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Aye, my lord.
Otho. And no news! No news ! 'Faith! 'tis very strange
He thus avoids us. Lady, is't not strange ?
Will he be truant to you too? It is a shame.
Conrad. Wilt please your highness enter, and accept
The unworthy welcome of your servant's house ?
Leaving your cares to one whose diligence
May in few hours make pleasures of them all.
Otho. Not so tedious, Conrad. No, no, no,—
I must see Ludolph or the-What's that shout ?
Voices without. Huzza ! huzza ! Long live the Emperor !
Other voices. Fall back! Away there!
Say what noise is that ? [ALBERT advancing from the back of the Stage, whither he had hastened
on hearing the cheers of the soldiery.
Albert. It is young Gersa, the Hungarian prince,
Pick'd like a red stag from the fallow herd
Of prisoners. Poor prince, forlorn he steps,
Slow, and demure, and proud in his despair.
If I may judge by his so tragic bearing,
His eye not downcast, and his folded arm,
He doth this moment wish himself asleep
Among his fallen captains on yon plains.
Enter Gersa, in chains, and guarded.
Otho. Well said, Sir Albert.
Not a word of greeting,
No welcome to a princely visitor,
Most mighty Otho? Will not my great host
Vouchsafe a syllable, before he bids
His gentlemen conduct me with all care
To some securest lodging-cold perhaps !
Otho. What mood is this? Hath fortune touch'd thy
Gersa. O kings and princes of this fev'rous world,
What abject things, what mockeries must ye be,
What nerveless minions of safe palaces!
When here, a monarch, whose proud foot is used
To fallen princes' necks, as to his stirrup,
Must needs exclaim that I am mad forsooth,
Because I cannot flatter with bent knees
Olho Gersa, I think you wrong me :
I think I have a better fame abroad.
Gersa. I pr’ythee mock me not with gentle speech,
But, as a favor, bid me from thy presence;
Let me no longer be the wondering food
Of all these eyes; pr’ythee command me hence!
Otho. Do not mistake me, Gersa. That you may not,
Come, fair Auranthe, try if your soft hands
Can manage those hard rivets to set free
So brave a prince and soldier.
Auranthe (sets him free). Welcome task!
Gersa. I am wound up in deep astonishment !
Thank you, fair lady. Otho! emperor !
You rob me of myself; my dignity
Is now your infant; I am a weak child.
Otho. Give me your hand, and let this kindly grasp
Live in our memories.
In mine it will.
I blush to think of my unchasten’d tongue;
But I was haunted by the monstrous ghost
Of all our slain battalions. Sire, reflect,
And pardon you will grant, that, at this hour,
The bruised remnants of our stricken camp
Are huddling undistinguished, my dear friends,
With common thousands, into shallow graves.
Otho. Enough, most noble Gersa. You are free
To cheer the brave remainder of your host
By your own healing presence, and that too,
Not as their leader merely, but their king ;
For, as I hear, the wily enemy,
Who eas'd the crownet from your infant brows,
Bloody Taraxa, is among the dead.
Gersa. Then I retire, so generous Otho please,
Bearing with me a weight of benefits
Too heavy to be borne.
It is not so ;
Still understand me, King of Hungary,
Nor judge my open purposes awry.
Though I did hold you high in my esteem
For your self's sake, I do not personate
The stage-play emperor to entrap applause,
To set the silly sort o' the world agape,
And make the politic smile; no, I have heard
How in the Council you condemn'd this war,
Urging the perfidy of broken faith,-
For that I am your friend.
If ever, sire,
You are my enemy, I dare here swear
'Twill not be Gersa's fault. Otho, farewell!
Otho. Will you return, Prince, to our banqueting ?
Gersa. As to my father's board I will return.
Otho. Conrad, with all due ceremony, give
The prince a regal escort to his camp;
Albert, go thou and bear him company.
Gersa, farewell !
All happiness attend you !
Otho. Return with what good speed you may; for soon
We must consult upon our terms of peace.
[Exeunt GERSA and ALBERT with others. And thus a marble column do I build To prop my empire's dome. Conrad, in thee I have another steadfast one, to uphold The portals of my state ; and, for my own Pre-eminence and safety, I will strive To keep thy strength upon its pedestal. For, without thee, this day I might have been A show-monster about the streets of Prague, In ch. ins, as just now stood that noble prince : And then to me no mercy had been shown, For when the conquer'd lion is once dungeoned, Who lets him forth again? or dares to give An old lion sugar-cakes of mild reprieve ?
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!
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. Oiho. 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 pr’ythee 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,