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I’ll go and press the hero to my breast.
[Exit with the Officer.
Lady R. The soldier's loftiness, the pride and pomp
Investing awful war, Norval, I see,
Transport thy youthful mind.
Nor. Ah! should they not
Bless'd be the hour I left my father's house?
I might have been a shepherd all my days,
And stole obscurely to a peasant's grave.
Now, if I live, with mighty chiefs I stand; 149
And, if I fall, with noble dust I lie.
Lady R. There is a generous spirit in thy breast,
That could have well sustain’d a prouder fortune.
This way with me; under yon spreading beech,
Unseen, unheard, by human eye or ear,
I will amaze thee with a wond’rous tale.
Nor. Let there be danger, Lady, with the secret,
That I may hug it to my grateful heart,
And prove my faith. Command my sword, my life:
These are the sole possessions of poor Norval.
Lady R. Know'st thou these gems :
Nor. Durst I believe mine eyes,
I'd say I knew them, and they were my father's.
Lady. R. Thy father's, say'st thou? Ah, they were
Nor. I saw them once, and curiously enquir’d
Of both my parents, whence such splendor came 2
But I was check'd, and more could never learn.
Iady R. Then learn of me, thou art not Norval's
Nor. Not Norval’s son 1 Lady R. Nor of a shepherd sprung. 16o Nor. Lady, who am I then Lady R. Noble thou art; For noble was thy sire. Nor. I will believe— Oh, tell me farther! Say, who was my father Lady R. Douglas ! Nor. Lord Douglas, whom to-day I saw Lady R. His younger brother. Nor. And in yonder camp : Lady R. Alas ! Nor. You make me tremble—Sighs and tears? Lives my brave father? Lady R. Ah! too brave, indeed He fell in battle ere thyself was born. Nor. Ah me, unhappy Ere I saw the light ! But does my mother live I may conclude, From my own fate, her portion has been sorrow. Lady R. She lives; but wastes her life in constant woe, Weeping her husband slain, her infant lost, Nor. You that are skill’d so well in the sad story Of my unhappy parents, and with tears 181 Bewail their destiny, now have compassion Upon the offspring of the friends you lov’d. Oh, tell me who and where my mother is Oppress'd by a base world, perhaps she bends Beneath the weight of other ills than grief; And, desolate, implores of Heaven the aid
Her son should give. It is, it must be so—-
Your countenance confesses that she's wretched.
Oh, tell me her condition I Can the sword—
Who shall resist me in a parent's cause
Lady R. Thy virtue ends her woes—My son I my
I am thy mother, and the wife of Douglas!
[Falls upon his neck.
Nor. Oh, heaven and earth how wond’rous is my
Art thou my mother Ever let me kneel !
Lady R. Image of Douglas! fruit of fatal love
All that I owe thy sire, I pay to thee.
Nor. Respect and admiration still possess me.
Checking the love and fondness of a son:
Yet I was filial to my humble parents. 2Oro
But did my sire surpass the rest of men,
As thou excellest all of womankind
Lady R. Arise, my son. In me thou dost behold
The poor remains of beauty once admir’d.
The autumn of my days is come already :
For sorrow made my summer haste away,
Yet in my prime I equall'd not thy father:
His eyes were like the eagle's, yet sometimes
Liker the dove's ; and, as he pleas'd, he won
All hearts with softness, or with spirit aw’d.
Nor. How did he fall Sure 'twas a bloody field
When Douglas died. Oh, I have much to ask!
Lady R. Hereafter thou shalt hear the lengthened tale
of all thy father's and thy mother's woes.
At present this—Thou art the rightful heir
Ofyonder castle, and the wide domains
Which now lord Randolph, as my husband, holds.
But thou shalt not be wrong’d ; I have the power
To right thee still. Before the King I’ll kneel,
And call lord Douglas to protećt his blood. 22 o
Nor. The blood of Douglas will protećt itself.
Lady R. But we shall need both friends and favour,
To wrest thy lands and lordship from the gripe
Of Randolph and his kinsman. Yet I think
My tale will move each gentle heart to pity,
My life incline the virtuous to believe.
Nor. To be the son of Douglas is to me
Inheritance enough. Declare my birth,
And in the field I'll seek for fame and fortune.
Lady R. Thou dost not know what perils and
Await the poor man's valour. Oh, my son 1
The noblest blood of all the land’s abash'd,
Having no lacquey but pale poverty.
Too long hast thou been thus attended, Douglas,
Too long hast thou been deem'd a peasant’s child.
The wanton heir of some inglorious chief
Perhaps has scorn'd thee in the vouthful sports,
Whilst thy indignant spirit swell'd in vain.
Such contumely thou no more shalt bear:
But how I purpose to redress thy wrongs 24o
Must be hereafter told. Prudence directs
That we should part before yon chiefs return.
Retire, and from thy rustic follower's hand
Receive a billet, which thy mother's care,
Anxious to see thee, dićtated before
This casual opportunity arose
Of private conference. Its purport mark;
For as I there appoint, we meet again.
Leave me, my son; and frame thy manners still
To Norval’s, not to noble Douglas' state.
Nor. I will remember. Where is Norval now
That good old man.
Lady R. At hand conceal’d he lies,
An useful witness. But beware, my son,
Of yon Glenalvon; in his guilty breast
Resides a villain's shrewdness, ever prone
To false conjecture. He hath griev'd my heart.
Nor. Has he, indeed Then let yon false Glenal-
Beware of me. [Exit.
Lady R. There burst the smother'd flame. 26o
Oh, thou all-righteous and eternal King!
Who Father of the fatherless art call’d,
Protect my son Thy inspiration, Lord
Hath fill’d his bosom with that sacred fire,
Which in the breasts of his forefathers burn'd :
Set him on high, like them, that he may shine
The star and glory of his native land 1
Then let the minister of death descend,
And bear my willing spirit to its place.
Yonder they come. How do bad women find
Unchanging aspects to conceal their guilt,