ELECTRESS. Make haste! The favorable hour flies by!
THE PRINCE. Now may all holy spirits guard your
Farewell, farewell! Whate’er the outcome be,
Grant me a word to tell me how you fared.
Scene: Room of the ELECTOR.
The ELECTOR is standing with documents in his hand near a table set with lights. NATALIE enters through the centre door and, still some distance away, falls on her knees to him.
NATALIE. My noble uncle Frederick of the Mark!
ELECTOR (laying the papers aside).
[He seeks to raise her.]
NATALIE. No, no!
ELECTOR. What is your wish?
NATALIE. As it behooves me, at your feet in dust
To plead your pardon for my cousin Homburg.
Not for myself I wish to know him safe—
My heart desires him and confesses it—
Not for myself I wish to know him safe;
Let him go wed whatever wife he will.
I only ask, dear uncle, that he live,
Free, independent, unallied, unbound,
Even as a flower in which I find delight;
For this I plead, my sovereign lord and friend,
And such entreaty you will heed, I know.
ELECTOR (raising her to her feet).
My little girl! What words escaped your lips?
Are you aware of how your cousin Homburg
NATALIE. But, dear uncle!
Was it so slight?
NATALIE. Oh, this blond fault, blue-eyed,
Which even ere it faltered: Lo, I pray!
Forgiveness should raise up from the earth—
Surely you will not spurn it with your foot?
Why, for its mother’s sake, for her who bore it,
You’ll press it to your breast and cry: “Weep not!
For you are dear as loyalty herself.”
Was it not ardor for your name’s renown
That lured him in the fight’s tumultuous midst
To burst apart the confines of the law?
And oh, once he had burst the bonds asunder,
Trod he not bravely on the serpent’s head?
To crown him first because he triumphs, then
Put him to death—that, surely, history
Will not demand of you. Dear uncle mine,
That were so stoical and so sublime
That men might almost deem it was inhuman!
And God made nothing more humane than you.
ELECTOR. Sweet child, consider! If I were
I am indeed aware your words ere now
Had thawed the heart beneath the iron breast.
But this I put to you: Have I the right
To quash the verdict which the court has passed?
What would the issue be of such an act?
NATALIE. For whom? For you?