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That form, as prostrate as the hand of death
Had struck it to the floor? 'Twould take that hand
To lay it now there-and a waive of mine
Had done it once! If he confesses hold
Of any other, never shall he learn

His hold of me; but if he strives in love,
I bless my stars I have the 'vantage ground.

[Huon enters and remains standing at a distance, with
his eyes on the ground.

Coun. Is Huon here, and does not Huon speak. [Pauses. Absent so long, no greeting for a friend?A woman, too! [Pauses.] No salutation kind, Prelude of happy news she'd joy to hear,— Relation of adventures she would thrill To listen to,-exploits she would wonder at, And the next moment at her wonder blush, Knowing whose arm achieved them!

Huon. I am glad

To find you well.

Coun. You are glad to find me well?
I hope you are! It were not saying much,
I know you are! You are glad
Is that your news for me?

I trust, to say
To find me well!
If 'tis, it is strange news.
Huon. You wished to see me,

And I am here to learn your will.

Coun. More news!

You are a friend worth parting with, you bring
Such marvels home with you! Some time, methinks,
Since last we met together, and you are glad
To find me well!-and, as I wished to see you,

You are here to learn my will! You were not here,
Had not I sent for

you. Huon. It would have been

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In the serf.

Coun. With sudden indignation.] No, sir, not in the favourite

Of the Empress! [She rises.] Huon, this is not the way We ought to meet-it should not be in anger!

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 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.



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 my 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, I am at liberty to make a choice Between a husband and the cloister. I'll read the will again.


[Sits down and reads.

Enter STEPHEN, hastily, L.

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!


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

[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.


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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