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And does the gentle Countess speak of me
That beautiful grief? Yes, I have often seen,
Have often felt those dewy eyes, where love
Mixes with pity, as in angels' looks,
Fix'd upon mine, as she would read
Oh ! she would find it full of deep respect
For her—and for her daughter.
Look, the poor fawn hath moan'd himself asleep!
Give him to me. -captive though I be,
Or little better, in those frowning walls,
Yet have I there a lone deserted nook,
Which long neglect has made a sort of garden,
All clothed with moss, and grass, and trailing plants,
And deck'd with gorgeous weeds. The wild-vine there,
And white-vein’d ivy, form a natural arbour ;
And I have mingled odorous shrubs, and sprinkled
Bright showers of garden blossoms. It is now
A bower fit for the fairies; and unclaim'd
Of any other, I still call it mine ;
And there my pretty fawn shall dwell with me,
And feed on roses ;-—my poor dappled fawn !
No-not in your arms--give him into mine.
The. Nay, let me carry him.
Oh ! no, no, no ;
I must not, dare not.
Only to the gate ?
Ber. The gate! Then I must tell my truant tale
Must own my wanderings ! First put down the fawn.
I know not why-but, Theodore, I feel
As if I had done wrong—as if—and yet
I'm sure I meant no harm. Let us sit here
On these soft mossy roots. It is, indeed,
A chosen spot ! Well, Theodore, thou know'st
That my good father died ere I was born,
A luckless girl! and that his castle, lands,
Titles and vassals, to his brother fell,
And I, amongst the rest, his infant ward.
With my dear mother I have lived with him
In a most strict seclusion--prisoners
every thing but name! For eighteen years, All
my short life, we ne'er have pass'd the gate.
The Villain ! base cowardly villain ! Soon a time Shall come
Go on, sweet lady!
She still mourning
Her lord's untimely death, and I
That drink'st the orphan's tears! A time shall come
Ber. Nay, peace; I pr’ythee, peace! I, still content-
Content is not enough !-I was as happy
As a young bird.
The. Happy! with that fierce tyrant,
That stern oppressor !
He was sometimes kind;
And my dear mother always. All the house
Was good and kind to me too good ! too kind!
Oh! there is in man's heart a fathomless well
Of goodness! I had nought but gratitude,
And yet how kind they were ! Content and happy
Was I; yet sometimes an unbidden thought
Sprang up—a hope—a wish—an earnest wish!
A powerful passionate hope ! We had a maid
Bred in the forest,—a young innocent girl,
Who pined for trees, and air, and liberty,
Even till she sicken'd, and her round red cheeks
Grew thin and pale ; and books, dear books ! they all
Of freedom spake and nature ; and the birds
That eddied round our windows, every song
Call’d me to lovely nature ; till I long d
Intensely, as the school-boy yearns for home,
To cast aside only for once the walls
Of our old castle, and to feel green leaves
About me, and to breathe the pleasant air,
Freshen’d with bright strange flowers and dewy grass,
And warm’d with the bright sun.
And did the Count
Refuse thee, lady?
But they-his vassals ?
Surely, one only man of all the world
Could utter no to thee !
I ask'd them not.
Have I not told thee they were good and kind,
Kindest to me? And could I tempt them on
To possible punishment ?
Oh! what a bliss
For thee! But, lady, thou art here?
The lone deserted court I call my garden,
And dress'd my bower, and tried to trifle thus
My bootless wish away ;—but still it clung !
And one day—following, with my eye, my heart,
A ring-dove hastening to her woodland nest,
Wishing I too had wings, I mark'd how low
In that dark angle was the ruin'd wall,
Cover'd with clust'ring ivy, and o'erbung
By an old ash. And almost with the thought,
The ivy boughs my ladder, and the ash
My friendly veil, I climb’d the wall, and came
Down on the other side, a safe descent
Propp'd by the uneven trunk,—and there I stood,
Panting with fear and joy, at liberty !
Yet was I so o’ermaster'd by my fear,
That for that day I could not move a step
Into the forest ; but crept trembling back-
And wept as if for grief. Often since then,
When the Count Lindorf is abroad, as now
That he lies sick at Prague, I venture forth
As fearless as a dove.
And still unmark'd ?
Ber. The sheltering forest reaches to the wall-
Look, 'tis close by !-I never have seen trace
Of man but once; then thou wert reading here :
I had resolved, if ever I should meet
Thee or thy good old father, to accost ye;
Yet when I saw thee here-I know not how
heart fail'd me e—and I fled. I wonder
At to-day's courage ; but the poor, poor fawn-
I only thought of him. Well, I must hence;
My mother else may miss me.
Then the Countess
Knows not this path ?
No; her sweet gentle spirit
Is cast in a too anxious mould ; she fears
For all she loves. No; I have never told her.
But now—that we and she must see my fawn !
Aye-and she ought to know.
And when she knows,
Oh ! lady! I shall never see thee more !
Ber. Yet I must tell her—surely I must tell her!
She is my own most dear and loving mother ;
Ought I not, Theodore ?
Lady, you must;
Though it will root from out my heart a hope
Deeper than life, you must.
Give me the fawn !
And, Theodore, stay here. I think I hope
That she will wish to see thee. If she should
Come not with me. Be sure to stay just here.
Farewell Nay, struggle not, my pretty fawn !
Thou must along with me.-Farewell !
Loveliest and most beloved ! Well might she wish
To tread the woodland path,-light-footed maid !
How beautisul she is, with her white arms
Wound round her innocent burthen, and her head
Bent over his so lullingly! Even he,
That wild and timorous creature, feels the charm,
And is no more afraid. She disappears ;-
I scarce distinguish now her floating veil,
And her brown waving hair. How beautiful !
How graceful! Most like one of Dian's nymphis,
But full of deeper tenderness. Her voice,
Her words still linger round me like the air,
The dewy sunny air of which she spake,
Glowing and odorous. Oh! that I were-
And I will be. Yes, loveliest, most beloved,
I will deserve thee! I will make my name,
My humble lowly name, worthy to join
With thine, sweet Lady Bertha! Hapless thing !
Thy gay compeers may bound at peace for me ;
I shall seek braver fields. For thee, poor doe,
I will go bury thee deep in yon dell.
Should she return—and will she then return ?
heart throbs to know.
Surely I saw
Some bright and lovely maiden tiiting by,
Close to the castle wall ; along this path
She must have come. Or was it but the vision,
That fills my dreams all nighi, my thoughts all day,
The bright and lovely form -Ha, Theodore !
Hast thou seen here a woman, a fair woman?
The. She has just parted hence, the Lady Bertha.
Con. Bertha ! Oh, I must see, must follow her!
The. Nay, 'tis too late ; ere now she's in the castle.
She will return.
Con. Oh, wondrous, wondrous chance !
The lady Bertha !— Did she speak to thee ?
What seems she, Theodore ?' Gay, gentle, kind ?
Her mother was—Oh, tell me of her, boy!
The. Father, I must to the wars.
Tell me of her!
The. I must go win a name.
Well ! well ! thou shalt.
Talk to me now of Bertha !
This is Bertha !
Why war, and fame, and life, they are all Bertha !
Nothing but Bertha -Oh, I love her, father,
Madly and wildly; she is my whole world;
Rip up my heart, and you will find all Bertha,
And I will wed her. I must to the wars,
And earn her love. Nay, shake not thus thy head ;
Though she be great and I be lowly, father,
I tell thee, I will make a glorious name
Con. This it most wondrous ! But the Count-
The. Oh, true love is strong and mighty ;
Pride bends before it.
Were it pride alone !
Count Lindorf, as I hear, would rather see
The lady Bertha in a convent cell
Than wedded. He is dark and dangerous,
And full of fears. Men say-
Speak on, speak on.
What say they, father?
Dark and dangerous-
A fierce and gloomy_Nay, no more of this.
Whither dost drag that doe?
To bury it
Far from her sight ;-she will be here anon.
She fain would know you, and she speaks of you
So reverently! In truth, she is as humble
As a poor village maiden ; yet as gracious
As a born princess. I shall soon return.
Stay, dearest father, lest she come the while ;
She fain would see you.
[Exit Theodore. Con.
Oh, if she could know-
Could feel—could share.—Be still, my beating heart;
Thou shalt not master me, be still !-She comes,
The beautiful ! the kind !-Oh, that I dared
Enter Countess Lindorf and Bertha.
Ber. This is the place, I'm sure ; but where is he?
Con. These are the first words I have heard her speak
In all my life! How my ear drinks her voice !
The Countess too.
Conrade ! my kindest friend !
My faithfullest ! my best! How many cares
Have made me old, since in thy parting tears
I said, farewell to truth and honesty !
Con. My gracious lady!
Conrade, where is he?
Con. In yonder dell. She hath caught sight of him.
Ber. Ah, there he is, burying the poor, poor doe !
I must go help him.
Countess. First come hither, Bertha,
This is my faithful friend
I know him well. He is no stranger, mother ;
Why I have lov’d him ever since I saw
Those reverend hairs; and he, I'm sure, loves me.
Dost thou not, Conrade ? See, he looks at me
With such a kindly gaze.
She is! What a bright smile lives in her eyes !
And see ! her soft white hand is dimpled o’er
Like a young babe's. Oh, take it not away,
That soft and dimpled hand !
No, rather give
Both hands, my Bertha. He's thy foster father.
Ber. May I not call him father? I, alas !
Have never known one.
Blessings on thy head,
Beloved child !
Countess. Now, my own Bertha, go
And seek young Theodore, and bring him hither.
Nay, let her go !- Exit Bertha-Yes, Conrade, she is more
Than thy heart paints her, through these long, long years
My only comfort. She is all made up
Of sweet serene content ; a buoyant spirit
That is its own pure happiness. If e'er
Count Lindorf chide her—and, in sooth, even he
Can rarely find a fault to blame in Bertha-
But should he chide her, she will meekly bend
For one short moment, then rise smiling up,
As the elastic moss when trampled on
By some rude peasant's foot. Never was heart
Stronger than her’s in peaceful innocence.
Now speak of him.
First, madam, he loves her ;
I knew it but to-day.
Countess. So she loves him,
And knows it not. But tell me of his temper.
Con. Kind, noble, generous, but all too hot :
Just like those bright black eyes, whose fiery flash
Kindling with living light, I've seen you watch
With such a painful joy.
I have gazed on him
Till my eyes
every sense was dazzled.
Yet with that fire there was a gentleness,
A softer, tenderer look. And still he knows not
Con. I dare not trust him, lady. He already
Abhors Count Lindorf; he already longs 3M ATHENEUM VOL. 10.