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Piz. Is it possible ?
[Walks aside confounded Rol. Can Pizarro be surprised at this ? I thought forgiveness of injuries had been the Christian's precept. Thou seest, at least, it is the Peruvian's practice. Piz. Rolla, thou hast indeed surprised—subdued me.
[Walks aside again as in irresolute thought Re-enter ELVIRA, not seeing PIZARRO Elv. Is it done ? Is he dead 2-[Sees PIZARRO.] How ! still living! Then I am lost ! And for you, wretched Peruvians ! mercy is no more ! O Rolla : treacherous, or cowardly?
Piz. How ! can it be that
Rol. Away |--Elvira speaks she knows not what 1-[TO ELVIRA.] Leave me, I conjure you, with Pizarro.
Elv. How! Rolla, dost thou think I shall retract? or that I meanly will deny that in thy hand I placed a poinard to be plunged into that tyrant's heart ? No: my sole regret is that I trusted to thy weakness, and did not strike the blow myself. Too soon thou 'lt learn that mercy to that man is direct cruelty to all thy race !
Piz. Guard ! quick! a guard, to seize this frantic woman.
Eld. Yes, a guard! I call them too! And soon I know they 'll lead me to my death. But think not, Pizarro, the fury of thy flashing eyes shall awe me for a moment ! Nor think that woman's anger, or the feelings of an injured heart, prompted me to this design. No! had I been only influenced so—thus failing, shame and remorse would weigh me down. But, though defeated and destroyed, as now I am, such is the greatness of the cause that urged me, I shall perish, glorying in the attempt, and my last breath of life shall speak the proud avowal of my purpose—to have rescued millions of innocents from the bloodthirsty tyranny of one-by ridding the insulted world of thee.
Rol. Had the act been noble as the motive, Rolla would not have shrunk from its performance.
Piz. Seize this discovered fiend, who sought to kill your leader.
Elv. Touch me not, at the peril of your souls ; I am your prisoner, and will follow you. But thou, their triumphant
leader, first shall hear me. Yet, first-for thee, Rolla, accept my forgiveness ; even had I been the victim of thy nobleness of heart, I should have admired thee for it. But 'twas myself provoked my doom-thou wouldst have shielded me. Let not thy contempt follow me to the grave. Didst thou but know the fiend-like arts by which this hypocrite first undermined the virtue of a guileless heart ! how, even in the pious sanctuary wherein I dwelt, by corruption and by fraud he practised upon those in whom I most confided—till my distempered fancy led me, step by step, into the abyss of guilt
Piz. Why am I not obeyed ? Tear her hence !
Elv. 'Tis past—but didst thou know my story, Rolla, thou wouldst pity me.
Rol. From my soul I do pity thee !
Piz. Villains ! drag her to the dungeon l-prepare the torture instantly.
Elv. Soldiers, but a moment more-'tis to applaud your general. It is to tell the astonished world that, for once, Pizarro's sentence is an act of justice : yes, rack me with the sharpest tortures that ever agonised the human frame, it will be justice. Yes, bid the minions of thy fury wrench forth the sinews of those arms that have caressed—and even have defended thee ! Bid them pour burning metal into the bleeding cases of these eyes, that so oft-oh, God I -have hung with love and homage on thy looks—then approach me bound on the abhorred wheel—there glut thy savage eyes with the convulsive spasms of that dishonoured bosom which was once thy pillow 1-yet will I bear it all; for it will be justice, all I and when thou shalt bid them tear me to my death, hoping that thy unshrinking ears may at last be feasted with the music of my cries, I will not utter one shriek or groan; but to the last gasp my body's patience shall deride thy vengeance, as my soul defies thy power.
Piz. Hearest thou the wretch whose hands were even now prepared for murder ?
Rol. Yes! and if her accusation's false, thou wilt not. shrink from hearing her; if true, thy barbarity cannot make her suffer the pangs thy conscience will inflict on thee.
Elv. And now, farewell, world I-Rolla, farewell ! farewell, thou condemned of Heaven! [To PIZARRO] for repentance and remorse, I know, will never touch thy heart.-We shall meet again.-Ha! be it thy horror here to know that we shall meet hereafter! And when thy parting hour approaches-hark to the knell, whose dreadful beat will strike to thy despairing soul. Then will vibrate on thy ear the curses of the cloistered saint from whom thou stolest me. Then the last shrieks which burst from my mother's breaking heart, as she died, appealing to her God against the seducer of her child! Then the bloodstifled groan of my murdered brother-murdered by thee, fell monster |--seeking atonement for his sister's ruined honour. I hear them now ! To me the recollection 's madness ! At such an hour what will it be to thee ?
Piz. A moment's more delay, and at the peril of your . lives
Elv. I have spoken-and the last mortal frailty of my heart is passed. And now, with an undauuted spirit and unshaken firmness, I go to meet my destiny. That I could not live nobly has been Pizarro's act ; that I will die nobly shall be my own.
[Exit guarded Piz. Rolla, I would not thou, a warrior, valiant and renowned, shouldst credit the vile tales of this frantic woman. The cause of all this fury-oh! a wanton passion for the rebel youth Alonzo, now my prisoner.
Rol. Alonzo is not now thy prisoner.
Rol. I came to rescue him-to deceive his guard. I have succeeded; I remain thy prisoner.
Piz. Alonzo fled ! Is then the vengeance dearest to my heart never to be gratified ?
Rol. Dismiss such passions from thy heart, then thou 'lt consult its peace.
Piz. I can face all enemies that dare confront me1 cannot war against my nature.
Rol. Then, Pizarro, ask not to be deemed a hero : to triumph o'er ourselves is the only conquest where fortune makes no claim. In battle, chance may snatch the laurel from thee, or chance may place it on thy brow; but in a contest with thyself, be resolute, and the virtuous impulse must be the victor.
Piz. Peruvian ! thou shalt not find me to thee ungrateful or ungenerous. Return to your countrymen—you are at liberty.
Rol. Thou dost act in this as honour and as duty bid thee,
Piz. I cannot but admire thee, Rolla : I would we might be friends.
Rol. Farewell I pity Elvira I become the friend of virtue --and thou wilt be mine.
Exit Piz. Ambition ! tell me what is the phantom I have followed ? where is the one delight which it has made my own ? My fame is the mark of envy, my love the dupe of treachery, my glory eclipsed by the boy I taught, my revenge defeated and rebuked by the rude honour of a savage foe, before whose native dignity of soul I have sunk confounded and subdued | I would I could retrace my steps I-I cannot. Would I could evade my own reflections ! No! thought and memory are my hell !
SCENE I.-A Forest.
In the background a Hut
CORA is discovered leaning over her CHILD, who is laid on a
bed of leaves and moss.-A Storm, with thunder and lightning
Cora. O Nature I thou hast not the strength of love. My anxious spirit is untired in its march; my wearied shivering frame sinks under it. And for thee, my boy, when faint beneath thy lovely burden, could I refuse to give thy slumbers that poor bed of rest ! O my child were I assured thy father breathes no more, how quickly would I lay me down by thy dear side 1-but down-down for ever ! -[Thunder and lightning.) I ask thee not, unpitying storm ! to abate thy rage in mercy to poor Cora's misery ; nor while thy thunders spare his slumbers will I disturb my sleeping cherub; though Heaven knows I wish to hear the voice of life, and feel that life is near me. But I will endure all while what I have of reason holds.
Yes, yes, be merciless, thou tempest dire;
Unaw'd, unshelter'd, thy fury brave.
Let it but guide me to Alonzo's grave;
O'er his pale corse then, while thy lightnings glare,
But thou wilt wake again, my boy,
Thy father never !-
Veils his for ever.
On yon green bed of moss there lies my child,
Oh! safer lies from these chill'd arms apart;
Oh! sweeter sleeps than near this breaking heart.
Alas ! my babe, if thou wouldst peaceful rest,
Yet thou wilt wake again, my boy,
Thy father never !-
[Thunder and lightning
Still, still implacable ! unfeeling elements ! yet still dost
ALONZO's voice is heard in the distance
[Rises Alon. Cora!
Cora. Oh, my heart ! Sweet Heaven, deceive me not ! Is it not Alonzo's voice ?
Alon. [Nearer.] Cora !
Enter two SPANISH SOLDIERS
1st Sold. I tell you we are near our out-posts, and the word we heard just now was the countersign.
2nd Sold. Well, in our escape from the enemy, to have discovered their secret passage through the rocks will prove a lucky chance to us. Pizarro will reward us.
1st Sold. This way : the sun, though clouded, is on our