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Isid. (Forcing a laugh faintly.) A jest to laugh at!
It was not that which scared me, good my lord.
Ord. What scared


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
Should creep, each one with a particular life,
Yet all as cold as ever—'twas just so!
Or had it drizzled needled points of frost
Upon a feverish head made suddenly bald-

Ord. Why, Isidore,
I blush for thy cowardice. It might have startled,
I grant you, even a brave man for a moment-
But such a panic-

Isid. When a boy, my lord,
I could have sat whole hours beside that chasm,
Pushed in huge stones and heard them strike and dash
Against its horrid sides : then hung my head
Low down, and listened till the heavy fragments
Sank with faint crash in that still groaning well,
Which never thirsty pilgrim blessed, which never
A living thing came near-unless, perchance,

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Some blind worm battens on the ropy mold
Close at its edge.

Ord. Art thou more coward now?

Isid. Call him, that fears his fellow-man, a coward !
I fear not man—but this inhuman cavern,
It were too bad a prison-house for goblins.
Besides, you'll smile my lord, but true it is,
My last night's sleep was very sorely haunted,
By what passed between us in the morning.
Oh sleep of horrors! now run down and stared at
By forms so hideous that they mock remembrance-
Now seeing nothing and imagining nothing,
But only being afraid—stifled with fear!

every goodly or familiar form
Had a strange power of breathing terror round me!
I saw you in a thousand fearful shapes;
And, I entreat your lordship to believe me,
In my last dream-

Ord. Well ?

Isid. I was in the act
Of falling down that chasm, when Alhadre
Waked me: she heard my heart beat.

Ord. Strange enough!

been here before ?
Isid. Never, my lord !
But mine eyes do not see it now more clearly,
Than in my dream I saw—that very chasm.

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.
How shall I serve you? By the life you gave me,
By all that makes that life a value to me ;
My wife, my babes, my honor, I swear to you,
Name it, and I will toil to do the thing,
If it be innocent! But this, my lord,
Is not a place where you could perpetrate,
No, nor propose, a wicked thing! The darkness,
When ten strides off we know 'tis cheerful moonlight,

Collects the guilt, and crowds it round the heart.
It must be innocent.

Ord. Thyself be judge.
One of our fanily knew this place well.

Isid. Who !when!—my lord ?

Ord. What boots it who or when?
Hang up thy torch-I'll tell his tale to thee.

(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 !
I am on my guard, however: no surprise. (Aside.)
What, he was mad?

Ord. All men seemed mad to him!
Nature had made him for some other planet,
And pressed his soul into a human shape
By accident or malice. In this world
He found no fit companion.

Isid. Of himself he speaks. (Aside.)
Alas! poor wretch !
Madmen are mostly proud.

Ord. He walked alone,
And phantom thoughts unsought for, troubled him.
Something within would still be shadowing out
All possibilities; and with these shadows
His mind held dalliance. Once, as so it happened,
A fancy crossed him wilder than the rest :
To this in moody murmur and low voice
He yielded utterance, as some talk in sleep.
The man who heard him
Why didst thou look round ?
Isid. I have a pratiler three years

lord ! In truth he is my darling.

As I went
From forth my door, he made a moan in sleep-
But I am talking idly-pray proceed!
And what did this man?

Ord. With his human hand
He gave a substance and reality
To that wild fancy of a possible thing.-
Well, it was done! (Very wildly.)
Why babblest thou of guilt ?
The deed was done, and it passed fairly off.
And he whose tale I tell thee-dost thou listen?

Isid. I would, my lord, you were by my fireside ;
I'd listen to you with an eager eye.

old, my

Though you began this cloudy tale at midnight.
But I do listen--pray proceed, my lord.--

Ord. Where was I ?
Isid. He of whom you tell the tale-

Ord. Surveying all things with a quiet scorn,
Tamed himself down to living purposes,
The occupations and the semblances
Of ordinary men--and such he seemed!
But that same over-ready agent-hem

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-
He made the traitor meet him in this cavern
And here he killed the traitor.

Isid. No! the fool!
He had not wit enough to be a traitor.
Poor thick-eyed beetle! not to have foreseen
That he who gulled thee with a whimpered lie
To murder his own brother, would not scruple
To murder thee, if e'er his guilt grew jealous ;
And he could steal upon thee in the dark !
Ord. Thou wouldist not then have


ifIsid. Oh

yes, my

lord! I would have met him armed, and scared the coward. (Isidore throws off his robeshows himself armed, and draws his sword.)

Ord. Now this is excellent and warms the blood !
My heart was drawing back; drawing me back
With weak and womanish scruples. Now my vengeance
Beckons me onwards with a warrior's mien,
And claims that life my pity robbed her of.
Now will I kill thee, thankless slave, and count it
Among my comfortable thoughts hereafter.

Isid. And all my little ones fatherless ?
Die thou first. (They fight; Ordonio disarms Isidore, and in

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
For Rome! Our new decemvirs
Are any thing but friends to justice and
Their country.

Vir. You, Icilius, had a hand
In their election. You applied to me
To aid with

my vote, in the Comitia ;
I told you then, and tell you now again,
I am not pleased when a patrician bends
His head to a plebeian's girdle! Mark me!
I'd rather he should stand aloof, and wear
His shoulder high-especially the nephew
Of Caius Claudius.

Icil. I would have pledged my life

Vir. 'Twas a high gage, and men have staked it higher,
On grounds as poor as yours—their honor, boy!
Icilius, I have heard it all-your plans-
The understanding 'twixt the heads of the people-
Of whom, Icilius, you are reckoned one, and
Worthily—and Appius Claudius-all-
'Twas every jot disclosed to me.

Icil. By whom?
Vir. Siccius Dentatus.

Icil. He disclosed it to you?
Siccius Dentatus is a crabbed man!

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 ?

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