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L'Aiglon
by Edmond Rostand
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[Advancing eagerly.]

Pionnet— I'm Pionnet. I represent King Joseph; On his behalf I brought the subsidies.

THE DUKE.

[To FLAMBEAU, busy with the horse.]

Only the snaffle—

FOURTH CONSPIRATOR.

I arranged the guides And relays, and at yonder village, Sire, Disguises—Morchain.

FLAMBEAU.

All right, Whatsyourname.

FOURTH CONSPIRATOR.

Morchain!

FIFTH CONSPIRATOR.

I got the passports. Thankless task! See how the seals are forged! Guibert.

ALL.

[Each mentioning his name.]

Goubeaux— Morchain—Otranto—Pionnet—

FLAMBEAU.

We know.

ONE OF THE CONSPIRATORS.

Your Father had a memory for names.

SIXTH CONSPIRATOR.

[Hurrying up.]

Borowski, Sire! It was my glorious task To hire the uniform the Countess wears!

THE DUKE.

Enough! Enough! I shall remember all, And best of all the one who has not spoken! Your name?

[The man spoken to turns, and the DUKE recognises the ATTACHE.]

What! You here!

THE ATTACHE.

Not as partisan. Only as friend. Indeed no slight occasion Was needed—

FLAMBEAU.

[To the DUKE.]

Mount!

THE DUKE.

The dawn is in the east, I seize the reins, and—Alea jacta est!

THE ATTACHE.

My Lord, if I have sought this rendezvous, 'Twas to defend you—

THE DUKE.

To defend me, sir?

THE ATTACHE.

I feared you were in danger—

THE DUKE.

Danger?—What?

THE ATTACHE.

The rogue Tiburtius, whom I hope to pink, Sneaked from the ball and never sent his seconds, So I ran after him, and saw him meet Another rogue, and heard the two conspire To kill you at some rendezvous.

THE DUKE.

The Countess!

THE ATTACHE.

The rendezvous was here, as you had told me. I came. All's well. I go.

THE DUKE.

The rendezvous Was in the hunting-lodge. They'll kill the Countess! We must go back!

ALL.

No! No!

A CONSPIRATOR.

Oh, why?

MARMONT.

The Countess—?

PROKESCH.

She can unmask.

THE DUKE.

Alas, you little know her. She'd die ten times to let me win ten minutes. Come back!

VOICES.

No!

THE DUKE.

But I cannot—Ah, come back!— I cannot let them kill her in my absence!

OTRANTO.

Our efforts wasted!

MARMONT.

If we re-conspire They will not let you fly.

ANOTHER CONSPIRATOR.

And France?

ANOTHER.

The Empire?

THE DUKE.

Back!

MARMONT.

Forward!

THE DUKE.

Back!

MARMONT.

You cast away the crown!

THE DUKE.

To leave her were to cast my soul away!

MARMONT.

One sometimes has to sacrifice—

THE DUKE.

A woman?

MARMONT.

Risk—for a woman—all the chance of triumph—!

FLAMBEAU.

He's a French Prince! That's certain, anyhow!

OTRANTO.

We must abduct him!

FLAMBEAU.

Back!

OTRANTO.

My coach is here.

FLAMBEAU.

I'll run you through the body if you touch him!

THE DUKE.

Back! or with whip uplifted I will charge After the fashion of Murat, my uncle!

PROKESCH.

Stand back!

THE DUKE.

Help, Prokesch!

VOICES.

We shall have to force him.

THE DUKE.

[To the ATTACHE.]

And you, who say you came in my defence, It is by robbing me of faith and scruple, They would assassinate me truly! Now, defend me!

THE ATTACHE.

No, Sire! begone!

THE DUKE.

What, you! this base advice?

THE ATTACHE.

Go, Sire, I will defend the woman.

THE DUKE.

You? You cannot.

THE ATTACHE.

Not as partisan; as friend.

THE DUKE.

It would ensure my flight.

THE ATTACHE.

Begone, my Lord. Whate'er I do is for the Countess.

THE DUKE.

Yes, But I—

PROKESCH.

I'll lead him.

THE ATTACHE.

Prokesch knows the way.

THE DUKE.

[Still hesitating.]

I cannot—

VOICES.

Yes!

MARMONT.

The better way!

VOICES.

Begone.

THE COUNTESS CAMERATA.

[Entering, still in her disguise.]

Unhappy boy! Not gone!

THE DUKE.

You!—but they told me— How could I go?

THE COUNTESS.

On horseback.

THE DUKE.

But your life—!

THE COUNTESS.

A woman's life! What loss would that have been?

THE DUKE.

But—

THE COUNTESS.

You should have abandoned me.

THE DUKE.

But think!

THE COUNTESS.

Think of the time you've lost!

THE DUKE.

Your risks—?

THE COUNTESS.

What risks?

THE DUKE.

And all our fears on your behalf—

THE COUNTESS.

What fears? Was not your Flambeau, there, my fencing-master?

THE DUKE.

The man—?

THE COUNTESS.

Begone!

THE DUKE.

What did you do?

THE COUNTESS.

Oh, nothing. Of course he drew his sword, and I drew mine.

THE DUKE.

You fought for me!

THE COUNTESS.

"I did not know," he muttered, "The Corsican's son had so much skill, I think He knew it not himself"—But then my voice—

THE DUKE.

Oh! You are wounded!

THE COUNTESS.

Scratched across the fingers. My voice betrayed me. Back he sprang! "A woman!" "Defend yourself!" said I, "I should be laughed at, For you are not the Chevalier d'Eon!" "Defend yourself, I'm a Napoleon!" Feeling my blade slip snake-like over his, He lunges, and I make—

FLAMBEAU.

Our secret stroke!

THE COUNTESS.

One! Two!

FLAMBEAU.

That must have been a rough surprise!

THE COUNTESS.

'Twas a surprise from which he'll not recover.

THE DUKE.

Heavens! And the girl—!

THE COUNTESS.

What does she matter now?

THE DUKE.

But, did she come?

THE COUNTESS.

Well—No, then! When the door Was broken open by a furious fist, I was alone. She had not come.

THE DUKE.

That's well.

THE COUNTESS.

But servants came; and if I were arrested All would be known too soon. I lost my head. I stumbled out. I heard I know not whom Sending to fetch the Prefect of Police; And so I fled upon your saddle-horse. I've killed it—I'm exhausted—

THE DUKE.

Look! She swoons!

THE COUNTESS.

After what I had done I hoped at least To hear from witnesses that you were gone!

A CONSPIRATOR.

You were pursued—And in a moment—

THE DUKE.

Take care of her. Conceal her in the hut.

A CONSPIRATOR.

Yes.

THE COUNTESS.

Go!

THE DUKE.

But are you better?

THE COUNTESS.

Not yet gone? For God's sake, go! Ah! could your Father see you Waiting, enfeebled, tender, hesitating, With what contempt he'd shrug his epaulettes!

THE DUKE.

Good-bye!

FLAMBEAU.

We're caught! Too late!

SEDLINZKY.

[Entering with police officers; he advances to the COUNTESS, whom he mistakes for the DUKE.]

Too late, my Lord.

THE COUNTESS.

[Furiously, to the DUKE.]

Ah, Temporizer! Dreamer! Cold Idealist!

SEDLINZKY.

[Who has turned to the person addressed by the COUNTESS and recognized the DUKE, starts, and, addressing him.]

Your Highness—

[He turns to the COUNTESS.]

Your High—

[To the DUKE.]

Your High—

FLAMBEAU.

He's puzzled!

SEDLINZKY.

So that's it!

FLAMBEAU.

You've been drinking. You see double.

SEDLINZKY.

Count Prokesch, I must ask you to retire.

[PROKESCH exit.]

FLAMBEAU.

We shan't be crowned just yet by Uncle Fesch!

SEDLINZKY.

[Indicating the ATTACHE.]

Lead off this gentleman. You, sir, in this? Your Government shall hear of it.

THE DUKE.

I swear He was not of the plot!

THE ATTACHE.

Forgive me, Sire, Since they're arresting us I take my share.

THE DUKE.

[To the ATTACHE, as he is led off.]

Good-bye, then.

[To SEDLINZKY.]

Now, policeman, show your zeal.

SEDLINZKY.

[To his men, pointing to the COUNTESS.]

Take the false Prince wherever—she—belongs.

THE DUKE.

[Haughtily.]

With all the honors due to me!

THE COUNTESS.

That voice! Ah, hapless child! You would have made a leader!

[She is led off.]

SEDLINZKY.

As for the rest, we'll shut our eyes: Verb. sap.

A CONSPIRATOR.

I think—

MARMONT.

To serve the cause—

ANOTHER CONSPIRATOR.

We'd better go.

ANOTHER.

Reserve our strength—

ANOTHER.

For later—

ANOTHER.

Bide our time.

[All disappear.]

FLAMBEAU.

[To SEDLINZKY.]

Open your eyes again. Here's one more left.

THE DUKE.

Oh, fly for my sake!

FLAMBEAU.

Yours?

SEDLINZKY.

[To a policeman.]

'Tis he!

POLICEMAN.

Perhaps. Wanted in Paris.

SEDLINZKY.

How can we make sure!

[The POLICEMAN hands him a paper, which he reads.]

"Nose ordinary, eyes ordinary, Mouth ordinary—" Extraordinary!

[Watching FLAMBEAU.]

Two bullets in his—back.

FLAMBEAU.

A lie!

SEDLINZKY.

Of course.

FLAMBEAU.

I'm lost. All right; I'll have my little joke, And deck myself in flowers ere dropping out.

SEDLINZKY.

You answer to the name of Seraph Flambeau.

FLAMBEAU.

No, sir! That name's not good enough to die with. I'll be drum-major in the Dance of Death; Not merely Seraph, nor Flambeau, the torch. I broaden! I'm Archangel Chandelier!

THE DUKE.

Will you deliver him to France?

SEDLINZKY.

Yes.

THE DUKE.

Like a thief? You have no right, sir—!

SEDLINZKY.

But we'll take it.

THE DUKE.

Heavens!

FLAMBEAU.

'Twas getting past a joke that I should never Be present when they wanted to behead me.

SEDLINZKY.

Also his decoration is illegal. Take off that ribbon!

FLAMBEAU.

Take it. But it grows As often as I choose on my old hide.

[Unseen by the others he stabs himself.]

SEDLINZKY.

Take off his cloak!

[When the cloak is removed, the spot of blood shows like the ribbon of the Legion of Honor on FLAMBEAU'S shirt.]

What's that?

FLAMBEAU.

Looks rather well!

SEDLINZKY.

Come! Make an end!

FLAMBEAU.

[To the DUKE.]

My Lord, this leaves me not Till death!

SEDLINZKY.

What! He has pinned another on!

FLAMBEAU.

You cannot make an end! I've pinned another; And when that's gone, another, and another!

THE DUKE.

What will they do?

FLAMBEAU.

What did they do to Ney?

THE DUKE.

Impossible—!

FLAMBEAU.

A little firing-party— Rrrrrr!

THE DUKE.

Ah!

FLAMBEAU.

I always laughed at bullets; But French ones? Never! None of that, Lisette!

THE DUKE.

You will not give him up?

SEDLINZKY.

Without delay!

FLAMBEAU.

Seraph, your wings are clipped; good-night, my friend!

SEDLINZKY.

March!

THE DUKE.

Look! He staggers! Flambeau!—Look!

POLICEMAN.

He's falling!

FLAMBEAU.

[On his knees; knocking off the policeman's hat.]

The Duke is speaking! Take that stovepipe off!

THE DUKE.

Flambeau, you've killed yourself!

FLAMBEAU.

No! I've pinned on An everlasting ribbon of the Legion!

THE DUKE.

I'll not allow one of your men to touch him: What! the clean soldier touched by soiled policemen! Leave us alone together. Go!—Begone!

FLAMBEAU.

My Lord—!

SEDLINZKY.

[To a policeman, pointing to the old man of the hut.]

Lead off that peasant.

[The old man is led off.]

THE DUKE.

I'll await My regiment. 'Tis summoned here at dawn. The standards shall salute him, and the drums, And my own soldiers shall uplift his body.

SEDLINZKY.

[To a policeman.]

Where are the horses?

THE POLICEMAN.

[Aside to him.]

Gone.

SEDLINZKY.

Then let him be.

[To the DUKE.]

Highness, we cede.

THE DUKE.

Begone!

SEDLINZKY.

I understand—

THE DUKE.

I turn you out.

SEDLINZKY.

My Lord!

THE DUKE.

I turn you out! For on the field of Wagram I'm at home!

[SEDLINZKY and the policeman go.]

FLAMBEAU.

It's funny, all the same, that on this field Where I was wounded for the Father, now I perish for the son.

THE DUKE.

No! not for me! It is for him: I am not worth your death.

FLAMBEAU.

For him?

THE DUKE.

For him! This is the field of Wagram.

FLAMBEAU.

Ah, yes!—I die—

THE DUKE.

Do you not recognize Wagram, the field, the hill, the pointed steeple?

FLAMBEAU.

Yes!

THE DUKE.

Do you see the Austrian cannon yonder All painted yellow, belching fire and smoke?

FLAMBEAU.

The battle—!

THE DUKE.

Do you hear the noise of it?

FLAMBEAU.

I die at Wagram! Ah! I die at Wagram!

THE DUKE.

Do you not see the wounded horse rush by, Dragging his slaughtered rider by the stirrups? We are at Wagram! 'Tis a solemn moment. Davoust has come to turn Neusiedel's flank; The Emperor has raised his little spy-glass; You have been wounded by a bayonet, And I have brought you to this little hill.

FLAMBEAU.

But the light cavalry? Haven't they charged?

THE DUKE.

Yonder the blue, striped with white shoulder-belts: Those are the Infantry.

FLAMBEAU.

With General Reille!

THE DUKE.

The Emperor should send Oudinot to help! He lets his left be crushed!

FLAMBEAU.

Ah! that's his cunning!

THE DUKE.

They fight! They fight! Macdonald hastens up, And wounded Massena drives slowly by.

FLAMBEAU.

If the Archduke deploys his right he's lost.

THE DUKE.

All's well!

FLAMBEAU.

They fight?

THE DUKE.

The Prince of Auersburg Is taken by the Polish Lancers of the Guard.

FLAMBEAU.

The Emperor? What's the Emperor doing?

THE DUKE.

Watching.

FLAMBEAU.

Is the Archduke caught in the little 'un's trap?

THE DUKE.

The distant dust-cloud yonder is Nansouty.

FLAMBEAU.

Has the Archduke not yet deployed his right?

THE DUKE.

The smoke is Lauriston—

FLAMBEAU.

But the Archduke?

THE DUKE.

Now he deploys his right.

FLAMBEAU.

His goose is cooked.

THE DUKE.

Here come the guns!

FLAMBEAU.

I thirst!—I stifle—Drink! What—is—the—Emperor doing?

THE DUKE.

With a smile He shuts his little spy-glass.

FLAMBEAU.

[Closing his eyes.]

Victory!

THE DUKE.

Flambeau!

[He looks at him, and moves away a little.]

This dying soldier frightens me. Yet 'tis not strange a dying grenadier Should fall asleep upon this field of glory. The field is well acquainted with his likes.

[He bends over him and cries.]

Yes! Victory! The soldiers toss their shakos!

FLAMBEAU.

[In his death-rattle.]

I thirst—!

DISTANT VOICES.

I thirst!—I thirst!

THE DUKE.

[Shuddering.]

What are those echoes?

A VOICE.

I thirst—!

THE DUKE.

O God!

THE SAME VOICES.

[Very distant.]

I die—I die!

THE DUKE.

[With horror.]

His voice Reverberates beneath the lurid sky.

THE VOICES.

I die—!

THE DUKE.

I understand! His cries of death Are, for this vale which knows them all by heart, As the first measures of a well-known song. The plain takes up the moaning death has hushed.

THE PLAIN.

Ah—! Ah—!

THE DUKE.

I understand! complaints and sobs!— 'Tis Wagram's field, remembering aloud!

THE PLAIN.

Ah—! Ah—!

THE DUKE.

[Looking at FLAMBEAU.]

How still he lies!—I must begone! For 'tis as if he'd fallen in the battle!

[And bending over him he murmurs.]

Thus and no otherwise they must have looked! The uniform—the blood—!

[He is about to go, but suddenly, with horror.]

Another! There! There—! Everywhere—! The same accusing shapes! They're dying thus as far as eye can reach!

THE PLAIN.

Alas—!

THE DUKE.

I hear them speaking in the gloom!

VOICES.

My brow bleeds—! My leg is dead—! My arm hangs loose!— I'm crushed beneath this gun!

THE DUKE.

The battle-field! I've willed it: it has risen.

VOICES.

Water!—Water Upon my gash! Ah! tell me what I've broken! Ah! do not let me perish in this ditch!

THE DUKE.

Forests of arms are quivering in the plain; I tread upon a field of epaulettes.

A VOICE.

Help!

THE DUKE.

And I slip on leather shoulder-belts!

A VOICE.

Dragoon, reach me your hands!

ANOTHER.

They're shot away!

THE DUKE.

Ah! whither turn?

VOICES.

The ravens!

THE DUKE.

Horrible! The wooden soldiers ranged upon my table!

THE VOICES.

Horses have trampled on me! Drink!—The ravens! I'm dying!—How I suffer!—God forgive me! The ravens!—Help!

THE DUKE.

Alas! Where are the Eagles?

THE VOICES.

Water!—This brook runs blood!—Yet let me drink! I thirst!—I die!—God's curse!—I'm hurt!—Mother!

THE DUKE.

Ah!

A VOICE.

For God's sake! put a bullet through my head!

THE DUKE.

Ah! Now I understand my wakeful nights—

A VOICE.

Curse the Light Cavalry! They're base assassins!

THE DUKE.

The racking cough that wakes me in a sweat!

A VOICE.

I cannot drag my leg! Oh, wrench it off!

THE DUKE.

The blood I spit! I know whose blood it is!

THE PLAIN.

Ah!—Ah—!

THE DUKE.

And all the arms! And all the arms I see! The handless wrists! The hands with shattered fingers! The monstrous harvest which a mighty wind Bends me-ward with a curse! Oh! Mercy! Mercy! Old Cuirassier, groaning with outstretched hands— Horrible agonized hands with bloody wrists!— Mercy! Poor little Private of the Guards, Who slowly raise your livid face to mine! Look not upon me with those glazing eyes! Why do you creep upon me through the gloom? God! 'Tis as though you strove to utter cries! Why do you all suck in a mighty breath? Why do you open horror-sated lips? What will you cry?—What?—What?

ALL THE VOICES.

Long live the Emperor!

THE DUKE.

Ah! Pardon, for the glory's sake!—I thank you. I understand. I am the expiation. All was not paid, and I complete the price. 'Twas fated I should seek his battle-field, And here, above the multitudinous dead, Be the white victim, growing daily whiter, Renouncing, praying, asking but to suffer, Yearning toward heaven, like sacrificial incense! And while betwixt the heavens and this field I am outstretched with all my soul and body, Father, I feel the shuddering furrows rise, I feel the hill upheaved beneath my feet To lift me gently to the stooping heavens! 'Tis meet and right the battle-field should offer This sacrifice, that henceforth it may bear Pure and unstained its name of Victory. Wagram, behold me! Ransom of old days, Son, offered for, alas! how many sons! Above the dreadful haze wherein thou stirrest, Uplift me, Wagram, in thy scarlet hands! It must be so! I know it! Feel it! Will it! The breath of death has rustled through my hair! The shudder of death has passed athwart my soul! I am all white: a sacramental Host! What more reproaches can they hurl, O Father, Against our hapless fate?—Oh, hush! I add In silence Schoenbrunn to Saint Helena!— 'Tis done!—But if the Eaglet is resigned To perish like the innocent, yielding swan, Nailed in the gloom above some lofty gate, He must become the high and holy signal That scares the ravens and calls back the eagles. There must be no more meanings in the field, Nor dreadful writhings in the underwood. Bear on thy wings, O whirlwind of the plain, The shouts of conquerors and songs of triumph!

[A proud and joyous clamor arises in the distance.]

I've changed the meanings into trumpet blasts!

[The wind wafts vague sounds of trumpet-calls.]

I've earned the right to see what crawled and writhed, Suddenly leap into a phantom charge!

[Noise as of a cavalcade. The VOICES, which before were lugubrious, now call to each other with commands and signals.]

THE VOICES.

Forward!

[The drums of the wind beat the charge.]

THE DUKE.

The pomp and pageantry of battle, The dust that's raised by charging cavalry!

VOICES.

Charge!

THE DUKE.

The wild laughter of the fierce Hussars!

VOICES.

[In a shout of epic laughter.]

Ha! Ha!

THE DUKE.

Now, Goddess of the hundred mouths, Victory, from whose lips I've torn the gag, Sing in the distance!

VOICES.

[Far away.]

Form battalions!

THE DUKE.

[Upright in the first glow of dawn.]

Glory! O God, to battle in this blaze!

VOICES.

Fire!—Half-columns, by your right, advance!

THE DUKE.

To battle in this tumult you commanded! O Father! Father!—

[Amid the noise of battle, which is dying away in the distance, a haughty, metallic voice is heard, preceded and followed by a roll of drums.]

THE VOICE.

Officers—and—men!

THE DUKE.

[In wild delirium, drawing his sword.]

I come!—I fight!—Laugh, fife! and banners wave! Fix bayonets! Fall on the whitecoats! Forward!

[And while the dream-sounds die away toward the right, swept by the wind, all of a sudden, on the left, a real military band bursts out; and abruptly, like the awaking out of a dream, there is the contrast between the furious battle-music of the French, and a tame march of Schubert's Austrian and dance-like, drawing near in the rosy glow of the morning.]

THE DUKE.

[Who has turned with a shudder.]

What white thing marching through the dawning day? The Austrian Infantry!

[Beside himself, and urging along imaginary Grenadiers.]

Ha! Up! and at them! The enemy!—Fall on them!—-Crush them! Follow on! Follow on! We'll pass across their bodies!

[With his sword high he rushes at the first ranks of an Austrian regiment which appears on the road.]

AN OFFICER.

[Throwing himself on the DUKE and stopping him.]

For God's sake. Prince!—This is your regiment!

THE DUKE.

[As if awakening.]

Ah—? This is my—?

[He falls back; passes his hand across his forehead, and gazes wildly at the white soldiers who march past to the sound of the fife. He sees his destiny, and accepts it. The arm he had raised for the charge sinks slowly, his fist falls on his hip; his sword falls into the regulation position, and, stiff as an automaton, with a toneless and mechanical voice, the voice of an Austrian officer, he cries:]

Halt! Front turn! Eyes right!

THE CURTAIN FALLS AS THE DRILL BEGINS.



THE SIXTH ACT

The DUKE'S bedroom at Schoenbrunn. The walls are covered with Gobelin tapestry. Through folding-doors on the left there is a glimpse of the china-cabinet. There are also folding-doors on the right and in the centre. Empire furniture. A little camp-bedstead stands almost in the middle of the room. Many bunches of violets are scattered about.

The DUKE is discovered buried in a deep arm-chair, his fingers idly toying with a large bunch of violets. The ARCHDUCHESS is offering him a glass of milk. DOCTOR MALFATTI is seated at the back of the room.

THE DUKE.

Again? Well, there, then.

THE ARCHDUCHESS.

No, you've left a little.

THE DUKE.

You?—Why, I thought you ill!

THE ARCHDUCHESS.

They've let me come. Thank heaven!—And you?

THE DUKE.

Why, if you leave your sick-bed I must be worse indeed.

THE ARCHDUCHESS.

Come, now, that's nonsense! You know you're better.

[She examines the cup the DUKE hands her.]

There, that's finished.

She calls the DOCTOR, who has been seated at the back of the room.]

His Highness drank his milk.

THE DOCTOR.

I'm very glad.

THE ARCHDUCHESS.

How good it was of him!

THE DOCTOR.

How good!

THE DUKE.

How hard— When I had dreamed of history's reward, And when ambition seared my soul—How hard, To be content with praise for drinking milk!

[To the violets on his pillow.]

Oh, ball of freshness laid upon my fever. Dear flowers that bring the Spring into my room—!

THE ARCHDUCHESS.

All bring you violets now?

THE DUKE.

Ah, yes! Already.

THE ARCHDUCHESS.

Hush! As an act of gratitude to God For saving us—since both of us are better— I am to take the Sacrament this morning, I think—I hope—Franz, will you not come, too?

THE DUKE.

[After a long look at her.]

Ah, now I see the pious trick you'd play me! This is the end!

[He rises.]

THE ARCHDUCHESS.

I knew you'd say so!

[With forced playfulness.]

Think! The etiquette—!

THE DUKE.

The—etiquette?

THE ARCHDUCHESS.

You know You cannot be deceived. When Austrian Princes Receive the—

THE DUKE.

Last—?

THE ARCHDUCHESS.

Oh! not that mournful word!— All the Imperial Family must be present.

THE DUKE.

That's true.

THE ARCHDUCHESS.

But we're alone! I've had an altar Placed in that cabinet; and look about you: No sign of an Archduke or an Archduchess. The Prelate says the Mass for you and me; 'Tis but the ordinary Mass; you see This Sacrament is not—

THE DUKE.

The last. 'Tis true.

THE ARCHDUCHESS.

Well? Are you coming? Hark! The Mass begins!

THE DUKE.

'Tis true, the illustrious audience should be present.

THE ARCHDUCHESS.

We've but the Prelate and the Acolyte.

THE DUKE.

So, then, I am to have a respite—?

[They go out.]

[As soon as they have disappeared, the opposite door opens and GENERAL HARTMANN ushers in the COURT.]

HARTMANN.

Come! Place yourselves here; and when, with humbled eyes The Duke is prostrate to receive the Host—

ONE OF THE PRINCES.

We'll place ourselves—

A PRINCESS.

[To a child.]

Hush!

HARTMANN.

In that awful moment When nothing can distract a Christian's thoughts I'll softly ope the door. For one brief second Your Highnesses will see his golden head; Then I shall close the door, and thus he'll rise, Not knowing he received, before the Court, As usage dictates, the Viaticum.

METTERNICH.

Silence!

PROKESCH.

[Who has just brought in the COUNTESS and THERESA.]

They have permitted me to place you Behind the Imperial Family, and thus, Above the heads of Princes bent in prayer, O'er whom mysterious fate is hovering, And pallid children clasping pitiful hands, For the last time you'll see the dying Duke.

THERESA.

Oh, thank you, thank you, sir!

HARTMANN.

Let no one stir When the door opens!

MARIA LOUISA.

Ah! The sacring-bell!

A PRINCESS.

It is the Elevation!

[All kneel.]

HARTMANN.

Gently!

THE COUNTESS CAMERATA.

[To METTERNICH.]

Well, Prince? Is there nothing you regret?

METTERNICH.

No, nothing. I did my duty. Madam—often suffered While doing it—for my country's weal, my master's, And in defence of ancient privilege.

THE COUNTESS.

You've no regrets?

METTERNICH.

No. None.

MARIA LOUISA.

The Agnus Dei.

[To HARTMANN, who very gently opens the door a very little way and peers through.]

Let not the door creak as you open it!

METTERNICH.

None. But he was a noble Prince. I kneel To-day not only to the Lamb of God!

HARTMANN.

The Prelate has uncovered the Ciborium!

ALL.

Oh!

HARTMANN.

Rigid silence! I'm about to open!

ALL.

[With emotion.]

Oh!

HARTMANN.

I open!

[He silently thrusts the wings of the folding-doors open. All the COURT is prostrate. There is a vague glimpse of candle light. A moment's pause of profound emotion and silence. THERESA slowly rises to look across the kneeling forms; she looks and sees.]

THERESA.

[Amid the sobs which overmaster her.]

Oh! to behold him thus!

[Movement. GENERAL HARTMANN has swiftly closed the doors. Everybody has risen.]

HARTMANN.

Retire! He heard the sobbing!

[All have hurried toward the door on the right, but the door on the left opens quickly; the DUKE appears on the threshold and sees them all standing before him. After a long look which takes in the situation:]

THE DUKE.

Ah!—I see.

[He draws himself up, and comes toward them with sudden majesty.]

I thank the breaking heart that broke the silence; Let her who wept feel no remorse for weeping: They had no right to rob me of my death.

[To the ARCHDUKES and ARCHDUCHESSES, who withdraw respectfully.]

But leave me now, my Austrian family! "My son was born a Frenchman; until death Let him remember that." And I remember.

[To the PRINCES who are leaving.]

Farewell.

[To the others.]

Whose was the breaking heart?

THERESA.

[Who has remained humbly on her knees in a corner.]

My Lord—!

THE DUKE.

[Approaching her, and speaking with great tenderness.]

You are not very reasonable! Once Over your book you wept to see me live An Austrian Prince with flowers in my coat; And now you weep because that life has killed me.

THERESA.

The tryst—

THE DUKE.

Well?

THERESA.

I was there.

THE DUKE.

Alas, poor soul!

THERESA.

Yes—

THE DUKE.

Why?

THERESA.

Because I love you.

THE DUKE.

[To the COUNTESS.]

Madam, You hid this from me. Why?

THE COUNTESS.

Because I love you.

THE DUKE.

[To THERESA and the COUNTESS.]

Who brought you both to see me?

[THERESA and the COUNTESS look at the ARCHDUCHESS.]

THE DUKE.

[To the ARCHDUCHESS.]

You?

THE ARCHDUCHESS.

Myself.

THE DUKE.

Why so much thoughtfulness?

THE ARCHDUCHESS.

Because I love you.

THE DUKE.

Women have loved me as they love a child—

[The THREE WOMEN make a gesture of protest.]

Ah, yes! The child they pity, spoil, and shelter— And with maternal fingers, on my brow Still sought the golden curls which Lawrence painted.

THE COUNTESS.

No, no! We knew the struggles of your soul!

THE DUKE.

And history itself will not record The Prince whose soul was seared with all ambitions, But see the solemn, rosy, fair-haired child Tricked out in laces in his little goat-cart, Holding the globe as 'twere an air-balloon.

MARIA LOUISA.

Speak to me! I am here! Give me a word To soothe remorse, for through no fault of mine I was too small beside your mighty dreams. I have the thriftless conscience of a bird! The tinkling bells that jangle in my brain Have never ceased till now. Look at me now! Speak to me now! Forgive me now!

THE DUKE.

O God! Inspire me with the deep, yet tender word With which a son forgives his mother.

MARIA LOUISA.

Franz, The cradle which you asked them for last night—

A LACKEY.

'Tis here.

[He goes out to fetch it.]

THE DUKE.

[Looking at METTERNICH.]

Ah, my Lord Chancellor, I die Too soon for you; and you should weep.

METTERNICH.

My Lord—!

THE DUKE.

I was your weapon and my death disarms you! Europe, which never dared to say you nay, When you were he who could unchain the Eaglet, Listening to-morrow, will take heart, and say "I do not hear it stirring in its cage!"

METTERNICH.

My Lord! My Lord!

[The great enamelled cradle is brought in.]

THE DUKE.

The cradle Paris gave me! My splendid cradle, Prudhon's masterpiece! Amidst its gold and mother-o'-pearl I slept, A babe, whose christening was a coronation. Place it beside this little bed, whereon My Father slept when victory fanned his slumbers. Closer! until its laces graze the sheets. Alas! how near my cradle to my death-bed!

[ He points to the gap between the cradle and the bed.]

And all my life lies in that narrow space!

THERESA.

Oh!—

THE DUKE.

In that gap, too narrow and too dark, Fate ne'er let fall a single pin of glory. Lay me upon the bed.

DIETRICHSTEIN.

How pale he grows!

THE DUKE.

Ah, I was greater in my cradle, than I am upon this bed; and women rocked me— Yes, I had three to rock me, and they sang Their strange old songs: dear songs of Mistress Marchand! Oh, who will lull me now with cradle-songs?

MARIA LOUISA.

Is not your mother here to sing to you?

THE DUKE.

Do you know any songs of France?

MARIA LOUISA.

Why—no.

THE DUKE.

[To THERESA.]

And you?

THERESA.

Perhaps.

THE DUKE.

Oh, sing below your breath. "The rain falls, Shepherdess" and "May is come," And sing "Upon the bridge that spans the Rhone," That I may sleep, rocked on the people's fancy. There was a song I used to love; sing that:— There was a little man, And he was clad in gray—

THERESA.

Break, tender heart, as broke the heart of iron—

THE COUNTESS.

A crystal, shattered by a brazen echo—

THE ARCHDUCHESS.

A harp-string, shattered by a battle-song—

THERESA.

A lily sinking silently on laurels.

THE DOCTOR.

My Lord is very ill. Stand more apart.

THERESA.

Farewell, Francois—!

THE ARCHDUCHESS.

Farewell, Franz!

THE COUNTESS.

Farewell, Bonaparte!

MARIA LOUISA.

Alas, his head grows heavy on my shoulder!

THE ARCHDUCHESS.

Duke of Reichstadt!

THE COUNTESS.

King of Rome!

THERESA.

Poor child!

THE DUKE.

[Deliriously.]

The horses! horses!

THE PRELATE [WAGNER].

Let us fall to prayer!

THE DUKE.

Horses! that I may ride to meet my father!

MARIA LOUISA.

Will you not let me wipe away your tears?

THE DUKE.

No, for the Victories, my sisters—Lo! I see them! see them! in a headlong flight Draw nigh to lave their glory in my tears!

MARIA LOUISA.

What are you saying?

THE DUKE.

Nothing. Did I speak? Hush! Father, that's our secret: yours and mine!— My funeral will be ugly. Mumbling women; Lackeys with torches; droning Capuchins; And then they'll lock me in their crypt—and then—

MARIA LOUISA.

Tell me your sufferings, child!

THE DUKE.

Oh! Superhuman!— And then, official mourning for six weeks.

THE COUNTESS.

He snatches at the cradle's lace, as if To make a winding sheet—

THE DUKE.

It will be ugly— I must remember how they christen better In Paris than they bury in Vienna. General Hartmann!

HARTMANN.

Prince!

THE DUKE.

Yes—while I wait For death, I'll rock my childhood—

[He hands GENERAL HARTMANN a book from under his pillow.]

Here—

[GENERAL HARTMANN takes the book. The DUKE falls to rocking the cradle.]

I rock My past—I rock my past—As though The Duke of Reichstadt rocked the King of Rome. General—I marked a place—

HARTMANN.

I see it.

THE DUKE.

Good. While I'm dying, read aloud—

MARIA LOUISA.

No, no! You shall not die!

THE DUKE.

You may begin to read.

HARTMANN.

[Standing at the foot of the bed and reading.]

"Toward seven o'clock the Calvary appear, Forming the head of the procession—"

MARIA LOUISA.

[Falling on her knees in a paroxysm of sobs.]

Franz!

HARTMANN.

"The people, shaken with great sobs of joy, Utter a shout:—'Long live the King of Rome!'—"

MARIA LOUISA.

Franz!

HARTMANN.

"And the guns salute; the Cardinal Receives their Majesties, and so the pageant Moves up the aisle as ancient rules prescribe. The Ushers, Kings-at-Arms, their chief, the pages, The various officers of the staff, the—"

[Noticing that the DUKE has closed his eyes, he stops.]

THE DUKE.

[Opening his eyes.]

Yes?

HARTMANN. "The Chamberlains, the Prefects of the palace, Ministers, Masters of the Horse—"

THE DUKE.

[With failing voice.]

Go on.

HARTMANN.

"Marshals of France, Grand Eagles; and Princess Aldobrandini holds the chrisom-cloth; The Countesses Vilain and de Beauvau Bring in the ewer and the salt-cellar—"

THE DUKE.

[Still paler and growing rigid.]

Read on, sir. Mother—mother—lift me up.

[MARIA LOUISA, assisted by the PRELATE and DOCTOR MALFATTI, raises him on his pillows.]

HARTMANN.

"Then the Grand Duke, who took on this occasion The Austrian Emperor's place as Sponsor: then Queen Hortense, and the Imperial Godmother; Lastly, the King of Rome, borne by Her Grace, The Duchess of Montesquieu. His Majesty, Whose healthy mien the crowd observed with joy, Wore a great silver mantle, lined with ermine, Whose train His Grace the Duke of Valmy bore. Princes—"

THE DUKE.

Omit the Princes.

HARTMANN.

[Turning over a page.]

"Kings—"

THE DUKE.

Omit The Kings. The end, sir; read the end—

HARTMANN.

[Turning over several pages.]

"And when—"

THE DUKE.

I cannot hear you. Louder.

DOCTOR MALFATTI.

[To WAGNER.]

The last agony.

HARTMANN.

[Raising his voice.]

"And when the Herald thrice within the choir Had cried 'Long live the King of Rome!' before They handed back the baby to its nurse, The Emperor gently took it from—"

[He hesitates, with a glance at MARIA LOUISA.]

THE DUKE.

[With infinite nobility and placing his hand with tender forgiveness on the head of MARIA LOUISA, who is kneeling at his side.]

The Empress!

HARTMANN.

"And raised it to receive the acclamation. The loud—"

THE DUKE.

[Whose head drops.]

Mamma!

MARIA LOUISA.

[Throwing herself across his body.]

Francois!

THE DUKE.

[Opening his eyes.]

Napoleon!

[He sinks back.]

HARTMANN.

"The loud Te Deum filled the sanctuary. And all that night, throughout the realm of France, With equal pomp, solemnity, and joy—"

DOCTOR MALFATTI.

[Putting his hand on the GENERAL'S arm.]

Dead!

[Silence. The GENERAL closes the book.]

METTERNICH.

Clothe him in his Austrian uniform.

CURTAIN.

THE END

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