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Why art thou silent? Wherefore holds thy tongne
peace, and not thy cheek? Huon. My cheek?
Duke. It talks !
Huon. My lord
Duke. (Interrupting him.) I know it will advantage thee.
Huon. (More earnestly.) My lord-
she has wealth;
Huon. (Impetuously.) My lord-
now! Wouldst thou rebel? Huon. Rebel, my lord !
Duke. I trust I was deceived: I did not see defiance in thine eye, And hear it on thy tongue? Thou wouldst not dare So much as harbour wish to thwart thy lord, Much less intent?. Thou know'st him! know'st thyself! Thou may'st have scruplesthat thou canst not help; But thou canst help indulging them in the face Of thy lord's will. And so, as 'tis my will Thou marry straight, and I have found thy match, I'll draw a paper up, where thou shalt make The proffer of thy hand to Catherine, And thou shalt sign it, Huon.
[Writes. Huon. That I were dead ! Oh, what is death, compared to slavery! “ Brutes may bear bondage-they were made for it, “ When Heaven set men above them; but no mark, “ Definite and indelible, it put
Upon one man to mark him from another,
Duke. Here, Huon, sign,
wife. Huon. I will not sign. Duke. How now, my serf!
Huon. My lord, I am a man : And as a man, owe duty higher far Than that I owe to thee, which Heaven expects That I discharge. Didst thou command me murder, Steal, commit perjury, or even lie,Should I do it, though thy serf? No! To espouse her, Not loving her, were murder of her peace. I will not sign for that! With like default To compass mastery of her effects, Were robbery. I will not sign for that! To swear what I must swear to make her mine, Were perjury at the very altar! Therefore I will not sign! To put forth plea of love, Which not a touch of love bears witness to, Were uttering a lie. And so, my lord, I will not sign at all !
[Crosses, R. Duke. How, slave!
Huon. Oh, good my liege,
Leave me my heart--a miserable one
The Duke draws his sword, and resolutely approaches
Huon. At the same minute the Countess enters, un
perccived, and stops short, R. Duke. Huon, I love thee, And would not do thee harm, unless compelled. Thou shouldst not play with me, and shalt not. Take, Therefore, thy choice-death, or the paper. Huon. Death! (Falls on his knees, opens his vest, takes
the point of the Duke's sword and places it opposite
his heart. Set here thy point: 'Tis right against my heart! Press firm and straight; The more, the kinder!
A pause. Duke. As thou wishest death, I will not kill thee for thy disobedience. An hour I grant for calm reflection :-use it. If, on the lapse of that brief space,
I find The
page without addition, thou may'st learn
Our felons throng
lord !He does not hear, or will not. Most sweet cause Of most insufferable misery, Would'st thou not weep at this ? Couldst thou look on, And keep pride sitting in thy woman's eyeThe proper throne of pity-which for me, The melting queen has yet refused to fill, But to a stern usurper all abandoned ! Wouldst ihou not weep? “Or would my name alone“My sole condition set 'gainst all myself; “The vivid thoughts, the feelings sensitive, " The quick affections, passions of a man, “Despite his misery of birthright; flesh,
“Warm, warm; of as high vitality as though “ His lot had been an heirdom to a throne " Would that, prevailing 'gainst such odds as these, « Prevent thee?! Yes! Thou wouldst not weep for me. Oh, knew I what would make thee! Would my corpse ? Then to my father! own my passion for thee, Tell him his serf aspires to love his daughter, Boasts of it, though he sends him to the galleys, Will glory in it, chained beside the felon, Ay, with the tasker's whip whirling above him, Reiterate it, when he-threatens me, And when again he threatens, justify it, On the broad rights of common human nature, Till with his own hand he transfixes me!
(Following the Duke, L. Countess. (Interposing.) Stop, Huon-What's the mat
ter? Huon. Huon-Huon! Didst thou say Huon-and with gentleness ? Madam-my mistress—I am your slave!—I am nothing But the poor serf!
Coun. See if that door is free From list'ners. Huon. (Goes to the door, L., and returns.] There is no
one here. Coun. Now, what's the matter With
father and you ? Huon. He bade me sign that paper, And I refused.
Coun. What is it? Let me see it.
she reads.] How her eye fastens on the writing- , To grasp it, as her hand the
paper! What! Did she start ? She did! Oh, wherefore ?—What is
this? Her sweet face that just now was all a calm, Show signs of brooding tempest! Yes, 'tis onLowers on her brow, and flashes on her cheek, Like cloud and lightning. How her bosom heaves ! What makes it heave? (She drops the paper.) She has let
the paper drop,
Yet there she stands as though she held it yet!
Coun. [Bursting into tears.] It is over.
Huon. Flow they for me?
cheeks, And fall more bright than diamonds on the hands Which now I clasp to thee in supplication, That thou wilt deign this once vouchsafe me audience, To give my fatal passion vent before thee For years pent up within my wretched breastAnd then I'm mute forever!
Coun. Huon, peace-
Huon. Thou know'st it, dost thou ?
(Falls at her feet.