Baronial mansion of Attinghausen. The BARON upon a couch dying. WALTER FUeRST, STAUFFACHER, MELCHTHAL, and BAUMGARTEN attending round him, WALTER TELL kneeling before the dying man.
All now is over with him. He is gone.
He lies not like one dead. The feather, see,
Moves on his lips! His sleep is very calm,
And on his features plays a placid smile.
[BAUMGARTEN goes to the door and speaks with some one.]
Tell’s wife, your daughter,
That she must speak with you, and see her boy.
[WALTER TELL rises.]
I who need comfort—can I comfort her?
Does every sorrow centre on my head?
HEDWIG (forcing her way in).
Where is my child? unhand me! I must see him.
Be calm! Reflect, you’re in the house of death!
HEDWIG (falling upon her boy’s neck).
My Walter! Oh, he yet is mine!
And, is it surely so? Art thou unhurt?
[Gazing at him with anxious tenderness.]
And is it possible he aim’d at thee?
How could he do it? Oh, he has no heart—
And he could wing an arrow at his child!
His soul was rack’d with anguish when he did
No choice was left him but to shoot or die!
Oh, if he had a father’s heart, he would
Have sooner perish’d by a thousand deaths!
You should be grateful for God’s gracious care,
That ordered things so well.
Can I forget
What might have been the issue. God in Heaven,
Were I to live for centuries, I still
Should see my boy tied up—his father’s mark—
And still the shaft would quiver in my heart.
You know not how the Viceroy taunted him!
Oh, ruthless heart of man! Offend his pride,
And reason in his breast forsakes her seat;
In his blind wrath he’ll stake upon a cast
A child’s existence, and a mother’s heart!
Is then your husband’s fate not hard enough,
That you embitter it by such reproaches?
Have you no feeling for his sufferings?
HEDWIG (turning to him and gazing full upon him).
Hast thou tears only for thy friend’s distress?
Say, where were you when he—my noble Tell—
Was bound in chains? Where was your friendship then?
The shameful wrong was done before your eyes;
Patient you stood, and let your friend be dragg’d,
Ay, from your very hands. Did ever Tell
Act thus to you? Did he stand whining by,
When on your heels the Viceroy’s horsemen press’d,
And full before you roared the storm-toss’d lake?
Oh not with idle tears his pity show’d!
Into the boat he sprang, forgot his home,
His wife, his children, and delivered thee!