Manfreds heart misgave him when he beheld the plumage on the miraculous casque shaken in concert with the sounding of the brazen trumpet. Father, said he to Jerome, whom he now ceased to treat as Count of Falconara, what mean these portents? If I have offendedthe plumes were shaken with greater violence than before. Unhappy prince that I am! cried Manfred. Holy father, will you not assist me with your prayers?
My lord, replied Jerome, Heaven is no doubt displeased with your mockery of its servants. Submit yourself to the Church, and cease to persecute her ministers. Dismiss this innocent youth, and learn to respect the holy character I wear: Heaven will not be trifled with. You seethe trumpet sounded again.
I acknowledge I have been too hasty, said Manfred. Father, do you go to the wicket, and demand who is at the gate.
Do you grant me the life of Theodore? replied the friar.
I do, said Manfred; but inquire who is without.
Jerome, falling on the neck of his son, discharged a flood of tears, that spoke the fullness of his soul.
You promised to go to the gate, said Manfred.
I thought, replied the friar, your highness would excuse my thanking you first in this tribute of my heart.
Go, dearest sir, said Theodore, obey the prince; I do not deserve that you should delay his satisfaction for me.
Jerome, inquiring who was without, was answered, A herald.
From whom? said he.
From the Knight of the Gigantic Sabre, said the herald; and I must speak with the usurper of Otranto.
Jerome returned to the prince, and did not fail to repeat the message in the very words it had been uttered. The first sounds struck Manfred with terror; but when he heard himself styled usurper, his rage rekindled, and all his courage revived.
Usurper!insolent villain! cried he; who dares to question my title? Retire, father; this is no business for monks: I will meet this presumptuous man myself. Go to your convent, and prepare the princesss return; your son shall be a hostage for your fidelity: his life depends on your obedience.
Good Heaven! my lord, cried Jerome, your highness did but this instant freely pardon my child. Have you so soon forgot the interposition of Heaven?
Heaven, replied Manfred, does not send heralds to question the title of a lawful prince. I doubt whether it even notifies its will through friars; but that is your affair, not mine. At present you know my pleasure; and it is not a saucy herald that shall save your son, if you do not return with the princess.
It was in vain for the holy man to reply. Manfred commanded him to be conducted to the postern gate, and shut out from the castle; and he ordered some of his attendants to carry Theodore to the top of the Black Tower, and guard him strictly, scarce permitting the father and son to exchange a hasty embrace at parting. He then withdrew to the hall, and seating himself in princely state, ordered the herald to be admitted to his presence.
Well, thou insolent! said the prince, what wouldst thou with me?
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