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Yes, father Ethelbert,
I have news precious as we pass along.
Ethelbert. Dear daughter, you shall guide me.
To no ill.
Gersa. Command an escort to the Friedburg lines.
[Exeunt Chiefs.. Pray let me lead. Fair lady, forget not Gersa, how he believed
innocent. I follow you to Friedburg with all speed.
Albert. O that the earth were empty, as when Cain
Had no perplexity to hide his head!
Or that the sword of some brave enemy
Had put a sudden stop to my hot breath,
And hursd me down the illimitable gulf
Of times past, unremember’d! Better so
Than thus fast-limed in a cursed snare,
The white limbs of a wanton. This the end
Of an aspiring life! My boyhood past
In feud with wolves and bears, when no eye saw
The solitary warfare, fought for love
Of honor ’mid the growling wilderness.
My sturdier youth, maturing to the sword,
Won by the syren-trumpets, and the ring
Of shields upon the pavement, when bright mail'd
Henry the Fowler pass’d the streets of Prague.
Was 't to this end I louted and became
The menial of Mars, and held a spear
Sway'd by command, as corn is by the wind ?
Is it for this, I now am lifed up
By Europe's throned Emperor, to see
My honor be
My love of fame, my prided honesty
Put to the torture for confessional ?
Then the damn'd crime of blurting to the world
A woman's secret !- Though a fiend she be,
Too tender of my ignominious life;
But then to wrong the generous Emperor
In such a searching point, were to give up
My soul for foot-ball at Hell's holiday !
I must confess,—and cut my throat,-to-day ?
To-morrow? Ho! some wine !
Sigifred. A fine humor-
Albert. Who goes there ? Count Sigifred ? Ha! ha!
Sigifred. What, man, do you mistake the hollow sky
For a throng'd tavern,—and these stubbed trees
For old serge hangings,-me, your humble friend,
For a poor waiter? Why, man, how you stare !
What gipsies have you been carousing with ?
No, no more wine ; methinks you ’ve had enough.
Albert. You well may laugh and banter. What a fool
An injury may make of a staid man!
You shall know all anon.
Some tavern brawl ?
Albert. 'Twas with some people out of common reach ;
Revenge is difficult.
I am your friend;
We meet again to-day, and can confer
Upon it. For the present I'm in haste.
Albert. Whither ?
To fetch King Gersa to the feast.
The Emperor on this marriage is so hot,
Pray Heaven it end not in apoplexy !
The very porters, as I pass'd the doors,
Heard his loud laugh, and answer'd in full choir.
I marvel, Albert, you delay so long
From these bright revelries ; go, show yourself,
You may be made a duke.
Ay, very like:
Pray, what day has his Highness fix'd upon ?
Sigifred. For what?
The marriage. What else can I mean?
Sigifred. To-day. O, I forgot, you could not know;
The news is scarce a minute old with me.
Albert. Married to-day! To-day! You did not say so?
Sigifred. Now, while I speak to you, their comely heads Are bowed before the mitre. Albert.
0! monstrous ! Sigifred. What is this? Albert.
Nothing, Sigifred. Farewell! We'll meet upon our subject. Farewell, count !
[Exit. Sigifred. To this clear-headed Albert ? He brain-turn'd! 'Tis as portentous as a meteor.
SCENE II.-An Apartment in the Castle.
[Enter as from the Marriage, OTHO, LUDOLPH, AURANTHE, CONRAD,
Nobles, Knights, Ladies, &c. &c. &c. Music.
Otho. Now, Ludolph ! Now, Auranthe! Daughter fair!
What can I find to grace your nuptial day
More than my love, and these wide realms in fee?
Ludolph. I have too much.
And I, my liege, by far.
Ludolph. Auranthe! I have! O, my bride, my love!
Not all the gaze upon us can restrain
My eyes, too long poor exiles from thy face,
From uttering soft responses to the love
I see in thy mute beauty beaming forth !
Fair creature, bless me with a single word !
Auranthe. Spare, spare me, my Lord; I swoon else.
Ludolph. Soft beauty! by tomorrow I should die,
Wert thou not mine.
[They talk apart. 1st Lady.
How deep she has bewitch'd him! 1st Knight. Ask you for her recipe for love philtres. 2nd Lady. They hold the Emperor in admiration.
Otho. If ever king was happy, that am I!
What are the cities 'yond the Alps to me,
The provinces about the Danube's mouth,
The promise of fair sail beyond the Rhone ;
Or routing out of Hyperborean hordes,
To these fair children, stars of a new age ?
Unless perchance I might rejoice to win
This little ball of earth, and chuck it them
To play with!
Auranthe. Nay, my Lord, I do not know.
Ludolph. Let me not famish.
Otho (to Conrad).
You heard what oath I sware, as the sun rose,
That unless Heaven would send me back my son,
My Arab,—no soft music should enrich
The cool wine, kiss'd off with a soldier's smack;
Now all my empire, barter'd for one feast,
Upon the neighbor-plain
The heralds have prepared a royal lists;
Your knights, found war-proof in the bloody field,
Speed to the game.
Well, Ludolph, what say you ?
Ludolph. My lord !
A tourney ?
Or, if't please you best-
Ludolph. I want no more!
He soars !
Past all reason.
Ludolph. Though heaven's choir
Should in a vast circumference descend,
And sing for my delight, I'd stop my ears !
Though bright Apollo's car stood burning here,
And he put out an arm to bid me mount,
His touch an immortality, not I!
This earth, this palace, this room, Auranthe!
Otho. This is a little painful; just too much.
Conrad, if he flames longer in this wise,
I shall believe in wizard-woven loves
And old romances; but I'll break the spell.
Conrad. He'll be calm, anon.
Yes, yes, yes, I offend. You must forgive me:
Not being quite recover'd from the stun
Of your large bounties.
A tourney, is it not ?
[A senet heard faintly. Conrad. The trumpets reach us. Ethelbert (without).
On your peril, sirs, Detain us !
1st Voice (without). Let not the abbot pass. 2nd Voice (without).
On your lives!
1st Voice (without). Holy father, you must not.
Ethelbert (without). Otho !
Who calls on Otho ?
Ethelbert! Otho. Let him come in.
[Enter ETHELBERT leading in ERMINIA.
Thou cursed abbot, why
Hast brought pollution to our holy rites?
Hast thou no fear of hangman, or the faggot ?
Ludolph. What portent—what strange prodigy is this?
Albert has surely fail'd me!
Look at the Emperor's brow upon me bent !
Ethelbert. A sad delay !
Away, thou guilty thing !