NATALIE. Queer gentleman! Now bold, now
But it occurs to me that happily
The Elector, pressed by other business,
Charged me to issue word that Kottwitz, cribbed
Too close in his position, march back hither.
I will sit down at once and do it!
[She sits down and writes.]
REUSS. By Heaven,
Most excellent, my lady! An event
That could not timelier prove for our petition!
NATALIE (as she writes).
Use it, Count Reuss, as well as you know how.
[She finishes her note, seals it and rises to her feet again.]
Meanwhile this note, you understand, remains
In your portfolio; you will not go
To Arnstein with it, nor convey ’t to Kottwitz
Until I give more definite command.
[She gives him the letter.]
A LACKEY (entering).
According to the sovereign’s order, madam,
The coach is ready in the yard, and waiting.
NATALIE. Go, call it to the door. I’ll come at once.
[Pause, during which she steps thoughtfully to the table and draws on her gloves.]
Count, I desire to interview Prince
Will you escort me thither? In my coach
There is a place I put at your disposal.
REUSS. Madam, a great distinction, I assure you—
[He offers her his arm.]
NATALIE (to the ladies-in-waiting).
Follow, my friends!—It well may be that there
I shall decide about the note erelong.
The PRINCE’S cell. The PRINCE
Of HOMBURG hangs his hat on the wall
and sinks, carelessly reclining, on a mattress spread out on the floor.
THE PRINCE. The dervish calls all life a pilgrimage,
And that, a brief one. True!—Of two short spans
This side of earth to two short spans below.
I will recline upon the middle path.
The man who bears his head erect today
No later than tomorrow on his breast
Bows it, all tremulous. Another dawn,
And, lo, it lies a skull beside his heel!
Indeed, there is a sun, they say, that shines
On fields beyond e’en brighter than these fields.
I do believe it; only pity ’tis
The eye, that shall perceive the splendor, rots.
Enter PRINCESS NATALIE on the arm of
COUNT REUSS, and followed by
ladies-in-waiting. A footman with a torch precedes them. The PRINCE
FOOTMAN. Her Highness Princess Natalie of Orange!
THE PRINCE (rising).
FOOTMAN. Here she comes herself!
NATALIE (with a bow to the COUNT).
Leave us a little moment to ourselves.