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When, into one of those same spotted bells !
A bee came darting, which the child with joy
Imprisoned there, and held it to his ear,
And suddenly grew black, as he would die.
Mar. We have no time for this, my babbling gossip;
Here's what will comfort you. [Gives her money.
The Saints reward you
For this good deed!-Well, sirs, this passed away;
And afterwards I fancied, a strange dog,
Trotting alone along the beaten road,
Came to my child as by my side he slept,
And, fondling, licked his face, then on a sudden
Snapped fierce to make a morsel of his head:
But here he is, [kissing the child] it must have been a
Osw. When next inclined to sleep, take my advice, And put your head, good woman, under cover.
Beg. Oh, sir, you would not talk thus, if you knew What life is this of ours, how sleep will master The weary-worn. - You gentle folk have got Warm chambers to your wish. I'd rather be A stone than what I am. But two nights gone, The darkness overtook me - wind and rain Beat hard upon my head-and yet I saw A glow-worm, through the covert of the furze, Shine calmly as if nothing ailed the sky: At which I half accused the God in Heaven.— You must forgive me.
Beg. Thanks to you both; but, O sir! How would you like to travel on whole hours As I have done, my eyes upon the ground, Expecting still, I knew not how, to find A piece of money glittering through the dust. Mar. This woman is a prater. Pray, good lady! Do you tell fortunes?
Beg. O, sir, you are like the rest. This little-one - it cuts me to the heartWell they might turn a beggar from their doors, But there are mothers who can see the babe Here at my breast, and ask me where I bought it: This they can do, and look upon my faceBut you, sir, should be kinder.
Mar. Come hither, fathers, And learn what nature is from this poor wretch! Beg. Ay, sir, there's nobody that feels for us. Why now - but yesterday I overtook A blind old greybeard and accosted him,
l' th' name of all the saints, and by the Mass
He should have used me better! - Charity!
If you can melt a rock, he is your man;
But I'll be even with him here again
Have I been waiting for him.
Well, but softly,
Who is it that hath wronged you?
Mark you me;
I'll point him out;· -a maiden is his guide,
Lovely as Spring's first rose; a little dog,
Tied by a woollen cord, moves on before
With look as sad as he were dumb; the cur,
I owe him no ill will, but in good sooth
He does his master credit.
As I live,
'Tis Herbert and no other!
'Tis a feast to see him,
Lank as a ghost and tall, his shoulders bent,
And long beard white with age—yet evermore,
As if he were the only saint on earth,
He turns his face to heaven.
But why so violent
I'll tell you:
Against this venerable man?
He has the very hardest heart on earth;
I had as lief turn to the Friar's school
And knock for entrance, in mid holiday.
Mar. But to your story.
I was saying, Sir-
Well!- he has often spurned me like a toad,
But yesterday was worse than all; — at last
I overtook him, sirs, my babe and I,
And begged a little aid for charity:
But he was snappish as a cottage cur.
Well then, says I-I'll out with it; at which
I cast a look upon the girl, and felt
As if my heart would burst; and so I left him.
Osw. I think, good woman, you are the very person Whom, but a few days past, I saw in Eskdale, At Herbert's door.
Ay; and if truth were known
I have good business there.
And he seemed angry.
Angry! well he might;
And long as I can stir I'll dog him. Yesterday,
To serve me so, and knowing that he owes
The best of all he has to me and mine.
But 't is all over now. That good old lady
Has left a power of riches; and I say it,
If there's a lawyer in the land, the knave
Shall give me half.
What's this?-I fear, good woman,
You have been insolent.
I spied him skulking in his peasant's dress.
Osw. How say you? in disguise? —
I met you at the threshold,
With Herbert or his daughter?
But how's the day? I fear,
We've overslept ourselves.
Daughter! trulymy little boy, Sirs, have you seen him? [Offers to go.
Mar. I must have more of this;-you shall not stir
Know you aught
An inch, till I am answered.
That doth concern this Herbert?
Do not harm me,
He is a most hard-hearted man. Mar. Your life is at my mercy. Beg. And I will tell you all! You know not, sir, What strong temptations press upon the poor. Osw. Speak out. Beg. O, sir, I've been a wicked woman. Osw. Nay, but speak out! Beg. He flattered me, and said What harvest it would bring us both; and so, I parted with the child.
Parted with whom? Beg. Idonea, as he calls her; but the girl Is mine.
Mar. Yours, woman! are you Herbert's wife? Beg. Wife, sir! his wife-not I; my husband, sir, Was of Kirkoswald-many a snowy winter We've weathered out together. My poor Gilfred! He has been two years in his grave.
Mar. Enough. Osw. We've solved the riddle Miscreant! Mar.
Good dame, repair to Liddesdale, and wait For my return; be sure you shall have justice. Osw. A lucky woman! go, you have done good [Aside. Mar. (to himself.) Eternal praises on the power that saved her!
Beg. O, sir, you are merry with me. In grange or farm this Hundred scarcely owns A dog that does not know me.—These good folks, For love of God, I must not pass their doors; But I'll be back with my best speed: for you God bless and thank you both, my gentle masters. [Exit Beggar. Mar. (to himself.) The cruel viper !-Poor devoted maid, Now I do love thee. Osw. I am thunderstruck. Mar. Where is she-holla!
He is a man, if it should come to his ears I never shall be heard of more.
Beg. What can I do? believe me, gentle sirs, I love her, though I dare not call her daughter. Osw. Lord Clifford -did you see him talk with Herbert?
Do you, SCENE, A chamber in the Hostel-OSWALD alone,
rising from a table on which he had been writing.
Osw. They chose him for their chief!-what covert
He, in the preference, modest youth, might take,
I neither know nor care. The insult bred
More of contempt than hatred; both are flown;
Osw. (gives her money.) Here's for your little boy That either e'er existed is my shame:
- and when you christen him I'll be his godfather.
Beg. Yes, to my sorrow under the great oak
At Herbert's door- and when he stood beside
The blind man- at the silent girl he looked
- it makes me tremble, sir,
I With such a look
To think of it.
Enough you may depart.
Mar. (to himself.)
A holier name; and, under such a mask,
To lead a spirit spotless as the blessed,
To that abhorrèd den of brutish vice! -
Oswald, the firm foundation of my life
Is going from under me; these strange discoveries —
Looked at from every point of fear or hope,
Duty, or love-involve, I feel, my ruin.
Father! to God himself we
'T was a dull spark-a most unnatural fire That died the moment the air breathed upon it.
-These fools of feeling are mere birds of winter That haunt some barren island of the north, Where, if a famishing man stretch forth his hand, They think it is to feed them. I have left him To solitary meditation; now For a few swelling phrases, and a flash Of truth, enough to dazzle and to blind, And he is mine for ever-here he comes.
Mar. These ten years she has moved her lips all day And never speaks! Osw.
Who is it?
Mar. I have seen her. Osw. Oh! the poor tenant of that ragged homestead, Her whom the monster, Clifford, drove to madness. Mar. I met a peasant near the spot; he told me, These ten years she had sate all day alone Within those empty walls.
Osw. I too have seen her; Chancing to pass this way some six months gone, At midnight, I betook me to the churchyard:
The moon shone clear, the air was still, so still' The trees were silent as the graves beneath them. Long did I watch, and saw her pacing round Upon the self-same spot, still round and round, Her lips for ever moving.
At her door Rooted I stood; for, looking at the woman, I thought I saw the skeleton of Idonea. Osw. But the pretended fatherMar.
Measures not crimes like his.
We rank not, happily,
With those who take the spirit of their rule
From that soft class of devotees who feel
Reverence for life so deeply, that they spare
The verminous brood, and cherish what they spare
While feeding on their bodies. Would that Idonea
Were present, to the end that we might hear
What she can urge in his defence; she loves him.
Mar. Yes, loves him; 't is a truth that multiplies
His guilt a thousand-fold.
"Tis most perplexing:
What must be done?
We will conduct her hither;
These walls shall witness it-from first to last
He shall reveal himself.
Happy are we,
Who live in these disputed tracts, that own
No law but what each man makes for himself;
Here justice has indeed a field of triumph.
Mar. Let us begone and bring her hither; - here
The truth shall be laid open, his guilt proved
Before her face. The rest be left to me.
Osw. You will be firm: but though we well may trust The issue to the justice of the cause, Caution must not be flung aside; remember, Yours is no common life. Self-stationed here, Upon these savage confines, we have seen you Stand like an isthmus 'twixt two stormy seas That oft have checked their fury at your bidding. 'Mid the deep holds of Solway's mossy waste, Your single virtue has transformed a band Of fierce barbarians into ministers
Of peace and order. Aged men with tears
Have blessed their steps, the fatherless retire
For shelter to their banners. But it is,
As you must needs have deeply felt, it is
In darkness and in tempest that we seek
The majesty of Him who rules the world.
Benevolence, that has not heart to use
The wholesome ministry of pain and evil,
Becomes at last weak and contemptible.
Your generous qualities have won due praise,
But vigorous spirits look for something more
Than youth's spontaneous products; and to-day
You will not disappoint them; and hereafter.
Mar. You are wasting words; hear me then, once for all:
You are a man- and therefore, if compassion,
Host. Attends your pleasure. Osw. (to Host.)
Men who are little given to sift and weigh
Would wreak on us the passion of the moment.
Mar. The cloud will soon disperse - farewell - but
Thou wilt relate the story.
'Am I neither
To bear a part in this man's punishment,
Nor be its witness?
I had many hopes
That were most dear to me, and some will bear
To be transferred to thee.
When I'm dishonoured!
Mar. I would preserve thee. How may this be done?
Osw. By showing that you look beyond the instant.
A few leagues hence we shall have open ground,
And nowhere upon earth is place so fit
To look upon the deed. Before we enter
The barren moor, hangs from a beetling rock
The shattered castle in which Clifford oft
Has held infernal orgies with the gloom,
And very superstition of the place,
Seasoning his wickedness. The debauchee
Would there perhaps have gathered the first fruits
Of this mock father's guilt.
Enter Host, conducting HERBERT.
The Baron Herbert
We are ready
(to HERBERT.) Sir! I hope you are refreshed.—I have just written A notice for your daughter, that she may know What is become of you.-You'll sit down and sign it. "T will glad her heart to see her father's signature. [Gives the letter he had written, Her. Thanks for your care.
[Sits down and writes. Exit Host.
Osw. (aside to MARMADUKE.) Perhaps it would be Meanwhile the storm fell heavy on the woods;
Our little fire sent forth a cheering warmth
And we were comforted, and talked of comfort;
But 't was an angry night, and o'er our heads
The thunder rolled in peals that would have made
A sleeping man uneasy in his bed.
O lady, you have need to love your father.
His voice- methinks I hear it now, his voice
When, after a broad flash that filled the cave,
He said to me, that he had seen his child,
A face (no cherub's face more beautiful)
[MARMADUKE goes towards HERBERT and supports
him-MARMADUKE tremblingly beckons OSWALD
to take his place.
Mar. (as he quits HERBERT.) There is a palsy in Revealed by lustre brought with it from heaven;
his limbs- he shakes.
And it was you, dear lady
[Exeunt OSWALD and HERBERT— Marmaduke
God be praised,
That I have been his comforter till now!
And will be so through every change of fortune
And every sacrifice his peace requires. —
SCENE changes to a Wood- -a Group of Pilgrims Let us be gone with speed, that he may hear
and IDONEA with them.
These joyful tidings from no lips but mine.
[Exeunt IDONEA and Pilgrims.
That you too should subscribe your name.
[MARMADUKE Overlooks HERBERT — then writes
examines the letter eagerly.
Mar. I cannot leave this paper.
[He puts it up, agitated.
First Pil. A grove of darker and more lofty shade I never saw.
Sec. Pil. The music of the birds
Drops deadened from a roof so thick with leaves.
Old Pil. This news! It made my heart leap up with
Idon. I scarcely can believe it.
Myself, I heard
The Sheriff read, in open court, a letter
Which purported it was the royal pleasure
The Baron Herbert, who, as was supposed,
Had taken refuge in this neighbourhood,
Should be forthwith restored. The hearing, lady,
Filled my dim eyes with tears.- When I returned
From Palestine, and brought with me a heart,
Though rich in heavenly, poor in earthly, comfort,
I met your father, then a wandering outcast:
He had a guide, a shepherd's boy; but grieved
He was that one so young should pass his youth
In such sad service; and he parted with him.
We joined our tales of wretchedness together,
And begged our daily bread from door to door.
I talk familiarly to you, sweet lady!
For once you loved me.
And see your friend again.
Will be rejoiced to greet you.
It seems but yesterday
That a fierce storm o'ertook us, worn with travel,
In a deep wood remote from any town.
A cave that opened to the road presented
A friendly shelter, and we entered in.
Idon. And I was with you?
If indeed 't was you
But you were then a tottering little-one-
We sate us down. The sky grew dark and darker:
I struck my flint, and built up a small fire
With rotten boughs and leaves, such as the winds
Of many autumns in the cave had piled.
You shall back with me
The good old man
Mar. (still listening.) That dog of his, you are sure,
Could not come after us - he must have perished;
The torrent would have dashed an oak to splinters.
You said you did not like his looks that he
Would trouble us; if he were here again,
I swear the sight of him would quail me more
Than twenty armies.
The old blind moan,
When you had told him the mischance, was troubled
Even to the shedding of some natural tears
Into the torrent over which he hung,
Listening in vain.
Osw. Why are you not the man you were tha
[He draws MARMADUKE to the dungeon
Mar. You say he was asleep, - look at this arm,
And tell me if 't is fit for such a work.
[Leuns upon Oswald.
This is some sudden seizure!
Mar. A most strange faintness, will you hunt me
These drowsy shiverings,
This mortal stupor which is creeping over me,
What do they mean? were this my single body
Opposed to armies, not a nerve would tremble:
Why do I tremble now? — Is not the depth
Of this man's crimes beyond the reach of thought?
And yet, in plumbing the abyss for judgment,
Something I strike upon which turns my mind
Back on herself, I think, again - my breast
Concentrates all the terrors of the Universe:
I look at him and tremble like a child.
Osw. Is it possible?
One thing you noticed not:
Just as we left the glen a clap of thunder
Burst on the mountains with hell-rousing force.
This is a time, said he, when guilt may shudder;
But there's a Providence for them who walk
In helplessness, when innocence is with them.
At this audacious blasphemy, I thought
The spirit of vengeance seemed to ride the air.
He has a tender heart!
[OSWALD offers to go down into the dungeon. A cheerless beverage. Mar. How now, what mean you? Osi.
A draught of water?
Nay, to see you thus
Moves me beyond my bearing. I will try
To gain the torrent's brink.
Mar. (after a pause.) It seems an age
Since that man left me.-No, I am not lost.
Her. (at the mouth of the dung con.) Give me your
hand; where are you, Friends? and teli me
How goes the night.
"Tis hard to measure time,
In such a weary night, and such a place.
Her. I do not hear the voice of my friend Oswald.
Mar. A minute past, he went to fetch a draught
Of water from the torrent. "T is, you'll say,
Her. Why so? a roofless rock had been a comfort,
Storm-beaten and bewildered as we were;
How good it was in you
Truly, I was going To stay behind! Hearing at first no answer,
To waken our stray Baron. Were there not
I was alarmed.
A farm or dwelling-house within five leagues,
No wonder; this is a place
We should deserve to wear a cap and bells,
That well may put some fears into your heart.
Three good round years, for playing the fool here
In such a night as this.
You'd better like we should descend together,
And lie down by his side- what say you to it?
Three of us we should keep each other warm:
I'll answer for it that our four-legged friend
Shall not disturb us; further I'll not engage;
Come, come, for manhood's sake!
And in a night like this, to lend your cloaks
To make a bed for me! My girl will weep
When she is told of it.
This daughter of yours
Is very dear to you.
Oh! but you are young;
Over your head twice twenty years must roll,
With all their natural weight of sorrow and pain,
Ere can be known to you how much a father
May love his child.
Thank you, old man, for this! [Aside.
Her. Fallen am I, and worn out, a useless man;
Kindly have you protected me to-night,
And no return have I to make but prayers;
May you in age be blessed with such a daughter! -
When from the Holy Land I had returned
Sightless and from my heritage was driven,
A wretched outcast- but this strain of thought
Would lead me to talk fondly.
Do not fear;
Your words are precious to my ears; go on.
Her. You will forgive me, but my heart runs over.
When my old Leader slipped into the flood
And perished. what a piercing outcry you
Sent after him. I have loved you ever since.
You start - where are we?
The cold blast struck me.