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ACT IV.

SCENE, A desolate prospect-a ridge of rocks-a
Chapel on the summit of one-Moon behind the
rocks-night stormy-irregular sound of a bell-
HERBERT enters exhausted.

Her. That Chapel-bell in mercy seemed to guide me,
But now it mocks my steps; its fitful stroke
Can scarcely be the work of human hands.
Hear me, ye Men, upon the cliffs, if such
There be who pray nightly before the Altar.
Oh that I had but strength to reach the place!
My Child-my child-dark-dark-I faint this
wind-

These stifling blasts-God help me !

Eld.

Enter ELDRED.

Better this bare rock,

Though it were tottering over a man's head,
Than a tight case of dungeon walls for shelter
From such rough dealing.

[A moaning voice is heard.
Ha! what sound is that?

Trees creaking in the wind (but none are here)
Send forth such noises and that weary bell!
Surely some evil Spirit abroad to-night

This day's event has laid on me the duty
Of opening out my story; you must hear it,
And without further preface.-In my youth,
Except for that abatement which is paid
By envy as a tribute to desert,

I was the pleasure of all hearts, the darling
Of every tongue as you are now. You've heard
That I embarked for Syria. On our voyage
Was hatched among the crew a foul Conspiracy
Against my honour, in the which our Captain
Was, I believed, prime Agent. The wind fell;
We lay becalmed week after week, until
The water of the vessel was exhausted;
I felt a double fever in my veins,

Yet rage suppressed itself ;-to a deep stillness
Did my pride tame my pride ;-for many days,
On a dead sea under a burning sky,

I brooded o'er my injuries, deserted
By man and nature ;—if a breeze had blown,
It might have found its way into my heart,
And I had been-no matter-do you mark me?
Mar. Quick-to the point-if any untold crime
Doth haunt your memory.

Osw.
Patience, hear me further!-
One day in silence did we drift at noon

By a bare rock, narrow, and white, and bare;
No food was there, no drink, no grass, no shade,
No tree, nor jutting eminence, nor form
Inanimate large as the body of man,

Is ringing it 'twould stop a Saint in prayer,
And that what is it? never was sound so like
A human groan. Ha! what is here! Poor Man-Nor any living thing whose lot of life
Murdered! alas! speak-speak, I am your friend:

No answer-hush-lost wretch, he lifts his hand
And lays it to his heart—(Kneels to him). I pray
you speak!

What has befallen you?

Her. (feebly).

Might stretch beyond the measure of one moon.
To dig for water on the spot, the Captain
Landed with a small troop, myself being one:
There I reproached him with his treachery.
Imperious at all times, his temper rose ;

A stranger has done this, He struck me; and that instant had I killed him,
And put an end to his insolence, but my Comrades
Rushed in between us: then did I insist

And in the arms of a stranger I must die.

Eld. Nay, think not so: come, let me raise

you up :

[Raises him.

This is a dismal place-well-that is well-
I was too fearful-take me for your guide
And your support-my hut is not far off.
[Draws him gently off the stage.

SCENE, a room in the Hostel-MARMADUKE and
OSWALD.

Mar. But for Idonea !--I have cause to think
That she is innocent.

Osw.
Leave that thought awhile,
As one of those beliefs which in their hearts
Lovers lock up as pearls, though oft no better
Than feathers clinging to their points of passion.

(All hated him, and I was stung to madness)
That we should leave him there, alive!—we did so.
Mar. And he was famished?

Osw.
Naked was the spot ;
Methinks I see it now-how in the sun
Its stony surface glittered like a shield;
And in that miserable place we left him,
Alone but for a swarm of minute creatures
Not one of which could help him while alive,
Or mourn him dead.
Mar.
A man by men cast off,
Left without burial! nay, not dead nor dying,
But standing, walking, stretching forth his arms,
In all things like ourselves, but in the agony
With which he called for mercy; and—even so-
He was forsaken ?

Osw. There is a power in sounds: The cries he uttered might have stopped the boat That bore us through the water

Mar.

You returned Upon that dismal hearing-did you not?

Osw. Some scoffed at him with hellish mockery, And laughed so loud it seemed that the smooth sea Did from some distant region echo us.

Three sleepless nights I passed in sounding on,
Through words and things, a dim and perilous way;
And, wheresoe'er I turned me, I beheld
A slavery compared to which the dungeon
And clanking chains are perfect liberty.
You understand me--I was comforted;
I saw that every possible shape of action
Might lead to good-I saw it and burst forth

Mar. We all are of one blood, our veins are filled Thirsting for some of those exploits that fill
At the same poisonous fountain!

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The earth for sure redemption of lost peace.

[Marking MARMADUKE's countenance. Nay, you have had the worst. Ferocity Subsided in a moment, like a wind

That drops down dead out of a sky it vexed.
And yet I had within me evermore

Mar. But his own crime had brought on him A salient spring of energy; I mounted

this doom,

His wickedness prepared it; these expedients

Are terrible, yet ours is not the fault.

From action up to action with a mind

That never rested-without meat or drink
Have I lived many days-my sleep was bound

Osw. The man was famished, and was innocent! To purposes of reason-not a dream
Mar. Impossible !

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Osw.

The Crew

I had been betrayed.
Mar. And he found no deliverance !
Osw.
Gave me a hearty welcome; they had laid
The plot to rid themselves, at any cost,
Of a tyrannic Master whom they loathed.
So we pursued our voyage: when we landed,
The tale was spread abroad; my power at once
Shrunk from me; plans and schemes, and lofty
hopes

All vanished. I gave way-do you attend?
Mar. The Crew deceived you?
Osw.

Nay, command yourself.
Mar. It is a dismal night-how the wind howls!
Osw. I hid my head within a Convent, there
Lay passive as a dormouse in mid winter.
That was no life for me--I was o'erthrown,
But not destroyed.

Mar. The proofs-you ought to have seen The guilt have touched it-felt it at your heartAs I have done.

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But had a continuity and substance
That waking life had never power to give.

Mar. O wretched Human-kind! - Until the mystery

Of all this world is solved, well may we envy
The worm, that, underneath a stone whose weight
Would crush the lion's paw with mortal anguish,
Doth lodge, and feed, and coil, and sleep, in safety.
Fell not the wrath of Heaven upon those traitors!
Osw. Give not to them a thought. From Palestine
We marched to Syria: oft I left the Camp,
When all that multitude of hearts was still,
And followed on, through woods of gloomy cedar,
Into deep chasms troubled by roaring streams;
Or from the top of Lebanon surveyed
The moonlight desert, and the moonlight sea:
In these my lonely wanderings I perceived
What mighty objects do impress their forms
To elevate our intellectual being;

And felt, if aught on earth deserves a curse,
'Tis that worst principle of ill which dooms
A thing so great to perish self-consumed.
So much for my remorse!

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Of popular applause. I now perceived That we are praised, only as men in us Do recognise some image of themselves, An abject counterpart of what they are,

Or the empty thing that they would wish to be. I felt that merit has no surer test

Than obloquy; that, if we wish to serve

The world in substance, not deceive by show,
We must become obnoxious to its hate,
Or fear disguised in simulated scorn.

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Mar. I pity, can forgive, you; but those 'Tis Nature's law. What I have done in darkness wretches

That monstrous perfidy!

Osw.
Keep down your wrath.
False Shame discarded, spurious Fame despised,
Twin sisters both of Ignorance, I found

Life stretched before me smooth as some broad way
Cleared for a monarch's progress. Priests might spin
Their veil, but not for me-'twas in fit place
Among its kindred cobwebs. I had been,
And in that dream had left my native land,
One of Love's simple bondsmen-the soft chain
Was off for ever; and the men, from whom
This liberation came, you would destroy :
Join me in thanks for their blind services.

Mar. 'Tis a strange aching that, when we would

curse

And cannot. You have betrayed me--I have done

I am content I know that he is guiltless-
That both are guiltless, without spot or stain,
Mutually consecrated. Poor old Man!

And I had heart for this, because thou lovedst
Her who from very infancy had been
Light to thy path, warmth to thy blood !-Together
[Turning to Oswald,
We propped his steps, he leaned upon us both.

Osw. Ay, we are coupled by a chain of adamant;
Let us be fellow-labourers, then, to enlarge
Man's intellectual empire. We subsist
In slavery; all is slavery; we receive

Laws, but we ask not whence those laws have come;
We need an inward sting to goad us on.
Mar. Have you betrayed me? Speak to that.
Osw.
The mask,

Which for a season I have stooped to wear,
Must be cast off.-Know then that I was urged,
(For other impulse let it pass) was driven,
To seek for sympathy, because I saw
In you a mirror of my youthful self;

I would have made us equal once again,

But that was a vain hope. You have struck home, With a few drops of blood cut short the business; Therein for ever you must yield to me.

I will avow before the face of day. Herbert is innocent.

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Dragged from his bed, was cast into a dungeon,
Where, hid from me, he counted many years,
A criminal in no one's eyes but theirs.
Not even in theirs-whose brutal violence
So dealt with him.
Idon.
I have a noble Friend
First among youths of knightly breeding, One
Who lives but to protect the weak or injured.
There again!
[Listening.

Elea. 'Tis my husband's foot. Good Eldred Has a kind heart; but his imprisonment

Has made him fearful, and he 'll never be

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Enter ELDRED, (hides a bundle).

Eld. Not yet in bed, Eleanor !-there are stains in that frock which must be washed out.

Elea. What has befallen you?

Eld. I am belated, and you must know the cause -(speaking low) that is the blood of an unhappy Man.

Elea. Oh! we are undone for ever.

Eld. Heaven forbid that I should lift my hand against any man. Eleanor, I have shed tears tonight, and it comforts me to think of it.

Elea. Where, where is he?

it will

Eld. I have done him no harm, but be forgiven me ; it would not have been so once. Elea. You have not buried anything? You are

no richer than when you left me? Eld. Be at peace; I am innocent. Elea. Then God be thanked

[A short pause; she falls upon his neck. Eld. To-night I met with an old Man lying stretched upon the ground-a sad spectacle: I raised him up with a hope that we might shelter and restore him.

Elea. (as if ready to run). Where is he? You were not able to bring him all the way with you; let us return, I can help you.

[ELDRED shakes his head. Eld. He did not seem to wish for life: as I was struggling on, by the light of the moon I saw the stains of blood upon my clothes-he waved his hand, as if it were all useless; and I let him sink again to the ground.

Elea. Oh that I had been by your side!

Eld. I tell you his hands and his body were cold -how could I disturb his last moments? he strove to turn from me as if he wished to settle into sleep.

Elea. But, for the stains of blood—

Eld. He must have fallen, I fancy, for his head was cut; but I think his malady was cold and hunger.

Elea. Oh, Eldred, I shall never be able to look up at this roof in storm or fair but I shall tremble.

Eld. Is it not enough that my ill stars have kept me abroad to-night till this hour? I come home, and this is my comfort!

Elea. But did he say nothing which might have set you at ease?

Eld. I thought he grasped my hand while he was muttering something about his Child-his Daughter (starting as if he heard a noise). What is that?

Elea. Eldred, you are a father.

Eld. God knows what was in my heart, and will not curse my son for my sake.

Elea. But you prayed by him? you waited the hour of his release?

Eld. The night was wasting fast; I have no friend; I am spited by the world-his wound terrified me if I had brought him along with me, and he had died in my arms!I am sure I heard something breathing-and this chair!

Elea. Oh, Eldred, you will die alone. You will have nobody to close your eyes-no hand to grasp your dying hand-I shall be in my grave. A curse will attend us all.

Eld. Have you forgot your own troubles when I was in the dungeon?

Elea. And you left him alive?

Eld. Alive!—the damps of death were upon him -he could not have survived an hour.

Elea. In the cold, cold night.

Eld. (in a savage tone). Ay, and his head was bare; I suppose you would have had me lend my bonnet to cover it.-You will never rest till I am brought to a felon's end.

Elea. Is there nothing to be done? cannot we go to the Convent?

Eld. Ay, and say at once that I murdered him!

Elea. Eldred, I know that ours is the only house upon the Waste; let us take heart; this Man may be rich; and could he be saved by our means, his gratitude may reward us.

Eld. "Tis all in vain.

Elea. But let us make the attempt. This old Man may have a wife, and he may have children

let us return to the spot; we may restore him, and his eyes may yet open upon those that love him.

Eld. He will never open them more; even when he spoke to me, he kept them firmly sealed as if he had been blind.

Idon. (rushing out). It is, it is, my FatherEld. We are betrayed (looking at IDONEA). Elea. His Daughter!-God have mercy! (turning to IDONEA).

Idon. (sinking down). Oh! lift me up and carry

me to the place.

You are safe; the whole world shall not harm you. Elea. This Lady is his Daughter.

Eld. (moved). I'll lead you to the spot. Idon. (springing up). Alive!—you heard him breathe? quick, quick— [Exeunt.

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Osw. The game is up!— For.

[MARMADUKE disappears.

A human voice distinct, struck on my ear.

So guided, distant a few steps, I found An aged Man, and such as you describe.

Mar. You heard !—he called you to him? Of all

men

The best and kindest !--but where is he? guide me, That I may see him.

Eld.

On a ridge of rocks
A lonesome Chapel stands, deserted now:
The bell is left, which no one dares remove;
And, when the stormy wind blows o'er the peak,
It rings, as if a human hand were there

To pull the cord. I guess he must have heard it;
And it had led him towards the precipice,
To climb up to the spot whence the sound came;
But he had failed through weakness. From his
hand

His staff had dropped, and close upon the brink
Of a small pool of water he was laid,

As if he had stooped to drink, and so remained
Without the strength to rise.

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He only spake to me of a dear Daughter,

If it be needful, Sir, Who, so he feared, would never see him more;
And of a Stranger to him, One by whom

I will assist you to lay hands upon him.

Osw. No, no, my Friend, you may pursue your business

"Tis a poor wretch of an unsettled mind,
Who has a trick of straying from his keepers;
We must be gentle. Leave him to my care.

[Exit Forester.
If his own eyes play false with him, these freaks
Of fancy shall be quickly tamed by mine;
The goal is reached. My Master shall become
A shadow of myself-made by myself.

SCENE, the edge of the Moor.

MARMADUKE and ELDRED enter from opposite sides. Mar. (raising his eyes and perceiving ELDRED). In any corner of this savage Waste, Have you, good Peasant, seen a blind old Man? Eld. I heard

Mar.

heard him?

He had been sore misused; but he forgave
The wrong and the wrong-doer. You are trou-

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I am in poverty,

And know how busy are the tongues of men ;
My heart was willing, Sir, but I am one
Whose good deeds will not stand by their own light;

You heard him, where? when And, though it smote me more than words can tell,

Eld. As you know, The first hours of last night were rough with storm: I had been out in search of a stray heifer; Returning late, I heard a moaning sound; Then, thinking that my fancy had deceived me, I hurried on, when straight a second moan,

I left him.
Mar. I believe that there are phantoms,
That in the shape of man do cross our path
On evil instigation, to make sport

Of our distress-and thou art one of them!
But things substantial have so pressed on me-

Eld. My wife and children came into my mind.

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