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WRITTEN BY RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN
Spoken by Mr. King
CHILL'D by rude gales, while yet reluctant May
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! 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 pirate-treating 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 !
Eld. What! Valverde moralising ! 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. Could you gain me, you only hope to win a higher interest in Pizarro.
I know you. 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.
Eld. 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 diminishes our force.
Elv. But are you not the heirs of those that fall ?
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 you: 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 first adventures-what storms we struggled with-what perils we surmounted ! When landed with a slender host upon an unknown landthen, 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 growing mutiny or bold revolt, til 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 and 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 spoke 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 upon my bosom fell on marble, he flew 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 1-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 H-Trumpets withoạt.] Elvira, retire !
Piz. Because men are to meet here, and on manly business.
Elv. O men! men ! ungrateful and perverse ! O woman! still affectionate, though wronged ! (VALVERDE retires back.] The beings 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 ; them, when the pompous follies of your mean ambition are the question, you treat as playthings or as slaves - I 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.] Hal 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 lFriends and fellow soldiers, at length the hour is