Cromwell: What in the name of God is this? (Striking the paper with his hand.)
Charles: It is private to ourselves.
Cromwell (rising): To ourselves? For our private pleasure we will destroy this country, and blast the people in it! Read it, Ireton.
(IRETON takes the paper and rises.)
Charles (rising): These are notes for our own contemplation.
Cromwell: Here are ten lines of the bitterest damnation that ever came from the mind of treason. (Taking the paper again.) The Scots to invade England. The King’s arms to be raised again. Presbytery to... Freedom to be destroyed—and diligently, at the King’s pleasure. Word blaspheming word as we have spoken. Disastrous man!
Ireton: How far has this gone?
Charles: We are not before our judges.
Cromwell: It will come. This iniquity means we know not what new bitterness of destruction. But know this, Charles Stuart, that, when we draw the sword again, it is the sword of judgment. Out there many call you the man of blood. I have laboured for you, have met them all in persuasion. I had prevailed. It is finished. Blood is upon us again, blood spilled for a perfidious king. The sword that we had put by for ever! My God, how I have feared it! Well, so be it. We go to the field again—but then, prepare you for the reckoning. It shall be to the uttermost.
Charles: This argument is ended.
Cromwell: All arguments are ended.
(He goes with IRETON, taking the paper.)
THE SCENE CLOSES
CROMWELL’S house in London. The morning of January 30, 1649, the day of the King’s execution.
Outside the window can be seen the grey winter gloom, brightened by fallen snow. The room, in which a fire is burning, is empty, and for a time there is silence. Then from a near street comes the soft sound of muffled drums.
BRIDGET runs in, and goes to the window, opening it. Then she goes back to the door, and calls.
(She goes back to the window.)
Elizabeth (coming in): Yes.
Bridget: It is the King. He is passing down to Whitehall.
Elizabeth: Don’t look, child.
Bridget: I can see nothing but the pike-heads. The people seem very still. You can hear nothing but the drums.
(A little later MRS. CROMWELL comes in. She goes to a chair by the fire.)
Mrs. Cromwell: Oliver has just sent from Whitehall for his great coat. I’ve sent Beth with it.
Bridget: The King has just passed, grandmother.
Elizabeth: He has gone into Whitehall.
Mrs. Cromwell: Men will pity him. He had no pity.