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Elv. And friendship for Alonzo moved thee to this act?
Rol. Alonzo is my friend, I am prepared to die for him. Yet is the cause a motive stronger far than friendship.
Elv. One only passion else could urge such generous rashness.
Rol. And that is
Elv. Gallant, ingenuous Rolla! Know that my purpose here was thine; and were I to save thy friend
Rol. How a woman blessed with gentleness and courage, and yet not Cora!
Elv. Does Rolla think so meanly of all female hearts?
Rol. Not so-you are worse and better than we are!
Elv. Were I to save thee, Rolla, from the tyrant's vengeance, restore thee to thy native land, and thy native land to peace, wouldst thou not rank Elvira with the good?
Rol. To judge the action, I must know the means.
Elv. I will conduct thee to the tent where fell Pizarro sleeps:-The scourge of innocence, the terror of thy race, the fiend that desolates thy afflicted country.
Rol. Have you not been injured by Pizarro ? Elv. Deeply as scorn and insult can infuse their deadly venom.
Rol. And you ask that I shall murder him in his sleep!
Elv. Would he not have murdered Alonzo in his chains? He that sleeps, and he that's bound, are equally defenceless. Hear me, Rolla-so may I prosper in this perilous act, as searching my full heart, I have put by all rancorous motive of private vengeance there, and feel that I advance to my dread purpose in the cause of human nature, and at the call of sacred justice.
Rol. The God of justice sanctifies no evil as a step towards good. Great actions cannot be achieved by wicked means.
Elv. Then, Peruvian! since thou dost feel so coldly for thy country's wrongs, this hand, though it revolt my soul, shall strike the blow.
Rol. Then is thy destruction certain, and for Peru thou perishest!-Give me the dagger!
Elv. Now follow me.-But first, and dreadful is the hard necessity, you must strike down the guard. Rol. The soldier who was on duty here?
Elv. Yes, him-else, seeing thee, the alarm will be instant.
Rol. And I must stab that soldier as I pass? Take back thy dagger.
Rol. That soldier, mark me, is a man. All are not men that bear the human form. He refused my prayers, refused my gold, denying to admit me, till his own feelings bribed him. For my nation's safety, I would not harm that man!
Elv. Then he must with us-I will answer for his safety.
Rol. Be that plainly understood between us : -for, whate'er betide our enterprise, I will not risk a hair of that man's head, to save my heartstrings from consuming fire. [Exeunt.
SCENE II.-PIZARRO's Tent.
PIZARRO is discovered on a couch, in disturbed sleep.
Piz. [In his sleep.] No mercy, traitor!-Now at his heart!-Stand off there, you !-Let me see him bleed!-Ha! ha! ha!-Let me hear that groan again.
Enter ROLLA and ELVIRA.
Elv. There!-Now, lose not a moment. Rol. You must leave me now. This scene of blood fits not a woman's presence.
Elv. But a moment's pause may—
Rol. Go, retire to your own tent, and return not here I will come to you. Be thou not known in this business, I implore you!
Elv. I will withdraw the guard that waits. [Exit. Rol. Now have I in my power the accursed destroyer of my country's peace: yet tranquilly he rests.-God!-can this man sleep?
Piz. [In his sleep.] Away! away!-Hideous fiends!-Tear not my bosom thus !
Rol. No: I was in error-the balm of sweet repose he never more can know, Look here, ambition's fools! ye, by whose inhuman pride the bleeding sacrifice of nations is held as nothing, behold the rest of the guilty!-He is at my mercy -and one blow!-No! my heart and hand refuse the act: Rolla cannot be an assassin !-Yet Elvira must be saved!-[Approaches the couch.] Pizarro! awake!
Piz. [Starts up.] Who?-Guard !—
Rol. Speak not-another word is thy death. Call not for aid! this arm will be swifter than thy guard.
Piz. Who art thou? and what is thy will? Rol. I am thine enemy ! Peruvian Rolla! Thy death is not my will, or I could have slain thee sleeping.
Piz. Speak, what else?
Rol. Now thou art at my mercy-answer me ! Did a Peruvian ever yet wrong or injure thee, or any of thy nation? Didst thou, or any of thy nation, ever yet show mercy to a Peruvian in your power? Now shalt thou feel, and if thou hast a heart thou❜lt feel it keenly, a Peruvian's vengeance! [Drops the dagger at his feet.] There!
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 [Walks again aside as in irresolute thought.
Re-enter ELVIRA, not seeing PIZARRO,
Elv. Is it done? Is he dead?-[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! [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 poniard 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
Elv. 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 motiveRolla 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, shalt 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 spell-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 confidedtill 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!-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!-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!-Yet will I bear it all; for it will be justice, all! 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 bar
barity cannot make her suffer the pangs thy conscience will inflict on thee.
Elv. And now, farewell, world!-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 you stole 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 blood-stifled 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 past.-And now, with an undaunted 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 [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-O! 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 me-I 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 yourself, 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! pity Elvira! 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 cannot. Would I could evade my own reflections!-No! thought and memory are my hell! [Exit.
SCENE I-A Forest. In the back-ground, 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.
Yes, yes, be merciless, thou tempest dire;
Unaw'd, unshelter'd, I thy fury brave:
Cora. O Nature! 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 !-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. [Sings.
I'll bare my bosom to thy forked fire,
Let it but guide me to Alonzo's grave!
O'er his pale corse then while thy lightnings glare, I'll press his clay-cold lips, and perish there.
But thou wilt wake again, my boy,
Again thou❜lt rise to life and joy
Thy father never!
Thy laughing eyes will meet the light, Unconscious that eternal night
Veils his for ever.
Alas! my babe, if thou wouldst peaceful rest, Thy cradle must not be thy mother's breast.
On yon green bed of moss there lies my child,
Alon. [Nearer.] Cora!
Cora. It is-it is Alonzo!
Still, still implacable! unfeeling elements! yet still dost thou sleep, my smiling innocent 0 death! when wilt thou grant to this babe's mother such repose? Sure I may shield thee better from the storm; my veil may
[While she is wrapping her mantle and her veil over him, ALONZO's voice is heard at a great distance. Alon. Cora! Cora. Ha! Alon. Cora!
Cora. Oh, my heart! Sweet Heaven, deceive me not!-Is it not Alonzo's voice?
Alon. [Nearer still.] Cora! my beloved!-
Enter two Spanish Soldiers.
1 Sold. I tell you we are near our out-posts, and the word we heard just now was the countersign.
2 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.
1 Sold. This way: the sun, though clouded, is on our left.-[Perceives the Child.] What have we here?-A child, as I'm a soldier!
2 Sold. 'Tis a sweet little babe! Now would it be a great charity to take this infant from its pagan mother's power.
1 Sold. It would so: I have one at home shall play with it.-Come along. [Exeunt with the Child. Cora. [Without.] This way, dear Alonzo!
Re-enter CORA with ALONZO.
Now am I right-there-there-under that tree. Was it possible the instinct of a mother's heart could mistake the spot? Now will you look at him as he sleeps, or shall I bring him waking, with his full blue laughing eyes, to welcome you at once?— Yes, yes!-Stand thou there; I'll snatch him from his rosy slumber, blushing like the perfumed morn.
[She runs up to the spot, and finding only the mantle and veil, which she tears from the ground, and the Child gone, shrieks.
Alon. [Running to her.] Cora! my heart's beloved!
Cora. He is gone!
Alon. Eternal God!
Cora. He is gone!-my child! my child!
Cora. [Dashing herself on the spot.] Here! Alon. Be calm, beloved Cora; he has waked and crept to a little distance; we shall find him. Are you assured this was the spot you left him in?
Cora. Did not these hands make that bed and shelter for him? and is not this the veil that covered him?
Alon. Here is a hut yet unobserved.
Cora. Ha! yes, yes! there lives the savage that has robbed me of my child.—[Beats at the door.] Give me back my child! restore to me my boy!
Enter LAS-CASAS from the hut.
Las-Cas. Who calls me from my wretched solitude?
Cora. Give me back my child !-[Goes into the hut, and calls] Fernando !
Alon. Almighty powers! do my eyes deceive me? Las-Casas !
Las-Cas. Alonzo, my beloved young friend! Alon. My revered instructor!
Cora. Will you embrace this man before he restores my boy?
Alon. Alas, my friend! in what a moment of misery do we meet!
Cora. Yet his look is goodness and humanity.Good old man, have compassion on a wretched
mother, and I will be your servant while I live.— But do not-for pity's sake, do not say you have him not; do not say you have not seen him. [Runs into the wood.
Las-Cas. What can this mean?
Alon. She is my wife. Just rescued from the Spaniards' prison, I learned she had fled to this wild forest. Hearing my voice, she left the child, and flew to meet me: he was left sleeping under yonder tree. Re-enter CORA.
Las-Cas. How! did you leave him?
Cora. Oh, you are right! right! unnatural mother that I was! I left my child, I forsook my innocent!-But I will fly to the earth's brink but I will find him. [Runs out, Alon. Forgive me, Las-Casas, I must follow her; for at night I attempt brave Rolla's rescue.
Las-Cas. I will not leave thee, Alonzo. You must try to lead her to the right that way lies your camp. Wait not my infirm steps: I follow thee, my friend. [Exeunt.
SCENE II.-The Outpost of the Spanish Camp. In the back-ground a torrent, over which a bridge is formed by a felled tree. Trumpets sound without.
Enter ALMAGRO, followed by Soldiers leading ROLLA in chains.
Alm. Bear him along; his story must be false. Rol. False! Rolla utter falsehood! I would I had thee in a desert with thy troop around thee, and I but with my sword in this unshackled hand! [Trumpets without.
Alm. Is it to be credited, that Rolla, the renowned Peruvian hero, should be detected like a spy, skulking through our camp?
Alm. But answer to the general; he is here.
Piz. What do I see? Rolla!
Rol. Oh, to thy surprise, no doubt!
Piz. And bound too!
Rol. So fast, thou needest not fear approaching
Alm. The guards surprised him passing our outpost.
Piz. Release him instantly!-Believe me, I regret this insult.
Rol. You feel then as you ought.
Piz. Nor can I brook to see a warrior of Rolla's fame disarmed.-Accept this, though it has been thy enemy's.-[Gives a sword.] The Spaniards know the courtesy that's due to valour.
Rol. And the Peruvian how to forget offence. Piz. May not Rolla and Pizarro cease to be foes?
Rol. When the sea divides us; yes!-May I now depart?
Rol. And shall I not again be intercepted? Piz. No!-Let the word be given that Rolla passes freely.
Enter DAVILLA and Soldiers, with ALONZO's Child. Dav. Here are two soldiers, captived yesterday, who have escaped from the Peruvian hold,-and
by the secret way we have so long endeavoured to discover.
Piz. Silence, imprudent!-Seest thou not-? [Pointing to ROLLA. Dav. In their way, they found a Peruvian child, who seems
Piz. What is the imp to me?-Bid them toss it into the sea.
Rol. Gracious Heavens! it is Alonzo's child?give it to me.
Piz. Ha! Alonzo's child!-Welcome, thou pretty hostage.-Now Alonzo is again my prisoner! Rol. Thou wilt not keep the infant from its mother?
Piz. Will I not!-What, when I shall meet Alonzo in the heat of the victorious fight-thinkest thou I shall not have a check upon the valour of his heart, when he is reminded that a word of mine is this child's death?
Rol. I do not understand you.
Piz. My vengeance has a long arrear of hate to settle with Alonzo! and this pledge may help to settle the account.
Rol. Man! man! art thou a man? couldst thou hurt that innocent?-By Heaven! it's smiling in thy face.
Piz. Tell me, does it resemble Cora?
Rol. Pizarro! thou hast set my heart on fire. If thou dost harm that child-think not his blood will sink into the barren sand.-No! faithful to the eager hope that now trembles in this indignant heart, 'twill rise to the common God of nature and humanity, and cry aloud for vengeance on his accursed destroyer's head.
Piz. Be that peril mine.
Rol. [Throwing himself at his feet.] Behold me at thy feet-me, Rolla !-me, the preserver of thy life!-me, that have never yet bent or bowed before created man!-In humble agony I sue to you— prostrate I implore you-but spare that child, and I will be your slave.
Piz. Rolla! still art thou free to go-this boy remains with me.
Rol. Then was this sword Heaven's gift, not thine!-[Seizes the Child.] Who moves one step to follow me, dies upon the spot.
[Exit with the Child. Piz. Pursue him instantly-but spare his life.[Exeunt DAVILLA and ALMAGRO with Soldiers.] With what fury he defends himself!-Ha! he fells them to the ground-and now
Alm. Three of your brave soldiers are already victims to your command to spare this madman's life; and if he once gains the thicket
Piz. Spare him no longer.-[Exit ALMAGRO.] Their guns must reach him-he'll yet escape-holloa to those horse-the Peruvian sees them-and now he turns among the rocks-then is his retreat cut off.-[ROLLA crosses the wooden bridge over the cataract, pursued by the Soldiers-they fire at him-a shot strikes him.] Now! quick! quick! seize the child!
[ROLLA tears from the rock the tree which supports the bridge, and retreats by the back-ground, bearing off the Child.
Re-enter ALMAGRO and DAVILLA.
Alm. By hell! he has escaped!—and with the child unhurt.
SCENE III.-ATALIBA's Tent.
Enter ATALIBA, followed by CORA and ALONZO.
Cora. Oh! avoid me not, Ataliba! To whom, but to her king, is the wretched mother to address her griefs? The gods refuse to hear my prayers! Did not my Alonzo fight for you? and will not my sweet boy, if thou'lt but restore him to me, one day fight thy battles too?
Alon. Oh! my suffering love-my poor heartbroken Cora!-you but wound our sovereign's feeling soul, and not relieve thy own.
Cora. Is he our sovereign, and has he not the power to give me back my child?
Ata. When I reward desert, or can relieve my people, I feel what is the real glory of a king-when I hear them suffer, and cannot aid them, I mourn the impotence of all mortal power.
Soldiers. [Without.] Rolla ! Rolla! Rolla!
Enter ROLLA, bleeding, with the Child, followed by
[Gives the Child into CORA's arms, and falls.
Ora. Treachery has revealed our asylum in the rocks. Even now the foe assails the peaceful band retired for protection there.
Alon. Lose not a moment! Swords, be quick! Your wives and children cry to you. Bear our loved hero's body in the van: 'twill raise the fury of our men to madness. Now, fell Pizarro! the death of one of us is near !-Away! Be the word of assault, Revenge and Rolla! [Exeunt. Charge.
Elv. Alonzo, no! the destination of my future life is fixed. Humbled in penitence, I will endeavour to atone the guilty errors, which, however masked by shallow cheerfulness, have long consumed my secret heart. When, by my sufferings purified, and penitence sincere, my soul shall dare address the throne of mercy in behalf of others, for thee, Alonzo, for thy Cora, and thy child, for thee, thou virtuous monarch, and the innocent race you reign over, shall Elvira's prayers address the God of nature.-Valverde, you have preserved my life. Cherish humanity, avoid the foul examples thou hast viewed.-Spaniards, returning to your native home, assure your rulers they mistake the road to glory or to power. Tell them, that the pursuits of avarice, conquest, and ambition, never [Dies. yet made a people happy, or a nation great.
[Casts a look of agony on the dead body of PIZARRO as she passes, and exit. Flourish of trumpets. VALVERDE, ALMAGRO, and Spanish Soldiers, exeunt, bearing off PIZARRO's body.
[Spaniards lay down their arms.
Elv. Valverde speaks the truth; nor could he think to meet me here. An awful impulse which my soul could not resist impelled me hither.
Alon. Noble Elvira ! my preserver! How can I speak what I, Ataliba, and his rescued country, owe to thee! If amid this grateful nation thou wouldst remain
Alon. Ataliba! think not I wish to check the voice of triumph, when I entreat we first may pay the tribute due to our loved Rolla's memory. [4 solemn march. Procession of Peruvian Soldiers, bearing ROLLA's body on a bier, surrounded by military trophies. The Priests and Priestesses attending chant a dirge over the bier. ALONZO and CORA kneel on either side of it, and kiss ROLLA's hands in silent agony. The curtain slowly descends.