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Rod. Dangers seem thickening round me. Some secret spy is watching me unseen,—I fear 'tis Hugo, spite the gold I gave him, and the vows he made. A higher bribe may win the secret from him, and then I am undone. Pedro hath told me that a stranger, cloaked and masked, was lurking near the castle on the night when Leonore so strangely vanished [a laugh]. Ha!—what's that?—methought I heard that mocking laugh again! I am grown fearful as a child since that most awful night. Well, well, let it pass! If Hugo comes to-night, obedient to the message I have sent, I'll see he goes not hence alive. This cup shalt be thy last, good Hugo! [Puts poison in the wine-cup.] He comes,—now for my revenge! [Enter Hugo.] Ah, Hugo, welcome! How hath it fared with thee since last we met? Thou lookest weary,—here is wine; sit and refresh thyself.
Hugo. I came not hither, Count Rodolpho, to seek wine, but gold. Hark ye! I am poor; thou art rich, but in my power, for proud and noble though thou art, the low-born Hugo can bring death and dishonor on thy head by whispering one word to the king. Ha!—now give me gold or I will betray thee.
Rod. Thou bold villain, what means this? I paid thee well, and thou didst vow to keep my secret. Threaten me not. Thou art in my power, and shall never leave this room alive. I fear thee not. My menials are at hand,—yield thyself; thou art fairly caught, and cannot now escape me.
Hugo. Nay, not so fast, my lord. One blast upon my horn, and my brave band, concealed below, will answer to my call. Ha! ha! thou art caught, my lord. Thy life is in my hands, and thou must purchase it by fifty good pistoles paid down to me; if not, I will charge thee with the crime thou didst bribe me to perform, and thus win a rich reward. Choose,—thy life is nought to me.
Rod. Do but listen, Hugo. I have no gold; smile if thou wilt, but I am poor. This castle only is mine own, and I am seeking now a rich young bride whose wealth will hide my poverty. Be just, good Hugo, and forgive the harsh words I have spoken. Wait till I am wed, and I will pay thee well.
Hugo. That will I not. I'll have no more of thee, false lord! The king will well reward me, and thou mayst keep thy gold. Farewell! Thou wilt see me once again.
Rod. Stay, Hugo, stay! Give me but time; I may obtain the gold. Wait a little, and it shall be thine. Wilt thou not drink? 'Tis the wine thou likest so well. See! I poured it ready for thee.
Hugo. Nay; I will serve myself. Wine of thy mixing would prove too strong for me [sits down and drinks. Rodolpho paces up and down waiting a chance to stab him]. Think quickly, my good lord; I must be gone [turns his head. R. raises his dagger. Hugo rising]. I'll wait no more; 'tis growing late, and I care not to meet the spirits which I hear now haunt thy castle. Well, hast thou the gold?
Rod. Not yet; but if thou wilt wait—
Hugo. I tell thee I will not. I'll be deceived no longer. Thou art mine, and I'll repay thy scornful words and sinful deeds by a prisoner's cell. And so, adieu, my lord. Escape is useless, for thou wilt be watched. Hugo is the master now!
Rod. Thou cunning villain, I'll outwit thee yet. I will disguise myself, and watch thee well, and when least thou thinkest it, my dagger shall be at thy breast. And now one thing remains to me, and that is flight. I must leave all and go forth poor, dishonored, and alone; sin on my head, and fear within my heart. Will the sun never set? How slow the hours pass! In the first gloom of night, concealed in yonder old monk's robe, I'll silently glide forth, and fly from Hugo and this haunted house. Courage, Rodolpho, thou shalt yet win a name and fortune for thyself. Now let me rest awhile; I shall need strength for the perils of the night [lies down and sleeps].
Norna. Poor fool! thy greatest foe is here,—her thou shalt not escape. Hugo shall be warned, and thou alone shalt fall.
[She makes signs from the window and vanishes.
Gasp. 'Tis I, leader of the king's brave guards, sent hither to arrest thee, my lord; for thou art charged with murder.
Rod. Who dares to cast so foul a stain on Count Rodolpho's name.
Gasp. My lord, yield thyself. The king may show thee mercy yet—
Rod. I will yield, and prove my innocence, and clear mine honor to the king. Reach me my cloak yonder, and I am ready.
[Gaspard turns to seek the cloak. Rodolpho leaps from the window and disappears.
Gasp. Ha! he hath escaped,—curses on my carelessness! [Rushes to the window.] Ho, there! surround the castle, the prisoner hath fled! We'll have him yet, the blood-stained villain!
[Exit Gaspard. Shouts and clashing of swords heard.
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