Page images
PDF
EPUB

Mar. And now I die in thy service.

Mar. (looks wildly at him.) In the chapel at EbersGeo. Thou mayst recover.

dorf, or buried in the hemlock marsh. Mar. I cannot. By my long service-by my scars Wic. The old grumbler is crazy with his wounds. -by this mortal gash, and by the death that I am to Martin, if thou hast a spark of reason in thee, give die-oh, do not hate me for what I am now to unfold! me thy sword.

The day goes sore against us. Geo. Be assured I can never hate thee.

Mar. There it lies. Bury it in the heart of thy Mar. Ah! thou little knowest-Swear to me master George ; thou wilt do him a good office—the thou wilt speak a word of comfort to my parting soul. office of a faithful servant.

Geo. (takes his hand.) I swear I will. (Alarm and shouting.) But be brief—thou knowest my baste.

Enter CONRAD. Mar. Hear me, then. I was the squire, the be

Con. Away, Wickerd! to horse, and pursue! Baloved and favourite attendant, of Arnolf of Ebers.

ron George has turned the day; he fights more like a dorf. Arnolf was savage as the mountain bear. He

fiend than a man: he has unhorsed Roderic, and slain loved the Lady Isabel, but she requited not his pas

six of his troopers—they are in headlong flight—the sion. She loved thy father; but her sire, old Arn

hemlock marsh is red with their gore! (MARTIN heim, was the friend of Arnolf, and she was forced to marry him. By midnight, in the chapel at Ebers- gives a deep groan, and faints.) Away! away! (They dorf, the ill-omened rites were performed; her resis- hurry off, as to the pursuit.) tance, her screams were in vain. These arms de

Enter RODERIC OF MALTINGEN, without his helmet, his tained her at the altar till the nuptial benediction was

arms disordered and broken, holding the truncheon of pronounced. Canst thou forgive me?

a spear in his hand; with him, BARON WOLFSTEIN. Geo. I do forgive thee. Thy obedience to thy savage master has been obliterated by a long train of Rod. A curse on fortune, and a double curse upon services to his widow.

George of Aspen! Never, never will I forgive him Mar. Services ? ay bloody services ! for they com my disgrace-overthrown like a rotten trunk before a menced—do not quit my hand—they commenced with whirlwind ! the murder of my master! (GEORGE quits his hand, Wolf. Be comforted, Count Roderic; it is well we and stands aghast in speechless horror.) Trample on have escaped being prisoners. See how the troopers me! pursue me with your dagger! I aided your mo of Aspen pour along the plain, like the billows of the ther to poison her first husband! I thank Heaven, | Rhine! It is good we are shrouded by the thicket. it is said.

Rod. Why took he not my life, when he robbed Geo. My mother? Sacred Heaven! Martin, thou me of my honour and of my love? Why did his spear ravest—the fever of thy wound has distracted thee. not pierce my heart, when mine shivered on his arms

Mar. No! I am not mad! Would to God I were! | like a frail bulrush ? (Throws down the broken spear.) Try me! Yonder is the Wolfshill-yonder the old Bear witness, Heaven and earth, I outlive this discastle of Griefenhaus—and yonder is the hemlock grace only to avenge! marsh (in a whisper) where I gathered the deadly Wolf. Be comforted; the knights of Aspen have plant that drugged Arnolf's cup of death. (GEORGE not gained a bloodless victory. And see, there lies traverses the stage in the utmost agitation, and some one of George's followers-(seeing MARTIN). limes stands over MARTIN with his hands clasped 10 Rod. His squire Martin ; if he be not dead, we will gether.) Oh, had you seen him when the potion took secure him: he is the depositary of the secrets of his effect! Had you heard his ravings, and seen the master. Arouse thee, trusty follower of the house of contortions of his ghastly visage !-He died furious Aspen ! and impenitent, as he lived; and went—where I am Mar. (reviving.) Leave me not! leave me not, shortly to go. You do not speak?

Baron George! my eyes are darkened with agony! I Geo. (with exertion.) Miserable wretch! how can I have not yet told all. Mar. Can you not forgive me?

Wolf. The old man takes you for his master. Geo. May God pardon thee- I cannot !

Rod. What wouldst thou tell ? Mar. I saved thy life-

Mar. Oh, I would tell all the temptations by which Geo. For that, take my curse! (He snatches up I was urged to the murder of Ebersdorf ! his batlle-are, and rushes out to the side from which Rod. Murder!-this is worth marking. Proceed. the noise is heard.)

Mar. I loved a maiden, daughter of Arnolf's steward; Mar. Hear me! yet more—more horror! (Al- my master seduced her—she became an outcast, and tempts to rise, and falls heavily. A loud alarm.)

died in misery-I vowed vengeance—and I did avenge

her. Enter WICKERD, hastily.

Rod. Hadst thou accomplices ?

Mar. None, but thy mother. Wic. In the name of God, Mariin, lend me thy Rod. The Lady Isabella ! brand !

Mar. Ay: she hated her husband : he knew her Mar. Take it.

love to Rudiger, and when she heard that thy father Wic. Where is it?

was returned from Palestine, her life was endan

measures.

SCENE II.

gered by the transports of his jealousy—thus pre- the murderous dam of this brood of wolves; far less pared for evil, the fiend tempted us, and we fell. can she wed the smooth-cheeked boy, when this scene

Rod. (breaks into a transport.) Fortune! thou hast of villany shall be disclosed. repaid me all! Love and vengeance are my own !-

(Bugle. Wolfstein, recall our followers! quick, sound thy Wolf. Hark! they sound a retreat : let us go deeper bugle-(WOLFSTEIN sounds.)

into the wood. Mar. (slares wildly round.) That was no note of Rod. The victors approach! I shall dash their Aspen-Count Roderic of Maltingen-Heaven! what triumph!- Issue the private summons for convoking have I said !

the members this very evening; I will direct the other Rod. What thou canst not recall.

Mar. Then is my fate decreed ! 'Tis as it should Wolf. What place ? be! in this very place was the poison gather'd—'tis

Rod. The old chapel in the ruins of Griefenhaus, retribution !

as usual.

(Exeunt. Enter three or four soldiers of RODERIC. Rod. Securethis wounded trooper; bind his wounds, and guard him well : carry bim to the ruins of Grief

Enter GEORGE OF ASPEN, as from the pursuit. enhaus, and conceal him till the troopers of Aspen have retired from the pursuit ;-look to him, as you Geo. (comes slowly forward.) How many wretches love your lives.

have sunk under my arm this day, to whom life was Mar. (led off by soldiers.) Ministers of vengeance! sweet, though the wretched bondsmen of Count Romy hour is come!

deric! And 1-1 who sought death beneath every

[Exeunt. lifted battle-axe, and offered my breast to every arrow Rod. Hope, joy, and triumph, once again are ye -I am cursed with victory and safety. Here I left mine! Welcome to my heart, long-absent visitants ! the wretch--Martin !-Martin !- what, ho! MarOne lucky chance has thrown dominion into the scale tin-Mother of God! he is gone! Should be reof the house of Maltingen, and Aspen kicks the beam. peat the dreadful tale to any other—Martin !-He

Wolf. I foresee, indeed, dishonour to the family answers not. Perhaps he has crept into the thicket, of Aspen, should this wounded squire make good his and died there-were it so, the horrible secret is only tale.

mine. Rod. And how thinkest thou this disgrace will fall

Enter HENRY OF ASPEN, with WICKERD, REYNOLD, on them ?

and followers. Wolf. Surely, by the public punishment of Lady Isabella.

Hen. Joy to thee, brother! though by St. Francis, Rod. And is that all ?

I would not gain another field at the price of seeing Wolf. What more?

thee fight with such reckless desperation. Thy safety Rod. Shortsighted that thou art, is not George of is little less than miraculous. Aspen, as well as thou, a member of the holy and in Rey. By'r Lady, when Baron George struck, I visible circle, over which I preside ?

think he must have forgot that his foes were God's Wolf. Speak lower, for God's sake! these are creatures. Such furious doings I never saw, and I things not to be mentioned before the sun.

have been a trooper these forty-two years come St. Rod. True : but stands he not bound by the most Barnabysolemn oath religion can devise, to discover to the Geo, Peace! Saw any

of
you

Martin? tribunal whatever concealed iniquity shall come to Wic. Noble sir, I left him here not long since. bis knowledge, be the perpetrator whom he may Geo. Alive, or dead? ay, were that perpetrator his own father-or mo Wic. Alive, noble sir, but sorely wounded. I think

and can you doubt that he has heard Martin's | he must be prisoner, for he could not have budged confession?

else from hence. Wolf. True: but, blessed Virgin! do you think he Geo. Heedless slave! Why didst thou leave him? willaccuse his own mother before the invisible judges?

Rod. If not, he becomes forsworn, and, by our he came to our assistance and the aid of his comlaw, must die. Either way my vengeance is com- panions. plete-perjured or parricide, I care not; but, as the Geo. I tell thee, Henry, Martin's safety was of one or the other shall I crush the haughty George of more importance than the lives of any ten that stand Aspen.

here. Wolf. Thy vengeance strikes deep.

Wic. (muttering.) Here's much to do about an old Rod. Deep as the wounds I have borne from this crazy trencher-shifter. proud family. Rudiger slew my father in battle Geo. What mutterest thou ? George has twice baffled and dishonoured my arms, Wic. Only, sir knight, that Martin seemed out of and Henry has stolen the heart of my beloved : but his senses when I left him, and has perhaps wanno longer can Gertrude now remain under the care of dered into the marsh, and perished there.

ther;

. , :

Geo. How-out of his senses? Did be speak to

Roderic's power scorning, thee?-apprehensively.)

Well for their chieftain their blades did they wield :

Joy blest them dying, Wic. Yes, noble sir.

As Maltingen llying, Geo. Dear Henry, step for an instant to yon tree Low laid his banners, our conquest adorning, thou wilt see from thence if the foe rally upon the Their death-clouded eyeballs descried on the field! Wolfsbill. (HENRY retires.) And do you stand back Now to our home, the proud mansion of Aspen, (to the soldiers).

Bend we, gay victors, triumphant away ; (He brings WICKERD forward.

There each fond damsel, her gallant youth clasping.

Shall wipe from his forehead the stains of the fray. Geo. (with marked apprehension.) What did Martin

Listening the prancing say to thee, Wickerd ?—tell me, on thy allegiance.

of horses advancing; Wic. Mere ravings, sir knight-offered me bis E'cn now on the turrets our maidens appear. sword to kill you.

Love our hearts warning,

Songs the night charming, Geo. Said he aught of killing any one else?

Round goes the grape in the goblet gay dancing; Wic. No: the pain of his wound seemed to have

Love, wine, and song, our blithe evening shall cheer! brought on a fever. Geo. (clasps his hands together.) I breathe again

Hen. Now spread our banners, and to Ebersdorf I spy comfort. Why could I not see as well as this in triumph. We carry relief to the anxious, joy to

the heart of the aged, brother George. (Going off fellow, that the wounded wretch may have been distracted ? Let me at least think so till proof shall

Geo. Or treble misery and death. show the truth (aside). Wickerd, think not on what

(Apart, and following slowly. I said- the heat of the battle had chafed my blood. The music sounds, and the followers of Aspen begin to Thou hast wished for the Netber farm at Ebersdorf

file across the stage. The curtain falls.
-it shall be thine.
Wic. Thanks, my noble lord.

ACT III.
Re-enter HENRY.

SCENB I.
Hen. No--they do not rally-they have had enough

castle of Ebersdorf. of it-but Wickerd and Conrad shall remain, with

RUDIGER, ISABELLA, and GERTRUDE. twenty troopers and a score of crossbowmen, and scour the woods towards Griefenhaus, to prevent the Rud. I prithee, dear wife, be merry. It must be fugitives from making head. We will, with the rest, over by this time, and happily, otherwise the bad to Ebersdorf. What say you, brother?

news had reached us. Geo. Well ordered. Wickerd, look thou search

Isa. Should we not, then, have heard the tidings everywhere for Martin: bring him to me dead or alive; of the good ? leave not a nook of the wood unsought.

Rud. Oh! these fly slower by balf. Besides, I Wic. I warrant you, noble sir, I shall find him, warrant all of them engaged in the pursuit. Oh! not could he clew himself up like a dormouse.

a page would leave the skirts of the fugitives till they Hen. I think he must be prisoner.

were fairly beaten into their holds; but had the boys Geo. Heaven forefend! Take a trumpet, Eustace | lost the day, the stragglers had made for the castle. (to an attendant); ride to the castle of Maltingen, Go to the window, Gertrude : seest thou any thing ? and demand a parley. If Martin is prisoner, offer

Ger. I think I see horseman, any ransom : offer ten-twenty-all our prisoners in Isa. A single rider ? then I fear me much. exchange.

Ger. It is only Father Ludovic. Eus. It shall be done, sir knight.

Rud. A plague on thee! didst thou take a fat friar Hen. Ere we go, sound trumpets-strike up the on a mule for a trooper of the house of Aspen ? song of victory.

Ger. But yonder is a great cloud of dust.
Rud. (eagerly.) Indeed!

Ger. It is only the wine sledges going to my aunt's
Joy to the victors ! the sons of old Aspen!

convent.
Joy to the race of the battle and scar!
Glory's proud garland triumphantly grasping;

Rud. The devil confound the wine sledges, and the
Generous in peace, and victorious in war.

mules, and the monks! Come from the window, and Honour acquiring,

torment me no longer, thou seer of strange sights. Valour inspiring,

Ger. Dear uncle, what can I do to amuse you ?
Bursting, resistless, through foemen they go :
War-axes wielding,

Shall I tell you what I dreamed this morning ?
Broken ranks yielding,

Rud. Nonsense : but say on; any thing is better
Till from the baltie proud Roderic retiring,

than silence. Yields ju wild rout the fair palm to his foe.

Ger. I thought I was in the chapel, and they were Joy lo each warrior, true follower of Aspen!

burying my aunt Isabella alive. And who, do you Joy to the heroes that gaind the bold day! Health to our wounded, in agony gasping:

think, aunt, were the gravediggers who shovelled in the Peace to our brethren that fell in the fray!

earth upon you? Even Baron George and old Martin. Boldly this morning,

Isa. (appears shocked.) Heaven! what an idea !

SONG,

SONG.:

Ger. Do but think of my terror—and Minhold the brace ! Bless thee, my Henry; where bast thou left minstrel played all the wbile to drown your screams. thy brother ?

Rud. And old Father Ludovic danced a saraband, Hen. Hard at hand: by this he is crossing the with the steeple of the new convent upon his thick skull drawbridge. Hast thou no greetings for me, Gerby way of mitre. A truce to this nonsense. Give us trude? (Goes to her.) a song, my love, and leave thy dreams and visions. Ger. I joy not in battles. Ger. What shall I sing to you?

Rud. But she had tears for thy danger. Rud. Sing to me of war.

Hen. Thanks, my gentle Gertrude. See, I have Ger. I cannot sing of battle; but I will sing you brought back thy scarf from no inglorious field. the Lament of Eleanor of Toro, when her lover was Ger. It is bloody!- (shocked.) slain in the wars.

Rud. Dost start at that, my girl ? Were it his Isa. Oh, no laments, Gertrude.

own blood as it is that of his foes, thou shouldst glory Rud. Then sing a song of mirth.

in it-Go, Reynold, make good cheer with thy felIsa. Dear husband, is this a time for mirth ?

lows. Rud. Is it neither a time to sing of mirth nor of

(Exit Reynold and soldiers.; sorrow? Isabella would rather hear Father Ludovic chant the “ De profundis.”

Enter GEORGE pensively. Ger. Dear uncle, be not angry. At present, 1 can

Gco. (goes straight to Rud.) Father, thy blessing. only sing the lay of poor Eleanor. It comes to my

Rud. Thou hast it, boy. heart at this moment as if the sorrowful mourned

Isa. (rushes to embrace him-he avoids her.) How ? had been my own sister.

art thou wounded ?

Geo. No.

Rud. Thou lookest deadly pale.
Sweet shone the sun on the fair lake of Toro,

Geo. It is nothing.
Weak were the whispers that waved the dark wood,
As a fair maiden, bewilder'd in sorrow,

Isa. Heaven's blessing on my gallant George. Sigh'd to the breezes and wept to the food.

Geo. (aside.) Dares she bestow a blessing ?-Oh, “ Saints, from the mansion of bliss lowly bending,

Martin's tale was frenzy! Virgin, that hear'sl the poor suppliant's cry,

Isa. Smile upon us for once, my son; darken not Grant my petition, in anguish ascending, My Frederick restore, or let Eleanor die."

thy brow on this day of gladness-few are our moDistant and faint were the sounds of the battle;

ments of joy-should not my sons share in them? With the breezes they rise, with the breezes they fail,

Geo. (aside. She has moments of joy-it was frenzy Till the shout, and the groan, and the conflict's dread rattle, then. And the chase's wild clamour came loading the gale.

Isa. Gertrude, my love, assist me to disarm the Breathless she gazed through the woodland so dreary, Slowly approaching, a warrior was seen ;

knight—(She loosens and takes off his casque). Life's ebbing lide mark'd his footsteps so weary,

Ger. There is one, two, three hacks, and none has Cleft was his helmet, and woe was his mien.

pierced the steel. “Save thee, fair maid, for our armies are flying;

Rud. Let me see. Let me see. A trusty casque ! Save thee, fair maid, for thy guardian is low;

Ger. Else hadst thou gone. Cold on yon heath thy bold Frederick is lying,

Isa. I will reward the armourer with its weight Fast through the woodland approaches the foe."

in gold.
[The voice of GERTRUDE sinks by degrees,
till she bursts into tears.

Geo. (aside.) She must be innocent.
Rud. How now, Gertrude?

Ger. And Henry's shield is backed, too. Let me Ger. Alas! may not the fate of poor Eleanor at this show it to you, uncle.—(She carries Henry's to Rumoment be mine?

diger.) Rud. Never, my girl, never-(Military music is

Rud. Do my love—and come hither, Henry, thou heard)-Hark! bark! to the sounds that tell thee so. shalt tell me how the day went. [All rise and run to the window.

(HENRY and GERTRUDE converse apart with Rud. Joy ! joy! they come, and come victorious. (The

RUDIGER. GEORGE comes forward. ISABELLA chorus of the war-song is heard without). Welcome!

comes to him. welcome! once more have my old eyes seen the banners Isa. Surely, George, some evil has befallen thee. of the house of Maltingen trampled in the dust-Isa- Grave thou art ever, but so dreadfully gloomybella, broach our oldest casks : wine is sweet after war. Geo. Evil, indeed.-(Aside.) Now for the trial.

Isa. Has your loss been great ? Enter Henry, followed by REYNOLD and troopers.

Geo. No!-Yes !—(Apart.) I cannot do it. Rud. Joy, to thee, my boy: let me press thee to this Isa. Perhaps some friend lost? old heart.

Geo. It must be.—Martin is dead.—(He regards Isa. Bless thee, my son-embraces him)-Oh, how her with apprehension, but steadily, as he pronounces many hours of bilterness are compensated by this em these words.)

[blocks in formation]

say dead ?

Isa. (starts, then shows a ghastly expression of joy.) Geo. What Martin said ? (Isa. hides her face.) It is Dead !

true! Geo. (almost overcome by his feelings.) Guilty ! Isa. (looks up with an air of dignity.) Hear, FraGuilty !-(apart.)

mer of the laws of nature! the mother is judged by Isa. (without observing his emotion.) Didst thou the child—(Turn towards him.) Yes, it is true-true

that, fearful of my own life, I secured it by the murder Geo. Did I-no-I only said mortally wounded. of my tyrant. Mistaken coward ! I little knew on

Isa. Wounded ? only wounded ? Where is he? Let what terrors I ran, to avoid one moment's agony.me fly to him.—(Going.)

Thou hast the secret ! Geo. (sternly.) Hold, lady!-Speak not so loud ! Geo. Knowest thou to whom thou hast told it? Thou canst not see him! He is a prisoner.

Isa. To my son. Isa. A prisoner, and wounded ? Fly to his deliver Geo. No! No! to an executioner. ance !--Offer wealth, lands, castles,-all our posses Isa. Be it so-go, proclaim my crime, and forget sions, for his ransom. Never shall I know peace till not my punishment. Forget not that the murderess these walls, or till the grave secures him.

of her husband has dragged out years of hidden reGeo. (apart.) Guilty! Guilty !

morse, to be brought at last to the scaffold by her

own cherished son-thou art silent. Enter PETER.

Geo. The language of Nature is no more! How Peler. Hugo, squire to the Count of Maltingen, has shall I learn another ? arrived with a message.

Isa. Look upon me, George. Should the execuRud. I will receive him in the hall.

tioner be abashed before the criminal-look upon me, [Erit, leaning on GERTRUDE and Henry. my son. From my soul do I forgive thee. Isa. Go, George-see after Martin.

Geo. Forgive me what ? Geo. (firnily.) No-I have a task to perform; and Isa. What thou dost meditate—be vengeance heavy, though the earth should open and devour me alive, but let it be secret-add not the death of a father to I will accomplish it. But first—but first-Nature, that of the sinner! Oh! Rudiger! Rudiger! innocent take thy tribute.—(He falls on his mother's neck, and cause of all my guilt and all my wo, how wilt thou wceps billerly.)

tear thy silver locks when thou shalt hear her guilt Isa. George! my son! for Heaven's sake what whom thou hast so often clasped to thy bosom-hear dreadful frenzy !

her infamy proclaimed by the son of thy fondest Geo. (across stage and composes hopes—(weeps).

Hungary, gallant in battle, hospitable and generous in ance : mother, dearest mother, I will save you or peace. The king gave him his friendship, and the perish! (throws himself into her arms.) Thus fall my administration of a province; that province was infested by thieves and murderers. You mark me ? Isa. Man thyself! I ask not safety from thee. Never Isa. Most heedfully.

shall it be said, that Isabella of Aspen turned her son Geo. The knight was sworn-bound by an oath from the path of duty, though his footsteps must pass the most dreadful that can be taken by man—to deal over her mangled corpse. Man thyself. among offenders, evenbanded, stern, and imparti al Geo. No! No! The ties of Nature were knit by justice. Was it not a dreadful vow ?

God himself. Cursed be the stoic pride that would Isa. (with an affection of composure.) Solemn, rend them asunder, and call it virtue ! doubtless, as the oath of every magistrate.

Isa. My son! My son !-How shall I bchold thee Geo. And inviolable ?

hereafter ? Isa. Surely-inviolable.

[Three knocks are heard upon the Geo. Well! it happened, that when he rode out

door of the apartment. against the banditti, he made a prisoner. And who, Geo. Hark! One-two-three. Roderic, thou art think you, that prisoner was?

speedy! (Apart.) Isa. I know not (with increasing terror).

Isa. (opens the door.) A parchment stuck to the door Geo. (trembling, but proceeding rapidly.) His own with a poniard ! (Opens il.) Ileaven and earth !-a twin brother, who sucked the same breasts with him, summons from the invisible judges !-(Drops the and lay in the bosom of the same mother; his brother parchment.) whom he loved as his own soul-what should that Geo. (reads with emotion.) “ Isabella of Aspen, acknight have done unto his brother?

cused of murder by poison, we conjure thce, by the Isa. (almost speechless.) Alas! what did he do ? cord and by the steel, to appear this night before the

Geo. He did (lurning his head from her, and with avengers of blood, who judge in secret and avenge in clasped hands) what I can never do :-he did his duty. secret, like the Deity. As thou art innocent or guilty,

Isa. My son! my son !- Mercy! Mercy! (Clings to so be thy deliverance." - Martin, Martin, thou hast him.)

played false! Geo. Is it then true ?

Isa. Alas! whither shall sly? Isa. What ?

Geo. Thou canst not fly; instant death would fol

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »