Imágenes de páginas

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?
Shall I go myself? Monstrous wickedness!
O cursed Conrad! devilish Auranthe!
Here is proof palpable as the bright sun!
O for a voice to reach the Emperor's ears!

[Shouts in the camp.


Captain. Fair prisoner, you hear those joyous shouts ?
The king—aye, now our king,—but still your slave,
Young Gersa, from a short captivity

Has just return'd. He bids me say, bright dame,
That even the homage of his ranged chiefs
Cures not his keen impatience to behold
Such beauty once again. What ails you, lady?

Erminia. Say, is not that a German, yonder? There!
Captain. Methinks by his stout bearing he should be—
Yes it is Albert; a brave German knight,

And much in the Emperor's favor.


I would fain
Inquire of friends and kinsfolk; how they fared
In these rough times. Brave soldier, as you pass
To royal Gersa with my humble thanks,
Will you send yonder knight to me?


I will.

Erminia. Yes, he was ever known to be a man
Frank, open, generous; Albert I may trust.
O proof! proof! proof! Albert's an honest man;
Not Ethelbert the monk, if he were here,
Would I hold more trustworthy. Now!


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Lady Erminia! are you prisoner

In this beleaguer'd camp? Or are you here
Of your own will?
You pleased to send for me.
By Venus, 'tis a pity I knew not
Your plight before, and, by her Son, I swear
To do you every service you can ask.
What would the fairest-?

Good Gods!


Albert. I have. Well!

Albert, will you swear?

Albert, you have fame to lose.
If men, in court and camp, lie not outright,
You should be, from a thousand, chosen forth
To do an honest deed. Shall I confide- ?

Albert. Aye, any thing to me, fair creature. Do,
Dictate my task. Sweet woman,


Truce with that.
You understand me not; and, in your speech,
I see how far the slander is abroad.
Without proof could you think me innocent?

Albert. Lady, I should rejoice to know you so.
Erminia. If you have any pity for a maid,
Suffering a daily death from evil tongues;
Any compassion for that Emperor's niece,
Who, for your bright sword and clear honesty,
Lifted you from the crowd of common men
Into the lap of honor;-save me, knight!

Albert. How? Make it clear; if it be possible,
I by the banner of Saint Maurice swear
To right you.

Erminia. Possible!-Easy. O my heart!
This letter's not so soil'd but you may read it ;-
Possible! There-that letter! Read-read it.

[Gives him a letter.

ALBERT (reading).

"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!
Fire of Hell! Auranthe-lewd demon!
Where got you this? Where? When?
Erminia. I found it in the tent, among some spoils
Which, being noble, fell to Gersa's lot.
Come in, and see.

Villany! Villany!
Conrad's sword, his corslet, and his helm,
And his letter. Caitiff, he shall feel-

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!
Albert. I am gone.

Erminia. Swift be your steed! Within this hour
The Emperor will see it.

Ere I sleep:


That I can swear.

Enter GERSA.

Gersa (without). Brave captains! thanks. Enough
Of loyal homage now!


Gersa. What means this, fair one?

[Hurries out.

Hail, royal Hun!

Why in such alarm?

Who was it hurried by me so distract?

It seem'd you were in deep discourse together;
Your doctrine has not been so harsh to him
As to my poor deserts. Come, come, be plain.
I am no jealous fool to kill you both,

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:
The swan, soft leaning on her fledgy breast,
When to the stream she launches, looks not back
With such a tender grace; nor are her wings
So white as your soul is, if that but be
Twin picture to your face, Erminia!
To-day, for the first day, I am a king,
Yet would I give my unworn crown away
To know you spotless.


Trust me one day more,
Generously, without more certain guarantee,
Than this poor face you deign to praise so much;
After that, say and do whate'er you please.
If I have any knowledge of you, sir,

I think, nay I am sure you will grieve much
To hear my story. O be gentle to me,

For I am sick and faint with many wrongs,
Tired out, and weary-worn with contumelies.
Gersa. Poor lady!

Enter ETHELBert.

Gentle ce, 'tis false indeed.
Good morrow, holy father! I have had
Your prayers, though I look'd for you in vain.

Ethelbert. Blessings upon you, daughter! Sure you look Too cheerful for these foul pernicious days.

Young man, you heard this virgin say 'twas false,—
'Tis false I say. What! can you not employ
Your temper elsewhere, 'mong these burly tents,
But you must taunt this dove, for she hath lost
The Eagle Otho to beat off assault.
Fie! Fie! But I will be her guard myself;
I' the Emperor's name. I here demand
Herself, and all her sisterhood. She 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.
Erminia. I have good news to tell you, Ethelbert.
Gersa. Ho! ho, there! Guards!

Your blessing, father! Sweet Erminia,

Believe me, I am well nigh sure—


Short time will show.


[Enter Chiefs.

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