Enter The King.
Listen to me, lovely Maritana ! it is thy King who adores thee. Listen—my diadem-my kingdom—all the wealth of Spain, I place at thy feet. Give me but thy heart in exchange.
Why lock'st thou the door ?
That none else hear what I now dare to utter; thou art my King—thou'st my dishonour sought—my wife insulted—thus I that wrong repay.
Intruder, what ho, who waiteth?
To death they'll drag thee—by the lattice fly.
Sire, an instant hear me, I bear a mission.
A mission, thou ? from whom ?
Sire, from the Queen, who would save Maritana.
How ! did they dare to admit thee to the presence of Her Majesty ?
No, sire, they did not admit me by the portal; therefore climbed I the garden wall, resolved to cast myself, un-looked-for, at the feet of the queen.
What sought thee of the queen ? Audacious !
To save my wife. That effort saved my king.
At least his honour. To avoid the notice of the guards, hidden behind the foliage, I heard in converse deep, two voices—a woman's and a man's. Shall I go on ?
"Madame, you are betrayed," said the cavalier to the lady. The king to-night meeteth his mistress in yonder villa."
The queen ! Unlock the door, I say, and let me forth !
Thou wouldst arrive too late.
Think'st thou Don Cæsar de Bazan saved the man who, though scorned by his queen, to whom he spoke of love, would have betrayed his king ? No, sire. By this true hand the traitor fell. I have done my utmost to preserve thy honour. Canst thou destroy mine ?
No, Don Cæsar, and may that loyal sword which has preserved the dignity of your King, ever defend with equal bravery thine own. Rise, I hear footsteps.
Now unlock the door.