PETR VOK ROZMBERK
AN HISTORICAL DRAMA IN FIVE ACTS
Translated from the Bohemian by Beatrice M. Měkota
|Petr Vok Rozmberk, the master at Třebon.|
|Václav Kinský from Vchynic, the highes Bohemian gamewarden|
|Hannewaldt, secretary to King Rudolf II|
|Zuzanka, a mistress of Rozmberk|
|Bilent, the alchemist at the castle at Třebon|
|Ctibor z Ujezda, a noble at the court of Rozmberk|
|Oldřich, an attendant|
|Anna||Mistresses of Rozmberk|
|Lukan, chief of the military people and keeper of the town tower|
|Matouš Lhotka, the castle priest|
|The court of Rozmberk, Pages, Servants and Guards|
|Place: The castle at Třebon|
A salon in the palace at Třebon, from which extends a long balcony. In the salon, the alchemist Bilent a hunchback, is talking with Hannewaldt, while the Polyxena Hannewaldt. Bilent, in the midst of his talk, moves about, gesticulating expressively.
Bilent, Hannewaldt, Ctibor and Polyxena
Bilent.—It is time for the appearance of the master, Mr. Secretary.
Hannewaldt.—I tried to be here at the very minute His Grace mentioned for the appointment.
Bilent.—He will truly regret that he did not appear first.
Hannewaldt.—Aj, who can be prompt to the minute, especially with a thousand and one duties to attend to such as fall upon the owner of a castle? And you sir, you devote yourself to alchemy, do you not?
Bilent (As though he were buried in thought, and appearing both serious and mysterious).—That science which will not give up its secrets though the flesh and blood of its devotees were to be sacrificed to its cause.
Hannewaldt.—Třebon and Prague were formerly its principal seats in Bohemia. (Then correcting himself quickly.) They still are.
Bilent.—Too bad that Třebon was formerly of more consequence than it is now.
Hannewaldt.—During the time of its predecessor, Mr. Vokova, or Mr. Vílem?
Bilent.—That is the case. The present master does not devote as much time to the science as he should.
Hannewaldt.—That is true and that is why I believe that Prague at present is the place that does most for alchemy and its disciples.
Bilent.—Yes, the King and Emperor, Rudolf, will doubtless not fail to obtain successful results in it.
Hannewaldt.—There are now accumulated heaps of gold—gold which will flood every one who but partially knows that mysterious science.
(Bilent raises his head, listening with keenest interest to that which Hannewaldt is saying. The two walk side by side the length of the room, talking eagerly together.)
Ctibor of Ujezda (to Polyxena).—If fortune would but smile upon us, and cause you, gracious lady, to like this place!
Polyxena.—Who would not recognize this country of lakes, which seem to be general about this border, as a region of beauty?
Ctibor.—And yet, gracious lady, you escaped as soon as possible from that place in which you ruled like a queen.
Polyxena.—I was fortunate in being able to know Třebon for reports of its fame and beauty had reached me from time to time.
Ctibor—And Třebon is fortunate to have you on its native soil. (Folding his hands upon his breast.) The heart beats faster ney and the glance from your eye irradiates all upon whom it falls.
Hannewaldt (Turning and walking with Bilent to the front of the salon).—It is a simple matter for me to find admission for a man at the court, especially one who is engaged in your science which so deeply interests His Majesty.
The same. Rozmberk, Zuzanka and pages enter. Later the attendant Oldřich.
(Rozmberk is greeting Hannewaldt, while Zuzanka is greeting Polyxena.)
Rozmberk (to Hannewaldt).—Aj, Master Secretary, forgive your host who arrived just an instant later than yourself. (To Polyxena.) And you lovely lady, do not think ill of your host if he has been obliged, contrary to his will, to commit a breach of courtesy.
Hannewaldt.—And we are even more to blame if the gracious hospitality which Your Grace now shows us should be withholding you from your many interests and duties.
Rozmberk.—Not our duties, but a slight accident detained us.
Zuzanka (to Polyxena).—We were just ready to leave when our guest was announced. (Hannewaldt and Rozmberk toward the ladies. Rozmberk steadily turns his glance toward Polyxena. Bilent and Ctibor step up from the rear.)
Polyxena.—And certainly a hearty greeting.
Zuzanka.—Mr. Kinský from Vchynic.
Rozmberk.—It is he.
Attendant Oldřich (Announcing him at the door).—His Grace, the highest game warden.
The same. Kinský has entered.
Rozmberk (To Kinský).—I welcome you, brother. (They greet each other, Kinský greets the ladies, and seeing Hannewaldt, stirs as though surprised, but goes to him at once.)
Kinský.—What fortunate freak of chance grants me the pleasure of meeting old acquaintances at Třebon?
Hannewaldt.—I did not expect to find my pleasure increased by meeting friends from Prague. (Bows to him. Aside) He was most likely sent for some purpose.
Kinský.—Chance has arranged it. (Partly to the ladies). I have come from that courtly circle at Prague for a bit of entertainment. (Aside) I am on the trail.
Hannewaldt.—And I who wished to be many miles away today, am still loitering here.
Kinský.—How much farther will your journey continue?
Hannewaldt.—As far as Vienna. I am taking my brother’s daughter to her grandfather. She has seen enough of Prague,—better let her acquaint herself elsewhere. And just now, at least for the moment, I have too much work to do to devote my time to her.
Kinský.—Believe me, brother, and you also, Master Secretary, I am glad to be able to leave my work behind me for a while.
Rozmberk.—Is it lively now at the court?
Kinský.—Aj, nothing but quarrels and strife—a thousand endeavors that conflict with each other. I don't wish to have another thing to do with it!
Hannewaldt—I must confess that was my chief excuse for absenting myself for a week or two, to escape all the din.
Kinsky (Ironically)—So the same star has led us both here, the star of pleasure. (To the ladies.) And with the consent of the ladies and our host, it is necessary to confess that this selfish purpose has brought us here.
Bilent (With a grimace at Ctibor).—That is the truth itself, the truth!
Zuzanka (To Kinský).—In that selfishness of yours, Highest Game Warden, we will assign our part.
Kinský.—If we can, on our part, furnish as much entertainment as the pleasure of the ladies accords us, we will indeed be fortunate. (Outside is heard the noise of fanfares.)
Rozmberk.—The Třebonský procession is beginning—if it suits the pleasure of the gentlemen and ladies, let us go out on the balcony.
Rozmberk.—Yes. The town has given itself over to our amusement, and all the surrounding country has contributed its share in order that this pastime would appear to good advantage. I am doubly glad that you arrived in time to enjoy it.
Kinský (To Zuzanka).—May I, lovely lady, offer you my arm? (Zuzanka accepts his hand.)
Rozmberk.—I shall have the pleasure of escorting the gracious lady myself. (Extending his hand to Polyxena. All walk away with Hannewaldt. From the balcony they gaze down upon the procession below, and talk together.)
Ctibor and Bilent in the hall.
Ctibor (Shortly).—She has hung herself upon his arm—I can do nothing but stand aside and look on.
Bilent.—Not so fast, young man! This would be a strange comedy production should you want to have as a rival the old master, your own guardian!
(A stir under the balcony, fanfares and shouting at intervals "Long live the master! Viva Mr. Rozmberk!")
Ctibor.—I would have no fear even of him did I think that my hope might be confirmed.
Bilent.—Just tame your tongue a little, noble attendant, lest the pent up fire in you should blaze up. Just look over there at those two, Hannewaldt and Kinsky,—it seems to me that one is of steel and the other is flint.
Ctibor.—And yet they talk together as though they were the most sincere friends!
Bilent.—It would not surprise me at all were I to learn that Kinský has come after the king’s secretary. But it is my opinion that Hannewaldt has not yet mentioned to the master what his real object is in coming.
Ctibor.—I hope that he will be successful.
Bilent.—Because you think that you then might get into his favor and that of his lovely niece?
(Under the balcony music is heard)
Ctibor.—Heaven knows, her eyes have started a storm within me—(intimately), and I told her so yesterday while we were walking through the garden.
Bilent.—You fiery youth, I ought to warn the lady to keep out of your way.
Ctibor.—She need have no fear of me. I only hope for her sake and mine, that it will not become necessary for me to warn her to beware of others.
(Rozmberk on the balcony is entertaining Polyxena).
Bilent.—Aj, aj, possibly before that one, (pointing to the balcony) who seems to be finding her so attractive? And even now you cannot accustom yourself to the life about you here, but must make a sour face while the rest of the world is laughing with delight?
Ctibor.—I cannot and do not wish to accustom myself to that which goes beyond pure pleasure,—I cannot accustom myself to that life which knows nothing else but to drown oneself in pleasure and govern everything else by it!
Bilent.—You are young, very young, my dear friend. Your head is filled with dreams, and you wish to imagine that the world is what you think it is. If it is your pleasure, stay with your dreams. But I earnestly advise you,—do not talk audibly about this displeasure of yours, this nor any other, for that matter. If it enters your head again, I pray you remember that recently you provoked the very master himself.
Ctibor.—I did not wish—
Hannewaldt (On the balcony, excusing himself to the others).—I pray you excuse me for a while.
Bilent (Taking Ctibor by the hand, to caution him not to talk).—The secretary.
Ctibor, Bilent, and Hannewaldt
Hannewaldt (To Ctibor in the salon)—May I ask for some fresh water?
Ctibor.—I will order it at once. (Goes to the door to give the order to the servants outside.) Fresh water in a vessel! (Remains in the salon.)
Hannewaldt (Secretly to Bilent in order not to attract the attention of Kinský who looks at him from time to time; he pretends to be inspecting the hall.)—Sir, I can place a high reward within your reach.
Bilent.—At your service!
Hannewaldt.—Look carefully after all of Kinský’s movements, and report everything to me. (Bilent makes a bow. Ctibor in the meantime takes the vessel of water, and hands it to Hannewaldt. Hannewaldt drinks.) It is going to be a burning day.
Ctibor (Jesting ironically).—It appears so, dear sir. (Hannewaldt quickly leaves. Ctibor places the vessel on the table.)
Bilent (to himself).—A real battle is in sight here—Bilent, see whether it will be some advantage to you.
Ctibor and Bilent
Ctibor (Gazing at the balcony).—Just see how playfully the master is entertaining himself. How spirited he seems to be. He will grant any request should Hannewaldt ask for something today.
Bilent.—And here, unfortunately, is Kinský, who will be an obstacle in the secretary’s path.
Ctibor.—Then their ambitions are not the same?
Bilent.—There will be two poinards aimed at two necks.
Ctibor.—It is hard to tell which will have the satisfaction of attaining his desire. But the master is in such a good mood today that he’d like to grant the whole world its wishes.
Bilent.—And if that measure should become upset it might flood some one with its contents and float his head away.
Ctibor (Jokingly).—You fear for your own?
(The passing procession sings under the balcony. The music has ceased.)
Bilent.—As you see, it is firmly seated here. (Pointing to the deformity on his body.) Few other foundations are as firm.
Ctibor.—Well, member of the world-wide profession of executioners, our Master Burda would have difficulty in finding the neck between the body and the head.
Bilent.—Believe me, here at Třebon it may be a very good thing! It has gone worse with them on whom the neck has been discovered! What a pity those times are now no more, those days of the master’s wife, the lady Katherine of Ludanic! In those days, joy and mirth were reigning here, and one did not need fear with trembling every moment that the temper of the master would break forth, giving work to the executioner without warning. Oh, for a year or two as it used to be, when a person could live here with a feeling of security! (Trustfully) I would then sprout some feathers for myself, and no power on earth could hold me longer in the castle Třebonský!
Ctibor (Jokingly).—A careful man!
Kinský (Excusing himself on the balcony).—Just a slight request! (Walks into the salon.)
Ctibor, Bilent and Kinský
Bilent.—Silence, Kinský is coming!
Kinský (to Ctibor).—My footman Sever is either somewhere near me, or else he must be in my room. Allow me to have him summoned, dear sirs. (Ctibor goes away, Kinský to Bilent.) I am fortunate, sir, to meet you here. Somewhat over a week ago, something was discovered in my castle. Whether this is but a small treasure, or one of nameless value, I shall rely on you to decide. I have purposely taken with me these two rings,—try them, sir, whether they are of pure gold or not. (Handing him the rings.)
Bilent.—I will tell Your Grace the result of my test this afternoon.
Kinský.—I should like to know at once; we were just now speaking of it on the balcony.
Bilent (With a bow).—I will fulfill your request. (To himself) He wants me out of the way for a while. (Walks away.)
Ctibor (Returning).—The chamberlain will be here in an instant.
Kinský.—I thank you, you youthful future knight.
Ctibor (Bowing).—I am still an attendant only, Ctibor of Ujezda.
Kinský.—Titles and honors fall easily to one of good family. If I do not forget you in the king’s court, you may yet rise higher than your present position.
Ctibor.—I still have that bold hope.
Kinský.—But your hopes may be fulfilled. Listen, I will not forget you. (Ctibor wishes to express his thanks, but Kinský interrupts.) But may I ask you to do me a slight service?
Ctibor.—Command me, sir!
Kinský.—Secretary Hannewaldt is here,—and should I learn what he is about to do, today or tomorrow, I, Kinský, will be under obligations to you.
Ctibor.—To that request, sir, I cannot bind myself.
Kinský.—You cannot? (To himself.) I have doubtless come too late—he is in the hands of Hannewaldt! (Aloud.) Well then, at least your word of honor, sir, that you will not betray what I have told you. I rely upon you as a future knight.
Ctibor.—I give it willingly.
Kinský (Aside).—He will yet be mine!
(Kinský’s chamberlain enters.)
Kinský (Advances with the chamberlain; aside to him).—Try at once, and secretly if possible, to leave Třebon and the castle, and ride quickly to Prague, to Budovec. Just tell him, that I have found Hannewaldt here, and that I will watch for the opportunity to cross his purposes. (The Chamberlain withdraws: Bilent enters.)
Bilent, Kinský, Ctibor and Zuzanka on the balcony.
Bilent (In his hand are the rings. He gives them to Kinský).—Pure gold, Your Grace.
(Under the balcony the music begins again.)
Kinský.—I thank you. Keep this reward. Then I have a small fortune.
Bilent.—I would be fortunate if I could but be a treasure to you.
Kinský (With a laugh).—Be one to me. (Secretly) Watch Hannewaldt, and I will repay you well. (Walks out on the balcony.)
Zuzanka (On the balcony to Kinský).—You have been long detained, Highest Game Warden, and the procession is nearly at an end.
Kinský (Bowing to Zuzanka and Polyxena).—I have something to gaze at here—the reward is sufficient, satisfying, even though I see nothing else.
Bilent (To Ctibor).—What did Kinský say to the chamberlain?
Ctibor (Putting aside the curiosity of Bilent).—I have not yet learned to listen to whispered conversations.
Bilent.—Too bad. And did he say something to you?
Ctibor (Jestingly).—I do not always hasten even with my answer.
Bilent.—Even worse. (Aside) He is won over. (With comical reproach.) You are very severe with me, friend, refusing my approaches at friendship. (Under the balcony, there is shouting: “Long live the master! Long live Rozmberk”!)
Ctibor (Laughing).—Have no fear, learned master; but it seems to me that it is not always well to loosen the rein of curiosity. (On the balcony, all arise and enter the salon.)
Rozmberk, Kinský, Polyxena, Zuzanka, Hannewaldt, Ctibor, Bilent, and pages.
Rozmberk (As though closing his conversation with Polyxena).—That is a scene of enjoyment with which we modify the monotony of our life from time to time.
Kinský.—A quiet life! (Sharply) Were I not bashful in the presence of His Majesty’s secretary, I would say that the life here at Třebon is almost gayer than at the King’s court.
Hannewaldt.—What is apparent cannot be concealed. In all the lands governed by His Majesty, there is not a single noble court which can compare for its gayety with Třebon.
(Kinský talks with Zuzanka and Polyxena.)
Rozmberk.—At least I, Master Secretary, try to be gay and joyful here. In the afternoon, lady, we will have a celebration in the meadows. If you have not as yet been in a larger town, you may be interested in looking on and regarding the people.
Polyxena.—I will take great pleasure in it.
Rozmberk.—We shall endeavor to give pleasure to the graceful ladies and brave guests. (Parting) The feast will begin in a half hour. If it pleases you we will go together.
Hannewaldt (Parting).—In the meantime, I will take a little trip with my niece to the town which shines, today, like a bride decked with streamers.
Rozmberk.—My Attendant Ctibor is at your service. (Ctibor leaves.)
Kinský (Taking leave)—The straightening of my affairs will require my time at present—everything is in great disorder. (Hannewaldt, hearing the words of Kinský, walks off to the right with Polyxena who has said goodbye to Zuzanka and Rozmberk.)
Rozmberk.—The Attendant Raček received a command, brother, to look after you in my name.
(Kinský takes leave of Rozmberk and Zuzanka, and walks off to the right.)
Zuzanka (Flatteringly).—And we, my master?
Rozmberk.—With great expectation, I will await Zuzanka here.
Zuzanka.—And what shall I carry away, for myself and the others?
Rozmberk.—My most ardent love for yourself, and my favor to all the ladies.
Zuzanka (Laughing).—And the black woman?
Rozmberk (Laughing).—To her especially,—only deliver the message in her native language.
(Zuzanka with a laugh, walks off to the left, escorted by the pages.)
Rozmberk, Bilent and later Oldřich
Rozmberk.—If that Hannewaldova remains before my eyes much longer, I will certainly be consumed!
Bilent.—Better to capture her than to have any misfortune happen to the master.
Rozmberk.—There is extraordinary charm in her eye. From its depths, a thousand stars seem to scatter. That fresh, youthful form! (With a laugh.) Bilent, see to it—better that she should leave us sooner than later; I do not know how long I shall remember my duties as a host!
Bilent (Intimately and jestingly).—It depends upon Your Grace, how soon we should get her away from here.
Rozmberk (Jestingly).—I cannot resolve to do that so easily.
Bilent (Laughing).—Yes, yes, but I wonder then how long she will stay, and we must also consider what her uncle will think of it.
Rozmberk.—Why should I care for her uncle! (With a laugh) I must confess that he pleases me far less than his niece.
Bilent.—I have an idea that neither he nor Kinský came here to catch magpies, or attend the festivites at Třebon.
Rozmberk.—I can about guess the purpose for which each one has come. But to the present time, at least, neither of them has spoken of his affair to me, and I only know that of the two I prefer—
Bilent (Ending the sentence with a laugh).—Polyxena!
Rozmberk (Laughing).—Polyxena! On my faith, that is true!
(Attendant Oldřich enters.)
Oldřich.—The Highest Game Warden requests a short interview with Your Grace.
(Bilent suddenly starts.)
Rozmberk.—What an idea! I send my excuses for the present. I am occupied. I will see him later! (Oldřich is about to leave.)
Bilent (Quickly).—Accept him, my dear master! Then at least you will know what his object is in coming here.
Rozmberk.—It is all the same to me. Let him come. Sir, wait for us here.
Rozmberk.—But no. You had better go.
(Bilent looks unpleasantly surprised as he leaves. At the door he looks again at Kinský and makes a motion as though something had just occurred to him. Then passes out.)
Kinský and Rozmberk
Kinsky—Excuse me, sir, for using this vacant period of your time for a most important matter.
Roxmberk (Jestingly).—It will not be a trivial matter if I welcome it.
Kinský.—I am accustomed to acting briefly and right to the point.
Rozmberk (Jokingly).—Your preface is a trifle broad.
Kinský.—I am ready to take the matter up. (Seating himself) I have come from King Matthias.
Rozmberk (Wonderingly).—From King Matthias, you say? How long is it since we have lost King Rudolf?
Kinský.—The king and emperor, Rudolf, is still King of Bohemia. But the King of Hungary, though he is not as yet crowned, is no other than the Archduke Matthias.
Rozmberk.—That is news for me.
Kinský.—Then you might as well be permitted to know that in the family council of the House of Hapsburg, it was decreed that the successor of the childless Rudolf, as king and emperor, should be Matthias. A heavy illness of the king, both intellectual and bodily, makes it necessary.
Rozmberk.—That much we already know; also that it has come to pass that Matthias is asking for the government in Hungary, Austria, and in Moravia.
Kinský.—It has gone much further. In those countries, he has already been accepted as king. All there is to be done now, is to see that he is accepted as king in the most important of all countries, which is our own.
Rozmberk.—That will not happen. You expect too much at once. Rudolf is not concerned about the government, but he will not give up the throne. And the Cechs will accept Matthias as successor to Rudolf, yet they will not arise to dethrone him.
Kinský.—If you wish it to occur, it will certainly happen. If you will come out in favor of Matthias, the nobility will follow you and Rudolf’s party will be insignificant in the country.
Rozmberk.—The first is not yet decided, and in the second place, it is so important that it requires consideration. And you, brother, did you purposely come here to acquaint me with this design of yours?
Kinský.—Not at all. But it is necessary to win you for the cause and carry your decision to Matthias.
Rozmberk (Jestingly).—Then I am pleased to know that I will have the pleasure of seeing you at Třebon for some time.
Kinsky (Jokingly).—If you will send another messenger with your decision, I will gladly remain. I probably should not have come to annoy you with such a weighty matter at present had I not learned that Hannewaldt himself was on the way.
Rozmberk.—He is going to Vienna.
Kinský.—He is going there to turn the leader of the Austrian nobility, Cernemel, against Matthias.
Rozmberk.—That mission will be in vain.
Kinský.—I think so; but we must quickly execute this matter which Hannewaldt is concerned about at Třebon.
Rozmberk (Laughing).—Do not ask me to act hastily in so important a matter.
Kinský.— I cannot believe that you would show any indecision at such a time as this, now that you know what is happening. Why, the whole matter must be welcome to you. Certainly you have not forgotten the slight which you received at the court of Rudolf. (Rozmberk stirs while his face becomes cloudy.) When you were asking for a hearing against your enemies, and after remaining several weeks in Prague, were not even admitted to the king! No other Rozmberk has ever been so treated by a king!
Rozmberk (Shortly).—Stop, Kinský! I have not forgotten—do not remind me now!—(Calmly again.) But I am now concerned about other things than these which touch me personally.
Kinský.—Certainly,—about public affairs. And you must certainly be grateful for that turn which your negotiations have taken with the Hungarian nobility, and first of all with Illezházm of Hungary, with Karl Zerotínem of Moravia, with the duke Kristianem of Anhalt, and Frederick Falckým—with all these, the incomplete league against Rudolf, which only requires your generalship at their head.
Rozmberk.—If you believe that all these whom you have named desire above all things to dethrone the king, I will tell you that I as yet cannot be added to their list.
Kinský.—You can no longer avoid that necessity. I have lately been in the court of Rudolf, I see all that is happening, and I realize that a new power must soon be recognized, that in his place the throne must soon be filled by Matthias.
Rozmberk.—And in whose name have you come to me?
Kinský.—In the name of the Archduke Matthias. (Hands over a letter.) Here is his letter, everything else that you may wish to know is given there.
Rozmberk.—I will read it, and give it careful consideration. (Rising.)
Kinský.—And when may I expect an answer?
Rozmberk.—At present, I cannot say.
Kinský.—I hope, dear sir, to receive it soon.
Rozmberk, Kinský, Oldřich, later Hannewaldt
Oldřich (Entering).—The Honorable Secretary, Hannewaldt, requests a hearing.
(Kinský stirs slightly.)
Rozmberk (Motions to Oldřich to close the door. With a laugh.) The gentlemen have met. Did you tell him who is here?
Oldřich.—I was not so commanded.
Rozmberk (To Kinský).—If it is your pleasure, step aside, friend, and wait here. (Points to the room at the left. Kinský enters it. Rozmberk to Oldřich) Let him enter.
(Oldřich opens the door. Hannewaldt enters, Oldřich goes away.)
Rozmberk.—What is your pleasure, my honorable guest?
Hannewaldt.—Excuse me, Your Grace; I have a most important matter to take up with you, and it concerns the King, Rudolf himself.
Rozmberk (Bowing).—I am ready to listen. (Seats himself.)
Hannewaldt.—It is known to Your Grace, that certain members of the House of Hapsburg,—perhaps with the best of intention, yet in every respect a mistaken one,—have taken the present insignificant disease of our king as an excuse to crown Matthias as king and emperor of Hungary, Bohemia, and Austria.
Rozmberk.—It is also known that the Archduke Leopold is not with them, but remains loyal to the side of Rudolf.
Hannewaldt (Joyfully).—It is so, and without a doubt this entire enterprise, started in behalf of Matthias, will fall to pieces in a short time.
Rozmberk.—I doubt whether that will happen easily. Hungary, Moravia, and Austria are pledged for Matthias.
Hannewaldt.—But they will fall away from him the moment that the Kingdom of Bohemia comes out for its king and proclaims that during his lifetime the people will tolerate no change.
Rozmberk.—It seems to me that you look too trustfully on the present condition of affairs.
Hannewaldt.—There will be a great change as soon as King Rudolf steps up to his defense. He has not as yet touched his immense treasure vaults nor called upon his warriors. As soon as he draws the sword, he will overcome Matthias with terrible defeat, but only if this kingdom will stand by him.
Rozmberk.—Our kingdom! Certainly, if there is to be a change. But the kingdoms must all be united, or the Archduke Matthias will have no support here!
Hannewaldt (Quickly).—He has none,—and if he had, it is insignificant, without power, while it does not join with—
Rozmberk.—A foreign ally?
Hannewaldt (With emphasis).—Petr Vok Rozmberk!
Rozmberk.—That as yet has not happened, but it will be a different thing if King Rudolf succeeds in keeping all those who have stood by his side.
Hannewaldt.—The ruler does not doubt that the brilliancy and the glory of the court of Rozmberk will be protected, and will yet prosper under the emblem of the present king.
Rozmberk.—Our king is a very gracious one,—he has a request that I may be able to fulfill.
Hannewaldt.—His wish and request are the same: that you will come out and take a stand for his side, and lead the allies as richest man in all his kingdom.
Rozmberk.—That is an extraordinary honor, and at the same time the demand it makes upon me is so great that I must have time to think it over.
Hannewaldt.—I need not tell Your Grace that we must hasten your decision. You know all the details of what is happening, and you are aware that there are now but two passwords,—Rudolf and Matthias.
Rozmberk (Rising and avoiding an answer. Hannewaldt rises at the same time.)
For the present, remain here, Master Secretary. I will look after the entertainment of your charming niece, and of yours. Where the affairs of several countries are at stake, a mistake can be easily made through a hasty decision.
Hannewaldt.—As my last act, I fulfill the command received from His Majesty, the King, and give you this letter from the hand of King Rudolf himself. (Hands him the letter, bows, and goes away.)
Rozmberk, alone; later Kinský and Hannewaldt
Rozmberk (With a laugh).—As though I had invited both sides, each is now sending me its representatives, each ready to buy me at a greater price than the other. The more bitter the conflict between the two, the easier for me to realize the fulfillment of my ambitions with the one party or the other. (Covers Rudolf’s letter, and opens the door to the left leading into the room.) Brother, the coast is clear.
Kinský (Entering).—Is clear! And Hannewaldt stayed all this time!
Rozmberk (Avoiding an answer).—We were talking. In a minute, we will see each other again.
Hannewaldt (Enters and goes to Rozmberk).—Just another word. King Rudolf directed me—(In surprise he notices Kinský.) Aj, Highest Game Warden!
Kinský (Surprised).—Mr. Hannewaldt!
Hannewaldt (Sarcastically).—Are you through with your affairs?
Kinský (Ironically).—Not altogether. And you—you are returning from your walk?
Hannewaldt.—I was going just now.
Kinský (Sarcastically).—I am greatly pleased to see you again, Master Secretary!
Hannewaldt (Sarcastically).—My pleasure is not less than yours, Highest Game Warden!
Rozmberk (Jestingly and ironically).—And the greatest pleasure of all falls to me, gentlemen, the pleasure of seeing you two together.
A room in front of the private apartment of Rozmberk, from which a door leads to the left; at the right another door leads to the antechamber and the court. In the left corner is a low door concealed in the wall, leading to the room of the alchemist which lies behind the room belonging to Rozmberk. In the rear to the right is a large window leading into the garden.
Bilent, Kinský, servant of Kinský and later Zuzanka
(Bilent coming forth from the apartment of Rozmberk; Kinský, taking the letter from the servant, fails to notice Bilent, who vanishes through the secret door.)
Kinský (Opening the letter, alone).—From Matthias,—there is need of haste! (Reads)—"Gain him at any cost. I will pledge myself to fulfill any promise that you may see fit to make. I await your answer with impatience. Matthias." (To himself.) I must make haste so he will not have time to consent to Hannewaldt. This letter gives me even greater freedom, and Hannewaldt must not score a victory now! (Hiding the letter, he is about to enter the apartment of Rozmberk. At that instant he hears the rustle of skirts behind him. He looks about and sees Zuzanka in the act of entering from the antechamber.)
Kinský (Greeting Zuzanka).—Aj, what a fortunate sign this is!
Zuzanka.—To the master?
Kinský.—I intended to; but I do not know whether I dare enter now since the lovely lady is seeking him.
Zuzanka.—I would not be a lucky sign for you, Highest Game Warden, were you obliged to return on my account.
Kinský.—Your words, lovely lady, are a sign of the favor with which you regard me and they give me hope. And I am selfish enough not only to take advantage of them to the fullest measure, but I even ask for more,—that you would prove your friendship by being present at my interview with your master, as a spokesman for my cause.
Zuzanka.—How can I be grateful that the Highest Game Warden should place himself under my protection?
Kinský.—I knew that I would not be refused. For if my rival feels assured of the support and friendship of the ladies, it is fitting for the other lady to give her support to the weaker rival.
Zuzanka.—Hannewaldt? And where is that terrible rival?
Kinský.—He saw to that ahead of time. She came along at his side.
Kinský.—I was afraid of her for I felt that a word from her would have considerable weight with Mr. Rozmberk.
Zuzanka (Guardedly).—With Mr. Rozmberk, you say?
Kinský.—He seems to be giving her especial favor and great attention.
Kinský, Zuzanka, Rozmberk and later Bilent
Rozmberk (Stepping out of his apartment and seeing Kinsky with Zuzanka).—Mr. Kinský escorted by my beauty.
Kinský.—The shadow of that beauty begs the master for a few words.
Rozmberk.—I will gladly grant the request; but I do not know whether the present is the opportune moment. Is Bilent present?
Kinský.—I saw nobody, even when I entered.
Rozmberk.—Then he must be in his own den. (Goes to the secret entrance and taps three times.)
Zuzanka (To Kinský).—The master was not ready, sir, to grant a request so to gain time for consideration he has gone for a walk in the garden.
(Bilent enters from the room, Rozmberk talking with him.)
Kinský.—I will not delay this matter longer, and the less so, lovely lady, if I can be assured of your assistance.
Zuzanka.—But your words must be calmer than they were a while ago when you were speaking of Miss Polyxena.
Kinský.—I did not wish to hint at anything more than this, that it seems to me that the master is following her attentively about and it may affect the request of her uncle which she also has at heart.
Rozmberk (Secretly to Bilent).—And Polyxena? (Bilent answers him.)
Zuzanka.—And as yet I am not certain that she has referred to Mr. Hannewaldt and his plans. But we will at least give close attention to everything. (Bilent walks away to Rozmberk’s room.)
Rozmberk.—Well now, brother, your request?
Kinský.—Is it possible for me to learn how soon you will decide or, better still, whether your decision is as yet made?
Rozmberk.—In regard to your mission? I have not as yet decided, but compose yourself. I think that the matter is not so difficult as it appeared at first. Wait until tomorrow, by that time I ought to be able to give you a definite answer, at least in some respects.
Kinský.—In some respects? I cannot yet hope for a complete answer? Then perhaps you will permit me to give you more information than I could give you in our first interview?
Rozmberk (Ironically and jestingly).—The Archduke has something else to tell me? (To himself.) Mr. Kinský is in a great hurry.
(All three seat themselves; Zuzanka near Rozmberk, with hand on his shoulder.)
Kinský.—That is so. For he does not ask for your support for himself alone, but he is hoping to see you, in the near future, in such a position as your past as well as your family summon you.
Rozmberk (Laughing).—As is known to you, brother, I am not accustomed to seeing members of the House of Hapsburg displaying any particular friendship for one another.
Kinský.—Rudolf is not Matthias,—and Matthias will suceed by himself, be assured of that, in not only esteeming your help but in taking advantage of your advice, and in giving you opportunity to take an active part in all coming public affairs.
Rozmberk.—I hope that Matthias will find men who are able to give him sufficient support in that difficult enterprise.
Kinský.—First of all, he is concerned about a military leader. The present conflict will not be ended without a struggle. And Matthias well remembers the fame that you acquired in the Hungarian uprising against the Turks as the highest captain of the Bohemian army. And the Archduke greatly desires to see you make your present military glory still the greater by taking over supreme command of the military forces of Matthias.
Zuzanka (Jestingly).—It seems to me, Highest Game Warden, that you have already discovered the best means of winning over our master.
Kinský (With a bow).—Your presence, lady, is not the least influence in my favor.
Rozmberk.—Before you, Kinský, I need not conceal the fact that I am pleased with the attention I have received from the Archduke. It is even possible that I might wish to serve him on the field.
Kinský.—That is of the greatest importance as the first step. But as soon as he takes the throne, he will need your assistance in affairs of state.
Rozmberk.—It is not necessary to look so far ahead. But much depends on other matters, Kinský,—and I myself would like to see one thing realized.
Kinský.—And that is?
Rozmberk.—I am informed that the Archduke Matthias is ready to recognize freedom of religious belief not only in this kingdom, but in all other lands as well. If he wishes to gain my support for his cause, I must first be assured that this is firmly his intention. Individualism among our brothers is still frowned upon and suppressed as though it were an evil thing, and a menace to unity of belief. Yet there is not a church on earth which would shine more and favor people with purer laws.
Kinský (Zealously).—Be assured that Matthias will proclaim not only freedom of religious faith, but freedom of conscience as well. No faith shall any longer be suppressed, the least that union of the Bohemian Brethren to which you yourself belong.
(Bilent enters the room guardedly, trying to catch the last words.)
Rozmberk.—I am an individualist; but were I not, I still believe I would proclaim myself in favor of freedom of religious belief. If the Archduke is ready to grant this wish of mine, I assure you that I am ready to align myself with him, and to help him win the kingdom he desires. King Rudolf opposes this religious freedom we desire,—and I do not think he is serving either himself or others by his opposition.
Kinský.—Only those who intentionally keep that sentiment alive within him,—foreigners in the country, and our chief opponents.
Rozmberk (Rising; Kinský and Zuzanka rise also).—That is true. But excuse me for a while. Just remain here, and in the morning I will give you my definite answer.
Kinský.—And can I possibly hope that it may be given sooner?
Zuzanka (Hanging on the arm of Rozmberk).—It seems to me that you can consider the answer final. (They walk away.)
Bilent alone. Later Oldřich and the mistresses of Rozmberk enter.
Bilent.—The dice are beginning to turn wrong and if I did not adjust them at times I know not how the game would end after a while. (Steps to the door from which Rozmberk stepped out.) Oldřich! (Oldřich enters.) Just as soon as the master comes, and Kinský goes to his own room—
Oldřich.—Kinský has gone with him.
Bilent.—Then Kinský must have stepped out from the castle; all the better—Go to the Secretary Hannewaldt and tell him,—but alone, of course,—that the master commanded me to make an announcement to him. (Oldřich goes away.) Here is need of action swifter and sharper than any taken by the smooth court eel, the Highest Game Warden. And now it is time to turn loose the golden pheasant and all its chickens. (Opens the door leading into the room of Rozmberk.) Fly, fly away, you pretty birds, lest your long captivity should cripple your wings.
(From the room proceed the mistresses of Rozmberk, fifteen in number. Of them, three are Bohemian,—Anna, Eliška, and Lenka, one a Turkish girl, others, Spanish, Roumanian, Indian, Jewish, Polish, German, French, Russian, Bosnian, Madgar, and final- ly a Moor.)
Anna.—Is the master here?
Bilent.—Yees, yes, fine ladies. (Greeting the others.) Aj, dona signora,—how beautiful you are, and you, you lovely pearls from the Sultan’s harem—
Eliška.—Silence, Master Wizard, your tongue behind your teeth!
Bilent.—Terrifying commandant, how can I be serious and conduct myself gravely when I see so many lovely creatures around me! (The Moor steps up to him and laughs with a leer in her face. Bilent backs away, looking frightened.) Ha, you she-devil, would that Satan had left you in your own country!
Lenka (Quickly finishing).—From which I flew away!
Bilent (With comical feigned anger).—Certainly nobody else on earth cared for you! (All the others leave; in the meantime Hannewaldt enters.)
Bilent and Hannewaldt
Hannewaldt.—What is this aggregation of girls and nationalities which has just now passed me?
Bilent.—Aj, the harem of the master, Mr. Secretary.
Hannewaldt.—Then these are his mistresses, of whom we hear everywhere we go? How long have they been here?
Bilent.—A number of years; although they are occasionally exchanged. The master was born under the Gemmi,—and he is all the while looking for his twin,—though he seeks for it only among the members of the female sex.
Hannewaldt (Laughing).—And when was this collection made?
Bilent.—During the lifetime of the Lady Katherine, wife of the master. The lovely Zuzanka was then present, also some five or six of the girls.
Hannewaldt.—The Lady Katherine allowed it?
Bilent.—Aj, the one was ready to grant a little happiness to the other. (Quietly, intimately.) The Lady Katherine was fond of entertaining herself with the young attendants,—and Hendrych Sobek of Kornic was especially favored by her.
Hannewaldt (Laughing).—So she could not object when His Grace started a special harem for himself.
Bilent (Laughing).—Yes, yes, Master Secretary.—And now His Grace has fifteen women altogether,—fresh, active, loving,—almost each one of a different nationality. Two weeks ago he bought the last one, the Moor, brought in from Africa by way of Venice.
Hannewaldt.—So I can see that you are gay here at Třebon.
Bilent.—The collection was formerly even larger than now.—(Seriously).—But I have a serious matter to take up with you.
Hannewaldt (Surprised).—Unhappy news!
Bilent.—To some extent. The master is inclining toward Kinský,—he has promised to give him a certain, and as it now appears, a favorable answer by tomorrow.
Hannewaldt.—Then my cause is going down!
Bilent.—Even now it is not altogether lost. You may yet win Rozmberk,—he does not stand solid, he vacillates every other moment.
Hannewaldt.—But if he has given his word?
Bilent.—He gave it for the present; he may change his mind again. It all depends on you and the time and manner in which you speak with him.
Hannewaldt (Taking Bilent by the hand as though to ask a favor.)—How shall I act?
Bilent.—First select an opportune moment when he shall be in a pleasant mood.
Hannewaldt.—That time is best known to you.
Bilent.—Then bear in mind two things; strike at his ambition and guard against irritating him by an untimely word. You have a difficult part to play,—for more than two years the enemies of Rudolf have been trying to win him, and now the devil has brought Kinský here at just this time. But all may yet be well.
Hannewaldt.—His ambition I may fulfill, but how can I be assured that I will not arouse his anger.
Bilent.—I have a small recipe; do not offend him in anything and if possible see that Kinský falls into that mistake. Promise him that Rudolf the King proclaims religious freedom to all creeds—especially to the order of the Bohemian Brethren.
Hannewaldt.—That I must not, I cannot do! The Emperor would never consent! (To himself) And I have been the foremost to hold him back!
(Enter Ctibor of Ujezda. Both bow. Ctibor stops on seeing Hannewaldt.)
Bilent, Hannewaldt and Ctibor of Ujezda
Bilent (Approaching Ctibor).—The master is not here.
Ctibor.—I am not seeking him. I was just coming to you. (Secretly) You can do it now as easily as another time,—speak a word for me to Hannewaldt.
Bilent.—I will do so, wait right here; perhaps you may be of service to him yourself. (Goes to Hannewaldt.)
Hannewaldt (Quietly).—It is necessary to go.
Bilent.—He is our friend.
Hannewaldt.—But still I hesitate to act in his presence.
Bilent.—Would you care to step into my laboratory?
Hannewaldt.—No, not there.
Bilent.—Then into the observatory. (Aloud.) Here is where my realm begins. (Ctibor approaches him. Bilent points to the secret door.)
Ctibor (Jokingly).—Do not venture into those places,—that is the antechamber of the archdevil.
Hannewaldt.—What is here?
Bilent.—First the laboratory for my alchemistic experiments which extends beyond the master’s apartments, to the main door. The other one is underground. Upstairs is the astrological observatory where the master tries out his experiments and cabalistic rites, in which, however, I have but little faith. And this space here (pointing to the room in which they were standing) also has its own history, more erotic than terrible: more than one dove has been captured here.
Ctibor (Maliciously).—Birdcatcher Bilent!
Bilent.—I promise you freedom of both body and soul. Pray enter. If you fear the laboratory, we will step into the observatory only. (Hannewaldt vanishes in the doorway.) You, friend, remain for the present in my place. (Vanishes. As he is closing the door, Polyxena enters the room from the antechamber. Ctibor hastens to her.)
Ctibor and Polyxena
Polyxena.—I have found you, Mr. Ujezda!
Ctibor.—Have you a request that I can grant?
Polyxena.—My uncle has been summoned for an interview with the master, and a fast courier has just arrived with a letter which should be delivered instantly, especially if he is with the count. So I myself took special charge of it in order that my uncle receive it at once.
Ctibor.—Count Rozmberk is still below in the garden. Mr. Hannewaldt went with the master of Alchemy to the laboratory, but both will return very soon.
Polyxena (Looking frightened).—Into the alchemist’s vault? That is not a cheerful place.
Ctibor.—I am not afraid, but it is with a feeling of disgust that I enter the laboratory myself, and I perceive that you are afraid of the spot.
Polyxena.—You are my protector, and I need have no fear.
Ctibor (Ardently).—Your protector,—but how brief must be my dream! A day or two will pass by, and you will be taken away,—taken away from me!
Polyxena.—And though it were even harder to endure the absence, it cannot be prevented.
Ctibor.—It lies entirely in your hands.
Polyxena.—That is not the case.
Ctibor.—It frightens me to think that you will go away, lady, it frightens me when I realize that I may lose you. Perhaps there will be no other opportunity before your departure for me to talk with you alone. (With growing earnestness.) Let your absence from me be but very brief, and let your soul, your heart, be mine, for I cannot tear my thought away from you.
Polyxena (Ardently).—And if I myself desired to be near you, how would it be possible to fulfill that wish?
Polyxena (Gazing at Ctibor, who is drawing her closer to him). Ctibor, what can possibly come of this mutuality and love but pain?
Ctibor.—Not at all, not at all, you shall be mine, you must be mine. And if happiness is to be found anywhere in the world it must live and dwell with us. I have a small estate and it is possible for me to acquire some of the things in life that I have pursued.
Polyxena.—You are free, but I am not.
Ctibor.—I will ask your uncle for your hand and heart, and should he be opposed, my master, who has been a second father and a guardian to me, will also be my spokesman.
Polyxena.—Ctibor! (Falling on his breast.)
Ctibor (Embracing her).—Heaven has showered me with blessings! (Kisses her.)
Ctibor, Polyxena, Hannewaldt and Bilent
Bilent (Stepping from the laboratory with Hannewaldt).—Those are my hiding places,—and if you have been uneasy in them you may take a long breath and rest at ease.
Polyxena (Seeing Hannewaldt stepping out, hastens to meet him.).—Uncle, here is an important letter! (Handing it to him.)
Hannewaldt (Looks at it and starts).—Nobody else has had this in his hands?
Polyxena.—It has not left my hands. (Hannewaldt approaches her, quickly opens the letter and reads. It is apparent there are two letters sealed together.)
Bilent (To Polyxena).—Would the lady like to look into my apartments?
Polyxena (Frightened).—Not at all, sir. (Walks off toward Ctibor.) I feel oppressed when I am even in sight of them.
Hannewaldt (Reads the letter with clouded face).—Wait for me, Polyxena, in the room. (Polyxena walks away, escorted to the door by Ctibor.) Mr. Bilent, I must speak at once with the master!
Bilent.—That is impossible. If the master is entertaining himself among his mistresses, nobody must disturb him.
Hannewaldt (Emphatically).—There is much need of haste, the matter is important! Sir, I will give you anything you may desire, only gain a hearing for me with the master.
Bilent.—Wait then, sir, an hour or a half hour. As soon as Mr. Rozmberk returns, it may be possible to speak with him.
Hannewaldt.—And in a half hour’s time everything may be lost!
Ctibor (Turning at the door).—If an important matter is at stake there must be no delay. If is agreeable to you, sir, I will try to gain a hearing for you.
Hannewaldt (Quickly).—I will be grateful to you, young knight!
Bilent.—All is useless! The master is quick-tempered and you will only arouse him against yourself.
Ctibor.—I will try by peaceful measures to win him to our frame of mind.
Hannewaldt.—Do so—I must now make use of all. (Ctibor walks away.)
Hannewaldt, Bilent and later Ctibor
Bilent.—Why such haste?
Hannewaldt.—The president of the king’s council, Cardinal Dietrichstein, writes and commands me (pointing to the letter) to win Rozmberk at any price, and herewith gives me full power to do and act as I please.
Bilent.—This may favor your cause, and you may yet gain your aim.
Hannewaldt (Turning to Bilent, with emphasis).—And first of all, I must gain others. Help me to persuade Rozmberk to accept my proposition and you shall become the first alchemist in the kingdom.
Bilent (Overcome with surprise).—My word on it, Master Secretary! I am entirely yours, and I hope to be of great service to you! (Ctibor quickly approaches.)
Ctibor.—For the present, luck is against us,—it will be necessary to give all your strength to this.
Bilent.—You have been at the master’s?
Ctibor.—Not yet. But heard reports on the way which you ought to know before we proceed any further.
Hannewaldt.—What is it?
Ctibor.—The master has invited Kinský to take a walk in the garden with him and his mistresses.
Bilent (Crushed).—Then we are lost!
Bilent.—That signifies that the master is his. Such a favor he has never before conferred upon any strange guest. I fear this is the end of everything as far as we are concerned.
Ctibor.—And I have yet more to tell you,—I heard it from Chamberlain Vladislav, the acting attendant. The master talked with Kinský about King Rudolf, and approved of certain demands of Kinský’s.
Bilent (Without hope).—I said so, and it is the truth. Nobody else could have helped him except Zuzanka. Kinský must have won her.
Hannewaldt (Thoughtfully).—Only one way is left,—Kinský must be stopped before he carries on any further negotiations with Rozmberk.
Ctibor (Eagerly).—I will take the responsibility upon myself.
Hannewaldt (Agitated).—My young friend, if you can succeed in doing so, I will help you realize your dreams while they are still yours, and open to you the gate to the king’s court.
Ctibor.—Then will you grant me the request which I will lay before you?
Ctibor.—I will bring the master! (Disappears.)
Hannewaldt and Bilent
Hannewaldt.—I have full power to act. I will offer him any national office he may desire,—even that of minister of Interior Government under Rudolf.
Bilent.—Will Rudolf and Dietrich consent?
Hannewaldt.—They will, for they will likewise be protected.
Bilent (Deliberating the words of Hannewaldt).—Master Secretary, I know of something that may help.
Hannewaldt.—What is it?
Bilent.—Possibly your offers will win him; I doubt it. If all your efforts should fail you, then it will be time to leave further negotiations in the hands of Polyxena.
Hannewaldt.—I fail to understand you.
Bilent.—If you will make a very brilliant offer to Rozmberk, it is possible that you may catch him with it. But you can accomplish more than the minister of the king’s council himself can do, by blinding him with the charms of your niece. Put the responsibility upon her, let her confer with Rozmberk about this affair of yours.
Hannewaldt.—Impossible. She knows nothing about it. I only took her along to conceal the real purpose of my trip.
Bilent.—She need not do much. Just let her know what is happening, so she will try to win the favor of Rudolf (quickly)—and use it to your advantage.
Hannewaldt (Gazing awhile at Bilent.)—She will never lend herself to that!
Bilent.—Then you must give up your project.
Hannewaldt (Agitated).—I am compelled to win him. And, were I to accept your advice, who will guarantee me that I can win Rudolf?
Bilent.—I and the passion of Rozmberk. He is carried away with your niece.
Hannewaldt.—I will just try promises that touch upon his ambition.
Bilent.—He will reject them. Kinsky has already made them, and Rozmberk is far closer to Matthias than he is to Rudolf.
Hannewaldt.—There is no reason for it.
Bilent.—There is. Matthias has for a long time been in favor of religious freedom, especially of the order of Bohemian Brethren to which Rozmberk belongs, and the teachings of Luther which the German princes adopted. Rudolf will make concessions to none other than the Catholic faith. If you fail to win Rozmberk with the bait I have mentioned, then all your negotiations will be in vain.
Hannewaldt.—I cannot make a sacrifice of Polyxena,—she is my niece!
Bilent.—Then you must make a sacrifice of yourself.
Hannewaldt.—That must not happen. (To himself, quickly.) If I fail in the mission which the king and Dietrich have imposed upon me, it will mean the end of me and all my plans. Anything that I may ask will be mine, if I can but gain Rozmberk,—and should I fail in this mission, I am ruined!—(Aloud) Bilent, if all my other offers are made in vain, I will place Polyxena in his hands!
Hannewaldt, Bilent and Ctibor
Ctibor (Entering quickly).—The master will be here instantly! Ihave stirred him up. I fought my way into his privacy. I disturbed his rest. He has told Kinský that he will keep all his promises. Nevertheless, he is ready to give you a hearing. He is curious to know what this important matter may be.
Hannewaldt.—I thank you. For this act, I will reward you in the name of the King.
Ctibor.—I ask for my reward at your hands sir; fulfill my one request, and I gladly relinquish all others.
Hannewaldt.—And that is?
Ctibor.—The hand of Miss Polyxena!
Hannewaldt (Wildly).—You are mad!
Ctibor.—Do not fear that my demand is too great!
Hannewaldt (Faintly).—But I cannot grant it!
Hannewaldt.—I cannot decide about the hand of my niece.
Ctibor (Joyfully).—I have her consent!
Hannewaldt.—I do not believe it—she is promised to another!
Ctibor.—Impossible, her lips and heart cannot lie!
Hannewaldt.—I wanted to say, she is intended for another.
Ctibor.—Oh give her to me, give her to me!
Hannewaldt (Thoughtfully.) All is in vain,—give her up.
(Ctibor giddily sinks down into a seat, supported by Bilent. Rozmberk just then enters. Bilent leads Ctibor away, unnoticed by Rozmberk, into the antechamber.)
Rozmberk and Hannewaldt
Rozmberk.—What is so important, Master Secretary? See how obliging I am to you.
Hannewaldt.—The urgency of the commands which have been imposed upon me by the king excuse my boldness.
Rozmberk.—And they are?
Hannewaldt.—The Archduke Matthias is preparing for an apparent uprising. Therefore, the King desires to know who will be his friends, and who will stand by Matthias.
Rozmberk.—And what is your desire, or the King’s further commands?
Hannewaldt.—I am empowered to offer to Your Grace the highest office in the realm. You may name whatever you desire. Cardinal Dietrich pledges himself to fulfill the promise, if you will come forth and proclaim yourself in favor of the King.
Rozmberk (Surprised and laughing).—I cannot think ill of you, sir, for wishing to tell me about it. However,—
Rozmberk.—You can understand why the offer carries no great weight at a time when the throne is liable to change its rulers.
Hannewaldt.—But that will not happen!
Rozmberk.—Many things lie outside one’s power.
Hannewaldt.—Well, even though it were possible that a change might occur, with your aid, Your Grace, it can never happen.
Rozmberk.—Who can tell how things will turn out?
Hannewaldt.—All is well should Your Grace but accept the King’s offer, a part in the government of his realm.
Rozmberk (to himself).—A part in the government of the realm—(Aloud) For me that is an honorable offer. But I do not even ask what part in the government that would be. For how would it be possible to govern in the midst of all this turmoil,—when His Majesty, the King himself is almost opposing peace and order in the realm?
Hannewaldt.—I do not understand you, my master. For what could be pleasanter than to help rule in the country after putting an end to the present turmoil?
Rozmberk.—If the king is really in earnest, he can readily establish peace. What has been and now is the chief cause of dissatisfaction in the kingdom? Just this, that His Majesty, allowing himself to be swayed by one influence at court, will not allow us religious freedom, and freedom of conscience and conviction as well. (Hannewaldt displays apparent surprise and looks ill at ease.) That is the cause of all this unrest which is stirring up such mighty waves that they threaten to undermine the very throne. And you, Mr. Secretary, are you able to promise that the king will yield to our demands, that we can expect him to grant us freedom in religious affairs?
Hannewaldt (Trying to find a means of escape).—I do not believe, Your Grace, that you need attach so much importance to this issue. What is a difference of religious opinion compared with other more important matters which are at stake just now?
Rozmberk.—Well, since our request concerns a matter so insignificant, surely the king will not refuse to grant it. Have you the power, Master Secretary, to give some sort of a definite promise in regard to the same?
Hannewaldt (Trying to suppress his discomfort).—I have not the power to do so, the matter was not taken up by the king.
Rozmberk.—Then I fear that our conference will be sadly effected.
Hannewaldt.—Then Your Grace considers my offer so lightly? Not only a part of the government does the king offer you, but whichever part you may desire.
Rozmberk.—And our faith? Religious freedom?
Hannewaldt (Agitated).—Religious freedom, absolute religious freedom, to the Lutherans and the Bohemian Brethren?
Rozmberk.—That is the case, and I desire it above all things.
Hannewaldt (Decidedly).—That is impossible to grant.
Rozmberk.—And you will not even promise to ask for this of the king?
Hannewaldt.—I cannot, I cannot! I am a Catholic (to himself) and the king must not escape from our hands.
Rozmberk.—Then it will be useless to discuss the matter further.
Hannewaldt (Frightened).—And you are willing, Count, to reject everything else without further consideration?
Rozmberk.—My words are clear.
Hannewaldt (To himself).—I must yield, even in this case, I must yield. (Aloud) Well then, Mr. Rozmberk, I will sacrifice all that it is possible to offer. I will advise His Majesty to proclaim religious freedom, and will use my influence to bring this measure about.
Rozmberk (Decidedly, with a laugh).—And now you must excuse me, Master Secretary, if I no longer ask for any further sacrifice at your hands. You have declared yourself so plainly that I could not possibly consider what you say.
Hannewaldt (Quickly).—I will give you a guarantee, an absolute guarantee.
Rozmberk.—And that is?
Hannewaldt.—This letter (pointing to the smaller of the two which he took from the one envelope), a letter written in the name of King Rudolf by Cardinal Dietrich through which he binds himself to fulfill any promise that I may consider expedient to make.
Rozmberk (With a laugh).—And a similar guarantee comes to me from the other side.
Hannewaldt (As though he did not hear the last words, speaking quickly).—Yes, but if necessary (easily and with growing emphasis) I will increase that guarantee.
Rozmberk.—I am interested!
Hannewaldt.—Here is Dietrichstein’s letter, and besides a guarantee from the king, I promise you even my niece.
Hannewaldt.—I will leave her here, so you will believe what I have said. I na short time, you will acquire the highest honors.
Rozmberk (Overcome with surprise).—You surely do not mean it!
Hannewaldt.—You have heard me; I am awaiting your decision.
Rozmberk (Quickly walks across the room, his eye lighting up. Steps before Hannewaldt. In a subdued voice).—If what you have said is really true and if you are sure there is not the slightest doubt about it,—it may yet be possible,—after a short consideration, to grant your request.
Hannewaldt (Quickly).—You pledge your word!
Rozmberk.—As soon as I am sure of you.
Rozmberk, Hannewaldt and Bilent
Bilent (Appearing).—Mr. Kinský wishes to enter. Rozmberk.—I cannot see him. Tell him for me, sir, not to entertain any doubtful hopes, for my words were in no manner binding promises.
Hannewaldt (Privately to Bilent).—Go down, sir, to see her—
Bilent.—To your niece?
Hannewaldt.—And tell her that the master invites her to step up here.
Bilent.—It is agreed—
Rozmberk (to Bilent).—I will give you the key from the jewels, to hold her for awhile.
Bilent (With a laugh).—It shall be done, I shall do so! (Quickly walks away)
Rozmberk.—I am here, Master Secretary, in my own rooms. Bilent has received orders. (Quickly walks away.)
Hannewaldt (Alone).—This is a terrible deed! But it cannot be otherwise! If I would save myself, and rise in my service, I must sacrifice all, everything, to appease the wrath of the stormy seas, though it be necessary to cast my own child into its angry waves. Where a higher necessity is at stake, even human life must not be considered, and after all, what has been lost if one young woman be the sacrifice to a cause where she may possibly become a ruler.
Rozmberk, Hannewaldt, Bilent and Polyxena
Rozmberk (Entering from the room. To himself).—I cannot resist the desire to look at her. (Polyxena enters with Bilent. Rozmberk eagerly hastens to meet her.) You are so beautiful, Miss Polyxena, that you engage the thoughts of all who are fortunate enough to be near you. Permit me to at least indicate how interested I am.
Polyxena.—You are extremely gracious, dear master.
Rozmberk.—Your honorable uncle, to my sorrow, is preparing for a hasty departure. But Master Bilent has been commanded to give you anything that you may desire.
Polyxena.—I do not wish to give you offense, dear master, but I fear that it will be difficult for me to accept at present.
Rozmberk.—Oh do not refuse me this pleasure. It will be accepted with the knowledge of your uncle. (Bows to Polyxena, who returns the bow as she walks away. Aside to Bilent.) Is the antechamber prepared?
Bilent.—I had it closed. The attendant has left.
Rozmberk.—Very well. (Bows to Polyxena once more, and walks off to his room.)
Hannewaldt (Takes Polyxena aside. Greatly agitated).—No reason why you should refuse. And one thing more. I am concerned about a most important matter. If I fail to win Rozmberk for the king, then I myself will fall, and all those who depend upon me, even yourself will fall with me.
Polyxena (Obligingly).—If it will help you, I will also speak to him.
Hannewaldt.—Do so,—you shall speak to him. But first of all, whatever may occur, see that you do not arouse his anger, or we both are lost!
Polyxena.—I will not incense him,—but your words are so strange, I cannot grasp their meaning. Why should I make him angry?
Bilent and Polyxena
Bilent.—Graceful lady, I will now perform a very welcome duty.
Polyxena.—The whole matter is so mysterious that I cannot grasp it.
Bilent.—It is an idiosyncrasy of our ruler. Unusual beauty always captivates him, then he wishes to confer favors and bestow jewels and riches upon the one that he admires.
Polyxena.—Yes, I have heard something to that effect about his generosity, but I did not expect to share it.
Bilent.—And I thought so at once. If it is your pleasure, seat yourself, and I will open this at once. (Agitated, walks over to the table to open a jewel case.) Here you see, lady, what faith the master imposes in me. In this box there are riches valued at how many hundreds, I cannot say. I would not lie were I to state that their value might be placed at thousands. What is the matter that I cannot open it. But here it is. (Opening) Just look pretty lady,—you do not see as yet—
Polyxena.—Then how am I to look?
Bilent.—Ha, ha, (wiping the perspiration from his forehead) I meant to say that here we have just the cases. You will find the treasures within them. (Opening one.)
Bilent.—Just determine which one you will have.
Polyxena.—If the master is pressing the offer, I must not reject it, and I will accept these ear rings.
Bilent.—Aj, mere ruby sparks, of very little value. It would not go well with me were I to permit you to accept them. I dare not offer you less than this diamond pin. That is the very least that can be conferred at Třebon on such a beauty as you.
Polyxena.—Such a valuable gift I dare not accept.
Bilent.—Then you will vex Count Rozmberk.
Polyxena.—I will take it then, even though my hand trembles as I reach out for it. (Takes it in her hand.)
Bilent.—That is but a trifle. The count would gladly offer you all the jewels that he has here, if you desire them for yourself.
Polyxena (Laughing).—That is a fine jest!
Bilent.—And I could back it up with my own life. And finally what is that. If you would consent to live at the palace for some time, if you will only remain with us—
Polyxena.—But how could I?
Bilent.—Your uncle has several other trips to take—and the master, in the meantime, will be pleased to keep you here. You will be a real commandant over Třebon—
Polyxena (Rising)—I cannot consider such a thing. (Hastily) I will go to His Grace, and if itis possible—(looking frightened)—but no—I have heard reports about the castle—I myself do not know—
Bilent.—Ha ha, so they have frightened you with fairy tales?—Nothing but wild reports. But just wait a moment, I beg, the master himself would like to have a word with you—
Polyxena.—I will come, I will come back with my uncle.
Bilent.—Then, gracious lady, you refuse otherwise to remain?
Polyxena (Horrified)—Away from here, away! (Tries to reach the door.)
Bilent.—Then it becomes my duty to entertain you for a while. (Leaps to the door.)
Polyxena.—Let me go!
Bilent (Laughing).—Not here, beautiful fairy, this door is closed.
Polyxena.—What is happening here? (Looking around.) Good Heavens! (Hastens to the door which leads to the apartment of Rozmberk.)
Bilent.—Ha haha! We have taken precaution not to let the bird escape!
Polyxena (Vainly trying to open it).—Locked!
Bilent.—Locked, my lovely captive!
Polyxena (Looking toward the window frightened).—Then there is only one way. (Runs to the window.)
Bilent (Runs after her and stamps his foot).—Rise up, spirits, and close the entrance! (An iron grate rises before the entrance.)
Polyxena (Backs away in terror).—This is an ugly play of the spirits. I am captured and in their power.
Bilent (Advancing and making a sweeping bow).—Imprisoned, beauty, imprisoned by love, and for the love of Rozmberk.
Rozmberk’s apartment. Doors leading to it from both sides. Another door at the right leading to the wardrobe. In the center, at the rear, is a black iron door, a grated window beside it, leading intothe alchemist’s laboratory.
Zuzanka seated at the spinning wheel; Ctibor stands before her, greatly agitated; later Kinský.
Zuzanka.—What are you saying?
Ctibor.—Not a sign of her anywhere. Hannewaldt has her hidden outside of his own apartments.
Zuzanka (Quickly).—Where else could she be?
Ctibor.—I do not know. I have been watching Hannewaldt’s apartments and I know that Polyxena did not return to them.
Zuzanka (With growing suspicion).—Then some one else surely knows where she is concealed. I must find out where she is, and if you should learn something in the meantime, Ctibor,—Then Kinský was right, after all.
Kinský (Appears in the door at the left, gloomy, cool, but courteous).—I am looking for the master of the castle, and instead I find the mistress.
Zuzanka.—I also am waiting for the master, and do not know what is delaying him.
Kinský.—I could, at least, lovely lady, offer a supposition.
Zuzanka (Quickly).—Mr. Kinský:
Kinský.—A supposition which would be suitable for your ears alone.
Zuzanka.—I will let you know, Ctibor, as soon as the master appears. (Ctibor leaves through the door at the left.)
Kinský and Zuzanka
Zuzanka (Anxiously and fearfully)—What do you know?
Kinský.—That the very thing has happened which I suspected as soon as I arrived—that to which I called your attention, lovely lady.
Kinský.—I must admit that it sounds improbable as long as Třebon is ruled by her whom the world calls beautiful Zuzanka.
Zuzanka.—Do you know what has become of Polyxena—of Rozmberk?
Kinský.—Where Count Rozmberk may be at this moment, I do not know; I was seeking him here for I am threatened with the loss of everything that I have gained. But I am able to tell you where Polyxena is.
Kinský.—In the apartments of Count Rozmberk!
Zuzanka.—For heaven’s sake, that cannot be!
Kinský.—lt is the case. I positively know that she was escorted to Rozmberk’s apartments while Hannewaldt was with him. Her uncle went away, but no one has seen Polyxena since.
Zuzanka.—Then they have an understanding! She is in it with them.
Kinský.—For that reward, Rozmberk has deserted the Archduke and me,—he has found one more pleasing than you are, lady, and will give her control of the palace in your place!
Zuzanka (Agitated).—That shall not happen!
Kinský (Obligingly).—I will help you in everything, just command me. I will exert myself to obey you.
Zuzanka (Jealously).—If she is in the Count’s apartments, I shall find her; I must find her, wherever she is. Then see to it that she is taken from here, that she is lost to the count so he will never, never see her again.
Kinský.—I will do it if I must risk my very life. I must not leave Rozmberk in her power, and if I can rely upon your aid, lovely lady, all may yet be well with my cause.
Zuzanka.—I will work for your interests against Hannewaldt’s if you will only help me get rid of her!
Kinský.—Then I still have hope and will yet be victorious! Your charms are not so insignificant, lovely lady, that you could so easily be defeated by a rival. But you have even more at stake than I have, pretty lady. The master may appear at any moment. What are your plans? How may I serve you?
Zuzanka.—If she is in this wing of the palace we surely can find her. I have the keys to all the rooms of Rozmberk’s apartments.
Kinský.—I am certain that she must be, unless unseen spirits have carried her away under the very eyes of those who are now on guard for me.
Zuzanka.—We will soon know. (Opens the door at the right and enters.) Nobody is here.
Kinský (Alone).—Then a little further away, in the adjoining room! (to himself) Everything is a lottery now, and one hazardous play may yet restore to me what I have gained and lost.
(Screams from the adjoining room. Polyxena rushes out followed by Zuzanka.)
Kinský, Zuzanka, and Polyxena
Polyxena.—Save me, save me, Lady!
Zuzanka (Trembling with fear while she hangs to a chair).—Save you, lady? It appears to me that I would serve you to a poor purpose by doing so.
Polyxena.—Oh take pity on me, and if possible help me to escape from this dreadful place!
Zuzanka (Surprised).—You wish to flee?
Kinsky (Aside to Zuzanka).—We were mistaken. She seems to be innocent.
Polyxena.—I was trapped! Bilent imprisoned me, then turned a deaf ear to all my pleas. He went away, leaving me alone!
Zuzanka (Quietly to Kinský).—Rozmberk had her trapped.
Kinský (To Zuzanka).—But surely with Hannewaldt’s consent. Away with her, away from here! In the interest of your own cause, prevent Rozmberk from seeing her again. (To Polyxena) If you have faith in us, the lady will hide you for the present, and I will take you from the palace as soon as the way is clear.
Polyxena (To Zuzanka and Kinský).—Do so, protect me!
Zuzanka.—Gladly, I will gladly help you. But first you must leave this room, and go to my apartment.
Kinský.—Is it possible to get her out of here?
Polyxena.—I will run away if I must fight an opening through a multitude.
Kinský (Goes to the door at the left and opens it).—All in vain!
Polyxena and Zuzanka (Simultaneously).—What did you say?
Kinský.—Here is Rozmberk!
Zuzanka.—Lock the door so he cannot enter.
Kinský.—Then we surely would be lost. Quickly, this way! (Points to the wardrobe door.)
Zuzanka.—We will hide you!
Polyxena.—Where can I go?
Zuzanka.—Step in here for the present, and do not expose yourself. (Pointing to the wardrobe.) I will be responsible for you.
(Polyxena slips into the wardrobe, Kinský closing the door after her. Then Zuzanka closes the door leading from the right.)
Zuzanka (Seating herself).—Let us be composed.
Kinský (As though continuing their conversation).—It seems to me that it will be useless to wait any longer. (Rozmberk and Bilent enter the room.)
Rozmberk, Bilent, Zuzanka, Kinský
Zuzanka.—The master has finally come. You allowed us to wait a long time. (Bilent walks off to the laboratory.)
Rozmberk.—I did not expect to keep you waiting.
Kinský.—I have come to request Your Grace for a short interview. I take it that I need not place any faith in the statement made to me a short time ago by Mr. Bilent. You were doubtless preoccupied and I irritated you at an inopportune moment.
Rozmberk.—Not at all. I never allow myself to be irritated by my friends. You are as dear to me now, my brother, as you formerly were, and happen what may, nothing must touch our friendship.
Kinský.—Do not complete the second half, Rozmberk, but keep good faith with me with these words.
Rozmberk.—I will not finish, since that is your request, and it pleases me only too well that the conversation regarding this subject need not be continued.
Zuzanka.—Then our guest may still feel that the answer you gave him in the garden is binding and a final one.
Rozmberk.—Bilent informed Mr. Kinský of my final decision.
Kinský.—But I still hope the decision is not a final one, and that you are willing to weigh the matter from every point of view.
Rozmberk.—Sir, you have heard my decision. I will never become an ally to gain the measures for which the archduke is striving. (Kinský starts uneasily.) That is my reply.
Kinský.—If I have lost all which I was led to believe I had gained, make at least one promise which your interest demands.
Rozmberk.—And what is that?
Kinský.—Matthias will surely win. If not at once, as we hoped to do with your aid, surely he will do so in a very short time. If you will not align yourself with Matthias, then at least withdraw your aid from Rudolf.
Rozmberk (Waving him away).—Any further decision I must be free to make by myself. (Goes to Kinský and takes him by the hand.) As long as you desire to remain, you my brother shall a dear and welcome guest at Třebon. (Kinský bows to Rozmberk and Zuzanka, at whom he looks meaningly, and walks away.)
Rozmberk and Zuzanka
Zuzanka (In a flattering manner).—You have just refused to grant a favor, and I was coming to ask for one.
Rozmberk.—What can I do to gratify you?
Zuzanka.—Gratify! Formerly you used to ask me what you might do to win my love!
Rozmberk (Good naturedly).—Aj, you surely are not complaining?
Zuzanka.—I no longer merely suspect,—I now know beyond a doubt that your love belongs to another.
Rozmberk (Stirring uneasily, to himself).—How much does she know? (Aloud) What news have you for me? I notice that a thundercloud is appearing upon that smooth white brow of yours, and I fear the flashes of lightning which may soon strike all about me.
Zuzanka.—No, not around you, Mr. Vok, not at all. They are aimed at you directly, and they must not miss their aim.
Rozmberk.—Then I only pray they may be somewhat less destructive than they are wont to be. What would become of me if one of them should strike and fell me.
Zuzanka.—There will be many of them, not only one!
Rozmberk.—Cruel one, you desire nothing but my death! But I know away. Go, and let them strike, release them all, but through the medium of your wonderful eyes. As they flash through those moist depths, their fatal power will be destroyed!
Zuzanka.—You take me lightly and laugh at me, yet I know you are deceiving me!
Rozmberk.—With what, my beauty?
Zuzanka.—You are hiding the lady that Hannewaldt has brought.
Rozmberk (With a start).—Who told you that?
Zuzanka.—No one had to be present. One can guess where she is for she entered your apartment and has never left it.
Rozmberk.—How carefully my apartment must be watched when my Zuzanka can tell me of every one who comes and goes and leaves or enters.
Zuzanka (Hanging on his arm).—Count, command the lady to leave the palace. Quiet me once more, and restore my peace of mind.
Rozmberk (With a laugh).—We will speak of it later, lovely one. Hannewaldt wishes to speak with me about a most important matter.
Zuzanka.—Do not send me away. Let Hannewaldt wait when it is I who asks permission to be with you yet a while. And besides, you have promised Třebon to walk over the meadows toward evening with the entire court. Let us go together, and I will accompany you.
Rozmberk (To himself).—She wants to draw me out of the house. No, no, I must not allow it. (Aloud) We will go in a half hour and take a stroll over the meadows. In the meantime, dress yourself for me—as prettily as you can. Now I must be alone, and do my work.
Zuzanka (Ardently).—Without me! I go now, Count, I will go, and your cruel command is altogether unnecessary. (Aside.) How shall I get her out now? (Walks away.)
Rozmberk, then Hannewaldt and Bilent
Rozmberk.—Wait! But it is as well that she is out of hearing. (Hastens to the alchemist’s laboratory and raps on the door.) Bilent! (Bilent steps out. At the same time, Hannewaldt appears in the door at the left.)
Hannewaldt (With a letter in his hand).—Here is an important letter, Your Grace. Will you sign it as the confirmation to your decision.
Rozmberk.—I will do so, Master Secretary. Leave it with me. I will give it careful inspection, and will sign it and stamp it with my seal before I go out.
Hannewaldt.—l am preparing to leave at once. Do not consider my haste improper.
Rozmberk.—In a quarter of an hour at the latest, I will do your bidding. (Hannewaldt walks away.) Quickly now. Here is the key. (Taking it out from his clothes) I have kept it myself so that an accident could not possibly happen. I will speak with her to determine whether she is inclined toward me at least a trifle. (Opens the door to the right and enters.) What has happened here? The other door is open!
Bilent (Frightened, begins to tremble).—What devil has opened it? The doors were all locked!
Rozmberk (Within).—All is empty! Bilent! (Suddenly goes out.) Bilent,—where is Polyxena?
Bilent.—She must be there,—what could have become of her?
Rozmberk.—Bring her to me, and do not dare to show yourself without her! It will go ill with you!
Bilent.—I do not care to appear alive if she is lost! (Disappears into the room.)
Rozmberk.—She isn’t there! This is a conspiracy, it was agreed upon! Only Bilent could have done this! How could Zuzanka have found out,—yes, and Hannewaldt—So this is the cause of his haste, of his breathless departure! He wanted to bind my hands so they could not be released from my decision, and in the meantime it was agreed between himself and Bilent that the girl should be protected! I swear it, I shall break up this conspiracy. Bilent, have you found her?
Bilent (Returning, bewildered).—She is not there, she has vanished!
Rozmberk.—You have released her, you had an understanding with Hannewaldt and Zuzanka! If you know where she is hidden, tell me if you value your own head. If you will not tell, or do not know, I swear that you will not live through another day!
Bilent.—Mercy, have mercy on me, master! I would swear it as solemnly as though it were my judgment day, I cannot say, I do not know where she has vanished. I have told no one where she is hidden, I have been with you only—
Rozmberk.—You rascal! (Rings, shouting through the door) Lukan! Guards!
Bilent (Kneeling).—Your mercy, master, your mercy! By all that is on earth and beside it, by all the almighty secret powers I swear to you that I am innocent! I know not where she is!
(Lukan enters with two guards.)
Rozmberk, Bilent, Lukan and guards. Later Zuzanka, Oldřich and Ctibor.
Rozmberk.—To the dungeon with this criminal (pointing to Bilent). The palace must instantly be closed and nobody must leave it under the penalty of a death sentence. Let every inch of ground be examined from the hills to the breastworks, and if the niece of Hannewaldt is in hiding, let her be brought to me at once.
Lukan.—Your Grace, your commands shall be fulfilled. (Bilent goes away in despair between the guards.)
Rozmberk.—Bilent has betrayed me. He knew at the time we were talking the matter over that she had escaped. (Zuzanka enters.) You helped her get away, you had an understanding with Bilent!
Zuzanka.—I did not see him until he came here with you. But to prove to you how unjust your suspicion is, I came to tell you that I saw her escaping.
Rozmberk.—You know where she is?
Rozmberk.—Where is she now?
Zuzanka.—Just a short time ago, I saw a young woman that looked like Polyxena, dressed in her clothes, fleeing from the castle.
Zuzanka.—To the gates. Most likely, she is trying to save herself or (with emphasis) attempting to take her own life!
Rozmberk.—On my account? On account of this joke? (Calls.) Oldřich, Ctibor! (Rings.) Bring the horses out! (Oldřich and Ctibor enter.)
Rozmberk.—Bring the horses! Whoever will overtake and save Mistress Hannewaldova will receive a hundred ducats!
Zuzanka (Joyously to herself).—All is going well! (Aside to Ctibor.) Ride with the others! I will save Polyxena! (Aloud) Make haste, before any misfortune happens! (Ctibor hurries away.)
Zuzanka (Screams).—Good Lord!
Rozmberk.—What is it?
Zuzanka.—Go, do not delay, she might in the meantime Oldřich goes to the wardrobe.)lost! (
Rozmberk.—Run and overtake her! Here, my wrap, I cannot go without it! (Zuzanka gazes anxiously at the wardrobe. Oldřich suddenly opens the door, Rozmberk after her, and there is Polyxena in full view.)
Rozmberk.—What clothes are these! It is she! (Zuzanka screams, and seeing that her trick is exposed, flees from the room.)
Polyxena, Rozmberk and Oldřich
Rozmberk (Leading Polyxena from the wardrobe overcome with surprise).—Lady, why were you hiding?
Polyxena (Despairingly).—Your Grace, save me, protect me!
Rozmberk.—Then it was actually a conspiracy against me after all. We will yet bring the conspirators to light.
Polyxena.—I myself wanted to escape and I will not stay here at least not alive!
Rozmberk (To Oldřich).—Go to Lukan; tell him to release Bilent at once. Let him come to me. And all the other commands which I gave, I recall them also. (Oldřich goes away.)
Rozmberk (To Polyxena, half jestingly).—What frightened you, lady, that you should appear as panic-stricken as though your very life were threatened?
Polyxena.—On account of you, sir, and I beg you to remember the courtesy you owe me as a host and release me at once!
Rozmberk.—I cannot, lovely creature. You were placed under my protection during the time that your uncle is absent from Třebon.
Polyxena.—I would have no respect for his wishes if you are telling me the truth in regard to his absence.
.—I intended you no harm. Surely you do not think that I would injure you in any way, that you seem to fear me so?
Polyxena.—Had I not heard your conversation from my hiding place, and if the former mysterious conduct of my uncle and yourself were not as clear as the day to me now, I would suppose that the servant, your alchemist, had criminal designs and that he alone is the guilty one.
Rozmberk (Softly).—The blame is not mine. For you must not blame me too severely if I am bewitched with your wonderful beauty and charm. All you may desire will be granted to you if you will stay at the palace for at least a while. My wishes are considered, and my word has weight not only in this kingdom, but in all the surrounding principalities which are not entirely independent of us. And your commands will be considered as readily as my own, Polyxena, if you will only stay to rule my palace with me.
Polyxena (Backing away from him)—Master, my liberty, give me my freedom! Save your dignity, your self respect and mine! You will never gain my consent to this deed!
Rozmberk (Angry and disturbed).—Never, you say? Consider well the power of my command and my word!
Rozmberk, Polyxena and Bilent
Bilent (Enters hastily)—I thank you, Your Grace! I am your faithful servant, and have been at fault in nothing.
Rozmberk.—Save your words. (To Bilent, alone.) Go to your room at once. Follow up the directions which I gave you. (To Polyxena, after Bilent has gone.) Listen my beauty, for my threats as well as my promises will surely be fulfilled. I ask for nothing, lady, except the pleasure of your lovely presence around the palace for a while.
Polyxena (Decidedly).—And were I to lose my very life, I cannot and will not be a victim to your purposes.
Rozmberk.—Never, not even should I threaten you with actual punishment?
Polyxena.—Never! I, Polyxena answer you. But there is one here who remains to avenge me. Release me, I am betrothed!
Rozmberk (Surprised).—Betrothed? Then you reject me because you are pledged to another? Do not deceive yourself, Polyxena, for I am a stern man when my anger is aroused. (From the window of the laboratory the red glow of a flame is seen.)
Polyxena.—Let your anger destroy me if you will, but I shall not change the answer I have given you. (Watches for the opportunity to leap to the door at the left. Rozmberk prevents her.)Rozmberk.—Do you see that door? (He turns Polyxena around, holding her by the wrist while pointing to the door of the laboratory.) It leads to the alchemist’s laboratory. Look at that flame glowing through yonder window! That terrible man who imprisoned you is a master of fire and flame, and his evil power fills the entire room. Look at that awful place, and remember that the wizard working there is able either to preserve your beauty and youth so they become imperishable and invulnerable to the ravages of disease and time, or else, on the other hand, he may destroy them in one breath of flame so they can never be restored.
(Polyxena screams with terror and despair.)
Rozmberk, Polyxena, Zuzanka and the mistresses of Rozmberk.
(During Rozmberk’s last speech, Zuzanka and the other mistresses enter the room unnoticed.)
Rozmberk (to Polyxena).—Think of what is awaiting you, Miss Polyxena, remember that you will fall into the complete power of the alchemist in his unearthly workshop. Bear all that in mind, consider it well, then tell me whether you are ready to place yourself under my protection, or if you still intend to defy me.
Polyxena.—Take my very life if you will, I cannot, I will not belong to you! (Gazing about, she sees Zuzanka and the other mistresses.) Save me! For the sake of all that is on earth, protect me! (Runs to the women who take her into their group. Rozmberk goes after her, but Zuzanka blocks the way.)
Zuzanka.—Master, what are you doing, what madness is is this?
Rozmberk (Roughly).—Out of my way, and give up that girl! (Seizes Polyxena, drawing her away. The mistresses form a circle around them, looking on horrified.)
Zuzanka.—For Heaven’s sake, master, let the girl go! Consider what you are trying to do!
Rozmberk (Sternly).—Silence! Not another word from any of you! (To Polyxena.) I ask you once more, do you wish to to stay here? (Silence, Polyxena wringing her hands.)
Zuzanka (After a short silence)—Say that you will relent at once, relent, and save yourself!
Polyxena.—I cannot, I cannot, let him do what he will!
Rozmberk.—Then bear the consequence of your decision. (Flings open the door leading into the laboratory, which is filled with flames, and calls) Bilent! Here, take the girl! (Pushes Polyxena into the laboratory. Polyxena screams with terror, and Bilent’s laugh answers her. The door closes, the mistresses flee, shrieking with fright, Zuzanka, Eliška, and Lenka, alone remain. Rozmberk gazes after the fleeing figures, laughs and hastens through the door at the right.)
Zuzanka, Eliška and Lenka
(Zuzanka, trembling, clings to a chair.)
Eliška.—An evil spirit has taken possession of him! He is completely in its power, and in his madness has given up his victim to be destroyed! Woe, woe unto us, what evil will he yet do today?
Lenka (Frightened but listening intently to the sounds that come from the laboratory).—I hear wild laughter, groans,—the hissing of flame, wild unknown voices,—a hellish orgy! He has destroyed, murdered her! Now all is quiet again, and I only hear that wild, unearthly laughter! (The sound of something falling is heard from the laboratory, the flame dies down. Panic-stricken, Eliška and Lenka both flee away, screaming. Zuzanka sinks down upon a chair.)
Zuzanka (Alone).—Human happiness will abide here no longer! Oh, where are those days, when light-winged joy hovered above us, scattering flowers all around, when the heavens were smiling, and the clouds of pain and sorrow could not be found! How terrible is that devil which controls you, how awful is that power which breathes desolation and destruction over your garden!
Zuzanka, Chamberlain Oldřich; later Ctibor
Oldřich (Enters terrified).—For Heaven’s sake, lady, what has gone wrong with the master?
Zuzanka.—What is it, what is happening?
Oldřich.—They are saying in the castle, that he caused the niece of Hannewaldt to be put to death in a fit of anger. He has stepped outside and the horror which is petrifying one and all of of us has turned to a wicked leer on his face.
Ctibor (Enters terribly agitated).—Zuzanka (correcting himself) my lady,—what is this terrible report which is making the rounds of the castle?
Zuzanka (Attempting to calm him).—People always say more than is true. What have you heard?
Ctibor.—Is it possible, this rumor in the air?—Oh I believe you! I believe, my lady, surely they have been lying to me. They only wished to frighten!
Zuzanka.—What did they tell you?
Ctibor.—I do not even wish to say (looking around),—then it must have happened here, in that room, the lair of the devil! (Pointing to the room.)
Zuzanka.—Well, but who has been telling you?
Ctibor.—It affected me like a lead of bullet. The women of the master,—pardon me, the mistresses Eliška and Lenka, came running to tell me they were on the very spot. And the room is dark and closed,—I shall surely go mad unless I learn the truth! Oh tell me, lady, kind lady, where is Polyxena?
Zuzanka.—Shake yourself out of your stupor, Ctibor. We must away from this spot, I will go with you before the master returns.
Ctibor.—Your words, lady, are like the wind which does not quench the flame but rather fans it the more.
Zuzanka.—Compose yourself; you must do nothing until we determine if this rumour be true. No one knows anything except that the lady was taken by force into that room—
Ctibor.—Then it is true! Oh give me the strength, my Lord, to tear these walls to pieces and bury everything, even myself, in their ruins! (Tears himself loose from Zuzanka, and looks for an opportunity to break through the door leading into the laboratory.)
Zuzanka.—Ctibor, wait, remember what you are doing! You are breaking into that room that no one, save the master and the wizard, dare enter. You are stirring up supernatural powers, and will ruin yourself and me!
Ctibor.—Closed, everything is locked so it might be kept a secret, that deed committed in the name of hell, whose faithful servant he surely is! But I will find a way to enter, and I swear by all the powers of heaven and hell that I will send all, everyone who may stand in my way, to the infernal regions! (Vanishes.)
Zuzanka, Oldřich, later Ctibor
Zuzanka.—Where can I find help in this terrible moment, who will now prevent the disaster which must now follow his frenzy and despair. I cannot go farther (catching hold of a chair for support). My body is as lead, and I tremble like a quaking asp leaf! Oldřich, go for Lukan, the servants, the guards! (Oldřich disappears.) No one is here! If some one would only come to prevent his madness before the master returns! He is here!
Ctibor (Returns with an ax in hands).—Lady, do not call any one to interfere—unless you send for Rozmberk himself, that I may fell him on the very spot where my Polyxena perished. Before my own head falls, I must be avenged!
(Strikes the door a mighty blow with the ax. Zuzanka screams, lowering her head, so she will not see what is happening within. The door flies open. Nothing but darkness in the laboratory. Ctibor enters, looks about, then steps into the room, saying:) What does it mean! (Suddenly Polyxena comes forth laughing, followed by Bilent. The ax drops from Ctibor’s hand. A moment of silence follows.)
Polyxena, Cribor, Zuzanka and Bilent
Zuzanka (Who has noticed everything).—Miss Polyxena!
Ctibor (As though in a dream).—Polyxena,—are you alive?
Ctibor.—I do not believe my eyes—
Polyxena.—It is I. Nothing happened to me.
Ctibor.—How is that possible?
Zuzanka.—But you were in the flames!
Bilent.—Ha, ha,ha! And all singed! (Vanishes into the next room.)
Polyxena.—Not at all. It was just a scheme to frighten me.
Ctibor.—Only a terrible joke of the master’s?
Polyxena.—A terrible jest,—doubtless his own idea, but nevertheless a jest!
Zuzanka.—Good Heavens, how I have wronged him!
Polyxena.—They were not real flames which enveloped me. In a strange unnatural perfume, I remained enveloped for awhile as though in a stupor, but opening my eyes, I saw myself in that room, in the midst of the girls and the pages. And after a while Count Rozmberk himself came to me to shower me with gifts and tokens of affection.
Ctibor.—It is all a dream,—I cannot understand you.
Zuzanka.—But why did he do it?
Polyxena.—He confessed to me himself. He said this severe jest was practised upon me so that his love would be the more in evidence while I was in the pangs of the greatest fear. He did not wish to injure me in any way, and only hoped to find me somewhat inclined toward him, seeing his devotion for me.
Zuzanka.—I can see him in every step of this jest, but unfortunately this severe joke may end in a fearful reality.
Polyxena (Frightened).—What do you mean, lady? What might happen?
Zuzanka.—If Ctibor had been held but a moment longer from his rash deed, all might end well. As soon as the master appears and learns that Ctibor forcibly broke and entered his most private apartment, woe unto Ctibor! It means the end of him!
Polyxena.—For Heaven’s sake, Ctibor, save yourself!
Zuzanka.—Leave us, Ctibor, go at once! Your very life is threatened now unless you can appease the master’s wrath!
Polyxena.—But surely there is nothing to fear! If the master did not intend to destroy me, then surely he will not destroy another!
Zuzanka.—Do not give yourself up to such a supposition or to vain hope. Even though the master were disposed to jest today this deed of Ctibor’s would arouse his anger.
Polyxena.—I will throw myself upon my knees to plead for Ctibor’s life!
Zuzanka.—I hope, lady, that you may be successful,—however, before you realize your aim, all may be at an end with Ctibor!
Ctibor.—You tell the truth, lady. Now I am beginning to realize what I have done, led on by my despair. Save me, lady, since one life has been spared today, let the other be saved also from destruction!
Zuzanka (to Ctibor).—You must flee this instant. At the gate, by the water, stands the horse with which Kinský had hoped to save the life of Polyxena. Take it to save yourself, and remain in hiding at least for a day, perhaps for two, until the wrath of the master has cooled a bit. Someone is coming! (Oldřich, Lukan, and the guards appear in the door at the right. To Lukan.) No longer any need of you. All has been explained. Let him go.
(To Ctibor) Quickly, quickly away from here!
Ctibor (To Polyxena).—May heaven protect you and bring us together again!
Rozmberk, Zuzanka, Ctibor, Polyxena, Lukan, Oldřich, and the guards.
Rozmberk (Entering the door at the right).—What is the game which is proceeding here?
Polyxena, Ctibor, Zuzanka (Together)—The Master!
Rozmberk.—Polyxena, are you here? And why Lukan—and the guards?
Lukan.—The gracious lady sent for us to prevent the mad deed of Chamberlain Ctibor. He entered with an ax. He tried to force an entrance into the room, and threatened the very life of the master.
Ctibor (Kneeling before Rozmberk).—I have made a mistake. I believed the report about the death of Polyxena, who is betrothed to me (Rozmberk and the others start) and frantic with despair, I attempted to break into the room to avenge her death. Forgive me, Your Grace, forgive for the sake of my love!
Rozmberk (Calmly and coldly).—Your confession is sufficient. (To the guards.) Take him off to the dungeons, and let the executioner appear at once.
Rozmberk.—You have said it.
Polyxena.—Condemned to die!
(Falls into the arms of Zuzanka, Lukan seizes Ctibor)
Rozmberk’s apartment as in act iii
Polyxena, Rozmberk, Zuzanka and Kinský
Polyxena (Seriously to Rozmberk).—Forgive him, Count; do not destroy in your wrath one who would gladly give his life for you.
Rozmberk (With icy malice).—I take you at your word. If, as you have just said, lady, he feels this great devotion for me, he will not find it hard to die in obedience to my command.
Polyxena.—But that life will be lost to me, to me! Master if you have ever felt the strength and wonder of love, if you have ever felt that mysterious power which draws two mortals together, let me plead with you, in the name of that love, do not inflict the penalty of death upon the object of my devotion.
Rozmberk.—You are using weak excuses, lady, in making your appeal to me.
Polyxena.—Do not talk, master, I pray you, as though you had lost all humane feeling toward others.
Rozmberk (Haughtily).—But I expect discretion of speech, lady, even from those who are my guests.
Kinský (Who has been talking aside to Zuzanka, says secretly). You sent for me. I will act according to your wishes, but pray not forget my interests.
Polyxena (to Rozmberk).—Do not take offense, sir, at the solicitude of a guest—
Rozmberk (Graciously).—Should you so desire, lady, you may yet realize the consummation of your wishes.
Polyxena.—Punish me, then. It is on my account that Ctibor committed that offense for which you now would punish him. I am to blame. So, master, inflict the punishment on me, but let Ctibor be spared!
Zuzanka (Hanging on the arm of Rozmberk).—Have mercy on him, master; remember that your joke was the cause of his fatal jest.
Kinský.—He deserves to be punished; his offence is very great. But be merciful, brother, to one who has been bewitched by a woman’s charm and beauty. Let him live; do not destroy their love by the sharp edge of the sword.
Rozmberk.—Brother, if you are speaking regarding a matter which I have commanded, and with which I am concerned, cease before you incense me even more. I do not desire to be cruel or to be avenged on anyone,—Mistress Polyxena knew before this that she was free. But justice and the right must be observed, though somebody’s head must fall at his feet in the execution of justice.
Zuzanka.—But even I, your Zuzanka, is pleading for him. I myself am more or less to blame for that which has happened. (Aside to Rozmberk.) I feared that you were hiding Polyxena, and incited Ctibor to set her free.
Polyxena (Kneeling before Rozmberk).—Master, be merciful to him who is my betrothed!
Rozmberk (Icily).—You are free, lady, and had better return to your uncle. (Turns away from her.)
Polyxena.—Woe unto us! (Zuzanka steps up to her, talking assuringly while Kinský speaks with Rozmberk.
Zuzanka (Secretly to Polyxena).—Do not fear that you must return to your uncle, I will take you into my own protection.
Kinský.—Master, all for which I have been thus far striving has gone against me and I have failed in my mission. Important and urgent matters hasten my departure for Prague, and I cannot accept your hospitality longer. But in one thing at least, make a concession, and thus give me proof of your friendship.
Rozmberk.—What may it be?
Kinský.—Show mercy toward your relative. For you are his own uncle.
Rozmberk.—For that very reason, his punishment should be the greater.
Kinský.—Tear yourself loose from these perverted thoughts prompted by a strange and evil spirit, which would forever mar for you the beauty and the joy of coming days.
Rozmberk.—From your lips, bitterness is comprehensible.
Kinský.—Pay no attention to the request which I formerly made for my cause. I did not realize my purpose,—and that which hinges upon it, the game played for country and crown. If one remains victorious, then the other must be the loser, and since Hannewaldt has won, it means that I am the loser of the game. But it is true that Hannewaldt has been granted too much at your hands, so that on his account, your own relatives’ lives should be sacrificed, and heads should fall at Třebon.
(Amid the words of Kinský, Polyxena bids Zuzanka farewell. She meets Hannewaldt who is entering as she is about to leave.)
Hannewaldt, Polyxena, Zuzanka, Rozmberk and Kinský
Hannewaldt (Seeing Polyxena about to leave directs Rozmberk’s attention to her.)—Polyxena!
Rozmberk.—She is free to go.
Hannewaldt (Surprised, wondering what has happened for Rozmberk to turn Polyxena away.)—Go to my apartment, Polyxena!
Polyxena (Angrily).—Mr. Hannewaldt, you no longer have the right to command me!
Polyxena.—Hannewaldt, in the future you are a stranger to me as I am to you. (To him alone.) I have heard of many criminals but I did not expect to find my own uncle the most despicable of them all.
Hannewaldt (to Polyxena, sharply).—Silence, if you do not wish to feel my anger!
Polyxena (Aloud).—Your anger? Just tell me what I can do to arouse it! In the meanwhile, let me assure you that my contempt for you is as great (to him alone) as the miry abyss of your thoughts from which your foul deed has sprung.
Hannewaldt.—Master, do not allow her to speak of me so in your presence.
Rozmberk.—I have heard nothing.
Zuzanka.—The lady is free, and no one will try to place any restraint upon her actions.
Hannewaldt (Surprised by the words of Zuzanka. To himself) So severe toward me? I must separate her from them. (To Polyxena.) Go to my apartment and await me there, and see that you do not call forth the displeasure of the master again.
Polyxena.—I am going to the prison, to confinement with Ctibor who is to lose his life on my account. I go to prison gladly rather than return to you and place myself under your power, and never, never again will I return, though you were to summon all the power that you are able to command! (Walks away.)
Hannewaldt, Rozmberk, Zuzanka and Kinský
Hannewaldt (Hurrying after Polyxena).—He will not permit it! (Returning) Master, prevent the disgrace which is about to befall me. Do not permit her to enter his cell!
Zuzanka.—I trust that you will have too much consideration for your host to burden him with another request.
Kinský (to himself)—Another attack! (To Rozmberk.) The Venerable Secretary does not know how to offer other counsel regarding a mere girl, so it is apparent that you, master, should be responsible for everything that he has stirred up.
Hannewaldt (Defiantly to Kinský).—Not myself, but he, the Highest Game Warden is to blame (with a glance at Zuzanka) who, it seems, has enlisted the help of yet another.
Kinský.—I trust that you will explain your words, Master Secretary, not only to me but also to the lady upon whom you seem to be casting your eye.
Rozmberk (to Hannewaldt).—What do you mean?
Hannewaldt (to Kinský).—Very obligingly, be convinced. (To Rozmberk) I mean nothing more than that her flight was prepared and planned, her resistance strengthened by the Highest Game Warden, who won over the lady of this palace to help him effect the deed.
Kinský.—That is a lie for which I call you to account.
Hannewaldt.—As you please, I would say. But I really ought to pity you. You were defeated by me as a representative of the usurping king, and I could not expect you to stoop to me now.
Zuzanka.—Who dares to boast vain gloriously regarding the decision of the master?
Kinský.—I could expect cowardice where deception is cloaking itself, but I hope that the adventurer can wield a sword if necessary to enforce his power.
Hannewaldt.—Adventurer! Well, that adventurer will prove to you that you are not mistaken in him! What is your pleasure?
Kinský.—That we proceed without delay. (Hannewaldt walks off to the right.)
Zuzanka.—Master Kinský, you are going to fight a duel!
Kinský.—I hope to avenge the insult which touches the master and you, lady, even if with my life. (Hastens after Hannewaldt.)
Rozmberk and Zuzanka
Rozmberk.—Surely the demon of passion, discord, and dissension occupies the castle today, and controls it under his evil power. What occasion, Zuzanka, have you given Hannewaldt for speaking of you as he did today?
Zuzanka.—First of all, that he is angry at me. It is not true that Kinsky engaged me to stir up the resistance of Polyxena. I conceived the plan for her escape, I alone, out of fear of losing your favor, my master. Hannewaldt does not know even now that you intended to release Polyxena later. He suspects that I am the cause of it,—he is also certain that you will now sign the agreement with King Rudolf; that is why he dares speak slightingly of me now.
Rozmberk.—I swear that I would be only too glad to see both conspirators far from the castle!
Zuzanka.—They have brought a train of discord and unrest,—so get rid of them, my master. (Ironically) Sign without further delay the agreement which Hannewaldt has laid before you,—he asks nothing more,—for its realization he is willing to sacrifice all, not only his own, but the honor of your house as well,—sign it quickly, let him leave at once to give the king the news that he has won a promise from you.
Rozmberk.—You need irritate me no more today, Zuzanka!
Zuzanka.—How could you be irritated by the truth, master, which I am telling you in regard to this adventurer? You must admit to yourself that he undermined your decision, that he wished to bribe you to an agreement with him! But why waste further words. Better sign it at once,.so we shall have no more disturbances at Třebon. Would that he would leave us soon,—yes, if he escapes from this duel alive and well.
Rozmberk.—I will make a decision according to my best conviction, and nobody must say that it was gained from me through trickery!
Zuzanka (Gazing through the window).—Look,—they are in the garden, preparing for a duel!
Rozmberk (Running after her).—I swear it, I will have no bloodshed in the castle!
Zuzanka.—Stop the duel!
(Rozmberk disappears to the right.)
Zuzanka (Opens the window).—Stop!—All in vain,—he will arrive too late! The swords are mixing! Kinský is backing—away—Hannewaldt is pressing him—a flash and a thrust—he parries! Flashes ripple along the edge of the blade—Kinský is weakening—there is Rozmberk! All in vain, nobody hears him, they will not listen—the sword of Hannewaldt is wavering, his hand—he is wounded, wounded! Kinský is the victor!
Zuzanka (Looking up).—What is happening in the tower?
Lukan.—The priest has been called. It is a sad sight to see those two people. But I have come to tell the count—and I fear his temper for the executioner is not to be found. We must wait until his people discover where he is.
Zuzanka.—Do not hurry that execution. I myself will explain to His Grace why it must be delayed. And listen, Lukan. The execution will not take place in the tower, but there under that window, in the court leading toward the gardens.
Lukan.—I received no such command. I have no desire, lady, to arouse the wrath of the master against myself, and especially at this moment.
Zuzanka.—I shall be responsible for everything myself. Otherwise, this shall be the last day for Lukan at Třebon, unless my wish is fulfilled!
Lukan (to himself).—She speaks so decidedly of her power that I dare not refuse. (Aloud) I do not wish to be defiant, but the wrath of the master is terrible!
Zuzanka.—I will protect you,—do not be afraid. You will do a good deed. We must exert ourselves to save the life of that rash young man—though in reality there is but little hope left.
Lukan.—Truly, the past year here has been a strange one, just exactly,—pardon me, lady,—as it was among those accursed Turkish Pashas, whom His Grace, the master, drove before him like a drove of cattle down in Hungary. It is merry here for a month or two, all Třebon is a paradise, then as though a thunderbolt had struck, a head rolls off here, another there, like so rnany ninepins.
Zuzanka.—We must try to prevent a reign of terror here. If we cannot offset the command of the master today, what may happen tomorrow, and on future tomorrows?
Lukan.—That is true. I will do your bidding. The execution shall be delayed. (Zuzanka trembles.) But remember to shield me lady, lest the wrath of the master should pulverize me as easily as the sparrow seizes the worm. (Walks away; Rozmberk enters.)
Zuzanka, Lukan and Rozmberk
Rozmberk (Noticing Lukan).—Has the penalty been executed?
Lukan.—I just came to inform Your Grace that the executioner will arrive after a time.
Rozmberk.—Why does he delay?
Lukan.—He could not be found.
Rozmberk.—Let him be here at the appointed time,—I shall hold you for it.
Lukan (to himself).—It appears that two heads will fall today,—and the second will probably be mine! (Walks away.)
Rozmberk.—It seems that everything has arraigned itself against me, everywhere resistance, conflict, and trouble. I shall yet have my will obeyed—they who themselves could not exist without me, are they to regard me as their plaything, a mere toy?
Zuzanka.—All the time more and more angry! Surely nothing more has happened than the occurrence of that duel?
Rozmberk.—Nothing more, you say? I believe it is enough when the conflict is taking place under my very eyes, when the sharp edges of swords are flashing in the game for my support,—and finally, as it seems, against me!
Zuzanka (Changing the subject)—Is Hannewaldt seriously wounded?
Rozmberk.—Fortunately, only enough to end the duel and allow him to leave this place at once.
Zuzanka (To herself).—Ah, how welcome! (Aloud) Give him orders, I pray you, to leave.
Rozmberk (Decidedly).—And Kinský with him. (Zuzanka stirs uneasily.)
Hannewaldt, Rozmberk, Zuzanka
Hannewaldt (Enters with his right hand bound up in a handkerchief; he has lost his sword; his hair is dishevelled.) Against your wishes, I have fortunately been the cause of disturbing the peace of the palace. I ask for indulgence, Your Grace. My innocence in this measure you must surely recognize, Your Grace, for to please you I tried to avoid it as long as possible, though on my faith, I felt that I was justified in proceeding.
Rozmberk.—I do not deny, Master Secretary, that this mishap is exceedingly displeasing to me, as no doubt it must be to you.
Hannewaldt.—Neither you nor I are always in control of strange passions while possessed by them.
Zuzanka.—It does not seem honorable to me to excuse a committed offence by an untruth. (Ironically) I am certain, master, that you will obey the wishes of the secretary so he may know, when he desires to revisit Třebon, how he should work toward the fulfillment of his wishes. (Hurriedly leaves.)
Hannewaldt.—The noble lady injures me, count. You know yourself that I am not the cause of her anger, and that I am neither responsible for this unpleasantness nor its ending.
Rozmberk.—I would rather not discuss the matter,—and finally, both of us are concerned with more important matters than this unpleasant duel. You laid before me a draft of an agreement with His Majesty, the King—
Hannewaldt.—And I have come to ask for your signature, so that in the strength of that agreement, I would be at liberty to proceed toward the fulfillment of all that I have promised you.
Rozmberk.—I meant to sign it, but the discord in the palace today has not prompted me to decide on so important a step.
Hannewaldt (to himself).—He is undecided again, wavering once more!
Rozmberk.—If it is necessary, Master Secretary, that you should take leave of Třebon, leave the draft with me, and I will send the announcement of my decision to Prague or Vienna,—as I choose, in due time.
Hannewaldt.—It is not possible, count, that you would recall your word! (Kinský enters.)
Rozmberk (Angrily)—I have not given you my promise as yet,—and the agreement with King Rudolf I will never sign!
Kinský, Rozmberk and Hannewaldt
Kinský (Joyfully to Rozmberk).—I hear your answer, which awakens hope within me, and gives me some reason to think that Mr. Hannewaldt’s former derision may be turned upon himself. He said that he was the victor, and now he seems to see fleet winged victory fluttering away from him!
Rozmberk (Proceeding calmly as before).—And I wish to add that I shall make no agreement with Matthias!
Kinský (to himself).—Spoiled! (Aloud) Brother, I trust, not only to the advantage of the Archduke, but also for your own sake, that you will reconsider that answer.
Rozmberk (Shortly).—As you will; from me there is no other forthcoming.
Kinský.—Then all is lost!
Hannewaldt.—Count, you cannot remain neutral at a time like this,—you must either take up the cause of Rudolf or Matthias!
Rozmberk.—And who will compel me to do so?
Kinský.—Your power, and the honor of the House of Rozmberk, which will not permit you to remain of less consequence to the cause than the meanest yeoman who is fighting for a palmful of land.
Hannewaldt.—King Rudolf offers you all you may wish.
Kinský.—The most brilliant future awaits you, count, under Matthias. Just remember that in Hungary there is Illeshazy, Cernembl in Austria, and Zerotin of Moravia, leading the nobility in the cause for Matthias,—in Bohemia, that leadership rightfully belongs to you.
Hannewaldt.—The Bohemian nobility is taking a stand with Rudolf, and the Archprince Leopold is gathering his forces, which may come to the aid of the king at any moment. In Hungary, Moravia, and Austria, the cause of Rudolf is the stronger—
Kinský.—If His Majesty can employ some sorcerer’s charm to gain that end. Otherwise all three of those lands are lost to him.
Hannewaldt.—And they will not be lost (to Kinský) even though you made the assertion still stronger, and even though the Archduke Matthias had promised you, for your support, even greater estates than Chlumec and Kolín. (Rozmberk is surprised, Kinský stirs uneasily. Hannewaldt to Rozmberk.) Just remember that glory awaits you there where you ought to align yourself, that you really belong with the crowned king—
Rozmberk.—It seems to me, Master Secretary, that in a short time, you will be trying to tell me whom and where I must serve. Try to curb your zeal a bit, and be assured for your answer that the agreement with Rudolf which you gave me, I have not signed and I do not intend to sign! (Hannewaldt makes a gesture of despair.)
and , Rozmberk, KinskýHannewaldt.
Lhotka (Approaching Rozmberk).—On account of the pressing nature of the matter, sir, I beg you have me excused.
Rozmberk.—What is it?
Lhotka.—An important thing! The chamberlain Ctibor is preparing for death. But he and Mistress Polyxena—
Lhotka.—Desire to be married first by a priest.
Hannewaldt (Shrieks)—To a condemned man!
Lhotka.—They are asking the count, as master and judge of the condemned man, to grant his consent to the deed.
Hannewaldt.—I must prevent it! I will not consent to give her to one who is to be a victim of the executioner’s ax, and though I must put her to death myself, I will do it before I will allow such disgrace as this to befall me!
Rozmberk (Calmly).—Go at once, Lhotka, and see that they are married. That young woman shall not be placed under the control of the secretary again,—she is to be independent of him and at liberty to be her own mistress. Go at once, and do what I command you. (Lhotka walks away.) And Hannewaldt must be kept back. (Hurries to the window to open it. Steps back in surprise.) Who erected this scaffold there under my window? Who has done it? Who is responsible? Lukan!
Zuzanka, Rozmberk and Kinský
Zuzanka (Entering).—I announce myself guilty!
Zuzanka.—I commanded it done. For I was convinced that you would desire to have the act made public when you are making an example of the culprit.
Rozmberk.—Has every one conspired against me today, is there no one here who will obey my commands?
Zuzanka.—Not at all, my master. For you yourself expressed the wish that the slightest shadow of today might disappear and be forgotten. See, the entire town and all the surrounding country united to celebrate this day with you,—the Highest Game Warden came to tell you that your wishes would be realized in all the countries which have stepped away from King Rudolf,—and in this victorious moment a human life is to be sacrificed, and that trifling incident of today is to be baptized with blood?
Rozmberk.—And it shall be, it must be, for you have spoiled every other possibility. Why, I might have granted him pardon just to spite Hannewaldt, if it were not for this crazy idea, of erecting a scaffold under my very eyes. You have beheaded him yourself!
Zuzanka.—Aj, I should rather have relented so the executioner could cut his head off in the darkness of the tower,—I should not have used my wits to make you see and understand the terrible issue which must follow your command! Tremble at your own command,—I adjure you, do not allow this order to be enacted!
Rozmberk.—And were there no other reason for the fulfillment of the penalty, your deed is sufficient reason why I should not relent!
Hannewaldt, Zuzanka, Rozmberk, Kinský
Hannewaldt (Hurrying in).—Master, I entreat you to prevent this disgrace which is to befall my niece as the result of her insane decision. Recall your permission to have this ceremony take place,—a ceremony in which the priest is to be replaced by the executioner, and the beheading block!
Rozmberk (Shortly).—Mr. Hannewaldt!
Hannewaldt (Deeply agitated)—Count Rozmberk, I pray you consider my request! If I am not sufficiently powerful alone, remember that I can call upon the king, who will avenge me for this insult while punishing you for your withdrawal from his side. The armed troops of the Archprince are waiting now, to see whether you will step away from the king,—and your vast estate may be forfeited in one instant. I can prevent it and save you, and though you will not support the crowned king, I pray you prevent the shame that is about to befall my niece!
Rozmberk (Stiffly).—Since when has it become customary to threaten Rozmberk with the power of King Rudolf? I give you full permission,—hasten at once to tell him,—I give you permission to tell the king that I repel both his commands and his threats. (Stepping up to Hannewaldt.) Do you know, Hannewaldt, how I was received by the king, at his very court, when I came to ask him for a hearing? They conspired against me then—Rudolf, his couriers, the entire court! My enemies at court charged me, Rozmberk, with ignoble deeds, which I have yet to commit!
Kinský (Quickly to Hannewaldt and Rozmberk).—They desired to destroy you, in order to deprive you of your power and all your estates. That is why they prejudiced the king against you!
Rozmberk.—I set out for the court of the king,—and the king and his court? For one entire week they put me off, treating me with contempt before the eyes of all the world. I was not admitted to the king,—the Jesuits at the court saw to it that Rozmberk returned to Krumlov without a hearing!
Kinský.—And today, the same king is asking you for aid and turning to the House of Rozmberk for safety and protection. Moreover, the servant of the king (pointing to Hannewaldt) is threatening you with the power and wrath of Rudolf. Now there can be but one answer forthcoming—
Rozmberk.—And I will give it, I will give it at once! Go, Kinský, write the agreement to which I shall bind myself. I will take a stand for the Archduke against every one, I say— Kinský.—Even the king!
Rozmberk.—and against the cause of Rudolf, I will set aside, as soon as it may be needed, 30,000 Hungarian gold coins, and as soon as it may be necessary, I will support Matthias with my people and my court!
Kinský.—The agreement is made!
Zuzanka (to Kinský).—Ctibor! Now you must save Ctibor.
Kinský (to Zuzanka).—My word onit, lovely lady. I think I can save him. I have the agreement drawn up; I will write yet another paper. (Walks off to the left to the room of Rozmberk.)
Lukan, Rozmberk, Hannewaldt and Zuzanka
Lukan (Entering).—Master Burda has been found. Your Grace, we are waiting for your orders.
Rozmberk.—I have already given them,—let them be fulfilled.
Zuzanka.—For Heaven’s sake, master, recall your command!
Rozmberk (To Lukan).—Do not delay any longer! (Lukan walks off to the right.)
Zuzanka (to herself).—Oh, will Kinský save his life! (Hurries off to Kinský.)
Hannewaldt (Seeing Rozmberk alone).—Grant, sir, my one request. I ask nothing more for myself. I recall everything which has been offensive to you and the mistress of the palace. Forget that I have asked you to give your support to the cause of Rudolf and deal with me, alone, as you may see fit. But one thing only promise me,—do not sign the agreement with Matthias!
Rozmberk (Emphatically)—Not another word, Master Hannewaldt!
Zuzanka, Kinský, Rozmberk, Hannewaldt and Bilent
Zuzanka (Approaching with Kinský. Bilent is unnoticed behind them. Zuzanka joyfully).—Here is the paper which you desire, master!
Rozmberk.—Aj, just listen to the reading, Master Hannewaldt, before you go away. Read the agreement, Kinský.
Kinský (Reads).—“Václav Kinský of Vienna, Highest Game Warden of the Kingdom of Bohemia! As a man and brother exceedingly dear to me! Since you have sought me in order that I might declare myself as to my attentions in the future regarding the country and its religious freedom, and the granting of both sacraments, especially recognition of the Bohemian Brethren, and the protection of every individual who declares his religious faith, I declare myself by the signing of this document, a staunch supporter of the above-mentioned principles, and an adherent of the Highest Archduke, Matthias, a protector of religious and national rights. With the signing of this declaration, I am ready to place 30,000 Hungarian florins at the disposal of His Grace, and bind myself to the offer by the signing of this agreement. Dated, Třebon, 2nd of May.”
Rozmberk.—That is how I want it. (Turning for the pen.) Bring me the pen. (Bilent goes to get it. Kinský just then hands him a paper to sign.) You see this, Master Hannewaldt, and inform your king of the step to which you have moved me. Here to this binding agreement, which holds me to the cause of Matthias, I affix my own signature. (Signs.) “Petr Vok Rozmberk, ruler of the House of Rozmberk, his own hand.”
Hannewaldt (In despair).—Woe unto me! (Walks away.)
Kinský, Zuzanka, Rozmberk and Bilent
Kinský.—Long live the great master of Třebon, who has granted mercy and grace to Ctibor of Ujezda!
Rozmberk (Surprised).—What trick is this, brother!
Zuzanka (Goes to the window, and shouts as she waves her handkerchief).—Grace has been granted! (Hurries below.)
Kinský.—You signed the pardon for your ward.
Rozmberk.—Are you all crazy? Where is the paper? (Takes it from the hand of Kinský, and after looking at it, says) That is a trick, Kinský,—you gave me another agreement to sign than the one which you read!
Kinský (Calmly).—Yes, I made use of trickery to gain the pardon for Ctibor. Here is the other agreement which I read. (Hands it to him.)
Rozmberk.—Do you suppose, Kinský, that I am here to be trifled with in my own house?
Kinský.—By my deception I saved not only a human life but your own nobility which seemed to be going to pieces upon the crags set up by Hannewaldt.
Rozmberk (Stiffly).—I do not need a protector. Return to me the paper which I signed against my own will.
Kinský.—It is more precious to me than anything else,—I will not return it.
Rozmberk.—Remember, Kinský, what you have at stake and what you are striving to gain. You will either return that paper to me or else for the sake of saving one human life you will betray the cause you represent, and lose my support for Matthias. I will not sign the second until the first has been returned.
Bilent.—If anything can save Hannewaldt now, this trick of Kinský’s will surely do it.
Kinský.—I will not be the cause of a man’s death in order to gratify my ambition. You would never have been influenced for the cause of Matthias had it not been for this misfortune of poor Ctibor’s. If I am acting ill, refuse to sign the other agreement, but otherwise I cannot act.
Rozmberk.—You have chosen; keep the paper with my signature, but consider my support withdrawn from Matthias.
Bilent (Quickly).—I will call Hannewaldt. But that is hardly necessary. Here is the agreement (handing it to him) sign it here.
Kinský.—Ah, you zealous helper of the servant of the king!
Rozmberk (Angrily).—Bilent, go off to the cells and consider yourself fortunate if your head is spared on your shoulders! (Bilent goes away.)
Bilent.—All the fiends of hell must have prompted me to this service for Hannewaldt! But a trifle more, and my head would be rolling on the ground!
(He disappears. Atthe same time, Zuzanka enters from the left, behind her Ctibor and Polyxena.)
Zuzanka, Rozmberk, Kinský, Ctibor, Polyxena, later Lukan.
Zuzanka.—Master,—here are the two betrothed; in their hearts, joy did not become extinguished when it shook hands with sorrow. (With her words, a struggle seems to be playing in the heart of Rozmberk, expressing itself in his face as he watches the two lovers.)
Polyxena.—If I have offended you in any way, I ask for forgiveness. I am drowning in a sea of happiness and thank you from the very depths of my heart.
Ctibor.—My master, you have returned my life to me; it is yours, whenever you need it in your service.
Rozmberk (Deliberating)—Ctibor of Ujezda, you have my forgiveness!
Kinský.—Value it highly, my friend, for you do not know the price with which it was bought.
Rozmberk (After a moment's silence).—My brother,—the price is the result of my deliberation.
Kinský.—Is it possible?
Rozmberk.—Your act has been too noble to shame me with it. I do not wish to have the mercy granted to Ctibor purchased at such a price. I will sign the agreement with Matthias,—I am and shall remain on his side, to give him all my support.
Kinský (Handing him the paper).—Bohemia is ours with the signing of your signature.
Lukan (Entering).—The town people have come to the castle and the mayor asks, my master, that you should be present at the celebration on the meadows.
Rozmberk (Rising).—Here is the agreement (giving it to Kinský) and let the celebration end merrily in the marriage feast for Ctibor and Mistress Polyxena. (Giving his hand to Polyxena with a bow.) Let all the court proceed to the meadows, and let discord and dissension end with music and merrymaking.
(Noise of fanfares are heard from below.)
- Copyright 1920 by THE POET LORE COMPANY