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PAGE 2

A Long Time Ago: A Tragic Fantasy
by [?]

THE FOOL.
You’re a disgusting old woman. If I hear any more of that talk, I’m likely to slap the face of you, even if you are the Queen’s nurse. Go away before you spoil my afternoon.

THE OLD WOMAN.
I could speak to the Queen and have you beaten, do you know that?

THE FOOL.
Woman, go away. I do not want to be bothered by the
old and the garrulous. I am composing a love-song.

THE OLD WOMAN.
Has any one ever loved you, I would like to know? Now if it were that young prince who is staying with us, he would have some right to make love-songs–if what they say is true, that every woman he meets on his journey falls in love with him. Even our own Queen, I am thinking. But only three days does he stay in any place, and then he is up and gone on his long journey that nobody understands the reason or the end of, from the east to the west. He is too wise to be held by such toys as love.

THE FOOL.
Then he is more a fool than I.

THE OLD WOMAN.
Who should know about love, if not a man who has been
loved by many women and by great queens? But you,
what do you know about it?

THE FOOL.
The trouble with the old is that they forget so many things. I am sorry for you, woman. You think yourself wise, but the fool that sits at the Queen’s doorstep and looks at her as she passes, and she never seeing him at all, is wiser than you.

THE OLD WOMAN.
I have wasted enough words with you. I will go away
and sit in the sun and think of the days when there were heroes.

She goes.

THE FOOL.
And I will make a song about love. I will make a song
about the love that is too high for pride and too deep for shame.

The door has opened, and the young Queen stands looking down at him.

THE QUEEN.
What is that, fool? What are the words you are saying?

THE FOOL.
( kneeling )

I was speaking of a love that is too high
for pride and too deep for shame.

THE QUEEN.
And whose love is that, fool?

THE FOOL.
It is the love of all who really love,
and it is the only love worth making a song about.

THE QUEEN.
( smiling )

And how do you come to be so wise as to know about such things?

THE FOOL.
I know because I am a fool.

THE QUEEN.
I am well answered. And you are not the only fool in
the world, I am thinking. But tell me, fool, have you
seen any of the Prince’s men here?

THE FOOL.
No, but I have heard that the ship is being got ready for sailing. . . .

THE QUEEN.
( rebukingly )

I did not ask you that.

( She is about to go, but turns back,

and gives him a piece of money
.)

This is for you to buy wine with and get drunken.
You are not amusing when you are sober.

( She starts to go, but turns again

.)