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SCENE, road in a Wood.
WALLACE and LACY.
Lacy. The Troop will be impatient; let us hie
Back to our post, and strip the Scottish Foray
Of their rich Spoil, ere they recross the Border.
-Pity that our young Chief will have no part
In this good service.
Rather let us grieve
That, in the undertaking which has caused
His absence, he hath sought, whate'er his aim,
Companionship with One of crooked ways,
From whose perverted soul can come no good
To our confiding, open-hearted, Leader.
Lacy. True; and, remembering how the Band
That Oswald finds small favour in our sight,
Well may we wonder he has gained such power
Over our much-loved Captain.
ELDRED, a Peasant.
Peasant, Pilgrims, &c.
READERS already acquainted with my Poems will recognise, in the following composition, some eight or ten line, which I have not scrupled to retain in the places where they originally stood. It is proper however to add, that they would not have been used elsewhere, if I had foreseen the time when I might be induced to publish this Tragedy. February 28, 1842.
ELEANOR, Wife to ELDRED
I have heard
Of some dark deed to which in early life
His passion drove him-then a Voyager
Upon the midland Sea. You knew his bearing
In Palestine ?
Lacy. Where he despised alike Mohammedan and Christian. But enough; Let us begone--the Band may else be foiled.
Enter MARMADUKE and WILFRED.
Wil. Be cautious, my dear Master!
That fear is like a cloak which old men huddle
About their love, as if to keep it warm.
Wil. Nay, but I grieve that we should part.
For such he is
Your busy fancies, Wilfred,
light tempt me a smile; but what of him!
Wil. You know that you have saved his life.
I know it.
Wil. And that he hates you!-Pardon me, per-
That word was hasty.
I do more,
I honour him. Strong feelings to his heart
Are natural; and from no one can be learnt
More of man's thoughts and ways than his experience
Has given him power to teach: and then for courage
And enterprise-what perils hath he shunned!
What obstacles hath he failed to overcome!
Answer these questions, from our common know.
[Exeunt. And be at rest.
Fy! no more of it.
Wil. Dear Master! gratitude's a heavy burden
To a proud Soul.-Nobody loves this Oswald-
Yourself, you do not love him.
Oh, Sir !
Peace, my good Wilfred;
Repair to Liddesdale, and tell the Band
I shall be with them in two days, at farthest.
Wil. May He whose eye is over all protect you!
Yet was I grievously provoked to think
Of what I witnessed.
Enter OSWALD (a bunch of plants in his hand).
Osw. This wood is rich in plants and curious
Treat him gently, Oswald;
Mar. (looking at them). The wild rose, and the Though I have never seen his face, methinks,
There cannot come a day when I shall cease
To love him. I remember, when a Boy
poppy, and the nightshade:
Which is your favorite, Oswald ?
That which, while it is
Strong to destroy, is also strong to heal—
Not yet in sight!-We'll saunter here awhile;
They cannot mount the hill, by us unseen.
Mar. (a letter in his hand). It is no common
thing when one like you
Performs these delicate services, and therefore
I feel myself much bounden to you, Oswald;
Tis a strange letter this!-You saw her write it?
One. And saw the tears with which she blotted it.
Mar. And nothing less would satisfy him?
For that another in his Child's affection
Should hold a place, as if 'twere robbery,
He seemed to quarrel with the very thought.
Besides, I know not what strange prejudice
Is rooted in his mind; this Band of ours,
Which you've collected for the noblest ends,
Along the confines of the Esk and Tweed
To guard the Innocent-he calls us "Outlaws;"
And, for yourself, in plain terms he asserts
This garb was taken up that indolence
Might want no cover, and rapacity
Be better fed.
Ne'er may I own the heart
That cannot feel for one, helpless as he is.
Orw. Thou know'st me for a Man not easily
This day will suffice
But if the blind Man's tale
And I had heard the like before: in sooth
The tale of this his quondam Barony
Is cunningly devised; and, on the back
Of his forlorn appearance, could not fail
To make the proud and vain his tributaries,
And stir the pulse of lazy charity.
Should yet be true?
Did not the Soldier tell thee that himself,
Would it were possible!
And others who survived the wreck, beheld
The Baron Herbert perish in the waves
Upen the coast of Cyprus?
Yes, even so,
The seignories of Herbert are in Devon ;
We, neighbours of the Esk and Tweed: 'tis much
Of scarcely seven years' growth, beneath the Elm
That casts its shade over our village school,
'Twas my delight to sit and hear Idonea
Repeat her Father's terrible adventures,
Till all the band of play-mates wept together;
And that was the beginning of my love.
And, through all converse of our later years,
An image of this old Man still was present,
When I had been most happy. Pardon me
If this be idly spoken.
See, they come,
Mar. (points). The woman is Idonea.
Osw. And leading Herbert.
We must let them pass-
This thicket will conceal us. [They step aside.
Enter IDONEA, leading HERBERT blind.
Idon. Dear Father, you sigh deeply; ever since
We left the willow shade by the brook-side,
Your natural breathing has been troubled.
You are too fearful; yet must I confess,
Our march of yesterday had better suited
A firmer step than mine.
That dismal Moor-
In spite of all the larks that cheered our path,
I never can forgive it: but how steadily
You paced along, when the bewildering moonlight
Mocked me with many a strange fantastic shape!—
I thought the Convent never would appear;
It seemed to move away from us: and yet,
That you are thus the fault is mine; for the air
Was soft and warm, no dew lay on the grass,
And midway on the waste ere night had fallen
I spied a Covert walled and roofed with sods-
A miniature; belike some Shepherd-boy,
Who might have found a nothing-doing hour
Heavier than work, raised it: within that hut
We might have made a kindly bed of heath,
And thankfully there rested side by side
Idon. Believe me, honoured Sire! 'Tis weariness that breeds these gloomy fancies, And you mistake the cause: you hear the woods Resound with music, could you see the sun, And look upon the pleasant face of Nature
Her. I comprehend thee--I should be as cheerful As if we two were twins; two songsters bred In the same nest, my spring-time one with thine. My fancies, fancies if they be, are such As come, dear Child! from a far deeper source Than bodily weariness. While here we sit I feel my strength returning.-The bequest Of thy kind Patroness, which to receive We have thus far adventured, will suffice To save thee from the extreme of penury; But when thy Father must lie down and die, How wilt thou stand alone?
Is he not strong?
Is he not valiant?
Am I then so soon
Forgotten have my warnings passed so quickly
Out of thy mind? My dear, my only, Child;
Thou wouldst be leaning on a broken reed-
Idon O could you hear his voice: Alas! you do not know him. He is one (I wot not what ill tongue has wronged him with you) All gentleness and love. His face bespeaks A deep and simple meekness: and that Soul,
Which with the motion of a virtuous act
Flashes a look of terror upon guilt,
Is, after conflict, quiet as the ocean,
By a miraculous finger, stilled at once.
Her. Unhappy Woman!
Nay, it was my duty
Thus much to speak; but think not I forget-
Dear Father! how could I forget and live-
You and the story of that doleful night
When, Antioch blazing to her topmost towers,
You rushed into the murderous flames, returned
Blind as the grave, but, as you oft have told me
Clasping your infant Daughter to your heart.
Her. Thy Mother too!-scarce had I gained the
I caught her voice; she threw herself upon me,
I felt thy infant brother in her arms;
She saw my blasted face-a tide of soldiers
That instant rushed between us, and I heard
Her last death-shriek, distinct among a thousand
Idon. Nay, Father, stop not; let me hear it
Her. Dear Daughter! precious relic of that time
For my old age, it doth remain with thee
To make it what thou wilt. Thou hast been tol
That when, on our return from Palestine,
I found how my domains had been usurped,
I took thee in my arms, and we began
Our wanderings together. Providence
At length conducted us to Rossland,—there,
Our melancholy story moved a Stranger
To take thee to her home-and for myself,
Soon after, the good Abbot of St. Cuthbert's
Supplied my helplessness with food and raimen
And, as thou know'st, gave me that humble C
Where now we dwell.—For many years I bore
Thy absence, till old age and fresh infirmities
Exacted thy return, and our reunion.
I did not think that, during that long absence,
My Child, forgetful of the name of Herbert,
Had given her love to a wild Freebooter,
Who here, upon the borders of the Tweed,
Doth prey alike on two distracted Countries,
Traitor to both.
Idon. Oh, could you hear his voice I will not call on Heaven to vouch for me, But let this kiss speak what is in my heart.
Enter a Peasant.
Pea. Good morrow, Strangers! If you wa Guide,
Let me have leave to serve you!
Idon. My Comp Hath need of rest; the sight of Hut or Hoste Would be most welcome.
Pea. Yon white hawthorn gained, You will look down into a dell, and there Will see an ash from which a sign-board hangs ; The house is hidden by the shade. Old Man, You seem worn out with travel-shall I support you? Her. I thank you; but, a resting-place so near, 'Twere wrong to trouble you. Pea.
God speed you both. [Exit Peasant. Her. Idonea, we must part. Be not alarmed— 'Tis but for a few days-a thought has struck me. Idon. That I should leave you at this house, and
Proceed alone. It shall be so; for strength
Would fail you ere our journey's end be reached.
[Exit HERBERT supported by IDONEA.
Re-enter MARMADUKE and OSWALD.
Mar. This instant will we stop him-
Be not hasty,
For, sometimes, in despite of my conviction,
He tempted me to think the Story true;
Tis plain he loves the Maid, and what he said
That savoured of aversion to thy name
Appeared the genuine colour of his soul-
Anxiety lest mischief should befal her
After his death.
I have been much deceived. Q. But sure he loves the Maiden, and never love Could find delight to nurse itself so strangely, Thus to torment her with inventions !-deathThere must be truth in this. Mar. Truth in his story! He must have felt it then, known what it was, And in such wise to rack her gentle heart
Had been a tenfold cruelty.
Do we poor mortals cater for ourselves!
To see him thus provoke her tenderness
With tales of weakness and infirmity!
I'd wager on his life for twenty years.
Mer. We will not waste an hour in such a cause. Q. Why, this is noble ! shake her off at once. Mar. Her virtues are his instruments.-A Man Who has so practised on the world's cold sense, May well deceive his Child-what! leave her thus,
A prey to a deceiver?-no-no-no
Tis but a word and then
Something is here
More than we see, or whence this strong aversion?
Marmaduke! I suspect unworthy tales
Have reached his ear-you have had enemies.
Mar. Enemies!-of his own coinage.
But wherefore slight protection such as you
Mar. What is your meaning?
Osw. Two days gone Though at a distance and he was disguised, Hovering round Herbert's door, a man whose figure Resembled much that cold voluptuary,
The villain, Clifford. He hates you, and he knows
Where he can stab you deepest.
Would stoop to skulk about a Cottage door-
It could not be.
And yet I now remember,
That, when your praise was warm upon my tongue,
And the blind Man was told how you had rescued
A maiden from the ruffian violence
Of this same Clifford, he became impatient
And would not hear me.
A thing worth further notice, we must act
With caution, sift the matter artfully.
No-it cannot beI dare not trust myself with such a thoughtYet whence this strange aversion? You are a man Not used to rash conjectures
[Exeunt MARMADUKE and OSWALD.
SCENE, the door of the Hostel.
HERBERT, IDONEA, and Host.
Her. (seated). As I am dear to you, remember,
Child! This last request.