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Lady R. Oh! Anna hear l-once more I charge
The truth direct; for these to me foretel
And certify a part of thy narration ;
With which, if the remainder tallies not,
An insant and a dreadful death abides thee.
Pris. Then, thus adjur'd, I'll speak to you as just
As if you were the minister of heaven,
Sent down to search the secret sins of men :-
Some eighteen years ago I rented land
Of brave Sir Malcolm, then Balarmo's lord;
But falling to decay, his servants seiz'd
All that I had, and then turn’d me and mine,
(Four helpless infants and their weeping mother)
Out to the mercy of the winter winds.
A little hovel by the river's side
Received us: there hard labour, and the skill
In fishing, which was formerly iny sport,
Supported life. Whilst thus we poorly livid,
One stormy night, as I remember well,
The wind and rain beat hard upon our roof;
Red came the river down, and loud and oft
The angry spirit of the water shriek’d.
At the dead hour of night was heard the cry
Of one in jeopardy. I rose, and ran
To where the circling eddy of a pool,
Beneath the ford, us'd oft to bring within
My reach, whatever floating thing the stream
Had caught. The voice was ceas’d; the person lost;
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 couldst thou kill what waves and tempests spared?
Pris. I am not so inhuman.
Lady R. Didst thou not?
Anna. My noble mistrsss, you are mov'd too much :
This man has not the aspect of stern murder ;
Let him go on, and you, I hope, will hear
Good tidings of your kinsman's long-lost child.
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 make the prosperous men Lift up
their hands and wonder who could do them.
And such a man was I; a man declin’d,
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 harın.
Lady R. Ha! dost thou say so; then perhaps he lives!
Pris. Not many days ago he was alive.
Lady R. O God of Heav'n! did he thendie so lately?
Pris. I did not say he died; I hope he lives.
Not many days ago these
beheld Him, flourishing in youth, and health, and beauty,
Lady R. Oh, fate! I fear thee still. Thou riddler,
speak Direct and clear ; else I will search thy soul. Anna. “ Permit me, ever honour'd! Keen impa.
Though hard to be restrain'd, defeats itself.”.
Pursue thy story with a faithful tongue,
To the last hour that thou didst keep the child.
Pris. Fear not my faith, though I must speak my
Within the cradle where the infant lay,
Was stow'd a mighty store of gold and jewels;
Tempted by which, we did resolve to hide,
From all the world this wonderful event,
And like a peasant breed the noble child.
That none might mark the change of our estate,
We left the country, travellid to the north,
Bought flocks and herds, and gradually brought forth
Our secret wealth. But God'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 lov'd 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 observ’d, 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 160
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 ! No wonder, Anna, that my bosom burn'd. Anna. Just are your transports: “ne'er was woman's
heart “ Prov'd with such fierceextremes. High fated dame!" But yet remember that you are beheld By servile eyes; your gestures may be seen Impassion'd, strange; perhaps your words o’erheard. Lady R. Well dost thou counsel, Anna : Heav'n
bestow On me that wisdom which my state requires.
" Anna. The moments of deliberation pass, " And soon you must resolve. This useful man “ Must be dismissed in safety, ere my lord " Shall with his brave deliverer return." Pris. Ifl, amidst astonishment and fear,
Iso Have of your words and gestures rightly judg’d, Thou art the daughter of my ancient master ; The child I rescui'd from the food 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 man, My poverty has sav'd my master's house ! Lady R. Thy words surprize me : sure thou dost
not feign! The tear stands in thine eye ; such love from theç Sir Malcolm's house deserve 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, the 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 thein I blame:
May Heav’n 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. On thy
Depends the fate of thy lov'd master's house.
Rememb’rest 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 my father's service spent his youth:
Teil him I sent thee, and with him remain,