David Bruce: George Peele’s The Battle of Alcazar: A Retelling — Act 2: Prologue, Scene 1-4

— Prologue —

A call to arms sounded in the distance, and the Presenter appearedand said, “Now war begins its raging and ruthless reign, and Nemesis, with bloody whip in hand, thunders for vengeance on this dark-skinned MoorMuly Mahamet.”

Imagine this:

Nemesis, the goddess of vengeance, appears. Then three ghosts appear.

The three ghosts were those of the three relatives Muly Mahamet had murdered: his two younger brothers and his uncle Abdelmunen.

The Presenter continued:

“Nor may the silence of the speechless, quiet night — night that is the dire architect of murders and misdeeds, of tragedies and tragic tyrannies — hide or contain this barbarous cruelty of this usurper to his progeny.”

Imagine this:

The three ghosts cry, “Vindicta! Revenge!”

The Presenter continued:

“Listen closely, lords, to the dreadful shrieks and clamors that resound, as in a hollow place afar, and sound revenge upon this traitor’s soul — the soul of this traitor to family and nature, to gods and men!

“Now Nemesis upon her echoing drum, moved with this ghastly moan, this sad complaint, sounds an alarm loudly into Alecto’s ears, and with her thundering awakens her, where she and the other Furies, just imps of dire revenge, lie on beds of steel in a cave as dark as hell.”

Imagine this:

The three Furies, one with a whip, another with a bloody torch, and the third with a chopping knife,arise. They are wearing steel armor.

The Presenter continued:

“‘Revenge,’ cries Abdelmunen’s aggrieved ghost, and with the terror of this noise his ghost arouses these nymphs of Erebus.”

Erebus is hell, and these nymphs of Erebus are the three Furies.

The Presenter continued:

“The souls of his unhappy brethren — the two murdered brothers of Muly Mahamet — ring out the words ‘Avenge and revenge.’

“And now these torments of the world start up, awakened with the thunder of Rhamnusia’s drum and fearful echoes of these aggrieved ghosts.”

Rhamnusia is another name for the goddess Nemesis.

The Presenter mentioned the names of the three Furies:

“Alecto with her brand and bloody torch,

“Megaera with her whip and snaky hair,

“Tisiphone with her fatal murdering iron chopping knife.

“These three conspire, these three complain and moan.”

In an apostrophe the Presenter addressed the absent Moor Muly Mahamet:

“Thus, Muly Mahamet, a council is held to avenge the wrongs and murders thou have done.”

The Presenter then addressed you, the audience, and mentioned some events that followed the capture of the Moor Muly Mahamet’s treasure-loaded wagon by Abdelmelec’s forces.

“Imagine that by this time this barbarous Moor had lost his dignity and his diadem, and lives forlorn among the mountain-shrubs, and for his food he eats the flesh of savage beasts.

“Amurath’s soldiers have by this time installed good Abdelmelec in his royal seat: the throne.

“The upper-class women of Fez and the ladies of the land, in honor of Amurath, the son of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, erect a statue made of beaten gold, and sing to Amurath songs of lasting praise.

“Muly Mahamet’s fury has been overthrown, his cruelty controlled, and his pride rebuked.”

The Presenter then explained what the Moor Muly Mahamet would do after he got over his depression following the loss of his kingdom:

“When sober thoughts will at last have renewed his concern for how to retake his kingdom and desired crown, he furiously will implore by messengers the aid from brave King Sebastian of Portugal that he once was offered and refused.

“King Sebastian, eager to engage in all arms and chivalry, will listen to the Moor Muly Mahamet’s ambassadors, and will grant what they in letters and by words entreat.

“Now listen, lordings; now begins the game of Sebastian’s tragedy in this tragic war.”

— 2.1 —

Abdelmelec, Mahamet Seth, and Calsepius Bassa talked together on a battlefield near Fez. Some Moors and janizaries were present. Abdelmelec had just won a victory and become the ruler of Morocco.

Abdelmelec said, “Now the sun has displayed its golden beams, and now that the dusky clouds have dispersed, the sky clears and shows the twenty-colored rainbow.

“After this happy and fortunate fight, wherein our enemies have lost the day, and Victory, adorned with Fortune’s plumes, alights on Abdelmelec’s glorious crest, we find here time to catch our breath, and now begin to pay thy due and duties thou owe to heaven and earth, to gods and Amurath.”

Abdelmelec used the royal plural in the first part of the last paragraph, but then he switched to “thy” and “thou” when referring to himself as a way of showing his respect to heaven and earth, to gods and Amurath.

Trumpets sounded.

Abdelmelec continued, “And now draw near, and let heaven and earth give ear, give ear and record, heaven and earth, with me.

“You lords of Barbary, listen and pay attention, pay close attention to the words I speak and the vow I make to plant the true succession of the crown.

“Lo, lords, we install our only brother here in our royal seat to succeed me, and by the name of Mahamet Seth entitle him true heir to the crown. Seth will become King of Morocco after I die.

“May you gods of heaven congratulate this deed, so that men on earth may therewith stand content!

“Lo, thus I pay my due and duties to heaven and earth, to gods and Amurath!”

Trumpets sounded.

Seth said to Calsepius Bassa, “Renowned Bassa, to remunerate thy worthiness and magnanimity, behold, the noblest ladies of the land bring to you tokens of their gratitude.”

Rubin Archis, her son, the queen Abdil Rayes, and some ladies walked over to him.

Rubin Archis,the widow of Abdelmunen,said, “Rubin, who lives only for revenge, by this gift commends herself to thee, Bassa. Receive the token of her thankfulness. To Amurath the god of earthly kings, Rubin gives and sacrifices her son. Not with sweet smoke of fire or sweet perfume, but with his father’s sword and his mother’s thanks, Rubin gives her son to Amurath.”

Her son will serve Amurath.

Abdil Rayes, who was a queen and used the royal plural, said, “As Rubin gives her son, so we give ourselves to Amurath and fall before his face.”

She prostrated herself and then stood.

She gave some gold jewelry to Calsepius Bassaas she said, “Bassa, wear thou the gold of Barbary, and glisten like the palace of the Sun, in honor of the deed that thou have done.”

Calsepius Bassasaid, “Well worthy of the aid of Amurath are Abdelmelec and these noble dames.”

He said to Rubin Archis, “Rubin, thy son I shall before long bestow, where thou bequeath him in honor’s fee, on Amurath the mighty Emperor of the East, who shall receive the scion of your royal family with cheerful looks and gleams of princely grace.”

He then said to Abdelmelec, “This chosen guard of Amurath’s janizaries I leave to honor and attend on thee, King of Morocco, conqueror of thy foes, true King of Fez, Emperor of Barbary.

“Muly Abdelmelec, live and keep thy seat, in spite of fortune’s spite or enemies’ threats.”

Referring to himself, Calsepius Bassa said, “Ride, Bassa, now, bold Bassa, homeward ride, as glorious as great Pompey in his pride.”

Calsepius Bassa now left to return home to serve Amurath.

Pompey was a Roman general who died in one of Rome’s civil wars.

— 2.2 —

Don Diego Lopez, the Irish Bishop, the Englishman Stukeley, Hercules, Jonas, and others stood together in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal.

Don Diego Lopez was the governor of Lisbon, and he was greeting these men who had sailed their ship into Lisbon’s port.

Stukeley was the English commander of the forces on the ship. Hercules and Jonas were Italian soldiers serving Stukeley. Hercules was Stukeley’s second-in-command.

Don Diego Lopez said, “Welcome to Lisbon, valiant Catholics. Welcome, brave Englishmen, to Portugal.

“Most reverend primate of the Irish church, and, noble Stukeley, famous by thy name, welcome, thrice welcome to King Sebastian’s town.”

A primate in Catholicism is a high-ranking priest: a chief bishop or archbishop.

Don Diego Lopez continued, “And welcome, English captains, to you all.”

Don Diego Lopez knew that Stukeley was English, and so he assumed that Hercules and Jonas were English, but they were Italian.

He continued, “It makes us joyous to see his Holiness’ fleet cast anchor happily upon our coast.”

The Irish bishop replied, “These welcomes, worthy governor of Lisbon, are evidence of an honorable mind in thee, but be aware of our misfortune also.”

Don Diego Lopez had assumed that their ships had intentionally arrived in Lisbon, but actually bad weather had forced their ships to land there.

The Irish bishop continued, “We were all bound to Ireland by Pope Gregory’s command, and therefore we embarked to land our forces there with the Irish unaware, conquering the island for his Holiness, and so restore it to the Roman faith.

“This was the reason of our expedition, and Ireland long before this would have been subdued, had not foul weather brought us to this bay.”

Don Diego Lopez said, “Correct me if I’m wrong, butaren’t you all Englishmen, and doesn’t Ireland belong to that kingdom, lords?

“If so, then may I speak my conscience in the cause without scandal to the Holy See of Rome that this expedition is dishonorable and it is unfitting for you to meddle in.”

Stukeley said, “Lord governor of Lisbon, understand, as we Englishmen are Englishmen, so are we men.

“I am Stukeley, and I am so determined in all I do to strive for rule, honor, and power that I am not to be bent so strictly to the place wherein at first I blew the fire of life, but that instead I may at liberty make choice of all the continents that bound the world because I make it not so great desert to be begotten or born in any place, since that’s a thing of pleasure and of ease that might have been performed elsewhere as well.”

Although he was English, Stukeley was not patriotic; instead, he was out to gain power for himself.

Don Diego Lopez said, “Follow what your good pleasure will, good Captain Stukeley. Far be it from me to make objections beyond my privilege and what is proper.”

The Irish bishop said, “Yet, Captain Stukeley, give me permission to speak. We must love our country as our parents, and if at any time we alienate our love or efforts from doing it honor, it must concern motives and touch the soul as a matter of conscience and religion, and not as a matter of desire of rule or benefit.”

He was saying that he believed in patriotism, and he believed that if one were to go against one’s country, it must be out of considerations of conscience and religion, and not out of concern for one’s personal gain.

He himself wanted Ireland to be under the control of the Holy See because of his religion.

Stukeley said, “Well said, bishop! Spoken like yourself — the reverent, lordly Bishop of Saint Asses.”

Hercules said, “The bishop talks according to his coat, and does not take the measure of it by his mind. You see he has thus made his coat large and wide because he may convert it, as he wishes, to any form that may fit the fashion best.”

Like Stukeley, Hercules was suspicious of the Irish bishop. He was saying that the Irish bishop would always take the Pope’s side and would say whatever would serve the Pope’s interests.

The Irish bishop replied to Hercules, “Captain, you do me wrong to speak like this about my coat or double conscience, and cannot answer it in another place.”

His double conscience was as a man and as a bishop. Hercules had accused him of giving up the autonomy that belonged to him as a man of free will in order to serve the Catholic Church.

To some extent, this is true. A religious vow such as that taken by a priest involves giving up some free will. A Catholic priest can no longer stay true to his vow of chastity and get married and have children. He has given up the free will needed to choose to get married and have children.

The Irish bishop was also saying that his religion forbade the fighting of duels. Hercules’ words could very well make a non-priest challenge him.

In addition, Hercules’ words could be used against him on the Day of Judgment.

Wanting to make peace, Don Diego Lopez said, “His talk is only in jest, lord bishop; set aside the argument and all as friends deign to be entertained as my ability here can make provision.

“Shortly I shall conduct you to King Sebastian of Portugal, whose welcomes to foreigners are always princely and honorable, as is fitting for his state.”

Stukeley said, “Thanks, worthy governor.”

He then said to the Irish bishop, “Come, bishop, come. Will you display the fruits of quarrel and of wrath? Come, let’s go in with my Lord of Lisbon here and put all conscience into one carouse, letting it out again as we may live and choose.”

Everyoneexcept Stukeleyexited.

Alone, Stukeley spoke about what was most valuable to him:

“No action shall pass my hand or sword that cannot make a step to gain a crown.

“No word shall pass the office of my tongue that sounds not of affection to a crown.

“No thought shall have existence in my lordly breast that works not every way to win a crown.

“All my deeds, words, and thoughts shall be as a king’s.

“My chiefest company shall be with kings, and my rewards shall be equivalent to a king’s.

“Why shouldn’t I, then, look to be a king?

“I am now already called the Marquis of Ireland, and I will be shortly King of Ireland.

“I had rather be the king of a molehill than the richest subject of a monarchy.

“Swell with pride, my worthy mind, and never cease to aspire until thou reign sole king of thy desire.”

— 2.3 —

The Moor Muly Mahamet, Calipolis (his wife),their son, and two other Moors who served them stood near each other in the mountains of northern Morocco.

Muly Mahamet asked rhetorically, “Where are thou, boy? Where is Calipolis?”

They were in a wild area, not in a luxurious palace.

He looked around at the wild area and said, “Oh, deadly wound that passes by my eye! Oh, fatal poison of my swelling heart!”

He paused and then mourned, “Oh, fortune constant in unconstancy!

“Fight earthquakes in the entrails of the earth, and eastern whirlwinds in the hellish shades! May some foul contagion of the infected heaven blast all the trees, and may the unpropitious night-raven and tragic owl in their cursed high places breed and become foretellers of my fall, the fatal ruin of my fame and me!”

The screeches of night-ravens and owls were bad omens.

Muly Mahamet continued, “May adders and serpents hiss at my disgrace, and wound the earth with anguish of their stings!”

He then addressed the absent Abdelmelec, who had replaced him as King of Morocco, “Now, Abdelmelec, now triumph in Fez; fortune has made thee King of Barbary.”

Calipolis, his wife, said, “Alas, my lord, what use are these huge exclamations of pain to help us in this distressed estate?

“Oh, pity our distressed condition, my lord, and turn all curses to humble lamentations, and those lamentations to actions of relief!

“I faint from hunger, my lord; and cursing complaints cannot refresh the fading substance of my life.”

Muly Mahamet said, “Let all the world faint, rot, and be accursed, since my power faints and is accursed.”

Calipolis said, “Yet have patience, lord, so you can conquer sorrows.”

In this society, wives called their husbands “lord.”

Muly Mahamet said, “What patience is for him who lacks his crown? There is no patience where the loss is such. The shame of my disgrace has put on wings, and swiftly flies around this earthly ball.

“Do thou care to live, then, foolish Calipolis, when he who should give essence to thy soul, he on whose glory all thy joy should rest, is soul-less, glory-less, and desperate, crying for battle, famine, sword, and fire, rather than calling for relief or life?

“But be content, thy hunger shall have an end. Famine herself shall waste away to death, and thou shall live. I will go hunt in these cursed solitary lands, and make my sword and shield here my hounds to pull down lions and untamed beasts.”

He exited to hunt food.

Muly, Junior said, “Tush, mother, cherish your disheartened soul and feed with hope of happiness and ease. For if by valor or by strategy my kingly father can be fortunate, we shall be Jove’s commanders once again and flourish in a three-fold happiness.”

One of the Moors with them said, “His majesty Muly Mahamet has sent Sebastian, the good and innocent King of Portugal, a promise to resign the royalty and kingdom of Morocco to his hands.”

The Moor Muly Mahamethad promised to give much power in Morocco to King Sebastian of Portugal if he would help him defeat Abdelmelec.

Muly, Junior continued, “And when this lofty offer takes effect, and instills boldness in Sebastian, my gracious lordMuly Mahamet— warned wisely to think this over — I don’t doubt but will watch for opportunity, and take her forelock by the slenderest hair, to rid us of this miserable life.”

The Moor Muly Mahamet would likely take the opportunity to give King Sebastian much less power in Morocco than he had been promised.

Muly, Junior said,“Good madam, cheer yourself up. My father’s wise. He can submit himself and live below his station, make a show of friendship, promise, vow, and swear, until, by the virtue of his fair pretense, Sebastian trusts his integrity, and my father makes himself possessor of such fruits as grow upon such great advantages.”

Calipolis said, “But more dishonor hangs on such misdeeds than all the profit their return can bear. Such secret judgments have the heavens imposed upon the drooping state of Barbary, as public merits in such lewd attempts have drawn with violence upon our heads.”

In order for the Moor Muly Mahamet to convince King Sebastian to help him overthrow Abdelmelec, he would make promises that he did not intend to keep. Such false promises, according to Calipolis, are punished by heaven.

The Moor Muly Mahamet returned with a piece of meat on the end of his sword.

He said, “Hold on, Calipolis. Eat, and faint no more. I forced a lioness to leave this meat. It is the meat of a princess, and it is for a princess meet.”

The lioness is the female royalty of beasts.

The Moor Muly Mahamet continued, “Learn by her noble stomach to regard penury as plenty in the most extreme dearth.”

As his next sentences would make clear, he meant this: Even when you are very impoverished, regard yourself as having plenty because you have the ability to go out and get what you need.

He continued, “The lioness, when she saw that she was bereft of her meat, did not waste away in melancholy or childish fear, but as brave minds are strongest in extremes, so she, redoubling her former force, ranged through the woods, and rent the breeding vaults of proudest savages to save herself.”

The lioness, once her meat was taken away by Muly Mahamet, did not sit and mourn, but instead went out and killed something proud and savage so she could eat.

He continued, “Eat, then, and don’t faint, fair Calipolis. For rather than fierce famine prevailing to gnaw thy entrails with her thorny teeth, the conquering lioness shall be thy servant, and lay huge heaps of slaughtered carcasses as bulwarks in the way of famine, to keep famine away.

“I will provide thee with a princely osprey, which as she flies over fish in pools, shall charm the fish so that they shall turn their glistening bellies up to be captured, and thou shall take thy liberal choice of all the fish.

“Jove’s stately bird — the eagle — with wide-commanding wings shall hover always about thy princely head and beat down fowl by shoals into thy lap so that thou can eat.

“Eat, then, and don’t faint, fair Calipolis.”

Calipolis said, “Thanks, my good lord, and although my stomach is too queasy to digest such bloody meat, yet I will strengthen my stomach by using the virtue of my mind. I doubt not a whit that I shall live, my lord.”

The Moor Muly Mahamet said, “Go into the shade, then, fair Calipolis, and give thy son and the Moors here some food.”

He then said to all present, “Eat and be fat, so that we may meet the foe with strength and terror, to revenge the wrong done to us.”

— 2.4 —

King Sebastian, the Duke of Avero, the Duke of Barceles, Lewes de Silva, and Christophero de Tavera met together in a room in the Royal Palace in Lisbon, Portugal. Some attendants were present.

King Sebastian ordered, “Call forth those Moors, those ambassadorsof Barbary, who came with letters from the King of Fez.”

One of the attendants exited and then returned, bringing in the Moorish ambassadorswith two Moorish attendants.

King Sebastian said, “You warlike lords, and men of chivalry, honorable ambassadors of this high regent, the Moor Muly Mahamet, listen to King Sebastian of Portugal.

“These letters sent from your distressed lord, who was torn from his throne by Abdelmelec’s hand, which was strengthened and raised by furious Amurath, ask for a kingly favor from me: aid to re-obtain his royal seat and place his fortunes in their former height.

“For repayment of which honorable arms, by these letters of his he firmly vows wholly to yield and to surrender the kingdom of Morocco into our hands, and to become to us contributory and to content himself with the realm of Fez.”

The Moor Muly Mahamet was promising to let King Sebastian be the overlord of Morocco, and he was promising to pay tribute to him. Muly Mahamet would govern the city of Fez.

King Sebastian continued, “These lines, my lords, written in extreme circumstances, extend therefore only during fortune’s date. They apply only as long as he has bad fortune. How shall Sebastian, then, believe these lines?”

He believed it possible that Muly Mahamet would forget his promises once Abdelmelec had been defeated.

The first ambassador said, “Viceroys, and most Christian King of Portugal, to satisfy thy doubtful mind herein, command forthwith that a blazing brand of fire be brought into the presence of thy majesty. Then thou shall see, by our most inviolate religious vows and ceremonies, how firm our sovereign’s promises are.”

An attendant brought in a blazing firebrand.

The first ambassador continued, “Behold, my lord. This binds our faith to thee. In token that great Muly Mahamet’s hand has written no more than his brave heart intends to fulfill, and that his hand has written no more than he will perform to thee and to thine heirs, we offer here our hands into this flame, and as this flame fastens on this flesh, so from our souls we wish it may consume the heart of our great lord and sovereign, Muly Mahamet, King of Barbary, if his intent does not agree with his words!”

Each of the Moorish ambassadors put a hand into the fire and let the fire burn it.

Using the royal plural, King Sebastian said, “These ceremonies and protestations persuade us, you lords of Barbary; therefore, return this answer to your king. Assure him by the honor of my crown, and by Sebastian’s true unfeigned faith, he shall have aid and succor to recover, and seat him in, his former dominion.

“Let him rely upon our princely word. Tell him that by August we will come to him with such an army of brave impatient minds that Abdelmelec and great Amurath shall tremble at the strength of Portugal.”

The first ambassador said, “Thanks to the renowned King of Portugal, on whose bold promises our state depend.”

King Sebastian said, “Men of Barbary, go and gladden your distressed king and say that Sebastian lives to right his wrong.”

Theambassadors and their attendantsexited.

King Sebastian ordered, “Duke of Avero, call in those Englishmen, Don Stukeley, and those captains of the fleet that recently landed in our bay of Lisbon.”

He thought to himself, Now breathe, Sebastian, and in breathing blow some gentle gale of thy new-formed joys.

He was looking forward to leading a crusade in north Africa.

As the Duke of Avero was leaving, King Sebastian said, “Duke of Avero, it shall be your charge to take the muster of the Portuguese and the bravest bloods of all our country.”

The Duke of Avero would have the responsibility of raising an army in Portugal.

TheDuke of Avero exited.

King Sebastian then made more orders:

“Lewes de Silva, you shall be dispatched with letters to King Philip the Second of Spain. Tell him we crave his aid in this behalf. I know that our fellow-king Philip will not deny his futherance in this holy Christian war.

“Duke of Barceles, as thy ancestors have always been loyal to Portugal, so now, in honor of thy promising youth, thy charge shall be to go to Antwerp speedily, to hire us mercenary men-at-arms. Promise them princely pay; and be thou assured thy word is ours — Sebastian speaks the word.”

King Sebastian would pay whatever the Duke of Barceles offered the mercenaries.

Christophero de Taverarequested, “I beseech your majesty to employ me in this war.”

King Sebastian said, “Christopher de Tavera, you are next to myself, you are my good Hephaestion, and you are my bedfellow, and so thy cares and mine shall be alike in this, and thou and I will live and die together.”

Hephaestion was Alexander the Great’s closest friend.

In this society, unmarried people of the same sex often slept in the same bed without causing scandal.

The Duke of Avero returned, leading the Irish bishop, Stukeley, Jonas, Hercules, and others.

Like Don Diego Lopez before him, King Sebastian assumed that the newcomers were Englishmen.

He said, “And now, brave Englishmen, to you whom angry storms have forced you to put into our bay, don’t regard your fortune as being any the worse in this. We hold our foreigners’ honors in our hand, and we give the distressed frank and free relief.

“Tell me, then, Stukeley, for that’s thy name, I believe, will thou, in honor of thy country’s fame, risk thy person in this brave exploit, and follow us to fruitful Barbary, with these six thousand soldiers thou have brought, who were choicely picked from throughout wanton Italy?

“Thou are a man of gallant appearance, proud in thy looks, and famous in every way. Frankly tell me, will thou go with me?”

Stukeley replied, “Courageous king, you are the wonder of my thoughts, and yet, my lord, with pardon understand that I myself and these whom weather has forced to lie at anchor here by thy gracious coast have directed our course and are making full force straight for Ireland.”

King Sebastian said, “For Ireland, Stukeley — thou make me wonder much — with seven ships, two pinnaces, and six thousand men?

“I tell thee, Stukeley, they are far too weak to violate the Queen of Ireland’s right, for Ireland’s Queen commands England’s force.”

The Queen of Ireland (and England) was Elizabeth I; in 1542, her father, Henry VIII, had been named King of Ireland.

King Sebastian continued, “Even if every ship were ten thousand on the seas, manned with the strength of all the eastern kings, conveying all the monarchs of the world, to invade the island where her highness reigns, it would all be in vain, for heavens and destinies attend and wait upon her majesty. Sacred, imperial, and holy is her seat, shining with wisdom, love, and mightiness.

“Nature that made everything imperfect, fortune that never yet was found to be constant, and time that defaces every golden show dare not decay, remove, or impair her. Nature, time, and fortune have all agreed to bless and serve her royal majesty.

“Surrounding her is the surging ocean, whose raging floods swallow up her foes and split their ships in pieces on the rocks, and even in Spain, where all the traitors dance and play upon a sunny day, the surging ocean waters securely guard the western part of her isle.

“The south of her isle is enclosed by the narrow Britain-sea, where Neptune sits in triumph to direct to hell all who aim at her disgrace.

“The German seas that run along her isle’s east are where Venus feasts all her water-nymphs — Venus, who with her beauty glancing on the waves sullies by contrast the cheek of the fair goddess Proserpina.

“Think carefully, then, proud Stukeley, before thou go on to wrong Elizabeth — the wonder of the highest God — since danger, death, and hell will follow thee and all those who seek to endanger her.

“If honor is the target at which thou aim, then follow me in holy Christian wars, and cease to seek thy country’s overthrow.”

Stukeley said, “My lord, let me admire these words of yours rather than answer your firm objections.

“His Holiness Pope Gregory the Seventh [actually, the Thirteenth] has made us four the leaders of the rest. Among these leaders, my lord, I am only one.

“If they agree, Stukeley will be the first to die with honor for Sebastian.”

King Sebastian said, “Tell me, lord bishop, captains, tell me, all of you, are you content to leave this enterprise against your country and your countrymen, and to instead aid King Mahamet of Barbary?”

The Irish bishop said, “To aid King Mahamet of Barbary is against our vows, great King Sebastian of Portugal.”

“Then, captains, what do you say?” King Sebastian asked.

Jonas said, “I say, my lord, as the Irish bishop said, we may not turn from conquering Ireland.”

Hercules said, “Our country and our countrymen will condemn us worthy of death, if we neglect our vows.”

King Sebastian said, “Consider, lords, that you are now in Portugal, and I may now dispose of you and yours. Haven’t the wind and weather given you up and made you captives subject to our royal will?”

“It has, my lord, and willingly we yield to be commanded by your majesty,” Jonas said. “But if you make us men who act out of free will, our course is then set directly for Ireland.”

Using the royal plural, King Sebastian replied, “That course we will direct for Barbary.”

He then said, “Follow me, lords. Sebastian leads the way to plant the Christian faith in Africa.”

Stukeley said to himself:

“Saint George for England! And Ireland now adieu,

“For here Tom Stukeley shapes his course anew.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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