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My ship of fortune furl’d her silken sails,-
Let her glide on! This danger'd neck is saved,
By dextrous policy, from the rebel's axe;
And of my ducal palace not one stone
Is bruised by the Hungarian petards.
Toil hard, ye slaves, and from the miser-earth
Bring forth once more my bullion, treasured deep,
With all my jeweld salvers, silver and gold,
And precious goblets that make rich the wine.
But why do I stand babbling to myself ?
Where is Auranthe ? I have news for her
Auranthe. Conrad ! what tidings? Good, if I may guess
From your alert eyes and high-lifted brows.
What tidings of the battle ? Albert ? Ludolph ? Otho ?
Conrad. You guess aright. And, sister, slurring o'er
Our by-gone quarrels, I confess my heart
Is beating with a child's anxiety,
To make our golden fortune known to you.
Auranthe. So serious ?
Yes, so serious, that before
I utter even the shadow of a hint
Concerning what will make that sin-worn cheek
Blush joyous blood through every lineament,
You must make here a solemn vow to me.
Auranthe. I pr’ythee, Conrad, do not overact
The hypocrite. What vow would you impose ?
Conrad. Trust me for once. That you may be assured
'Tis not confiding in a broken reed,
A poor court-bankrupt, outwitted and lost,
Revolve these facts in your acutest mood,
In such a mood as now you listen to me :
A few days since, I was an open rebel,--
Against the Emperor had suborn'd his son,-
Drawn off his nobles to revolt,—and shown
Contented fools causes for discontent,
Fresh hatch'd in
ambition's eagle-nest ;
So thrived I as a rebel,-and, behold!
Now I am Otho's favorite, his dear friend,
His right hand, his brave Conrad !
You have intrigued with these unsteady times
To admiration. But to be a favorite!
Conrad. I saw my moment. The Hungarians,
Collected silently in holes and corners,
Appear’d, a sudden host, in the open day.
I should have perish'd in our empire's wreck,
But, calling interest loyalty, swore faith
To most believing Otho; and so help'd
His blood-stain'd ensigns to the victory
In yesterday's hard fight, that it has turn'd
The edge of his sharp wrath to eager kindness.
Auranthe. So far yourself.
But what is this to me More than that I am glad ? I gratulate you.
Conrad. Yes, sister, but it does regard you greatly,
Nearly, momentously,—aye, painfully!
Make me this vow-
Auranthe. Concerning whom or what?
Conrad. Albert !
Auranthe. I would inquire somewhat of him :
You had a letter from me touching him ?
No treason 'gainst his head in deed or word !
Surely you spared him at my earnest prayer ?
Give me the letter-it should not exist !
Conrad. At one pernicious charge of the enemy, I, for a moment-whiles, was prisoner ta'en And rifled,-stuff! the horses' hoofs have minced it !
Auranthe. He is alive?
Conrad. He is! but here make oath
To alienate him from your scheming brain,
Divorce him from your solitary thoughts,
And cloud him in such utter banishment,
That when his person meets again your eye,
Your vision shall quite lose its memory,
And wander past him as through vacancy.
Auranthe. I'll not be perjured.
No, nor great, nor mighty;
You would not wear a crown, or rule a kingdom.
it is indifferent. Auranthe.
What means this? Conrad. You'll not be perjured! Go to Albert then, That camp-mushroom—dishonor of our house. Go, page his dusty heels upon a march, Furbish his jingling baldric while he sleeps, And share his mouldy ration in a siege. Yet stay,—perhaps a charm may call you back, And make the widening circlets of your eyes Sparkle with healthy fevers.--The Emperor Hath given consent that you should marry Ludolph!
Auranthe. Can it be, brother ? For a golden crown
With a queen's awful lips I doubly thank you !
This is to wake in Paradise! Farewell
Thou clod of yesterday—'twas not myself!
Not till this moment did I ever feel
My spirit’s faculties! I'll flatter you
For this, and be you ever proud of it;
Thou, Jove-like, struck'dst thy forehead,
And from the teeming marrow of thy brain
I spring complete Minerva ! but the prince-
His highness Ludolph-where is he?
I know not :
When, lackeying my counsel at a beck,
The rebel lords, on bended knees, received
The Emperor's pardon, Ludolph kept aloof,
Sole, in a stiff, fool-hardy, sulky pride;
Yet, for all this, I never saw a father
In such a sickly longing for his son.
We shall soon see him, for the Emperor
He will be here this morning.
That I heard
Among the midnight rumors from the camp.
Conrad. You give up Albert to me?
Harm him not !
E'en for his highness Ludolph's sceptry hand,
I would not Albert suffer any wrong.
Conrad. Have I not labored, plotted— ?
See you spare him: Nor be pathetic, my kind benefactor! On all the many bounties of your hand, 'Twas for yourself you labored-not for me! Do you
not count, when I am queen, to take
Advantage of your chance discoveries
Of my poor secrets, and so hold a rod
Over my life?
Conrad. Let not this slave—this villain-
Be cause of feud between us. See! he comes !
Look, woman, look, your Albert is quite safe!
In haste it seems.
Now shall I be in the way,
And wish'd with silent curses in my grave,
Or side by side with ’whelmed mariners.
Enter ALBERT. Albert. Fair on your graces fall this early morrow! So it is like to do, without my prayers, For your right noble names, like favorite tunes, Have fallen full frequent from our Emperor's lips, High commented with smiles. Auranthe.
Noble Albert! Conrad (aside). Noble !
Auranthe. Such salutation argues a glad heart In our prosperity. We thank you, sir.
O, would to Heaven your poor servant
Could do you better service than mere words !
But I have other greeting than mine own,
From no less man than Otho, who has sent
This ring as pledge of dearest amity;
'Tis chosen I hear from Hymen's jewelry,
And you will prize it, lady, I doubt not,
Beyond all pleasures past, and all to come.
To you great duke-
To me! What of me, ha ? Albert. What pleased your grace to say
Your message, sir!
Albert. You mean not this to me?
Sister, this way;
For there shall be no “gentle Alberts [.Aside.
No “sweet Auranthes !"
[Exeunt CONRAD and AURANTHE. Albert (solus). The duke is out of temper; if he knows More than a brother of a sister ought, I should not quarrel with his peevishness. Auranthe-Heaven preserve her always fair! Is in the heady, proud, ambitious vein; I bicker not with her,-bid her farewell ! She has taken flight from me, then let her soar,He is a fool who stands at pining gaze! But for poor Ludolph, he is food for sorrow : No leveling bluster of my licensed thoughts, No military swagger of my mind, Can smother from myself the wrong I've done him,Without design indeed, yet it is so,And opiate for the conscience have I none!
Scene II.--The Court-yard of the Castle. Martial Music. Enter, from the outer gate, Otho, Nobles, Knights,
and Attendants. The Soldiers halt at the gate, with Banners in
sight. Otho. Where is my noble Herald ? [Enter Conrad, from the Castle, attended by two Knights and Servants. ALBERT following.
Well, hast told
Auranthe our intent imperial ?
Lest our rent banners, too o' the sudden shown,
Should fright her silken casements, and dismay
Her household to our lack of entertainment.