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Proc. (After a pause.) Thou hast a brow
Clear as the day—and yet I doubt thee, Raimond!
I doubt thee!-See thou waver not take heed!
Time lifts the veil from all things! (Exit.)
Rai. Oh! bitter day,
When, at the crushing of our glorious world,
We start and find men thus !-Yet be it so!
Is not my soul still powerful, in itself
To realize its dreams ?-Aye, shrinking not
From the pure eye of heaven, my brow may well
Undaunted meet my father's.—But away!
:-Holcraft. Mordent. We are now in private. Lenox. I am glad we are.
Mor. And now, sir, 1 insist on a clear and explicit answer. Where may I find Joanna?
Len. Nay, sir, where may I find Joanna ?
Mor. Mr. Lenox, I will not be trisled with ; where is she?
Len. Nor will I be trifled with, Mr. Mordent: I say where is she? The contrivance was your own.
The moment you set your eyes on her, you began your treacherous plots to secure her affections; and, when you found I would not resign mine at your persuasion, you put them in practice, while you treacherously pretended to secure her to me. I tell you, I know you.
Mor. This will not serve, sir; it is all evasion.
Len. Ay, sir, it is evasion! cunning, cruel, base evasion! and I affirm she is in your possession.
Mor. Mr. Lenox, I am at this moment a determined and desperate man, and must be answered. Where is she? Len. Sir, I am as determined and desperate as yourself
, and I say where is she? For
alone can tell.
Mor. "Tis false!
Len. False ?
Mor. Ay, false!
Len. (Going up to him.) He is the falsest of the false that dares whisper such a word.
Mor. Hark ye, sir! I understand your meaning, and came purposely provided. (Draws a pair of pistols.) Take your choice; they are loaded.
Len. Oh! with all my heart! Come, sir !
Mor. (Approaching sternly.) Nigher !
Len. Às migh as you please.
Mor. (Placing himself) Foot to foot!
Len. (Both presenting.) Muzzle to muzzle !
Mor. Why don't you fire ?
Len. Why don't you unlock your pistol ?
Mor. (After unlocking it.) There
Len. Why do you turn it out of the line? (Pause.) I see your intention. Mordent, you are tired of life and want me to murder you. Hang it, man, that is not treating your friend like a friend. Kill me if you will, but don't make me your assassin.
Mor. Nay, kill me, or tell me where I may find the wretched Joanna.
Len. Fiends seize me, if I can tell you! I know not where, or what is become of her.
Mor. Your behavior tells me you are sincere; and to convince you at once that I am no less so, know—she is my daughter.
Len. Your daughter !—I'll seek the world through with you to find her. Forgive me !
Mor. Would I could forgive myself!
Len. But it seems, then, she has escaped, and is perhaps in safety.
Mor. Oh! that she were! Let us retire.
Alberto. Enter and fear not, trembler. Thou shalt live. Theodore. Ay, that I feared.
Alb. Dost hear me, boy? I say,
That thou shalt live.
Theo. I feared so.
Alb. Wouldst thou die ?
Theo. If it pleased heaven, most willingly. I know
That I'm a prisoner. I shall never walk
In the sun's blessed light, or feel the touch
Of the fresh air, or hear the summer brook
All idly babbling to the moon, or taste
The morning breath of flowers. The thousand charms
Which make in our Sicilian isle mere life
A thrilling pleasantness, which send a glow
Through the poorest serf that tills the happy soil
I am shut out froin all. This is
Uncle, be merciful! I do not ask
My throne again. Reign! Reign! I have forgot
That I was once a king. But let me bide
In some woodland cottage, where green leaves
May wave around me, and cool breezes kiss
My brow. Keep me not in a dungeon, uncle,
Of this dark gloomy chamber. Let me dwell
In some wild forest. I'll not breathe a word
That might be dangerous. No! not to the birds,
My songsters, or the fawns, my playmates, uncle.
Thou ne'er shalt hear of me again.
Alb. Boy! boy!
Cling not about me thus.
Theo. Thou wilt have mercy;
Thy heart is softening.
Alb. "Tis too late. To reign,
And he at liberty! I am a child
Myself, that, won by this child's gentleness,
I seemed to waver.
Boy, thy fate is fixed !
Thyself hast said it. Thou’rt a prisoner,
And for thy whole life long; a caged bird.
Be wiser than the feathered fool that beats
His wings against the wire. Thou shalt have all
Thy heart can ask, save freedom, and that never !
I tell thee so in love, and not in hate;
For I would root out hope and fear, and plant
Patience in thy young soul.
Rest thee content. No harm shall happen thee.
Theo. Content! Oh mockery of grief! content !
Was't not enough to take away my crown,
To mew me up here in a living tomb,
Cut off from human ties; but my jailer
Must bid me be content! Would I were dead!
Forgive me, heaven, for my impatience!
I will take better thoughts. 'Tis but to fancy
This room a quiet hermitage, and pray
As hermits use through the long silent hours.
I shall be innocent. Sure he's a friend
That shuts me out from sin. Did he not call me
A caged bird ? . I've seen one prune himself,
And hop from perch to perch, and chirp and sing
Merrily! Happy fool, it had forgot
Blithe liberty! But man, though he should drag
A captive's heavy chain, even till he starts
To hear his own sad voice, cannot forget
He wants that blessed gift.
Athelwold. Banish me! No. I'll die. For why should life
Remain a lonely lodger in that breast
Which honor leaves deserted ? Idle breath!
Thou canst not fill such vacancy. Begone.
This sword shall free-
Pilgrim. Oh shame to fortitude!
Shame to that manly passion, which inspires
Its vigorous warmth, when the bleak blasts of fate
Would chill the soul. Oh call fair ready virtue
Quick to thy aid, for she is ever near thee;
Is ever prompt to shed her sevenfold shield
O’er noble breasts.
Athel. And but o'er noble breasts;
Not o'er the breast which livid infamy
Indelibly hath spotted. Oh shame, shame!
Sword, rid me of the thought.
Pil. Forbear, forbear;
Think what a sea of deep perdition whelms
The wretch's trembling soul, who lanches forth
Unlicensed to eternity. Think, think ;
And let the thought restrain thine impious hand.
The race of man is one vast marshaled army,
Summoned to pass the spacious realms of time,
Their leader the Almighty. In that march—
Ah! who may quit his post ? when high in air
The chosen archangel rides, whose right hand wields
The imperial standard of heaven's providence,
Which, dreadly sweeping through the vaulted sky,
O'ershadows all creation.
Athel. I was once-
Yes, I was once, I have his royal word for it,
A man of such tried faith, such steady honor,
As mocked all doubt and scruple.—What a change!
Now must that unstained, virgin character,
Be doomed to gross and hourly prostitution,
Sating the lust of slander; and my wife,
My chaste Elfrida! Oh distraction, no.
I'll fly to save her.
Edwin. Stay, my dearest master;
You rush on instant death.
Athel. I mean it, slave, And wouldst thou hinder me?
Ed. Yes, sir, I hold
'Tis duty to my king, and love to you,
Thus to oppose your entrance.
Athel. What! thou traitor!-
Thy pardon, Edwin, I forgot myself ;
Forgot, that I stood here a banished man;
And that this gate was shut against its master.
Oh earth, cold earth,
Upon whose breast I cast this load of misery,
Bear it awhile ; and you, ye aged oaks,
Ye venerable fathers of this wood,
Who oft have cooled beneath your arching shades
My humble ancestors ; oft seen them hie
To your spread umbrage, from yon sultry field,
Their scene of honest labor ; shade, ah! shade
The last, the wretchedest of all their race.
I will not long pollute ye; for I mean
To pay beneath your consecrated gloom
A sacrifice to honor, and the ghosts
Of those progenitors, who sternly frown
On me, their base descendant.
Ed. See, thou Pilgrim,
How horror shades his brow; how fixed his eye;
Heavens! what despair.
Pil. Edwin, 'tis over thus
With noble minds, chance they slide to folly;
Remorse stings deeper and relentless conscience
Pours more of gall into the bitter cup
Of their severe repentance.
SELECTION IX. CASWALLON-FITZ-EDWARD.-Walker. Caswallon. Off.— I have strength in this unwearied arm(Recognizing his son.). Ha! is it thou?
Fitz-Edward. Turn not away. One word Upon my knees I beg it.