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From Eribert-my father is return'd:
Con. Thy father! blessed sound!
Look from thy brow once more! But how is this?
Raim. It may not be.
O gentle Constance! go not forth to-day:
Con. Have you then forgot
My brother's nuptial feast? I must be one
His stately bride. In sooth, my step of joy [love?
Till each light leaf seems trembling unto sounds
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
By one deep moan, forth from his cavernous depths
Till the brain whirl'd, partaking the sick motion Of rocking palaces.
Con. And then didst thou,
My noble Raimond! through the dreadful paths
Raim. Heaven!-heaven is just !
And being so, must guard thee, sweet one! still.
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 breathe fond tales, and make the twilight groves
Con. Oh! what mean thy words? If then
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.
ALBERTI, DE COUCI.
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
knew not how to warn thee, though for this
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,
I must away. [Exit DE COUCI.
SCENE V.-A Banqueting Hall.-Provençal Nobles
1st Noble. Joy be to this fair meeting! Who
The viceroy's bride?
2d Noble. I saw her as she pass'd
The gazing throngs assembled in the city.
3d Noble. 'Twas their boast
With what fond faith she worshipp'd still the name
2d Noble. In sooth,
It stings them to the quick. In the full streets
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.
Enter ERIBERT, VITTORIA, CONSTANCE, and others.
Eri. Welcome, my noble friends!-there must not lower
One clouded brow to-day in Sicily!
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
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
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
Eri. To the feast!
Now let the red wine foam !-There should be mirth
The present and the future! for they both
Eri. 'Tis well. To-day
I have won a fair and almost royal bride;
Vit. It is strange-but oft,
Midst festal songs and garlands, o'er my soul
Of that invisible world, wherein, we trust,
Eri. Banish such dark thoughts!
Vit. There is no hour
Of this mysterious world, in joy or woe,
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,
With their vineyards laugh in light;
Glad voices mingling swell;
-But with yet more loud and lofty strains,
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!
-But a deeper voice shall breathe to-night,
[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,
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
"Or that the unseen, immortal ministers,
O blind security! He in whose dread hand
Con. Oh! reproach him not!
His soul is trembling on the dizzy brink
And I your chief am here! Now, now I feel
Vit. Fare thee well!
Haste, follow me! Suspicion with thy name Joins that word-Traitor!
Raim. Traitor !-Guido ?
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-
-Hark! the wild sounds that wait on fearful deeds
I shame not thus to tremble.-Speed ! oh, speed!
SCENE I-4 Street in Palermo.
Pro. How strange and deep a stillness loads the air,
As with the power of midnight! Ay, where death
Oh, guilt ne'er made a mien like his its garb! It cannot be !