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Then fix the day.
'Tis usual, And certes courteous, to leave that to the lady. Sieg. I will engage for her. Ulr.
So will not I
For any woman; and as what I fix,
I fain would see unshaken, when she gives
Her answer, I'll give mine.
But 't is your office
Ulr. Count, 't is a marriage of your making So be it of your wooing; but to please you I will now pay my duty to my mother, With whom, you know, the lady Ida is. What would you have? You have forbid my stirring For manly sports beyond the castle walls, And I obey; you bid me turn a chamberer, To pick up gloves, and fans, and knitting needles, And list to songs and tunes, and watch for smiles, And smile at pretty prattle, and look into The eyes of feminine, as though they were The stars receding early to our wish Upon the dawn of a world-winning battleWhat can a son or man do more? [Exit ULRIC. Too much!
Too much of duty, and too little love!
He pays me in the coin he owes me not:
For such hath been my wayward fate, I could not
Fulfil a parent's duties by his side
Till now; but love he owes me, for my thoughts
Ne'er left him, nor my eyes long'd without tears
To see my child again, and now I have found him!
But how!-obedient, but with coldness; duteous
In my sight, but with carelessness; mysterious—
Abstracted-distant -much given to long absence,
And where-none know-in league with the most
Of our young nobles; though, to do him justice,
He never stoops down to their vulgar pleasures;
Yet there's some tie between them which I cannot
Unravel. They look up to him-consult him-
Throng round him as a leader: but with me
He hath no confidence! Ah! can I hope it
After-what! doth my father's curse descend
Even to my child? Or is the Hungarian near
To shed more blood? or-Oh! if it should be!
Spirit of Stralenheim, dost thou walk these walls
To wither him and his—who, though they slew not
Unlatch'd the door of death for thee? 'T was not
Our fault, nor is our sin thou wert our foe,
And yet I spared thee when my own destruction
Slept with thee, to awake with thine awakening !
And only took-Accursed gold! thou liest
Like poison in my hands; I dare not use thee,
Nor part from thee; thou camest in such a guise,
Methinks thou wouldst contaminate all hands
Like mine. Yet I have done, to atone for thee,
Thou villainous gold! and thy dead master's doom,
Better still: To employ our means to obtain heaven for the souls Of our dead enemies is worthy those Who can forgive them living.
Sieg. But I did not Forgive this man. I loathed him to the last,
I could only guess at one,
And he to me a stranger, unconnected,
As unemploy'd. Except by one day's knowledge,
I never saw the man who was suspected.
Prior. Then you are free from guilt.
Oh! am I?-say!
Prior. You have said so, and know best.
Father! I have spoken
The truth, and nought but truth, if not the whole :
Yet say I am not guilty! for the blood
Of this man weighs on me, as if I shed it,
Though, by the Power who abhorreth human blood,
I did not !-nay, once spared it, when I might
And could-ay, perhaps, should (if our self-safety
Be e'er excusable in such defences
Against the attacks of over-potent foes):
But for him, for me, and all my house;
For, as I said, though I be innocent,
I know not why, a like remorse is on me,
Asif he had fallen by me or mine. Pray for me,
Father! I have pray'd myself in vain.
Be comforted! You are innocent, and should
Be calm as innocence.
But calmness is not
Always the attribute of innocence.
I feel it is not.
But it will be so,
When the mind gathers up its truth within it.
Remember the great festival to-morrow,
In which you rank amidst our chiefest nobles,
As well as your brave son; and smooth your aspect; Nor in the general orison of thanks
For bloodshed stopt, let blood you shed not rise
A cloud upon your thoughts. This were to be Too sensitive. Take comfort, and forget
Such things, and leave remorse unto the guilty.
A large and magnificent Gothic Hall in the Castle of
Sicgendorf, decorated with Trophies, Banners, and
Arms of that Family.
Enter ARNHEIM and MEISTER, attendants of COUNT SIEGENDORF.
Arn. Be quick! the count will soon return the Already are at the portal. Have you sent [ladics The messengers in search of him he seeks for?
Meis. I have, in all directions, over Prague,
As far as the man's dress and figure could
By your description track him. The devil take
These revels and processions! All the pleasure
(If such there be) must fall to the spectators.
I'm sure none doth to us who make the show.
Arn. Go to my lady countess comes.
Ride a day's hunting on an outworn jade,
Than follow in the train of a great man
In these dull pageantries.
Begone and rail
Arn. Within. [Exeunt. Enter the COUNTESS JOSEPHINE SIEGENDORF and IDA STRALENHEIM.
Jos. Well, Heaven be praised, the show is over!
Ida. How can you say so! never have I dreamt
Of aught so beautiful. The flowers, the boughs,
The banners, and the nobles, and the knights,
The gems, the robes, the plumes, the happy faces,
The coursers, and the incense, and the sun
Streaming through the stain'd windows, even the tombs,
Which look'd so calm, and the celestial hymns,
Which seem'd as if they rather came from heaven
Than mounted there. The bursting organ's peal
Rolling on high like an harmonious thunder;
The white robes and the lifted eyes; the world
At peace! and all at peace with one another!
Oh, my sweet mother! [Embracing JOSEPHINE.
My beloved child!
For such, I trust, thou shalt be shortly.
I am so already. Feel how my heart beats!
Jos. It does, my love; and never may it throb
With aught more bitter.
Ida. I'll not hear A word against a world which still contains You and my Ulric. Did you ever see Bb
Never shall it do so!
How should it? What should make us grieve? I hate
To hear of sorrow: how can we be sad,
Who love each other so entirely? You,
The count, and Ulric, and your daughter Ida.
Jos. Poor child!
Do you pity me?
Jos. No; I but envy, And that in sorrow, not in the world's sense Of the universal vice, if one vice be More general than another.
Aught like him? How he tower'd amongst them all!
How all eyes follow'd him! The flowers fell faster-
Rain'd from each lattice at his feet, methought,
Than before all the rest; and where he trod
I dare be sworn that they grow still, nor e'er
You will spoil him, little flatterer,
If he should hear you.
But he never will.
I dare not say so much to him—I fear him.
Jos. Why so? he loves you well.
But I can never
Shape my thoughts of him into words to him.
Besides, he sometimes frightens me.
How so? Ida. A cloud comes o'er his blue eyes suddenly, Yet he says nothing. Jos. It is nothing: all men, Especially in these dark troublous times, Have much to think of.
But I cannot think
Jos. Yet there are other men, In the world's eye, as goodly. There 's, for instance, The young Count Waldorf, who scarce once withdrew His eyes from yours to day.
Ida. I did not see him, But Ulric. Did you not see at the moment When all knelt, and I wept ? and yet methought, Through my fast tears, though they were thick and I saw him smiling on me.
I could not
See aught save heaven, to which my eyes were raised
Together with the people's.
I thought too
Of heaven, although I look'd on Ulric.
Let us retire; they will be here anon
Expectant of the banquet. We will lay
Aside these nodding plumes and dragging trains.
Ida. And, above all, these stiff and heavy jewels,
Which make my head and heart ache, as both throb
Beneath their glitter o'er my brow and zone.
Dear mother, I am with you.
No more forget it.
Never never! all
My destinies were woven in that name:
It will be not engraved upon my tomb,
But it may lead me there.
To the point-the Hungarian ?
Sieg. Listen!-The church was throng'd; the
hymn was raised;
"Te Deum" peal'd from nations, rather than
From choirs, in one great cry of "God be praised"
For one day's peace, after thrice ten dread years,
Each bloodier than the former: I arose,
With all the nobles, and as I look'd down
Along the lines of lifted faces,— from
Our banner'd and escutcheon'd gallery, I
Saw, like a flash of lightning (for I saw
A moment and no more), what struck me sightless
To all else the Hungarian's face! I grew
Sick; and when I recover'd from the mist
Which curl'd about my senses, and again
Look'd down, I saw him not. The thanksgiving
Was over, and we march'd back in procession.
When we reach'd the Muldau's bridge,
The joyous crowd above, the numberless
Barks mann'd with revellers in their best garbs,
Which shot along the glancing tide below,
The decorated street, the long array,
The clashing music, and the thundering
Of far artillery, which seem'd to bid
A long and loud farewell to its great doings,
The standards o'er me, and the tramplings round,
The roar of rushing thousands,-all-all could not
Chase this man from my mind, although my senses
No longer held him palpable.
You saw him
No more, then ?
I look'd, as a dying soldier
Looks at a draught of water, for this man :
But still I saw him not; but in his stead
Ulr. What in his stead?
Much; for I
My eye for ever fell Upon your dancing crest; the loftiest As on the loftiest and the loveliest head It rose the highest of the stream of plumes, Which overflow'd the glittering streets of Prague. Ulr. What's this to the Hungarian ? Sieg. Had almost then forgot him in my son; When just as the artillery ceased, and paused The music, and the crowd embraced in lieu Of shouting, I heard in a deep, low voice, Distinct and keener far upon my ear Than the late cannon's volume, this word-"Werner!" Ulr. Uttered by Sreg. HIM! I turn 'd- and saw-and fell. Ulr. And wherefore? Were you seen? Sieg. The officious care Of those around me dragg'd me from the spot, Seeing my faintness, ignorant of the cause : You, too, were too remote in the procession (The old nobles being divided from their children) To aid me.
"T is, then, Werner! Sieg. (haughtily). The same you knew, sir, by that name; and you! Gab. (looking round). I recognise you both: father and son,
[The ATTENDANT introduces GABOR, and afterwards exit.
It seems. Count, I have heard that you, or yours,
Have lately been in search of me: I am here.
Sieg. I have sought you, and have found you: you
(Your own heart may inform you why) with such A crime as [He pauses. Gab. Give it utterance, and then I'll meet the consequences.
You shall do so
Sieg. Unless Gab. Sieg.
If not all men: the universal rumour
My own presence on the spot. the place-the timeAnd every speck of circumstance unite
To fix the blot on you.
And on me only?
Pause ere you answer: is no other name,
Save mine, stain'd in this business?
Where is he?
Gab. (pointing to ULRIC).
[ULRIC rushes forward to attack GABOR; SIEGENDORF interposes.
Sieg. Liar and fiend! but you shall not be slain; These walls are mine, and you are safe within them. [He turns to ULRIC.
Ulric, repel this calumny, as I
Will do. I avow it is a growth so monstrous,
I could not deem it earth-born: but be calin ;
It will refute itself. But touch him not.
[ULRIC endeavours to compose himself.
Gab. Look at him, count, and then hear me.
Sieg. (first to GABOR, and then looking at ULRIC).
I hear thee.
My God! you look Ulr.
As on that dread night
It is nothing.
When we met in the garden.
Ulr. (composes himself).
Gab. Count, you are bound to hear me.
Not seeking you, but sought. When I knelt down
Amidst the people in the church, I dream'd not
To find the beggar'd Werner in the seat
Of senators and princes; but you have call'd me,
And we have met.
Go on, sir.
Allow me to inquire who profited
Ere I do so,
By Stralenheim's death? Was 't I-as poor as ever;
And poorer by suspicion on my name!
The baron lost in that last outrage neither
Jewels nor gold; his life alone was sought, -
A life which stood between the claims of others
To honours and estates scarce less than princely.
Sieg. These hints, as vague as vain, attach no less
To me than to my son.
I can't help that.
But let the consequence alight on him
Who feels himself the guilty one among us.
I speak of you, Count Siegendorf, because
I know you innocent, and deem you just.
But ere I can proceed―dare you protect me?
Dare you command me?
[SIEGENDORF first looks at the Hungarian, and then at ULRIC, who has unbuckled his sabre, and is drawing lines with it on the floorstill in its sheath.
Ulr. (offers it to him contemptuously). Take it.
Ulr. (looks at his father and says)
Let the man go on! Gab. I am unarm'd, count-bid your son lay down His sabre.
No, sir, 't is enough That we are both unarm'd-I would not choose To wear a steel which may be stain'd with more Blood than came there in battle.
Ulr. (casts the sabre from him in contempt).
It or some Such other weapon, in my hands-spared yours Once when disarm'd and at my mercy.
The tale is doubtless worthy the relater. But is it of my father to hear further?
[To SIEGENDORF. Sieg. (takes his son by the hand). My son! I know my own innocence, and doubt not Of yours-but I have promised this man patience; Let him continue.
I will not detain you By speaking of myself much I began Life early-and am what the world has made me. At Frankfort on the Oder, where I pass'd
A winter in obscurity, it was
My chance at several places of resort
(Which I frequented sometimes, but not often)
To hear related a strange circumstance
In February last. A martial force,
Sent by the state, had, after strong resistance,
Secured a band of desperate men, supposed
Marauders from the hostile camp. They proved,
However, not to be so-but banditti,
Whom either accident or enterprise
Had carried from their usual haunt the forests
Which skirt Bohemia-even into Lusatia.
Many amongst them were reported of
High rank-and martial law slept for a time.
At last they were escorted o'er the frontiers,
And placed beneath the civil jurisdiction
Of the free town of Frankfort.
Of their fate,
I know no more.
And what is this to Ulric?
Gab. Amongst them there was said to be one man
Of wonderful endowments: -birth and fortune,
Youth, strength, and beauty, almost superhuman,
And courage as unrivall'd, were proclaim'd
His by the public rumour; and his sway,
Not only over his associates, but
His judges, was attributed to witchcraft.
Such was his influence: -I have no great faith
In any magic save that of the mine-
I therefore deem'd him wealthy. But my soul
Was roused with various feelings to seek out
This prodigy, if only to behold him.
Sieg. And did you so?
You'll hear. Chance favour'd me:
A popular affray in the public square
Drew crowds together-it was one of those
Occasions where men's souls look out of them,
And show them as they are—even in their faces:
The moment my eye met his, I exclaim'd,
"This is the man!" though he was then, as since,
With the nobles of the city. I felt sure
I had not err'd, and watch'd him long and nearly;
I noted down his form-his gesture-features,
Stature, and bearing-and amidst them all,
Midst every natural and acquired distinction,
I could discern, methought, the assassin's eye
And gladiator's heart.
The tale sounds well. Gab. And may sound better. He appear'd to me One of those beings to whom Fortune bends As she doth to the daring-and on whom The fates of others oft depend; besides, An indescribable sensation drew me Near to this man, as if my point of fortune Was to be fix'd by him. There I was wrong.
Sieg. And may not be right now. Gab. I follow'd him, Solicited his notice—and obtain'd it
Gab. Still you owe me something, Though not for that; and I owed you my safety, At least my seeming safety, when the slaves Of Stralenheim pursued me on the grounds That I had robb'd him.
I. 'T will rest
You conceal'd me-
I conceal'd you—I,
Whom and whose house you arraign, reviving viper!
Gab. I accuse no man-save in my defence.
You, count, have made yourself accuser-judge:
Your hall's my court, your heart is my tribunal.
Be just, and I'll be merciful!
With me at last to be so.
In secret passages known to
You said, and to none else. At dead of night,
Weary with watching in the dark, and dubious
Of tracing back my way, I saw a glimmer,
Through distant crannies, of a twinkling light:
I follow'd it, and reach'd a door-a secret
Portal which open'd to the chamber, where,
With cautious hand and slow, having first undone
As much as made a crevice of the fastening,
look'd through and beheld a purple bed,
And on it Stralenheim !-
He was already slain,
You slew him!-Wretch !
And bleeding like a sacrifice. My own
Blood became ice.