ELECTOR. Guards! Lead the prisoner back to his cell!
NATALIE and the ELECTRESS appear in the doorway, followed by ladies-in-waiting. The others as before.
NATALIE. Mother! Decorum! Can you speak
In such an hour there’s none but just to love him—
My dear, unhappy love!
THE PRINCE (turning). Now I shall go!
TRUCHSZ (holding him).
No, nevermore, my Prince!
[Several officers step in his way.]
THE PRINCE. Take me away!
HOHENZOLL. Liege, can your heart—
THE PRINCE (tearing himself free).
You tyrants, would you drag me
In fetters to my execution-place?
Go! I have closed my reckoning with this world.
[He goes out under guard.]
NATALIE (on the ELECTRESS’ breast).
Open, O earth, receive me in your deeps.
Why should I look upon the sunlight more?
The persons, as in the preceding scene, with the exception of the PRINCE OF HOMBURG.
MARSHAL. God of earth! Did it have to come to that?
[The ELECTOR speaks in a low voice to an officer.]
My sovereign, after all that has occurred
Are we dismissed?
ELECTOR. Not for the present, no!
I’ll give you notice when you are dismissed!
[He regards him a moment straightly and steadily; then takes the papers which the page has brought him from the table and turns to the FIELD-MARSHAL.]
This passport, take it, for Count Horn
Tell him it is my cousin’s wish, the Prince’s,
Which I have pledged myself to carry out.
The war begins again in three days’ time!
[Pause. He casts a glance at the death warrant.]
Judge for yourselves, my lords. The
Prince of Homburg
Through disobedience and recklessness
Of two of my best victories this year
Deprived me, and indeed impaired the third.
Now that he’s had his schooling these last days
Come, will you risk it with him for a fourth?
KOTTWITZ and TRUCHSZ (helter-skelter).
What, my adored—my worshipped—What, my liege?—
ELECTOR. Will you? Will you?
KOTTWITZ. Now, by the living
He’d watch you standing on destruction’s brink
And never twitch his sword in your behalf,
Or rescue you unless you gave command.
ELECTOR (tearing up the death warrant).
So, to the garden! Follow me, my friends!