KING. They think they will outstrip me.
Get me a horse, were’t only some old nag;
Revenge shall lend him wings, that he may fly.
And if ’tis done? Then, God above, then grant
That as a man, not as a tyrant, I
May punish both the guilty and the guilt.
Get me a horse! Else art thou in their league,
And payest with thy head, as all shall—
(Standing at the door, with a gesture of violence.)
[He hastens away.]
A large room in the castle at Retiro, with one door in the centre and one at each side. Everywhere signs of destruction. In the foreground, at the left, an overturned toilet table with scattered utensils. In the background, at the left, another overturned table; above it a picture half torn from its frame. In the centre of the room, a chair. It is dark. From without, behind the middle wall, the sound of voices, footsteps, and the clatter of weapons, finally, from without—“It is enough! The signal sounds! To horse!” Sounds of voices and footsteps die out. Pause. Then Isaac comes from the door at the right, dragging along a carpet, which is pulled over his head, and which he later drops.
ISAAC. Are they then gone?—I hear no sound.
No, no, ’tis naught! When they, a robber band,
Searched all the castle through, I hid myself,
And on the ground all doubled up I lay.
This cover here was roof and shield alike.
But whither now? Long since I hid full well
Here in the garden what I saved and gained;
I’ll fetch it later when this noise is past.—
Where is the door? How shall I save my soul?
ESTHER enters from the door at the left.
ISAAC. Who’s there? Woe’s me!
ESTHER. Is’t thou?
ISAAC. Is’t thou, then, Rachel?
ESTHER. What mean’st thou? Rachel? Only Esther, I!
ISAAC. Only, thou say’st?
Thou art my only child—
Only, because the best.
ESTHER. Nay, rather say,
The best because the only. Aged man,
Dost thou, then, nothing know of this attack,
Nor upon whom they meant to vent their wrath?
ISAAC. I do not know, nor do I wish to
For has not Rachel flown, to safety gone?
Oh, she is clever, she!—God of my fathers!
Why dost thou try me—me, a poor old man,
And speak to me from out my children’s mouths?
But I believe it not! ’Tis false! No, no!