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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 toppress
An innocent lady, gull an Emperor,
More generous to me than autumn-sunny
To ripening harvests.
No more insult, sir. .. lamenta
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. The
To-morrow, when the Emperor sends
For loving Conrad, see you fawn on him.
Auranthe. You'll be seen!
See the coast olear 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 ? so— Gersa.
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 ?
If I break not
Too much upon your thoughtful mood, I will
Claim a brief while your patience.
For what cause
Soe'er, I shall be honor'd.
I not less.
Ludolph. What may it be? No trifle can take place
Of such deliberate prologue, serious 'havior.
But, be it what it may, I cannot fail
To listen with no common interest ;
For tho' so new your presence is to me,
I have a soldier's friendship for your fame.
Please you explain.
As thus :—for, pardon me,
I cannot, in plain terms, grossly assault
A noble nature; and would faintly sketch
What your quick apprehension will fill up;
So finely I esteem you.
Gersa. Your generous father, most illustrious Otho,
Sits in the banquet-room among his chiefs ;
His wine is bitter, for you are not there;
His eyes are fix'd still on the open doors,
And ev'ry passer in he frowns upon,
Seeing no Ludolph comes.
I do neglect.
Gersa. And for your absence may I guess the cause ?
Ludolph. Stay there! No-guess ? More princely you
Than to make guesses at me. 'Tis enough.
I'm sorry I can hear no more.
As grieved to force it on you so abrupt;
Yet, one day, you must know a grief, whose sting
Will sharpen more the longer 'tis conceal’d.
Ludolph. Say it at once, sir! dead-dead—is she dead ? •
Gersa. Mine is a cruel task : she is not dead,
And would, for your sake, she were innocent.
Ludolph. Hungarian! Thou amazest me beyond
All scope of thought, convulsest my heart's blood
To deadly churning! Gersa, you are young,
As I am ; let me observe you, face to face :
Not gray-brow'd like the poisonous Ethelbert,
No rheumed eyes, no furrowing of age,
No wrinkles, where all vices nestle in
Like crannied vermin—no! but fresh and young,
And hopeful featured. Ha! by Heaven you weep!
Tears, human tears! Do you repent you then
Of a curs’d torturer's office? Why shouldst join-
Tell me—the league of devils ? Confess-confess
Gersa. Lie!—but begone all ceremonious points
Of honor battailous! I could not turn
My wrath against thee for the orbed world.
Ludolph. Your wrath, weak boy ? Tremble at mine, unless
Retraction follow close upon the heels
Of that late stounding insult! Why has my sword
Not done already a sheer judgment on thee ?
Despair, or eat ihy words! Why, thou wast nigh
Whimpering away my reason! Hark ’e, sir,
It is no secret, that Erminia,
Erminia, sir, was hidden in your tent,-
O bless'd asylum! Comfortable home!
Begone! I pity thee; thou art a gull,
Erminia's last new puppet !
Furious fire !
Thou mak'st me boil as hot as thou canst flame!
And in thy teeth I give thee back the lie!
Thou liest! Thou, Auranthe's fool! A wittol !
Ludolph. Look! look at this bright sword :
There is no part of it, to the very hilt,
But shall indulge itself about thine heart !
Draw! but remember thou must cower thy plumes,
As yesterday the Arab made thee stoop.
Gersa. Patience ! Not here; I would not spill thy blood
Here, underneath this roof where Otho breathes,-
Thy, father,-almost mine.