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Oct. (permits him to go as far as the door, then calls
after him) Butler: But.
What wish you ? Oct.
How was't with the Count? But. Count? what? Oct. (coldly) The title that you wish'd I mean, But. (starts in sudden passion) Hell and damnation ! Oct. (coldly)
You petition’d for itAnd your petition was repell’d—Was it so?
But. Your insolent scoff shall not go by unpunish’d. Draw !
Oct. Nay! your sword to ’ts sheath! and tell me calmly How all that happen'd. I will not refuse you Your satisfaction afterwards.- Calmly Butler!
But. Be the whole world acquainted with the weakness For which I never can forgive myself. Lieutenant-General ! Yes—I have ambition. Ne'er was I able to endure contempt. It stung me to the quick, that birth and title Should have more weight than merit has in th' army. I would fain not be meaner than my equal, So in an evil hour I let myself Be tempted to that measure-It was folly! But yet so hard a penance it deserv'd not. It might have been refus'd; but wherefore barb And venom the refusal with contempt ? Why dash to earth and crush with heaviest scorn The grey-hair'd man, the faithful ran? Why to the baseness of his parentage Refer him with such cruel roughness, only Because he had a weak hour and forgot himself? But nature gives a sting e'en to the worm Which wanton power treads on in sport and insult.
Oct. You must have been calumniated. Guess you The enemy, who did you this ill service?
But. Be't who it will-a most low-hearted scoundrel, Some vile court-minion must it be, some Spaniard, Some young squire of some ancient family, In whose light I may stand, some envious knave, Stung his soul by my fair self-earn'd honours ! Oct. But tell me! Did the Duke approve that mea
Oct. Ay? Are you sure of that?
I read the letter.
(Butler is suddenly struck.)
(He gives him the letter.)
I fear me, Colonel Butler,
(Butler reads through the letter, his knees tremble,
he seizes a chair, and sinks down in it.)
(What your long-tried fidelity convinc'd him)
jesty forgive me?
(Butler attempts to rise, sinks down again. He
labours inwardly with violent emotions ; tries to speak, and cannot. At length he takes his
sword from the belt, and offers it to Piccolomini.) Oct. What wish you? Recollect yourself, friend. But. Take it. Oct. But to what purpose ? Calm yourself. But.
O take it! I am no longer worthy of this sword.
Oct. Receive it then anew from my hands and Wear it with honour for the right cause ever. But. Perjure myself to such a gracious Sove
reign! Oct. You'll make amends. Quick! break off from the
What now? Bethink thyself.
Oct. Come after me to Frauenberg, where now All, who are loyal, are assembling under Counts Altringer and Galas. Many others I've brought to a remembrance of their duty. This night be sure, that you escape from Pilsen. But. (strides up and down in excessive agitation, then
steps up to Octavio with resolved countenance.)
Count Piccolomini! Dare that man speak
Oct. He, who repents so deeply of it, dares.
Leave me and my regiment.
That the deed will tell you.
[Exit Butler. Ser. (enters with a billet)
A stranger left it,
and is gone.
The Prince-Duke's horses wait for you below.
[Exit Servant. Oct. (reads) “ Be sure, make haste! Your faithful
Octavio and Max. Piccolomini.
(Max. enters almost in a state of derangement from ex
treme agitation, his eyes roll wildly, his walk is unsteady, and he appears not to observe his father, who stands at a distance, and gazes at him with a countenance expressive of compassion. He paces with long strides through the chamber, then stands still again, and at last throws himself into a chair, staring vacantly at the object directly before him.)
Oct. (advances to him) I am going off, my son.
(Receiving no answer, he takes his hand.)
My son, farewell.
Thou wilt soon follow me?
I follow thee? Thy way is crooked-it is not my way.
(Octavio drops his hand, and starts back.) O, hadst thou been but simple and sincere, Ne'er had it come to this—all had stood otherwise. He had not done that foul and horrible deed, The virtuous had retained their influence o'er him : He had not fallen into the snares of villains. Wherefore so like a thief, and thief's accomplice Did'st creep hehind him-lurking for thy prey ? 0, unblest falsehood! Mother of all evil! Thou misery-making demon, it is thou That sink'st us in perdition. Simple truth,