The Lady Neubrunn then may stay with me.
[Exeunt DUCHESS and COUNTESS.]
THEKLA, the SWEDISH CAPTAIN, LADY NEUBRUNN
CAPTAIN (respectfully approaching her).
Princess—I must entreat your gentle pardon—
My inconsiderate rash speech. How could I—
THEKLA (with dignity).
You have beheld me in my agony.
A most distressful accident occasion’d
You from a stranger to become at once
I fear you hate my presence,
For my tongue spake a melancholy word.
The fault is mine. Myself did wrest it from you.
The horror which came o’er me interrupted
Your tale at its commencement. May it please you,
Continue it to the end.
Renew your anguish.
I am firm—
I will be firm. Well—how began the engagement?
We lay, expecting no attack, at Neustadt,
Intrench’d but insecurely in our camp,
When toward evening rose a cloud of dust
From the wood thitherward; our vanguard fled
Into the camp, and sounded the alarm.
Scarce had we mounted ere the Pappenheimers,
Their horses at full speed, broke through the lines,
And leapt the trenches; but their heedless courage
Had borne them onward far before the others—
The infantry were still at distance, only
The Pappenheimers follow’d daringly
Their daring leader—
[THEKLA betrays agitation in her gestures. The officer pauses till she makes a sign to him to proceed.]
Both in van and flanks
With our whole cavalry we now received them;
Back to the trenches drove them, where the foot
Stretch’d out a solid ridge of pikes to meet them.
They neither could advance, nor yet retreat;
And as they stood on every side wedged in,
The Rhinegrave to their leader call’d aloud,
Inviting a surrender; but their leader,
[THEKLA, as giddy, grasps a chair.]
Known by his plume,
And his long hair, gave signal for the trenches; Himself leapt first: the regiment all plunged after. His charger, by a halbert gored, rear’d up, Flung him with violence off, and over him
The horses, now no longer to be curbed— [THEKLA, who has accompanied the last speech with all the marks of increasing agony, trembles through her whole frame, and is falling. The LADY NEUBRUNN runs to her, and receives her in her arms.]
My dearest lady—
Proceed to the conclusion.
Inspired the troops with frenzy when they saw
Their leader perish; every thought of rescue
Was spurned; they fought like wounded tigers; their
Frantic resistance roused our soldiery;
A murderous fight took place, nor was the contest
Finish’d before their last man fell.