Egmont. You shall have all needful assistance; measures have been taken to stem the evil by force. Make a firm stand against the new doctrines, and do not imagine that privileges are secured by sedition, Remain at home; suffer no crowds to assemble in the streets. Sensible people can accomplish much.
(In the meantime the crowd has for the most part dispersed.)
Carpenter. Thanks, your excellency—thanks for your good opinion! We will do what in us lies. (Exit Egmont.) A gracious lord! A true Netherlander! Nothing of the Spaniard about him.
Jetter. If we had only him for a Regent? ’Tis a pleasure to follow him.
Soest. The king won’t hear of that. He takes care to appoint his own people to the place.
Jetter. Did you notice his dress? It was
of the newest fashion—after the
Carpenter. A handsome gentleman.
Jetter. His head now were a dainty morsel for a heads-man.
Soest. Are you mad? What are you thinking about?
Jetter. It is stupid enough that such an idea should come into one’s head! But so it is. Whenever I see a fine long neck, I cannot help thinking how well it would suit the block. These cursed executions! One cannot get them out of one’s head. When the lads are swimming, and I chance to see a naked back, I think forthwith of the dozens I have seen beaten with rods. If I meet a portly gentleman, I fancy I already see him roasting at the stake. At night, in my dreams, I am tortured in every limb; one cannot have a single hour’s enjoyment; all merriment and fun have long been forgotten. These terrible images seem burnt in upon my brain.
SCENE II.—Egmont’s residence
His Secretary (at a desk with papers. He rises impatiently)
Secretary. Still he comes not! And I have been waiting already full two hours, pen in hand, the paper before me; and just to-day I was anxious to be out so early. The floor burns under my feet. I can with difficulty restrain my impatience. “Be punctual to the hour:” Such was his parting injunction; now he comes not. There is so much business to get through, I shall not have finished before midnight. He overlooks one’s faults, it is true; methinks it would be better though, were he more strict, so he dismissed one at the appointed time. One could then arrange one’s plans. It is now full two hours since he left the Regent; who knows whom he may have chanced to meet by the way?
Egmont. Well, how do matters look?
Secretary. I am ready, and three couriers are waiting.
Egmont. I have detained you too long; you look somewhat out of humour.
Secretary. In obedience to your command I have already been in attendance for some time. Here are the papers!
Egmont. Donna Elvira will be angry with me, when she learns that I have detained you.