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Lady R., Account for these; thine own they cannot
For these, I say: bestedfast to the truth;
Detected falsehood is most certain death.
[ANNA removes the SERVANTs, and returns
Pris. Alas! I'm sore beset ! let never man,
For sake of lucre, sin against his soul!
Eternal Justice is in this most just!
I, guiltless now, must former guilt reveal.
Lady R. Oh! Anna, hear!—once more I charge
The truth direct; for these to me foretell
And certify a part of thy narration,
With which if the remainder tallies not, - -
An instant and a dreadful death abides thee.
Pris. Then, thus adjured, I'll speak to you as just
As if you were the minister of Heaven,
Sent down to search the secret sins of men.
Some eighteen years ago, I rented land,
Of brave Sir Malcolm, then Balarmo's lord;
But falling to decay, his servants seized
All that I had, and then turn'd me and mine
(Four helpless infants, and their weeping mother)
Out to the mercy of the winter winds.
A little hovel by the river's side
Received us; there hard labour, and the skill
In fishing, which was formerly my sport,
Supported life. Whilst thus we poorly lived,
One stormy night, as I remember well,
The wind and rain beat hard upon our roof;
Red came the river down, and loud and oft
The angry spirit of the water shriek'd.
At the dead hour of night was heard the cry
Of one in jeopardy. I rose, and ran
To where the circling eddy of a pool,
Beneath the ford, used oft to bring within
My reach whatever floating thing the stream
Had caught. The voice was ceased; the person lost;
But looking sad and earnest on the waters,
By the moon's light I saw, whirl’d round and round,
A basket: soon I drew it to the bank,
And nestled curious there an infant lay.
Lady R. Was he alive :
Pris. He was.
Lady R. Inhuman that thou art |
How could'st thou kill what waves and tempests
Pris. I am not so inhuman.
Lady R. Didst thou not
Pris. The needy man, who has known better days,
One whom distress has spited at the world,
Is he, whom tempting fiends would pitch upon
To do such deeds as makes the prosperous men
Lift up their hands, and wonder who could do them.
And such a man was I; a man declined,
Who saw no end of black adversity:
Yet, for the wealth of kingdoms, I would not
Have touch'd that infant with a hand of harm.
Lady R. Ha! dost thou say so? then perhaps he
Pris. Not many days ago he was alive.
Lady R. Oh! heavenly powers' did he then die so
lately : . .
Pris. I did not say he died: I hope he lives.
Not many days ago these eyes beheld
Him, flourishing in youth, and health, and beauty.
Lady R. Where is he now
Pris. Alas! I know not where.
Lady R. Oh fate! I fear thee still. Thou riddler
Direct and clear, else I will search thy soul.
Pris. Fear not my faith, though I must speak my
Within the cradle where the infant lay,
Was stowed a mighty store of gold and jewels;
Tempted by which, we did resolve to hide,
From all the world, the wonderful event,
And like a peasant breed this noble child.
That none might mark the change of our estate,
We left the country, travell'd to the north,
Bought flocks and herds, and gradually brought forth
Our secret wealth. But heav'n's all-seeing eye
Beheld our avarice, and smote us sore.
For one by one all our own children died,
And he, the stranger, sole remain'd the heir
Of what indeed was his. Fain then would I,
Who with a father's fondness loved the boy,
Have trusted him, now in the dawn of youth,
With his own secret: but my anxious wife,
Foreboding evil, never would consent.
Meanwhile the stripling grew in years and beauty;
And, as we oft observed, he bore himself,
Not as the offspring of our cottage blood;
For nature will break out : mild with the mild,
But with the froward he was fierce as fire,
And night and day he talk'd of war and arms.
I set myself against his warlike bent;
But all in vain: for when a desperate band
Of robbers from the savage mountains came
Lady R. Eternal Providence what is thy name 3
Pris. My name is Norval; and my name he bears
Lady R. "Tis hel 'tis he himself! It is my son
Oh! sovereign mercy! 'twas my child I saw
Pris. If I, amidst astonishment and fear,
Have of your words and gestures rightly judged,
Thou art the daughter of my ancient master;
The child I rescued from the flood is thine ! -
Lady R. With thee dissimulation now were vain.
I am indeed the daughter of Sir Malcolm;
The child thou rescu'dst from the flood is mine.
Pris. Blest be the hour that made me a poor man!
My poverty hath saved my master's house! •
Lady R. Thy words surprise me: sure thou dost
not feign :
The tear stands in thine eye: such love from thee
Sir Malcolm's house deserved not, if aright
Thou told'st the story of thy own distress.
Pris. Sir Malcolm of our barons was the flower;
The fastest friend, the best and kindest master.
But, ah! he knew not of my sad estate.
After that battle, where his gallant son,
Your own brave brother, fell, the good old lord
Grew desperate and reckless of the world;
And never, as he erst was wont, went forth
To overlook the conduct of his servants.
By them I was thrust out, and them I blame:
May heaven so judge me as I judge my master!
And God so love me as I love his race'
Lady R. His race shall yet reward thee.
Remember'st thou a little lonely hut,
That like a holy hermitage appears
Among the Cliffs of Carron
Pris. I remember
The cottage of the cliffs.
Lady R. 'Tis that I mean:
There dwells a man of venerable age,
Who in my father's service spent his youth :
Tell him I sent thee, and with him remain,
Till I shall call upon thee to declare,
Before the king and nobles, what thou now
To me hast told. No more but this, and thou
Shalt live in honour all thy future days;
Thy sou so long, shall call thee father still, |
And all the land shall bless the man who saved
The son of Douglas, and Sir Malcolm's heir. *
Remember well my words; if thou shouldst meet r -
Him, whom thou call'st thy son, still call him so;
And mention nothing of his nobler father.
Pris. Fear not that I shallmar so fair an harvest,
By putting in my sickle ere 'tis ripe. *
Why did I leave my home and ancient dame?
To find the youth, to tell him all I knew,
And make him wear these jewels in his arms, Which might, I thought, be challenged, and sobring To light the secret of his noble birth. [LADY RANDolph goes towards the SERVANTs. Lady R. This man is not th' assassin you suspected, Though chance combined some likelihoods against him. He is the faithful bearer of the jewels To their right owner, whom in haste he seeks. Tis meet that you should put him on his way, Since your mistaken zeal hath dragg'd him hither. [Ereunt STRANGER and SERVANTs. My faithful Anna | dost thou share my joy! I know thou dost. Unparallel'd event Reaching from heaven to earth, Jehovah's arm Snatch'd from the waves, and brings me to my son! Judge of the widow, and the orphan's father, Accept a widow's and a mother's thanks For such a gift —What does my Anna think Of the young eaglet of a valiant nest? How soon he gazed on bright and burning arms, . Spurn'd the low dunghill where his fate had thrown him
And tow'r'd up to the region of his sire
Anna. How fondly did your eyes devour the boy!
Mysterious nature, with the unseen cord
Of powerful instinct, drew you to your own.
Lady R. The ready story of his birth believed,
Suppress'd my fancy quite; nor did he owe,
To any likeness my so sudden favour :
But now I long to see his face again,
Examine every feature, and find out
The lineaments of Douglas, or my own.
But most of all, I long to let him know
Who his true parents are, to clasp his neck,
And tell him all the story of his father.
Anna. With wary caution you must bear yourself
In public, lest your tenderness break forth,