BY MAURICE MAETERLINCK Translated by ALFRED SUTRO
YGRAINE, . . . .}
Sisters of TINTAGILES
BELLENGÈRE, . . .}
THREE SERVANTS OF THE QUEEN.
ACT I SCENE— On the top of a hill overlooking the castle.
[Enter YGRAINE, holding TINTAGILES by the hand.
YGRAINE. Your first night will be sad, Tintagiles. The roar
of the sea
is already about us; and the trees are moaning. It is late. The
moon is sinking behind the poplars that stifle the palace. . . . We
are alone, perhaps; but here, one has ever to be on one’s guard. They
seem to watch lest the smallest happiness come near. I said to
myself one day, right down in the depths of my soul—and God
himself could scarcely hear;—I said to myself one day that I was feel-
ing almost happy. . . . There needed nothing more, and very soon
after, our old father died, and our two brothers disappeared, and not a
living creature can tell us where they are. I am here all alone, with
my poor sister and you, my little Tintagiles; and I have no confid-
ence in the future. . . . Come to me; let me take you on my knees.
First kiss me; and put your little arms—there—right round my neck
. . . perhaps they will not be able to unfasten them. … Do you
remember the time when it was I who carried you in the evening,
when the hour had come; and how frightened you were at the
shadows of my lamp in the corridors, those long corridors with not a
single window? I felt my soul tremble on my lips when I saw you
again, suddenly, this morning. . . . I thought you were so far away
and so well cared for. . . . Who made you come here?
TINTAGILES. I do not know, little sister.
YGRAINE. Do you remember what they said?
TINTAGILES. They said I must go away.
YGRAINE. But why had you to go away?
TINTAGILES. Because the Queen wished it.
YGRAINE. Did they not say why she wished it ? — I am sure
have said many things.
TINTAGILES. Little sister, I did not hear.
YGRAINE. When they spoke among themselves, what was it they said?
TINTAGILES. Little sister, they dropped their voices when
Ygraine. All the time?
TINTAGILES. All the time, sister Ygraine; except when they
YGRAINE. Did they say nothing about the Queen?
TINTAGILES. They said, sister Ygraine, that no one ever saw her.
YGRAINE. And the people who were with you on the ship, did
TINTAGILES. They gave all their time to the wind and the
YGRAINE. Ah ! . . . That does not surprise me, my child. . . .
TINTAGILES. They left me all alone, little sister.
YGRAINE. Listen to me, Tintagiles; I will tell you what I know. . . .
TINTAGILES. What do you know, sister Ygraine?
YGRAINE. Very little, my child. … My sister and I have
living here ever since we were born, not daring to understand the
things that happened. . . . I have lived a long time in this island, and
I might as well have been blind; yet it all seemed natural to me. . . .
A bird that flew, a leaf that trembled, a rose that opened . . . these
were events to me. Such silence has always reigned here that a
ripe fruit falling in the park would draw faces to the window. . . .
And no one seemed to have any suspicion . . . but one night I
learned that there must be something besides. . . . I wished to
escape and I could not. . . . Have you understood what I am telling
TINTAGILES. Yes, yes, little sister ; I can understand anything. . . .
YGRAINE. Then let us not talk any more about these things .
. . one
does not know. . . . Do you see, behind the dead trees which poison
the horizon, do you see the castle, there, right down in the valley?
TINTAGILES. I see something very black—is that the castle,
YGRAINE. Yes, it is very black. … It lies far down amid a
of gloomy shadows. . . . It is there we have to live. . . . They
might have built it on the top of the great mountains which
surround it. . . . The mountains are blue in the day-time. . . . One
could have breathed. One could have looked down on the sea
and on the plains beyond the cliffs But they preferred to build
it deep down in the valley ; too low even for the air to come. . . .
It is falling in ruins, and no one troubles. . . . The
walls are crumb-
ling: it might be fading away in the gloom. . . . There is only one
tower which time does not touch. . . . It is enormous: and its
shadow is always on the house.
TINTAGILES. They are lighting something, sister Ygraine. . .
see, the great red windows! . . .
YGRAINE. They are the windows of the tower, Tintagiles; they
only ones in which you will ever see light; it is there that the
Queen has her throne.
TINTAGILES. Shall I not see the Queen?
YGRAINE. No one can see her.
TINTAGLES. Why can no one see her?
YGRAINE. Come closer, Tintagiles. . . . Not even a bird or a
grass must hear us.
TINTAGILES. There is no grass, little sister . . . [a moment’s silence].
What does the Queen do?
YGRAINE. That no one knows, my child. She is never seen. . .
lives there, all alone in the tower; and those who wait on her do not
go out by daylight. . . . She is very old; she is the mother of our
mother, and she wishes to reign alone. . . . She is suspicious and
jealous, and they say she is mad. . . . She is afraid lest some one
should raise himself to her place; and it is probably because of this
fear of hers that you have been brought here. . . . Her orders are
carried out: but no one knows how. . . . She never leaves the tower,
and all the gates are closed night and day. . . . I have never seen
her, but it seems others have, long ago, when she was young. . . .
TINTAGILES. Is she very ugly, sister Ygraine?
YGRAINE. They say she is not beautiful, and that her form is
. . . But those who have seen her dare not speak of her. . . . And
who knows whether they have seen her? . . . She has a power which
we do not understand, and we live here with a terrible weight on our
soul. . . . You must not be unduly frightened, or have bad dreams;
we will watch over you, little Tintagiles, and no harm can come to
you; but do not stray far from me, or your sister Bellangere, or our old
TINTAGILES. Aglovale, too, sister Ygraine?
YGRAINE. Aglovale too . . . he loves us . . .
TINTAGILES. He is so old, little sister!
YGRAINE. He is old, but very wise. . . . He is the only friend we have
left; and he knows many things. . . . It is strange; she
come here, and no one was told of it. … I do not know what
is in my heart. … I was sorrowful and glad to know that you
were far away, beyond the sea. . . . And now … I was taken by
… I went out this morning to see whether the sun was
the mountains ; and I saw you on the threshold. … I knew you at
TINTAGILES. No, no, little sister; it was I who laughed first. . . .
YGRAINE. I could not laugh . . . just then. . . . You will
understand. . . .
It is time, Tintagiles, and the wind is becoming black on the sea. . . .
Kiss me, before getting up; kiss me, harder, again, again. . . . You
do not know how one loves. . . . Give me your little hand. . . . I
will keep it in mine, and we will go back to the old sick castle.
[They go out.
ACT II SCENE—A room in the castle, in which AGLOVALE
and YGRAINE are
BELLANGÈRE. Where is Tintagiles?
YGRAINE. He is here; do not speak too loud. He is asleep in
other room. He was a little pale, he did not seem well. The
journey had tired him—he was a long time on the sea. Or perhaps
it is the atmosphere of the castle which has alarmed his little soul.
He was crying, and did not know why he cried. I nursed him on my
knees; come look at him. . . . He is asleep in our bed. . . . He lies
there, with one hand on his brow, looking very serious, like a little
sorrowful king. . . .
BELLANGÈRE [suddenly bursting into
tears]. Sister! Sister! . . . my
poor sister! . . .
YGRAINE. Why are you crying?
BELLANGÈRE. I dare not tell what I know . . . and I am not
I know anything . . . but yet I have heard — that which one could
not hear . . .
YGRAINE. What have you heard?
BELLANGÈRE. I was passing close to the corridors of the tower . . .
YGRAINE. Ah! . . .
BELLANGÈRE. One of the doors was ajar. I pushed it very
. . . I went in . . .
BELLANGÈRE. I had never seen. . . . There were other
with lamps; and then low galleries, which seemed to have no end. . . .
I knew it was forbidden to go farther. . . . I was afraid and was
about to go back, but there was a sound of voices . . . though one
could scarcely hear . . .
YGRAINE. It must have been the servants of the Queen; they
live at the
foot of the tower . . .
BELLANGÈRE. I do not know quite what it was. . . . There
been more than one door between; and the voices came to me like the
voice of some one who is being strangled. … I went as near as I
could. . . . I am not sure of anything: but I believe they were speak-
ing of a child who had arrived to-day, and of a crown of gold. . .
They seemed to be laughing . . .
YGRAINE. They were laughing?
BELLANGÈRE. Yes, I think they were laughing . . . unless it
that they were crying, or that it was something that I did not under-
stand; for one heard badly, and their voices were low. . . . There
seemed to be a great many of them moving about in the vault.
They were speaking of the child that the Queen wished to see. . .
They will probably come here this evening . . .
YGRAINE. What? . . . this evening? . .’ .
BELLANGÈRE. Yes . . . yes. … I think so . . . yes . . .
YGRAINE. Did they not mention any name?
BELLANGÈRE. They spoke of a child—a little, little child . . .
YGRAINE. There is no other child here . . .
BELLANGÈRE. Just then they raised their voices a little, for
one of them
had doubted whether the day was come . . .
YGRAINE. I know what that means, and it will not be the
that they have left the tower. . . . I knew but too well why she made
him come . . . but I could not think that she would show such
haste as this! . . . We shall see . . . there are three of us, and we
have time . . .
BELLANGÈRE. What do you mean to do?
YGRAINE. I do not know as yet what I shall do, but I shall
her . . . do you know what that means, you who can only tremble?
. . . I will tell you . . .
YGRAINE. She shall not take him without a struggle . . .
BELLANGÈRE. We are alone, sister Ygraine . . .
YGRAINE. Ah! It is true we are alone! . . . There is only
one thing to
be done, and it never fails us! . . . Let us wait on our knees as we
did before . . . Perhaps she will have pity! . . . She allows herself to
Be moved by tears. . . . We must grant her everything she asks; she
will smile perhaps; and it is her habit to spare all those who kneel.
. . . All these years she has been there in her enormous tower,
devouring those we love, and not a single one has dared strike her in
the face. . . . She lies on our soul like the stone of a tomb, and no
one dares stretch out his arm. . . . In the times where there were men
here, they too were afraid, and fell upon their faces. . . . To-day it
is the woman’s turn . . . we shall see. . . . It is time that some one
should dare to rise. . . . No one knows on what her power rests,
and I will no longer live in the shadow of her tower. . . . Go away,
if you two can only tremble like this—go away both of you, and
leave me still more alone. . . . I will wait for her . . .
BELLANGÈRE. Sister, I do not know what has to be done, but I
with you . . .
AGLOVALE. I too will wait, my daughter. . . . My sould has
ill at ease. . . . You will try . . . we have tried more than once . . .
YGRAINE. You have tried . . . you also?
AGLOVALE. They have all tried. . . . But at the last moment
strength failed them. . . . You too, you shall see. . . . If she were
to command me to go up to her this very evening, I would put
my two hands together and say nothing; and my weary feet would
climb the staircase, without lingering and without hastening, though
I know full well that none come down again with unclosed eyes.
. . . There is no courage left in me against her . . . out hands
are helpless, and can touch no one. . . . Other hands than these
are wanted, and all is useless. . . . But you are hopeful, and I will
assist you. . . . Close the doors, my child. . . . Awaken Tintagiles;
bare your little arms and enfold him within them, and take him
on your knees . . . we have no other defence . . .
ACT III SCENE—The same room.
[YGRAINE and AGLOVALE]
YGRAINE. I have been to look at the doors. There are three
We will watch the large one. . . . The two others are low and heavy.
They are never opened. The keys were lost long ago, and the iron
bars are sunk into the walls. Help me close this door; it is heavier
than the gate of a city. . . . It is very massive; the lightning itself
could not pierce through it. . . . Are you prepared for all that may
AGLOVALE [seating himself on the
threshold]. I will go seat myself on
the steps; my sword upon my knees. . . . I do not think this is the
first time that I have waited and watched here, my child; and there
are moments when one does not understand all that one remembers.
. . . I have done all this before, I do not know when . . . but I
have never dared draw my sword. . . . Now, it lies there before me,
though my arms no longer have strength; but I intend to try. . . .
It is perhaps time that men should defend themselves, even though
they do not understand. . . .
[BELLANGÈRE, carrying TINTAGILES
in her arms, comes out of the
BELLANGÈRE. He was awake. . . .
YGRAINE. He is pale . . . what ails him?
BELLANGÈRE. I do not know . . . he was very silent. . . . He
crying. . . .
YGRAINE. Tintagiles. . . .
BELLANGÈRE. He is looking away from you.
YGRAINE. He does not seem to know me. . . . Tintagiles,
where you are
you?—Are you suffering any pain? . . .
TINTAGILES. Yes. . . .
YGRAINE. Where do you suffere pain?—Tell me, Tintagiles, and I will cure you. . . .
TlNTAGILES. I cannot tell, sister Ygraine . . . everywhere. . . .
YGRAINE. Come to me, Tintagiles. … You know that my arms
softer, and I will put them around you, and you will feel better at
once. . . . Give him to me, Bellangere. … He shall sit on my knees,
and the pain will go. . . . There, you see? . . . Your big sisters are
here. . . . They are close to you … we will defend you, and no evil
can come near. …
TINTAGILES. It has come, sister Ygraine. . . . Why is there
YGRAINE. There is a light, my child . . . Do you not see the
which hangs from the rafters?
TINTAGILES. Yes, yes. . . . It is not large. . . . Are there
YGRAINE. Why should there be others? We can see what we have
see. . . .
TINTAGILES. Ah! . . .
YGRAINE. Oh! your eyes are deep. . . .
TINTAGILES. So are yours, sister Ygraine. . . .
YGRAINE. I did not notice it this morning. . . . I have just
seen in your
eyes. . . . We do not quite know what the soul thinks it sees. . . .
TINTAGILES. I have not seen the soul, sister Ygraine. . . .
But why is
Aglovale on the threshold?
YGRAINE. He is resting a little. . . . He wanted to kiss you
going to bed . . . he was waiting for you to wake. . . .
TINTAGILES. What has he on his knees?
YGRAINE. On his knees? I see nothing on his knees. . .
TINTAGILES. Yes, yes, there is something. . . .
AGLOVALE. It is nothing, my child. . . . I was looking at my
sword; and I scarcely recognise it. . . . It has served me many years,
but for a long time past I have lost confidence in it, and I think it is
going to break. . . . Here, just by the hilt, there is a little stain. . . .
I had noticed that the steel was growing paler, and I asked myself.
. . .I do not remember what I asked myself. … My soul is very
heavy to-day. . . . What is one to do? . . . Men must needs live and
await the unforeseen. . . . And after that they must still act as if
they hoped. . . . There are sad evenings when our useless lives
taste bitter in our mouths, and we would like to close our eyes. . . .
It is late, and I am tired. . . .
TINTAGILES. He has wounds, sister Ygraine.
TINTAGILES. On his forehead and on his hands. . . .
AGLOVALE. Those are very old wounds, from which I suffer no
my child. . . The light must be falling on them this evening. . . .
You had not noticed them before?
TINTAGILES. He looks sad, sister Ygraine. . . .
YGRAINE. No, no, he is not sad, but very weary. . . .
TINTAGILES. You too, you are sad, sister Ygraine. . . .
YGRAINE. Why no, why no; look at me, I am smiling. . . .
TINTAGILES. And my other sister too. . . .
YGRAINE. Oh no, she too is smiling.
TINTAGILES. No, that is not a smile . . . I know. . . .
YGRAINE. Come, kiss me, and think of something else. . . .
TINTAGILES. Of what shall I think, sister Ygraine? — Why do
me when you kiss me?
YGRAINE. Did I hurt you?
TINTAGILES. Yes. . . . I do not know why I hear your heart
sister Ygraine. . . .
YGRAINE. Do you hear it beat?
TINTAGILES. Oh! Oh! it beats as though it wanted to . . .
TINTAGILES. I do not know, sister Ygraine.
YGRAINE. It is wrong to be frightened without reason, and to
riddles. . . . Oh! your eyes are full of tears. . . . Why are you
unhappy? I hear your heart beating, now . . . people always hear
them when they hold one another so close. It is then that the heart
speaks and says things that the tongue does not know. . .
TINTAGILES. I heard nothing before. . . .
YGRAINE. That was because. … Oh! but your heart! . . .
the matter? . . . It is bursting! . . .
TINTAGILES [Crying]. Sister Ygraine! sister Ygraine!
YGRAINE. What is it?
TINTAGILES. I have heard. . . . They . . . they are coming!
YGRAINE. Who? Who are coming ? . . . What has happened ? . .
TINTAGILES. The door! the door! They were there! . . .
backwards on to Ygraine’ s knees].
YGRAINE. What is it? . . . He has … he has fainted. . . .
BELLANGÈRE. Take care . . . take care . . . He will fall . .
AGLOVALE [rising brusquely , his sword
in his hand]. I too can hear . . .
there are steps in the corridor.
YGRAINE. Oh! . . .
[A moment’s silence—they all listen.]
AGLOVALE. Yes, I hear. . . . There is a crowd of them. . . .
YGRAINE. A crowd . . . a crowd . . . how?
AGLOVALE. I do not know . . . one hears and one does not
hear. . . .
They do not move like other creatures, but they come. . . . They
are touching the door. . . .
YGRAINE [clasping TINTAGILES in her
arms], Tintagiles! . . . Tinta-
giles! . . .
BELLANGÈRE [embracing him]. Let me, too! let me! . . . Tintagiles!
AGLOVALE. They are shaking the door . . . listen . . . do
. . . They are whispering. . . .
[A key is heard turning harshly in the lock.]
YGRAINE. They have the key! . . .
AGLOVALE. Yes . . . yes. . . . I was sure of it. . . . Wait
. . . [He
plants himself, with sword outstretched, on the last step. To the two
sisters]. Come! come both! . . .
[For a moment there is silence.
The door opens slowly. AGLOVALE
thrusts his sword wildly through the opening, driving the
point between the beams. The sword breaks with a loud
report under the silent pressure of the timber, and the pieces of
steel roll down the steps with a resounding clang. YGRAINE
leaps up, carrying in her arms TINTAGILES,who has fainted;
and she, BELLANGÈRE, and AGLOVALE, putting forth all their
strength, try, but in vain, to close the door, which slowly opens
wider and wider, although no one can be seen or heard. Only,
a cold and calm light penetrates into the room. At this
moment TINTAGILES, suddenly stretching out Ins limbs, regains
consciousness, sends forth a long cry of deliverance, and
embraces his sister—and at this very instant the door, which
resists no longer, falls to brusquely under their pressure, which
they have not had time to relinquish.]
YGRAINE. Tintagiles! [They look at each other with astonishment.]
AGLOVALE [waiting at the door]. I hear nothing now. . . .
YGRAINE [wild with joy]. Tintagiles! Tintagiles! Look! Look! . . .
He is saved! . . . Look at his eyes . . . you can see
the blue. . . . He
is going to speak. . . . They saw we were watching. . . . They did not
dare. . . . Kiss us! . . . Kiss us, I say! . . . Kiss us! . . . All! all!
. . . Down to the depths of our souls! . . . [All four , their eyes
full of tears, fall into each other’s arms.]
ACT IV SCENE—A corridor in front of the room in which the last Act took place.
[Three SERVANTS of the Queen enter. They are all veiled, and
long black robes flow down to the ground.
FIRST SERVANT. [listening at the door]. They are not watching. . . .
SECOND SERVANT. We need not have waited. . . .
THIRD SERVANT. She prefers that it should be done in silence. . . .
FIRST SERVANT. I knew that they must fall asleep. . . .
SECOND SERVANT. Quick! . . . open the door. . . .
THIRD SERVANT. It is time. . . .
FIRST SERVANT. Wait there . . . I will enter alone. There is
for three of us. . . .
SECOND SERVANT. You are right: he is very small. . . .
THIRD SERVANT. You must be careful with the elder sister. . . .
SECOND SERVANT. Remember the Queen does not want them
know. . . .
FIRST SERVANT. Have no fear; people seldom hear my coming. . . .
SECOND SERVANT. Go in then; it is time.
[The FIRST SERVANT opens the door cautiously and goes into the
It is close on midnight. . . .
THIRD SERVANT. Ah! . . .
[A moment’s silence. The FIRST SERVANT comes out of the room.]
SECOND SERVANT. Where is he?
FIRST SERVANT. He is asleep between his sisters. His arms
around their necks; and their arms enfold him I cannot do it
alone. . . .
SECOND SERVANT. I will help you. . . .
THIRD SERVANT. Yes; do you go together. . . . 1 will keep
here. . . .
FIRST SERVANT. Be careful; they seem to know. . . . They
three struggling with a bad dream. . . .
[The two SERVANTS go into the room.]
THIRD SERVANT. People always know; but they do not understand. . . .
[A moments silence. The
FIRST and SECOND SERVANTS come out
of the room again.]
THIRD SERVANT. Well?
SECOND SERVANT. You must come too . . . we cannot
them. . . .
FIRST SERVANT. No sooner do we unclasp their arms than they
back around the child. . . .
SECOND SERVANT. And the child nestles closer and closer
them. . . .
FIRST SERVANT. He is lying with his forehead on the elder
heart. . . .
SECOND SERVANT. And his head rises and falls on her bosom. . . .
FIRST SERVANT. We shall not be able to open his hands. . . .
SECOND SERVANT. They are plunged deep down into his sisters
FIRST SERVANT. He holds one golden curl between his
teeth. . . .
SECOND SERVANT. We shall have to cut the elder sister’s hair.
FIRST SERVANT. And the other sister’s too, you shall see. . . .
SECOND SERVANT. Have you your scissors?
THIRD SERVANT. Yes. . . .
FIRST SERVANT. Come quickly; they have begun to move. . . .
SECOND SERVANT. Their hearts and their eyelids are
together. . . .
FIRST SERVANT. Yes; I caught a glimpse of the elder girl’s
eyes. . . .
SECOND SERVANT. She looked at us but did not see us. . . .
FIRST SERVANT. If one touches one of them, the other two tremble.
SECOND SERVANT. They are trying hard, but they cannot stir.
FIRST SERVANT. The elder sister wishes to scream, but she cannot.
SECOND SERVANT. Come quickly; they seem to know. . . .
THIRD SERVANT. Where is the old man?
FIRST SERVANT. He is asleep—away from the others. . . .
SECOND SERVANT. He sleeps, his forehead resting on the hilt
sword. . . .
FIRST SERVANT. He knows of nothing; and he has no dreams. . . .
THIRD SERVANT. Come, come, we must hasten. . . .
FIRST SERVANT. You will find it difficult to separate their limbs. . . .
SECOND SERVANT. They are clutching at each other as though
THIRD SERVANT. Come, come. . . .
[They go in. The silence is broken only
by sighs and low murmurs
of suffering, held in thrall by sleep. Then the three Servants
emerge very hurriedly from the gloomy room. One of them
carries TINTAGILES, who is fast asleep, in her arms. From
his little hands, twitching in sleep, and his mouth, drawn in
agony, a glittering stream of golden tresses, ravished from the
heads of his sisters, flows down to the ground. The SERVANTS
hurry on. There is perfect silence; but no sooner have they
reached the end of the corridor than TINTAGILES awakes, and
sends forth a cry of supreme distress.]
TINTAGILES. [from the end of the corridor]. Aah! . . .
[There is again silence. Then,
from the adjoining room the two
sisters are heard moving about restlessly.]
YGRAINE [in the room]. Tintagiles! . . . where is he?
BELLANGÈRE. He is not here. . . .
YGRAINE [with growing anguish].
Tintagiles! . . . a lamp, a lamp! . . .
Light it! . . .
BELLANGÈRE. Yes . . . Yes. . . .
[Ygraine is seen coming out of the room with the lighted lamp
YGRAINE. The door is wide open!
The voice of TINTAGILES [almost
inaudible in the distance]. Sister
YGRAINE. He calls! . . . He calls! . . . Tintagiles! Tintagiles! . . .
[She rushes into the corridor.
BELLANGÈRE tries to follow, but>
falls fainting on the threshold.]
ACT V SCENE—Before a great iron door in a gloomy vault.
[Enter Ygkaine, haggard and dishevelled , with a lamp in her hand.]
YGRAINE [turning wildly to and
fro] They have not followed me ! . . .
Bellangère! . . . Bellangère! . . . Aglovale! . . . Where are they?—
They said they loved him and they leave me alone! . . . Tintagiles! . . .
Tintagiles! . . . Oh! I remember . . . I have climbed steps without
number, between great pitiless walls, and my heart bids me live no
longer . . . These vaults seem to move . . . [She supports herself
against the pillars]. I am falling . . . Oh! Oh! my poor life! I can
feel it . . . It is trembling on my lips—it wants to depart . . .
I do not know what I have done . . . I have seen nothing, I have
heard nothing . . . Oh, this silence! . . . All along the steps and
all along the walls I found these golden curls; and I followed them.
I picked them up . . . Oh! oh! they are very pretty! . . . Little
childie . . . little childie . . . what was I saying? I remember . . .
I do not believe in it . . . When one sleeps . . . All that has no
importance and is not possible . . . Of what am I thinking? . . .
I do not know . . . One awakes, and then . . . After all—come, after
all—I must think this out . . . Some say one thing, some say the
other; but the way of the soul is quite different. When the chain is
taken off, there is much more than one knows. . . . I came here with
my little lamp. . . . It did not go out, in spite of the wind on the stair-
case . . . And then, what is one to think? There are so many things
which are so vague . . . There must be people who know them; but
why do they not speak? [She looks around her.] I have never seen
all this before . . . It is difficult to get so far—and it is all forbidden
How cold it is . . . And so dark that one is afraid to breathe . . .
They say there is poison in these gloomy shadows . . . That door
looks very terrible . . . [She goes up to the door and touches it.] Oh!
how cold it is … It is of iron . . . solid iron—and there is no lock
How can they open it? I see no hinges … I suppose it is
sunk into the wall . . . This is as far as one can go . . . There are
no more steps. [Suddenly sending forth a terrible shriek.] Ah! . . .
more golden hair between the panels! . . . Tintagiles! Tintagiles! . . .
I heard the door close just now . . . I remember! I remember! . . .
It must be! [She beats frantically against the door with hands and feet.]
Oh, monster! monster! It is here that I find you! . . . Listen!
I blaspheme! I blaspheme and spit upon you!
[Feeble knocks are heard from the other
side of the door: then the voice
of TINTAGILES penetrates very feebly through the iron panels.]
TINTAGILES. Sister Ygraine, sister Ygraine! . . .
YGRAINE. Tintagiles! . . . What! . . . what! . . .
Tintagiles, is it
you? . . .
TINTAGILES. Quick, open, open! . . . She is here! . . .
YGRAINE. Oh! oh! … Who? Tintagiles, my little Tintagiles .
can you hear me? . . . What is it? . . . What has happened? . . .
Tintagiles! . . . Have they hurt you? . . . Where are you? . . .
Are you there ? . . .
TINTAGILES. Sister Ygraine, sister Ygraine! . . . Open for
shall die . . .
YGRAINE. I will try—wait, wait . . . I will open it, I will open it. . . .
TINTAGILES. But you do not understand! . . . Sister Ygraine!
. . . There
is no time to lose! . . . She tried to hold me back! . . . I struck her,
struck her . . . I ran . . . Quick, quick, she is coming!
YGRAINE. Yes, yes . . . where is she?
TINTAGILES. I can see nothing . . . but I hear . . . oh, I
sister Ygraine, I am afraid . . . Quick, quick! . . . Quick, open! . . .
for the dear Lords sake, sister Ygraine! . . .
YGRAINE [anxiously groping along the
door]. I am sure to find it . . .
Wait a little . . . a minute . . . a second. . . .
TINTAGILES. I cannot, sister Ygraine . . . I can feel her
breath on me
now. . . .
YGRAINE. It is nothing, Tintagiles, my little Tintagiles; do
frightened . . . if I could only see . . .
TINTAGILES. Oh, but you can see; I can see your lamp from
here . . .
It is quite light where you are, sister Ygraine . . . Here I can see
nothing. . . .
YGRAINE. You see me, Tintagiles? How can you see? There is
crack in the door . . .
TINTAGILES. Yes, yes, there is; but it is so small! . . .
YGRAINE. On which side? Is it here? . . . tell me, tell me
… or is
it over there?
TINTAGILES. It is here . . . Listen, listen! . . . I am knocking. . . .
TINTAGILES. Higher up . . . But it is so small! . . . A
needle could not
go through! . . .
YGRAINE. Do not be afraid, I am here. . . .
TlNTAGILES. Oh, I know, sister Ygraine! . . . Pull! pull!
You must pull!
She is coming! . . . if you could only open a little . . . a very little. . . .
I am so small!
YGRAINE. My nails are broken, Tintagiles . . . I have
pulled, I have
pushed, I have struck with all my might—with all my might! [She
strikes again, and tries to shake the massive door.] Two of my fingers
are numbed. . . . Do not cry. . . . It is of iron. . . .
TlNTAGILES [sobbing in despair].
You have nothing to open with, sister
Ygraine? . . . nothing at all, nothing at all? . . . I could get through
. . . I am so small, so very small . . . you know how small I am. . . .
YGRAINE. I have only my lamp, Tintagiles. . . . There!
aims repeated blows at the gate with her earthenware lamp, which goes
out and breaks, the pieces falling to the ground.] Oh! . . . It has all
grown dark! . . . Tintagiles, where are you? . . . Oh! listen, listen!
Can you not open from the inside? . . .
TlNTAGILES. No, no; there is nothing. . . . I cannot feel
all. . . . I cannot see the light through the crack any more. . . .
YGRAINE. What is the matter, Tintagiles? . . . I can
you. . . .
TINTAGILES. Little sister, sister Ygraine. . . . It is too late now. . . .
YGRAINE. What is it, Tintagiles? . . . Where are you going?
TINTAGILES. She is here! . . . Oh, I am so weak. Sister
sister Ygraine … I feel her on me! . . .
YGRAINE. Whom? . . . whom? . . .
TINTAGILES. I do not know . . . I cannot see. . . . But it
is too late
now . . She . . . she is taking me by the throat. . . . Her hand is
at my throat Oh, oh, sister Ygraine, come to me!. . .
YGRAINE. Yes, yes. . . .
TINTAGILES. It is so dark. . . .
YGRAINE. Struggle-fight-tear her to pieces! . . Do not be
. . .Wait a moment! . . . I am here . . . Tintagiles? . . . Tintagiles!
answer me! . . . Help!!! . . . where are you? . . . I will come to
you . . . kiss me . . . through the door . . . here—here.
TlNTAGILES [very feebly]. Here . . . here . . . Sister Ygraine . . .
YGRAINE. I am putting my kisses on this spot here, do you
stand? Again, again!
TINTAGILES [more and more feebly] Mine too—here . . .
Ygraine! Sister Ygraine! . . . Oh!
[The fall of a little body is heard behind the iron door.]
YGRAINE. Tintagiles! . . . Tintagiles! . . . What have you done? . . .
Give him back, give him back! . . . for the love of God, give him
back to me! . . . I can hear nothing. . . . What are you doing with
him? . . . You will not hurt him? . . . He is only a little child. . . .
He cannot resist. . . . Look, look! . . . I mean no harm . . . I am
on my knees. . . . Give him back to us, I beg of you. . . . Not for my
sake only, you know it well. . . . I will do anything. . . . I bear no
ill-will, you see. . . . I implore you with clasped hands. . . . I was
wrong. . . . I am quite resigned, you see. . . . I have lost all I
had . . . You should punish me some other way. . . . There are so
many things which would hurt me more . . . if you want to hurt me.
. . . You shall see. . . . But this poor child has done no harm. . . . What
I said was not true . . . but I did not know. . . . I know that you
are very good. . . . Surely the time for forgiveness has come! . . .
He is so young and beautiful, and he is so small! . . . You must see
that it cannot be! . . . He puts his little arms around your neck: his
little mouth on your mouth; and God Himself cannot say him nay
. . . You will open the door, will you not? . . . I am asking so little
. . . I want him for an instant, just for an instant. . . . I cannot
remember. . . . You will understand. . . . I did not have time. . . .
He can get through the tiniest opening . . . It is not difficult. . . .
[A long inexorable silence] . . . Monster! . . . Monster! . . . Curse
you! Curse you! . . . I spit on you!
[She sinks down and continues to sob softly, her arms
the gate, in the gloom.]
Maeterlinck, Maurice. “The Death of Tintagles.”The Pageant, 1896, pp. 47-71. Pageant Digital Edition, edited by Frederick King and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2019-2021. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2021. https://1890s.ca/pag1-maeterlinck-tintaglies/