Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

CLARA.

It was indeed. But whatsoe'er had been his former pride, He seem'd a humbled and heart-broken man. He thank'd me much for what I said was sent; But I knew well his thanks were for my tears. He look'd again upon the children's couch, And said, low down, they wanted nothing now. So, to turn off his eyes, I drew the small survivor of the three Before him, and he snatched it up, and soon Seemed quite forgetful and absorbed. With that

I stole away.

ARTEVELDE.

There is a man by fate
Fitted for any enterprise of danger.
Alas! of many such I have the choice.
Well; next thou passedst to the hospital ?

CLARA.

With Father John; but here he comes himself, Doubtless to bring you tidings of the sick.

Enter FATHER JOHN OF HEDA.

ARTEVELDE.

What cheer, good father?

FATHER JOHN.

Heavy is my cheer; What else but heavy, when from day to day I see still more of suffering sinking men Pass to the chok'd church-yard.

ARTEVELDE.

Truly the sight
Must needs bring on a heaviness of cheer.
I am to blame to think of that no sooner.
Who waits ? Too many things conspire—who waits ?

Enter Steward.
Repair thee to the captains of the guards,
And give my orders that from this time forth
No funerals be allow'd till after dark.

[Exit Steward. And so the sickness spreads?

FATHER JOHN.

It spreads apace. Since Egypt's plagues did never rage disease So sore, and so invincible by art, So varied in its forms, and in its signs So unintelligibly strange : in some The fever keeps its course from first to last ; In others intermits: here suddenly The patient's head is seized with racking pains; Then shift they to his chest, with change as quick, Then to his loins, and strangury succeeds, With clammy sweat, hard breathing, and hot thirst; The intervals of pain, if such there be, Afford him no repose, but he is still Dejected, restless, of a hopeless mind, Indifferent to all incidents and objects, Or in his understanding too confused To see or apprehend them : first the face Is red and flush'd, with large and fiery eyes ; Then is it dropsical and deathy pale. Sometimes such shudderings seize upon the frame

That the bed shakes beneath it, and with that
The breath is check'd with sobbings as from cold ;
Then comes a thick dark crust upon the lips,
And tongue, and teeth; the fatal hiccough next.
Some die in struggles and strong agonies;
Some in a lethargy; whilst others wake
As from a dream, shake off the fit, look round,
And with collected senses and calm speech
Tell the by-standers that their hour is come.

ARTEVELDE.

It is a dismal malady, and this,
Like all our thousand miseries beside,
Demands a remedy that kills or cures.
What wild beasts' yells are these?
[Tumult and shouting without. The Page enters.

Henry, what news?

PAGE.

The man from Bruges, escorted by Van Muck,
Is coming here, with crowds of people wild
To hear what message he may bring. Van Muck
Forbids that any word should pass his lips
Till he have speech of you.

ARTEVELDE.

Van Muck is right.

PAGE.

But oh! you never saw such wrathful men!
They'll tear them both to pieces.

ARTEVELDE.

Have no fear. Van Muck will make his way. Aye, here they come.

Enter Van Muck and VAN AESWYN. What! this the messenger ? now by the rood ! Either mine eyes are treacherous as himself, Or else I see a follower of that false Dishonour'd knight, and perjured knave, Van Occo. How is it, if he dares send thee here, That thou hast dared to come ?

AESWYN.
Under

your

favour

The Lord of Occo

ARTEVELDE.

Grant me but a day
After the siege-Furies and Fates !—one day,
To hunt that poisonous reptile to his hole

heel
upon

his recreant neck ! What dost thou here?

And stamp my

A ESWYN.

I come not here from him, For since he made his war upon a damsel, I have renounced his service; more than that, I to the Lord of Arlon did that errand Which wrought to her deliverance.

ARTEVELDE.

Aha! I crave your pardon.

I had heard 'twas you, Though it escaped me. Tell your tale; but first What tidings of that lady?

AESWYN.

She remains By her own will, sir, in the knightly hands Of my good Lord of Arlon.

ARTEVELDE.

Say no more; Elsewhere I would not wish her.

[The tumult increases without, and ARTEVELDE's name is called repeatedly.

Let me now Dismiss this noisy and impatient herd That throng my doors, and then-ho! hark ye, steward, Conduct Van Aeswyn to my private chamber.

(Exeunt all but ARTEVELDE and CLARA. My Clara, we have here a busy day; Perhaps I shall not see thee, love, again Till after night-fall; but I will not lose Thy good-night kiss, so give it to me now.

CLARA. Philip, there's something in your thoughts ... but noI will not tease you—there-good night-Adieu.

[Exit Clara. The clamour without increases. ARTEVELDE passes

into an external gallery, which overlooks the street, and is heard addressing the people.

ARTEVELDE.

Hence to the Stadt-house, friends; I'll meet you there,
And either bring the messenger himself,
Or tell you of his tidings : hence-begone.

[The people disperse.
Van Occô, thou art in thine own despite
The mainstay of my hope. I have within
Assurance strong as destiny that I,
And I alone, a mission have from Heaven
To execute God's justice upon thee.
And Adriana ! Through the storm-rent cloud
A glorious light upon thy figure falls
Which walks the waters, stately and serene,
And beckons me, and points what course to keep.

« AnteriorContinuar »