[NATALIE is weeping.]
The PRINCE OF HOMBURG enters. The others.
THE PRINCE. Oh, Natalie, my dearest!
[Greatly moved, he presses her hand to his heart.]
NATALIE. Then it is true?
THE PRINCE. Could I but answer No!
Could I but pour my loyal heart’s blood out
To call his loyal heart back into life!
NATALIE (drying her tears).
Where is his body? Have they found it yet?
THE PRINCE. Until this hour, alas, my labor was
Vengeance on Wrangle only; how could I
Then dedicate myself to such a task?
A horde of men, however, I sent forth
To seek him on the battle-plains of death.
Ere night I do not doubt that he will come.
NATALIE. Who now will lead us in this terrible
And keep these Swedes in subjugation? Who
Shield us against this world of enemies
His fortune won for us, his high renown?
THE PRINCE (taking her hand).
I, lady, take upon myself your cause!
Before the desolate footsteps of your throne
I shall stand guard, an angel with a sword!
The Elector hoped, before the year turned tide,
To see the Marches free. So be it! I
Executor will be of that last will.
NATALIE. My cousin, dearest cousin!
[She withdraws her hand.]
THE PRINCE. Natalie!
[A moment’s pause.]
What holds the future now in store for you?
NATALIE. After this thunderbolt which cleaves
Beneath my very feet, what can I do?
My father and my precious mother rest
Entombed at Amsterdam; in dust and ashes
Dordrecht, my heritage ancestral lies.
Pressed hard by the tyrannic hosts of Spain
Maurice, my kin of Orange, scarcely knows
How he shall shelter his own flesh and blood.
And now the last support that held my fate’s
Frail vine upright falls from me to the earth.
Oh, I am orphaned now a second time!
THE PRINCE (throwing his arm about her waist).
Oh, friend, sweet friend, were this dark hour not given
To grief, to be its own, thus would I speak
Oh, twine your branches here about this breast,
Which, blossoming long years in solitude,
Yearns for the wondrous fragrance of your bells.
NATALIE. My dear, good cousin!
THE PRINCE. Will you, will you?
If I might grow into its very marrow!
[She lays her head upon his breast.]
THE PRINCE. What did you say
NATALIE. Go now!
THE PRINCE (holding her). Into its kernel!
Into the heart’s deep kernel, Natalie!
[He kisses her. She tears herself away.]
Dear God, were he for whom we grieve but
To look upon this union! Could we lift
To him our plea: Father, thy benison!