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But looking sad and earnest on the waters,
By the moon's light I saw, whirl'd round and round,
A basket : soon I drew it to the bank,
And nestled curious there an infant lay.
Lady R. Was he alive?
Pris. He was.
Lady R. Inhuman that thou art !
How could’st thou kill what waves and tempests
Pris. I am not so inhuman.
Lady R. Didst thou not ?
Pris. The needy man, who has known better days,
One whom distress has spited at the world,
Is he, whom tempting fiends would pitch upon
To do such deeds as makes the prosperous men
Lift up their hands, and wonder who could do them.
And such a man was I; a man declined,
Who saw no end of black adversity :
Yet, for the wealth of kingdoms, I would not
Have touch'd that infant with a hand of harm.
Lady R. Ha! dost thou say so? then perhaps he
. Not many days ago he was alive.
Lady R. Oh! heavenly powers ! did he then die so
Pris. I did not say he died : I hope he lives.
Not many days ago these
Him, flourishing in youth, and health, and beauty.
Lady R. Where is he now?
Pris. Alas! I know not where.
Lady R. Oh! fate! I fear thee still. Thou riddler,
Direct and clear, else I will search thy soul.
Pris. Fear not my faith, though I must speak my
Within the cradle where the infant lay,
Was stowed a mighty store of gold and jewels;
Tempted by which, we did resolve to hide,
From all the world, the wonderful event,
And like a peasant breed this noble child.
That none might mark the change of our estate,
We left the country, travell’d to the north,
Bought flocks and herds, and gradually brought forth
Our secret wealth. But heav'n's all-seeing eye
Beheld our avarice, and smote us sore.
For one by one all our own children died,
And he, the stranger, sole remain’d the heir
Of what indeed was his. Fain then would I,
Who with a father's fondness loved the boy,
Have trusted him, now in the dawn of youth,
With his own secret : but my anxious wife,
Foreboding evil, never would consent.
Meanwhile the stripling grew in years and beauty ;
And, as we oft observed, he bore himself,
Not as the offspring of our cottage blood;
For nature will break out : mild with the mild,
But with the froward he was fierce as fire,
And night and day he talk'd of war and arms.
I set myself against his warlike bent;
But all in vain : for when a desperate band
Of robbers from the savage mountains came
Lady R. Eternal Providence ! what is thy name?
Pris. My name is Norval; and my name he bears
Lady R. 'Tis he! 'tis he himself ! It is my son !
Oh! sovereign mercy! 'twas my child I saw!
Pris. If I, amidst astonishment and fear,
Have of your words and gestures rightly judged,
Thou art the daughter of my ancient master ;
The child I rescued from the flood is thine!
Lady R. With thee dissimulation now were vain.
I am indeed the daughter of Sir Malcolm;
The child thou rescu'dst from the flood is mine.
Pris. Blest be the hour that made me a poor
My poverty hath saved my master's house !
Lady R. Thy words surprise me: sure thou dost
The tear stands in thine eye: such love from thee
Sir Malcolm's house deserved not, if aright
Thou told'st the story of thy own distress.
Pris. Sir Malcolm of our barons was the flower;
The fastest friend, the best and kindest master.
But, ah! he knew not of my sad estate.
After that battle, where his gallant son,
Your own brave brother, fell, the good old lord
Grew desperate and reckless of the world;
And never, as he erst was wont, went forth
To overlook the conduct of his servants.
By them I was thrust out, and them I blame:
May heaven so judge me as I judge my master!
And God so love me as I love his race!
Lady R. His race shall yet reward thee.
Remember'st thou a little lonely hut,
That like a holy hermitage appears
Among the Cliffs of Carron ?
Pris. I remember
The cottage of the cliffs.
Lady R. 'Tis that I mean : There dwells a man of venerable age, Who in iny father's service spent his youth: Teil him I sent thee, and with him remain, Till I shall call upon thee to declare, Before the king and nobles, what thou now To me hast told. No more but this, and thou Shalt live in honour all thy future days; Thy sou so long, shall call thee father still, And all the land shall bless the man who saved The son of Douglas, and Sir Malcolm's heir. Remember well my words ; if thou shouldst meet Him, whom thou call'st thy son, still call him so; And mention nothing of his nobler father.
Pris. Fear not that I shall mar so fair an harvest, By putting in my sickle ere 'tis ripe. Why did I leave my home and ancient dame? To find the youth, to tell him all I knew,
And make him wear these jewels in his arms, Which might, I thought, be challenged, and so bring To light the secret of his noble birth.
[LADY RANDOLPH goes towards the SERVANTS. Lady R. This man is not th' assassin you suspected, Though chance combined some likelihoods against
him. He is the faithful bearer of the jewels To their right owner, whom in haste he seeks. Tis meet that you should put him on his way, Since your mistaken zeal hath dragg'd him hither.
[Exeunt STRANGER and SERVANTS. My faithful Anna ! dost thou share my joy? I know thou dost. Unparallel'd event ! Reaching from heaven to earth, Jehovah's arm Snatch'd from the waves, and brings me to my son! Judge of the widow, and the orphan's father, Accept a widow's and a mother's thanks For such a gift! What does my Anna think Of the young eaglet of a valiant nest? How soon he gazed on bright and burning arms, Spurn’d the low dunghill where his fate had thrown
And tow'r'd up to the region of his sire !
Anna. How fondly did your eyes devour the boy!
Mysterious nature, with the unseen cord
Of powerful instinct, drew you to .your own.
Lady R. The ready story of his birth believed,
Suppress'd my fancy quite; nor did he owe,
any likeness my so sudden favour :
But now I long to see his face again,
Examine every feature, and find out
The lineaments of Douglas, or iny own.
But most of all, I long to let him know
Who his true parents are, to clasp his neck,
And tell him all the story of his father.
Anna. With wary caution you must bear yourself
In public, lest your tenderness break, forth,
And in observers stir conjectures strange.
To-day the baron started at your tears.
Lady R. He did so, Anna! well thy mistress knows.
If the least circumstance, mote of offence,
Should touch the baron's eye, his sight would be
With jealousy disorder'd.
Anna. That demon haunts you still :
Lady R. Now I shun him not.
This day I braved him in behalf of Norval :
Perhaps too far; at least my nicer fears
For Douglas thus interpret.
Glen. Noble dame!
The hov'ring Dane at last his men hath landed ;
No band of pirates; but a mighty hast,
That come to settle where their valour conquers ;
To win a country, or to lose themselves.
Lady R. How many mothers shall bewail their sons ! How many widows
their husbands slain!
Ye dames of Denmark, ev'n for you I feci,
Who, sadly sitting on the sea-beat shore,
Long look for lords that never shall return.
Glen. Oft has th' unconquer'd Caledonian sword
Widow'd the north. The children of the slain
Come, as I hope, to meet their fathers' fate.
The monster war, with her infernal brood,
Loud yelling fury, and life-ending pain,
Are objects suited to Glenalvon's
Scorn is more grievous than the pains of death;
Reproach more piercing than the pointed sword.
Lady R. I scorn thee not but when I ought to
Nor e'er reproach, but when insulted virtue
Against audacious vice asserts herself.
I own thy worth, Glenalvon; none more apt