The scene is laid in Germany. Period of action about two years.
SCENE I. Franconia.
Apartment in the Castle of COUNT MOOR.
FRANCIS, OLD MOOR.
FRANCIS . But are you really well, father? You look so pale.
OLD MOOR . Quite well, my sonwhat have you to tell me?
FRANCIS . The post is arriveda letter from our correspondent at Leipsic.
OLD M . (eagerly). Any tidings of my son Charles?
FRANCIS . Hem! Hem!Why, yes. But I fearI know notwhether I dare your health.Are you really quite well, father?
OLD M . As a fish in water. Does he write of my son? What means this anxiety about my health? You have asked me that question twice.
FRANCIS . If you are unwellor are the least apprehensive of being so permit me to deferI will speak to you at a fitter season.(Half aside.) These are no tidings for a feeble frame.
OLD M . Gracious Heavens? what am I doomed to hear?
FRANCIS . First let me retire and shed a tear of compassion for my lost brother. Would that my lips might be forever sealedfor he is your son! Would that I could throw an eternal veil over his shamefor he is my brother! But to obey you is my first, though painful, dutyforgive me, therefore.
OLD M . Oh, Charles! Charles! Didst thou but know what thorns thou plantest in thy father's bosom! That one gladdening report of thee would add ten years to my life! yes, bring back my youth! whilst now, alas, each fresh intelligence but hurries me a step nearer to the grave !
FRANCIS . Is it so, old man, then farewell! for even this very day we might all have to tear our hair over your coffin.
OLD M . Stay! There remains but one short step morelet him have his will! (He sits down.) The sins of the father shall be visited unto the third and fourth generationlet him fulfil the decree.
FRANCIS (takes the letter out of his pocket). You know our correspondent! See! I would give a finger of my right hand might I pronounce him a liara base and slanderous liar! Compose yourself! Forgive me if I do not let you read the letter yourself. You cannot, must not, yet know all.
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