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The Duchess of Padua

Ay, of all men he was the kingliest.

Guido [proudly]

Then when you saw my noble father last
He was set high above the heads of men?

Moranzone

Ay, he was high above the heads of men,

[Walks over to Guido and puts his hand upon his shoulder.]

On a red scaffold, with a butcher’s block
Set for his neck.

Guido [leaping up]

What dreadful man art thou,
That like a raven, or the midnight owl,
Com’st with this awful message from the grave?

Moranzone

I am known here as the Count Moranzone,
Lord of a barren castle on a rock,
With a few acres of unkindly land
And six not thrifty servants.  But I was one
Of Parma’s noblest princes; more than that,
I was your father’s friend.

Guido [clasping his hand]

Tell me of him.

Moranzone

You are the son of that great Duke Lorenzo,
He was the Prince of Parma, and the Duke
Of all the fair domains of Lombardy
Down to the gates of Florence; nay, Florence even
Was wont to pay him tribute —

Guido

Come to his death.

Moranzone

You will hear that soon enough.  Being at war —
O noble lion of war, that would not suffer
Injustice done in Italy! – he led
The very flower of chivalry against
That foul adulterous Lord of Rimini,
Giovanni Malatesta – whom God curse!
And was by him in treacherous ambush taken,
And like a villain, or a low-born knave,
Was by him on the public scaffold murdered.

Guido [clutching his dagger]

Doth Malatesta live?

Moranzone

No, he is dead.

Guido

Did you say dead?  O too swift runner, Death,
Couldst thou not wait for me a little space,
And I had done thy bidding!

Moranzone [clutching his wrist]

Thou canst do it!
The man who sold thy father is alive.

Guido

Sold! was my father sold?

Moranzone

Ay! trafficked for,
Like a vile chattel, for a price betrayed,
Bartered and bargained for in privy market
By one whom he had held his perfect friend,
One he had trusted, one he had well loved,
One whom by ties of kindness he had bound —

Guido

And he lives
Who sold my father?

Moranzone

I will bring you to him.