The road you take lies through the river’s gorge,
And many a cross proclaims where travelers
Have been by avalanches done to death.
I have no fear for nature’s terrors, so
I can appease the torments of my soul.
At every cross, kneel down and expiate
Your crime with burning penitential tears—
And if you ’scape the perils of the pass,
And are not whelm’d beneath the drifted snows,
That from the frozen peaks come sweeping down,
You’ll reach the bridge that’s drench’d with drizzling spray.
Then if it give not way beneath your guilt,
When you have left it safely in your rear,
Before you frowns the gloomy Gate of Rocks,
Where never sun did shine. Proceed through this,
And you will reach a bright and gladsome vale.
Yet must you hurry on with hasty steps,
You must not linger in the haunts of peace.
O Rudolph, Rudolph, royal grandsire! thus
Thy grandson first sets foot within thy realms!
Ascending still, you gain the Gotthardt’s heights,
Where are the tarns, the everlasting tarns,
That from the streams of Heaven itself are fed,
There to the German soil you bid farewell;
And thence, with swift descent, another stream
Leads you to Italy, your promised land.
[Ranz des Vaches sounded on Alp-horns is heard without.]
But I hear voices! Hence!
HEDWIG (hurrying in).
Where art thou, Tell?
My father comes, and in exulting bands
All the confederates approach.
DUKE JOHN (covering himself).
I dare not tarry ’mong these happy men!
Go, dearest wife, and give this man to eat.
Spare not your bounty; for his road is long,
And one where shelter will be hard to find.
Who is he?
Do not ask!
And when he quits you, turn your eyes away,
So that they do not see which way he goes.
[DUKE JOHN advances hastily toward TELL, but he beckons him aside and goes out. When both have left the stage, the scene changes.]
The whole valley before TELL’s house, the heights which inclose it occupied by peasants, grouped into tableaux. Some are seen crossing a lofty bridge, which crosses the Shechen. WALTER FUeRST with the two boys, WERNER and STAUFFACHER, come forward. Others throng after them. When TELL appears, all receive him with loud cheers.
Long live brave Tell, our shield, our Savior!
[While those in front are crowding round TELL, and embracing him, RUDENZ and BERTHA appear. The former salutes the peasantry, the latter embraces HEDWIG. The music front the mountains continues to play. When it has stopped, BERTHA steps into the centre of the crowd.]