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That form, as prostrate as the hand of death
His hold of me; but if he strives in love,
[Huon enters and remains standing at a distance, with
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 trust, to say
And I am here to learn your will.
Coun. More news!
You are a friend worth parting with, you bring
You are here to learn my will! You were not here,
you. Huon. It would have been
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-
In like event. [Stephen going.] A minute hence, observe,
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.
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!
Her head its haughty carriage hath abated,
Enter COUNTESS, R. S. E., with a parchment in her hand.
Coun. I have perused the testament, my lord,
Ulrick. No, none is made; a slight omission only.
Ulrick. I have.
Coun. And now expect the Empress?
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
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!
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,
With none of these have seen him.
Coun. The Empress is a happy woman.
Ulrick. So in this instance hath her highness done,
Coun. What! means she to espouse him?
Matter to wonder at, yet justified.
Coun. I never dreamt of an abyss so hideous
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.
Well, what of Huon-is he found?
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.
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!
[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:
Sir Con. Eventful day,
The day he died! Eventful day to us!