Act I

Scene I.—A pavilion near Pizarro’s Tent.

Elvira discovered sleeping under a canopy. Valverde enters, gazes on Elvira, kneels, and attempts to kiss her hand; Elvira, awakened, rises and looks at him with indignation.

Elv. Audacious! Whence is thy privilege to interrupt the few moments of repose my harassed mind can snatch amid the tumults of this noisy camp? Shall I inform thy master, Pizarro, of this presumptuous treachery?

Val. I am his servant—it is true—trusted by him—and I know him well; and therefore ’tis I ask, by what magic could Pizarro gain your heart? by what fatality still holds he your affection?

Elv. Hold! thou trusty secretary!

Val. Ignobly born! in mind and manners rude, ferocious and unpolished, though cool and crafty if occasion need—in youth audacious—ill his first manhood—a licensed pirate—treating men as brutes, the world as booty; yet now the Spanish hero is he styled—the first of Spanish conquerors! and, for a warrior so accomplished, ’tis fit Elvira should leave her noble family, her fame, her home, to share the dangers, humours, and the crimes, of such a lover as Pizarro!

Elv. What! Valverde moralizing! But grant I am in error, what is my incentive? Passion, infatuation, call it as you will; but what attaches thee to this despised, unworthy leader? Base lucre is thy object, mean fraud thy means. Could you gain me, you only hope to win a higher interest in Pizarro. I know you.

Val. On my soul, you wrong me! What else my faults, I have none towards you. But indulge the scorn and levity of your nature; do it while yet the time permits; the gloomy hour, I fear, too soon approaches.

Elv. Valverde a prophet too!

Val. Hear me, Elvira. Shame from his late defeat, and burning wishes for revenge, again have brought Pizarro to Peru; but trust me, he overrates his strength, nor measures well the foe. Encamped in a strange country, where terror cannot force, nor corruption buy a single friend, what have we to hope? The army murmuring at increasing hardships, while Pizarro decorates with gaudy spoil the gay pavilion of his luxury, each day diminishes our force.

Elv. But are you not the heirs of those that fall?

Val. Are gain and plunder, then, our only purpose? Is this Elvira’s heroism?

Elv. No, so save me, heaven! I abhor the motive, means, and end of your pursuits: but I will trust none of you. In your whole army there is not one of you that has a heart, or speaks ingenuously—aged Las- Casas, and he alone, excepted.

Val. He! an enthusiast in the opposite and worst extreme!

Elv. Oh! had I earlier known that virtuous man, how different might my lot have been!

Val. I will grant Pizarro could not then so easily have duped you: forgive me, but at that event I still must wonder.

Elv. Hear me, Valverde. When first my virgin fancy waked to love, Pizarro was my country’s idol. Self- taught, self-raised, and self-supported, he became a hero; and I was formed to be won by glory and renown. ’Tis known that, when he left Panama in a slight vessel, his force was not a hundred men. Arrived at the island of Gallo, with his sword he drew a line upon the sands, and said, “Pass those who fear to die or conquer with their leader.” Thirteen alone remained, and at the head of these the warrior stood his ground. Even at the moment when my ears first caught this tale, my heart exclaimed, “Pizarro

  By PanEris using Melati.

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