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with us. They all asked after you.

ERNEST. It seems that everybody is interested
in me.

D. JULIAN. I should think so, since everybody is
to be the principal personage of your play. You
may imagine if they are anxious to be on good terms
with you.

TEODORA. A play?

D. JULIAN. Hush! 'Tis a mystery. Ask no
questions. Neither title, nor characters, nor action,


nor catastrophe the sublime! Good-night, Ernest.
Come, Teodora.

ERNEST. Adieu, Don Julian.

TEODORA. Till to-morrow.

ERNEST. Good-night.

TEODORA [To DON JULIAN]. How preoccupied
Mercedes was!

D. JULIAN. And Severe was in a rage.

TEODORA. Why, I wonder.

D. JULIAN. How do I know? On the other hand,
Pepito chattered enough for both.

TEODORA. He always does, and nobody escapes
his tongue.

D. JULIAN. He's a character for Ernest's play.
Exeunt TEODORA, and DON JULIAN by right.


ERNEST. Let Don Julian say what he will, I
won't abandon the undertaking. That would be
signal cowardice. Never retreat always forward.
[Rises and begins to walk about in an agitated way.
Then approaches the balcony.] Protect me, night.
In thy blackness, rather than in the azure clear-
ness of day, are outlined the luminous shapes of


inspiration. Lift your roofs, you thousand houses
of this great town, as well for a poet in dire necessity
as for the devil on two sticks who so wantonly ex-
posed you. Let me see the men and women enter
your drawing-rooms and boudoirs in search of the
night's rest after fevered pleasures abroad. Let my
acute hearing catch the stray words of all those who
inquired for me of Don Julian and Teodora. As the
scattered rays of light, when gathered to a focus by
diaphanous crystal, strike flame, and darkness is
forged by the crossed bars of shadow; as mountains
are made from grains of earth, and seas from drops of
water: so will I use your wasted words, your vague
smiles, your eager glances, and build my play of all
those thousand trivialities dispersed in cafes, at re-
unions, theatres, and spectacles, and that float now
in the air. Let the modest crystal of my intelligence
be the lens which will concentrate light and shadow,
from which will spring the dramatic conflagration
and the tragic explosion of the catastrophe. Al-
ready my play takes shape. It has even a title now,
for there, under the lamp-shade, I see the immortal
work of the immortal Florentine. It offers me in
Italian what in good Spanish it would be risky and
futile audacity either to write on paper or pronounce


on the stage. Francesca and Paolo, assist me with
the story of your loves! [Sits down and prepares
to ivrite.] The play . . . the play begins.
. . . First page there, 'tis no longer white.
It has a name. [Writing.] THE GREAT GALEOTO.
[Writes feverishly.]





SCENE: A drawing-room in DON JULIAN'S house. At
the back of the stage a large door, and beyond a pass-
age, separating it from the dining-room door, which
remains closed throughout the act; on the left a bal-
cony, and beyond it a door; on the right two doors; on
the stage a table, an armchair, handsome and luxuri-
ous mounting. Hour, toward sunset.


balcony; DON JULIAN seated on the sofa, lost in

TEODORA. What a lovely sunset! what clouds
and light, and what a sky! Suppose it were true,
as the poets say, and our fathers believed, that our
fate is stamped upon the azure heaven! Were the
mysterious secret of human destiny traced by the
stars upon the sapphire sphere, and this splendid
evening should hold the cipher of ours, what happi-


ness it must disclose! what a smiling future! What
a life in our life, and what radiance in our heaven!
Is it not so, Julian? [She approaches DON JULIAN.]
Ah, plunged in thought, I see! Come and look out.
What, no word for me?

D. JULIAN [Absently]. What is it?

TEODORA [Coining near]. You have not been
listening to me!

D. JULIAN. You have my heart ever who
are its magnet and its centre. But my mind is
apt to be besieged by preoccupations, cares, bus-

TEODORA. They are the plague of my life, since
they rob me, if not of my husband's affections, at
least of some of his attention. But what is the mat-
ter, Julian? [Affectionately.] Something worries
you. Is it serious, that you are so solemn and so
silent? If it should be trouble, Julian, remember
that I have a right to share it. My joys are yours,
and your sorrows are no less mine.

D. JULIAN. Sorrows! Troubles! Are you not
happy? Do I not possess in you the living embodi-
ment of joy? With those cheeks so ruddy in the
glow of health, and those dear eyes, clear like your
soul and resplendent as the sky, 'and I the owner of


all you, could pain, or shadow, or grief teach me I am
other than the happiest man alive?

TEODORA. It is a business annoyance, perhaps?

D. JULIAN. Money never yet forced sleep or
appetite to forsake me. I have never felt aversion,
much less contempt for it, so it follows that the
article has flowed easily into my coffers. I was rich,
I am rich; and until Don Julian of Gargarga dies of
old age, please God and his own good fortune, he will
remain, if not the wealthiest, certainly the surest,
banker of Madrid, Cadiz, and Oporto.

TEODORA. Then what is your preoccupation?

D. JULIAN. I was thinking 'tis a good thought,

TEODORA. Naturally, since 'tis yours.

D. JULIAN. Flatterer! you would spoil me.

TEODORA. But I am still unenlightened.

D. JULIAN. There is an important matter that I
want to achieve.

TEODORA. Connected with the new works?

D. JULIAN. No; it has nothing to do with stone
or iron.

TEODORA. What, then?

D. JULIAN. It is a question of kindness a
sacred debt of old date.



TEODORA [Gleefully]. Oh, I can guess now.


TEODORA. You mean Ernest.

D. JULIAN. You are right.

TEODORA. Yes, yes, you must. Poor lad! He's
so good and noble and generous.

D. JULIAN. Quite his father's son the model
of a loyal hidalgo.

TEODORA. And then so clever! Only twenty-six,
and a prodigy! What doesn't he know?

D. JULIAN. Know! I should think he did know.
That's nothing rather, that's the worst of
it. While he is wandering in the sphere of sublime
thought, I fear he's not likely to learn much of a
world so deceptive and prosaic as ours, which takes
no interest in the subtleties of the mind until three
centuries after genius has been buried.

TEODORA. But with you for a guide, Julian
you don't intend to abandon him yet a while,

D. JULIAN. God forbid. I should be black-
hearted indeed if I would so readily forget all I owe
his father. Don Juan of Acedo risked for my family
name and wealth, ay, almost his life. Should this
lad need mine, he might ask it, and welcome.


'Twould be but just payment of the debt my name

TEODORA. Well said, Julian. It is like you.

D. JULIAN. You remember, about a year ago, I
heard my good friend was dead, and his son was left
badly off. I lost no time, caught the train to Ger-
ona, nearly used force, and carried the boy back
here. When he stood in the midde of this room I
said to him: "You are master here; you may com-
mand me and mine. Since I owe your father every-
thing, you must regard me in the light of his repre-
sentative. If I fall short, my desire is to come as
near as possible to him. As for the amount of affec-
tion I have to dispose of we'll see if I don't out-
race him there."

TEODORA. I remember it well. The soft-hearted
fellow burst out crying, and clung to you like a

D. JULIAN. He's but a child, as you say. That's
why we must think and plan for him. And 'twas
of that I was so seriously thinking a moment ago. I
was meditating a half-formed project, while you,
dear, wanted me to contemplate a panorama of
radiant cloud, and scarlet sun that cannot compare
with the sun that shines in my own heaven.


TEODORA. I cannot divine your idea. What is it
you project doing for Ernest?

D. JULIAN. Those are my words.

TEODORA. But is there something yet undone
that you expect to discover? He has lived with us
for the past year like one of ourselves. Were he
your son, or a brother of mine, could you show him
more tenderness, I more affection?

D. JULIAN. It is much, but not enough.

TEODORA. Not enough ! I fancy

D. JULIAN. You are thinking of the present, and
I of the future.

TEODORA. Oh! the future! That is easily set-
tled. See, he lives here with us as long as he likes,
for years. It is his home. Then when the just and
natural law prompts him to fall in love and desire
another, we will marry him. You will nobly share
your wealth with him, and we will lead them from
the altar to their own house he and she. The prov-
erb, you know, says wisely, "for each wedded pair
a house." He will live just a little away from us,
but that will be no reason for our forgetting him,
or loving him less. I see it all distinctly. They are
happy, and we even happier. They have children,
of course, and we perhaps more well, at least, one


little girl, who will fall in love with Ernest's son, and
to whom we will marry her by and by. [Spoken
playfully, with volubility, grace, blushes, and lively
gestures, according to the actress' talents.]

D. JULIAN. But where in heaven's name are you
going to stop? [Laughing.]

TEODORA. You spoke of his future, Julian, and
I've sketched it. If not this one, I will neither ap-
prove nor accept it.

D. JULIAN. How like you, Teodora! but

TEOBOBA, Ah, there is a but already.

D. JULIAN. Listen, Teodora. It is but a debt
we owe to look after the poor fellow as if he were a
relative, and obligation runs with the exactions of
our affection. So much for himself, so much for his
father's son. But every human action is complex,
has two points of view, and every medal has its re-
verse. Which means, Teodora, that you must
understand it is a very different matter to give and
receive favours; and that in the end Ernest might
feel my protection a humiliation. He's a high-
spirited, fine lad, a trifle haughty perhaps, and it is
imperative that there should be an end to his present
position. We may, if we can, do more for him, but
we must seem to do less.



TEODORA. How so?

D. JULIAN. We'll see but here he comes.
[Looks down the stage.]


D. JULIAN. Welcome!

ERNEST. Don Julian and Teodora! [Salutes
absently. Sits down near the table in pensive silence.]

D. JULIAN [Approaching him]. What's the mat-

ERNEST. Nothing.

D. JULIAN. You look as if something ailed you
your preoccupation reveals it. No trouble, I

ERNEST. Nonsense.

D. JULIAN. Nor disappointment?

ERNEST. None whatever.

D. JULIAN. I don't annoy you?

ERNEST. You! good heavens! [Rises and comes

toward him effusively.] You speak out of the right of

friendship and affection, and you read me through

and through. Yes, sir, there is indeed something



the matter. I will tell you, if you, and you also,
Teodora, out of your pity, will hold me excused. I
am an ungrateful fool, a mere boy, in truth, deserv-
ing neither of your kindness nor of your affection.
Possessing such a father and such a sister, I ought to
be happy, with no care for the morrow. But it is
not so. I blush to explain it can't you under-
stand? Yes, yes, you must see how false my posi-
tion is. I live here on alms. [With energy.]

TEODORA. Such a word

ERNEST. Teodora!

TEODORA. Affronts us.

ERNEST. I expressed myself ill but it is so.

D. JULIAN. I say it is not so. If any one in this
house lives upon alms, and those no slight ones, it is
I and not you.

ERNEST. I am acquainted, sir, with the story of
two loyal friends, and of some money matters long
forgotten. It does honour to my father and to his
hidalgic race. But I am ashamed in profiting by it.
I am young, Don Julian, and although I may not be
worth much, there ought still to be some way for me
to earn my bread. It may be pride or folly. I can-
not say. But I remember what my father used to
say: "What you can do yourself, never ask another


to do. What you can earn, never owe to any one

D. JULIAN. So that my services humiliate and
degrade you. You count your friends importu-
nate creditors.

TEODORA. Reason may be on your side, Ernest,
and in knowledge you are not deficient, but, believe
me, in this case the heart alone speaks with wisdom.

D. JULIAN. Your father did not find me so un-
generous or so proud.

TEODORA. Ah, friendship was then a very dif-
ferent thing.

ERNEST. Teodora!

TEODORA [To DON JULIAN]. What a noble
anxiety he displays!

ERNEST. I know I seem ungrateful I feel it
and an idiot to boot. Forgive me, Don Julian.

D. JULIAN. His head is a forge.

TEODORA [Also apart to DON JULIAN]. He
doesn't live in this world.

D. JULIAN. Just so. He's full of depth and
learning, and lets himself be drowned hi a pool of

ERNEST [Meditatively], True, I know little of
life, and am not well fitted to make my way through


it. But I divine it, and shudder, I know not why.
Shall I founder on the world's pool as upon the high
sea? I may not deny that it terrifies me far more
than the deep ocean. The sea only reaches the
limit set by the loose sand: over all space travel the
emanations of the pool. A strong man's arms can
struggle with the waves of the sea, but no one can
struggle against subtle miasma. But if I fall, I
must not feel the humiliation of defeat. I wish and
pray that at the last moment I may see the approach
of the sea that will bear m'e away at its will; see the
sword that is to pierce me, the rock against which I
am to be crushed. I must measure my adversary's
strength, and despise it falling, despise it dying, in-
stead of tamely breathing the venom scattered
through the ambient air.

D. JULIAN [To TEODORA]. Didn't I tell you he
was going out of his mind?

TEODORA. But, Ernest, where are you wander-

D. JULIAN. Yes. What has all this to do with
the matter?

ERNEST. Sir, I have come to the conclusion that
others, seeing me housed and fed here, are saying of
me what I long have thought. They see me con-


stantly driving out with you, in the morning walking
with Teodora or Mercedes, in your opera-box, hunt-
ing on your lands, and daily occupying the same
place at your table. Though you would like to think
otherwise, in one way or another the gossip runs:
Who is he? Is he a relation? Not so. The secre-
tary? Still less. A partner? If a partner, it may
be accepted he brings little or nothing to the general
fund. So they chatter.

D. JULIAN. By no means. You are raving.

ERNEST. I beg to contradict you.

D. JULIAN. Then give me a name.


D. JULIAN. One will do.

ERNEST. There is one at hand upstairs.

D. JULIAN. Name him.

ERNEST. Don Severe.

D. JULIAN. My brother?

ERNEST. Exactly, your brother. Will that suf-
fice? or shall we add his respected wife, Dona Mer-
cedes? and Pepito, their son? What have you to say.

D. JULIAN. That Severe is a fool, Mercedes an
idle chatterer, and the lad a puppy.

ERNEST. They only repeat what they hear.


D. JULIAN. It is not true. This is false reason-
ing. Between gentlemen, when the intention is
honourable, what can the opinion of the world
really matter? The meaner it is, the loftier our dis-
dain of it.

ERNEST. 'Tis nobly said, and is what all well-
bred men feel. But I have been taught that gossip,
whether inspired by malice or not, which is accord-
ing to each one's natural tendency, begins in a lie and
generally ends in truth. Does gossip, as it grows,
disclose the hidden sin? Is it a reflex of the past, or
does it invent evil and give it existence? Does it set
its accursed seal upon an existent fault, or merely
breed that which was, yet not, and furnish the occas-
ion for wrong? Should we call the slanderer in-
famous or severe? the accomplice or the divulger?
the public avenger or the tempter? Does he arrest
or precipitate our fall? wound through taste or duty?
and when he condemns, is it from justice or from
spite? Perhaps both, Don Julian. Who can say?
though time, occasion, and facts may show.

D. JULIAN. See here, Ernest, I don't understand an

iota of all this philosophizing. I presume 'tis on such

nonsense you waste your intelligence. But I don't

want you to be vexed or worried. It's true you



really wish for austere independence, to stand alone
at a post of honour?

ERNEST. Don Julian!

D. JULIAN. Answer me.

ERNEST [Joyously]. Yes.

D. JULIAN. Then count it gained. At this very
moment I have no secretary. I am expecting one
from London. But nobody would suit me better
than a certain young fool, who is enamoured of pov-
erty. [Speaks in pleasant reproach.] His work and
salary will, of course, be settled as any one else's,
though he be a son to one who cherishes him as

ERNEST. Don Julian!

D. JULIAN [Affecting comical severity]. Remem-
ber, I am an exacting business man, and I have not
the habit of giving my money away for nothing. I
intend to get as much as possible out of you, and
work you hard. In my house the bread of just
labour alone is consumed. By the clock, ten hours,
starting at daybreak, and when I choose to be severe,
you will see that Severo himself is no match for me.
So, before the world, you pose as the victim of my
selfishness . . . but in private, dear boy, ever
the same, the centre of my dearest affections. [Un-


able to maintain the former tone, DON JULIAN breaks
off, and holds his hand out to ERNEST.]

ERNEST [Deeply moved]. Don Julian!

D. JULIAN. You accept, then?

ERNEST. I am yours to command.

TEODORA [To DON JULIAN]. At last you have
tamed the savage.

ERNEST [To DON JULIAN]. Anything for your

D. JULIAN. So would I have you always, Ernest.
And now I have to write to my London correspond-
ent, and thank him, and while recognizing the
extraordinary merit of his Englishman, whom he ex-
tols to the skies, regret that I have already engaged a
young man. [Walks toward the first door on the right
hand.] This is how we stand for the present; but in
the future it will be as partners. [Returns with an
air of mystery.]

TEODORA. Stop, Julian, I beg of you. Can't
you see that he will take alarm? [DoN JULIAN goes
out on the right, and laughs to himself, looking back at


TEODORA and ERNEST. Toward the end of the last


scene twilight has fallen, so that at this moment the
room is in deep shadow.

ERNEST. I am dazed by so much kindness. How
can I ever repay it? [He sits down on the sofa, dis-
playing great emotion. TEODORA walks over and stands
beside him.]

TEODORA. By ejecting the spirit of pride and dis-
trust; by being sensible and believing that we truly
love you, that we will never change; and by putting
full faith in all Julian's promises. His word is
sacred, Ernest, and in him you will always have a
father, in me a sister.


SEVERO. The latter remains standing behind as they
enter. The room is quite dark, save for a glimmer of
light shed from the balcony, whither ERNEST and
TEODORA have moved.

ERNEST. How good you are!
TEODORA. And you, what a boy! After to-day
I hope you have done with sadness eh?
ERNEST. Quite.

MERCEDES [Outside, speaking low]. How dark it is!


D. SEVERO [In same tone]. Come away,

MERCEDES [Crossing the threshold]. There is no-
body here.

D. SEVERO [Detaining her]. Yes, there is. [Both
stand a while peering.]

ERNEST. Teodora, my whole life, a thousand
lives would still not be enough to offer you in return
for your kindness. Don't judge me by my morose
temper. I cannot lend a showy front to my affec-
tions, but, believe me, I do know how to love and
hate as well. My heart can beat to bursting under
the lash of either sentiment.

MERCEDES [ To SEVERO] . What are they saying ?

D. SEVERO. Something odd, but I hear imper-
fectly. [TEODORA and ERNEST go out on the balcony,
speaking low.]

MERCEDES. 'Tis Ernest.

D. SEVERO. And she I suppose is

MERCEDES. Teodora.

D. SEVERO. Their eternal tricks always to-
gether. I can stand no more of this. And their
words? I mustn't put it off any longer

MERCEDES. True, Severe. Come away. It is
certainly your duty, since everybody is talking.


D. SEVERO. Yes, I must open Julian's eyes
to-day, at once.

MERCEDES. The fellow has impudence enough,
and to spare.

D. SEVERO. By all that's holy so has she.

MERCEDES. Poor girl! She's but a child.
Leave her to me.

TEODORA. Another house? Surely no. You
wouldn't leave us? What an idea! Julian would
never consent.

D. SEVERO [ To DONA MERCEDES] . I should think
not indeed, neither would I. [Aloud.} Ah,Teodora, you
didn't see me ? This is how you receive your guests.

TEODORA [Coming from the balcony], Don Se-
vero! I am delighted.

MERCEDES. Is there no dinner this evening? It's
near the hour.

TEODORA. Mercedes, too!

MERCEDES. Yes, Teodora.

D. SEVERO [Aside]. She is a capital actress.
What a creature!

TEODORA. I must ring for lights. [Touches the
bell on the table.]

D. SEVERO. Quite so. Every one likes plenty of




TEODORA. Bring the lamps, Genaro.

[Exit servant.

D. SEVERO. He who follows the narrow path of
loyalty and duty, and is always that which he ap-
pears to be, need never fear the light, nor blush in its

[The servant enters with lamps, the stage
is brilliantly illuminated. After a

TEODORA [Laughing naturally]. So I should
think, and such, I imagine, is the general opinion.
[Looks at MERCEDES.]

MERCEDES. I suppose so.

D. SEVERO. Hulloa, Don Ernest! what were you
doing out there? Were you with Teodora when we
came in? [Speaks with marked intention.]

ERNEST [Coldly], I was here as you see.

D. SEVERO. The deuce you were! It is rather
dark to see. [Approaches him with outstretched hand,
looking fixedly at him. TEODORA and MERCEDES
converse apart. Aside.] His face is flushed, and he
appears to have been crying. In this world only
children and lovers weep. [Aloud.] And Julian?

TEODORA. He went away to write a letter.


ERNEST [Aside]. Though I have patience to
spare, this man tries me hard.

D. SEVERO [To TEODORA]. I am going to see
him. There is still time before dinner?

TEODORA. Plenty.

D. SEVERO. Good. Then to work. [Aside, rub-
bing his hands, and looking back at ERNEST and TEO-
DORA. Aloud.] Good-bye.

TEODORA. Good-bye.

D . SEVERO [Rancorously, from the door] . My faith !


occupy the sofa, and ERNEST stands n ar them.

MERCEDES [To ERNEST]. We did not see you

ERNEST. No, madam.

MERCEDES. Nor Pepito?


MERCEDES. He is upstairs alone.

ERNEST [Aside]. Let him stop there.

MERCEDES [Gravely and mysteriously to TEO-
DORA]. I wish he would go. I want to speak to you.

TEODORA. Indeed?



MERCEDES [In same tone]. Yes, it is something
very serious.

TEODORA. Well, begin!

MERCEDES. Why doesn't he go?

TEODORA [In a low voice]. I don't understand

MERCEDES. Courage! [Takes her hand and
clasps it affectionately. TEODORA looks at her in
sombre question.] Send him about his business.

TEODORA. If you insist. Ernest, will you do me
a favour?

ERNEST. Gladly with a thousand wills.

MERCEDES [Aside]. One were still too many.

TEODORA. Then go upstairs to Pepito but
it might bore you to carry a message.

ERNEST. By no means.

MERCEDES [Aside]. In what a sweet, soft voice
he speaks to her!

TEODORA. Tell him ask him if he has renewed
our subscription at the opera as I told him. He
knows about it.

ERNEST. With pleasure this very moment.

TEODORA. Thanks, Ernest, I am sorry

ERNEST. Nonsense. [Exit.





TEODORA. Something serious? You alarm me,
Mercedes. Such mystery! What can it mean?

MERCEDES. It is indeed very serious.

TEODORA. Concerning whom?

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Online LibraryJosé EchegarayThe great Galeoto; a play in three acts → online text (page 2 of 6)