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The Mansion of the BARON of ATTINGHAUSEN. A Gothic Hall, decorated with escutcheons and helmets. The BARON, a gray-headed man, eighty-five years old, tall and of a commanding mien, clad in a furred pelisse, and leaning on a staff tipped with chamois horn. KUONI and six hinds standing round him with rakes and scythes. ULRICH of RUDENZ enters in the costume of a Knight.
Uncle, I’m here! Your will?
First let me share,
After the ancient custom of our house,
The morning cup, with these my faithful servants!
[He drinks from a cup, which is then passed round.]
Time was, I stood myself in field and wood,
With mine own eyes directing all their toil,
Even as my banner led them in the fight;
Now I am only fit to play the steward:
And, if the genial sun come not to me,
I can no longer seek it on the hills.
Thus slowly, in an ever narrowing sphere,
I move on to the narrowest and the last,
Where all life’s pulses cease. I now am but
The shadow of my former self, and that
Is fading fast—’twill soon be but a name.
KUONI (offering RUDENZ the cup).
A pledge, young master!
[RUDENZ hesitates to take the cup.]
Nay, Sir, drink it off.
One cup, one heart! You know our proverb, Sir?
Go, children, and at eve, when work is done,
We’ll meet and talk the country’s business over.
Belted and plumed, and all thy bravery on!
Thou art for Altdorf—for the castle, boy?
Yes, uncle. Longer may I not delay—
ATTINGHAUSEN (sitting down).
Why in such haste? Say, are thy youthful hours
Doled in such niggard measure, that thou must
Be chary of them to thy aged uncle?
I see my presence is not needed here;
I am but as a stranger in this house.
ATTINGHAUSEN (gazes fixedly at him for a considerable time).
Ay, pity ’tis thou art! Alas, that home
To thee has grown so strange! Oh, Uly! Uly!
I scarce do know thee now, thus deck’d in silks,
The peacock’s feather flaunting in thy cap,
And purple mantle round thy shoulders flung;
Thou look’st upon the peasant with disdain;
And tak’st his honest greeting with a blush.
All honor due to him I gladly pay,
But must deny the right he would usurp.
The sore displeasure of its monarch rests
Upon our land, and every true man’s heart
Is full of sadness for the grievous wrongs
We suffer from our tyrants. Thou alone
Art all unmoved amid the general grief.
Abandoning thy friends, thou tak’st thy stand
Beside thy country’s foes, and, as in scorn
Of our distress, pursuest giddy joys,
Courting the smiles of princes all the while
Thy country bleeds beneath their cruel scourge.