GORDON, BUTLER (at first behind the scenes)
BUTLER (not yet come into view of the stage).
Here stand in silence till I give the signal.
GORDON (starts up).
’Tis he! he has already brought the murderers.
The lights are out. All lies in profound sleep.
GORDON. What shall I do? Shall I attempt
to save him?
Shall I call up the house? alarm the guards?
BUTLER (appears, but scarcely on the stage).
A light gleams hither from the corridor.
It leads directly to the Duke’s bed-chamber.
But then I break my oath to the Emperor;
If he escape and strengthen the enemy,
Do I not hereby call down on my head
All the dread consequences?
BUTLER (stepping forward).
Hark! Who speaks there?
’Tis better, I resign it to the hands
Of Providence. For what am I, that I
Should take upon myself so great a deed?
I have not murdered him, if he be murder’d;
But all his rescue were my act and deed;
Mine—and whatever be the consequences,
I must sustain them.
I should know that voice.
’Tis Gordon. What do you
Was it so late then, when the Duke dismiss’d you?
Your hand bound up and in a scarf?
That Illo fought as he were frantic, till
At last we threw him on the ground.
GORDON (shuddering). Both dead?
Is he in bed?
Is he? speak.
He shall not perish! Not through you!
Refuses your arm. See—’tis wounded!—
There is no need of my arm.
The most guilty
Have perish’d, and enough is given to justice.
[The GROOM OF THE CHAMBER advances from the Gallery with his finger on his mouth commanding silence.]
He sleeps! O murder not the holy sleep!
No! he shall die awake.
His heart still cleaves
To earthly things: he’s not prepared to step
Into the presence of his God!
GORDON (holds him).
Grant him but this night’s respite.
BUTLER (hurrying off)
The next moment
May ruin all.
GORDON (holds him still).