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Full Online Book HomePlaysThe Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 2 - Act 1 - Scene 5. Berlin. A Room Overlooking A Public Place
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The Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 2 - Act 1 - Scene 5. Berlin. A Room Overlooking A Public Place Post by :JensRhoades Category :Plays Author :Thomas Hardy Date :May 2012 Read :900

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The Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 2 - Act 1 - Scene 5. Berlin. A Room Overlooking A Public Place

PART SECOND. ACT FIRST. SCENE V.

(A fluttering group of ladies is gathered at the window, gazing out and conversing anxiously. The time draws towards noon, when the clatter of a galloping horse's hoofs is heard echoing up the long Potsdamer-Strasse, and presently turning into the Leipziger-Strasse reaches the open space commanded by the ladies' outlook. It ceases before a Government building opposite them, and the rider disappears into the courtyard.)


FIRST LADY

Yes: surely he is a courier from the field!


SECOND LADY

Shall we not hasten down, and take from him
The doom his tongue may deal us?


THIRD LADY

We shall catch
As soon by watching here as hastening hence
The tenour of his new. (They wait.) Ah, yes: see--see
The bulletin is straightway to be nailed!
He was, then, from the field. . . .

(They wait on while the bulletin is affixed.)


SECOND LADY

I cannot scan the words the scroll proclaims;
Peer as I will, these too quick-thronging dreads
Bring water to the eyes. Grant us, good Heaven,
That victory be where she is needed most
To prove Thy goodness! . . . What do you make of it?


THIRD LADY (reading, through a glass)

"The battle strains us sorely; but resolve
May save us even now. Our last attack
Has failed, with fearful loss. Once more we strive."

(A long silence in the room. Another rider is heard approaching, above the murmur of the gathering citizens. The second lady looks out.)


SECOND LADY

A straggler merely he. . . . But they decide,
At last, to post his news, wild-winged or no.


THIRD LADY (reading again through her glass)

"The Duke of Brunswick, leading on a charge,
Has met his death-doom. Schmettau, too, is slain;
Prince William wounded. But we stand as yet,
Engaging with the last of our reserves."

(The agitation in the street communicates itself to the room. Some of the ladies weep silently as they wait, much longer this time. Another horseman is at length heard clattering into the Platz, and they lean out again with painful eagerness.)


SECOND LADY

An adjutant of Marshal Moellendorf's
If I define him rightly. Read--O read!--
Though reading draw them from their socket-holes
Use your eyes now!


THIRD LADY (glass up)

As soon as 'tis affixed. . . .
Ah--this means much! The people's air and gait
Too well betray disaster. (Reading.) "Berliners,
The King has lost the battle! Bear it well.
The foremost duty of a citizen
Is to maintain a brave tranquillity.
This is what I, the Governor, demand
Of men and women now. . . . The King lives still."

(They turn from the window and sit in a silence broken only by monosyllabic words, hearing abstractedly the dismay without that has followed the previous excitement and hope.

The stagnation is ended by a cheering outside, of subdued emotional quality, mixed with sounds of grief. They again look forth. QUEEN LOUISA is leaving the city with a very small escort, and the populace seem overcome. They strain their eyes after her as she disappears. Enter fourth lady.)


FIRST LADY

How does she bear it? Whither does she go?


FOURTH LADY

She goes to join the King at Custrin, there
To abide events--as we. Her heroism
So schools her sense of her calamities
As out of grief to carve new queenliness,
And turn a mobile mien to statuesque,
Save for a sliding tear.

(The ladies leave the window severally.)


SPIRIT IRONIC

So the Will plays at flux and reflux still.
This monarchy, one-half whose pedestal
Is built of Polish bones, has bones home-made!
Let the fair woman bear it. Poland did.


SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Meanwhile the mighty Emperor nears apace,
And soon will glitter at the city gates
With palpitating drums, and breathing brass,
And rampant joyful-jingling retinue.

(An evening mist cloaks the scene.)

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