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PAGE 6

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

He clasps her hands and then descends the steps.

THE QUEEN.
Wait!

She runs down, and tenderly embraces him.

THE PRINCE.
Farewell.

THE QUEEN.
Must you go?

THE PRINCE.
I shall remember you always.

THE QUEEN.
( bitterly )

I suppose that is enough. . . .

They come down the steps together.

THE PRINCE.
What is that you say?

THE QUEEN.
I say that it is enough that you should think of me sometimes on your long journey from the east to the west. To be remembered–that is the portion of women.

THE PRINCE.
You knew what manner of man I was, and that I would not be detained. Why, if you must have the taste of kisses on your lips always, did you not turn to some man of your own land, who would not stray from your side? Why did you give your love to one you had never seen before, and will never see again? I did not ask that you love me. What you gave, I took.

THE QUEEN.
I regret nothing that I have given.
But I am sorry for you, because you do not understand.

THE PRINCE.
It may be that I do not understand.
But I know that I may not stay longer in this place.
Would you ask me to do otherwise?

THE QUEEN.
I would not ask you, no. If you understood, I would have no need of asking. If all things in your life have not changed colour and significance–if I have been to you but as a harlot to one of your sailors,–then leave me.

THE PRINCE.
( confusedly )

It is not true that nothing has changed. My mind is in a turmoil. I am dizzy, I cannot see. I have almost forgotten why I set my heart on this journey. You have bewitched me, and that is why I fear you. If I stay here with you any longer, I shall forget everything. I must go.

THE QUEEN.
( her arms about him )

You have forgotten the meaning of your journey. You will not go.

THE PRINCE.
I am going. . . .

But he allows himself to be led to the arbour seat.

THE QUEEN.
It is too late. You are mine, now, mine for ever. It was for this that you came hither–I am the meaning of your journey. It was ordained that you love me. You must not think of anything else.

THE PRINCE.
Why have you done this to me? Are you a witch? I am afraid of you!

He rises.

THE QUEEN.
I will teach you strange and terrible secrets.

THE PRINCE.
I fear you and yet I trust you. What will come of this I do not know. But I care for nothing. Nothing in the world means anything to me now except you. Why is it that I seem to hate you?

He seizes her and holds her fiercely.

THE QUEEN.
That is because you love me at last.

THE PRINCE.
I could kill you.

THE QUEEN.
You seek in vain to escape love.

The sailor staggers in, sees the Prince, and stops.

THE SAILOR.
I am bidden to tell you–