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Sig. Away, my friend;
Laura. No, Sigismunda, 'tis the strictest truth,
Sig. Virtuous Rodolpho!
Laura. Then his pleasing theme
Sig. And what, my Laura, says he on that subject?
Sig. True, Oh, true, Rodolpho!
Laura. Madam, your father comes.
Attend. My lord, he quickly will be here.
too, my daughter, leave me.
Sif. He is no more-Gone to that awful state, Where kings the crown wear only of their virtues. Siy. How bright must then be his !—This stroke
is sudden; He was this morning well, when to the chase Lord Tancred went.
Sif. 'Tis true. But at his years, Death gives short notice-Drooping nature then, Without a gust of pain to shake it, falls. His death, my daughter, was that happy period, Which few attain. The duties of his day Were all discharged :-Calm as the evening skies Was his pure mind, and lighted up with hopes That open Heaven ;-when, for his last long sleep Timely prepared, a lassitude of life, A pleasing weariness of mortal joy, Fell on his soul, and down he sunk to rest. 0, may my death be such!-He but one wish Left unfulfill’d, which was, to see Count TancredSig. To see Count Tancred!
-Pardon me, my lord Sif. For what, my daughter?-But, with such
emotion, Why did you start at mention of Count Tancred ?
Sig. Nothing--I only hoped the dying King Might mean to make some generous, just provision, For this your worthy charge, this noble orphan.
Sif. And he has done it largely–Leave me now I want some private conference with Lord Tancred.
[Exeunt SIGISMUNDA and LAURA.
My doubts are but too true-a mutual passion
Sif. Yes, we have lost a father! The greatest blessing Heaven bestows on mortals, A good, a worthy king!
Tan. A general face of grief o'erspreads the city. I mark'd the people, as I hither came, In crowds assembled, struck with silent sorrow, And pouring forth the noblest praise of tears. A mingled murmur ran Along the streets; and, from the lonely court Of him who can no more assist their fortunes, I saw the courtier-fry, with eager haste, All hurrying to Constantia.
Sif. Noble youth! I joy to hear from thee these just reflections, Worthy of riper years.--But if they seek Constantia, trust me, they mistake their course. Tun. How! Is she not, my lord, the late King's
sister, Heir to the crown of Sicily, the last Of our famed Norman line, and now our queen ?
Sif. Tancred, 'tis true; she is the late King's sister, The sole surviving offspring of that tyrant, William the Bad-so for his vices styled ; Born some months After the tyrant's death, but not next heir.
Tan. You much surprise me-May I then presume To ask who is?
Sif. Come nearer, noble Tancred, Son of my care:-I must on this occasion Consult thy generous heart; which, when conducted By rectitude of mind, and honest virtues, Gives better counsel than the hoary head. Then know, there lives a prince, here in Palermo, The lineal offspring of our famous hero, And rightful heir of Sicily.
Tan. Great Heaven!-How far removed
Sif. His great grandson :
Tan. Ha! the prince you mean,
Sif. Yes, the same.
Tan. But this prince, Where has he lain conceal'd?
Sif. The late good King, By noble pity moved, contrived to save him From his dire father's unrelenting rage, And had him rear'd in private, as became His birth and hopes, with high and princely nurture. Till now, too young to rule a troubled state, By civil broils most miserably torn, He in his safe retreat has lain conceald, His birth and fortune to himself unknown;
But when the dying king to me entrusted,
Tan. Happy youth !
Sif. Ay, that is what I dread—that heat of youth; There lurks, I fear, perdition to the state. I dread the horrors of rekindled war : Though dead, the tyrant still is to be fear'd; His daughter's party still is strong and numerous : Her friend, Earī Osmond, Constable of Sicily, Experienced, brave, high born, of mighty interest. Better the prince and princess should by marriage Unite their friends, their interest, and their claims; Then will the peace and welfare of the land On a firm basis rise.
Tan. My Lord Siffredi,
Sif. Perhaps regardless, in the common bane