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From Eribert-my father is return'd:
I leave thee not.

Con. Thy father! blessed sound!
Good angels be his guard! Oh! if he knew
my soul clings to thine, he could not hate
Even a Provençal maid! Thy father!-now
Thy soul will be at peace, and I shall see
The sunny happiness of earlier days

Look from thy brow once more! But how is this?
Thine eye reflects not the glad soul of mine;
And in thy look is that which ill befits

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Raim. It may not be.

O gentle Constance! go not forth to-day:
Such dreams are ominous.

Con. Have you then forgot

My brother's nuptial feast? I must be one
Of the gay train attending to the shrine

His stately bride. In sooth, my step of joy [love?
Will print earth lightly now. What fear'st thou,
Look all around! the blue transparent skies,
And sunbeams pouring a more buoyant life
Through each glad thrilling vein, will brightly chase
All thought of evil. Why, the very air [realms
Breathes of delight! Through all its glowing
Doth music blend with fragrance; and e'en here
The city's voice of jubilee is heard,

Till each light leaf seems trembling unto sounds
Of human joy!

Raim. There lie far deeper thingsThings that may darken thought for life, beneath That city's festive semblance. I have pass'd Through the glad multitudes, and I have mark'd A stern intelligence in meeting eyes, Which deem'd their flash unnoticed, and a quick, Suspicious vigilance, too intent to clothe Its mien with carelessness; and now and then, A hurrying start, a whisper, or a hand Pointing by stealth to some one, singled out Amidst the reckless throng. O'er all is spread A mantling flush of revelry, which may hide Much from unpractised eyes; but lighter signs Have been prophetic oft.

Con. I tremble !-Raimond! What may these things portend?

Raim. It was a day

Of festival like this; the city sent

Up through her sunny firmament a voice
Joyous as now; when, scarcely heralded

By one deep moan, forth from his cavernous depths
The earthquake burst; and the wide splendid scene
Became one chaos of all fearful things,

Till the brain whirl'd, partaking the sick motion Of rocking palaces.

Con. And then didst thou,

My noble Raimond! through the dreadful paths
Laid open by destruction, past the chasms, [given
Whose fathomless clefts, a moment's work, had
One burial unto thousands, rush to save
Thy trembling Constance ! she who lives to bless
Thy generous love, that still the breath of heaven
Wafts gladness to her soul!

Raim. Heaven!-heaven is just !

And being so, must guard thee, sweet one! still.
Trust none beside. Oh! the omnipotent skies
Make their wrath manifest, but insidious man
Doth compass those he hates with secret snares,
Wherein lies fate. Know, danger walks abroad,
Mask'd as a reveller. Constance! oh, by all
Our tried affection, all the vows which bind
Our hearts together, meet me in these bowers,
Here, I adjure thee, meet me, when the bell
Doth sound for vesper prayer!

Con. And know'st thou not "Twill be the bridal hour?

Raim. It will not, love!

That hour will bring no bridal! Naught of this
To human ear; but speed thou hither-fly,
When evening brings that signal. Dost thou heed?
This is no meeting by a lover sought

To breathe fond tales, and make the twilight groves
And stars attest his vows; deem thou not so,
Therefore denying it! I tell thee, Constance !
If thou wouldst save me from such fierce despair
As falls on man, beholding all he loves
Perish before him, while his strength can but
Strive with his agony-thou'lt meet me then.
Look on me, love !-I am not oft so moved-
Thou'lt meet me?

Con. Oh! what mean thy words? If then
My steps are free,-I will. Be thou but calm.

Raim. Be calm!-there is a cold and sullen calm, And, were my wild fears made realities, It might be mine; but, in this dread suspenseThis conflict of all terrible fantasies,

There is no calm. Yet fear thou not, dear love! I will watch o'er thee still. And now, farewell Until that hour!

Con. My Raimond, fare thee well.


SCENE IV.-Room in the Citadel of Palermo.


De Cou. Saidst thou this night?

Alb. This very night-and lo! en now the sun declines.

De Cou. What! are they arm'd?

Alb. All arm'd, and strong in vengeance and despair.

De Cou. Doubtful and strange the tale! Why was not this reveal'd before?

Alb. Mistrust me not, my lord!

hat stern and jealous Procida hath kept
fer all my steps (as though he did suspect
he purposes, which oft his eye hath sought
o read in mine) a watch so vigilant

knew not how to warn thee, though for this
lone I mingled with his bands-to learn
heir projects and their strength. Thou know'st
my faith

o Anjou's house full well.

De Cou. How may we now

vert the gathering storm? The viceroy holds

is bridal feast, and all is revelry.

was a true-boding heaviness of heart Which kept me from these nuptials. Alb. Thou thyself

Lay'st yet escape, and haply of thy bands Rescue a part, ere long to wreak full vengeance pon these rebels. "Tis too late to dream of saving Eribert. E'en shouldst thou rush Before him with the tidings, in his pride And confidence of soul, he would but laugh Thy tale to scorn.

De Cou. He must not die unwarn'd, Though it be all in vain. But thou, Alberti, Rejoin thy comrades, lest thine absence wake Suspicion in their hearts. Thou hast done well, And shalt not pass unguerdon'd, should I live Through the deep horrors of th' approaching night.

Alb. Noble De Couci, trust me still. Anjou Commands no heart more faithful than Alberti's. [Exit ALBERTI.

De Cou. The grovelling slave! And yet he spoke too true!

For Eribert, in blind elated joy,

Will scorn the warning voice. The day wanes fast,

And through the city, recklessly dispersed,
Unarm'd and unprepared, my soldiers revel,
E'en on the brink of fate.

I must away. [Exit DE COUCI.

SCENE V.-A Banqueting Hall.-Provençal Nobles


1st Noble. Joy be to this fair meeting! Who

hath seen

The viceroy's bride?

2d Noble. I saw her as she pass'd

The gazing throngs assembled in the city.
'Tis said she hath not left for years, till now,
Her castle's wood-girt solitude. Twill gall
These proud Sicilians that her wide domains
Should be the conqueror's guerdon.

3d Noble. 'Twas their boast

With what fond faith she worshipp'd still the name
Of the boy Conradin. How will the slaves
Brook this new triumph of their lords?

2d Noble. In sooth,

It stings them to the quick. In the full streets
They mix with our Provençals, and assume
A guise of mirth, but it sits hardly on them.
"Twere worth a thousand festivals to see
With what a bitter and unnatural effort
They strive to smile!

1st Noble. Is this Vittoria fair?

2d Noble. Of a most noble mien; but yet her


Is wild and awful, and her large dark eye, In its unsettled glances, hath strange power, From which thou'lt shrink as I did.

1st Noble. Hush! they come.


Eri. Welcome, my noble friends!-there must not lower

One clouded brow to-day in Sicily!
-Behold my bride!

Nobles. Receive our homage, lady!

Vit. I bid all welcome. May the feast we offer Prove worthy of such guests!

Eri. Look on her, friends!

And say if that majestic brow is not
Meet for a diadem ?

Vit. 'Tis well, my lord!

When memory's pictures fade-'tis kindly done To brighten their dimm'd hues !

1st Noble (apart.) Mark'd you her glance?

2d Noble (apart.) What eloquent scorn was there? Yet he, th' elate

Of heart, perceives it not.

Eri. Now to the feast!

Constance, you look not joyous. I have said
That all should smile to-day.

Con. Forgive me, brother;

The heart is wayward, and its garb of pomp At times oppresses it.

Eri. Why, how is this?

Con. Voices of woe, and prayers of agony, Unto my soul have risen, and left sad sounds There echoing still. Yet would I fain be gay, Since 'tis your wish. In truth, I should have been A village maid.

Eri. But being as you are,

Not thus ignobly free, command your looks (They may be taught obedience) to reflect The aspect of the time.

Vit. And know, fair maid!

That, if in this unskill'd, you stand alone
Amidst our court of pleasure.

Eri. To the feast!

Now let the red wine foam !-There should be mirth
When conquerors revel! Lords of this fair isle !
Your good swords' heritage, crown each bowl, and

The present and the future! for they both
Look brightly on us. Dost thou smile, my bride?
Vit. Yes, Eribert !-thy prophecies of joy
Have taught e'en me to smile.

Eri. 'Tis well. To-day

I have won a fair and almost royal bride;
To-morrow let the bright sun speed his course,
To waft me happiness !-my proudest foes
Must die; and then my slumber shall be laid
On rose-leaves, with no envious fold to mar
The luxury of its visions !-Fair Vittoria,
Your looks are troubled!

Vit. It is strange-but oft,

Midst festal songs and garlands, o'er my soul
Death comes, with some dull image! As you spoke
Of those whose blood is claim'd, I thought for them
Who, in a darkness thicker than the night
E'er wove with all her clouds, have pined so long,
How blessed were the stroke which makes them

Of that invisible world, wherein, we trust,
There is at least no bondage! But should we,
From such a scene as this, where all earth's joys
Contend for mastery, and the very sense
Of life is rapture-should we pass, I say,
At once from such excitements to the void
And silent gloom of that which doth await us-
Were it not dreadful?

Eri. Banish such dark thoughts!
They ill beseem the hour.

Vit. There is no hour

Of this mysterious world, in joy or woe,
But they beseem it well! Why, what a slight
Impalpable bound is that, th' unseen, which severs

Being from death! And who can tell how near Its misty brink he stands?

1st Noble (aside.) What mean her words?

2d Noble. There's some dark mystery here. Eri. No more of this!

Pour the bright juice, which Etna's glowing vines Yield to the conquerors! And let music's voice

Dispel these ominous dreams !-Wake, harp and


Swell out your triumph!

A Messenger enters, bearing a letter.

Mes. Pardon, my good lord!

But this demands

Eri. What means thy breathless haste, And that ill-boding mien? Away! such looks Befit not hours like these.

Mes. The Lord De Couci

Bade me bear this, and say, 'tis fraught with tidings Of life and death.

Vit. (hurriedly.) Is this a time for aught But revelry? My lord, these dull intrusions Mar the bright spirit of the festal scene! Eri. (to the Messenger.) Hence! Tell the Lord De Couci, we will talk Of life and death to-morrow.

[Exit Messenger. Let there be Around me none but joyous looks to-day, And strains whose very echoes wake to mirth! A band of the conspirators enter, to the sound of music, disguised as shepherds, bacchanals, &c.

Eri. What forms are these? What means this antic triumph?

Vit. 'Tis but a rustic pageant, by my vassals Prepared to grace our bridal. Will you not Hear their wild music? Our Sicilian vales Have many a sweet and mirthful melody, To which the glad heart bounds. Breathe ye some strain

Meet for the time, ye sons of Sicily!

One of the Masquers sings.

The festal eve, o'er earth and sky,
In her sunset robe looks bright,
And the purple hills of Sicily

With their vineyards laugh in light;
From the marble cities of her plains,

Glad voices mingling swell;

-But with yet more loud and lofty strains,
They shall hail the Vesper-bell !

Oh! sweet its tones, when the summer breeze Their cadence wafts afar,

To float o'er the blue Sicilian seas,

As they gleam to the first pale star!
The shepherd greets them on his height,
The hermit in his cell;

-But a deeper voice shall breathe to-night,
In the sound of the Vesper-bell!

[The bell rings. Eri. It is the hour! Hark, hark !-my bride,

our summons !

The altar is prepared and crown'd with flowers, That wait

Vit. The victim !

[A tumult heard without. PROCIDA and MONTALBA enter, with others, armed. Pro. Strike! the hour is come!

Vit. Welcome, avengers! welcome! Now, be strong!

(The conspirators throw off their disguise, and rush with their swords drawn upon the Provençals. ERIBERT is wounded, and falls.)

Pro. Now hath fate reach'd thee, in thy mid career,

Thou reveller in a nation's agonies!

(The Provençals are driven off, pursued by the Sicilians.)

Con. (supporting ERIBERT.) My brother! oh, my brother!

Eri. Have I stood

A leader in the battle-fields of kings,

To perish thus at last? Ay, by these pangs,
And this strange chill, that heavily doth creep,
Like a slow poison, through my curdling veins,
This should be-death! In sooth, a dull exchange
For the gay bridal feast!

Voices (without.) Remember Conradin !-spare none-spare none !

Vit. (throwing off her bridal wreath and ornaments.) This is proud freedom! Now my soul may cast,

In generous scorn, her mantle of dissembling
To earth for ever! And it is such joy,
As if a captive from his dull cold cell
Might soar at once, on charter'd wing, to range
The realms of starr'd infinity! Away!
Vain mockery of a bridal wreath! The hour
For which stern patience ne'er kept watch in vain
Is come; and I may give my bursting heart
Full and indignant scope. Now, Eribert !
Believe in retribution! What! proud man!
Prince, ruler, conqueror! didst thou deem
heaven slept?

"Or that the unseen, immortal ministers,
Ranging the world to note e'en purposed crime
In burning characters, had laid aside
Their everlasting attributes for thee?"

O blind security! He in whose dread hand
The lightnings vibrate, holds them back, until
The trampler of this goodly earth hath reach'd
His pyramid height of power; that so his fall
May with more fearful oracles make pale
Man's crown'd oppressors !

Con. Oh! reproach him not!

His soul is trembling on the dizzy brink
Of that dim world where passion may not enter.
Leave him in peace.
[the rescue!
Voices (without.) Anjou! Anjou!-De Couci, to
Eri. (half raising himself.) My brave Provençals!
do ye combat still?

And I your chief am here! Now, now I feel
That death indeed is bitter!

Vit. Fare thee well!
Thine eyes so oft with their insulting smile [this,
Have look'd on man's last pangs, thou shouldst by
Be perfect how to die!

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Haste, follow me! Suspicion with thy name Joins that word-Traitor!

Raim. Traitor !-Guido ?

Gui. Yes!

Hast thou not heard that, with his men-at-arms, After vain conflict with a people's wrath,

De Couci hath escaped? And there are those Who murmur that from thee the warning came Which saved him from our vengeance. But c'en yet, In the red current of Provençal blood,

That doubt may be effaced. Draw thy good sword, And follow me!

Raim. And thou couldst doubt me, Guido ! "Tis come to this!-Away! mistrust me still. I will not stain my sword with deeds like thine. Thou knowst me not!

Gui. Raimond di Procida !

If thou art he whom once I deem'd so noble-
Call me thy friend no more! [Exit GUIDO.
Raim. (after a pause.) Rise, dearest, rise!
Thy duty's task hath nobly been fulfill'd,
E'en in the face of death; but all is o'er,
And this is now no place where nature's tears
In quiet sanctity may freely flow.

-Hark! the wild sounds that wait on fearful deeds
Are swelling on the winds, as the deep roar
Of fast-advancing billows; and for thee

I shame not thus to tremble.-Speed ! oh, speed!


SCENE I-4 Street in Palermo.
PROCIDA enters.

Pro. How strange and deep a stillness loads the air,

As with the power of midnight! Ay, where death
Hath pass'd, there should be silence. But this hush
Of nature's heart, this breathlessness of all things,
Doth press on thought too heavily, and the sky,
With its dark robe of purple thunder-clouds,
Brooding in sullen masses o'er my spirit,
Weighs like an omen! Wherefore should this be?
Is not our task achieved-the mighty work
Of our deliverance! Yes; I should be joyous :
But this our feeble nature, with its quick
Instinctive superstitions, will drag down
Th' ascending soul. And I have fearful bodings
That treachery lurks amongst us. - Raimond!


Oh, guilt ne'er made a mien like his its garb! It cannot be !

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