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Octavio Piccolomini, Butler.
But. At your command, Lieutenant-General.
Oct. (after both have seated themselves) You have not
But. 'Tis only the like-minded can unite.
But. His words were lost on me.
It grieves me sorely
Oct. The time is precious-let us talk openly. You know how matters stand here. Wallenstein Meditates treason-I can tell you further
He has committed treason ; but few hours
But. (rises) His lot is mine.
Is that your last resolve ?
Oct. Nay, but bethink you, Colonel Butler!
Oct. See your white hairs ! Recal that word!
house of Austria. (He is going.)
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 veteran ? 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 to 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.