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Above his head in air,
The savage war-club swung;
Who breathed a prayer for him.
'T is ever thus, when, in life's storm,
GEO. P. MORRIS.
THE PERUVIAN SOLDIER.
Pizarro, Davillo, Gomez, Spaniards, and Orozembo, a Peruvian
How! Gomez, what bringest thou?
Gomez. On yonder hill, among the palm trees, we have surprised an old Peruvian. Escape by flight he could not,
and we seized him and his attendant unresisting: yet his lips breathe nothing but bitterness and scorn.
Pizarro. Drag him before us. (Gomez leads in Orozembo.) What art thou, stranger?
Orozembo. First tell me which ainong you is the captain of this band of robbers.
This insolence has sealed thy doom. Die thou shalt, gray-headed ruffian. But first confess what thou knowest.
Oro. I know that which thou hast just assured me of; that I shall die.
Piz. Less audacity, perhaps, might have preserved thy life. Oro. My life is as a withered tree; it is not worth pre serving.
Piz. Hear me, old man. Even now we march against the Peruvian army. We know there is a secret path that leads to your strong hold among the rocks: guide us to that, and name your reward. If wealth be thy wish
Ha! ha! ha! ha!
Piz. Dost thou despise my offer?
Oro. Thee, and thy offer! Wealth? I have the wealth of two, dear, gallant sons; I have stored in heaven the riches which repay good actions here; and still, my chief treasure I do bear about me.
Piz. What is that?
Oro. I will; for it never can be thine: the treasure of a pure, unsullied conscience.
Piz. I believe there is no other Peruvian dares speak as thou dost.
Oro. Would I could believe there is no other Spaniard who dares act as thou dost.
Gom. Obdurate Pagan!
How numerous is your army? Oro. Count the leaves of yonder forest. Piz. Which is the weakest part of your camp?
Oro. It has no weak part; on every side 'tis fortified by truth and justice.
Piz. Where have you concealed your wives and your children?
Oro. In the hearts of their husbands and their fathers.
Oro. Know him? Alonzo? Know him? Our nation's
benefactor? The guardian angel of Peru?
Piz. By what has he merited that title?
Who is this Rolla, joined with Alonzo in command? Oro. I will answer that; for I love to hear and to repeat the hero's name. Rolla, the kinsman of the king, is the idol of our army; in war, a tiger, chased by the hunter's spear; in peace, more gentle than the unweaned lamb. Cora was once betrothed to him; but finding she preferred Alonzo, he resigned his claim, and, I fear, his peace, to friendship, and to Cora's happiness: yet still he loves her with a pure and holy fire.
Piz. Romantic savage! I shall meet this Rolla soon. Oro. Thou'dst better not! The terror of his noble eye I would strike thee dead.
Dav. Silence, or tremble!
Oro. Beardless robber! why should I tremble before man? Why before thee, thou less than man!
Dav. Another word, audacious heathen, and I strike!
Oro. Strike, christian! Then boast among thy fellows,-I, too, have murdered a Peruvian !
Dav. Death and vengeance seize thee!
Piz. Hold !
Dav. Couldst thou longer have endured his insults?
Oro. True! Observe, young man, thy unthinking rashness has saved me from the rack; and thou thyself hast lost the opportunity of a useful lesson; thou mightest thyself have seen with what cruelty vengeance would have inflicted torments; and with what patience virtue would have borne them.
Piz. Away! Davillo! if thus rash a second time-
Piz. No more our guard and guides approach. Follow me, friends! each shall have his post assigned, and ere Peruvia's God shall sink beneath the main, the Spanish banner, bathed in blood, shall float above the walls of vanquished Quito.
R. B. SHERIDAN.
Alonzo, Sentinel, and Rolla.
SCENE. A dungeon; Alonzo in chains; a sentinel walking near.
Alonzo. For the last time, I have beheld the shadowed ocean close upon the light. For the last time, through my cleft dungeon's roof, I now behold the quivering luster of the stars. For the last time, oh sun! (and soon the hour,) I shall behold thy rising, and thy level beams melting the pale mists of morn to glittering dew-drops. Then comes my death, and in the morning of my day, I fall,—but no, Alonzo, date not the life which thou hast run by the mean reckoning of the hours and days which thou hast breathed. A life spent worthily should be measured by a nobler line; by deeds, not years. Then wouldst thou murmur not, but bless Providence, which, in so short a span, made thee the instrument of wide and spreading blessings to the helpless and oppressed! Though sinking in decrepit age, he prematurely falls, whose memory records no benefit conferred by him on man. They only have lived long, who have lived virtuously. Surely, even now, thin streaks of glimmering light steal on the darkness of the east. If so, my life is but one hour more. I will not watch the coming dawn; but, in the darkness of my cell, my last prayer to thee, Power Supreme! shall be for my wife and child! Grant them innocence and peace; grant health, and purity of mind; all else is worthless.
(Enters his cell.)
(Rolla enters, disguised as a monk.)
Rolla. Inform me, friend, is Alonzo, the Spanish prisoner, confined in this dungeon?
Ha! then I am come in time. Sen. Just, to witness his death.
Soldier, I must speak to him.
I do entreat thee, but for one moment.
Thou entreatest in vain; my orders are most strict.
He brought a pass which we are all accustomed to
Rol. Look on this wedge of massive gold; look on these precious gems. In thy own land they will be wealth for thee and thine, beyond thy hope or wish. Take them; they are thine. Let me but pass one minute with Alonzo.
Sen. Away! Wouldst thou corrupt me? Me? an old Castilian? I know my duty better. Rol. Soldier, hast thou a wife? Sen. I have.
Hast thou children?
Sen. Four, honest, lively boys.
Sen. In my native village; even in the cot where myself was born.
Rol. Dost thou love thy children and thy wife?
Sen. Do I love them? God knows my heart. I do. Rol. Soldier! imagine thou wert doomed to die a cruel death, in a strange land. What would be thy last request? Sen. That some of my comrades should carry my dying blessing to my wife and children.
Rol. Oh! but if that comrade were at thy prison gate, and should there be told,-thy fellow soldier dies at sunrise, yet thou shalt not, for a moment, see him, nor shalt thou bear his dying blessing to his poor children, or his wretched wife,-what wouldst thou think of him who thus could drive thy comrade from the door?
Rol. Alonzo has a wife and child. I am come to receive for her, and for her babe, the last blessing of my friend.
Sen. Go in.
Rol. Oh! holy Nature! thou dost never plead in vain. There is not, of our earth, a creature bearing form, and life,