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If I break not
Too much upon your thoughtful mood, I will
Claim a brief while your patience.
For what cause
Soe'er, I shall be honor'd.
I not less.
it be? No trifle can take place
Of such deliberate prologue, serious ’havior.
But, be it what it may, I cannot fail
To listen with no common interest ;
For tho' so new your presence is to me,
I have a soldier's friendship for your fame.
Please you explain.
As thus :—for, pardon me,
I cannot, in plain terms, grossly assault
A noble nature; and would faintly sketch
What your quick apprehension will fill up;
So finely I esteem you.
Gersa. Your generous father, most illustrious Otho,
Sits in the banquet-room among his chiefs ;
His wine is bitter, for you are not there ;
His eyes are fix'd still on the open doors,
And ev'ry passer in he frowns upon,
Seeing no Ludolph comes.
I do neglect.
Gersa. And for your absence may I guess the cause ?
Ludolph. Stay there! No-guess ? More princely you
must be Than to make guesses at me.
'Tis enough. I'm sorry
I can hear no more.
As grieved to force it on you so abrupt;
Yet, one day, you must know a grief, whose sting
Will sharpen more the longer 'tis conceal’d.
Ludolph. Say it at once, sir! dead-dead-is she dead?
Gersa. Mine is a cruel task : she is not dead, And would, for your sake, she were innocent.
Ludolph. Hungarian! Thou amazest me beyond
All scope of thought, convulsest my heart's blood
To deadly churning! Gersa, you are young,
As I am ; let me observe you, face to face :
Not gray-brow'd like the poisonous Ethelbert,
No rheumed eyes, no furrowing of age,
No wrinkles, where all vices nestle in
Like crannied vermin-no! but fresh and young,
And hopeful featured. Ha! by Heaven you weep !
Tears, human tears! Do
you repent you then
Of a curs’d torturer's office? Why shouldst join-
Tell me—the league of devils ? Confess-confess-
Gersa. Lie!-but begone all ceremonious points
Of honor battailous! I could not turn
My wrath against thee for the orbed world.
Ludolph. Your wrath, weak boy ? Tremble at mine, unless
Retraction follow close upon the heels
Of that late stounding insult! Why has my sword
Not done already a sheer judgment on thee ?
Despair, or eat ihy words! Why, thou wast nigh
Whimpering away my reason! Hark ’e, sir,
It is no secret, that Erminia,
Erminia, sir, was hidden in your tent,-
O bless'd asylum! Comfortable home!
Begone! I pity thee; thou art a gull,
Erminia's last new puppet !
Furious fire !
Thou mak'st me boil as hot as thou canst flame!
And in thy teeth I give thee back the lie !
Thou liest! Thou, Auranthe's fool! A wittol !
Ludolph. Look ! look at this bright sword :
There is no part of it, to the very hilt,
But shall indulge itself about thine heart !
Draw! but remember thou must cower thy plumes,
As yesterday the Arab made thee stoop.
Gersa. Patience ! Not here ; I would not spill thy blood
Here, underneath this roof where Otho breathes,-
Thy father, -almost mine.
O faltering coward !
[Enter Page. Stay, stay ; here is one I have half a word with. Well ? What ails thee, child ? Page.
My lord ! Ludolph.
ouldst say ? Page. They are fed ! Ludolph.
I hasten'd back, your grieving messenger,
I found the stairs all dark, the lamps extinct,
And not a foot or whisper to be heard.
I thought her dead, and on the lowest step
Sat listening; when presently came by
Two muffled up,-one sighing heavily,
The other cursing low, whose voice I knew
For the Duke Conrad's. Close I followed them
Thro’ the dark ways they chose to the open air;
And, as I follow'd, heard my lady speak.
Ludolph. Thy life answers the truth !
The chamber's empty!
Ludolph. As I will be of mercy! So, at last,
This nail is in my temples !
Be calm in this.
Ludolph. I am.
And Albert too has disappear'd;
Ere I met you, I sought him every where;
You would not hearken.
Which way went they, boy ?
Gersa. I'll hunt with you.
No, no, no. My senses are
Still whole. I have survived. My arm is strong,
My appetite sharp-for revenge! I'll no sharer
In my feast; my injury is all my own,
And so is my revenge, my lawful chattels !
Terrier, ferret them out! Burn-burn the witch!
Trace me their footsteps! Away!
SCENE J.-A part of the Forest.
Enter CONRAD and AURANTHE.
Auranthe. Go no further ; not a step more. Thou art
A master-plague in the midst of miseries.
Go,-I fear thee! I tremble every limb,
Who never shook before. There's moody death
In thy resolved looks! Yes, I could kneel
To pray thee far away! Conrad, go! go !-
There ! yonder underneath the boughs I see
Our horses !
Conrad. Ay, and the man.
Yes, he is there!
Go, go,-no blood ! no blood !-go, gentle Conrad !
Conrad. Farewell !
Auranthe. Farewell! For this Heaven pardon you !
Conrad. If he survive one hour, then may I die
In unamagined tortures, or breathe through
A long life in the foulest sink o' the world!
He dies! 'Tis well she do not advertise
The caitiff of the cold steel at his back.
[Exit CONRAD. Enter LUDOLPH and Page. Ludolph. Miss'd the way, boy? Say not that on your
Page. Indeed, indeed I cannot trace them further.
Ludolph. Must I stop here? Here solitary die ?
Stifled beneath the thick oppressive shade
Of these dull boughs,—this oven of dark thickets
Silent,—without revenge ?-pshaw !-bitter end, -
A bitter death,-a suffocating death,
A gnawing-silent-deadly, quiet death!
Escaped ?-fied ?- vanish'd ? melted into air ?
She's gone! I cannot clutch her! no revenge !
A muffled death, ensnared in horrid silence !
Suck'd to my grave amid a dreamy calm !
O, where is that illustrious noise of war,
To smother up this sound of laboring breath,
This rustle of the trees !
[AURANTHE shrieks at a distance. Page.
My lord, a noise ! This way–hark !
Ludolph. Yes, yes! A hope! A music! A glorious clamor! How I live again!
SCENE II.-Another part of the Forest.
Enter ALBERT (wounded).
Albert. Oh! for enough life to support me on
To Otho's feet!
Ludolph. Thrice villanous, stay there!
Tell me where that detested woman is,
Or this is through thee!
My good Prince, with me
The sword has done its worst; not without worst
Done to another, Conrad has it home!
I see you know it all!
Where is his sister ?
Auranthe. Albert !
Ludolph. Ha! There ! there !-He is the paramour ! There-hug him—dying! O, thou innocence, Shrine him and comfort him at his last gasp, Kiss down his eyelids! Was he not thy love ? Wilt thou forsake him at his latest hour ?