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And settle all this trouble.
Nonsense! Child !
See him immediately; why not now?
Auranthe. Do you forget that even the senseless
Are on the watch and gape through all the house ;
How many whisperers there are about,
Hungry for evidence to ruin me:
Men I have spurn'd, and women I have taunted.
Besides, the foolish prince sends, minute whiles,
His pages—so they tell me to inquire
After my health, entreating, if I please,
To see me.
Conrad. Well, suppose this Albert here;
What is your power with him ?
He should be
My echo, my taught parrot! but I fear
He will be cur enough to bark at me;
Have his own say; read me some silly creed
'Bout shame and pity.
do then ? Auranthe. What I shall do, I know not; what I
Cannot be done; for see, this chamber-floor
Will not yield to the pick-axe and the spade, -
Here is no quiet depth of hollow ground.
Conrad. Sister, you have grown sensible and wise,
Seconding, ere I speak it, what is now,
I hope, resolved between us.
Say, what is 't?
Conrad. You need not be his sexton too; a man
May carry that with him shall make him die
Elsewhere,-give that to him; pretend the while
You will to-morrow succumb to his wishes,
Be what they may, and send him from the Castle
On some fool's errand : let his latest groan
Frighten the wolves !
Alas! he must not die! Conrad. Would you were both hearsed up in
stifling lead! Detested
Auranthe. Conrad, hold ! I would not bear The little thunder of
fretful tongue, Tho' I alone were taken in these toils, And
you could free me; but remember, sir,
You live alone in my security :
So keep your wits at work, for your own sake,
Not mine, and be more mannerly.
If my domains were emptied of these folk,
And I had thee to starve-
O, marvellous !
But Conrad, now be gone; the Host is look'd for;
Cringe to the Emperor, entertain the Lords,
And, do ye mind, above all things, proclaim
My sickness, with a brother's sadden'd eye,
Condoling with Prince Ludolph. In fit time
Return to me.
Conrad. I leave you to your thoughts.
[Exit. Auranthe (sola). Down, down, proud temper! down,
Why do I anger him when I should kneel ?
Conrad ! Albert ! help! help! What can I do?
O wretched woman ! lost, wreck'd, swallow'd up,
Accursed, blasted! O, thou golden Crown,
Orbing along the serene firmament
Of a wide empire, like a glowing moon;
And thou, bright sceptre ! lustrous in my eyes,
Thereas the fabled fair Hesperian tree,
Bearing a fruit more precious! graceful thing,
Delicate, godlike, magic! must I leave
Thee to melt in the visionary air,
Ere, by one grasp, this common hand is made
Imperial? I do not know the time
When I have wept for sorrow; but methinks
I could now sit upon the ground, and shed
Tears, tears of misery. O, the heavy day!
How shall I bear my life till Albert comes ?
Ludolph! Erminia ! Proofs ! O heavy day!
Bring me some mourning weeds, that I may 'tire
Myself, as fits one wailing her own death:
Cut off these curls, and brand this lily hand,
And throw these jewels from my loathing sight,-
Fetch me a missal, and a string of beads,-
of bitter'd water, and a crust,-
I will confess, O holy Abbot !-How !
What is this ? Auranthe! thou fool, dolt,
Whimpering idiot! up! up! and quell!
I am safe! Coward ! why am I in fear?
Albert ! he cannot stickle, chew the cud
In such a fine extreme,-impossible !
[Goes to the door, listens, and opens it.
Albert, I have been waiting for you
With such an aching heart, such swooning throbs
On my poor brain, such cruel-cruel sorrow,
That I should claim your pity! Art not well?
Albert. Yes, lady, well.
You look not so, alas !
But pale, as if you brought some heavy news.
Albert. You know full well what makes me look
so pale. Auranthe. No! Do I? Surely I am still to learn Some horror; all I know, this present, is I am near hustled to a dangerous gulph,
Which you can save me from,—and therefore safe,
So trusting in thy love; that should not make
Thee pale, my Albert.
It doth make me freeze.
Auranthe. Why should it, love?
You should not ask me that,
But make your own heart monitor, and save
Me the great pain of telling. You must know.
Auranthe. Something has vext you, Albert. There
When simplest things put on a sombre cast;
A melancholy mood will haunt a man,
Until most easy matters take the shape
Of unachievable tasks ; small rivulets
Then seem impassable.
Do not cheat yourself
With hope that gloss of words, or suppliant action,
Or tears, or ravings, or self-threaten'd death,
You make me tremble; Not so much at your threats, as at your voice, Untuned, and harsh, and barren of all love.
Albert. You suffocate me! Stop this devil's parley, And listen to me; know me once for all.
Auranthe. I thought I did. Alas! I am deceived.
Albert. No, you are not deceived. You took me for A man detesting all inhuman crime;