TRESHAM. This, Mildred, is it for! Or, no, I cannot go to it so soon! That's one of many points my haste left out-- Each day, each hour throws forth its silk-slight film Between the being tied to you by birth, And you, until those slender threads compose A web that shrouds her daily life of hopes And fears and fancies, all her life, from yours: So close you live and yet so far apart! And must I rend this web, tear up, break down The sweet and palpitating mystery That makes her sacred? You--for you I mean, Shall I speak, shall I not speak?
TRESHAM. I will. Is there a story men could--any man Could tell of you, you would conceal from me? I'll never think there's falsehood on that lip. Say "There is no such story men could tell," And I'll believe you, though I disbelieve The world--the world of better men than I, And women such as I suppose you. Speak! [After a pause.] Not speak? Explain then! Clear it up then! Move Some of the miserable weight away That presses lower than the grave. Not speak? Some of the dead weight, Mildred! Ah, if I Could bring myself to plainly make their charge Against you! Must I, Mildred? Silent still? [After a pause.] Is there a gallant that has night by night Admittance to your chamber? [After a pause.] Then, his name! Till now, I only had a thought for you: But now,--his name!
MILDRED. Thorold, do you devise Fit expiation for my guilt, if fit There be! 'Tis nought to say that I'll endure And bless you,--that my spirit yearns to purge Her stains off in the fierce renewing fire: But do not plunge me into other guilt! Oh, guilt enough! I cannot tell his name.
TRESHAM. Then judge yourself! How should I act? Pronounce!
MILDRED. Oh, Thorold, you must never tempt me thus! To die here in this chamber by that sword Would seem like punishment: so should I glide, Like an arch-cheat, into extremest bliss! 'Twere easily arranged for me: but you-- What would become of you?
TRESHAM. And what will now Become of me? I'll hide your shame and mine >From every eye; the dead must heave their hearts Under the marble of our chapel-floor; They cannot rise and blast you. You may wed Your paramour above our mother's tomb; Our mother cannot move from 'neath your foot. We too will somehow wear this one day out: But with to-morrow hastens here--the Earl! The youth without suspicion. Face can come >From Heaven and heart from... whence proceed such hearts? I have dispatched last night at your command A missive bidding him present himself To-morrow--here--thus much is said; the rest Is understood as if 'twere written down-- "His suit finds favor in your eyes." Now dictate This morning's letter that shall countermand Last night's--do dictate that!
MILDRED. But, Thorold--if I will receive him as I said?