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Have wept for thine afflictions; who have loved
The meanest fragment of thy former greatness
More than all splendors of the world beside,
Leave thee self-banished! Yet, alas ! not so.
But driven from thee by the fear that still
Pursues the guilty.
Father, talk not thus,
There is no guilt without premeditation.
And though I grieve for that which thou hast done,
As thou a noble impulse didst obey,
In striking down the foolish youth who did,
By his base offer, rouse thy just resentment,
Thou shalt not wrong thyself to call that crime
Which is but thy misfortune.
Lo! the dawn,
With kindling eye, and cheek like youthful hero's
Flushed with assured hope of early triumph,
Comes on apace. Then let us to our speed,
For we have many weary miles before us
Ere we repose in safety. Hark! the tramp
Of horses' feet the morning stillness breaks.
We are pursued. Quick! quick! or we are taken !
O Blessed Mother! save us from that peril !
[Exeunt hurriedly. The wedding guests assemble at the chapel of the convent near by, but the bride is missing. Great trouble ensues. Orazio fears that she has gone off with Ottavio, -is ready to curse her, and storms and raves in good set terms. The old aunt Camilla is half distracted, the sculptor's servant, Giatto, is more distracted still that his master is nowhere to be found. A rumor spreads that Maldonado has carried off an Orsini, and has sent to the head of the family to demand five thousand scudi as his ransom, and is answered by a proclamation offering the same sum for the head of the robber chief. It is at once concluded that Maldonado has murdered Perelli and carried off his daughter. Forthwith it is resolved that the citizens shall arm and, under Orazio as their captain, go and seek the robbers in their fastness in the Abruzzi, and compel them to deliver the bride. In the mean time, Perelli and his daughter have fallen into the hands of Maldonado and his band. They are now in the robbers' cave, sad enough, as may well be supposed. Maldonado enters, and is addressed by Enrica in her male attire :
MALDONADO, (stopping.) What wouldst thou, boy?
The freedom of my father,
A weak old man, whom thou wouldst find a burthen,
And freedom for the child whose duty 'tis
Nothing. We have but our thanks
To offer; and our prayers, that Heaven may not
Be deaf to thee when thou shalt cry
Thanks fill not coffers, boy, and ours are empty.
And not the prayers of all the saints in Heaven
Would move the Sovereign Ruler to forgive
Such rebel to his grace as I have been.
ENRICA, (detaining him.)
O, if thy sinless childhood ever knew
The blessedness of home ;-securely slept
Beneath the sacred roof tree of a father,
While at thy couch a mother's love kept watch ;-
Think what is due to his gray hairs, and bid
This reverend old man go forth in freedom,
And let me, to repay some of the debt
Due his past care, go with him.
I have not
The power thou dost suppose me to possess.
Though leader, I am not sole master here,
And without ransom cannot set you free.
Yet this much will I do. If thou remain,
To serve or rather be companion to-
A youth of thine own age who dwells with us,
Thy father shall depart.
No; together we Will go or stay. Whatever be our lot It shall not be divided.
As ye will.
[Going ; stops, and after a pause. One offer can I more. Within yon tent A wounded prisoner now lies, by whom Must our exhausted treasury be supplied. To Rome shall one of you with our demand For ransom, and if he speed well, ye both Shall go at large.
I'll be thy messenger ;
For I have youth, and health, and strength of limb,
All which my father lacks, promptly to do
Thy bidding, and a tongue with eloquence
To plead the cause of yon poor prisoner,
Because in that I plead my father's too,
And turn even selfishness to charity.
Instruct me what to do, and let me hence.
This readiness to serve me hath a show
Of filial love for this old man, that doth
Persuade me strongly of thine honesty.
But shouldst thou in thine errand fail, what then ?
I will return to share my father's fate.
What, though that fate were slavery for life?
Ay, even that dreadful fate! for then would he
Moreneed my aid than were he free, because
The chains too heavy for his aged limbs
Would my young strength sustain.
A noble lad! But when in Rome, surrounded by thy friends, With freedom there, and chance of happiness,
And slavery here, with certain misery,
For years, perhaps for life and thou art young,
With the warm blood of youth, and youth's high hopes-
Couldst thou renounce home, kindred, hope, and come
Back to a living grave for one man's sake?
That man's my father, sir.
I like thy answer, And think thou may'st be trusted.
That she may.
She may ? she may ? What masking have we here?
[Seizes ENRICA, who submits calmly to his srutiny.
Or youth or maid, thou hast no woman's spirit.
Yet this is no boy's face. Girl, hast thou dared
To trifle with me?
ENRICA, (freeing herself.)
It is not my fault,
If my poor face less manly is than thine,
For it hath known few years and fewer sorrows.
But though my face be woman's, in my heart
Is nothing of the weakness which the world—
With justice or without-ascribes to her.
O then, brave sir, I pray thee doubt me not;
But let me have thy message, and be gone.
[Without appearing to hear her, MALDONADO walks apart,
communing with himself.]
O my accursed tongue! All, all is lost !
Seem not to fear ;-we may avert suspicion.
Such might have been the face of Brutus' Portia,
Or mother of the Gracchi when a maid.
No daughter she of our degenerate day,
But one of ancient Rome's, the type of all
Most lovely and most lovable in woman ;-
In whom were faultlessness of form and feature,
Commanding dignity and sweet reserve,
Undoubting trust with noble self-reliance,
Together blent to form one perfect whole.
Of such a mother might a race be born
To win us back the glories of the past,
And from the land, which now they hold in thrall,
Sweep the besotted tyrants, who have wrung
From human hearts the wine that makes them drunk !
Gods of the olden time! how my heart swells
With fierce anticipation of the hour
When son of mine shall set his foot upon
The necks of these oppressors ;-raise from earth
A long down-trodden people, and erase
By patriot deeds the blot a father's crimes
Shall leave upon the name of MALDONADO.
Come hither both. (They advance.)
I've thought it not quite safe
To send this youth alone to yonder city,
Where innocence is every hour exposed
To snares the wary cannot always shun.
Nor can I send for his protection any
Of my rude followers, -the citizens,
I fear me much, so well they love my people,
Would scarce consent they should return to us.
In faith, I mock you not, For thou art one that I, at any risk, Would save from peril. But to this old man, For whom there is less danger, I'll intrust The message which at first I meant for thee.
O not to him! A terrible mishap
Has forced him Ay the city, where even now
Unpitying Revenge, whose tongue is hot
With rage, is seeking him, that he may slake
His thirst in blood.