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SCENE II.-The entrance of GERSA'S Tent in the Hungarian Camp.
Erminia. Where! where! where shall I find a messen-
A trusty soul? A good man in the camp?
[Shouts in the camp.
Enter an HUNGARIAN CAPTAIN.
Captain. Fair prisoner, you hear those joyous shouts ?
Has just return'd. He bids me say, bright dame,
Erminia. Say, is not that a German, yonder? There!
And much in the Emperor's favor.
I would fain
Erminia. Yes, he was ever known to be a man
Lady Erminia! are you prisoner
In this beleaguer'd camp? Or are you here
Albert. I have. Well!
Albert, will you swear?
Albert, you have fame to lose.
Albert. Aye, any thing to me, fair creature. Do,
Truce with that.
Albert. Lady, I should rejoice to know you so.
Albert. How? Make it clear; if it be possible,
Erminia. Possible!-Easy. O my heart!
[Gives him a letter.
"To the Duke Conrad.-Forget the threat you made at parting, and I will forget to send the Emperor letters and papers of yours I have become possessed of. His life is no trifle to me; his death you shall find none to yourself." (Speaks to himself.) 'Tis me—my life that's plead for! (Reads.) "He, for his own sake, will be dumb as the grave. Erminia has my shame fix'd upon her, sure as a wen. We are safe.
A she-devil! A dragon! I her imp!
Erminia. I see you are thunderstruck. Haste, haste away!
Albert. O I am tortured by this villany.
[They go in and return.
Erminia. You needs must be. Carry it swift to Otho;
Tell him, moreover, I am prisoner
Here in this camp, where all the sisterhood,
Forced from their quiet cells, are parcel'd out
For slaves among these Huns. Away! Away!
Erminia. Swift be your steed! Within this hour
Ere I sleep:
That I can swear.
Gersa (without). Brave captains! thanks. Enough
Gersa. What means this, fair one?
Hail, royal Hun!
Why in such alarm?
Who was it hurried by me so distract?
It seem'd you were in deep discourse together;
Or, for such trifles, rob th' adorned world
Of such a beauteous vestal.
I grieve, my Lord, To hear you condescend to ribald-phrase. Gersa. This is too much! Hearken, my lady pure! Erminia. Silence! and hear the magic of a nameErminia! I am she,-the Emperor's niece! Praised be the Heavens, I now dare own myself!
Gersa. Erminia! Indeed! I've heard of her. Pr'ythee, fair lady, what chance brought you here? Erminia. Ask your own soldiers. Gersa. And you dare own your name. For loveliness you may-and for the rest My vein is not censorious.
Alas! poor me!
"Tis false indeed.
Indeed you are too fair:
Trust me one day more,
I think, nay I am sure you will grieve much
For I am sick and faint with many wrongs,
Ethelbert. Blessings upon you, daughter! Sure you look Too cheerful for these foul pernicious days.
Young man, you heard this virgin say 'twas false,—
Gersa. Peace! peace, old man! I cannot think she is. Ethelbert. Whom I have known from her first infancy, Baptized her in the bosom of the Church, Watch'd her, as anxious husbandmen the grain, From the first shoot till the unripe mid-May, Then to the tender ear of her June days, Which, lifting sweet abroad its timid green, Is blighted by the touch of calumny ; You cannot credit such a monstrous tale.
Gersa. I cannot. Take her. Fair Erminia,
I follow you to Friedburg,-is 't not so?
Erminia. Ay, so we purpose.
Daughter, do you so?
How's this? I marvel! Yet you look not mad.
Your blessing, father! Sweet Erminia,
Believe me, I am well nigh sure—
Short time will show.