Machiavel. I entreat you, put not too harsh a construction upon his frank and joyous temper, which treats lightly matters of serious moment. You but injure yourself and him.
Regent. I interpret nothing. I speak only of inevitable consequences, and I know him. His patent of nobility and the Golden Fleece upon his breast strengthen his confidence, his audacity. Both can protect him against any sudden outbreak of royal displeasure. Consider the matter closely, and he is alone responsible for the whole mischief that has broken out in Flanders. From the first, he connived at the proceedings of the foreign teachers, avoided stringent measures, and perhaps rejoiced in secret that they gave us so much to do. Let me alone; on this occasion, I will give utterance to that which weighs upon my heart; I will not shoot my arrow in vain. I know where he is vulnerable. For he is vulnerable.
Machiavel. Have you summoned the council? Will Orange attend?
Regent. I have sent for him to Antwerp. I will lay upon their shoulders the burden of responsibility; they shall either strenuously co-operate with me in quelling the evil, or at once declare themselves rebels. Let the letters be completed without delay, and bring them for my signature. Then hasten to despatch the trusty Vasca to Madrid, he is faithful and indefatigable; let him use all diligence, that he may not be anticipated by common report, that my brother, may receive the intelligence first through him. I will myself speak with him ere he departs.
Machiavel. Your orders shall be promptly and punctually obeyed.
Scene III.—Citizen’s House
Clara, her Mother, Brackenburg
Clara. Will you not hold the yarn for me, Brackenburg?
Brackenburg. I entreat you, excuse me, Clara.
Clara. What ails you? Why refuse me this trifling service?
Brackenburg. When I hold the yarn, I stand as it were spell-bound before you, and cannot escape your eyes.
Clara. Nonsense! Come and hold!
Mother (knitting in her arm-chair). Give us a song! Brackenburg sings so good a second. You used to be merry once, and I had always something to laugh at.
Clara. Well, let us sing.
Brackenburg. As you please.
Clara. Merrily, then, and sing away! ’Tis a soldier’s song, my favourite.
(She winds yarn, and sings with Brackenburg.)
The drum is resounding,
And shrill the fife plays;
My love, for the battle,
His brave troop arrays;
He lifts his lance high,
And the people he sways.
My blood it is boiling!
My heart throbs pit-pat!
Oh, had I a jacket,
With hose and with hat!
How boldly I’d follow,
And march through the gate;
Through all the wide province
I’d follow him straight.
The foe yield, we capture
Or shoot them! Ah, me!
What heart-thrilling rapture
A soldier to be!