Page images
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

hours thy Henry shall return, and twine hış laurels to me, and I will build thee an abbey which shall into a garland for thy hair. He fights for thee, and put to shame the fairest fane in Christendom. he must conquer.

Lud. Nay, nay, daughter, your conscience is over Ger. Alas! must blood be spilled for a silly tender. Supposing that, under dread of the stern maiden ?

Arnolf, you swore never to marry your present husRud. Surely: for what should knights break band, still the exacting such an oath was unlawful, lances but for honour and ladies' love-ha, minstrel ? and the breach of it venial.

Ber. So please you-also to punish crimes. Isa. (Resuming her composure.) Be it so, good

Rud. Out upon it! wouldst have us executioners, father: I yield to ihy better reasons. And now tell minstrel ? Such work would disgrace our blades. me, has thy pious care achieved the task I intrusted We leave malefactors to the Secret Tribunal. to thee?

Isa. Merciful God! Thou hast spoken word, Lud. Of superintending the erection of thy new Rudiger, of dreadful import.

hospital for pilgrims? I have, noble lady: and last Ger. They say that, unknown and invisible them- night the minstrel now in the castle lodged there. selves, these awful judges are ever present with the Isa. Wherefore came he then to the castle? guilty; that the past and the present misdeeds, the Lud. Reynold brought the commands of the secrets of the confessional, nay, the very thoughts baron. of the heart, are before them : that their doom is as Isa. Whence comes he, and what is his tale? sure as that of fate, the means and executioners When he sung before Rudiger, I thought that long unknown.

before I had heard such tones-seen such a face. Rud. They say true-the secrets of that associa Lud. It is possible you may have seen him, lady, tion, and the names of those who compose it, are for he boasts to have been known to Arnolf of Ebersas inscrutable as the grave: we only know that it dorf, and to have lived formerly in this castle. He has taken deep root, and spread its branches wide. inquires much after Martin, Arnolf's squire.

I sit down each day in my hall, nor know I how Isa. Go, Ludovic-go quick, good father, seek him 3 many of these secret judges may surround me, all out, give him this purse, and bid him leave the cas

bound by the most solemn vow to avenge guilt. tle, and speed him on his way. Once, and but once, a knight, at the earnest request Lud. May I ask why, noble lady? and inquiries of the emperor, hinted that he belong Isa. Thou art inquisitive, priest: I honour the sered to the society : the next morning he was found vants of God, but i foster not the prying spirit of a slain in a forest : the poniard was left in the wound, Inonk. Begone! and bore this label --^ Thus do the invisible judges Lud. But the baron, lady, will expect a reason punish treachery."

why I dismiss his guest? Ger. Gracious! aunt, you grow pale.

Isa. True, true, (recolecting herself ;) pardon my 1:a. A slight indisposition only.

warmth, good father, I was thinking of the cuckoo Rud. And what of it all? We know our hearts that grows too big for the nest of the sparrow, and are open to our Creator: shall we fear any earthly strangles its foster-mother. Do no such birds roost mspection ? Come to the battlements; there we in convent walls? shall soonest descry the return of our warriors. Lud. Lady, I understand you not.

( Erit Rudiger, with GERTRUDE and Peter. Isa. Well then, say to the baron, that I have disIsa. Minstrel, send the chaplain hither. (Erit missed long ago all the attendants of the man of BERTRAM.) Gracious Heaven! the guileless inno- whom thou hast spoken, and that I wish to have cence of my niece, the manly honesty of my up none of them beneath my roof. nght-hearted Rudiger, become daily tortures to me. Lud. (inquisitively.) Except Martin ? While he was engaged in active and stormy exploits, Isa. (sharply.) Except Martin! who saved the life fear for his safety, joy when he returned to his case of my son George? Do as I command thee. (E.cit. tle, enabled me to disguise my in ward anguish from others. But from myself--Judges of blood, that lie

Manet LUDOVIC. concealed in noontide as in midnight, who boast to Lud. Ever the same-stern and peremptory to avenge the hidden guilt, and to penetrate the recesses others, as rigorous to herself; haughty even to me, of the human breast, how blind is your penetration, to whom, in another mood, she has knelt for absohow vain your dagger and your cord, compared to lution, and whose knees she has bathed in tears. I the conscience of the sinner!

cannot fathom her. The unnatural zeal with which

she performs her dreadful penances cannot be reliEnter Father Ludovic.

gion, for shrewdly I guess she believes not in their

blessed efficacy. Well for her that she is the founLud. Peace be with you, lady!

dress of our convent, otherwise we might not have Isa. It is not with me: it is thy office to bring it. erred in denouncing her as a heretic ! [Erit. Lud. And the cause is the absence of the young knights ? Isa. Their absence and their danger.

ACT II. Lud. Daughter, thy hand has been stretched out in bounty to the sick and to the needy. Thou hast not denied a shelter to the weary, nor a tear to the A woodland prospect.— Through a long avenue, afilicted. Trust in their prayers, and in those of the holy convent thou hast founded; peradventure they

half grown up by brambles, are discerned in the

back-ground the ruins of the ancient castle of will bring back thy children to thy bosom.

Griefenhaus.--The distant noise of battle is Isa. Thy brethren cannot pray for me or mine.

heard during this scene. Their vow binds them to pray night and day for another-to supplicate, without ceasing, the Eternal Enter George Of Aspen, armed with a battle-are

Mercy for the soul of one who-Oh, orly Heaven in his hand, as from horseback. He supports Et knows how much he needs their prayer!

Martin, and brings him forward. Lud. Unbounded is the mercy of Heaven. The Geo. Lay thee down here, old friend. The enesoul of thy former husband

my's horsemen will hardly take their way among Isa. I charge thee, priest, mention not the word. these brambles, through which I have dragged thee. (Apart.) Wreich that I am, the meanest menial in Mar. Oh, do not leave me! leave me not an inmy train has power to goad me to madness! stant! My moments are now but few, and I would

Lud. Hearken to me, daughter; thy crime against profit by them.
Arnolf of Ebersdorf cannot bear in the eye of Hea Geo. Martin, you forget yourself and me

I must ven so deep a dye of guilt.

back to the field. Isa. Repeat that once more; say once again that Mar. (attempts to rise.) Then drag me back thiit cannot-cannot bear so deep a dye. Prove to me ther also; I cannot die but in your presence-1 dare that ages of the bitterest

penance, that tears of the not be alone. Stay, to give peace to my parting dearest blood, can erase such guilt. Prove but that soul.


Geo. I am no priest, Martin. (Going.)

Enter CONRAD. Mar. (raising himself with great pain.) Baron George of Aspen, I saved thy life in battle: for that ron George has turned the day; he fights more like

Con. Away, Wickerd! to horse, and pursue! Ba. good deed, hear me but one moment.

a fiend than a man: he has unhorsed Roderic and Geo. I'hear thee, my poor friend. (Returning.) slain six of his troopers-they are in headlong flight Mar. But come close-very closc. See'st thou,

- the hemlock marsh is red with their gore! (MARsir knight--this wound I bore for thee--and this Tin gives a deep groan, and faints.) Away! Away' and this-dost thou not remember?

(They hurry off, as to the pursuit.) Geo. I do. Mar. I have served thee since thou wast a child; Enter RODERIC OF MALTINGEN, without his helmet

, served thee faithfully-was never from thy side. his arms disordered and broken, holding the trunGeo. Thou hast.

cheon of a spear in his hand; with him, Baros Mar. And now I die in thy service.

Geo. Thou mayst recover.
Mar. I cannot. By my long service-by my

Rod. A curse on fortune, and a double curse up scars -- by this mortal gash, and by the death that I on George of Aspen! Never, never, will I forgive am to die-oh do not hate me for what I am now to before a whirlwind!

him my disgrace-overthrown like a rotten trunk unfold! Geo. Be assured I can never hate thee.

Wolf. Be comforted, Count Roderic; it is well Mar. Ah! thou little knowest-Swear to me

we have escaped being prisoners. See how the thou wilt speak a word of comfort to my parting lows of the Rhine! It is good we are shrouded by

troopers of Aspen pour along the plain, like the bil. soul.

the thicket. Geo. (takes his hand.) I swear I will. (Alarm and shouting.) But be brief-thou knowest my

Rod. Why took he not my life, when he robbed haste.

me of my honour and of my love? Why did his Mar. Hear me, then. I was the squire, the be- his arms like a frail bulrush? (Throus doren the

spear not pierce my heart, when mine shivered on loved and favourite attendant, of Arnolf of Ebers: broken spear:) Bear witness, Heaven and earth, I dorf. Arnolf was savage as the mountain bear. He outlive this disgrace only to avenge! loved the Lady Isabel, but she requited not his passion. She loved thy father; but her sire, old Arn

Wolf. Be comforted; the knights of Aspen have heim, was the friend of Arnolf, and she was forced not gained a bloodless victory. And see, there lies to marry him. By midnight, in the chapel at Ebers

one of George's followers-(secing Martin.) dorf, the ill-omened rites were performed; her re- will secure him: he is the depository of the secrets

Rod. His equire Martin ; if he be not dead, we sistance, her screams, were in vain. These arms

of his inaster. detained her at the altar till the nuptial benediction house of Aspen !

Arouse thee, trusty follower of the was pronounced. Canst thou forgive me? Geo. I do forgive thee. Thy obedience to thy Baron George! my eyes are darkened with agony!

Mar. (reviving.) Leave me not! leave me nol, savage master has been obliterated by a long train I have not yet told all. of services to his widow. Mar. Services! ay, bloody services ! for they

Wolf. The old man takes you for his master.

Rod. What wouldst thou tell ? commenced-do not quit my hand-they commenced with the murder of my master! (GEORGE quits which I was urged to the murder of Ebersdorf!

Mar. Oh, I would tell all the temptations by his hand, and stands aghast in speechless horror.)

Rod. Murder !--this is worth marking. Proceed. Trample on me! pursue me with your dagger! aided your mother to poison her first husband! I steward; my master seduced her-she became an

Mar. I loved a maiden, daughter of Arnolf's thank Heaven, it is said. Geo. My mother? Sacred Heaven! Martin, outcast; and died in misery-I vowed vengeance

and I did avenge her. thou ravesi-the fever of thy wound has distracted

Rod. Hadst thou accomplices ? thee.

Mar. None but thy mother. Mar. No! I am not mad! Would to God I were ! Try me! Yonder is the Wolfshill-yonder

Rod. The Lady Isabella! the old castle of Griefenhaus--and yonder is the love to Rudiger, and when she heard that thy father

Mar, Ay: she hated her husband: he knew her hemlock marsh (in a whisper) where I gathered the deadly plant that drugged Arnolf's cup of death. gered by the transports of his jealousy-thus pre

was returned from Palestine, her life was endan(George lrarerses the stage in the utmost agitation, pared for evil

, the fiend tempted us, and we fell. and sometimes stands over MARTIN with his hands clasped together.). Oh, had you seen him when the hast repaid me all! Love and vengeance are my

Rod. (breaks into a transport.) Fortune! thou potion took effect! Had you heard his ravings, and seen the contortions of his ghastly visage!-He died own!-Wolfstein, recall our followers ! quick, sound

thy bugle-(WOLFSTEIN sounds.) furious and impenitent, as he lived ; and wentwhere I am shortly to go. You do not speak?

Mar. (starcs wildly round.). That was no note Geo. (with exertion.) Miserable wretch ! how of Aspen--Count Roderic of Maltingen-Heaven !

what have I said ! can I ?

Rod, What thou canst not recall. Mar. Can you not forgive me?

Mar. Then is my fate decreed ! 'Tis as it should Geo. May God pardon thee-I cannot ! Mar. I saved thy life

be! in this very place was the poison gather'd-'tis

retribution ! Geo. For that, take my curse! (He snatches up his battle-axe, and rushes out to the side from which

Enter three or four soldiers of Roderic. the noise is heard.)

Mar. Hear me! yet more-more horror! (At Rod. Secure this wounded trooper ; bind his tempts to rise, and falls heavily. A loud alarum.) wounds, and guard him well: carry him to the ruins Enter WICKERD hastily

of Griefenhaus, and conceal him till the troopers of Wic. In the name of God, Martin, lend me thy Aspen have retired from the pursuit ;--look io hini, brand !

as you love your lives. Mar. Take it.

Mar. (led off by soldiers.) Ministers of venWic. Where is it?

geance! my hour is come!

(Ereunt. Mar. (looks wildly at him.) In the chapel at Rod. Hope, joy, and triumph, once again are ve Ebersdorf, or buried in the hemlock marsh. mine! Welcome to my heart, long-absent visitants!

Wic. The old grumbler is crazy with his wounds. One lucky chance has thrown dominion into the Martin, if thou hast a spark of reason in thee, give scale of the house of Maltingen, and Aspen kicks me thy sword. The day goes sore against us. the beam.

Mar. There it lies. Bury it in the heart of thy Wolf. I foresee, indeed, dishonour to the family master George; thou wilt do him a good office of Aspen, should this wounded squire make good he office of a faithful servant.

his tale.


Rod. And how thinkest thou this disgrace will Wic. (muttering.) Here's much to do about an fall on them?

old crazy trencher-shifter. Wolf. Surely, by the public punishment of Lady Geo. What mutterest thou ? Isabella.

Ivic. Only, sir knight, that Martin seemed out of Rod. And is that all ?

his senses when I left him, and has perhaps wanderWolf. What more?

ed into the mursh, and perished there. Rod. Shortsighted that thou art, is not George of Geo. How-out of his senses? Did he speak 10 Aspen, as well as thou, a member of the holy and thee?-(apprehensively.) invisible circle, over which I preside?

Wic. Yes, noble sir. Wolf. Speak lower, for God's sake! these are Geo. Dear Henry, step for an instant to yon tree things not to be mentioned before the sun.

-thou wilt see from thence if the foe rally upon the Rod. True: but stands he not bound by the most Wolfshill. (HENRY retires.) And do you stand solenn oath religion can devise, to discover to the back (to the soldiers.) (He brings WICKERD fortribunal whatever concealed iniquity shall come to

ward. his knowledge, be the perpetrator whom he may--- Geo. (with marked apprehension.) What did Maray, were that perpetrator his own father-or mother; tin say to thee, Wickerd ?-tell me, on thy allegiand can you doubt that he has heard Martin's confession ?

Wic. Mere ravings, sir knight-offered me his Wolf. True: but, blessed Virgin ! do you think sword to kill you. he will accuse his own mother before the invisible Gco. Said he aught of killing any one else? judges ?

Wic. No: the pain of his wound seemed to have Rod. If not, he becomes forsworn, and, by our brought on a fever. law, :must die. Either way my vengeance is com Geo. (clasps his hands together.) I breathe again plete-perjured or parricide, I care not: but, as the - spy comfort. Why could I not see as well as one or the other shall I crush the haughty George of this rellow, that the wounded wretch may have Aspen.

been distracted ? Let me at least think so ull Wolf. Thy vengeance strikes deep.

proof shall show the truth (aside.) Wickerd, think Rod. Deep as the wounds I have borne from this not on what I said--the heat of the battle had chafed proud family. Rudiger slew my father in battle- my blood. Thou hast wished for the Nether farm George has twice bailled and dishonoured my arms, at Ebersdorf-it shall be thine. and Henry has stolen the heart of my beloved: but Wic. Thanks, my noble lord. no longer can Gertrude now remain under the care

Re-enter HENRY. of the murderous dam of this brood of wolves; far Jess can she wed the smooth-cheeked boy, when this enough of it--but Wickerd and Conrad shall remain,

Hen. No- they do not rally-they have had scene of villany shall be disclosed.

[Bugle. Wolf. Hark! they sound a retreat: let us go and scour the woods towards Griefenhaus, to pre

with twenty troopers and a score of crossbowmen, deeper into the wood.

We will, Rod. The victors approach! I shall dash their vent the fugitives from making head. triumph!- Issue the private summons for convok with the rest, to Ebersdorf. What say you, brother ? ing the members this very evening; I will direct the

Geo. Well ordered. Wickerd, look thou search other measures.

everywhere for Martin: bring him to me dead or Wolf. What place?

alive; leave not a nook of the wood unsought. Rod. The old chapel in the ruins of Griefenhaus, could he clew himself up like a dormouse.

Wic I warrant you, noble sır, I shall find him, as usual.


Hen. I think he must be prisoner.

Geo. Heaven forefend! Take a trumpet, Eustace

(to an attendant ;) ride to the casile of Mallingen, Enter GEORGE OF Aspen, as from the pursuit.

and demand a parley. If Martin is prisoner, offer Geo. (comes slowly forward.) How many wretches any ransom : offer ten-twenty-all our prisoners in have sunk under my arm this day, to whom life was exchange. sweet, though the wretched bondsmen of Count Eus. It shall be done, sir knight. Roderic! And I-I who sought death beneath every Hen. Ere we go, sound trumpets-strike up the lifted battle-axe, and offered my brcast to every arrow

song of victory. --I am cursed with victory and safety. Here I left the wretch--Martin !-Martin !- what, ho! Mar

Joy to the victors ! the sons of old Aspen ! tin! - Mother of God! he is gone! Should he

Joy to the race of the battle and scar! repeat the dreadful tale to any other-Martin !-- Glory's pruud garland triumphantly grasping; He answers not. Perhaps he has crept into the

Generous in peace, and victorious in war.

Hunour acquiring, thicket, and died there--were it so, the horrible

Valour inspiring, secret is only mine.

Bursting resistless, through foemen they go :

War-axes wielding. Enter Henry or ASPEN, with WICKERD, REYNOLD,

Broken ranks yielding, and followers.

Till from the butile proud koderic retiring, Hen. Joy to thee, brother! though, by St. Fran

Yields in wild rout the fair palın to his foe. cis, I would not gain another field at the price of Joy to each warrior, true follower of Aspen! seeing thee fight with such reckless desperation.

Joy to the heroes that gam'd the bold day!

Henith to our wounded, in agony gasping; Thy safety is little less than miraculous.

Peace to our brethren that fell in the fray! Rey. Bý'r Lady, when Baron George struck, I

Boldly this morning think he must have forgot that his foes were God's

Roderic's power scoring,

We ) for their chieftain their blades did they wield : creatures. Such furious doings I never saw, and I

Joy blert them dying, have been a trooper these for. wo years come St.

As Multingen llying, Barnaby

Low laid his banners, our conquest adorning, Geo. Peace! Saw any of), Martin ?

Their death clouded eyeballs descried on the field! Wic. Noble sir, I left him here not long since.

Now to our home, the proud mansion of Aspen, Geo. Alive, or dead ?

Bend we, gay victors, triumphant away:

There cach fond damsel, ber kallant youth clasping, Wic. Alive, noble sir, but sorely wounded. I

Shall wipe from his forehead the stains of the fray. think he must be prisoner, for he could not have

Listening the prancing budged else from hence.

of horses advancing i Geo. Heedless slave! Why didst thou leave him?

E'en now on the turrets our maidens appear.

Love our hearts warming, Hen. Dear brother, Wickerd acted for the best :

Songs the night channing, he came to our assistance and the aid of his com

Rouud goes the grape in the goblet gay dancing ; panions.

Love, wine, and song, our blithe evening shall cheer! Geo. I tell thee, Henry, Martin's safety was of Hen. Now spread our banners, and to Ebersdorf more importance than the lives of any ten that stand in triumph. We carry relief to the anxious, joy to bere.

the heart of the aged, brother George. (Going 00)


Geo. Or treble misery and death.

"Save thee, fair maid, for our armies are flytng :

Save thee, fair majd, for thy guardian is low; (Apart, and following slowly.

Cold on yon heath thy bold Frederick is lying, The music sounds, and the followers of Aspen begin Fast through the woodland approaches the soe."to file across the stage. The curtain falls.

[The roice of GERTRUDE sinks by degrees, till

she bursts into tears. ACT III.

Rud. How now, Gertrude?

Ger. Alas! may not the fate of poor Eleanor at SCENE I.

this moment be mine? Castle of Ebersdorf.

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

heard)-Hark! hark! to the sounds thai jell thee so. RUDIGER, ISABELLA, and GentRUDE.

[All rise and run to the window. Rud. I prithee, dear wife, be merry. It must be Rud. Joy! joy! they come, and come victorious. over by this time, and happily, otherwise the bad (The chorus of the war-song is heard without.) Welnews had reached us.

come! welcome ! once more have my old eyes seen Isa. Should we not, then, have heard the tidings the banners of the house of Maltingen trampled in of the good ?

the dust.—Isabella, broach our oldest casks: wine Rud. Oh! these fly slower by half. Besides, ! is sweet after war. warrant all of them engaged in the pursuit. Oh! not a page would leave the skirts of the fugitives till Enter Henry, followed by Reynold and troopers. they were fairly beaten into their holds; but had the boys lost the day, the stragglers had made for this old heart.

Rud, Joy to thee, my boy: let' me press thee to the castle. Go to the window, Gertrude: seest thou

Isa. Bless thee, my son embraces him)-Oh, any thing?

how many hours of bitterness are compensated by Ger. I think I see a horseman.

this embrace! Bless thee, my Henry ! where hast Isa. A single rider ? then I fear me much.

thou left thy brother? Ger. It is only Father Ludovic. 1. Rud. A plague on thee! didst thou take a fat friar drawbridge. Hast thou no greetings for me, Ger

Hen. Hard at hand: by this he is crossing the on a mule for a trooper of the house of Aspen ?

trude ? (Gocs to her.) Ger. But yonder is a great cloud of dust.

Ger. I joy not in battles.
Rud. (eagerly.) Indeed!
Ger. It is only the wine sledges going to my aunt's

Rud. But she had tears for thy danger.

Hen. Thanks, my gentle Gertrude. See, I have convent.

Rud. The devil confound the wine sledges, and brought back thy scarf from no inglorious field. the mules, and the monks! Come from the win

Ger. It is bloody !-(shocked.) dow, and torment me no longer, thou seer of strange own blood as it is that of his foes, thou shouldst

Rud. Dost start at that, my girl ? Were it his sighis. Ger. Dear uncle, what can I do to amuse you ? glory in it.-Go, Reynold, make good cheer with thy


[Exit Reynold and soldiers. Shall I tell you what I dreamed this morning? Rud. Nonsense: but say on; any thing is better

Enter GEORGE pensively. than silence. Ger. I thought I was in the chapel, and they were

Geo. (goes straight to RUDIGER.) Father, thy burying my aunt Isabella alive. And who, do you

blessing. think, auni, were the gravediggers who shovelled in Rud. Thou hast it, boy. the earth upon you ? Even Baron George and old

Isa. (rushes to embrace him-he avoids her.) Martin.

How ? art thou wounded ? Isa. (appears shocked.) Heaven! what an idea !

Geo. No. Ger. Do but think of my terror--and Minhold the

Rud. Thou lookest deadly pale. minstrel played all the while to drown your screams.

Geo. It is nothing. Rud. And old Father Ludovic danced a saraband,

Isa. Heaven's blessing on my gallant George. with the steeple of the new convent upon his thick

Geo. (aside.) Dares she bestow a blessing ?-Oh, skull by way of mitre. A truce to this nonsense. Martin's tale was frenzy ! Give us a song, my love, and leave thy dreams and thy brow on this day of gladness-few are our mo

Isa. Smile upon us for once, my son ; darken not visions. Ger. What shall I sing to you?

ments of joy-should not my sons share in them? Rud. Sing to me of war.

Geo. (aside.) She has moments of joy--it was Ger. I cannot sing of battle: but I will sing


frenzy then. the Lament of Eleanor of Toro, when her lover was knight-(She loosens and takes off his casquez


Isa Gertrude, my love, assist me to disarm the slain in the wars. Isa. Oh, no laments, Gertrude.

Ger. There is one, two, three hacks, and none Rud. Then sing a song of mirth.

has pierced the steel. Isa. Dear husband, is this a time for mirth? Rud. Let me see. Let me see. Rud. Is it neither a time to sing of_mirth nor of

Ger. Else hadst thou gone. sorrow? Isabella would rather hear Father Ludo

Isa. I will reward the armourer with its weight in vic chant the "De profundis.''

gold. Ger. Dear uncle, be not angry. At present, I can

Geo. (aside.) She must be innocent. only sing the lay of poor Eleanor. It comes to my

Ger. And Henry's shield is hacked, 100. Let me heart at this moment as if the sorrowful mourner show it to you, uncle.-(She carries Henry's to had been my own sister.


Rud. Do, my love-and come hither, Henry, thou SONG.

shalt tell me how the day went. Sweet shone the sun on the fair lake of Toro,

(Henry and GERTRUDE conrersc apart with Weak were the whispers that waved the dark wood, As a fair maiden, bewildler'd in sorrow,

RUDIGER. GEORGE comes forward. ISABELLA Sigh'd to the breezes and wept to the flood.

comes to him. Saints, from the mansion of bliss lowly bending, Virgin, that hear'st the poor suppliani's cry,

Isa. Surely, George, some evil has befallen thee. Grant my petition, in anguish ascending,

Grave thou art ever, but so dreadfully gloomy-, My Frederick restore, or let Eleanor die.”

Geo. Eril, indeed.- Aside.) Now for the trial. Distant and faint were the sounds of the battle ;

Isa. Has your loss been great ? With the breezes they rise, with ihe breezes they fail, Gco. No Yes !-(Apari.) I cannot do it. Till the shout, and the groan, and the conflict's dread rattle, Isa. Perhaps some friend lost? And the chase's wild ciarnour came loading the gale.

Geo. It must be. - Martin is dead.-(He regards Breathless she gazed through the woodland so dreary, Slowly approaching, a warrior was seen;

her with apprehension, but steadily as he pronounLife's elbing tide mark'd his footsteps so weary,

ces these dords.) Cleft was his helmet, and wo was his mien.

Isa. (starts, then shows a ghastly espression of . (Compare with " The Mud of Toro," ante, p. 369.) i joy.) Dead!

A trusty casque!

say dead ?

Geo. (almost overcome by his feelings.) Guilty ! Isa. What thou dost meditate-be vengeance Guilty !-(apart.).

heavy, but let it be secret-add not the death of a Isa. (withoul observing his cmotion.) Didst thou father to that of the sinner! Oh! Rudiger! Rudiger!

innocent cause of all my guilt and all my wo, how Geo. Did I-no-I only said mortally wounded. wilt thou tear thy silver locks when thou shali hear

Isa. Wounded ? only wounded ? Where is he? her guilt whom thou hast so often clasped to thy Let me fly to him.-(Going.)

bosom-hear her infamy proclaimed by the son of Geo. (sternly.) Hold, lady !-Speak not so loud ! thy fondest hopes.-(weeps.) -Thou canst not see him !-He is a prisoner.

Geo. (struggling for breath.) Nature will have Isa. A prisoner, and wounded? Fly to his deliver- utterance: mother, dearest mother, I will save you ance !-Offer wealth, lands, castles, -all our posses or perish! (throuos himself into her arms.) Thus sions, for his ransom. Never shall I know peace fall my vows. will these walls, or till the grave, secures him.

Isa. Man thyself! I ask not safety from thee. Geo. (apart.) Guilty! Guilty!

Never shall it be said, that Isabella of Aspen turned

her son from the path of duty, though his footsteps Enter PETER.

must pass over her mangled corpse. Man thysell. Peter. Hugo, squire to the Count of Maltingen, Geo. No! No! The ties of nature were knit by has arrived with a message.

God himself. Cursed be the stoic pride that would Rud. I will receive him in the hall.

rend ihem asunder, and call it virtue! [Erit, leaning on GERTRUDE and HENRY. Isa. My son ! My son !-How shall I behold thee Isa. Go, George, -see after Martin.

hereafter ? Geo. ( firmly.) No-I have a task to perform; and (Three knocks are heard upon the door of the though the earth should open and devour me alive

apartment. -I will accomplish it. But first-but first--Nature, Geo. Hark! One-two-three. Roderic, thou take thy tribute.--(He falls on his mother's neck, and art speedy! (Apart.) weeps bitterly.)

Isa. (opens the door.) A parchment stuck to the Isa. George! my son! for Heaven's sake what door with a poniard ! (Opens it.) Heaven and earth! dreadful frenzy!

-a summons from the invisible judges !-(Drops Geo. (walks tuo turns across the stage and com the parchment.) poses himself:) Listen, mother--I knew a knight in Geo. (reads with emotion.) "Isabella of Aspen, Hungary, gallant in battle, hospitable and generous accused of murder by poison, we conjure thee by the in peace. The king gave him his friendship, and cord and by the steel, to appear this night before the the administration of a province; that province was avengers of blood, who judge in secret and avenge infested by thieves and murderers. You mark in secret, like the Deity. As thou art innocent or me?

guilty, so be thy deliverance.”—Martin, Martin, thou Isa. Most heedfully.

hast played false! Geo. The knight was sworn-bound by an oath Isa. Alas! whither shall I fly? the most dreadful that can be taken by man-to Geo. Thou canst not fly; instant death would deal among oflenders, evenhanded, stern, and impar- follow the attempt; a hundred thousand arms would tial justice. Was it not a dreadful vow?

be raised against thy life; every morsel thou didst Isa. (with an affectation of composure.) Solemn, taste, every drop which thou didst drink, the very doubtless, as the oath of every magistrate.

breeze of heaven that fanned thee, would come Geo. And inviolable?

loaded with destruction. One chance of safety is Isa. Surely-inviolable.

open : obey the surmons. Geo. Well! it happened, that when he rode out Isa. And perish.-Yet why should I still fear against the banditti, he made a prisoner. And who, death? Be it so. think you that prisoner was?

Geo. No-I have sworn to save you. I will not Isa. I know not (with increasing terror.)

do the work by halves. Does any one save Martin Geo. (trembling, but proceeding rapidly.) His own know of the dreadful deed ? twin brother, who sucked the same breasts with Isa. None. him, and lay in the bosom of the same mother; his Geo. Then go-assert your innocence, and leave brother whom he loved as his own soul--what the rest to me. should that knight have done unto his brother ? Isa. Wretch that I am! How can I support the Isa. (almost speechless.) Alas! what did he do? task you would impose ?

Geo. He did (turning his head from her, and with Geo. Think on my father. Live for him : he will clasped hands) what I can never do :-he did his need all the comfort thou canst bestow. Let the duty.

thought that his destruction is involved in thine, Isa. My son! my son !--Mercy! Mercy! (clings carry thee through the dreadful trial.

Isa. Be it so.-For Rudiger I have lived : for him Geo. It is then true ?

I will continue to bear the burden of existence : but Isa. What?

the instant that my guilt comes to his knowledge Geo. What Martin said ? (Isabella hides her face.) shall be the last of my life. Ere I would bear from

him one glance of hatred or of scorn, this dagger Isa. (looks up with an air of dignity.) Hear, should drink my blood. (Puls the poniard into her Framer of the laws of nature ! the mother is judged bosom.), by the child-( Turns towards him.). Yes, it is true Geo. Fear not. He can never know. No evitrue that, fearful of my own life, I secured it by dence shall appear against you. the murder of my tyrant. Mistaken coward ! I little Isa. How shall I obey the summons, and where knew on what terrors I ran, to avoid one moment's find the terrible judgment seat? agony.-- Thou hast the secret!

Geo. Leave that to the judges. Resolve but to Geo. Knowest thou to whom thou hast told it? obey, and a conductor will be found. Go to the

chapel; there pray for your sins and for mine. (He Geo. No! 'no! to an executioner.

leads her out, and returns.)-Sins, indeed! I break Isa. Be it so, -go, proclaim my crime, and forget a dreadful vow, but I save the life of a parent; and not my punishment. Forget not that the murder the penance I will do for my perjury shall appal €88 of her husband has dragged out years of hidden even the judges of blood. remorse, to be brought at last to the scaffold by her own cherished son-thou art silent.

Enter REYNOLD. Geo. The language of Nature is no more! How desires to speak with you.

Rey. Sir knight, the messenger of Count Roderic shall I learn another? Isa. Look upon me, George. Should the execu

Geo. Admit him. tioner be abashed before the critninal-look upon

Enter Hugo. me, my son. From my soul do I forgive thee. Hugo. Count Roderic of Maltingen greets you. Geo. Forgive me what?

He says he will this night hear the bat flutter and

to him.)

It is true.

Isa. To my son.

« PreviousContinue »