The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries Volume Iii Part 61

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Who speaks of evil? I entreat you, sister, Use words of better omen.

COUNTESS.

Then take us with you.

O leave us not behind you in a place That forces us to such sad omens. Heavy And sick within me is my heart– These walls breathe on me, like a church-yard vault.

I cannot tell you, brother, how this place Doth go against my nature. Take us with you.

Come, sister, join you your entreaty! Niece, Yours too. We all entreat you, take us with you!

WALLENST.

The place’s evil omens will I change, Making it that which shields and shelters for me My best beloved.

LADY NEUBRUNN (_returning_).

The Swedish officer.

WALLENST.

Leave her alone with him.

d.u.c.h.eSS (_to_ THEKLA, _who starts and shivers_).

There–pale as death! Child, ’tis impossible That thou shouldst speak with him. Follow thy mother.

THEKLA.

The Lady Neubrunn then may stay with me.

[_Exeunt_ d.u.c.h.eSS _and_ COUNTESS.]

SCENE X

THEKLA, _the_ SWEDISH CAPTAIN, LADY NEUBRUNN

CAPTAIN (_respectfully approaching her_).

Princess–I must entreat your gentle pardon– My inconsiderate rash speech. How could I–

THEKLA (_with dignity_).

You have beheld me in my agony.

A most distressful accident occasion’d You from a stranger to become at once My confidant.

CAPTAIN.

I fear you hate my presence, For my tongue spake a melancholy word.

THEKLA.

The fault is mine. Myself did wrest it from you.

The horror which came o’er me interrupted Your tale at its commencement. May it please you, Continue it to the end.

CAPTAIN.

Princess, ’twill Renew your anguish.

THEKLA.

I am firm– I _will_ be firm. Well–how began the engagement?

CAPTAIN.

We lay, expecting no attack, at Neustadt, Intrench’d but insecurely in our camp, When toward evening rose a cloud of dust From the wood thitherward; our vanguard fled Into the camp, and sounded the alarm.

Scarce had we mounted ere the Pappenheimers, Their horses at full speed, broke through the lines, And leapt the trenches; but their heedless courage Had borne them onward far before the others– The infantry were still at distance, only The Pappenheimers follow’d daringly Their daring leader–

[THEKLA _betrays agitation in her gestures. The officer pauses till she makes a sign to him to proceed_.]

CAPTAIN.

Both in van and flanks With our whole cavalry we now received them; Back to the trenches drove them, where the foot Stretch’d out a solid ridge of pikes to meet them.

They neither could advance, nor yet retreat; And as they stood on every side wedged in, The Rhinegrave to their leader call’d aloud, Inviting a surrender; but their leader, Young Piccolomini–

[THEKLA, _as giddy, grasps a chair_.]

Known by his plume, And his long hair, gave signal for the trenches; Himself leapt first: the regiment all plunged after.

His charger, by a halbert gored, rear’d up, Flung him with violence off, and over him The horses, now no longer to be curbed– [THEKLA, _who has accompanied the last speech_ _with all the marks of increasing agony_, _trembles through her whole frame, and is_ _falling. The_ LADY NEUBRUNN _runs to her_, _and receives her in her arms.]_

NEUBR.

My dearest lady–

CAPTAIN.

I retire.

THEKLA.

‘Tis over.

Proceed to the conclusion.

CAPTAIN.

Wild despair Inspired the troops with frenzy when they saw Their leader perish; every thought of rescue Was spurned; they fought like wounded tigers; their Frantic resistance roused our soldiery; A murderous fight took place, nor was the contest Finish’d before their last man fell.

THEKLA (_faltering_).

And where– Where is–You have not told me all.