Reference > Fiction > Nonfiction > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
From ‘Patrie!’
By Victorien Sardou (1831–1908)
Act III, Scene II: Translation of Barrett Harper Clark
  The interior of the Brussels Town Hall.  At the back above the level of the stage is the Great Hall, the windows of which shine in the moonlight. Down-stage is a tower room, under the belfry.  These two sections of the stage are connected by two staircases, one to the right, the other to the left.  Between these staircases, in the middle of the stage, is an archway which leads from the upper room to the floor.  Down-stage to the right is a large door giving access to another part of the building by means of a staircase of five steps.  This staircase is open on three sides.  To the left is a door opening upon the stairs to the belfry.  Here and there are mutilated statues and débris, indications of the fact that the Hall has been pillaged.  To the left is a stone table.  It is night, but the stage is illuminated by reflected moonlight.  Jonas and Galèna appear under the archway at the back; Jonas is ahead, and carries a lantern, also two swords and a hatchet under his arm.

JONAS  [lighting the way for Galèna]—This way, Seigneur Galèna!  1
  Galèna—Where are you taking me?  2
  Jonas—Under the belfry, your Honor. Here is the staircase leading to the bells.  3
  Galèna—Oh, yes, now I know where I am.  4
  Jonas—Up there is the Great Hall, where our masters of the Commune used to deliberate.  5
  Galèna—And now—what neglect and ruin!  6
  Jonas—It’s easy to see that the Spanish señors have passed this way!  [Turning his lantern in the direction of the damaged statues.]  See—our poor burgomasters!  7
  Galèna—Patience! Those dead will resume their places again—and the living, too! Are you sure no one ever comes here?  8
  Jonas—No one but myself.  [He lays the swords on the table.]  At any rate, here are weapons for us. I cleaned them purposely for carnival time.  9
  Galèna—Will you fight, too?  10
  Jonas—To protect my bells! Indeed, I will!  [He lays the lantern on the table.]  11
  Galèna—Sh! Did you hear?  12
  Jonas  [pointing to the right]—There?  13
[Enter Rysoor, from the right.]
  Rysoor—Is that you, Galèna?  15
  Galèna—Yes.  16
  Rysoor—Is Karloo here?
[Karloo appears at the back.]
  Karloo—Have patience, friends! Here he is.  18
  Rysoor—Ah! welcome!  19
  Galèna—What news?  20
  Karloo—The best.  21
  Galèna—The Spaniards?  22
  Karloo—Safe! I have just come from the Duke’s.  23
  Rysoor—And the chains?  24
  Karloo—Let down with my own hands!  25
  Rysoor and Galèna  [joyfully]—Good!  26
  Rysoor—Then nothing is suspected at the Palace? How about the road?  27
  Karloo—No danger. The usual sentinels and patrols! On the Place there is a guard of only fifty men, half of them asleep around the fire, while the other half are trying to sober down after their Mardi-gras debauch.  28
  Rysoor—Your musketeers?  29
  Karloo—All ready! From the Hôtel de Nassau as far as the Grand-Marché I gave the signal agreed on at more than fifty doors, and every one gave back the answer: “We are ready!” Bakkerzeel, who is on guard below, has left all his weavers at the Porte de Flandre, hiding in their cellars. Lalos stationed his brewers on the lookout under some sheds. Throughout this sad and silent city, where not a ray of light shines from a window, where the snow deadens the sound of everything, even our footsteps, there is no house but has its eyes peering in the black of the night, its ears pricked up—fully armed—impatient for battle.  30
  Rysoor—Let us make ready, friends; the hour is near. Galèna, warn Cornélis and our friends who are waiting under the arcades. Let them all join us, and then—forward!  31
  Galèna—I shall go at once.  [To Jonas.]  Come, Jonas!  [They go out at the back.]  32
  Rysoor  [after laying his cape and hat on the table]—And now, Karloo, let me tell you what I expect of you.  33
  Karloo—Tell me!  34
  Rysoor—I have named this rendezvous for all our leaders, because it is the Town Hall, the communal meeting-place of the people.  35
  Karloo—I understand.  36
  Rysoor—In this place, Karloo, our fathers framed the laws which we are about to defend. From these very windows they proclaimed those rights which we are about to assert once more! This is the very heart of the city, of which the Spaniards have made a corpse. Now let this corpse live again! May it rise up in the night, magnificent with the flare of our torches and our bare swords, and cry, “To arms!” at the call from every bell! Then will this disheartened people know that Flemish liberty still exists—its great soul stirs again—beneath our roofs! The people know what they are struggling for: for our flag—for the ringing bells. They are the spirit of the city! Better still, the nation; best of all, the Patrie! And they will fight and die for Her, for She says to them: “Defend me, oh, my sons, and save me, for I am being crushed—and I am your mother!”  37
  Karloo—Indeed she is.  38
  Rysoor—Here, then, Karloo, is the centre of the struggle; here must we take our stand at any cost, until the Liberator arrives! I leave this sacred building in your care. Command it, defend it.  39
  Karloo—In yours, rather.  40
  Rysoor—No, no! I have not yet won the right, as you have at Saint-Quentin and Gravelines, to lead these brave men to battle. Karloo, I shall follow you; you must march at their head! You are the only one who can teach them to conquer; I can but teach them to die.  41
  Karloo—Very well, since you wish it; but if I consent, the honor will be yours as well as mine, while for me the danger is merely greater.  42
  Rysoor—Your sword?  43
  Karloo—It was taken from me at the Palace!  44
  Rysoor—Then take this!  [He takes the sword lying on the table, and is about to give it to Karloo, who extends his ungloved hand to receive it.  Rysoor takes the hand and utters a cry.]  Ah!  45
  Karloo  [surprised]—What is the matter?  46
  Rysoor  [looking at him, very pale]—That hand!  47
  Karloo—Yes?  48
  Rysoor  [leading Karloo to the table, and examining the palm of his hand by lantern light]—This wound?  49
  Karloo—Ah, yes; it is only a trifle; my arm can still do its duty.  50
  Rysoor  [as before]—And you? Have you done yours?  51
  Karloo  [uneasily]—Rysoor, what do you mean?  52
  Rysoor—This wound? How did you get it?  53
  Karloo  [hesitating]—I was careless with a sword.  54
  Rysoor—A Spanish soldier, was he not?  55
  Karloo—Why?  56
  Rysoor—At night—at my home?  57
  Karloo  [terrified]—Oh!  58
  Rysoor  [bursting forth]—You miserable——! It is you!  59
  Karloo—Rysoor!  60
  Rysoor  [raising the sword]—You thief of love! Destroyer of my honor! I have a right to kill you!  61
  Karloo  [desperately, as he falls on his knees]—Kill me, then! Death at your hands would be the sweetest of tortures! Kill me! You have every right! Kill me!  62
  Rysoor—Blackguard, you think you can soften me!  63
  Karloo—For God’s sake, kill me, Rysoor; only kill me at once! Your words wound me far more than the cold steel of your sword could possibly do! Yes, I am a blackguard and a coward! I have deceived you—it was infamous; I confess, and I now weep tears of blood! Death! I ask you for it on bended knees—death!  64
  Rysoor  [letting his sword fall and looking down, as he sobs in desperation]—I am so unhappy! I loved you too much—and for this woman! That was horrible enough, but that of all men it should be you who—— You, Karloo—Karloo, to whom I have unburdened my whole heart! And loved you as a son! What poison is there in your love for this woman that turns a loyal and generous soul like yours to a festering mass of treason and ingratitude? I had faith in but three things: the Patrie, her, and you! You see what remains—and it is your fault! Only tell me—tell me what I have done to you, that you should make me suffer as I do?  65
  Karloo—You are torturing me! This is frightful! Stop! Don’t reproach me this way!  66
  Rysoor—What if I do kill you? Will your death give me back my honor? My peace that has been destroyed? Will it heal the wound which is now sapping my life’s blood?  67
  Karloo—My God! You still insist——  68
  Rysoor—What good will your death do me? Satisfy my desire for revenge? Will it serve the cause which we are now defending?  69
  Karloo—Do you want——  70
  Rysoor—Will your dead body lead these men into battle?  71
  Karloo—I am no longer worthy!  72
  Rysoor—Worthy or not, does your blood belong to me? When the whole city has scarcely enough in its veins for to-night’s struggle! Should it waste these precious drops, should I strike low this arm of yours which must defend us all? Great God, no! If I did that, I should be guilty of treason as great against Her as yours is against me. I have no more right to rob Her of your courage than you have to deprive me of my happiness!  73
  Karloo—Then you refuse?  74
  Rysoor—Make ready, and take that sword!  75
  Karloo—I?  76
  Rysoor—Take that sword, I tell you, and go battle! Go where your duty calls, where my duty sends you! If God will that you die, do not die like a criminal, but like a martyr, like a soldier. Then at least your death will have served some cause!  77
  Karloo  [dejectedly taking the sword]—You will never again see me living: that I swear to you!  78
  Rysoor  [quickly]—Living? Very well, it makes no difference, so long as you conquer!  79
  Karloo  [standing up, warmly]—That gives me some hope of forgiveness, Rysoor!  80
  Rysoor—Go, now—and take revenge on yourself. You have robbed me of my honor; give me my liberty! A woman, ha! Give me back my Patrie! We shall see later whether your bravery has washed clean your crime, and whether I ought to be grateful to you or hate you!  81
  Karloo—You will forgive me, Rysoor! I will make you!  [To his sword.]  Ready, now, and help me win my cause!
[Enter Galèna, Bakkerzeel, Cornélis, Jonas, and other conspirators armed.]
  Galèna—Rysoor, all the men are below, waiting for the signal. It is time now.  83
  Rysoor  [pointing to Karloo]—Karloo is to command you!  84
  Bakkerzeel—Karloo, here we are!  85
  Karloo—Are you all armed and ready?  86
  All—All!  87
  Karloo—Ready to brave the stake, to face torture and death?  88
  All—All of us!  89
  Karloo—To work, then! Now if the heart of one of you fail in the thick of the fight, remember that your defeat delivers your wives and children to the fury of the Spaniards! Think of your city being pillaged, your homes in ashes—and blame this infamous Spain!  90
  All  [together in confused uproar]—Yes, yes! To arms! Forward! Let us attack!  91
  Rysoor—Silence! Listen!
[There is a pause; the beat of Spanish drums is heard in the far distance.]
  Karloo—The drum!  93
  Rysoor—Beating the charge!  94
  Jonas  [running down from the back of the stage]—The Spaniards!  [Gunshots are heard.]  95
  All—Treason!  96
  Karloo—Very well! Let us lose no time! Cry out in the Place: “To arms!” my friends! Ten thousand fighters will come forth out of the night in answer.  [More gunshots; trumpets sound, and the beat of drums approaches, on the charge.]  Guard the archway, Cornélis! Bakkerzeel, you the stairway!  97
  Galèna  [from above]—There they are on the Place!  98
  Karloo—Rysoor, watch this door!  [He points to the door at the right, to which Rysoor quickly goes.]  And the signal. For God’s sake, Jonas, the signal, or we are lost!  [To the others.]  You there, guard the windows!
[He rushes to the left stairway at the moment when Jonas disappears up the stairs leading to the belfry.  Again the reports of muskets are heard.  Just after Karloo reaches the stairs with the conspirators, a troop of Spaniards under the leadership of Noircarmes appears in the large hall above, flags flying, drums and trumpets sounding the charge.  The conspirators, who number more than a dozen, return from the stairs and make their way headlong to the archway, whence Cornélis and his men are flung, while Bakkerzeel and his companions defend the stairway on the right.  More shots are heard.]
  Karloo—To the Great Gate!
[He springs forward with his men to the principal doorway, on the right; this he tries to open, but cannot.  At the same time the door leading to the belfry opens, and a company of Spaniards, led by Miguel, comes forth, with Jonas in their midst, his hands bound.  This company fires on the conspirators, who are forced back to the stairs leading to the principal entrance, leaving their dead where they fell.]
  Rysoor  [showering blows on the closed door]—This door!  101
  Karloo—Break it in!  [He takes a hatchet and beats furiously on the door.]  102
  Noircarmes  [from above]—Surrender!  103
  Karloo  [who continues his task]—Never! Long live Flanders!  104
  All the Conspirators—Long live Flanders!  105
  Noircarmes  [to his men]—Fire!
[The Spaniards fire.  Seven or eight conspirators fall dead or wounded on the steps.]
  Karloo  [as before]—Fire!
[The conspirators return the volley.  The Spaniards, who were advancing, now retreat.  On the side of the conspirators only Rysoor, Karloo, Galèna, Bakkerzeel, and five others remain standing.]
  Rysoor—Courage, Karloo!  108
  Karloo  [finally breaking the lock]—The door is giving!
[The door falls outward, causing considerable uproar.  They rush forward, but fall back a moment later before other soldiers who advance against them.  Karloo is armed only with the hatchet; Rysoor and the others retreat toward the centre of the stage, forming a little group.  They have only swords with which to defend themselves.]
  Noircarmes  [raising his staff]—Forward!
[They charge again.  All the Spaniards descend the great stairs at the back in a body, and surround the conspirators with a circle of steel and muskets.]
  Rysoor—Now we have only to die!  111
  Karloo—Fire, you cowards—fire! You see, we will not surrender!
[They throw down their weapons.  Noircarmes raises his sword to give the signal to fire as Alba appears at the head of the stairway, in full battle array, his commanding baton in hand.  Behind him are his officers.  La Trémoïlle is among these.  Alba stretches forth his baton; the drums cease beating, the trumpets are silent, every musket is lowered.]
  Alba  [to the conspirators, after a pause]—Which of you, Messieurs, do you consider your leader?  113
  Karloo—I!  114
  Rysoor  [interrupting him]—In battle, yes, but here—it is I! Comte de Rysoor!  115
  Alba—Very well, Monsieur le Comte. Now that we are in a position to receive William of Orange we shall ask him to enter the city—[consternation among the conspirators]—and then make an end to the rebellion by depriving him of his head.  116
  Rysoor  [anxiously, to Karloo]—Ah! if he enters he is lost.  117
  Alba—What signal have you agreed on?  118
  Rysoor  [hopefully]—Thank God, you don’t know that, hangdog!  119
  Alba—Rincon, bring me the bellringer Jonas.
[Jonas is brought forth from the foot of the stairs, bound.]
Do you know the signal?
  Jonas  [trembling]—Yes, Monseigneur!  121
  Alba—Loose his hands, and let him sound it.
[A soldier unties Jonas’s hands.]
  Karloo  [quickly]—Jonas, don’t do it!  123
  Rysoor—Don’t!  124
  Jonas  [terror-stricken]—I’m only a poor man, Messieurs. They’ll kill me, and I have a wife and children!  125
  Karloo  [supplicating him]—There are three million souls to save! Your children are among them!  126
  Rysoor—Save the Prince!  127
  Karloo—Save Flanders!  128
  Rysoor—On my bended knees, Jonas. I beg you on bended knees——  129
  Jonas  [who, after being free, has been taken to the left by Rincon]—My God! My God!  130
  Alba  [furiously]—Put an end to this!  131
  The Conspirators  [intercepting Jonas, clinging to him as he is being taken out into the passage]—Jonas—don’t ring!  132
  Alba  [to Rincon]—Put a pistol to his throat; if he winces, kill him!
[Jonas is dragged to the staircase leading to the belfry.  The conspirators hang back, and appear desperate.]
  Alba—Has everything been made ready, Noircarmes?  134
  Noircarmes—Oh, Monseigneur, the moment the Prince enters the city he will find himself between two fires: not a man will get as far as the Place.  135
  Alba  [triumphantly]—At last I have him between my fingers!  136
  Rysoor—Good God, merciful Saviour, do not allow this iniquity! Save the Prince, save him! Thou owest us at least that much!
[There is a pause, then the bell rings.  Everyone listens anxiously.  The death-knell strikes.  The conspirators cannot restrain a movement of joy.]
  Alba  [nervously, as he looks at the conspirators]—The death-knell!  138
  Noircarmes—Yes, Monseigneur.  139
  Alba—Is that the signal?  140
  Karloo  [radiantly]—Yes, Monsieur le Duc, that is the signal, but it says to the Prince: “Do not enter—go away!” It is the signal that saves him, and with him the liberty of Flanders!  141
  Alba  [furiously]—By the fires of hell, stop that man! Kill him, kill him! Kill him! I say.
[A gunshot is heard in the belfry.  The bell stops ringing.]
  Noircarmes—It is done!  143
  Alba—But too late—he will escape. I must wait for another chance!
[Four soldiers enter from the staircase leading to the belfry, carrying the body of Jonas on their muskets.]
  Rincon  [stopping the soldiers, and raising the mantle which covers Jonas, to see whether the man is dead]—He is dead, Monsieur le Duc!  145
  Rysoor  [taking off his hat before the body, as do all the conspirators]—Poor obscure martyr, we honor you! One second’s deed has made a martyr of you! May our children revere your memory, and, when they are free, take thought of the humble bellringer to whom they will owe their freedom.
[Jonas’s body is carried under the archway.]
Come, Messieurs, on this beautiful night only we are lost! Long live Flanders!
  The Conspirators—Long live Flanders!  147
  Alba—Take away these men, Noircarmes—the scaffold on the Place, there—to-night, and every night hereafter!
[The conspirators are surrounded and conducted up the large staircase to the left.]
  La Trémoïlle  [as they mount the first steps]—Messieurs—[they stop and turn around]—I salute you—and I have but one regret: to be deprived of the honor of being one of your number.  149
  Alba—Marquis!  150
  La Trémoïlle  [putting on his hat again and looking straight at the Duke]—For all the gold of my ransom, Monsieur le Duc, I would not say the same to you!
[The conspirators ascend the staircase between two files of soldiers.  Drums beat, and trumpets sound, as the curtain falls.]


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