Page images
PDF
EPUB

SCENE VIII.-Servants run across the stage full of

terror. The whole scene must be spoken entirely with

out pauses.

Seni. (from the gallery.) O bloody frightful deed ! Coun.

What is it, Seni? Page. (from the gallery.) O piteous sight !

[Other servants hasten in with torches. Coun. What is it! for God's sake! Seni.

And do you ask ? Within the duke lies murder'd—and your husband Assassinated at the castle.

[The Countess stands motionless. Female Serv. (rushing across the stage.) Help! help!

the duchess ! Burgomaster. (enters.) What mean these confused Loud cries, that wake the sleepers of this house?

Gor. Your house is cursed to all eternity. In your house doth the duke lie murder'd ! Bur. (rushing out.)

Heaven forbid! 1st Serv. Fly! fly! they murder us all! 2d Serv. (carrying silver plate.) That way! the

lower Passages are block'd up. Voice (from behind the scene.) Make room for the

lieutenant-general: [.At these words the Countess starts from her stupor,

collects herself, and retires suddenly. Voice ( from behind the scene.) Keep back the peo

ple! Guard the door!

SCENE IX.-To these enters Octavio Piccolomini with

all his train. At the same time Devıreux and Macdunald enter from the corridor with the Halberdiers. -Wallenstein's dead body is carried over the back part of the stage, wrapped in a piece of crimson tapestry.

Octa. (entering abruptly.) It must not be! It is not

possible! Butler! Gordon! I'll not believe it. Say, No!

(Gordon, without answering, points with his hand

to the body of Wallenstein as it is carried over the back of the stage. Octavio looks that way,

and stands overpowered with horror. Dev. (to Butler.) Here is the golden fleece—the

duke's swordMac. Is it

your
order-

[now But. (pointing to Octavio.) Here stands he who Hath the sole power to issue orders.

[Devereux and Macdonald relire with marks of obeisance. One drops away after the other,

till only Butler, Octavio, and Gordon remain on the

stage. Octa. (turning to Butler.) Was that my purpose,

Butler, when we parted ?
O God of Justice !
To thee I lift my hand! I am not guilty
Of this foul deed.

But.

Your hand is pure. You have
Avail'd yourself of mine.
Octa.

Merciless man!
Thus to abuse the orders of thy lord
And stain thy emperor's holy name with murder,
With bloody, most accursed assassination !

But. (calmly.) I've but fulfilled the emperor's own

sentence.

Octa. O curse of kings,
Infusing a dread life into their words,
And linking to the sudden transient thought
The unchangeable irrevocable deed.
Was there necessity for such an eager
Despatch ? Couldst thou not grant the merciful
A time for mercy ? Time is man's good angel.
To leave no interval between the sentence,
And the fulfilment of it, doth beseem
God only, the inmutable !
But.

For what
Rail you against me? What is my offence ?
The empire from a fearful enemy
Have I delivered, and expect reward.
The single difference betwixt you and me
Is this : you placed the arrow in the bow;
I pulld the string. You sow'd blood, and yet stand
Astonish'd that blood is come up. I always
Knew what I did, and therefore no result
Hath power to frighten or surprise my spirit.
Have you aught else to order? for this instant
I make

my best speed to Vienna; place

-My bleeding sword before my emperor's throne,
And hope to gain the applause which undelaying
And punctual obedience may demand
From a just judge.

[Exit Butler.

SCENE X.To these enter the Countess Tertsky, pale

and disordered. Her utterance is slow and feeble,
and unimpassioned.
Octa. (meeting her.) O Countess Tertsky! These

are the results
Of luckless unblest deeds.
Coun.

They are the fruits
Of your contrivances. The duke is dead,
My husband too is dead, the duchess struggles
In the pangs of death, my niece has disappeared.
This house of splendour, and of princely glory,
Doth now stand desolated: the affrighted servants
Rush forth through all its doors. I am the last
Therein; 1 shut it up, and here deliver
The keys.
Octa. (with a deep anguish.) O countess! my house

too is desolate.
Coun. Who next is to be murder'd ? Who is next
To be maltreated ? Lo! the duke is dead.
The emperor's vengeance may be pacified !
Spare the old servants; let not their fidelity
Be imputed to the faithful as a crime-
The evil destiny surprised my brother
Too suddenly: he could not think on them.

[ocr errors]

Octa. Speak not of vengeance! speak not of mal

treatment! The emperor is appeased; the heavy fault Hath heavily been expiated-nothing Descended from the father to the daughter, Except his glory and his services. The empress honours your adversity, Takes part in your afflictions, opens to you Her motherly arms! Therefore no farther fears; Yield yourself up in hope and confidence To the imperial grace! Coun. (with her eye raised to heaven.) To the grace

and mercy of a greater Master Do I yield up myself. Where shall the body Of the duke have its place of final rest ? In the Chartreuse, which he himself did found At Gitschin, rests the Countess Wallenstein; And by her side, to whom he was indebted For his first fortunes, gratefully he wish'd He might sometime repose in death! O let him Be buried there. And likewise, for my husband's Remains, I ask the like grace. The emperor Is now proprietor of all our castles. This sure may well be granted us—one sepulchre Beside the sepulchres of our forefathers!

Octa. Countess, you tremble, you turn pale!
Coun. (reassembles all her powers, and speaks with
energy and dignity.)

You think
More worthily of me, than to believe
I would survive the downfall of my house.

« PreviousContinue »