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We must consult upon our terms of peace.
[Exeunt GERSA and ALBERT with others. And thus a marble column do I build
160 To prop my empire's dome. Conrad, in thee I have another stedfast one, to uphold The portals of my state; and, for my own Pre-eminence and safety, I will strive To keep thy strength upon its pedestal.
165 For, without thee, this day I might have been A show-monster about the streets of Prague, In chains, as just now stood that noble prince : And then to me no mercy had been shown, For when the conquer'd lion is once dungeon'd, 170 Who lets him forth again? or dares to give An old lion sugar-cakes of mild reprieve? Not to thine ear alone I make confession, But to all here, as, by experience, I know how the great basement of all power
175 Is frankness, and a true tongue to the world; And how intriguing secrecy is proof Of fear and weakness, and a hollow state. Conrad, I owe thee much.
To kiss that hand, My emperor, is ample recompense,
180 For a mere act of duty.
Thou art wrong;
For what can any man on earth do more?
We will make trial of your house's welcome,
My bright Auranthe !
How is Friedburg honoured !
Enter ETHELBERT and six Monks.
The benison of heaven on your head,
Who stays me? Speak! Quick!
Pause but one moment, mighty conqueror !
Upon the threshold of this house of joy.
Pray, do not prose, good Ethelbert, but speak
What is your purpose.
The restoration of some captive maids,
Devoted to Heaven's pious ministries,
Who, driven forth from their religious cells,
And kept in thraldom by our enemy,
When late this province was a lawless spoil,
Still weep amid the wild Hungarian camp,
Though hemm'd around by thy victorious arms.
Demand the holy sisterhood in our name
From Gersa's tents. Farewell, old Ethelbert.
The saints will bless you for this pious care.
Daughter, your hand; Ludolph's would fit it best.
Ho! let the music sound !
[Music. ETHELBERT raises his hands, as in bene
diction of OTHO. Exeunt severally. The scene closes on them.
SCENE III.—The Country, with the Castle in the
Enter LUDOLPH and SIGIFRED.
You have my secret ; let it not be breath'd.
Still give me leave to wonder that the Prince
Ludolph and the swift Arab are the same;
Still to rejoice that 'twas a German arm
Death doing in a turban'd masquerade.
The Emperor must not know it, Sigifred.
SIGIFRED. I prythee, why? What happier hour of time Could thy pleas'd star point down upon from heaven With silver index, bidding thee make peace?
Still it must not be known, good Sigifred ;
The star may point oblique.
If Otho knew
His son to be that unknown Mussulman
After whose spurring heels he sent me forth,
With one of his well-pleas'd Olympian oaths,
The charters of man's greatness, at this hour
He would be watching round the castle walls,
And, like an anxious warder, strain his sight
For the first glimpse of such a son return'd-
Ludolph, that blast of the Hungarians,
That Saracenic meteor of the fight,
That silent fury, whose fell scymitar
Kept danger all aloof from Otho's head,
And left him space for wonder.
Say no more.
Not as a swordsman would I pardon claim,
But as a son. The bronz'd centurion,
Long toil'd in foreign wars, and whose high deeds
Are shaded in a forest of tall spears,
Known only to his troop, hath greater plea
Of favour with my sire than I can have.
My lord, forgive me that I cannot see
How this proud temper with clear reason squares.
What made you then, with such an anxious love,
Hover around that life, whose bitter days
You vext with bad revolt? Was 't opium,
Or the mad-fumed wine? Nay, do not frown,
I rather would grieve with you than upbraid.
I do believe you. No, 'twas not to make
A father his son's debtor, or to heal
His deep heart-sickness for a rebel child.
'Twas done in memory of my boyish days,
Poor cancel for his kindness to my youth,
For all his calming of my childish griefs,
And all his smiles upon my merriment.
No, not a thousand foughten fields could sponge
Those days paternal from my memory,
Though now upon my head he heaps disgrace.
SIGIFRED. My Prince, you think too harshly
Can I so ?
Hath he not gall’d my spirit to the quick ?
And with a sullen rigour obstinate
Pour'd out a phial of wrath upon my faults ?
Hunted me as the Tartar does the boar,
Driven me to the very edge o' the world,
And almost put a price upon my head ?
SIGIFRED. Remember how he spar'd the rebel lords.
I know he hath a noble nature
That cannot trample on the fallen. But his
Is not the only proud heart in his realm.
He hath wrong'd me, and I have done him wrong ;
He hath lov'd me, and I have shown him kindness;
We should be almost equal.