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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. G O ! monstrous !
Sigifred. What is this?
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.
[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 adoration, and my foolish tongue
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 to-morrow I should die, Wert thou not mine.
[They talk apari. 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,
Conrad. 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 bestLudolph. I want no more! 1st Lady.
He soars ! 2nd Lady
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.
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 ?
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?
You, Duke ?
Albert has surely fail'd me!
Look at the Emperor's brow upon me bent !
Ethelbert. A sad delay!
Away, thou guilty thing!
Ethelbert. You again, Duke ? Justice, most noble Otho!
You-go to your sister there and plot again,
A quick plot, swift as thought to save your heads;
For lo! the toils are spread around your den,
* The world is all agape to see dragg’d forth
Two ugly monsters.
What means he, my lord ?
Conrad. I cannot guess.
Best ask your lady sister,
Whether the riddle puzzles her beyond
The power of utterance.
Foul barbarian, cease;
The Princess faints!
Ludolph. Stab him! O, sweetest wife!
[Attendants bear of AURANTHE.
Ethelbert. Your wife!
Ay, Satan! does that yerk ye ?
Ethelbert. Wife! so soon!
Ay, wife! Oh, impudence!
Thou bitter mischief! Venomous bad priest !
How dar'st thou lift those beetle brows at me?
Methe prince Ludolph, in this presence here,
Upon my marriage day, and scandalize
My joys with such opprobrious surprise ?
Wife! Why dost linger on that syllable,
As if it were some demon's name pronounc'd
To summon harmful lightning, and make yawn
The sleepy thunder ? Hast no sense of fear?
No ounce of man in thy mortality ?
Tremble! for, at my nod, the sharpen'd axe
Will make thy bold tongue quiver to the roots,
Those gray lids wink, and thou not know it, monk !
Ethelbert. O, poor deceived Prince ! I pity thee!
Great Otho! I claim justice-
Thou shalt have 't!
Thine arms from forth a pulpit of hot fire
Shall sprawl distracted! O that that dull cow!
Were some most sensitive portion of thy life,
That I might give it to my hounds to tear!
Thy girdle some fine zealous-pained nerve
To girth my saddle! And those devil's beads
Each one a life, that I might, every day,
Crush one with Vulcan's hammer!
Peace, my son ;
You far outstrip my spleen in this affair.
Let us be calm, and hear the abbot's plea
For this intrusion.
Ludolph. I am silent, sire.
Otho. Conrad, see all depart not wanted here.
[Exeunt, Knights, Ladies, doc.
Ludolph, be calm. Ethelbert, peace awhile.
This mystery demands an audience
Of a just judge, and that will Otho be.
Ludolph. Why has he time to breathe another word ?
Otho. Ludolph, old Ethelbert, be sure, comes not
To beard us for no cause; he's not the man
To cry himself up an ambassador
Ludolph. I'll chain up myself.
Otho. Old abbot, stand here forth. Lady Erminia,
Sit. And now, abbot ! what have you to say ?
Our ear is open. First we here denounce
Hard penalties against thee, if 't be found
The cause for which you have disturb’d us here,
Making our bright hours muddy, be a thing
Of little moment.
Ethelbert. See this innocent !
Otho ! thou father of the people call’d,
Is her life nothing ? Her fair honor nothing?
Her tears from matins until even-song
Nothing ? Her burst heart nothing ? Emperor !
Is this your gentle niece—the simplest flower
Of the world's herbal—this fair lily blanch'd
Still with the dews of piety, this meek lady
Here sitting like an angel newly-shent,