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My father! I did love my father, sir;
Indeed I did!

Ulrick. Then let me now fulfil

His last behest, whereof the substance this,
At length recorded here-which he enjoined
You should be instantly possessed of-proof
Of his most fatherly regard and care.

Of those who seek your hand you must make choice
Of one to share the labors of the dukedom,
Or else abide the issue of the lists-
Your suitors summoned to a tournament,
When he who rests the victor wins your hand.
Coun. I am content! I'll do my father's will,
And bide the issue of the tournament,
Or chose myself the man shall take

my hand.

Ulrick. Jointly the Empress and myself are named Executors, to give the will effect.

Coun. It was not needed :—it had been respected
Without o'erlooking, how much less enforcement!
My brain and heart are here and there !-I haven't
The use of them. Some one did tell me now
Of something-what was it?

Ulrick. One said the serf

Coun. Call him that name again! Whom speak'st thou of?

Huon?

Re-enter STEPHEN, L.

Stephen. This letter is from Huon, madam.
Mounted upon a steed, your father's gift,
He threw it me, and fled.

Coun. [Reading.] " Eternally
Farewell-your will is done—I use my freedom.
Fortune my mistress hence—the richest boon
She can award me, death!-Once more, farewell !”
Oh, rashness most perverse and ruinous!
Let them pursue him; and provide them with
The fleetest of the stud, and gold beside
For new relays. If they o'ertake him-if-
They must!-'tis an affair of life or death!
They must not quit him, but return with him-
Stephen. The bride-

Coun. No heed of her. Bring Huon back By fair means or by foul-persuasion lost, Let them resort to force-but not to harm A hair of his head. So be their numbers such As makes resistance idle. They are sure To track him, so they lose not time-and see They do not! If they waste a moment only, They answer for't. [Stephen going.] Stay, sir: a purse of gold

To every one of them-of gold, you mark

So that they bring him back; and one for you

In like event. [Stephen going.] A minute hence, observe, I look into the court-yard, and expect

*

To see them in their saddles, and away!

Upon their lives I charge them bring him back! [Exeunt, Stephen, L., Countess and Ulrick, R.

END OF ACT III.

ACT IV.

SCENE I.-A Room in the Castle.

Ulrick. At length-the day almost arrived that brings The tournament, whose issue brings to her A consort for her state-she yields me audience. Is it for loss of Huon she has pined, And kept herself forbiddingly alone? If so, why give his hand to Catherine? This is a mystery, the which the more I try to sound, the deeper doth it grow; While surmise after surmise rises, as Report succeeds report of high exploits Achieved by this unknown adventurer. Who now stands next the Empress chief in place, That even he and Huon are the same! Should it be so, and he should come along, What then the issue of her meeting with him? This I revolve, and with a troubled heart, That sees no end to its perplexity. How changed she is! Her fiery eye is quenched!

[Looks out.

Her head its haughty carriage hath abated,
Her cheek is beggared of its prideful blush.

Enter COUNTESS, R. S. E., with a parchment in her hand. Coun. I have perused the testament, my lord, Carefully, word for word, and see no mention, Either directly or by implication, Touching the quality of him may win me.

Ulrick. No, none is made; a slight omission only. Coun. Yet space enough to let my will creep through. You say, my lord, you have made proclamation Of this fair passage far and wide?

Ulrick. I have.

Coun. And now expect the Empress ?

Ulrick. Yes.

Coun. And with her?

Ulrick. The noblest of her court; a glorious crowd; Among the rest, her favourite; that youth With whose exploits the wondering realm resounds, Who, in so brief a space, without a name, Has made himself the noblest which the tongue Of high renown rings out.

Coun. That youth! what youth?

Ulrick. A young adventurer, of whom it seems
Fair fortune is enamoured-gives him all
He asks!

Coun. I never heard of him before.

Ulrick. So please you, madam, you forget, till now, Since that your father died and Huon fled, Save your new secretary, you have deigned With none vouchsafe communing.

Coun. You are right:

I have forgot the world, time, everything!
What is this favourite called?

Ulrick. His titles change

So fast-the former almost new as its

Successor scarce I know now his present style.

Coun. His name, I mean.

Ulrick. His name I know not, madam.

Coun. [Aside.] What moves wy heart, so leaden dull before?

Why did it leap at mention of the stranger?—

Has he been seen by any whom we know,
Any of our vassals, chiefs, or friends?
Ulrick. I have met

With none of these have seen him.

Coun. [Abstractedly.] Happy woman:
Ulrick. Madam?

Coun. The Empress is a happy woman.
She can reward desert, ennoble it.

Ulrick. So in this instance hath her highness done,
With such profusion of munificence,
There are not wanting those who think she sees
Less with an empress' than a woman's eyes,
And means her bounties but as costly heralds,
Poor to the costlier comer they forerun.

Coun. What! means she to espouse him?
Ulrick. 'Tis surmised.

Matter to wonder at, yet justified.
For they report him of a presence noble,
As e'er bespoke a man to challenge honour.

Coun. I never dreamt of an abyss so hideous
And to be standing on the very brink of it!

Ulrick. [Alarmed at her vehemence.] Madam!

Coun. Ay! what's the matter? [Aside.] I am frightened At myself? [Aloud.[ My lord, my spirits are so dreamy, Things which are not, I see-which are, see not! Pray do not heed me. For this tournament, Thus near without obstruction on my part Hath it approached; but pray you, keep in mind On what condition: that at any time The husband it awards, revolting to me, 1 am at liberty to make a choice Between a husband and the cloister. I'll read the will again.

Enter STEPHEN, hastily, L.

So!

[Sits down and reads.

Stephen. News! news! my lord.
Ulrick. What is it?

Stephen. Huon!

Coun. Ha!

Well, what of Huon-is he found?
Stephen. He is.

Coun. Propitious Heaven, at what a time! where

Stephen. In the suite of the Empress.

Coun. Well,-go on !

Stephen. I saw him! More. That sun of chivalry Hath suddenly blazed forth in the brief war So late gone by, and dazzled friends and foesThe fav'rite of the Empress

Coun. Well? Go on!

Stephen. Huon and he are one.
Coun. I was sure of it.

Send him away.

[She staggers to a seat, Ulrick supports her. Ulrick. Hence, sir. [Exit Stephen, L.

Coun. Don't wonder at me!

Don't!

Nor question me, whate'er I say or do!
Listen, and do my bidding. I prepare
To give reception to the Empress,-thou
See Huon. Tell him I would speak with him
Soon as occasion serves; or let him make
Occasion, and at once-at once, my lord!

[Aside.] Where shall we meet? In the garden? No; the garden

Is overlooked. In the library? No;
We may be subject to intrusion there.
What should prevent his coming to my closet?
What place so fit? Why think of any other?
[Aloud.] My lord, bring Huon to my closet. Huon!
The favourite of the Empress I should say.

[Exeunt, Countess, R., Ulrick, L.

SCENE II.-The Garden of the Castle.

Enter SIR RUPERT and SIR CONRAD, R.

Sir Rup. Time is the same. 'Tis our condition's changed.

The hours hang weary-heavy on our hands:
We scarce could catch when Catherine was here,
They went so fleetly by us. Then the death
Of the duke hath left a blank, which, while he lived,
Light offices with grateful tasks filled up,
Forbade our spirits flag.

Sir Con. Eventful day,

The day he died! Eventful day to us!

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