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Not to thine ear alone I make confession,
But to all here, as, by experience,
I know how the great basement of all power
Is frankness, and a true tongue to the world ;
And how intriguing secrecy is proof
Of fear and weakness, and a hollow state.
Conrad, I owe thee much.
To kiss that hand,
My emperor, is ample recompense,
For a mere act of duty.
Thou art wrong ;
For what can any man on earth do more?
We will make trial of your house's welcome,
My bright Auranthe !
How is Friedburg honored !
Enter EEHELBERT and six Monks.
Ethelbert. The benison of heaven on your head,
Imperial Otho !
Who stays me ? Speak! Quick!
Ethelbert. Pause but one moment, mighty conqueror!
Upon the threshold of this house of joy.
Otho. Pray, do not prose, good Ethelbert, but speak
What is your purpose.
Ethelbert. The restoration of some captive maids,
Devoted to Heaven's pious ministries,
Who, driven forth from their religious cells,
And kept in thraldom by our enemy,
When late this province was a lawless spoil,
Still weep amid the wild Hungarian camp,
Though hemm’d around by thy victorious arms.
Otho. Demand the holy sisterhood in our name
From Gersa's tents. Farewell, old Ethelbert.
Ethelbert. The saints will bless you for this pious care. Otho. Daughter, your hand; Ludolph's would fit it best.
Conrad. Ho! let the music sound ! [ Music. ETHELBERT raises his hands, as in benediction of Otho.
Exeunt severally. The scene closes on them.
SCENE III.—The Country, with the Castle in the distance.
Enter LUDOLPH and SIGIFRED. Ludolph. You have my secret; let it not be breath’d.
Sigifred. Still give me leave to wonder that the prince, Ludolph, and the swift Arab are the same; Still to rejoice that 'twas a German arm Death doing in a turban'd masquerade.
Ludolph. The emperor must not know it, Sigifred.
Sigifred. I prythee why? What happier hour of time
Could thy pleased star point down upon from heaven
With silver index, bidding thee make peace ?
Ludolph. Still it must not be known, good Sigifred;
The star may point oblique.
If Otho knew
His son to be that unknown Mussulman,
After whose spurring heels he sent me forth,
With one of his well-pleased Olympian oaths,
The charters of man's greatness, at this hour
He would be watching round the castle walls,
And, like an anxious warder, strain his sight
For the first glimpse of such a son return’d-
Ludolph, that blast of the Hungarians,
That Saracenic meteor of the fight,
That silent fury, whose fell scimitar
Kept danger all aloof from Otho's head,
And left him space for wonder.
Say no more.
Not as a swordsman would I pardon claim,
But as a son.
The bronze centurion,
Long toil'd in foreign wars, and whose high deeds
Are shaded in a forest of tall spears,
Known only to his troop, hath greater plea
Of favor with my sire than I can have.
Sigifred. My lord, forgive me that I cannot see
How this proud temper with clear reason squares.
What made you then, with such an anxious love,
Hover around that life, whose bitter days
You vext with bad revolt? Was ’t opium,
Or the mad-fumed wine ? Nay, do not frown,
I rather would grieve with you than upbraid.
Ludolph. I do believe you. No, 'twas not to make
A father his son's debtor, or to heal
His deep heart-sickness for a rebel child.
'Twas done in memory of my boyish days,
Poor cancel for his kindness to my youth,
For all his calming of my childish griefs,
And all his smiles upon my merriment.
No, not a thousand foughten fields could sponge
Those days paternal from my memory,
Though now upon my head he heaps disgrace.
Sigifred. My prince, you think too harshly-
Can I so?
Hath he not gall’d my spirit to the quick?
And with a sullen rigor obstinate
Pour'd out a phial of wrath upon my faults ? .
Hunted me as the Tartar does the boar,
Driven me to the very edge o' the world,
And almost put a price upon my head ?
Sigifred. Remember how he spared the rebel lords.
Ludolph. Yes, yes, I know he hath a noble nature That cannot trample on the fallen. But his Is not the only proud heart in his realm. He hath wrong’d me,
and I have done him wrong ;
He hath loved me, and I have shown him kindness;
We should be almost equal.
Yet for all this,
I would you had appear'd among those lords,
And ta'en his favor.
Ha! till now I thought
My friend had held poor Ludolph's honor dear.
What! would you
have me sue before his throne
And kiss the courtier's missal, its silk steps ?
Or hug the golden housings of his steed,
Amid a camp, whose steeled swarms I dared
But yesterday? And, at the trumpet sound,
Bow like some unknown mercenary's flag
And lick the soiled grass ? No, no, my friend,
I would not, I, be pardon'd in the heap,
And bless indemnity with all that scum,-
Those men I mean, who on my shoulders propp’d
Their weak rebellion, winning me with lies,
And pitying forsooth my many wrongs;
Poor self-deceived wretches, who must think
Each one himself a king in embryo,
Because some dozen vassals cried—my lord !
Cowards, who never knew their little hearts,
Till flurried danger held the mirror up,
And then they own’d themselves without a blush,
Curling, like spaniels, round my father's feet.
Such things deserted me and are forgiven,
While I, less guilty, am an outcast still,
And will be, for I love such fair disgrace.
Sigifred. I know the clear truth ; so would Otho see,
For he is just and noble. Fain would I
Be pleader for you,
He'll hear none of it;
You know his temper, hot, proud, obstinate ;
Endanger not yourself so uselessly.
I will encounter his thwart spleen myself,
To-day, at the Duke Conrad's, where he keeps
His crowded state after the victory,
There will I be, a most unwelcome guest,
And parley with him, as a son should do,
Who doubly loathes a father's tyranny ;
Tell him how feeble is that tyranny;
How the relationship of father and son
Is no more valid than a silken leash
Where lions tug adverse, if love grow not
From interchanged love through many years.
Ay, and those turreted Franconian walls,
Like to a jealous casket, hold my pearl-
My fair Auranthe! Yes, I will be there.
Sigifred. Be not so rash; wait till his wrath shall pass,
Until his royal spirit softly ebbs
Self-influenced ; then, in his morning dreams
He will forgive thee, and awake in grief
To have not thy good morrow.
I must be there, while her young pulses beat
Among the new-plumed minions of the war.
Have you seen her of late ? No ? Auranthe,
Franconia's fair sister, 'tis I mean.
She should be paler for my troublous days—
And there it is—my father's iron lips
Have sworn divorcement 'twixt me and my right.
Sigifred (aside). Auranthe! I had hoped this wbim had
Ludolph. And, Sigifred, with all his love of justice,
When will he take that grandchild in his arms,
That, by my love I swear, shall soon be his ?
This reconcilement is impossible,
For see—but who are these ?
They are messengers
From our great emperor; to you, I doubt not,
For couriers are abroad to seek you out.
Enter THEODORE and GONFRED.
Theodore. Seeing so many vigilant eyes explore
The province to invite your highness back
To your high dignities, we are too happy.
Gonfred. We have eloquence to color justly
The emperor's anxious wishes.
Go. I follow you.
[Exeunt THEODORE and GONFRED. I play the prude: it is but venturingWhy should he be so earnest ? Come, my friend, Let us to Friedburg castle.