Auranthe. Conrad, hold! I would not bear
The little thunder of your fretful tongue,
Tho’ I alone were taken in these toils,
And you could free me; but remember, sir,
You live alone in my security:
So keep your wits at work, for your own sake,
Not mine, and be more mannerly.

Conrad. Thou wasp!
If my domains were emptied of these folk,
And I had thee to starve—

Auranthe. O, marvellous!
But, Conrad, now be gone; the host is looked for;
Cringe to the Emperor, entertain the lords.
And, do ye mind, above all things, proclaim
My sickness, with a brother’s saddened eye,
Condoling with Prince Ludolph. In fit time
Return to me.

Conrad. I leave you to your thoughts.


Auranthe (sola). Down, down, proud temper! down
Auranthe’s pride!
Why do I anger him when I should kneel?
Conrad! Albert! help! help! What can I do?
O, wretched woman! lost, wrecked, swallowed up,
Accursèd, blasted! O, thou golden Crown,
Orbing along the serene firmament
Of a wide empire, like a glowing moon;
And thou, bright sceptre! lustrous in my eyes
There—as the fabled fair Hesperian tree,
Bearing a fruit more precious! graceful thing,
Delicate, godlike, magic! must I leave
Thee to melt in the visionary air,
Ere, by one grasp, this common hand is made
Imperial? I do not know the time
When I have wept for sorrow; but methinks
I could now sit upon the ground, and shed
Tears, tears of misery. O, the heavy day!
How shall I bear my life till Albert comes?
Ludolph! Erminia! Proofs! O heavy day!
Bring me some mourning weeds, that I may ’tire
Myself as fits one wailing her own death:
Cut off these curls, and brand this lily hand,
And throw these jewels from my loathing sight,—
Fetch me a missal, and a string of beads,—
A cup of bittered water, and a crust,—
I will confess, O, holy Abbot!—How!
What is this? Auranthe! thou fool, dolt,
Whimpering idiot! up! up! and quell!
I am safe! Coward! why am I in fear?
Albert! he cannot stickle, chew the cud
In such a fine extreme,—impossible!
Who knocks?

[Goes to the door,listens,and opens it

Enter Albert Albert, I have been waiting for you here
With such an aching heart, such swooning throbs
On my poor brain, such cruel, cruel sorrow,
That I should claim your pity! Art not well?

Albert. Yes, lady, well.

Auranthe. You look not so, alas!
But pale, as if you brought some heavy news.

Albert. You know full well what makes me look so pale.

Auranthe. No! Do I? Surely I am still to learn
Some horror; all I know, this present, is
I am near hustled to a dangerous gulf,
Which you can save me from,—and therefore safe,
So trusting in thy love; that should not make
Thee pale, my Albert.

Albert. It doth make me freeze.

Auranthe. Why should it love?

Albert. You should not ask me that,
But make your own heart monitor, and save
Me the great pain of telling. You must know.

Auranthe. Something has vext you, Albert. There are times
When simplest things put on a sombre cast;
A melancholy mood will haunt a man,
Until most easy matters take the shape
Of unachievable tasks; small rivulets
Then seem impassable.

Albert. Do not cheat yourself
With hope that gloss of words or suppliant action,
Or tears, or ravings, or self-threatened death,
Can alter my resolve.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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