Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

Will

you not hear me?-Oh! that they who need Hourly forgiveness, they who do but live, While Mercy's voice, beyond th’ eternal stars, Wins the great Judge to listen, should be thus, In their vain exercise of pageant power, Hard and relentless !-Gentle brother, yet, 'Tis in your choice to imitate that Heaven Whose noblest joy is pardon.

ERIBERT.

'Tis too late. You have a soft and moving voice, which pleads With eloquent melody—but they must die.

CONSTANCE.

What, die !--for words ?-for breath, which leaves no

trace

To sully the pure air, wherewith it blends,
And is, being utter'd, gone ?--Why, 'twere enough
For such a venial fault, to be deprived
One little day of man's free heritage,
Heaven's warm and sunny light !--Oh! if you deem
That evil harbours in their souls, at least
Delay the stroke, till guilt, made manifest,
Shall bid stern Justice wake.

ERIBERT.

I am not one

Of those weak spirits, that timorously keep watch
For fair occasions, thence to borrow hues
Of virtue for their deeds. My school hath been
Where power sits crown'd and arm’d.-And, mark me,

sister!
To a distrustful nature it might seem
Strange, that your lips thus earnestly should plead
For these Sicilian rebels. O'er my being
Suspicion holds no power.And yet take note.
-I have said, and they must die.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

No!-but that earth Should arm in madness.—Brother! I have seen Dark eyes bent on you, e'en ʼmidst festal throngs, With such deep hatred settled in their glance, My heart hath died within me.

ERIBERT.

Am I then
To pause, and doubt, and shrink, because a girl,
A dreaming girl, hath trembled at a look ?

CONSTANCE.

Oh ! looks are no illusions, when the soul,
Which may not speak in words, can find no way
But theirs, to liberty !-Have not these men
Brave sons, or noble brothers ?

ERIBERT.

Yes! whose name
It rests with me to make a word of fear,
A sound forbidden 'midst the haunts of men.

CONSTANCE.

But not forgotten !--Ah! beware, beware!
-Nay, look not sternly on me.-There is one
Of that devoted band, who yet will need
Years to be ripe for death. He is a youth,
A very boy, on whose unshaded cheek
The spring-time glow is lingering. 'Twas but now
His mother left me, with a timid hope
Just dawning in her breast ;-and I–I dared
To foster its faint spark.—You smile !-Oh! then
He will be saved!

ERIBERT.

Nay, I but smiled to think What a fond fool is hope !-She may be taught To deem that the great sun will change his course To work her pleasure; or the tomb give back Its inmates to her arms.-In sooth, 'tis strange! Yet, with your pitying heart, you should not thus Have mock'd the boy's sad mother-I have said, You should not thus have mock'd her !-Now, farewell.

[Exit ERIBERT.

CONSTANCE.

Oh, brother ! hard of heart !—for deeds like these
There must be fearful chastening, if on high

Justice doth hold her state.-And I must tell
Yon desolate mother, that her fair young son
Is thus to perish !-Haply the dread tale
May slay her too ;—for Heaven is merciful.
-"Twill be a bitter task!

[Erit Constance.

SCENE II.-A ruined Tower, surrounded by Woods.

[blocks in formation]

Keep the flame bright,
But hidden, till its hour.-Wouldst thou dare, lady,
To join our councils at the night's mid-watch,
In the lone cavern by the rock-hewn cross ?

VITTORIA.
What should I shrink from?

« PreviousContinue »