AUSTIN and GUENDOLEN. How? Mildred?
TRESHAM. Mildred once! Now the receiver night by night, when sleep Blesses the inmates of her father's house, --I say, the soft sly wanton that receives Her guilt's accomplice 'neath this roof which holds You, Guendolen, you, Austin, and has held A thousand Treshams--never one like her! No lighter of the signal-lamp her quick Foul breath near quenches in hot eagerness To mix with breath as foul! no loosener O' the lattice, practised in the stealthy tread, The low voice and the noiseless come-and-go! Not one composer of the bacchant's mien Into--what you thought Mildred's, in a word! Know her!
GUENDOLEN. Oh, Mildred, look to me, at least! Thorold--she's dead, I'd say, but that she stands Rigid as stone and whiter!
TRESHAM. You have heard...
GUENDOLEN. Too much! You must proceed no further.
MILDRED. Yes-- Proceed! All's truth. Go from me!
TRESHAM. All is truth, She tells you! Well, you know, or ought to know, All this I would forgive in her. I'd con Each precept the harsh world enjoins, I'd take Our ancestors' stern verdicts one by one, I'd bind myself before then to exact The prescribed vengeance--and one word of hers, The sight of her, the bare least memory Of Mildred, my one sister, my heart's pride Above all prides, my all in all so long, Would scatter every trace of my resolve. What were it silently to waste away And see her waste away from this day forth, Two scathed things with leisure to repent, And grow acquainted with the grave, and die Tired out if not at peace, and be forgotten? It were not so impossible to bear. But this--that, fresh from last night's pledge renewed Of love with the successful gallant there, She calmly bids me help her to entice, Inveigle an unconscious trusting youth Who thinks her all that's chaste and good and pure, --Invites me to betray him... who so fit As honour's self to cover shame's arch-deed? --That she'll receive Lord Mertoun--(her own phrase)-- This, who could bear? Why, you have heard of thieves, Stabbers, the earth's disgrace, who yet have laughed, "Talk not to me of torture--I'll betray No comrade I've pledged faith to!"--you have heard Of wretched women--all but Mildreds--tied By wild illicit ties to losels vile You'd tempt them to forsake; and they'll reply "Gold, friends, repute, I left for him, I find In him, why should I leave him then, for gold, Repute or friends?"--and you have felt your heart Respond to such poor outcasts of the world As to so many friends; bad as you please, You've felt they were God's men and women still, So, not to be disowned by you. But she That stands there, calmly gives her lover up As means to wed the Earl that she may hide Their intercourse the surelier: and, for this, I curse her to her face before you all. Shame hunt her from the earth! Then Heaven do right To both! It hears me now--shall judge her then! [AS MILDRED faints and falls, TRESHAM rushes out.]
AUSTIN. Stay, Tresham, we'll accompany you!