To Manfred
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ACT III


SCENE III
The Mountains.-- The Castle of MANFRED at some distance.-- A Terrace before a Tower.-- Time, Twilight.

HERMAN, MANUEL, and other Dependants of MANFRED.

HERMAN.
'T is strange enough; night after night, for years,
He hath pursued long vigils in this tower,
Without a witness. I have been within it,--
So have we all been oft-times; but from it
Or its contents, it were impossible
To draw conclusions absolute of aught
His studies tend to. To be sure, there is
One chamber where none enter: I would give
The fee of what I have to come these three years                      210
To pore upon its mysteries.

MANUEL.
                                                               'T were dangerous;
Content thyself with what thou know'st already.

HERMAN.
Ah! Manuel! thou art elderly and wise,
And could'st say much; thou hast dwelt within the castle--
How many years is't?

MANUEL.
                                          Ere Count Manfred's birth,
I served his father, whom he nought resembles.

HERMAN.
There be more sons in like predicament.
But wherein do they differ?

MANUEL.
                                                               I speak not
Of features or of form, but mind and habits;
Count Sigismund was proud, but gay and free--                      220
A warrior and a reveller; he dwelt not
With books and solitude, nor made the night
A gloomy vigil, but a festal time,
Merrier than day; he did not walk the rocks
And forests like a wolf, nor turn aside
From men and their delights.

HERMAN.
                                                               Beshrew the hour,
But those were jocund times! I would that such
Would visit the old walls again; they look
As if they had forgotten them.

MANUEL.
                                                               These walls
Must change their chieftain first. Oh! I have seen                      230
Some strange things in them, Herman.

HERMAN.
                                                               Come, be friendly;
Relate me some to while away our watch:
I've heard thee darkly speak of an event
Which happen'd hereabouts, by this same tower.

MANUEL.
That was a night indeed! I do remember
'T was twilight, as it may be now, and such
Another evening; yon red cloud, which rests
On Eigher's pinnacle, so rested then,--
So like that it might be the same; the wind
Was faint and gusty, and the mountain snows                      240
Began to glitter with the climbing moon.
Count Manfred was, as now, within his tower,--
How occupied, we knew not, but with him
The sole companion of his wanderings
And watchings-- her, whom of all earthly things
That lived, the only thing he seemed to love,--
As he, indeed, by blood was bound to do,
The Lady Astarte, his--
Hush! who comes here?

Enter the ABBOT.

ABBOT.
Where is your master?

HERMAN.
                                          Yonder in the tower.

ABBOT.
I must speak with him.

MANUEL.
                                          'T is impossible;                                           250
He is most private, and must not be thus
Intruded on.

ABBOT.
                     Upon myself I take
The forfeit of my fault, if fault there be--
But I must see him.

HERMAN.
                     Thou hast seen him once
This eve already.

ABBOT.
                     Herman! I command thee,
Knock, and apprize the Count of my approach.

HERMAN.
                                                               We dare not.

ABBOT.
Then it seems I must be herald
Of my own purpose.

MANUEL.
Reverend father, stop--
I pray you pause.

ABBOT.
                                          Why so?

MANUEL.
But step this way,
And I will tell you further. (Exeunt.)                     260

CST Approved

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