Part 9 out of 11
been signed by the Elector of Brandenburg after a minute examination
of all the legal documents, and the day of execution already set for
the Monday after Palm Sunday. At this news the Elector, his heart torn
by grief and remorse, shut himself up in his room like a man in utter
despair and, tired of life, refused for two days to take food; on the
third day he suddenly disappeared from Dresden after sending a short
communication to the Government Office with word that he was going to
the Prince of Dessau's to hunt. Where he actually did go and whether
he did wend his way toward Dessau, we shall not undertake to say, as
the chronicles--which we have diligently compared before reporting
events--at this point contradict and offset one another in a very
peculiar manner. So much is certain: the Prince of Dessau was
incapable of hunting, as he was at this time lying ill in Brunswick at
the residence of his uncle, Duke Henry, and it is also certain that
Lady Heloise on the evening of the following day arrived in Berlin at
the house of her husband, Sir Kunz, the Chamberlain, in the company of
a certain Count von Koenigstein whom she gave out to be her cousin.
In the mean time, on the order of the Elector of Brandenburg, the
death sentence was read to Kohlhaas, his chains were removed, and the
papers concerning his property, to which papers his right had been
denied in Dresden, were returned to him. When the councilors whom the
court had dispatched to him asked what disposition he wished to have
made of his property after his death, with the help of a notary he
made out a will in favor of his children and appointed his honest
friend, the bailiff at Kohlhaasenbrueck, to be their guardian. After
that, nothing could match the peace and contentment of his last days.
For in consequence of a singular decree extraordinary issued by the
Elector, the prison in which he was kept was soon after thrown open
and free entrance was allowed day and night to all his friends, of
whom he possessed a great many in the city. He even had the further
satisfaction of seeing the theologian, Jacob Freising, enter his
prison as a messenger from Dr. Luther, with a letter from the latter's
own hand--without doubt a very remarkable document which, however, has
since been lost--and of receiving the blessed Holy Communion at the
hands of this reverend gentleman in the presence of two deans of
Brandenburg, who assisted him in administering it.
Amid general commotion in the city, which could not even yet be weaned
from the hope of seeing him saved by an electoral rescript, there
now dawned the fateful Monday after Palm Sunday, on which Kohlhaas was
to make atonement to the world for the all-too-rash attempt to procure
justice for himself within it. Accompanied by a strong guard and
conducted by the theologian, Jacob Freising, he was just leaving the
gate of his prison with his two lads in his arms--for this favor he
had expressly requested at the bar of the court--when among a
sorrowful throng of acquaintances, who were pressing his hands in
farewell, there stepped up to him, with haggard face, the castellan of
the Elector's palace, and gave him a paper which he said an old woman
had put in his hands for him. The latter, looking in surprise at the
man, whom he scarcely knew, opened the paper. The seal pressed upon
the wafer had reminded him at once of the frequently mentioned
gipsy-woman, but who can describe the astonishment which filled him
when he found the following information contained in it: "Kohlhaas,
the Elector of Saxony is in Berlin; he has already preceded you to the
place of execution, and, if you care to know, can be recognized by a
hat with blue and white plumes. The purpose for which he comes I do
not need to tell you. He intends, as soon as you are buried, to have
the locket dug up and the paper in it opened and read. Your Lisbeth."
Kohlhaas turned to the castellan in the utmost astonishment and asked
him if he knew the marvelous woman who had given him the note. But
just as the castellan started to answer "Kohlhaas, the woman--" and then
hesitated strangely in the middle of his sentence, the horse-dealer
was borne away by the procession which moved on again at that moment,
and could not make out what the man, who seemed to be trembling in
every limb, finally uttered.
When Kohlhaas arrived at the place of execution he found there the
Elector of Brandenburg and his suite, among whom was the
Arch-Chancellor, Sir Heinrich von Geusau, halting on horseback, in the
midst of an innumerable crowd of people. On the sovereign's right was
the Imperial attorney, Franz Mueller, with a copy of the death
sentence in his hand; on his left was his own attorney, the jurist
Anton Zaeuner, with the decree of the Court Tribunal at Dresden. In the
middle of the half circle formed by the people stood a herald with a
bundle of articles, and the two black horses, fat and glossy, pawing
the ground impatiently. For the Arch-Chancellor, Sir Heinrich, had won
the suit instituted at Dresden in the name of his master without
yielding a single point to Squire Wenzel Tronka. After the horses had
been made honorable once more by having a banner waved over their
heads, and taken from the knacker, who was feeding them, they had been
fattened by the Squire's servants and then, in the market-place in
Dresden, had been turned over to the attorney in the presence of a
specially appointed commission. Accordingly when Kohlhaas, accompanied
by his guard, advanced to the mound where the Elector was awaiting
him, the latter said, "Well, Kohlhaas, this is the day on which you
receive justice that is your due. Look, I here deliver to you all that
was taken from you by force at the Tronka Castle which I, as your
sovereign, was bound to procure for you again; here are the black
horses, the neck-cloth, the gold gulden, the linen--everything down to
the very amount of the bill for medical attention furnished your
groom, Herse, who fell at Muehlberg. Are you satisfied with me?"
Kohlhaas set the two children whom he was carrying in his arms down on
the ground beside him, and with eyes sparkling with astonished
pleasure read the decree which was handed to him at a sign from the
Arch-Chancellor. When he also found in it a clause condemning Squire
Wenzel Tronka to a punishment of two years' imprisonment, his feelings
completely overcame him and he sank down on his knees at some distance
from the Elector, with his hands folded across his breast. Rising and
laying his hand on the knee of the Arch-Chancellor, he joyfully
assured him that his dearest wish on earth had been fulfilled; then he
walked over to the horses, examined them and patted their plump
necks, and, coming back to the Chancellor, declared with a smile that
he was going to present them to his two sons, Henry and Leopold!
The Chancellor, Sir Heinrich von Geusau, looking graciously down upon
him from his horse, promised him in the name of the Elector that his
last wish should be held sacred and asked him also to dispose of the
other articles contained in the bundle, as seemed good to him.
Whereupon Kohlhaas called out from the crowd Herse's old mother, whom
he had caught sight of in the square, and, giving her the things,
said, "Here, grandmother, these belong to you!" The indemnity for the
loss of Herse was with the money in the bundle, and this he presented
to her also, as a gift to provide care and comfort for her old age.
The Elector cried, "Well, Kohlhaas the horse-dealer, now that
satisfaction has been rendered you in such fashion, do you, for your
part, prepare to give satisfaction to His Majesty the Emperor, whose
attorney is standing here, for the violation of the peace he had
proclaimed!" Taking off his hat and throwing it on the ground Kohlhaas
said that he was ready to do so. He lifted the children once more from
the ground and pressed them to his breast; then he gave them over to
the bailiff of Kohlhaasenbrueck, and while the latter, weeping
quietly, led them away from the square, Kohlhaas advanced to the
He was just removing his neck-cloth and baring his chest when,
throwing a hasty glance around the circle formed by the crowd, he
caught sight of the familiar face of the man with blue and white
plumes, who was standing quite near him between two knights whose
bodies half hid him from view. With a sudden stride which surprised
the guard surrounding him, Kohlhaas walked close up to the man,
untying the locket from around his neck as he did so. He took out the
paper, unsealed it, and read it through; then, without moving his eyes
from the man with blue and white plumes, who was already beginning to
indulge in sweet hopes, he stuck the paper in his mouth and swallowed
it. At this sight the man with blue and white plumes was seized with
convulsions and sank down unconscious. While his companions bent over
him in consternation and raised him from the ground, Kohlhaas turned
toward the scaffold, where his head fell under the axe of the
Here ends the story of Kohlhaas. Amid the general lamentations of the
people his body was placed in a coffin, and while the bearers raised
it from the ground and bore it away to the graveyard in the suburbs
for decent burial, the Elector of Brandenburg called to him the sons
of the dead man and dubbed them knights, telling the Arch-Chancellor
that he wished them to be educated in his school for pages.
The Elector of Saxony, shattered in body and mind, returned shortly
afterward to Dresden; details of his subsequent career there must be
sought in history.
Some hale and happy descendants of Kohlhaas, however, were still
living in Mecklenburg in the last century.
THE PRINCE OF HOMBURG
FREDERICK WILLIAM, _Elector of Brandenburg_.
PRINCESS NATALIE OF ORANGE, _his niece,
Honorary Colonel of a regiment of Dragoons_.
PRINCE FREDERICK ARTHUR OF HOMBURG,
_General of cavalry_.
COLONEL KOTTWITZ, of the regiment
of the Princess of Orange.
COUNT TRUCHSZ _Infantry Colonels_.
COUNT HOHENZOLLERN, _of the Elector's suite_.
VON DER GOLZ }
COUNT GEORGE VON SPARREN STRANZ }
SIEGFRIED VON MOeRNER } _Captains of Cavalry_
COUNT REUSS }
A SERGEANT }
_Officers. Corporals and troopers.
Ladies- and Gentlemen-in-waiting.
Pages. Lackeys. Servants. People
of both sexes, young and old_.
THE PRINCE OF HOMBURG (1810)
By HEINRICH VON KLEIST
TRANSLATED BY HERMANN HAGEDORN, A.B.
Author of _A Troop of the Guard and Other Poems_
_Scene: Fehrbellin. A garden laid out in the old French style. In the
background, a palace with a terrace from which a broad stair descends.
It is night._
_The_ PRINCE OF HOMBURG _sits with head bare and shirt unbuttoned,
half-sleeping, half waking, under an oak, binding a wreath. The_
ELECTOR, ELECTRESS, PRINCESS NATALIE, COUNT HOHENZOLLERN, CAPTAIN GOLZ
_and others come stealthily out of the palace and look down upon him
from the balustrade of the terrace. Pages with torches._
HOHENZOLLERN. The Prince of Homburg, our most valiant cousin,
Who these three days has pressed the flying Swedes
Exultant at the cavalry's forefront,
And scant of breath only today returned
To camp at Fehrbellin--your order said
That he should tarry here provisioning
Three hours at most, and move once more apace
Clear to the Hackel Hills to cope with Wrangel,
Seeking to build redoubts beside the Rhyn?
ELECTOR. 'Tis so.
HOHENZOLLERN. Now having charged the commandants
Of all his squadrons to depart the town
Obedient to the plan, sharp ten at night,
He flings himself exhausted on the straw
Like a hound panting, his exhausted limbs
To rest a little while against the fight
Which waits us at the glimmering of dawn.
ELECTOR. I heard so! Well?
HOHENZOLLERN. Now when the hour strikes
And in the stirrup now the cavalry
Expectant paws the ground before the gates--
Who still absents himself The Prince of Homburg,
Their chief. With lights they seek the valiant man,
With torches, lanterns, and they find him--where?
[_He takes a torch from the hand of a page._]
As a somnambulist, look, on that bench,
Whither in sleep, as you would ne'er believe,
The moonshine lured him, vaguely occupied
Imagining himself posterity
And weaving for his brow the crown of fame.
HOHENZOLL. Oh, indeed! Look down here: there he sits!
[_From the terrace he throws the light on the_ PRINCE.]
ELECTOR. In slumber sunk? Impossible!
HOHENZOLLERN. In slumber
Sunk as he is, speak but his name--he drops.
ELECTRESS. Sure as I live, the youth is taken ill.
NATALIE. He needs a doctor's care--
ELECTRESS. We should give help,
Not waste time, gentlemen, meseems, in scorn.
HOHENZOLLERN (_handing back the torch_).
He's sound, you tender-hearted women folk,
By Jove, as sound as I! He'll make the Swede
Aware of that upon tomorrow's field.
It's nothing more, and take my word for it,
Than a perverse and silly trick of the mind.
ELECTOR. By faith, I thought it was a fairy-tale!
Follow me, friends, we'll take a closer look.
[_They descend from the terrace._]
GENTLEMAN-IN-WAITING (_to the pages_).
Back with the torches!
[Illustration: #THE ROYAL CASTLE AT BERLIN#]
HOHENZOLLERN. Leave them, leave them, friends!
These precincts might roar up to heaven in fire
And his soul be no more aware of it
Than the bright stone he wears upon his hand.
[_They surround him, the pages illuminating the scene._]
ELECTOR (_bending over the_ PRINCE).
What leaf is it he binds? Leaf of the willow?
HOHENZOLL. What! Willow-leaf, my lord? It is the bay,
Such as his eyes have noted on the portraits
Of heroes hung in Berlin's armor-hall.
ELECTOR. Where hath he found that in my sandy soil?
HOHENZOLL. The equitable gods may guess at that!
It may be in the garden, where the gardener
Has nurtured other strange, outlandish plants.
ELECTOR. Most curious, by heaven! But what's the odds?
I know what stirs the heart of this young fool.
HOHENZOLL. Indeed! Tomorrow's clash of arms, my liege!
Astrologers, I'll wager, in his mind
Are weaving stars into a triumph wreath.
[_The_ PRINCE _regards the wreath._]
GENTLEMAN-IN-WAITING. Now it is done!
HOHENZOLLERN. A shame, a mortal shame,
That there's no mirror in the neighborhood!
He would draw close to it, vain as any girl,
And try his wreath on, thus, and then again
This other way--as if it were a bonnet!
ELECTOR. By faith! But I must see how far he'll go!
[_The_ ELECTOR _takes the wreath from the_ PRINCE'S _hand while the
latter regards him, flushing. The_ ELECTOR _thereupon twines his
neck-chain about the wreath and gives it to the_ PRINCESS. _The_
PRINCE _rises in excitement, but the_ ELECTOR _draws back with the_
PRINCESS, _still holding the wreath aloft. The_ PRINCE _follows her
with outstretched arms._]
THE PRINCE (_whispering_).
Natalie! Oh, my girl! Oh, my beloved!
ELECTOR. Make haste! Away!
HOHENZOLLERN. What did the fool say?
[_They all ascend the stair to the terrace._]
THE PRINCE. Frederick, my prince! my father!
HOHENZOLLERN. Hell and devils!
ELECTOR (_backing away from him_).
Open the gate for me!
THE PRINCE. Oh, mother mine!
HOHENZOLL. The raving idiot!
ELECTRESS. Whom did he call thus?
THE PRINCE (_clutching at the wreath_).
Beloved, why do you recoil? My Natalie!
[_He snatches a glove from the_ PRINCESS' _hand._]
HOHENZOLL. Heaven and earth! What laid he hands on there?
COURTIER. The wreath?
NATALIE. No, no!
HOHENZOLLERN (_opening the door_). Hither! This way, my
So the whole scene may vanish from his eye!
ELECTOR. Back to oblivion, with you, oblivion,
Sir Prince of Homburg! On the battle-field,
If you be so disposed, we meet again!
Such matters men attain not in a dream!
[_They all go out; the door crashes shut in the_ PRINCE'S _face.
_The_ PRINCE OF HOMBURG _remains standing before the door a moment in
perplexity; then dreamily descends from the terrace, the hand holding
the glove pressed against his forehead. At the foot of the stair he
turns again, gazing up at the door._
_Enter_ COUNT HOHENZOLLERN _by the wicket below. A page follows him.
The_ PRINCE OF HOMBURG.
Count! Listen, do! Most worshipful Sir
Grasshopper! Well? What's wanted?
PAGE. I am sent--
HOHENZOLL. Speak softly now, don't wake him with your chirping!
Come now! What's up?
PAGE. The Elector sent me hither.
He charges you that, when the Prince awakes,
You breathe no word to him about the jest
It was his pleasure to allow himself.
You skip off to the wheatfield for some sleep.
I knew that, hours ago. So run along.
COUNT HOHENZOLLERN _and the_ PRINCE of HOMBURG.
HOHENZOLLERN (_taking a position some distance behind the_ PRINCE _who
is still gazing fixedly up toward the terrace_).
[_The_ PRINCE _drops to the ground._]
And there he lies!
You could not do it better with a bullet.
[_He approaches him._]
Now I am eager for the fairy-tale
He'll fabricate to show the reason why
Of all the world he chose this place to sleep in.
[_He bends over him._]
Arthur! Hi! Devil's own! What are you up to?
What are you doing here at dead of night?
THE PRINCE. Ah, dear, old fellow!
HOHENZOLLERN. Well, I'm hanged! See here!
The cavalry's a full hour down the road
And you, their colonel, you lie here and sleep.
THE PRINCE. What cavalry?
HOHENZOLLERN. The Mamelukes, of course!
Sure as I live and breathe, the man's forgot
That he commands the riders of the Mark!
THE PRINCE (rising).
My helmet, quick then! My cuirass!
HOHENZOLLERN. Where are they?
THE PRINCE. Off to the right there, Harry.--On the stool.
HOHENZOLL. Where? On the stool?
THE PRINCE. I laid them there, I thought--
HOHENZOLLERN (regarding him).
Then go and get them from the stool yourself.
THE PRINCE. What's this glove doing here
[He stares at the glove in his hand.]
HOHENZOLLERN. How should I know?
[Aside.] Curses! He must have torn that
unobserved from the lady niece's arm. [Abruptly.] Quick
now, be off!
What are you waiting for?
THE PRINCE (casting the glove away again).
I'm coming, coming.
Hi, Frank! The knave I told to wake me must
HOHENZOLLERN (regarding him).
It's raving mad he is!
THE PRINCE. Upon my oath, Harry, my dear, I don't know where I am.
HOHENZOLL. In Fehrbellin, you muddle-headed dreamer--
You're in a by-path of the Castle gardens.
THE PRINCE (to himself).
Engulf me, Night! Unwittingly once more
In slumber through the moonshine have I
strayed! [He pulls himself together.]
Forgive me! Now I know! Last night, recall,
The heat was such one scarce could lie in bed.
I crept exhausted hither to this garden,
And because Night with so sweet tenderness
Encompassed me, fair-haired and odorous Night--
Even as the Persian bride wraps close her lover,
Lo, here I laid my head upon her lap.
What is the clock now?
HOHENZOLLERN. Half an hour of midnight.
THE PRINCE. And you aver the troops are on the march?
HOHENZOLL. Upon my word, sharp, stroke of ten, as planned.
The Princess Orange regiment in van,
By this undoubtedly has reached the heights
Of Hackelwitz, there in the face of Wrangel
To cloak the army's hid approach at dawn.
THE PRINCE. Well, no harm's done. Old Kottwitz captains her
And he knows every purpose of this march.
I should have been compelled, at all events
By two, to come back hither for the council:
Those were the orders. So it's just as well
I stayed in the beginning. Let's be off.
The Elector has no inkling?
HOHENZOLLERN. Bah! How should he?
He's tight abed and snoozing long ago.
[_They are about to depart when the_ PRINCE _starts, turns, and picks
up the glove_.]
THE PRINCE. I dreamed such an extraordinary dream!
It seemed as though the palace of a king,
Radiant with gold and silver, suddenly
Oped wide its doors, and from its terrace high
The galaxy of those my heart loves best
Came down to me:
The Elector and his Lady and the--third--
What is her name?
THE PRINCE (_searching his memory_). Why, the one I mean!
A mute must find his tongue to speak her name.
HOHENZOLL. The Platen girl?
THE PRINCE. Come, come, now!
HOHENZOLLERN. The Ramin
THE PRINCE. No, no, old fellow!
HOHENZOLLERN. Bork? Or Winterfeld?
THE PRINCE. No, no! My word! You fail to see the pearl
For the bright circlet that but sets it off!
HOHENZOLL. Damn it, then, tell me! I can't guess the face!
What lady do you mean?
THE PRINCE. Well, never mind.
The name has slipped from me since I awoke,
And goes for little in the story.
Let's have it then!
THE PRINCE. But now, don't interrupt me!--
And the Elector of the Jovelike brow,
Holding a wreath of laurel in his hand,
Stands close beside me, and the soul of me
To ravish quite, twines round the jeweled band
That hangs about his neck, and unto one
Gives it to press upon my locks--Oh, friend!
HOHENZOLL. To whom?
THE PRINCE. Oh, friend!
HOHENZOLLERN. To whom then? Come, speak up!
THE PRINCE. I think it must have been the Platen girl.
HOHENZOLL. Platen? Oh, bosh! Not she who's off in Prussia?
THE PRINCE. Really, the Platen girl. Or the Ramin?
HOHENZOLL. Lord, the Ramin! She of the brick-red hair?
The Platen girl with those coy, violet eyes--
They say you fancy _her_.
THE PRINCE. I fancy her--
HOHENZOLL. So, and you say she handed you the wreath?
THE PRINCE. Oh, like some deity of fame she lifts
High up the circlet with its dangling chain
As if to crown a hero. I stretch forth,
Oh, in delight unspeakable, my hands
I stretch to seize it, yearning with my soul
To sink before her feet. But as the odor
That floats above green valleys, by the wind's
Cool breathing is dispelled, the group recedes
Up the high terrace from me; lo, the terrace
Beneath my tread immeasurably distends
To heaven's very gate. I clutch at air
Vainly to right, to left I clutch at air,
Of those I loved hungering to capture one.
In vain! The palace portal opes amain.
A flash of lightning from within engulfs them;
Rattling, the door flies to. Only a glove
I ravish from the sweet dream-creature's arm
In passionate pursuing; and a glove,
By all the gods, awaking, here I hold!
HOHENZOLL. Upon my word--and, you assume, the glove
Must be her glove?
THE PRINCE. Whose?
HOHENZOLLERN. Well, the Platen girl's.
THE PRINCE. Platen! Of course. Or could it be Ramin's
HOHENZOLLERN (_with a laugh_).
Rogue that you are with your mad fantasies!
Who knows from what exploit delectable
Here in a waking hour with flesh and blood
The glove sticks to your hand, now?
THE PRINCE. Eh? What? I?
With all my love--
HOHENZOLLERN. Oh, well then, what's the odds?
Call it the Platen lady, or Ramin.
There is a Prussian post on Sunday next,
So you can find out by the shortest way
Whether your lady fair has lost a glove.
Off! Twelve o'clock! And we stand here and jaw!
THE PRINCE (_dreamily into space_).
Yes, you are right. Come, let us go to bed.
But as I had it on my mind to say--
Is the Electress who arrived in camp
Not long since with her niece, the exquisite
Princess of Orange, is she still about?
HOHENZOLL. Why?--I declare the idiot thinks--
THE PRINCE. Why?
I've orders to have thirty mounted men
Escort them safely from the battle-lines.
Ramin has been detailed to lead them.
They're gone long since, or just about to go.
The whole night long, Ramin, all rigged for flight,
Has hugged the door. But come. It's stroke o' twelve.
And I, for one, before the fight begins,
I want to get some sleep.
_The same. Hall in the palace. In the distance, the sound of cannon.
The ELECTRESS and PRINCESS NATALIE, dressed for travel, enter,
escorted by a gentleman-in-waiting, and sit down at the side.
Ladies-in-waiting. A little later the ELECTOR enters with
FIELD-MARSHAL. DOeRFLING, the PRINCE OF HOMBURG with the glove in his
collar, COUNT HOHENZOLLERN, COUNT TRUCHSZ, COLONEL HENNINGS,
TROOP-CAPTAIN VON DER GOLZ and several other generals, colonels and
ELECTOR. What is that cannonading?--Is it Goetz?
DOeRFLING. It's Colonel Goetz, my liege, who yesterday
Pushed forward with the van. An officer
Has come from him already to allay
Your apprehensions ere they come to birth.
A Swedish outpost of a thousand men
Has pressed ahead into the Hackel Hills,
But for those hills Goetz stands security
And sends me word that you should lay your plans
As though his van already held them safe.
ELECTOR (_to the officers_).
The Marshal knows the plan. Now, gentlemen,
I beg you take your pens and write it down.
[_The officers assemble on the other side about the_ FIELD-MARSHAL,
_and take out their tablets. The_ ELECTOR _turns to a
Ramin is waiting with the coach outside?
At once, my sovereign. They are hitching now.
ELECTOR (_seating himself on a chair behind the_ ELECTRESS _and the_
Ramin shall escort my beloved wife,
Convoyed by thirty sturdy cavalrymen.
To Kalkhuhn's, to the chancellor's manor-house.
At Havelberg beyond the Havel, go.
There's not a Swede dare show his face there now.
ELECTRESS. The ferry is restored?
ELECTOR. At Havelberg?
I have arranged for it. The day will break
In all events before you come to it.
You are so quiet, Natalie, my girl?
What ails the child?
NATALIE. Uncle, I am afraid.
ELECTOR. And yet my little girl was not more safe
In her own mother's lap than she is now.
ELECTRESS. When do you think that we shall meet again?
ELECTOR. If God grants me the victory, as I
Doubt not He will, in a few days, perhaps.
[_Pages enter and serve the ladies refreshments_. FIELD-MARSHAL
DOeRFLING _dictates. The_ PRINCE OF HOMBURG, _pen and tablet in hand,
stares at the ladies_.]
MARSHAL. The battle-plan his Highness has devised
Intends, my lords, in order that the Swedes'
Fugitive host be utterly dispersed,
The severing of their army from the bridges
That guard their rear along the river Rhyn.
Thus Colonel Hennings--
MARSHAL. Who by the will
Of his liege lord commands the army's right,
Shall seek by stealthy passage through the bush
To circumscribe the enemy's left wing,
Fearlessly hurl his force between the foe
And the three bridges; then, joined with Count Truchsz--
TRUCHSZ (_writing_). Here!
MARSHAL. Thereupon, joined with Count Truchsz--
Who, meanwhile, facing Wrangel on the heights
Has gained firm footing with his cannonry--
TRUCHSZ (_writing_). Firm footing with his cannonry--
MARSHAL. You hear it?--
Attempt to drive the Swedes into the swamp
Which lies behind their right.
[_A lackey enters_.]
LACKEY. Madam, the coach is at the door.
[_The ladies rise_.]
MARSHAL. The Prince of Homburg--
ELECTOR (_also rising_). Is Ramin at hand?
LACKEY. He's in the saddle, waiting at the gates.
[_The royalties take leave of one another_.]
TRUCHSZ (_writing_). Which lies behind their right.
MARSHAL. The Prince of Homburg--
Where is the Prince of Homburg?
HOHENZOLLERN (_in a whisper_). Arthur!
THE PRINCE (_with a start_). Here!
HOHENZOLL. Have you gone mad?
THE PRINCE. My Marshal, to command!
[_He flushes, and, taking out pen and parchment, writes._]
MARSHAL. To whom His Highness, trusting that he lead
His force to glory as at Rathenow,
Confides the mounted squadrons of the Mark
Though in no way disprizing Colonel Kottwitz
Who shall be aid in counsel and right hand--
[_To_ CAPTAIN GOLZ _in a low voice._]
Is Kottwitz here?
GOLZ. No, General. He has,
You note, dispatched me hither in his place
To take the battle order from your lips.
[_The_ PRINCE _gazes over toward the ladies again._]
Takes station in the plain near Hackelwitz
Facing the right wing of the enemy
Well out of range of the artillery fire.
GOLZ (_writing_). Well out of range of the artillery fire.
[_The_ ELECTRESS _ties a scarf about the_ PRINCESS' _throat. The_
PRINCESS, _about to draw on a glove, looks around as if she were in
search of something._]
ELECTOR (_approaches her_).
Dear little girl of mine, what have you lost?
ELECTRESS. What are you searching for?
NATALIE. Why, Auntie dear,
My glove! I can't imagine--
[_They all look about._]
ELECTOR (_to the ladies-in-waiting_). Would you mind?--
ELECTRESS (_to the_ PRINCESS). It's in your hand.
NATALIE. The right glove; but the left?
ELECTOR. You may have left it in your bedroom.
Bork, if you will?
ELECTOR _(to the lady-in-waiting)_. Quick, quick!
NATALIE. Look on the mantel.
[_The lady-in-waiting goes out.-]
THE PRINCE _(aside)_.
Lord of my life? Could I have heard aright?
[_He draws the glove from his collar._]
MARSHAL _(looking down at the paper which he holds in
Well out of range of the artillery fire.
The Prince's Highness--
THE PRINCE _(regarding now the glove, now the PRINCESS)_.
It's this glove she's seeking--
MARSHAL. At our lord sovereign's express command--
GOLZ _(writing)_. At our lord sovereign's express command--
MARSHAL. Whichever way the tide of battle turn
Shall budge not from his designated place.
THE PRINCE. Quick! Now I'll know in truth if it be hers.
_[He lets the glove fall, together with his handkerchief; then
recovers the handkerchief but leaves the glove lying where everybody
can see it.]_
MARSHAL _(piqued)_. What is His Highness up to?
HOHENZOLLERN _(aside)_. Arthur!
THE PRINCE. Here!
HOHENZOLL. Faith, you're possessed!
THE PRINCE. My Marshal, to command!
_[He takes up pen and tablet once more. The_ MARSHAL _regards him an
instant, questioningly. Pause.]_
GOLZ _(reading, after he has finished writing)_.
Shall budge not from his designated place.
Until, hard pressed by Hennings and by
THE PRINCE (looking over GOLZ's shoulder).
Who, my dear Golz? What? I?
GOLZ. Why, yes. Who else
THE PRINCE. I shall not budge--
GOLZ. That's it.
MARSHAL. Well, have you got it
THE PRINCE (aloud).
Shall budge not from my designated place.
MARSHAL. Until, hard pressed by Hennings and by
Truchsz-- [He pauses.]
The left wing of the enemy, dissolved,
Plunges upon its right, and wavering
The massed battalions crowd into the plain,
Where, in the marsh, criss-crossed by ditch on ditch,
The plan intends that they be wholly crushed.
ELECTOR. Lights, pages! Come, my dear, your arm,
[He starts to go out with the ELECTRESS and the PRINCESS.]
MARSHAL. Then he shall let the trumpets sound the
ELECTRESS (as several officers, bowing and scraping, bid her
Pray, let me not disturb you, gentlemen.--
Until we meet again!
[The MARSHAL also bids her good-by.]
ELECTOR (suddenly standing still). Why, here we are!
The lady's glove. Come, quick now! There it is.
ELECTOR. At our cousin's, at Prince Homburg's feet.
THE PRINCE. What! At my feet! The glove? It is your own?
[He picks it up and brings it to the PRINCESS.]
NATALIE. I thank you, noble Prince.
THE PRINCE (confused). Then it is yours?
NATALIE. Yes, it is mine; it is the one I lost.
[She takes it and draws it on.]
ELECTRESS (turning to the PRINCESS, she goes out).
Farewell! Farewell! Good luck! God keep you safe!
See that erelong we joyously may meet!
[The ELECTOR goes out with the ladies. Attendants, courtiers and pages
THE PRINCE (stands an instant as though struck by a bolt
from heaven; then with triumphant step he
returns to the group of officers).
Then he shall let the trumpets sound the charge!
[He, pretends to write.]
MARSHAL (looking down at his paper).
Then he shall let the trumpets sound the charge.--
However, the Elector's Highness, lest
Through some mistake the blow should fall too soon--
GOLZ (writes). Through some mistake the blow should fall
THE PRINCE (aside to COUNT HOHENZOLLERN in great
What's up now? What's in your head?
THE PRINCE. Did you not see?
HOHENZOLLERN. In Satan's name, shut up!
Shall send an officer of his staff to him;
Who, mark this well, shall finally transmit
The order for the charge against the foe.
Ere this the trumpets shall not sound the charge.
[The PRINCE gazes dreamily into space.]
Well, have you got it?
GOLZ (_writes_). Ere this the trumpets shall not sound the charge.
MARSHAL (_in raised tone_).
Your Highness has it down?
THE PRINCE. Marshal?
MARSHAL. I asked
If you had writ it down?
THE PRINCE. About the trumpets?
HOHENZOLLERN (_aside, with emphatic indignation_).
Trumpets be damned! Not till the order--
GOLZ (_in the same tone_). Not
Till he himself--
THE PRINCE (_interrupting_). Naturally not, before--
But then he'll let the trumpets sound the
[_He writes. Pause._]
MARSHAL. And I desire--pray note it, Baron Golz--
Before the action opens, to confer
With Colonel Kottwitz, if it can be done.
GOLZ (_significantly_). He shall receive your message. Rest assured.
What now, my colonels and my generals!
The morning breaks. Have you the orders down?
MARSHAL. The thing is done, my liege. Your battle-plan
Is in all points made clear to your commanders.
ELECTOR (_picking up his hat and gloves_).
And you, I charge, Prince Homburg, learn control!
Recall, you forfeited two victories
Of late, upon the Rhine, so keep your head!
Make me not do without the third today.
My land and throne depend on it, no less.
[_To the officers._]
A GROOM (_entering_). Here!
ELECTOR. Quick there! Saddle me my gray!
I will be on the field before the sun!
[_He goes out, followed by generals, colonels and minor officers._]
THE PRINCE (_coming forward_).
Now, on thine orb, phantasmic creature, Fortune,
Whose veil a faint wind's breathing even now
Lifts as a sail, roll hither! Thou hast touched
My hair in passing; as thou hovered'st near
Already from thy horn of plenty thou
Benignantly hast cast me down a pledge.
Child of the gods, today, O fugitive one,
I will pursue thee on the field of battle,
Seize thee, tear low thy horn of plenty, pour
Wholly thy radiant blessings round my feet,
Though sevenfold chains of iron bind thee fast
To the triumphant chariot of the Swede!
_Scene: Battlefield of Fehrbellin._
COLONEL KOTTWITZ, COUNT HOHENZOLLERN, CAPTAIN VON DER GOLZ _and other
officers enter at the head of the cavalry._
KOTTWITZ (_outside_). Halt! Squadron, halt! Dismount!
HOHENZOLLERN AND GOLZ (_entering_). Halt, halt!
KOTTWITZ. Hey, friends, who'll help me off my horse?
HOHENZOLLERN AND GOLZ. Here--here!
[_They step outside again._]
KOTTWITZ (_still outside_).
Thanks to you-ouch! Plague take me! May a son
Be giv'n you for your pains, a noble son
Who'll do the same for you when you grow sear.
[He enters, followed by_ HOHENZOLLERN, GOLZ _and others._]
Oh, in the saddle I am full of youth!
When I dismount, though, there's a battle on
As though the spirit and the flesh were parting,
In wrath. [_Looking about._] Where is our
chief, the Prince's Highness?
HOHENZOLL. The Prince will momentarily return.
KOTTWITZ. Where has he gone?
HOHENZOLLERN. He rode down to a hamlet,
In foliage hidden, so you passed it by.
He will return erelong.
OFFICER. Last night, they say,
His horse gave him a tumble.
HOHENZOLLERN. So they say.
KOTTWITZ. He fell?
HOHENZOLLERN (_turning_). A matter of no consequence.
His horse shied at the mill, but down his flank
He lightly slipped and did himself no harm.
It is not worth the shadow of a thought.
KOTTWITZ (_ascending a slight elevation_).
A fine day, as I breathe the breath of life!
A day our God, the lofty Lord of earth,
For sweeter things than deadly combat made.
Ruddily gleams the sunlight through the clouds
And with the lark the spirit flutters up
Exultant to the joyous airs of heaven!
GOLZ. Did you succeed in finding Marshal Dorfling?
KOTTWITZ (_coming forward_).
The Devil, no! What does my lord expect?
Am I a bird, an arrow, an idea,
That he should bolt me round the entire field?
I was at Hackel hillock with the van
And with the rearguard down in Hackel vale.
The one man whom I saw not was the Marshal!
Wherefore I made my way back to my men.
GOLZ. He will be ill-content. He had, it seemed,
A matter of some import to confide.
OFFICER. His Highness comes, our commandant, the Prince!
_The_ PRINCE OF HOMBURG _with a black bandage on his left hand. The
others as before._
KOTTWITZ. My young and very noble prince, God greet you!
Look, how I formed the squadrons down that road
While you were tarrying in the nest below.
I do believe you'll say I've done it well.
THE PRINCE. Good morning, Kottwitz! And good morning, friends!
You know that I praise everything you do.
HOHENZOLL. What were you up to in the village, Arthur?
You seem so grave.
THE PRINCE. I--I was in the chapel
That beckoned through the placid village trees;
The bells were ringing, calling men to prayers,
As we passed by, and something urged me on
To kneel before the altar, too, and pray.
KOTTWITZ. A pious gentleman for one so young!
A deed, believe me, that begins with prayer
Must end in glory, victory, and fame.
THE PRINCE. Oh, by the way, I wanted to inquire--
[_He draws the_ COUNT _forward a step._]
Harry, what was it Dorfling said last night
In his directions, that applied to me?
HOHENZOLL. You were distraught. I saw that well enough.
THE PRINCE. Distraught--divided! I scarce know what ailed me.
Dictation always sets my wits awry.
HOHENZOLL. Not much for you this time, as luck would have it.
Hennings and Truchsz, who lead the infantry,
Are designated to attack the foe,
And you are ordered here to halt and stay,
Ready for instant action with the horse,
Until an order summon you to charge.
THE PRINCE (_after a pause, dreamily_).
A curious thing!
HOHENZOLLERN. To what do you refer?
[_He looks at him. A cannon-shot is heard._]
KOTTWITZ. Ho, gentlemen! Ho, sirs! To horse, to horse!
That shot is Hennings', and the fight is on!
[_They all ascend a slight elevation._]
THE PRINCE. Who is it? What?
HOHENZOLLERN. It's Colonel Hennings, Arthur,
He's stolen his way about to Wrangel's rear.
Come, you can watch the entire field from here.
GOLZ (_on the hillock_).
At the Rhyn there, how terribly he uncoils!
THE PRINCE (_shading his eyes with his hand_).
Is Hennings over there on our right wing?
1ST OFFICER. Indeed, Your Highness.
THE PRINCE. What the devil then
Why, yesterday he held our army's right.
[_Cannonade in the distance._]
KOTTWITZ. Thunder and lightning! Wrangel's cutting loose
At Hennings' now, from twelve loud throats of fire.
1ST OFFICER. I call those _some_ redoubts the Swedes have there!
2D OFFICER. By heaven, look, they top the very spire
Rising above the hamlet at their back!
GOLZ. That's Truchsz!
THE PRINCE. Truchsz?
KOTTWITZ. To be sure! Of course, it's Truchsz,
Approaching from the front to his support.
THE PRINCE. What's Truchsz there in the centre for, today?
GOLZ. Good heavens, look. The village is afire!
3D OFFICER. Afire, as I live!
1ST OFFICER. Afire! Afire!
The flames are darting up the steeple now!
GOLZ. Hey! How the Swedish aides fly right and left!
2D OFFICER. They're in retreat!
1ST OFFICER. There, at their right flank!
3D OFFICER. In masses! Sure enough! Three regiments!
The intention seems to be to brace the left.
2D OFFICER. My faith! And now the horse are ordered out
To screen the right living's march!
HOHENZOLLERN (_with a laugh_). Hi! How they'll scamper
When they get ware of us here in the vale!
KOTTWITZ. Look, brothers, look!
2D OFFICER. Hark!
1ST OFFICER. Fire of musketry!
3D OFFICER. They're at each other now in the redoubts!
GOLZ. My God, in my born days I never heard
Such thunder of artillery!
HOHENZOLLERN. Shoot! Shoot!
Burst open wide the bowels of the earth!
The cleft shall be your corpses' sepulchre!
[_Pause. Shouts of victory in the distance._]
1ST OFFICER. Lord in the heavens, who grants men victories!
Wrangel is in retreat already!
GOLZ. By heaven, friends! Look! There on his left
He's drawing back his guns from the redoubts!
ALL. Oh, triumph! Triumph! Victory is ours!
THE PRINCE (_descending from the hillock_).
On, Kottwitz, follow me!
KOTTWITZ. Come, cool now--cool!
THE PRINCE. On! Let the trumpets sound the charge!
KOTTWITZ. Cool, now, I say.
THE PRINCE (_wildly_).
By heaven and earth and hell!
KOTTWITZ. Our liege's Highness in the ordinance
Commanded we should wait his orders here.
Golz, read the gentlemen the ordinance.
THE PRINCE. Orders? Eh, Kottwitz, do you ride so slow?
Have you not heard the orders of your heart?
KOTTWITZ. The orders of my heart?
HOHENZOLL. Listen to reason, Arthur!
GOLZ. Here, my chief!
Oh, ho! you give me that, young gentleman?--The
nag you dance about on, at a pinch
I'll tow him home yet at my horse's tail!
March, march, my gentlemen! Trumpets, the
On to the battle, on! Kottwitz is game!
GOLZ (_to_ KOTTWITZ).
Never, my colonel, never! No, I swear!
2D OFFICER. Remember, Hennings' not yet at the Rhyn!
1ST OFFICER. Relieve him of his sword!
THE PRINCE. My sword, you say?
[_He pushes him back_.]
Hi, you impertinent boy, who do not even
Know yet the Ten Commandments of the Mark!
Here is your sabre, and the scabbard with it!
[_He tears off the officer's sword together with the belt_.]
1ST OFFICER (_reeling_).
By God, Prince, that's--
THE PRINCE (_threateningly_).
If you don't hold your tongue--
HOHENZOLLERN (_to the officer_).
Silence! You must be mad!
THE PRINCE (_giving up the sword_).
Ho, corporal's guard!
Off to headquarters with the prisoner!
[_To_ KOTTWITZ _and the other officers_.]
Now, gentlemen, the countersign: A knave
Who follows not his general to the fight!--
Now, who dares lag?
KOTTWITZ. You heard. Why thunder more?
It was advice, no more, they sought to give.
KOTTWITZ. On your head be it. I go with you.
THE PRINCE (_somewhat calmed_). Come!
Be it upon my head then. Follow, brothers!
_A room in a village. A gentleman-in-waiting, booted and spurred,
enters. A peasant and his wife are sitting at a table, at work._
God greet you, honest folk! Can you make room
To shelter guests beneath your roof?
THE WIFE. And may one question, whom?
The highest lady in the land, no less.
Her coach broke down outside the village gates,
And since we hear the victory is won
There'll be no need for farther journeying.
The victory won? Heaven!
GENTLEMAN-IN-WAITING. What! You haven't heard?
The Swedish army's beaten hip and thigh;
If not forever, for the year at least
The Mark need fear no more their fire and sword!--
Here comes the mother of our people now.
_The_ ELECTRESS, _pale and distressed, enters with the_ PRINCESS
NATALIE, _followed by various ladies-in-waiting. The others as
ELECTRESS (_on the threshold_).
Bork! Winterfeld! Come! Let me have your arm.
NATALIE (_going to her_).
Oh, mother mine!
LADIES-IN-WAITING. Heavens, how pale! She is faint.
[_They support her._]
ELECTRESS. Here, lead me to a chair, I must sit down.
Dead, said he--dead?
NATALIE. Mother, my precious mother!
ELECTRESS. I'll see this bearer of dread news myself.
CAPTAIN VON MOeRNER _enters, wounded, supported by two troopers. The
ELECTRESS. Oh, herald of dismay, what do you bring?
MOeRNER. Oh, precious Madam, what these eyes of mine
To their eternal grief themselves have seen!
ELECTRESS. So be it! Tell!
MOeRNER. The Elector is no more.
NATALIE. Oh, heaven
Shall such a hideous blow descend on us?
[_She hides her face in her hands._]
ELECTRESS. Give me report of how he came to fall--
And, as the bolt that strikes the wanderer,
In one last flash lights scarlet-bright the world,
So be your tale. When you are done, may night
Close down upon my head.
MOeRNER (_approaching her, led by the two troopers_).
The Prince of Homburg,
Soon as the enemy, hard pressed by Truchsz,
Reeling broke cover, had brought up his troops
To the attack of Wrangel on the plain;
Two lines he'd pierced and, as they broke, destroyed,
When a strong earthwork hemmed his way; and thence
So murderous a fire on him beat
That, like a field of grain, his cavalry,
Mowed to the earth, went down; twixt bush and hill
He needs must halt to mass his scattered corps.
NATALIE (_to the_ ELECTRESS).
Dearest, be strong!
ELECTRESS. Stop, dear. Leave me alone.
MOeRNER. That moment, watching, clear above the dust,
We see our liege beneath the battle-flags
Of Truchsz's regiments ride on the foe.
On his white horse, oh, gloriously he rode,
Sunlit, and lighting the triumphant plain.
Heart-sick with trepidation at the sight
Of him, our liege, bold in the battle's midst,
We gather on a hillock's beetling brow;
When of a sudden the Elector falls,
Horseman and horse, in dust before our eyes.
Two standard-bearers fell across his breast
And overspread his body with their flags.
NATALIE. Oh, mother mine!
FIRST LADY-IN-WAITING. Oh, heaven!
ELECTRESS. Go on, go on!
MOeRNER. At this disastrous spectacle, a pang
Unfathomable seized the Prince's heart;
Like a wild beast, spurred on of hate and vengeance,
Forward he lunged with us at the redoubt.
Flying, we cleared the trench and, at a bound,
The shelt'ring breastwork, bore the garrison down,
Scattered them out across the field, destroyed;
Capturing the Swede's whole panoply of war--
Cannon and standards, kettle-drums and flags.
And had the group of bridges at the Rhyn
Hemmed not our murderous course, not one had lived
Who might have boasted at his father's hearth
At Fehrbellin I saw the hero fall!
ELECTRESS. Triumph too dearly bought! I like it not.
Give me again the purchase-price it cost.
[_She falls in a faint._]
Help, God in heaven! Her senses flee from
[NATALIE _is weeping._]
_The_ PRINCE OF HOMBURG _enters. The others._
THE PRINCE. Oh, Natalie, my dearest!
[_Greatly moved, he presses her hand to his heart._]
NATALIE. Then it is true?
THE PRINCE. Could I but answer No!
Could I but pour my loyal heart's blood out
To call his loyal heart back into life!
NATALIE (_drying her tears_).
Where is his body? Have they found it yet?
THE PRINCE. Until this hour, alas, my labor was
Vengeance on Wrangle only; how could I
Then dedicate myself to such a task?
A horde of men, however, I sent forth
To seek him on the battle-plains of death.
Ere night I do not doubt that he will come.
NATALIE. Who now will lead us in this terrible war
And keep these Swedes in subjugation? Who
Shield us against this world of enemies
His fortune won for us, his high renown?
THE PRINCE (_taking her hand_).
I, lady, take upon myself your cause!
Before the desolate footsteps of your throne
I shall stand guard, an angel with a sword!
The Elector hoped, before the year turned tide,
To see the Marches free. So be it! I
Executor will be of that last will.
NATALIE. My cousin, dearest cousin!
[_She withdraws her hand._]
THE PRINCE. Natalie!
[_A moment's pause._]
What holds the future now in store for you?
NATALIE. After this thunderbolt which cleaves the ground
Beneath my very feet, what can I do?
My father and my precious mother rest
Entombed at Amsterdam; in dust and ashes
Dordrecht, my heritage ancestral lies.
Pressed hard by the tyrannic hosts of Spain
Maurice, my kin of Orange, scarcely knows
How he shall shelter his own flesh and blood.
And now the last support that held my fate's
Frail vine upright falls from me to the earth.
Oh, I am orphaned now a second time!
THE PRINCE (_throwing his arm about her waist_).
Oh, friend, sweet friend, were this dark hour not given
To grief, to be its own, thus would I speak
Oh, twine your branches here about this breast,
Which, blossoming long years in solitude,
Yearns for the wondrous fragrance of your bells.
NATALIE. My dear, good cousin!
THE PRINCE. Will you, will you?
If I might grow into its very marrow!
[_She lays her head upon his breast._]
THE PRINCE. What did you say
NATALIE. Go now!
THE PRINCE (_holding her_). Into its kernel!
Into the heart's deep kernel, Natalie!
[_He kisses her. She tears herself away.]
Dear God, were he for whom we grieve but here
To look upon this union! Could we lift
To him our plea: Father, thy benison!
[_He hides his face in his hands;_ NATALIE _turns again to the_
_A sergeant enters in haste. The others as before._
SERGEANT. By the Almighty God, my Prince, I scarce
Dare bring to you the rumor that's abroad!--
The Elector lives!
THE PRINCE. He lives!
SERGEANT. By heaven above!
Count Sparren brought the joyful news but now!
NATALIE. Lord of my days! Oh, mother, did you hear?
[_She falls down at the feet of the ELECTRESS and embraces her._]
THE PRINCE. But say! Who brings the news
SERGEANT. Count George of Sparren,
Who saw him, hale and sound, with his own eyes
At Hackelwitz amid the Truchszian corps.
THE PRINCE. Quick! Run, old man! And bring him in to me!
[_The_ SERGEANT _goes out._]
COUNT SPARREN _and the Sergeant enter. The others as before._
ELECTRESS. Oh, do not cast me twice down the abyss!
NATALIE. No, precious mother mine!
ELECTRESS. And Frederick lives?
NATALIE (_holding her up with both hands_).
The peaks of life receive you once again!
Here is the officer!
THE PRINCE. Ah, Count von Sparren!
You saw His Highness fresh and well disposed
At Hackelwitz amid the Truchszian corps?
SPARREN. Indeed, Your Highness, in the vicarage court
Where, compassed by his staff, he gave commands
For burial of both the armies' dead.
Dear heaven! On thy breast--
ELECTRESS. My daughter dear!
NATALIE. Oh, but this rapture is well-nigh too great!
[_She buries her face in her aunt's lap._]
THE PRINCE. Did I not see him, when I stood afar
Heading my cavalry, dashed down to earth,
His horse and he shivered by cannon-shot?
SPARREN. Indeed, the horse pitched with his rider down,
But he who rode him, Prince, was not our liege.
THE PRINCE. What? Not our liege?
NATALIE. Oh, wonderful!
[_She rises and remains standing beside the_ ELECTRESS.]
THE PRINCE. Speak then!
Weighty as gold each word sinks to my heart.
SPARREN. Then let me give you tidings of a deed
So moving, ear has never heard its like.
Our country's liege, who, to remonstrance deaf,
Rode his white horse again, the gleaming white
That Froben erstwhile bought for him in England,
Became once more, as ever was the case,
The target for the foe's artillery.
Scarce could the members of his retinue
Within a ring of hundred yards approach
About there and about, a stream of death,
Hurtled grenades and cannon-shot and shell.
They that had lives to save fled to its banks.
He, the strong swimmer, he alone shrank not,
But beckoning his friends, unswervingly
Made toward the high lands whence the river came.
THE PRINCE. By heaven, i' faith! A gruesome sight it was!
SPARREN. Froben, the Master of the Horse who rode
Closest to him of all, called out to me
"Curses this hour on this white stallion's hide,
I bought in London for a stiff round sum!
I'd part with fifty ducats, I'll be bound,
Could I but veil him with a mouse's gray."
With hot misgiving he draws near and cries,
"Highness, your horse is skittish; grant me leave
To give him just an hour of schooling more."
And leaping from his sorrel at the word
He grasps the bridle of our liege's beast.
Our liege dismounts, still smiling, and replies
"As long as day is in the sky, I doubt
If he will learn the art you wish to teach.
But give your lesson out beyond those hills
Where the foe's gunners will not heed his fault."
Thereon he mounts the sorrel, Froben's own,
Returning thence to where his duty calls.
But scarce is Froben mounted on the white
When from a breastwork, oh! a murder-shell
Tears him to earth, tears horse and rider low.
A sacrifice to faithfulness, he falls;
And from him not a sound more did we hear.
THE PRINCE. He is well paid for! Though I had ten lives
I could not lose them in a better cause!
NATALIE. Valiant old Froben!
ELECTRESS (_in tears_). Admirable man!
NATALIE (_also weeping_).
A meaner soul might well deserve our tears!
THE PRINCE. Enough! To business! Where's the Elector then
Is Hackelwitz headquarters?
SPARREN. Pardon, sir!
The Elector has proceeded to Berlin
And begs his generals thence to follow him.
THE PRINCE. What? To Berlin? You mean the war is done?
SPARREN. Indeed, I marvel that all this is news.
Count Horn, the Swedish general, has arrived;
And, following his coming, out of hand
The armistice was heralded through camp.
A conference, if I discern aright
The Marshal's meaning, is attached thereto
Perchance that peace itself may follow soon.
Dear God, how wondrously the heavens clear!
THE PRINCE. Come, let us follow straightway to Berlin.
'Twould speed my journey much if you could spare
A little space for me within your coach?--
I've just a dozen words to write to Kottwitz,
And on the instant I'll be at your side.
[_He sits down and writes._]
ELECTRESS. Indeed, with all my heart!
THE PRINCE (_folds the note and gives it to the Sergeant;
then, as he turns again to the ELECTRESS,
softly lays his arm about NATALIE's waist_).
I have a wish,
A something timorously to confide
I thought I might give vent to on the road.
NATALIE (_tearing herself away_).
Bork! Quick! My scarf, I beg--
ELECTRESS. A wish to me?
Princess, the scarf is round your neck.
THE PRINCE (_to the_ ELECTRESS). Indeed!
Can you not guess?
THE PRINCE. Not a syllable?
What matter? Not a suppliant on earth
Could I deny today, whate'er he ask,
And you, our battle-hero, least of all!
THE PRINCE. Mother! Oh, what did you speak? Those words--
May I interpret them to suit me best?
ELECTRESS. Be off, I say! More, later, as we ride!
Come, let me have your arm.
THE PRINCE. Oh, Caesar Divus!
Lo, I have set a ladder to thy star!
[_He leads the ladies out. Exeunt omnes._]
_Scene: Berlin. Pleasure garden outside the old palace. In the
background the palace chapel with a staircase leading up to it.
Tolling of bells. The church is brightly illuminated. The body of_
FROBEN _is carried by and set on a splendid catafalque. The_ ELECTOR,
FIELD-MARSHAL DOeRFLING, COLONEL HENNINGS, COUNT TRUCHSZ _and several
other colonels and minor officers enter. From the opposite side enter
various officers with dispatches. In the church as well as in the
square are men, women and children of all ages._
ELECTOR. What man soever led the cavalry
Upon the day of battle, and, before
The force of Colonel Hennings could destroy
The bridges of the foe, of his own will
Broke loose, and forced the enemy to flight
Ere I gave order for it, I assert
That man deserves that he be put to death;
I summon him therefore to be court-martialed.--
Prince Homburg, then, you say, was not the man?
TRUCHSZ. No, my liege lord!
ELECTOR. What proof have you of that?
TRUCHSZ. Men of the cavalry can testify,
Who told me of 't before the fight began:
The Prince fell headlong from his horse, and, hurt
At head and thigh, men found him in a church
Where some one bound his deep and dangerous wounds.
ELECTOR. Enough! Our victory this day is great,
And in the church tomorrow will I bear
My gratitude to God. Yet though it were
Mightier tenfold, still would it not absolve
Him through whom chance has granted it to me.
More battles still than this have I to fight,
And I demand subjection to the law.
Whoever led the cavalry to battle,
I reaffirm has forfeited his head,
And to court-martial herewith order him.--
Come, follow me, my friends, into the church.
_The_ PRINCE of HOMBURG _enters bearing three Swedish flags, followed
by_ COLONEL KOTTWITZ, _bearing two,_ COUNT HOHENZOLLERN, CAPTAIN GOLZ,
COUNT REUSS, _each with a flag; and several other officers, corporals,
and troopers carrying flags, kettle-drums and standards._
DOeRFLING (_spying the_ PRINCE OF HOMBURG).
The Prince of Homburg!--Truchsz! What did you mean?
Whence came you, Prince?
THE PRINCE (_stepping forward a few paces_).
From Fehrbellin, my liege,
And bring you thence these trophies of success!
[_He lays the three flags before him; the officers, corporals and
troopers do likewise, each with his own._]
I hear that you are wounded, dangerously?
THE PRINCE (_gaily_). Forgive!
COUNT TRUCHSZ. By heaven, I'm amazed!
THE PRINCE. My sorrel fell before the fight began.
This hand a field-leech bandaged up for me
Scarce merits that you call it wounded.
In spite of it you led the cavalry?
THE PRINCE (_regarding him_).
I? Indeed, I! Must you learn that from me?
Here at your feet I laid the proof of that.
ELECTOR. Relieve him of his sword. He is a prisoner.
DOeRFLING (_taken aback_).
ELECTOR (_stepping among the flags_).
Ah, God greet you, Kottwitz!
TRUCHSZ (_aside_). Curses on it!
KOTTWITZ. By God, I'm utterly--
ELECTOR (_looking at him_). What did you say?
Look, what a crop mown for our glory here!--
That flag is of the Swedish Guards, is't not?
[_He takes up a flag, unwinds it and studies it._]
KOTTWITZ. My liege?
DOeRFLING. My lord and master?
ELECTOR. Ah, indeed!
And from the time of Gustaf Adolf too.
How runs the inscription?
KOTTWITZ. I believe--
DOeRFLING. "_Per aspera ad astra_!"
ELECTOR. That was not verified at Fehrbellin.
My liege, grant me a word.
ELECTOR. What is 't you wish?
Take all the things-flags, kettle-drums and standards,
And hang them in the church. I plan tomorrow
To use them when we celebrate our triumph!
[_The ELECTOR turns to the couriers, takes their dispatches, opens and
That, by the living God, that is too much!
[_After some hesitation, the Colonel takes up his two flags; the other
officers and troopers follow suit. Finally, as the three flags of the_
PRINCE _remain untouched, he takes up these also, so that he is now
AN OFFICER (_stepping up to the_ PRINCE).