiam, where art thou? Why hast thou not come?
Our pool – it moves, look, look – the snowy horns –
Help me! Come, Illiam, come, or else I die.
(She rushes off, but her silken scarf floats out upon the bosom of the motionless pool.)
(Enter Illiam from the opposite direction.)
Catreena, did’st thou call?
I thought I heard her cry? She is not here.
Then did I dream? Do I so think of her,
That my imagination plays such tricks
That I believe she calls.
She is not here.
She cannot now be long. I’ll sit me down,
Here on this mound and wait for her approach.
Time walked to-day as a sad mourner walks
Behind the coffin at a funeral,
Following with a slow and heavy step
Some cold decaying remnant of a life
That once has been.
She is not here.
But when she comes, then with a fickle will,
Time will be merry and will dance along,
Capriciously as any youthful maid,
His sombre clothes and mournful gait forgot,
And he will laugh and then more swiftly fly,
Bearing us in his wake unwillingly,
Then parting us at last, and that achieved,
Will sober into funeral walk again.
‘Tis ever thus.
She is not here.
My heart is sore. Where is my sweet to-night?
Why has she not come laughing down the glade
As she is wont to do and leap with joy
Into my open arms, upon my heart,
My longing heart, her lips upon my lips?
See there upon the pool! White, white! ‘Tis not
A patch of moonlight – is it? No.
For one dread moment that her scarf out there
Floated; it is so very like her scarf,
That wisp of silken whit she winds about
Her throat – it is, it is, my love, thy scarf!
How comes it on the pool, unless thou art
Thyself in the green depths?
O soul, thy time
Of liberty is nigh; now will I free
Thee from this mortal clay to join her soul.
Sweet earth, farewell. I come, Catreena, home.
He cannot now be far away, his voice
I heard. But now all’s quiet. The pool is still.
But what –
My darling, and art sleeping then?
And was I so long gone that thou should’st tire
And fall asleep? How I shall laugh at thee
When thou awak’st for sleeping on a tryst.
What lover thou? Ah, but my heart with joy
Is full now that we are alone once more.
I would not wake thee, but I long to see
Thy smile light up thy face as the young sun
Lightens the pastures in the morn; to hear
Thy dear, dear voice breathe words of love to me;
To feel thy circling arms around me; sweet
To see thee slumbering, but sweeter far
To slumber with thee. Wilt not then awake?
Art cold to me? See, I will kiss thee now.
That doth not wake thee. I will lift thy head
Into my lap, there it will rest more soft –
So! Shall I sing to thee a lullaby? –
What! Death? No life? No smile? No voice? No arms?
Never to kiss me? Never to meet me?
Thou sleepest faster than I thought, and I
Will sleep with thee. Thy dagger red will prove
To set the final seal upon our love.