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Thee to melt in the visionary air,
Ere, by one grasp, this common hand is made
Imperial ? I do not know the time
When I have wept for sorrow; but methinks
I could now sit upon the ground, and shed
Tears, tears of misery! O, the heavy day!
How shall I bear my life till Albert comes ?
Ludolph! Erminia! Proofs! O heavy day!
Bring me some mourning weeds, that I may 'tire
Myself, as fits one wailing her own death:
Cut off these curls, and brand this lily hand,
And throw these jewels from my loathing sight,-
Fetch me a missal, and a string of beads,-
A cup of bitter'd water, and a crust,-
I will confess, O holy Abbot !-How !
What is this? Auranthe! thou fool, dolt,
Whimpering idiot! up! up! and quell!
I am safe! Coward! why am I in fear ?
Albert! he cannot stickle, chew the cud
In such a fine extreme,-impossible!
[Goes to the door, listens, and opens it.
Albert, I have been waiting for you here
With such an aching heart, such swooning throbs
On my poor brain, such cruel-cruel sorrow,
That I should claim your pity! Art not well ?
Albert. Yes, lady, well.
You look not so, alas !
But pale, as if you brought some heavy news.
Albert. You know full well what makes me look so pale.
Auranthe. No! Do I? Surely I am still to learn
Some horror; all I know, this present, is
I am near hustled to a dangerous gulf,
Which you can save me from, and therefore safe,
So trusting in thy love ; that should not make
Thee pale, my Albert.
It doth make me freeze.
Auranthe. Why should it, love ?
You should not ask me that,
But make your own heart monitor, and save
Me the great pain of telling. You must know,
Auranthe. Something has vext you, Albert. There are
When simplest things put on a sombre cast;
A melancholy mood will haunt a man,
Until most easy matters take the shape
Of unachievable tasks; small rivulets
Then seem impassable.
Do not cheat yourself
With hope that gloss of words, or suppliant action,
Or tears, or ravings, or self-threaten’d death,
Can alter my resolve.
You make me tremble;
Not so much at your threats, as at your voice,
Untuned, and harsh, and barren of all love.
Albert. You suffocate me! Stop this devil's parley, And listen to me; know me once for all.
Auranthe. I thought I did. Alas! I am deceived.
Albert. No, you are not deceived. You took me for
A man detesting all inhuman crime ;
And therefore kept from me your demon's plot
Against Erminia. Silent ? Be so still ;
For ever! Speak no more; but hear my words,
Thy fate. Your safety I have bought to-day
By blazoning a lie, which in the dawn
I'll expiate with truth.
O cruel traitor!
Albert. For I would not set eyes upon thy shame;
I would not see thee dragg’d to death by the hair,
Penanced, and taunted on a scaffolding !
To-night, upon the skirts of the blind wood
That blackens northward of these horrid towers,
I wait for you with horses. Choose your fate.
Auranthe. Albert, you jest ; I'm sure you must.
You, an ambitious Soldier! I, a Queen,
One who could say,-here, rule these Provinces !
Take tribute from those cities for thyself !
Empty these armories, these treasuries,
Muster thy warlike thousands at a nod!
Go! Conquer Italy !
Auranthe, you have made
The whole world chaff to me. You doom is fix'd.
Auranthe. Out, villain ! dastard !
Look there to the door!
Who is it?
Auranthe. Conrad, traitor!
Let him in.
Do not affect amazement, hypocrite,
At seeing me in this chamber.
Albert. Talk not with eyes, but speak your curses out
Against me, who would sooner crush and grind
A brace of toads, than league with them ť oppress
An innocent lady, gull an Emperor,
More generous to me than autumn-sun
To ripening harvests.
No more insult, sir.
Albert. Ay, clutch your scabbard ; but, for prudence sake,
Draw not the sword; 'twould make an uproar, Duke,
You would not hear the end of. At nightfall
Your lady sister, if I guess aright,
Will leave this busy castle. You had best
Take farewell too of worldly vanities.
To-morrow, when the Emperor sends
For loving Conrad, see you fawn on him.
Good even !
Auranthe. You'll be seen !
See the coast clear then,
Auranthe (as he goes). Remorseless Albert ! Cruel, cruel wretch !
[She lets him out. Conrad. So, we must lick the dust ? Auranthe.
I follow him. Conrad. How? Where? The plan of your escape ? Auranthe.
For me with horses by the forest-side,
Conrad. Good, good; he dies. You go, say you ?
Conrad. Be speedy, darkness !
Till that comes,
Fiends keep you company!
And you! And you ! And all men ! Vanish !
[Retires to an inner apartment.
SCENE II.-An Apartment in the Castle.
Enter LUDOLPH and a Page.
Page. Still very sick, my lord; but now I went,
And there her women, in a mournful throng,
Stood in the passage whispering; if any
Moved, 'twas with careful steps, and hush'd as death :
They bade me stop.
Good fellow, once again
Make soft inquiry ; pr’ythee, be not stay'd
By any hindrance, but with gentlest force
Break through her weeping servants, till thou com’st
E’en to her chamber door, and there, fair boy-
If with thy mother's milk thou hast suck'd in
Any divine eloquence-woo her ears
With plaints for me, more tender than the voice
Of dying Echo, echoed.
To know thee sad thus, will unloose my tongue
In mournful syllables. Let but my words reach
Her ears, and she shall take them coupled with
Moans from my heart, and sighs not counterfeit.
May I speed better!
Ludolph (solus). Auranthe! My life!
Long have I loved thee, yet till now not loved :
Remembering, as I do, hard-hearted times
When I had heard e’en of thy death perhaps,
And thoughtless !-suffer'd thee to pass alone
Into Elysium !now I follow thee,
A substance or a shadow, wheresoe'er
Thou leadest me—whether thy white feet press,
With pleasant weight, the amorous-aching earth,
Or thro' the air thou pioneerest me,
A shade! Yet sadly I predestinate !
O, unbenignest Love, why wilt thou let
Darkness steal out upon the sleepy world
So wearily, as if night's chariot-wheels
Were clogg'd in some thick cloud ? O, changeful Love,
Let not her steeds with drowsy-footed pace
Pass the high stars, before sweet embassage
Comes from the pillow'd beauty of that fair
Completion of all delicate Nature's wit!
Pout her faint lips anew with rubious health ;
And, with thine infant fingers, lift the fringe
Of her sick eyelids; that those eyes may glow
With wooing light upon me, ere the morn
Peers with disrelish, gray, barren, and cold !
[Enter GersA and Courtiers. Otho calls me his Lion-should I blush To be so tamed ? soGersa.
Do me the courtesy, Gentlemen, to pass on. 1st Knight.
We are your servants.
[Exeunt Courtiers. Ludolph. It seems then, sir, you have found out the man You would confer with ;-me ?