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Isid. (Forcing a laugh faintly.) A jest to laugh at!
then ? Isid. You see that little rift? But first permit me! (Lights his torch at Ordonio's.) A lighted torch in the hand, Is no unpleasant object here-one's breath Floats round the flame, and makes as many colors, As the thin clouds that travel near the moon. You see that crevice there? My torch extinguished by these water-drops, And marking that the moonlight came from thence, I stept into it, meaning to sit there ; But scarcely had I measured twenty pacesMy body bending forward, yea, o'erbalanced Almost beyond recoil, on the dim brink Of a huge chasm I stept. The shadowy moonshine Filling the void, so counterfeited substance, That my foot hung aslant adown the edge. Was it my own fear ? Fear too hath its instincts ! And yet such dens as these are wildly told of, And there are beings that live, yet not for the eye. An arm of frost above and from behind me, Plucked up and snatched me backward. Merciful heaven! You smile! alas, even smiles look ghastly here! My lord, I pray you, go yourself and view it.
Ord. It must have shot some pleasant feelings through you
Isid. If every atom of a dead man's flesh
Ord. Why, Isidore,
Isid. When a boy, my lord,
Some blind worm battens on the ropy mold
Ord. Art thou more coward now?
Isid. Call him, that fears his fellow-man, a coward !
every goodly or familiar form
Ord. Well ?
Isid. I was in the act
Ord. Strange enough!
been here before ?
Ord. (Stands lost in thought.) I know not why it should be!
yet it is
Isid. What is, my lord ?
Ord. Abhorrent from our nature, To kill a man.
Isid. Except in self-defense.
Ord. Why that's my case! and yet the soul recoils at it. 'Tis so with me, at least. But you, perhaps, Have sterner feelings.
Isid. Something troubles you.
Collects the guilt, and crowds it round the heart.
Ord. Thyself be judge.
Isid. Who !when!—my lord ?
Ord. What boots it who or when?
(They hang up their torches.) He was a man different from other men, And he despised them, yet revered himself.
Isid. He! he despised ?—thou’rt speaking of thyself !
Ord. All men seemed mad to him!
Isid. Of himself he speaks. (Aside.)
Ord. He walked alone,
lord ! In truth he is my darling.
As I went
Ord. With his human hand
Isid. I would, my lord, you were by my fireside ;
Though you began this cloudy tale at midnight.
Ord. Where was I ?
Ord. Surveying all things with a quiet scorn,
Isid. Ah! what of him, my lord ?
Ord. He proved a traitor, Betrayed the mystery to a brother traitor, And they between them hatched a damned plot To hunt him down to infamy and death. What did the Valdes? I am proud of the name Since he dared do it.- (Ordonio grasps his sword, and turns
off from Isidore; then after a pause returns.) Our links burn dimly.
Isid. A dark tale darkly finished ! nay, my lord, Tell what he did.
Ord. That which his wisdom prompted-
Isid. No! the fool!
lord! I would have met him armed, and scared the coward. (Isidore throws off his robe—shows himself armed, and draws his sword.)
Ord. Now this is excellent and warms the blood !
Isid. And all my little ones fatherless ?
disarming him throws his sword up that recess opposite to which they were standing. Isidore hurries into the recess with his torch; Ordonio follows him ; a loud cry of “ traitor! monster !" is heard from the cavern, aud in a moment Ordonio returns alone.)
Ord. I have hurled him down the chasm! treason for treason. He dreamt of it! Henceforward let him sleepA dreamless sleep, from which no wife can wake him. His dream too, is made out.
Virginius. Good day, Icilius.
Icilius. Worthy Virginius ! 'tis an evil day
Vir. You, Icilius, had a hand
my vote, in the Comitia ;
Icil. I would have pledged my life
Vir. 'Twas a high gage, and men have staked it higher,
Icil. By whom?
Icil. He disclosed it to you?
Vir. Siccius Dentatus is an honest man! There's not a worthier in Rome! How now? Has he deceived me? Do you call him liar ? My friend ! my comrade! honest Siccius, That has fought in six score battles ?