(The trenches of Holy Trinity Castle. Corpses all around. Smashed, upturned cannon. Weapons lying on the ground. Soldiers here and there. The Man, leaning on an entrenchment. James by his side.)
THE MAN: (Returning his saber to its sheath)
No delight compares to playing with danger and always winning - and when it comes time to lose, it's only once.
Sprinkled by our last rounds they have retreated, but down below there they are regrouping and will soon renew the siege. We have no chance - since the world began no-one has escaped the fate destined for him.
Are we already out of ammunition?
There are neither bullets, shells, nor buckshot. Eventually you reach the bottom of everything.
Bring me my son, then, that I may embrace him once again. (James leaves.) The smoke of battle has dimmed my eyes. It seems to me as though the valley had become swollen and then shrank back. In a hundred corners the rocks break and intersect one another. My thoughts, too, follow a strange path. (Sits down on the wall.) It's not worth it to be a man. Or an angel. After a few ages, the first archangel, as we did after a few years, felt weariness in his heart, and longed for greater strength. One must be God or nothing. (James comes in with George.) Take a few of our men, go around the castle halls, and drive all you meet to the ramparts.
Bankers and counts and princes! (Goes out.)
Come, son, put your hand in mine. Touch your brow to my lips. Your mother's brow was once as white and soft as yours.
I heard her voice today before your men leaped to their arms. Her words flowed as lightly as a fragrance, and she said: "This evening you will sit beside me."
Did she at least mention my name?
She said: "This evening I await my son."
(Aside) Will my strength fail at the end of the road? God, keep me from that! For one moment's courage I am your prisoner for all eternity. (Aloud) O son, forgive me for giving you life. We are parting. Do you know for how long?
Take me and don't let me go. Don't let me go. I'll draw you after me.
Our paths are different. You will forget me among angelic choirs. You will never cast a single drop of dew on me from above. O George, George, my son!
What are those shouts? I'm trembling all over! More and more menacing - and nearer - the roar of cannon and musket resounds - the final, foretold hour approaches us.
Hurry, James, hurry!
(A procession of counts and princes passes through the lower courtyard. James and some soldiers follow them.)
You gave us broken bits of weapons and now you order us to fight!
Henry, have mercy!
Do not drive us, weak and famished, to the walls!
Where are they driving us, where?
(To them) To death! (To his son) With this embrace I would unite with you for all eternity, but I must go in another direction. (George falls, struck by a bullet.)
A VOICE ON HIGH:
To me, to me, pure spirit! To me, my son!
Hey, to me, my men! (Withdraws his saber and places it on the lips of the fallen boy.) The blade is as clear as before. Breath and life have fled together. Hey! Here - forward! They've now penetrated within my saber's length. Back, to the precipice, sons of freedom! (Confusion and fighting. )
(Another part of the trenches. The echoes of the battle can be heard. James lies stretched out along the wall. The Man runs in, blood all over him.)
What troubles you, my faithful old servant?
May the devil pay you back in hell for your stubbornness and my torments. So help me God! (Dies.)
(Casting away his cloak) I need you no longer. My best men have perished and those kneeling over there are stretching out their arms to the victors and bellowing for mercy! (He looks all around him.) They are not coming up this side yet. There is still time. Let us rest a while. Ha, now they have battered their way up the northern tower. New troops have plunged into the tower and they are looking to see if Count Henry is hidden somewhere there. I am here, here - but you shall not judge me! I have already started on my way. I am going toward the judgment of God. (He mounts a fragment of a bastion overhanging the very precipice.) I see it, all black, with dark expanses, flowing toward me, my eternity, without shores, without islands, without end, and in its midst is God, like an eternally burning sun - ever shining - and illuminating nothing. (Advances a step farther. ) They run, they've seen me! Jesus, Mary! O poetry, be you as cursed as I am for all the ages! Arms of mine, go before and cut me a path through those ramparts! (He leaps into the precipice.)