Fiction > Harvard Classics > Lord Byron > Manfred
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Lord Byron (1788–1824).  Manfred.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Act III
 
Scene III
 
 
The Mountains—The Castle of MANFRED at some distance—A Terrace before a Tower—Time, Twilight.
 
HERMAN, MANUEL, and other Dependants of MANFRED.
 
  Her. ’Tis strange enough; night after night, for years,
He hath pursued long vigils in this tower,
Without a witness. I have been within it,—        5
So have we all been oft—times; but from it,
Or its contents, it were impossible
To draw conclusions absolute of aught
His studies tend to. To be sure, there is
One chamber where none enter: I would give        10
The fee of what I have to come these three years,
To pore upon its mysteries.
  Manuel.                ’Twere dangerous;
Content thyself with what thou knowest already.
  Her. Ah, Manuel! thou art elderly and wise,        15
And couldst say much; thou hast dwelt within the castle—
How many years is ’t?
  Manuel.                Ere Count Manfred’s birth,
I served his father, whom he nought resembles.
  Her. There be more sons in like predicament.        20
But wherein do they differ?
  Manuel.                I speak not
Of features or of form, but mind and habits;
Count Sigismund was proud, but gray and free—
A warrior and a reveller; he dwelt not        25
With books and solitude, nor made the night
A gloomy vigil, but a festal time,
Merrier than day; he did not walk the rocks
And forests like a wolf, nor turn aside
From men and their delights.        30
  Her.                Beshrew the hour,
But those were jocund times! I would that such
Would visit the old walls again; they look
As if they had forgotten them.
  Manuel.                These walls        35
Must change their chieftain first. Oh! I have seen
Some strange things in them, Herman.
  Her.                Come, be friendly;
Relate me some to while away our watch:
I’ve heard thee darkly speak of an event        40
Which happen’d hereabouts, by this same tower.
  Manuel. That was a night indeed! I do remember
’T was twilight, as it may be now, and such
Another evening; yon red cloud, which rests
On Eigher’s pinnacle, so rested then,—        45
So like that it might be the same; the wind
Was faint and gusty, and the mountain snows
Began to glitter with the climbing moon.
Count Manfred was, as now, within his tower,—
How occupied, we knew not, but with him        50
The sole companion of his wanderings
And watchings—her, whom of all earthly things
That lived, the only thing he seem’d to love,—
As he indeed, by blood was bound to do,
The Lady Astarte, his—        55
                Hush! who comes here?
 
Enter the ABBOT
  Abbot.  Where is your master?
  Her.                Yonder in the tower.
  Abbot.  I must speak with him.        60
  Manuel.                ’Tis impossible;
He is most private, and must not be thus
Intruded on.
  Abbot.  Upon myself I take
The forfeit of my fault, if fault there be—        65
But I must see him.
  Her.                Thou hast seen him once
This eve already.
  Abbot.                Herman! I command thee,
Knock, and apprize the Count of my approach.        70
  Her.  We dare not.
  Abbot.              Then it seems I must be herald
Of my own purpose.
  Manuel.                Reverend father, stop—
I pray you pause.        75
  Abbot.                Why so?
  Manuel.                But step this way,
And I will tell you further.  [Exeunt.
 

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