liberty to slaves? Shall our pure gold be debased by this alloy?--(He disengages them.) Gentlemen, you must be content to take up your abode within my palace until our business be decided.--(To the SENTINELS.) These are your prisoners: you answer for their safety! Guard them with loaded arms. (They are led off--a knocking heard at the gate.)
SENTINEL. Who is there?
CALCAGNO (without, eagerly). Open the gate! A friend!-- for God's sake, open!
BOURG. It is Calcagno--Heavens! What can this mean?
FIESCO. Open the gate, soldiers.
The former--CALCAGNO, out of breath.
CALCAGNO. All's lost! all's lost! Fly, every one that can!
BOURG. What's lost? Have they flesh of brass?--Are our swords made of rushes?
FIESCO. Consider, Calcagno!--An error now is fatal.
CALCAGNO. We are betrayed!--Your Moor, Lavagna, is the rascal! I come from the senate-house. He had an audience of the Duke.
VERRINA (with a resolute tone, to the SENTINELS). Soldiers! let me rush upon your halberts! I will not perish by the hangman's hands.--(The assembly show marks of confusion.)
FIESCO (with firmness). What are you about?--'Sdeath, Calcagno!--Friends, 'tis a false alarm.--(To CALCAGNO, aside.) Woman that thou art, to tell these boys this tale. --Thou, too, Verrina?--and thou, Bourgognino? Whither wouldst thou go?
BOURG. Home--to kill my Bertha--and then return to fall with thee.
FIESCO (bursting into a loud laugh). Stay! stay! Is this the valour that should punish tyrants?--Well didst thou play thy part, Calcagno.--Did none of you perceive that this alarm was my contrivance? Speak, Calcagno--Was it not my order that you should put these Romans to this trial?
VERRINA. Well, if you can laugh, I'll believe you--or never more think you man.
FIESCO. Shame on you, men! to fail in such a boyish trial!