The Impresario (part twenty-three)
A laughing cadre of three…Pierre, the Dauphin
Enter with the ease of welcome guests
They, and the young man, Renald
Pass in chatter the vintner’s threshold
Pierre notes Tortu waits them by the hearth, alone.
Forcing a smile, he says, “Renald.
You must join our guild, and leave your fields to seed.
You showed a face last night…an actor’s turn
So grim as made me doubt my eyes.”
Flattered, as he has been many times, shy…and drunk
Madame’s son stumbles to his feet with thanks
And bids them all bonne chance
Tortu cracks hazelnuts and tosses these
Into the Dauphin’s mouth
And when they have refreshed themselves, the Dauphin says,
“But, Pierre, you have made ashes of our master’s mermaid!
You will owe him…” His voice dies, on the R of recompense
Softly, he adds, “I wonder how he does?”
“I suppose”—Pierre says this instead—”again she is at her prayers.
Where is our host? I’ll beg his leave to stay with him ’til morn.
Tomorrow I must step into the lists…and then no more.”
“Pierre, walk out with me.”
Regalus speaks from the stairs.
“You understand,” she tells him. “You have gifts and I have none.
He has a will for you, yet unfulfilled…but as for me—
He has made his will known.”
“No, I don’t understand you. No,” he stops her speaking.
“I don’t know why you come with me, so trusting.
You take my hand, and so we part.
As from unwelcome wooers maidens must.
I find that He instructs me; that His mind is clear enough.
Devil take Pierre the Seer! Even you, sweet Regalus,
Will spare him not the pains of Hell.
Then farewell. You would be wise to take advice.
Was it not his wish for you?
That he would die…and know you safe.”
“Oh, Pierre…oh, I pity you, at least. I say to you, my dear
There is a thing above trust.
And I have prayed on it, as you have not. And if I die,
or if my love and I, should die together
That is just.”
(2017, Stephanie Foster)