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Electra   


LEADER
This maiden,- if the nearest should announce it.
ORESTES
I pray thee, mistress, make it known in the house that certain men
of Phocis seek Aegisthus.
ELECTRA
Ah, woe is me! Surely ye are not bringing the visible proofs of
that rumour which we heard?
ORESTES
I know nothing of thy 'rumour'; but the aged Strophius charged
me with tidings of Orestes.
ELECTRA
What are they, sir? Ah, how I thrill with fear!
ORESTES
He is dead; and in a small urn, as thou seest, we bring the scanty
relics home.
ELECTRA
Ah me unhappy! There, at last, before mine eyes, I see that
woful burden in your hands
ORESTES
If thy tears are for aught which Orestes hath suffered, know
that yonder vessel holds his dust.
ELECTRA
Ah, sir, allow me, then, I implore thee, if this urn indeed
contains him, to take it in my hands,- that I may weep and wail, not
for these ashes alone, but for myself and for all our house therewith!
ORESTES (to the attendants)
Bring it and give it her, whoe'er she be; for she who begs this
boon must be one who wished him no evil, but a friend, or haply a
kinswoman in blood.
(The urn is placed in ELECTRA'S hands.)
ELECTRA
Ah, memorial of him whom I loved best on earth! Ah, Orestes, whose
life hath no relic left save this,- how far from the hopes with
which I sent thee forth is the manner in which I receive thee back!
Now I carry thy poor dust in my hands; but thou wert radiant, my
child, when I sped the forth from home! Would that I had yielded up my
breath, ere, with these hands, I stole thee away, and sent thee to a
strange land, and rescued the from death; that so thou mightest have
been stricken down on that self-same day, and had thy portion in the
tomb of thy sire!
But now, an exile from home and fatherland, thou hast perished
miserably, far from thy sister; woe is me, these loving hands have not
washed or decked thy corpse, nor taken up, as was meet, their sad
burden from the flaming pyre. No! at the hands of strangers, hapless
one, thou hast had those rites, and so art come to us, a little dust
in a narrow urn.
Ah, woe is me for my nursing long ago, so vain, that I oft
bestowed on thee with loving toil I For thou wast never thy mother's
darling so much as mine; nor was any in the house thy nurse but I; and
by thee I was ever called 'sister.' But now all this hath vanished
in a day, with thy death; like a whirlwind, thou hast swept all away
with thee. Our father is gone; I am dead in regard to thee; thou
thyself hast perished: our foes exult; that mother, who is none, is
mad with joy,- she of whom thou didst oft send me secret messages, thy
heralds, saying that thou thyself wouldst appear as an avenger. But
our evil fortune. thine and mine, hath reft all that away, and hath
sent thee forth unto me thus,- no more the form that I loved so
well, but ashes and an idle shade.
Ah me, ah me! O piteous dust! Alas, thou dear one, sent on a
dire journey, how hast undone me,- undone me indeed, O brother mine!
Therefore take me to this thy home, me who am as nothing, to thy
nothingness, that I may dwell with thee henceforth below; for when
thou wert on earth, we shared alike; and now I fain would die, that

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