Egmont. Would that I had done something for them! That I could do anything for them! It is their own good pleasure to love me.
Clara. Thou hast doubtless been with the Regent to-day?
Egmont. I have.
Clara. Art thou upon good terms with her?
Egmont So it would appear. We are kind and serviceable to each other.
Clara. And in thy heart?
Egmont. I like her. True, we have each our own views; but that is nothing to the purpose. She is an excellent woman, knows with whom she has to deal, and would be penetrating enough were she not quite so suspicious. I give her plenty of employment, because she is always suspecting some secret motive in my conduct when, in fact, I have none.
Clara. Really none?
Egmont. Well, with one little exception, perhaps. All wine deposits lees in the cask in the course of time. Orange furnishes her still better entertainment, and is a perpetual riddle. He has got the credit of harbouring some secret design; and she studies his brow to discover his thoughts, and his steps, to learn in what direction they are bent.
Clara. Does she dissemble?
Egmont. She is Regent—and do you ask?
Clara. Pardon me; I meant to say, is she false?
Egmont. Neither more nor less than everyone who has his own objects to attain.
Clara. I should never feel at home in the world. But she has a masculine spirit, and is another sort of woman from us housewives and sempstresses. She is great, steadfast, resolute.
Egmont. Yes, when matters are not too much involved. For once, however, she is a little disconcerted.
Clara. How so?
Egmont. She has a moustache, too, on her upper lip, and occasionally an attack of the gout. A regular Amazon.
Clara. A majestic woman! I should dread to appear before her.
Egmont. Yet thou art not wont to be timid! It would not be fear, only maidenly bashfulness.
(Clara casts down her eyes, takes his hand, and leans upon him.)
Egmont. I understand thee, dearest! Thou mayst raise thine eyes. (He kisses her eyes.)
Clara. Let me be silent! Let me embrace thee! Let me look into thine eyes, and find there everything—hope and comfort, joy and sorrow! (She embraces and gazes on him.) Tell me! Oh, tell me! It seems so strange—art thou indeed Egmont! Count Egmont! The great Egmont, who makes so much noise in the world, who figures in the newspapers, who is the support and stay of the provinces?
Egmont. No, Clara, I am not he.