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[The legend runs that William Tell was a brave Swiss mountaineer who was banding together his comrades to free his native country from the cruel rule of Austria. Gessler, the Austrian governor, had captured Tell and his son.]
WILLIAM TELL, ALBERT, his Son, and GESSLER.
Gessler. Thy name?
Tell. My name?
It matters not to keep it from thee now:-
Gessler. Tell! - William Tell?
Tell. The same.
Gessler. What! he so famed 'bove all his countrymen For guiding o'er the stormy lake the boat? And such a master of his bow, 'tis said His arrows never miss! - Indeed - I'll take Exquisite vengeance! - Mark! I'll spare thy life Thy boy's too!— both of you are free Condition.
Tell. Name it.
Gessler. I would see you make
A trial of your skill with that same bow
Gessler. You look upon your boy
As though instinctively you guessed it.
5 Tell. Look upon my boy! What mean you? Look
Tell. Name the trial you
Would have me make.
Instinctively! You do not mean- no — no —
Gessler. I would see
My boy as though I guessed it! - Guessed the trial
Thee hit an apple at the distance of
Tell. Is my boy to hold it?
Tell. No! I'll send the arrow through the core!
Tell. Great Heaven, thou hearest him!
Gessler. Thou dost hear the choice I give -
Tell. O monster!
Gessler. Wilt thou do it?
Tell. With his own hand!
Albert. He does.
[GESSLER signs to his officers, who proceed to take off TELL'S chains. TELL all the time unconscious of what they do.
Tell. With his own hand!
Murder his child with his own hand!
The hand I've led him, when an infant, by!
'Tis beyond horror- 'tis most horrible.
15 Amazement! [His chains fall off] What's that you've done to me.
Tell. Ferocious monster!- Make
His chains, if he consent.
Villains! put on my chains again. My hands
Are free from blood, and have no gust for it,
That they should drink my child's! Here! here! I'll
Murder my boy for Gessler.
You will not hit me, father! —
Tell. Hit thee! - Send
The arrow through thy brain-or, missing that,
25 Mangle the cheek I've seen thy mother's lips
Cover with kisses!
Hit thee - hit a hair
Of thee, and cleave thy mother's heart—
Tell. Give me my bow and quiver.
Gessler. For what?
Tell. To shoot my boy!
Albert. No, father,
To save me! You'll be sure to hit the apple
Will you not save me, father?
Tell. Lead me forth,
I'll make the trial.
Albert. Thank you!
Tell. Thank me!
You know for what?—I will not make the trial,
And lay him down a corpse before her!
Gessler. Then he dies this moment- and you certainly
Tell. Well I'll do it: I'll make the trial.
Tell. Speak not to me:
Let me not hear thy voice-Thou must be dumb;