GUENDOLEN. Forgive me--sleep the soundlier for me! [Going, she turns suddenly.] Mildred! Perdition! all's discovered! Thorold finds --That the Earl's greatest of all grandmothers Was grander daughter still--to that fair dame Whose garter slipped down at the famous dance! [Goes.]
MILDRED. Is she--can she be really gone at last? My heart! I shall not reach the window. Needs Must I have sinned much, so to suffer. [She lifts the small lamp which is suspended before the Virgin's image in the window, and places it by the purple pane.] There! [She returns to the seat in front.] Mildred and Mertoun! Mildred, with consent Of all the world and Thorold, Mertoun's bride! Too late! 'Tis sweet to think of, sweeter still To hope for, that this blessed end soothes up The curse of the beginning; but I know It comes too late: 'twill sweetest be of all To dream my soul away and die upon. [A noise without.] The voice! Oh why, why glided sin the snake Into the paradise Heaven meant us both? [The window opens softly. A low voice sings.]
There's a woman like a dew-drop, she's so purer than the purest; And her noble heart's the noblest, yes, and her sure faith's the surest: And her eyes are dark and humid, like the depth on depth of lustre Hid i' the harebell, while her tresses, sunnier than the wild-grape cluster, Gush in golden tinted plenty down her neck's rose-misted marble: Then her voice's music... call it the well's bubbling, the bird's warble!
[A figure wrapped in a mantle appears at the window.]
And this woman says, "My days were sunless and my nights were moonless, Parched the pleasant April herbage, and the lark's heart's outbreak tuneless, If you loved me not!" And I who--(ah, for words of flame!) adore her, Who am mad to lay my spirit prostrate palpably before her--
[He enters, approaches her seat, and bends over her.]
I may enter at her portal soon, as now her lattice takes me, And by noontide as by midnight make her mine, as hers she makes me!
[The EARL throws off his slouched hat and long cloak.]