W. R. S Markwell.

Louis XI, an historical drama in three acts online

. (page 3 of 4)
Online LibraryW. R. S MarkwellLouis XI, an historical drama in three acts → online text (page 3 of 4)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

between them part the nuptial flowers fallen from her hair. Happy
we yet may be, if we, on bended knees before that shrine, by holy
benisons shall wedded be.

NEM. Thou art my guardian angel, beauteous Marie; and yet me-
thinks thy words are like a lover's tale traced on the sea shore
destined soon to be effaced by the coming tide.

MARIE. Oh ! could I, dare I speak !

NEM. Marie!


MARIE. No, no, I may not; but silence is torture. Hush ! they
como ! they come ! (looking at the Church) I've nothing said.

Enter PEASANTS from behind Chapel, L. 3 E., and group


HERALDS enter, R.H. 3 E., and range down R.H.
enter, L.H. 3 E., and range across the bach Louis, sup-
ported by OLIVER and TRISTAN, comes from Chapel, dou-n
steps towards c., followed by PAGES and NOBLES, and
range across L. of c. FRANCOIS DE PADLE stands on
fteps of Chapel, attended by CARDINAL and PRIESTS.

Louis. Here hatred dies, a King forgives : it is his dearest pri-
vilege. I love my people, and for their sake I have yielded, not to
the haughty menace of my foe. Here is tho treaty : let it be done
with all solemnity and worthy saintly presence, (gives parchment to

FRAN, (on the steps of the Chapel-porch between Two PRIESTS,
one holding a shrine, the other a cross) My son, I am but a simple
man, living apart from the world, from Courts; but oft in cottages
their humble mourning proves me this sad fact that kings gain less
by brilliant victories, than subjects lose by rapine and the sword.
King, 'tis your privilege, and duty, too, not to divide, but to unite
mankind I am most ready to record so blest a pledge.

NEM. (R.) For the Duke Charles that treaty signed, he asks no
more, but in oblivion buries all his wrongs.

Louis. To Charles of Burgundy I here engage my faith, and swear.


DAU. (running to the KING) My father!

Louis. How ?

DAC. Sire, pardon me ; news has just arrived, Duke Charles, your

Louis. My enemy! what now? Charles, my ally my brother.

DAU. He's vanquished.

Louis. What, what, what, what?

DAU. His army is defeated.

NEM. Charles the Bold?
C.OUIS. Art sure of this?

DAU. The Sieurs De Torcy, Sire, Dunois, and De Lude, received
the news. One of his lieutenants has betrayed his cause, and all is lost .

NEM. False reports. The Duke of Burgundy

DAU. Is dead.

Louis. The proof?

DAU. 'Tis here, (giving ditpatches to the KING)

NEM. \Vhat! vanquished ? dead ? No, no; whatever they say,
I Count de Rethel, on my life maintain 'tis false !

Louis. 'Tis true, Duke of Nemours.

DAU. Nemours !

26 LOUIS xi.


They range down Stage R.c.

Louis. As true as that thou art a perjurer, impostor, spy ! guilty
of high treason to thy King, and falsehood. Ho ! arrest him !

NEST, (drawing his sword) A Burgundy ! A Burgundy ! (to the


Louis. St. Denis for France ! (to FRENCH KNIGHTS)

BCRGUNDIANS form a semi-circle round NEMOURS, R.H.,
with their backs to Audience, and weapons raised Louis
shields himself among his NOBLES, KNIGHTS, and PAGES,
i.e., who advance one step, swords drawn FRANCOIS
takes the Cross from the bands of one of the PRIESTS,
and advances c. between the opposing parties. This is a
simultaneous movement. TABLEAU.

FRAN. Hold! in the name of heaven, whom ye insult !

NEM. (lowering his sword, as also do his FOLLOWERS) Back,
Gentlemen ! (they do to) If Charles should triumph still, the
terror of his name will be my guard, and better far than all your
trusty swords; if he's no more, I'd rather die alone, (throws his
sword at the KING'S feet to Louis) To reach thee, King, per-
force I did dissemble, and what I undertook I'll answer else-
where ; now, consign me to the headsman of my sire, as one prey
more to glut thy appetite.

Louis, (making a sign to TRISTAN to take away NEMOURS)
Grand Provost, let his trial be to-day, his doom to-morrow.

MARIE, (kneeling L.H.) Pardon, Sire, pardon !

Louis. Away ! his doom is sealed !

TRISTAN and SCOTCH GUARDS advance down Stage, R.c.
NEMOURS places himself prisoner between them, and is
conducted off", R.H. At the same time, BDRGUNDIANS
and their PAGES make a movement up, and exit R.U.E .

FRAN. (R.H.) Oh, King, be merciful!

Louis. Had he done nought but outrage me, I might; but to come
here before thee, an impostor, to deal with sacred things and yet with

insult No, I will avenge thy outraged ministry, I will, as Jfm

the most Christian King.

FRAN. At least let me absolve him.

Locis. Do; the guiltier he is the more he needs thine aid yes, go.

FRAN. Wilt thou not think of thyself, my son ?


Rf-enter FRENCH GUARDS and their OFFICER, R.H. They range

across the back of Stage.

Louis, (after watching FRANCOIS DE PACLE out, returns in a
transjtort of joy and triumph) Montjoie and St. Denis ! Dunois, the


trame is ours! Upon Peronne fly with six thousand lances! ToBurguu-
dy, Torcy ! Let the province of Artois become France in a month ! To
horse. Dammartiti ! down upon Flanders ; take it, rend, tear, and
share it among ye. To horse, I say, and ride for Burgundy ; take
my inheritance before the bold Charles has bequeathed it to me. (to
CARDINAL D'ALLY) In the night, Cardinal, let two state messages
be sent ; one with six thousand crowns and a letter to the Pope's
Legate, another with thirty thousand to the Pope himself: his Ho-
liness has but to consecrate my rights. Share we the spoils, Chevaliers ;

now, to horse But stay, (turning to the rest assembled) The

noble Duke is dead, Gentlemen he made me at Peronne pass three
such nights as I never shall forget he was my foe. (mildly) But all
resentment ends with death he was a great man, was our cousin.
(takes off his cap ALL do the same) The Court will wear full
mourning for a mouth. TABLEAU, and



SCENE I. The King's Bedchamber. Two doors at the wings
A prie-dieu L.C., and above it a cross, hung up against the
wall A window, with bars across it, L.H. ; moonlight s:n
through Curtains half closed, concealing a bed in recess, c.
A chimney and a fire R.H.2 E. Table, covered with handsome
velvet cloth, U.H.U.E. Table R.C., on which is a night
lamp of crimson stained glass, hour glass, illuminated missal,
crucifix, jewelled dagger, rosaries, $c. Large arm-chair c.
Footstool, and 4 smaller chairs Lights r>ff Red mediums on.
Key in door H.H.

Enter NEMOURS and CoiTiER,/rom door L.C.E.

COIT. Come in. Here, for a moment, we may rest, (embraces

XEM. (L.) GoodCoitier!

COIT. (R.) Let me look well upon you, dear Nemours child 01
my benefactor !

NEM. Whose fate I shall share.

COIT. By heaven, thou shall not die ! No!

NEM. (pressing his hand, and looking round) How ran I escape
my doom ? See those bars and iron doors !

COIT. 'Tis the King's chamber.

NEM. This dungeon !


COIT. See ! a crucifix a missal, relics used by his hands, and
frantically kissed (shoics him a dagger) a weapon which he dares
not touch curtains behind which fear still seeks him out, in vain
he hides, a hideous arm draws them aside and presses on his heart.
He would speak with yon, and bade me bring you here.

NEM. See me 1 and here? What would he with me ?

COIT. He bade me sound you, and prepare you for this interview.
You may yet obtain a pardon.

NEM. How?

COIT. Be useful.

NEM. To him?

COIT. Burgundy is his aim. He covets it with the longing of one
pregnant with death, he yearns for it with all the petulance of
second childhood. So I declared you could win it for him.

NEM. You, Coitier you?

COIT. The people nobles army all love you ! You can secure
the votes of the assembled States, or at a castle's gate obtain the

NEM. What! shall I turn traitor to my benefactor ? For whom?
The butcher of my family ?

COIT. Nemours, for Coitier's sake for thine old servant save
thy dear life, Nemours !

NEM. No, Coitier, I would sooner die than do thy will !

COIT. You are resolved ?

NEM. I am.

COIT. See this dungeon ! this is my abode ; but all the gold the
King could give me would have failed to secure my services, had he
not granted me the privilege of freedom. I alone have right to go
and come, and pass the sentinels unquestioned. Here is the talisman
this master-key, take it (giving the key) it gave me liberty
it now gives liberty to thee.

NEM. But, Coitier, his rage will fall on you.

COIT. Perhaps.

NEM. Your head will answer it.

COIT. No, he's ill, and cannot do without me. Away ! Take
this dagger descend the vaulted stair ; at the foot you'll find a door
use that key, a passage leads beneath the moat, and then
liberty, my son liberty ! Away ! I fear the King's arrival ! Fly !
I'll h.iSto below, and stop him, if I can.

Exit L.H.D.

NEM. (coming to the front, after shutting the door of COITIER'S
room, R.H. 1 B. raising the dagger) Now he's in my power! Oh,
Fate, this is thy work ! He's in my power ! the weapon in my
hand ! Assemble here, ye spectres of his victims ! Rise, ye headless
crew, and stand about ! my father first ! There ! yonder ! wait
around that bed, his bed of torture the altar of revenge and
justice! Hush! they come! Away! Hush! hush! (he hide*
behind the curtains)

Enter Louis, supported by COITIER and COMINE, MARIE,


Louis. How dark the night is, and how cold ! I tremble !
COIT. (leading him to thejire, R.H.) There warm yourself.
Louis, (joyfully) A fire ! But Nemours what said he ?
COIT. (making him sit) Sit there !
Louis. The sun is not so sweet ! Fire ? 'tis life !

Distant Organ and Chaunt.
What sounds are those ?

MARIE, (on his L.) Tis from the Chapel, where they are watch-
ing praying that heaven may show some mercy to your suffering
form, and the north wind abate ere morn arrives.

Louis, (looking at her) Thou dost mine eyes good ! Blooming
flower of youth, how beautiful thou art ! Come smile !

COM. (c,, aside to MARIE) Obey, Marie !

MARIE, (weeping) I would I could.

Louis. Tears ! Begone, or calm thy grief, I can save him yet.

COIT. Follow my advice, (going towards the bed, c.) To bed, Sire.

Louis. No, Coitier, not until I see Nemours, (to TRISTAN) Go,
fetch him, Tristan.

TRIS. He is not in my charge. Sentence once pronounced, I wished
to finish what I had begun.

MARIE, (to COMINE) Heaven !

COM. (aside) Hush !

Louis, (to COITIER) True, I forgot, I bade you bring him here.

COIT. I could not persuade him to come.

Louis. J could.

COIT. (coming down c.) No, I think not.

Louis. No?

COIT. He'd have defied you, and you'd have slain him.

Louis. Well.

COIT. So I've saved him.

Louis. Saved? And hast thou dared to brave me, wretch? (to
TRISTAN) And has he too escaped thy vigilance ? Which road did
he take ? Quick, Tristan !

TRIS. (crosses to L.H.)

COIT. Save yourself the trouble, he's beyond your reach.

Louis, (rises) Begone ! dead or alive I'll have him away !


MARIE. For my sake, no for I revealed his name pardon,
pardon !

Louis, (to COMINE) Away with her!

COM. (leading her off L.H. 1 E.) Come, come.

Louis. (R., pointing to COITIER) For him, that traitor, death

COIT. (c.) Strike to-day ; but of your after sufferings have a care
I give you but a week to live.

Louis. Well then, I'll die and yet I will, (to the GUARDS)

Retire! (they retire L.D.U.E.) (to COITIER) Coitier, stay, (throws
himself into an arm-chair, c.) Oh! I'm a wretched man!

Exeunt ALL but COITIER and Louis-


Think not to escape the destiny your due 'twill come I'll
crush you !

COIT. (L.) So you have said already.

Louis. Your learning may deceive the vulgar crowd, not me your
art, your cares, I laugh at them. Of what avail are they to me?
I'll do without you and live just as long I will. Yes, traitor, yes; the
saint, whom I expect, can with a single word resuscitate my strength.

COIT. Indeed ! Speed him here.

Louis. While thou, deprived of light and air, confined within an
iron cage, shalt from between thy prison bars look out, and see my
new youth laughing at thy rage, (rises and crosses to R.H.)

COIT. Agreed !

Louis. Ay, ay !

COIT. It may be so.

LODIS. (melting) False friend! Ah, Coitier, ungrateful !

COIT. Twas to avoid that charge I saved Nemours. I owed all to
his father, and should deem it base to forget all former kindness.

Louis. But my kindness, mine; that you have betrayed. Gold
I o'erload you with your hands are full what more did Nemours
to be so beloved ?

COIT. What did he ? why, he gave me all his heart : you, what
claim have you to love? Thank heaven we do but traffic. Let's
understand each other ; you give from fear, I take from interest I
sell, you purchase ; 'tis a contract ; and where heart's not, there's no
ingratitude. Kings think that gold can purchase everything ; you
pay a courtier or a servitor : friends, Sire, we love ; and, though their
salary were merely one kind look, one grateful word, one pressure of
the hand, one kind embrace, they feel they're paid, but do not sell

Louis, (caressingly) Good Coitier, I will love thee aye, I do.

COIT. Yes, for yourself.

Louis. No, not from, selfishness my suffering is extreme, I do
admit, but Francois may to-morrow give me health but as a simple
friend I here extend my hand.

Enter OLIVER, L.H.D. 2 E.

OLIV. Francois de Paule, Sire, waits an audience.
Louis. Admit him.


(to FRANCOIS, showing COITIER) See, my father, he has braved
his king, yet I pardon him. (to COITIER) Retire ! (conducting him
to his room, R. 1 E.) On a friend's faith sleep thou in quietude, (aside,
R.H., after shutting his door) Ah, traitor ! shouldst thou useless e'er
become ! (signs to OLIVER to retire)

We are alone.

FRAN. Alone?

Louis, (prostrating himself) I tremble at thy feet with hope
and tear.



FRAN. Rise up, my son.

Louis. No, let me kneel ; and, bowing thus my head unto the
ground, kiss e'en the spot thy holy feet have trod.

FRAN. Arise, I say.

Louis. The gift I ask for is so great, I can't enough humiliate
myself to beg it.

FRAN. What would you ?

Louis. All's possible to thee men's ailments vanish at thy sove-
reign will hear my prayer. See this aged, tottering frame ; restore
my health, efface the lines of age, extend thine hand, and bid me
live again.

FRAN. You rave !

Louis. Ten years at least, my father grant ten years, and I'll
heap on thee honours twenty-fold. See, I have relics of the saints.
I'll give them to thee for these twenty years ; aye, twenty say.
Rome, which has power to multiply the saints, would canonize and

rank thee 'mongst the blest, amongst What do I say ? above

them all. In thy name great cathedrals will I found

FRAN. King, heaven permits not this feeble worm even to know,
much less to change, the laws of Nature, and to assume such power
is blasphemy.

Louis. I'm growing tired of this : come, do thy duty, monk exert
for me thy supernatural powers or, if need be, I'll have resort to
force. I'm king the holy oil has touched my brow.

FRAN. I fear me, King, that in your heart remorse is like a burn-
ing wound kept fresh by crime, and dragging slow your body to its

Louis. Priests have absolved me.

FRAN. Vain hope ! True penitence alone can wash your stain

Louis. Shall I find grace ?

FRAN. Heaven grant you may.

Louis. You promise it if I confess? Listen then, and to thee I'll
tell that which has never reached the oar of man.

FRANCOIS seats himself in large chair c., and the KING
stands with his hands joined.

FRAN. WLat hast thou done 1

Louis. It was rumoured that the fear the Dauphin caused the
late King hastened him to heaven.

FRAN. A son abridge his aged father's life!

Louis. I was that Dauphin !

FRAN. You?

Louis. But his weak rule would have ruined France, State in-
t crests.

NEMOURS is seen to open the bed curtains and look forth
occationally, at intervals, during this scene.

FRAN. Confess, bad son. Do not excuse thy faults.
Louis. I had a brother, who by poison died !



FRAN. By your order ?

Louis. Some suspected so.

FRAN. Heaven!

Louis. If those who said it was my deed had fallen in by

FRAN. 'Tis true ?

Louis. His ghost, from out his coffin walking forth, could alone
with impunity betray me.

FRAN. 'Tis true, then?

Louis. But he was a traitor, and deserved it.

FRAN. Murderer fratricide tremble !

Louis, (falling on his knees) I do !

FRAN. Repent!

Louis, (dragging himself toward! FRANCOIS, and clutching his
clothes) Be merciful ! See, kneeling, I deplore another crime !
Nemours he had conspired, his crime, at least, was proved ; but
at his death, beneath the scaffold his three weeping sons were placed.

FRAN. Barbarian !

Louis. Victims unnumbered I hare put to death. Captives e'en
now far, far below these floors groan out forgotten lives.

FRAN. Since these are wrongs which thou canst still repair, come.

Louis. Whither?

FRAN. To release them. Haste haste and save thy soul ?

Louis. And risk my crown as king ? I cannot ! No. It is
enough that I repent. The Church has pardons which a king can

FRAN. Ood sells not his, it must be merited.

Louis. I am bewildered, I can say no more !

FRAN. Unhappy man, appease the torture of thy guilty soul ! An
act of mercy may give back thy sleep and some, at least, will bless
thy waking hours.

Louis. I'll see about it. ( peevishly)

FRAN. Heaven will not wait.

Louis. To-morrow !

FRAJJ. Ere to-morrow, death may seize, this night this instant !

Louis. No, I am too well enclosed, and too well defended.

FRAN. Adieu, then, murderer f (going)

Louis. Father, stay !

FRAN. Weep pray and not with words, pray with your deeds !
Atone the past ! Farewell !

Exit, having lingered for a moment, L.H. 1 B.

Louis. He's gone! Yes! Who will extend a helping hand to
me, for rescue from the abyss in which I'm plunged ? I'll pray,
he bade me ; weep, too, if I can ! (kneels on his prie-dieu K.C.,
places his hat before him, and prays to a small image of the Virgin
hanging to his coat)

XBM. (opening the curtains c., and standing still, with dagger
in hi* hand, watching Louis) No shriving time my father he
allowed !


Hautboit heard in the distance, playing the tune to which
the Peasants had danced.

Louis, (rising) What do I hear ? (approaches window L.H.
MOONLIGHT) Their merry dancing o'er, the village peasants travel
home. Ah ! happy mortals ! Gentle sleep is theirs. They slumber
onj but I (turns from window advances to chair c, teet


NUM. (R.) Silence !

Louis. I'm dumb!

NEM. Not a cry!

Louis. No !

NEM. Thy guards defend thee well.

Louis. Nemours, what would'st thou ?

NEM. Vengeance !

Louis. Judge not in passion.

NEM. I am not thy judge !

Louis. And who is, then ?

NEM. My father!

Louis. Thou, Nemours ?

NEM. M/ father!

Louis. Thou alone !

NEM. My father!

Louis. He would slay me.

NEM. Thon'st judged thyself.

Louis. Be merciful.

NEM. Wertthou?

Louis. Oh, hear my prayer.

NEM; Do'st recollect his prayer to thee this last appeal ? 'tis
here, (showing him a scroll tied with silk, taken from his breast)

Louis. I ne'er received.

NEM. Which was by thee rejected.

Louis. Not by me, Nemours.

NBM. And which, when dead, we found upon his heart , my only
heritage : behold it, King ! it is thy death warrant. Impostor,
see : behold and read !

Louis. Forgive.

NBM. Beneath this dagger, read to whet thy memory.

Louis. I cannot.

NBM. 'Neath the axe he well could write ; read, ai he wrote.

Louis. I cannot : no, I die. This dagger, which I shun, and
which thy hand directs against me, dazzles, blinds me ; no, I
cannot, no !

NEM. Listen !

Louis. Mercy!

NEM. (reads from the paper) " My very dear, and sovereign lord,
as much and as humbly as 1 can, I recommend myself to your pity
and mercy." Well :

Louis. I was severe, and cruel, but I'll make amends. I'll make
full atonement, put me to the proof; and by my deeds I'll show my


NEM. Listen again, (continues reading) " 1 will serve you so
well and so loyally, that you shall know I am truly penitent. Have
pity on me, and on my poor children. Let me not die for my trans-
gressions to their shame, that they may survive me in dishonour and
in beggary . For God's sake, Sire, have pity upon me and my poor
children !" Look read read !

Louis. Where?

NEM. ( pointing to the place with the dagger) There !

Louis. " Your poor friend, Jacques d'Armagnac !"

NEM. And there his blood !

Louis. Nemours !

NEM. His blood. Oh, what punishment can meet thy crimes ?
How make it equal to thy matchless guilt ?

Louis, (falling at NBMOURs's/eef) Mercy, Nemours!

NEM. There's but one torture can suffice.

Louis, (sinking in terror) It is my death ! (falls insensible)

NEM. (raising the dagger, and then throwing it from him) No,
'tis thy life ! What, I free thee ? No, live on, or rather, living die ;
die slowly, too, that all thy cruel schemes may add accumulated
woes, and foretaste give of thine eternity. Aye, wait till death both
just and pitiless, shall seize that soul which never mercy felt, loaded
with crime so high that even Heaven's mercy has no measure for
thee ; live, live, if it is thy wish thy prayers. Heaven grant it, then ;
prolong his damned life, until his crimes reach Babel-like to
Heaven to bring its judgment down.

Exit .R.H. 1 E.

Louis, (utters some inarticulate sounds as he recovers) Help !
Tristan ! An assassin ! Murder ! Help ! Bring torches ! Run !
He seeks to take my life he lifts his dagger !


Tear it from his hands ! Kill him ! There there he lies concealed !
(pointing to COITIER'S room, R.H.)

TRISTAN, four GUARDS, and OFFICER go off R.H.D. with
torches OFFICER and four GUARDS range behind, near
bed, icith torches.

Assassins! There I see them everywhere! (to GUARDS) Sur-
round me ! (the GUARD make one step forward) No, no ! I'm
afraid of all ! Look behind the curtains.

The OFFICERS go behind curtains and return.

I heard a voice pronounce my name, I saw one traitor creep beneath
my bed.

TRISTAN and GUARD return from R.H.D.
What, can you not find 'em ? I see them, though : the room is


full of them. There there there! (falls in convulsions into
TRISTAN'S arms, L.C. TABLEAU, and closed in by

SCENE II. ,4 Room in the Castle.

THIS. Hush! There is a stir in the King's chamber some one
comes out 'tis Oliver.
COM. Thank Heaven !

Enter OLIVER, D.F.

What news how is the King ?

OLIV. He breathes again.

THIS. Will he recover ?

OLIV. 'Tis doubtful, should he but relapse his life is gone another
fit will surely be his last, he asks for Coitier.

TRIS. What answer gave you ?

OLIV. None 'twas needless ; for scarce has he expressed a wish,
but 'tis forgotten His brain wanders. He speaks at random, words,
not thoughts. He does not dream how far it is gone with him. He
said, but now, that he would hold a Council ; commanded me
to place the crown upon his head, the weight of it sunk his chin
upon his breast. There he sits, gibbering his orders out, wrapped in
his royal mantle, that fits him like a shroud.

COM: Does he speak of Nemours ?

OLIV. No ; he has forgotten all that dreadful scene which plunged
him into this frenzy. He asks for Coitier, though, and seems to
miss him.

TRIS. What shall I do ? I have the King's strict order far his
arrest. He is now in the dungeon next Nemours ; and if I receive
no respite for them, they die to-morrow.

OLIV. Nemours was sentenced for this morning.

THIS. The Dauphin bade me stay the execution. Sieur Oliver,
let's not forget ourselves.

OLIV. We'll not, good Tristan, but make common cause.

COM. Sirs, as you list ; but take a friend's advice. The Court will
o'er you keep the strictest watch, and punish too, at need.

OLIV. (to TRISTAN) 'Tis but the truth, Sieur d'Argeuton has

TRIS. To thee as well methinks.

OLIV. Thy hand, good Tristan, was too prompt, you'll have to
answer many a bloody deed.

TRIS. Pry thee, who were the accomplices therein ?

OLIV. I executed not.

TRIS. Nor I advised. But come remember this is a common

1 3

Online LibraryW. R. S MarkwellLouis XI, an historical drama in three acts → online text (page 3 of 4)