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Louis XI, an historical drama in three acts online

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HERALD) Why thus confused, Sir Count ? Compose yourself.

NEM. (R.) Anger, as well as fear, will blanch the cheek.

Louie. Anger? for what?



NEM. You shall learn. Know, Sire, that the High Lojd, Duke
Charles of Burgundy, first peer of France, and Sov'reign prince.

Louis. I know the States, of which I'm paramount to the
point !

NEM. He charges you, then, King of France, with breach of faith.
You have espoused the quarrel of the Swiss, aided and succoured their
rebellion ; and while those rebels, Sire, defy our arms, you here receive
their chiefs within your walls.

Louis. I have not seen, and will not see them, Count. What

NEM. The Lords of Brancas and Chabanne have, lance in hand,
surprised our citadels.

LODIS. The wrong be on their heads they both have acted 'gainst
my will.

\EM. The proof.

Louis. You shall have it.

NEM. Aye, Sire, 1 must, and more.

Louis. What?

NEM. Their punishment.

Louis. You exact too much I ought to hear their plea, ere I

NEM. (passionately) Your axe has, for a less crime, caused many
a nobler head to fall.

Louis, (rising} Whose mean you ?

NEM. At the last assize above your outraged judge will ihow
you whose I mean !

Louis. Charles the Bold has an outspoken Envoy. His " nom-
de-guerre" was never more deserved. 'Tis well oh, very well :
proceed, proceed !

NEM. I will. Know then, Louis ofValois, King of France, that
Charles, for the grievances this paper cites, demands full justice,
which denied, through me, he threatens in the name of France's
weal, the lions bold of Burgundy to loose. For every duchy, county,
fief, or right of which he's seized, as vassal to your crown, now he
acquits himself abjures his fealty, and declares himself the champion
of those saluted souls, whose blood thy ruthless hand has shed.
Those martyrs he invokes to aid his cause ; and now, as knight, as peer,
as prince, to single combat, dares thee to the field. So God defend the
right ! (throws down a glow) There's his gage, who lifts it ?

DAU. (starts forward from L., and picks up the glove) I, for
Valois and the lilies.


Louis. Stand back! give place! (advances) 'Tis well, Charles!
By the mass, a true son of France !

DAU. (iiffecter) Father!

Louis, (coldly pushing away the DAUPHIN) Give place! Take
up the gauntlet, Golden Fleece : tte grasp of that young hand hath
honored it. (to CAVALIERS) Look you, gentlemen, the King is
outraged here, and you shall see how, as a King. I can repay, (to
NEMOURS) Count, take back this menace, and praise my clemency,


which, for your fierce fidelity to him you serve, forgives your boldness :
Charles has a treasure in you ! I'll keep this writing we'll read it
lovingly as peacemakers should do. After our pilgrimage there to
the woodland chapel, let us meet as friends as Christian friends ;
forgetting trespass, and full of charity.

NEM. We meet, Sire, as King and Envoy ; my duty is obedience :
I shall be there.

signs to ALL to retire, and TRISTAN to remain at back of

Louis. Good Comine, stay.

COM. (R.) Had you taken my advice, Sire, you would never have
admitted him.

Louis I rather love those who are rous'd to rage; better and
sooner I can read their minds. Burgundy I must calm by signing
this. His rashness, ere long, will prove his ruin. The worthy Campo
Basso, whom he loves, would sell him at a pinch, and sell himself;
for he's without his peer at treachery. My cousin's pride is sure to
make him fall ; to stop him on his way were impious, (after a
pause) My son an early age to be BO bold !

COM. Worthy young ecion of his Sire : how quick he flew to un-
dertake so good a cause !

Louis, (thoughtfully) Dangerous he would prove, should he

COM. What, Sire ?

Louis. Too well, I know't ; for I, myself, know what a Dauphin
once did 'gainst his King.

COM. He's a good Prince.

Louis. Comine this Count de Rethel knows thy daughter?

COM. (astonished) He !

Louis. Answer.

COM. I learned while she was at the Court of Burgundy, and I was
in France, he saw her, and and

Louis. He saw and loved her ?

COM. I think so, Sire.

Louis. He loves her, yet he's proof to bribery. Go go to my
chamber, (aside) I'll gather more from her.

Exit COMIHB, whom Louis locks in his closet.

Louis, (to TRISTAN, who it at back, K.H.) Hither !
TRIS. I'm here.
Louis. Yet nearer nearer still.
TRIS. I'll listen with mine eyes speak low.
Louis. Well, I've forgiven this Chanticleer.
TRIS. So you said.
Louis. 'Tis true.
THIS. No doubt.

Louis. But if Heaven should decree some overthrow to Burgundy,
would it be right to let the Count bear off the treaty ?
TRIS. Both are in your power.



LODIS. What d'ye mean ? violence ? to an ambassador ? Not
for my kingdom ! No, not here.

THIS. How then ?

Locis. An escort will attend him, when he leaves.

TRIS. To do him honour?

Louis. Aye, to do him honour.

TRIS. Who will command it ?

LODIS. Thou.

TRIS. Ah ! and bow shall I compose the troop ?

Louis. Of men, you know, right trusty men.

TRIS. Numerous?

Louis. More so than his.

TRIS. Of course to do him honour !

Louis. And then, who knows but on the road Hark !

BELL tolls.

What's that ? the Angelus ? (takes off his cap, and stands as if
in reverence TRISTAN imitates him BELL ceases he replaces
his cap)

Louis. Who knows but on the road He's proud.

TRIS. Most arrogant.

Louis. 'Twixt the two bands, a quarrel might ensue.

TRIS. It might.

Louis. It should.

TRIS. It shall.

Louis. Defend yourself.

TRIS. Trust me for that,

Louis. And so get back the treaty.

TRIS. But the Count ?

Louis. Not understand me yet?

TRIS. We must

Louis. ( patting him on the chin playfully) A smile! Ha, ha,
ha ! d'ye see me now ? eh, gossip eh ?

TRIS. I understand.

They go up towards R.U.E. and



SCENE. A Forest At L.. the Chapel of our Lady vf the
Woods, with projecting and covered doorway, and steps leading up
to it On the H. side, a Rustic Seat at the foot of an old oak.

Music As the Curtain rises, RICHARD, MARCEL, DIDIER,
MARTHA, JULIE, and TRADESPEOPLE are discovered
The VILLAGERS are seen dancing in circle After dance,
they separate into various groups, R. and L., converging.

ACT n.j LOUIS xr. 17

MAKTHA. (approaching MARCEL) Is the King better ?

MARCEL. So 'tis said who knows?

MARTHA. How long these Kings, Marcel, do linger !

MARCRL. His berth's so good he's loath to leave it, wife.

JUL. Health is worth its weight in gold; and his, they say, costs a
good round sura to the Treasury.

DID. Aye, we've proof of that in tax-gatherers who plunder us.

MARCEL. Duties on everything e'en on our merriment. Now,
fun I dearly love ; but fun that's forced

MARTHA. To dance for pleasure's well; but at command

JUL. To please another when half dead with fear

RICH. (L.) The worst of taxes were to be preferred.

MARCEL. They're coming now to your places, (he sings)

DID. (to MARCEL) Here come some Scotch Guards.

Enter Two OFFICERS and Two SCOTCH GUARDS, L.H. -2 E.

TRADESMAN, (to one of the GUARDS) Good Sir, for pity's sake
pay me

MARCEL. Here's one of them been making free with something.

1st GUARD (to TRADESMAN) Not a denier. Were I to pay a Jew,
what would my Confessor say ? Off, miscreant ! ( pushes him aside,
find crosses to R.c. to MARTHA) A word, my pretty lass.

MARCEL, (interfering) But she's my wife. Sir.

1st GUARD. What matter? I'm one of the family, and I'll have
a kiss, (kisses MARTHA, and crosses to R.H.)

MARCEL, (taking off his cap and bowing) You do me uncommon
honour. .

1** GUARD. Thou ow'st the King's people a toll for that pretty
wife of thine, and now I've taken it. To-morrow we'll pay thfi-
another call.

Exeunt laughing, L.H.

MARTHA. They might have spared me that detested kiss, (wiping
her chettk) Nothing is sacred from these libertines.

DID.- They plague us woi'se than wind, or hail, or forest laws.

MARCEL. Aye, work away, get in your yearly crops, aye, just to
let them from their swallows nests, come swarming down, and scatter
terror, shame, and misery, where'er their fury lights. Hush, here's
Sieur Oliver.

PEASANTS pretend gaiety, and resume dancing, SfC. enter

OLIV. (R.H.) So dancing singing well done!

MARCEL. Yon see, Monsieur, how happy we are all ! (crosses to

OLIV. I came on purpose to judge for myself; but let the fete pro-
ceed laugh, dance, and sing all heartily. You know I am the people's

MARCEL, (aside) Not long ago he was our village barber.

MARTHA. We took good care to do so ; for the Grand-Provost
has given us notice ; that, as noon struck, we were to be making


merry, and good Sieur Tristan hears of no excuse when he would
have us happy only look at us

OLIV. Tis bravely done ! Maybe the King will venture hither n
so fine a day.

DID. The King !

MARTHA. Among us!

OLIV. Yes, surely ! Why, what ails the man ?

MARC. 'Tis joy, joy, Sir; and and the sudden shock the King.

OLIV. Well, fool ! hark you must try to amuse him, and gladden
his heart, by some song or story. Tell him he looks vastly well.
Eh ! Tell him all you think.

MARC. What, all?

OLIV. Why not ?

MARC. Well ; I'll complain o' th' people about the King.

MARTHA. Of the Scotch Guards I !

DID. I, of the forest laws.


OLIV. Hold hard this boldness is too much.

MARC. Excuse me, Monseigneur, we think

OLIV. Good people think the King desires their good ! Say you
love him.

MARC. So we do.

OLIV. As sons should love a father.

MAKC. Just so.

OLIV. Well tell him so, when he comes : hush he is here.

ALL. Where ? (they tumble over each other in fright ALL
cross to L.H.)

OLIV. Thei-e, ( points) coming from the hermitage.

MARCEL. Eh ? what ? That pale, infirm old man the King ?

OLIV. Sing, dance quick ! But mind you do not recognise him.

The dance it resumed.
Enter Locis and TRISTAN, R.H.D.E.

During this and the following scenes, TRISTAN 'appears,
from time to time, as if on guard over the King.

Louis, (coming slowly forward, and falling exliausted on a
rustic neat, R.H.) The sunlight dazzles, and the mid-day heat
oppresses me. The air was lighter, purer, once. Climates have
changed. f

OLIV. (R., pointing to peasants) Sire, mingle with their sport.
You are not known here. Address them, (to PEASANTS) Approach.

Louis, (to MARTHA) Are you the farmer's wife ?

MARTHA. So I am, Sir, please ye.

Louis, (a* he contemplates her) Bounteous Nature ! How do
you contrive to keep such health, such blooming cheeks ?

MARTHA, (after a pause) I know not. We have it as Heaven wills.
'Tis natural, and visits us, methinks, as grass clothes fields, and
acorns grow in woods. Up at cock-crow, we commence our farming
toil, husband goes a-field wife at home, the work goes on, and


makes a frugal meal taste like a banquet. No bed is hard to those
who rise at dawn. Hard work, good appetite, good conscience too,
and sleep enough, such are our guides to health.

Louis. What! never sad?

MARTHA. Yes when bread is dear ! Still, in my chimney corner, I
can gaily sing, spite all my cares; for they who suffer gaily have
less grief; and there is none so poor, but that a poorer still is jealous
of his luck.

Louis, (to OLIVER) These humble folks find joy in everything.
Have you no ailments that require the doctors ?

MARCEL, (crossing to him) Not we! Doctors? No, no!

Louis. How's that?

MARCEL. I'm no such fool. They take your coin, and do no
good. Better to buy a cask of wine, mellow with age ; that's the
best medicine" and very fond I am of it. As for those doctors, they
only give you hopes ; and on one goes a-hoping, until some fine day
crack good bye we're gone !

Louis, (rising) Thou fearest not death ?

MARCEL. I never give it thought, but think of vineyards, and of
harvest dream ; and, lacking comfort, whisper to myself, " Our little
Marcel is a fine, brave boy his mother's, father's pet. He grows
each year. I've had my time, and he'll have his, dear lad. We'll
save up well, that he may never want never regret our loss ; for
anyhow, sooner or later, sons their sires succeed."

Louis. The later, sure, the better.

MARCEL. Ves, of course.

OLIV. (aside to MARCEL, and over Louis' shoulder) Fool !

MARCBL. Am I wrong?

OLIV. Phjsicians huve vast skill.

MARCEL. Twas of our village barber that I spoke ; (meaningly)
and all the world knows what these barbers are.

Louis, (laughing, and slapping OLIVER'S back) Here's one who
knows the secret of the trade better far than thee.

OLIV. (angrily to MARCEL) Why laugh'st thou, man?

MARCEL. What! I? Monseigneur just made a remark that I
thought funny, that was why I smiled.

Loo is. You call him Master Oliver le Diablo ! Is't not so ?


Louis. You do.

MARTHA, (to MARCEL) 'Tis dangerous to say too much. Be
mum ! (crosses to R.)

Louis. Come; we're close friends. Pray tell me.

MARTHA. Wind and storm we may abuse, for neither doth one jot
our railing heed ; but with great men 'tis quite another thing; and we
must whisper close our lightest words, all's said is sure to reach
them ; and mayhap at morn we'll rue the laugh we had at night.

Louis, (to MARCEL) And in all truth, fearest thou not death ?

MARCEL. Why should I ? Yet I have feared it. Yes! I remem-
ber how rny heart failed me when I once beheld a bad man's funeral,
its priestly pomp the service and the burial chant ! I fancied
demons in the darkness round, hovering in waiting for their prey,



which not e'en all the gold he loved so well, and earned so ill, could
purchase back.

Louis. Oh, agony! despair! torture! (crosses to R.H.)

OLIV. (aside to MARCEL) Fool !

MARCEL, (not heeding) I was, I own; and yet I could not help
it : he was a murderer !

Louis, (violently) Begone! (to himself) Death ! hell! (to MAR-
CEL) Begone! No come, tell me, wretch who bid thee thus
address me ?

MARCEL, (falling on his knees) Nobody.

Louis, (violently) You've been bribed to do it by whom? whom?

MARCEL. No, no

OLIV. (R.H., aside to Louis) Sire, Sire, command yourself.

MAR. (crosses to him) There's no malice in his jests pardon him.

Louis, (laughs faintly) Ha, ha! 'twaa nothing I was but jesting
with the fool, (to MARTHA) Is he your husband?


Louis, (unbending again] Well, I'll pardon him, if you will tell
me one thing trne ; with that pretty face, those rosy cheeks, those
eyes, you have lovers in the village who are they ?

MARCEL. Name them all, Martha don't mind me.

MARTHA, (smiling) Well then, I've only one.

Locis. Who's that?

MARTHA. Yourself.

Louis. ( putting his arm round her waist) Ha, ha, ha !

MARTHA. Ha, ha !

Louie. What me? an aged man ?

MARTHA. No, not so very old.

Louis. No, ha, ha!

MARTHA. You've a bright eye.

OLIV. (aside to MARTHA) Bravo !

MARTHA. Yes, quite a rougiah air.

Louis. Ah, chuck ! ha, ha !

MARTHA. A girl with you might rue her trust j and might I have a
wish, it would be this that, like you in humour and in face, our King
may look as young and hale as you.

Louis. As me?

MARTHA. Then, Sire, we all should be without a care, for you will
surely live a century.

Louis. A century !

Here OLIVER slips a purse into her hand, which she shows
behind to the other PEASANTS, then crosses behind to the

Louis, (affected, to OLIVER) Oliver, d'ye hear d'ye hear? (to
MARTHA) Pardieu, my child! that King you wish so well (taking
her round the waist and heartily kissing her), that King that looks
*o hale, now kisses thee.

MARTHA, (kneeling) The King!

ALL. (kneeling) Long live the King !


Louis. Good people ! their joy goes to my heart.

OLIV. Because it comes from theirs.

Louis. Thanks, in the name of France and of myself, (to MAR-
THA.) Ah ! live a century ! (gives her money) Here and here.
(scatters money) Go and rejoice drink to my hundred years.

MARCEL. Aye, ten times o'er.

MARTHA. Aye, do ; and I shall tell them that I will that I had
two big kisses from the King.


Louis, (c., with emotion) How sweet to be so loved !

OLIV. (R.) 'Tis true.

Louis. A century ! I dare not hope it ; yet my horoscope so bodes.

OLIV. Is't possible ?

Louis. Oh ! Let me but live to level in the dust yon tyrant lords
of France, to see my vassal princes forced to pawn their jewels,
barons penniless, and dukes without broad lands to boast of, ruined
all : and all their power conjoined in me, to form one kingdom 'neath
one law the law of France, where all shall be people all, all

OLIV. Heaven grant it so.

Louis. My cousin Charles once dead, then the well-beloved Dukes
of Burgundy shall be extinct for ever. Hold; apropos. Where
is Marie ?

OLIV. (pointing to the Chapel door, L.H.) There.

TRUMPET and CRIES of "Vive le Dauphin!" are heard.
Louis. What's that shouting ?

OLIVER crosses to L.H., and meets TRISTAN entering, who
informs him by action.

OLIV. Sire, the Dauphin now is passing through the hamlet, and
those shouts come from your loving people.

SHOUTS and CRIES repeated.

Louis. Still those shouts annoy mo : the Dauphin must bide his
time he's not king yet. Retire; he's here.

Exit OLIVER and TRISTAN into the Chapel, L.H.

Enter the DAUPHIN and Two PAGES, L.II.

Louis. What ails you ? why those tears?

DAU. All along my road the people greeted me with cries of welcome.

Loun. Splendid cause for happiness, these rustic shouts ! Be
advised, my son ; judge better of your late reception here 'twas I
that told them, paid them, to do this.

DA u. What, Sire, this joy ? was it at your commands ?
. Louis. At mine. Now profit by the lesson, Prince begone !
To-morrow you return to Amboise.

22 LOUIS xi.


DAO. What have I done ?

Louis. You! what would you dare to do? what could you?Nothing.

DAU. Not even please you : but

Louis. Speak !

DAU. It was a dream !

Louis. Go on.

DAU. I dreamed, or hoped, that your arms, Sire, would open wide
to clasp me. I dreamed yon loved me ; but

Louis. Then you suppose I love you not ? I hate you eh ?
Ungrateful boy !

DAU. Sire!

Louis. Thus men talk. Who told you so ? your uncle Orleans ?
(familiarly) Now, Charles, my son, be frank. In confidence tell
me their names. I will not punish them. I only wish to know.

DAU. Well, my uncle say

Louis. He says ?

DAU. That some day I shall reign o'er France, and ought to make
myself belovad.

Louis, (aside) The traitor ! (aloud) Does ha not say that, weak-
ened by disease, I must, ere long, but it's false In short, that

you have nought to do but seize the crown, which will ere long fall
of itself into your hands. The traitor lies ! lie lies ! Do I totter
'neath the load of all the fiefs of France ?

DAU. Oh, my father, how you wrong me ! Could I add my life
to yours, and so prolong your days, I'd give my life up willingly,

Louis, (taking away his hand, which the DAUPHIN hat taken
to kitt) Go !

DAU. (about to go, returns, and weeping, buses the KING'S

LOUI.S. (affected, and aside) 'Tis a good boy ! Mayhap, though,
I'm deceived.

Louis, (crosses to R.H., and seats himself on bank).

Enter MARIE, from the Chapel, L.H.

DAD. (aside to MARIE) Adieu! and think of me. I leave to-
morrow, (he kisses her hand) Fare thee well !

Exeunt DAUPHIN and PAGES, L.H.

MARIB. (looks compassionately after him) (seeing Louis) Par-
don, Sire.

Louis, (aside) 'Tis she! (aloud) Come hither,, child: how
beautiful thou art! here, sit near me. (shedoesso) So don't blush
were I a stripling now, I could say that would fetch a smile upon
your lip, but now what am I ?

MARIE. You are a great King, Sire.

Louis. Some brides and bridegrooms, whom I have made happy,
have told me so ; and now I think of it, I had all but made a match
for you myself.

MARIE. For me?

Louis. Aye, I had made out for you quite a long love-tale. Shall
I tell it you ?


MARIE. Do, Sire, do.

LODIS. Listen, then. Once on a time, at the Court of Charles of
Burgundy, there lived a lovely maiden, who loved a young, noble,
and handsome cavalier.

MARIE, (anxiously) Proceed ?

Louis. You're interested ?

MARIE. Very.

Louis. Well, they were parted by an unhappy fate; but so fondly
did the young knight love hi* mistren, that he penetrated to the

Court of France, where she lived, in the disguise of What

think ye ?

MARIE. What, Sire ?

LOUIB. An envoy. Ha!

MARIE. An envoy, Sire ? You jest.

Louis. 'Tis but a tale let me go on. I did suspect his love, and
taxed him with it he nobly owned his passion.

MARIE. And you, Sire?

Louis. Consented to bestow the maiden's hand upon him.

MARIE. On him ! on him !

Louis. On whom ? 'tis but a jest a tale : you're not in love.

MARIE, (frightened) Oh, Sir! who hat betrayed him ?

Louis. Who ! Your own father.

MARIE. He told you?

Louis. Yes all.

MARIE. He named him ?

Louis. Ay.

MARIE. You spare his life ? forgive ?

Louis. I do.

MARIE, (transported with joy) Nemours! (rise* and crosses toe.}

Louis, (ruing in triumph aside) It is Nemours ! So, to, so !

MARIE. Oh, moment full of happiness, of triumph ! Let me set
him dry his tears, and share his pleasure.

LOUIB. No, no ; not yet.

M ARIE. Why not ? If chance should this way guide his steps

Louis, (shaking his finger playfully) Chance ?

MARIE. Well then No, I ought to tell you all. I'm pledged

to meet Nemours, here, now, at his desire.

Louis. Hush ! poor Nemours believes himself unknown : for
weighty reasons let him think so still. Mind, promise me, Marie, by
his life, which rests upon your silence.

MARIE. I will! I will !

Louis, (crossing to L. aside) Nemours ! A word from me, he
dies Shall I speak that word ? Tristan !

TRIS. (comes down L.H.)

Louis, (to MARIE) I'll leave you here, (kisset her) My child,
farewell ! ( pointing to the image of the Virgin) She watches you.

Exeunt Louis and TRISTAN info the Chapel, L.H.

MARIE. How sweet to me that kiss! 'tis mercy's pledge! But
ah ! this unexpected joy's too great. Let not my eyes play tell-tale
upon my heart. Oh, heaven! I tremble, smile, and weep at once with
vast excess of joy. He comes !

24 LOUIS XI. [Acx II.

Enter NEMOURS, R.H. 2 E.

MARIE. Nemours !

NEM. Marie! at last we meet !

MARIE. In your own land, beneath the sky of France.

NEM. Which onca beheld my sufferings.

MARIE. Hope.

NEM. For death ?

MARIE. No, no ; an angel whispers me all will yet be well.

NEM. More beautiful than ever !

MARIE. Absent, then, you still thought of me.

NEM. Sweet Marie !

MARIE. When I was gathering in the dew the offering which
I have on the altar placed the flowers, which leaf by leaf my fingers
culled, told of your true love and faith for me, dear Nemours.

NEM. Your loving words fall strangely on my ear: their warm
affection daunts my very hate.

MARIE. Why hate, dear Nemours? it is so very sweet to love!
The King's not steelel against all sympathy ; all's possible, and in
my wondrous bliss I think all good ; I can nought foresee that does
not beam with hope. Thy good alone I can predict. Nemours, dost
thou remember that summer's evening when thy avowal told me of
thy love ?

NEM. It was beneath a solitary cross.

MARIE. My downcast eyes counted my rosary ; but yet I heard.
You recollect it all ?

NEM. Could I forget ? No, Marie ; once more I am beside thee,
but soon, too soon to part; for exile seems my doom. Lands I have
none, my heritage is gone, e'en from my father's roof perforce ex-
pelled, I'm foreigner in this my native land. As I came hither, I
passed those walls, the cradle of my infancy. Sad, seared at heart, I
heard the rippling brook murmur around those ivy'd battlements.
How oft beneath the beechen avenue, which shaded once my ancestors,
did I incline to hear the brawling of those rills ! The axe has felled
those well remembered woods the castle is in ruins the court-yard's
green with weeds ; and ivy, briar too, ti'ergrows its once so hospitable
door, which way-worn pilgrims now approach in vain. My father's
portrait from the wainscoat torn, lay in a corner, 'midst the rubbish
piled ; none of the servants knew their master's heir, no, none, but
the old house-dog on the hearth, and he raised up his head to lick
my hand. My home ! It rather seemed to be my tomb !

MARIE. No, Nemours, no ; still in that princely manor-house your
numerous vassals may their mistress bless, kiss her white mantle, and

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