Ger. No! though their name were legion!
’Tis for thee
Alone I quake, lest by some pious boldness
Thou quench the light of Israel.
Con. Light? my son!
There shall no light be quenched, when I lie dark.
Our path trends outward: we will forth to-morrow.
Now let’s to chapel; matin bells are ringing. [Exeunt.]
A road between Eisenach and Marpurg. Peasants waiting by the roadside. Walter of Varila, the Count of Saym, and other gentlemen entering on horseback.
Gent. Talk not of honour—Hell’s
aflame within me:
Foul water quenches fire as well as fair;
If I do meet him he shall die the death,
Come fair, come foul: I tell you, there are wrongs
The fumbling piecemeal law can never touch,
Which bring of themselves to the injured, right divine,
Straight from the fount of right, above all parchments,
To be their own avengers: dainty lawyers,
If one shall slay the adulterer in the act,
Dare not condemn him: girls have stabbed their tyrants,
And common sense has crowned them saints; yet what—
What were their wrongs to mine? All gone! All gone!
My noble boys, whom I had trained, poor fools,
To win their spurs, and ride afield with me!
I could have spared them—but my wife! my lady!
Those dainty limbs, which no eyes but mine—
Before that ruffian mob—Too much for man!
Too much, stern Heaven!—Those eyes, those hands,
Those tender feet, where I have lain and worshipped—
Food for fierce flames! And on the self-same day—
The day that they were seized—unheard—unargued—
No witness, but one vile convicted thief—
The dog is dead and buried: Well done, henchmen!
They are not buried! Pah! their ashes flit
About the common air; we pass them—breathe them!
The self-same day! If I had had one look!
One word—one single tiny spark of word,
Such as two swallows change upon the wing!
She was no heretic: she knelt for ever
Before the blessed rood, and prayed for me.
Art sure he comes this road?
C. Saym. My messenger
Saw him start forth, and watched him past the crossways.
An hour will bring him here.
C. Wal. How! ambuscading?
I’ll not sit by, while helpless priests are butchered.
C. Saym. On my word, I knew not on’t
Until this hour; my quarrel’s not so sharp,
But I may let him pass: my name is righted
Before the Emperor, from all his slanders;
And what’s revenge to me?
Gent. Ay, ay—forgive and forget—
The vermin’s trapped—and we’ll be gentle-handed,
And lift him out, and bid his master speed him,
Him and his firebrands. He shall never pass me.
C. Wal. I will not see it; I’m old, and
sick of blood.
She loved him, while she lived; and charged me once,
As her sworn liegeman, not to harm the knave.
I’ll home: yet, knights, if aught untoward happen,
And you should need a shelter, come to me:
My walls are strong. Home, knaves! we’ll seek our wives,
And beat our swords to ploughshares—when folks let us.