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Ges. Ne’er mind thy father's name :
What would it profit me to know?t? Thy hand ;
We are not enemies.
Alb. I never had
Ges. Lead on.
Alb. Advance your staff
As you descend, and fix it well. Come on.
Ges. What, must we take that steep ?
Alb. 'Tis nothing, Come, I'll go before — ne'er fear. Come on — come on!
Alb. You're at the gate of Altorf.
Ges. Tarry, boy!
Alb. I would be gone; I am waited for.
Ges. Come back !
Who waits for thee? Come, tell me; I am rich
And powerful, and can reward.
Alb. 'Tis close
On evening ; I have far to go! I'm late.
Ges. Stay! I can punish, too.
Alb. I might have left you,
When on the hill I found you fainting, and
The mist around you ; but I stopp’d and cheer'd you,
Till to yourself you came again. I offer'd
To guide you, when you could not find the way,
And I have brought you to the gate of Altorf.
Ges. Boy, do you know me ?
Alb. No. .
Ges. Why fear you, then,
To trust me with your father's name? --- Speak.
Do you desire to know it ?
Ges. You have served me,
And I would thank him, if I chanc'd to pass
Alb. 'Twould not please him that a service
So trifling should be made so much of !
You've sav'd my life.
Alb. Then do not question me,
But let me go
· Ges. When I have learn'd from thee
Thy father's name. What hoa !
Sentinel. Who's there?
Alb. Ha, Gesler !
Ges. Seize him! Wilt thou tell me
Thy father's name?
Alb. No !
Ges. I can bid them cast thee
Into a dungeon! Wilt thou tell it now?
.Ges. I can bid them strangle thee! Wilt tell it ?
Ges. Away with him! Send Sarnem to me.
Behind that boy, I see the shadow of
A hand must wear my fetters, or 'twill try
To strip me of my power. I have felt to-day
What 'tis to live at others' mercy. I
Have tasted fear to very sickness, and
Ow'd to a peasant boy my safety — Ay,
My life! and there does live the slave can say
Gesler's his debtor! How I loathed the free
And fearless air with which he trod the hill ! .
Yea, though the safety of his steps was mine,
Oft as our path did brink the precipice,
I wish'd to see him miss his footing, and
Roll over! But he's in my power ! — Some way
To find the parent nest of this fine eaglet,
And harrow it! I'd like to clip the broad
And full-grown wing that taught his tender pinion
So bold a flight !
Gesler. Double the guards. Stay! Place your trustiest men
At the postern. Stop! You'd go with half your errand :
I'll tell you when to go. Let every soul
Within the walls be under arms: the sick
That do not keep their beds, or can rise from them,
Must take a weapon ; if they can but raise
A hand, we've use for them. Away, now. Tumult (Exit Rodolph.)
Under our very brows! The slaves will come,
In torrents from the hills, and, like a flood,
O’erwhelm us! Lutold, say our orders are,
On pain of death, no quarter shall be given.
Another word : let them be men this once,
I promise them the sacking of the town!
Without reserve, I give it them — of property
Or soul! I've nothing further, sir. I'll raze.
Their habitations, hunt them from their hills,
Exterminate them, ere I'll live in fear !
What word now? (To Rodolph, who re-enters.)
Rodolph. 'Twas a false alarm. The people
Paid prompt submission to your order : one
Alone resisted, whom they have secured,
And bring in chains before you.
Ges. So — I breathe
Again! 'Twas false, then, that our soldiers fled ?
Rod. 'Twas but a party of them fled, my lord ;
Which, reinforc'd, return’d, and soon o'erpower'd
The rash offender.
Ges. What ! fled they from one ?
A single man! How many were there?
Rod. Four, With Sarnem.
Ges. Sarnem! Did he fly?
Rod. He did;
But 'twas for succour.
Ges. Succour! One to four,
And four need succour? I begin to think
We're sentineld by effigies of men,
Not men themselves. And Sarnem, too! What kind
Of man is he can make a tiger cower ?
Yea, and with backers! I should like to see
Rod. He's here.
Ges. I'm on the hills again!
I see their bleak tops looking down upon me,
And think I hear them ask me with a scowl
If I would be their master. Do not sheathe
Your swords ! — Stand near me !— Beckon some of those
About me. I would be attended. If
He stirs, despatch him.
Rod. He's in chains, my lord.
Ges. I see - I see he is.
[Enter Sarnem and Soldiers, with Tell in chains.]
Sarnem. Down, slave!
Behold the governor. Down ! down ! and beg
Ges. Does he hear?
Sar. Debate it not. Be prompt. Submission, slave! Thy knee — thy knee ! Or with thy life thou playest.
Rod. Let's force him to
Ges. Can I believe my eyes ? He smiles !
Gerard. Why don't you smite him for that look ?
Ges. He grasps
His chains as he would make a weapon of them
To lay the smiter dead. What kind of man
Is this, that looks in thraldom more at large
Than they who lay it on him ?
Rod. Lo you how
The caitiff scowls! Pull out his eyes !
Lut. Lop off
A limb for him !
Ges. A heart accessible as his to trembling
The rock or marble hath. They more do fear
To inflict than he to suffer. Each one calls
Upon the other to accomplish that
Himself hath not the manhood to begin.
Why don't they take him from my sight? Behold
He has brought them to a pause ; and there they stand
Like things entranced by some magician's spell,
Wondering that they are masters of their organs,
And not their faculties. They gaze on me
As one expected to perform a part
He doth forget to fill. They must not see
Me thus. Come, draw thy breath with ease - thou’rt Gesler —
Their lord; and he's a slave thou look’st upon!
Canst thou not mulct the villain in his life?
Hast thou not tortures to requite him with ?
'Tis only in the absence of thy wrath
He braves it. Let it show itself — at once
He's passive as the dust thou tread'st upon !
Why speak’st thou not?
Tell. For wonder.
Ges. Wonder ?
That thou shouldst seem a man.
Ges. What should I seem ?
Tell. A monster!
Ges. Ha! Beware — think on thy chains.