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SCENE I. -An antechamber in the Castle.
Enter LUDOLPH and SIGIFRED.
Ludolph. No more advices, no more cautioning;
I leave it all to fate to any thing !
I cannot square my conduct to time, place,
Or circumstance; to me 'tis all a mist!
Sigifred. I say no more.
It seems I am to wait
Here in the anteroom ;—that may be a trifle.
You see now how I dance attendance here,
Without that tyrant temper, you so blame,
Snapping the rein. You have medicin'd me
With good advices; and I here remain,
In this most honorable anteroom,
Your patient scholar.
Do not wrong me, Prince.
By Heavens, I'd rather kiss Duke Conrad's slipper,
When in the morning he doth yawn with pride,
Than see you humbled but a half-degree !
Truth is, the Emperor would fain dismiss
The Nobles ere he sees you.
Enter GONFRED from the Council-room.
Well, sir! what!
Gonfred. Great honor to the Prince! The Emperor,
Hearing that his brave son had reappeared,
Instant dismiss’d the Council from his sight,
As Jove fans off the clouds. Even now they pass.
[Enter the Nobles from the Council-room. They cross the Stage,
bowing with respect to LUDOLPH, he frowning on them. CONRAD follows. Exeunt Nobles.
Ludolph. Not the discolored poisons of a fen,
Which he, who breathes, feels warning of his death,
Could taste so nauseous to the bodily sense,
As these prodigious sycophants disgust
The soul's fine palate.
Princely Ludolph, hail !
Welcome, thou younger sceptre to the realm !
Strength to thy virgin crownet's golden buds,
That they, against the winter of thy sire,
May burst, and swell, and flourish round thy brows,
Maturing to a weighty diadem!
Yet be that hour far off; and may he live,
Who waits for thee, as the chapp'd earth for rain.
Set my life's star ! I have lived long enough,
Since under my glad roof, propitiously,
Father and son each other re-possess.
Ludolph. Fine wording, Duke! but words could never yet
Forestall the fates; have you not learnt that yet ?
Let me look well : your features are the same;
Your gait the same ; your hair of the same shade ;
As one I knew some passed weeks ago,
Who sung far different notes into mine ears.
I have mine own particular comments on't ;
You have your own perhaps.
My gracious Prince, All men may err.
In truth I was deceived In your great father's nature, as you were. Had I known that of him I have since known, And what you soon will learn, I would have turn'd My sword to my own throat, rather than held Its threatening edge against a good King's quiet : Or with one word fever'd you, gentle Prince, Who seem'd to me, as rugged times then went, Indeed too much oppress’d. May I be bold To tell the Emperor you will haste to him ? Ludolph. Your Dukedom's privilege will grant so much.
He's very close to Otho, a tight leech !
Your hand—I go! Ha! here the thunder comes
Sullen against the wind ! If in two angry brows
My safety lies, then Sigifred, I'm safe.
Enter Otho and CONRAD.
Otho. Will you make Titan play the lackey-page
To chattering pigmies? I would have you know
That such neglect of our high Majesty
Annuls all feel of kindred.
What is son,
Or friend-or brother—or all ties of blood,
When the whole kingdom, centred in ourself,
Is rudely slighted ? Who am I to wait ?
By Peter's chair ! I have upon my tongue
A word to fright the proudest spirit here !
Death and slow tortures to the hardy fool,
Who dares take such large charter from our smiles !
Conrad, we would be private! Sigifred !
Off! And none pass this way on pain of death!
[Exeunt Conrad and SIGIFRED.
Ludolph. This was but half expected, my good sire,
Yet I am grieved at it, to the full height,
As though my hopes of favor had been whole.
Otho. How you indulge yourself! What can you hope for ?
Ludolph. Nothing, my liege, I have to hope for nothing.
I come to greet you as a loving son,
And then depart, if I may be so free,
Seeing that blood of yours in my warm veins
Has not yet mitigated into milk.
Otho. What would you, sir ?
A lenient banishment;
So please you let me unmolested pass
This Conrad's gates, to the wide air again.
I want no more.
A rebel wants no more.
Otho. And shall I let a rebel loose again
To muster kites and eagles 'gainst my head ?
No, obstinate boy, you shall be caged up,
Served with harsh food, with scum for Sunday-drink.
Ludolph. Indeed !
And chains too heavy for your life :
I'll choose a jailer, whose swart monstrous face
Shall be a hell to look upon, and she-
Ludolph. Ha !
Otho. Shall be your fair Auranthe.
Otho. To-day you marry her.
This is a sharp jest !
Otho. No. None at all. When have I said a lie ?
Ludolph. If I sleep not, I am a waking wretch.
Otho. Not a word more. Let me embrace my child.
Ludolph. I dare not. 'Twould pollute so good a father!
O heavy crime! that your son's blinded eyes
Could not see all his parent's love aright,
As now I see it. Be not kind to me-
Punish me not with favor.
Are you sure,
Ludolph, you have no saving plea in store?
Ludolph. My father, none !
Then you astonish me.
Ludolph. No, I have no plea. Disobedince,
Rebellion, obstinacy, blasphemy,
Are all my counselors. If they can make
My crooked deeds show good and plausible,
Then grant me loving pardon, but not else,
Good Gods! not else, in any way, my liege !
Otho. You are a most perplexing, noble boy.
Ludolph. You not less a perplexing noble father.
Otho. Well, you shall have free passport through the gates. Farewell !
Ludolph. Farewell! and by these tears believe,
And still remember, I repent in pain
Otho. Ludolph, I will! I will !
But, Ludolph, ere you go, I would inquire
If you, in all your wandering, ever met
A certain Arab haunting in these parts.
Ludolph. No, my good lord, I cannot say I did,
Otho. Make not your father blind before his time;
Nor let these arms paternal hunger more
For an embrace, to dull the appetite
Of my great love for thee, my supreme child!
Come close, and let me breathe into thine ear.
I knew you through disguise. You are the Arab!
You can't deny it.
[Embracing him. Ludolph. Happiest of days ! Otho. We'll make it so.
Ludolph 'Stead of one fatted calf
Ten hecatombs shall bellow out their last,
Smote 'twixt the horns by the death-stunning mace
Of Mars, and all the soldiery shall feast
Nobly as Nimrod’s masons, when the towers
Of Nineveh new kiss’d the parted clouds !
Otho. Large as a God speak out, where all is thine.
Ludolph. Ay, father, but the fire in my sad breast
Is quench'd with inward tears! I must rejoice
you, whose wings so shadow over me
In tender victory, but for myself
I still must mourn. The fair Auranthe mine !
Too great a boon! I pr’ythee let me ask
What more than I know of could so have changed
Your purpose touching her.
At a word, this :
In no deed did you give me more offence
Than your rejection of Erminia.
To my appalling, I saw too good proof
Of your keen-eyed suspicion,-she is naught!
Ludolph. You are convinc'd ?
Ay, spite of her sweet looks.
O, that my brother's daughter should so fall!
Her fame has pass’d into the grosser lips
Of soldiers in their cups.
"Tis very sad.
Otho. No more of her. Auranthe-Ludolph, come !
This marriage be the bond of endless peace!