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The season's pleasures too delay their hour,
SCENE I.- A pavilion near PIZARRO's Tent. ELVIRA discovered sleeping under a canopy. VALVERDE enters,
gazes on Elvira, kneels, and attempts to kiss her hand; ELVIRA awakened, rises and looks at him with indignation.
Elv. Audacious! Whence is thy privilege to interrupt the few moments of repose my harassed mind can snatch amid the tumults of this noisy camp ?
Shall I inform thy master, Pizarro, of this presumptuous treachery?
Val. I am his servant-it is true—trusted by him—and I know him well; and therefore 'tis I ask, by what magic could Pizarro gain your heart ? by what fatality still holds he your affection?
Elv. Hold I thou trusty secretary !
Val. Ignobly born! in mind and manners rude, ferocious, and unpolished, though cool and crafty if occasion need-in youth audacious—ill his first manhood-a licensed piratetreating men as brutes, the world as booty; yet now the Spanish hero is he styled-the first of Spanish conquerors ! and, for a warrior so accomplished, 'tis fit Elvira should leave her noble family, her fame, her home, to share the dangers, humours, and the crimes, of such a lover as Pizarro !
Elv. What ! Valverde moralizing ! But grant I am in error, what is my incentive ? Passion, infatuation, call it as you will; but what attaches thee to this despised, unworthy leader ? Base lucre is thy object, mean fraud thy means. gain me, you only hope to win a higher interest in Pizarro. I
Val. On my soul, you wrong me! What else my faults, I have none towards you. But indulge the scorn and levity of your nature ; do it while yet the time permits; the gloomy hour, I fear, too soon approaches.
Elv. Valverde a prophet too!
Val. Hear me, Elvira. Shame from his late defeat, and burning wishes for revenge, again have brought Pizarro to Peru; but trust me, he overrates his strength, nor measures well the foe. Encamped in a strange country, where terror cannot force, nor corruption buy a single friend, what have we to hope? The army murmuring at increasing hardships, while Pizarro decorates with gaudy spoil the gay pavilion of his luxury, each day dininishes our force.
Elv. But are you not the heirs of those that fall ?
Val. Are gain and plunder, then, our only purpose? Is this Elvira's heroism?
Elv. No, so save me Heaven ! I abhor the motive, means, and end of your pursuits ; but I will trust none of you. In your whole army there is not one of you that has a heart, or speaks ingenuously-aged Las-Casas, and he alone, excepted.
Val. He! an enthusiast in the opposite and worst extreme !
Elv. Oh! had I earlier known that virtuous man, how different might my lot have been !
Val. I will grant Pizarro could not then so easily have duped Jou : forgive me, but at that event I still must wonder.
Elv. Hear me, Valverde. When first my virgin fancy waked to love, Pizarro was my country's idol. Self-taught, self-raised, and self-supported, he became a hero; and I was formed to be won by glory and renown. 'Tis known that, when he left
Panama in a slight vessel, his force was not a hundred men. Arrived at the island of Gallo, with his sword he drew a line upon the sands, and said, “Pass those who fear to die or conquer with their leader.” Thirteen alone remained, and at the head of these the warrior stood his ground. Even at the moment when my ears first caught this tale, my heart exclaimed, “ Pizarro is its lord !" What since I have perceived, or thought, or felt, you must have more worth to win the knowledge of.
Val. I press no further, still assured that, while Alonzo de Molina, our general's former friend and pupil, leads the enemy, Pizarro never more will be a conqueror. [Trumpets without.
Elv. Silence ! I hear him coming ; look not perplexed. How mystery and fraud confound the countenance ! Quick, put on an honest face, if thou canst.
Piz. [Without.] Chain and secure him ; I will examine him myself.
Enter PIZARRO. VALVERDE bows—Elvira laughs. Piz. Why dost thou smile, Elvira ?
Elv. To laugh or weep without a reason is one of the few privileges poor women have.
Piz. Elvira, I will know the cause, I am resolved !
Elv. I am glad of that, because I love resolution, and am resolved not to tell you. Now my resolution, I take it, is the better of the two, because it depends upon myself, and yours does not.
Piz. Psha ! trifler !
Val. Yes—that Alonzo's skill and genius should so have disciplined and informed the enemy, as to
Piz. Alonzo! the traitor ! How I once loved that man! His noble mother intrusted him, a boy, to my protection. [ELVIRA walks about pensively in the background.) At my table did he feast-.in my tent did he repose. I had marked his early genius, and the valorous spirit that grew with it. Often had I talked to him of our early adventures—what storms we struggled with—what perils we surmounted ! When landed with a slender host upon an unknown land-then, when I told how famine and fatigue, discord and toil, day by day, did thin our ranks amid close-pressing enemies—how still undaunted I endured and dared-maintained my purpose and my power in despite of growling mutiny or bold revolt, till with my faithful few remaining I became at last victorious !-when, I say, of
these things I spoke, the youth Alonzo, with tears of wonder and delight, would throw him on my neck, and swear his soul's ambition owned no other leader.
Val. What could subdue attachment so begun?
Piz. Las-Casas.—He it was, with fascinating craft and canting precepts of humanity, raised in Alonzo's mind a new enthusiasm, which forced him, as the stripling termed it, to forego his country's claims for those of human nature.
Val. Yes, the traitor left you, joined the Peruvians, and became thy enemy, and Spain's.
Piz. But first with weariless remonstrance he sued to win me from my purpose, and untwine the sword from my determined grasp. Much he spɔke of right, of justice, and humanity, calling the Peruvians our innocent and unoffending brethren.
Val. They! Obdurate heathens ! They our brethren!
Piz. But, when he found that the soft folly of the pleading tears he dropped on my bosom fell on marble, he few and joined the foe: then, profiting by the lessons he had gained in wronged Pizarro's school, the youth so disciplined and led his new allies, that soon he forced me,
-ha! I burn with shame and fury while I own it !-in base retreat and foul discomfiture to quit the shore.
Val. But the hour of revenge is come.
Piz. It is ; I am returned: my force is strengthened, and the audacious boy shall soon know that Pizarro lives, and has.-a grateful recollection of the thanks he owes him.
Val. 'Tis doubted whether still Alonzo lives.
Piz. 'Tis certain that he does; one of his armour-bearers is just made prisoner: twelve thousand is their force, as he reports, led by Alonzo and Peruvian Rolla. This day they make a solemn sacrifice on their ungodly altars. We must profit by their security, and attack them unprepared—the sacrificers shall become the victims.
Elv. Wretched innocents! And their own blood shall bedew their altars !
Piz. Right !--[Trumpets without.] Elvira, retire !
Elv. O men ! men ! ungrateful and perverse! O woman ! still affectionate though wronged ! (VALVERDE retires back.] The being to whose eyes you turn for animation, hope, and rapture, through the days of mirth and revelry; and on whose bosoms, in the hour of sore calamity, you seek for rest and consolation; then, when the pompous follies of your mean ambition are the question, you treat as playthings or as slaves !-1 shall not retire.
Piz. Remain, then; and, if thou canst, be silent.
Elv. They only babble who practise not reflection. I shall think—and thought is silence. Piz. [Aside.] Ha! there's somewhat in her manner lately—
Looks sternly and suspiciously at ELVIRA, who meets his
glance with a commanding and unaltered eye. Enter LAS-CASAS, ALMAGRO, GONZALO, DAVILLA, OFFICERS, and
SOLDIERS.—Trumpets without. Las-Cas. Pizarro, we attend thy summons.
Piz. Welcome, venerable father!—My friends, most welcome! Friends and fellow-soldiers, at length the hour is arrived, which to Pizarro's hopes presents the full reward of our undaunted enterprise and long-enduring toils. Confident in security, this day the foe devotes to solemn sacrifice; if with bold surprise we strike on their solemnity– trust to your leader's word—we shall not fail.
Alm. Too long inactive have we been mouldering on the coast; our stores exhausted, and our soldiers murmuring. Battle ! battle !—then death to the armed, and chains for the defenceless.
Dav. Death to the whole Peruvian race !
Alm. Yes, general, the attack, and instantly! Then shall Alonzo, basking at his ease, soon cease to scoff our sufferings, and scorn our force.
Las-Cas. Alonzo !-scorn and presumption are not in his nature.
Alm. 'Tis fit Las-Casas should defend his pupil.
Piz. Speak pot of the traitor, or hear his name but as the bloody summons to assault and vengeance. It appears we are agreed.
Alm. Dav. We are.
Las-Cas. Is, then, the dreadful measure of your cruelty not yet complete ? Battle ! gracious Heaven ! against whom ! Against a king, in whose mild bosom your atrocious injuries even yet have not excited hate! but who, insulted or victorious, still sues for peace. Against a people who never wronged the living being their Creator formed: a people who, children of innocence ! received you as cherished guests with eager hospitality and confiding kindness. Generously and freely did they