Israel In Egypt. Book Ninth.

Thought--swift the flight of Spirits: ere midway
'Twixt noon and evening had the sun declined;
And while, all gentleness and purest love,
Reuben and Rachel in the garden still,
Softly discoursing, walked,--sound, rarely heard
Within that quiet Paradise, arose,
And their sweet talk suspended. Dim, and deep,--
Uncertain where,--like thunder far away,--
That first strange moan. On Reuben Rachel looked,
Hastily stopping; and her finger raised,
His speech to stay. Together then they stood,
Silently listening. More distinct came soon
The noise,--still deep and gentle, but more loud:
And well, at length, they knew the roll of wheels,
And tramp of horses, urging rapidly.
Full fronting them, nor distant, was the gate:
And thitherward, still standing motionless,
Their eyes both turned, in quiet wonderment,
To see what might pass by. Great marvel, then,
Fell on them when, before that very gate,
Paused suddenly a chariot, bright with gold,
By four majestic horses drawn, like night
For blackness, and whose snorting shook the air.
Lightly as springs the seamew from a cliff,
So from the chariot airily leaped then,
One who, for splendor, might a king have been;
And, after him,--more daintily and slow,
Yet featly as a bird, from some low branch
Dropping to earth,--what seemed a woman's form,
But might angelic be; so exquisite
In its fine gracefulness; and such the beams
That from the countenance breathed: on his raised hand,
Her rosy palm, with gentlest touch, she placed,
And floated to the ground. Right toward the gate
Then moved they; and their cheerful voices rose,
Like two sweet instruments,--two melodies
Wreathing in one rich harmony. Amazed,
The Hebrew lovers looked: but, when she saw
That kingly--seeming youth, with his own hand,
The gate thrust open; and that angel shape
Glide through,--her dainty fingers on his arm
Tenderly resting, as, with graceful step,
Together they advanced,--then hastily,
Yet with perfection of sweet dignity,
That beauteous pair to meet, Rachel went on;
And, drawing nigh them, paused; her delicate arms
Beneath her bosom crossed, and bowed the head;
Then rose, intent to speak. But that fair youth,
With motion light as air, on--stepping quick,
Prevented her; and, lowly bending, thus.

``Needs not to ask if in this favored place
Dwelleth the Rose of Goshen; for, than she,
Surely none else my vision blesseth now!
Fairest of Judah's daughters,--fairest far
Of all earth's loveliest,--give me thy kind thoughts:
Deem me not over bold, or light of talk;
For sacred truth I speak, and soul--enforced,
Not fancy--prompted. Expectation high
Hither hath brought us from a land far off,
Thee, chiefly, to behold; though to the court
Of Pharaoh go we also,--so far come,--
Else, left unvisited; since royal pomp
To us no charm hath, like the loveliness
Of beauty, and virtue; for which, trumpet--tongued,
Fame hath resounded thee. But voice of Fame,--
Too oft o'ergilding brass,--gold, now, hath bronzed;
So far beneath thy due the praise hath fallen.
We looked, indeed, to see earth's fairest rose,
But flower of Heaven have found. Oh! beautiful
Is every work of God; but, in thee, all
His choicest beauties mingle. Turn thou not,
Fairest, thy face aside; for truth, pure truth,
Alone I utter: from my soul come forth,
Compelled, the works I speak. I cannot look
Upon thee, and be silent; for my heart
Smites on my tongue, and forces it to speak.
Misdeem me not some common flatterer;
Some dresser up of falsehoods, meant to please
Weak woman's vanity, and mock her sense.
From distant Syria am I come, thyself
Solely to see; thee solely: yet, in thee,
Essence of earth's most good, and beautiful.
And more than all I sought for, have I found.
But, who I am, that thus have dared approach,
Meet is I tell thee. Haply, of the king
Of Syria, Phatos, the renowned in war,
And richest of all monarchs of the East,
The fame hath reached thee. Who before thee stands,
His son is, Samath named,--his eldest son,
And heir unto his throne,--though distant far,
Grant me, ye gods, that miserable day,
When from his noble head the crown shall pass
To mine, unworthy! She who with me comes,--
And whom I pray thee love,--is Lalia,
My dearest sister; and, throughout the East,
Most beauteous of all women beautiful,
By fame acknowledged: yet, with thine compared,
Sure am I,--for her soul's thought read I well,
As written in her eyes, and wondering looks,--
Homely and poor her charms esteemeth she,
As dew--drop's glimmer, to the diamond's gleam.
Oh! matchless truly is this work of God,
And forceth worship! Even on my knee,
Thou loveliest of all things beneath the sun,
Let me do homage; and, with heart sincere,
Implore,--though but for one brief hour it last,--
That, in the radiance of thy presence, we
Foretaste may have of that divinest joy,
When men with angels commune.'' Ceasing speech,
Upon his knee he sank; one ardent look,
Bright as celestial flame, upon her shot;
Then, as to higher Being, bowed his head,
All trembling, and was mute. Astonished, fixed,
She heard, and gazed: for, music like his voice,
Never her ear had known; beauty like his,
Her eye had never seen: and that fair form,
His sister,--standing silently, and rapt,
Her gaze returning,--of all womankind,
Nought had she seen, with her to make compare.
Not mortal seemed she: surely, then, from Heaven
Must she have come; a visitant to earth,
For some good task; and soon to re--ascend!
If she, then also he, of Heavenly kind.
And worthy of Heaven he seemed; such air divine
In all his motions; such a loveliness,
And majesty of beauty; both in form,
And feature, and in that pure radiance,
From the large liquid eye, and all the face,
Beaming like glory of morn. Yet, what the words
That he had spoken! Though mellifluous more
Than sweetest tone of music was the voice;
Though all his ardent look, his trembling frame,
True feeling seemed to utter,--yet, alas!
What were the words! Untrue she knew them well:
But how untrue?--Exaggerate?--so false?.....
Yet, to reality, false,--to feeling, true,
Might they not be?.....The fevered eye beholds
A sun where all is dark;--but, saying this,
The man lies not; to him a sun there is,
Though, in Heaven, none. Could that rare being, then,
Like man, have been deceived?--how, hard to tell,
That beauty he had seen, where beauty none
Existed truly? But his sister, too,
Though word she spake not, had the sáme declared
In the eye's language.....And yet, marvel none
That so erred she: for, oft is it not seen,
That madness of one man makes many mad,--
Seeing as he sees, hearing as he hears,
Though truly all be nought? Not falsehood, then,
But sense--deception was it. A great fame
Of beauty, in his native country heard,
Had fired imagination; and on her,
By chance beheld, the fevered eye had cast
Its self--created glories. Thus saw she,
Or thought she saw, as in one moment's glance,
Mingling of truth, and error; falsehood none,
Intended: nay, in nature pure as his,
Impossible, surely! and, to chase forthwith
From those, else clearest eyes, the darkening fumes,--
With words of simple earnestness and truth,
Quickly she answered him. ``Arise, O prince;
I pray thee rise: thou wouldst not mock me thus
With known deceit: but art thyself deceived;
In me, some other seeing. All unused
To such high presence am I; to such words,
Such praise, and such respect unmerited.
Thou knowest not, of a truth, to whom it is
That thus thou renderest homage, not her due.
An humble daughter am I of a race
Oppressëd sorely; and of small account
Even with my native people: unknown quite
By those of distant countries. Beauty none,
More than the lowliest, have I. Wrong report
Hath reached thee, then; or she, of whom 'twas said,
Far other is than I. Rachel my name.
No great one of the land my father is;
But sheep and cattle feedeth; and the ground
For corn, and fruit, and oil, and wine doth till.
Wealthy, indeed, is he; and in respect
By all our tribe long held; yet, but as one
Uprightly walking before God and man;
In self--esteem the humblest. Such are we;
Far different, as thou seest, from those thou sought.
Then tell me, prince, for whom thou dost enquire;
That, haply,--though I know not, nor have heard
Of such rare beauty, in this little land,
Where each to all is known......Reuben, perchance,''.....

Thus speaking, she looked round; and, close behind,--
For gently he had followed her, amazed
At all he saw,--beheld him: ``Knowëst thou,
Reuben,'' she said, ``of maiden in these parts,
So passing beautiful, that even to land
Far distant might the fame thereof have gone?''

``Beauty is only rare,'' the youth replied,
Modestly blushing, ``when with thousands else,
All beautiful, it stands, eclipsing all.
Who one flower only knoweth, cannot know
If in all men's esteem it would be held
Beautiful greatly: in like manner, I,
With thee, my Rachel, my one flower, content,
Have looked on few beside; thence, judgment none
Of rarest beauty have I: nor, in truth,
Of any maiden, in these neighbouring parts,
So excellent in feature, have I heard,
As that to distant lands the fame thereof
Might have been carried... Yet one see I here,--''
Sinking the voice, he said, and blushing deep,
As now, with nearer view, full on the face
Of that angelic shape his eye first fixed;--
``One do I see, whose loveliness, methinks,
The voice of fame might sound throughout the earth.
Say thou, my Rachel,--or am I deceived?,''
He whispered; ``Is not that fair creature bright
And beauteous, more than all of woman born
Whom yet thou hast beheld?'' ``If woman--born,
Of all most beauteous far,'' she answered him:
``But go thou to her, Reuben, for she smiles
Upon thee, as the sunrise on the hills;
And would, methinks, speak with thee.'' Modestly,
As if constrained--though not unwillingly,--
Toward that fair creature Reuben then advanced;
And Rachel, to the silent, gazing prince
Turning again,--her interrupted speech,
Simple, and true, renewed. ``Of whom ye seek,
We know not; nor, as now we think, have heard:
Yet, if her name thou tell,--remembrance then
May come to us; and joyful should we be,
Directing thee aright.'' She paused, and looked
With clear, calm eye, in simple truthfulness,
Upon that bright and glorious countenance,
Full beaming on her; and, as seemed, all speech,
Though silent: but, when ceased her low sweet voice,
Sprang forth his words of fire. ``Whom here I seek,''
Dropping again upon the knee, he cried,
``Is thou thyself, blest Rachel; the one child
Of Kohath and of Sarah; thee I seek.
In heaven is one sun only; and, on earth,
One only flower of Heaven. None, none but thee
Came we to seek. Nought knoweth the bright star
How far--off worlds speak of it: nought knowest thou,--
More than the dew--steeped rose of its own sweets,--
Thine own rare loveliness; and how all tongues
In lands remote speak of it; in plain speech
Of humble shepherds, in high phrase of kings,
In song of harpers, and in tale of bards;
All speaking, and all singing, in the praise
Of Goshen's heaven--flower, scenting the whole earth
With its sky--odour. That sweet flower art thou!
I feel Heaven's breath around thee: Heaven's pure light
I see about thee: sweetest sounds of Heaven
Are in thy voice: all dignity and grace
Of Heaven's bright spirits in thy motions are!
Oh that it were not sin to worship thee!
For, prostrate at thy feet, then, would I fall,
And call thee Goddess. On that exquisite hand,
Grant me, I pray thee, one pure kiss to impress;
Then, happy made, to arise; and thy sweet voice
In all things to obey.'' His glorious face,
All burning adoration,--with clear eye,
And calm, she saw; his passionate words and tones,--
Tumultuous music,--with calm ear she heard:
But her heart sorrowed; for the lofty mind
That should have matched that form almost divine,
Distracted was, she thought,--since words so false
And foolish, never had he uttered, else;
Himself demeaning; and degrading her,
If with clear reason spoken. Gently then,
And with true pity looking,--briefly thus
She answered him. ``I pray thee, prince, arise,--
For this false reverence, though no mock it be,
Even more than mockery paineth,--being given
Where it is owed not. But thy pardon grant,
When, in obedience to our fathers' law,
A thing most valueless I thee refuse.
To strangers,--even though greatest kings they be,--
Daughters of Israel may not give the hand.
Forgive me then, I pray thee, and arise.
I will send forth,--for not far hence he is,--
And call my father hither. Better he
Will answer thee, than I; to courtly words
All unaccustomed.'' Starting to his feet,
``Nay, nay,'' with passionate look and tone he cried;
``Thyself 'tis only, fairest work of Him
Who all things fair created,--thee alone
Whom I would see; with whom I would discourse;
Whose knowledge I would know; whose will obey:
For, all things by thee said, or done, or thought,
Wisest, and best, and heavenliest far must be.
All that to thee is worship, custom, law,
Should, to the universal world, be law,
Custom, and worship: for truth, only truth,
Divinest truth, all must be, which by thee
As truth accepted is. Oh! tell me, then,
The mysteries of thy worship: of thy God
Speak to me; of his power, and wisdom speak;
His name, and all his mighty acts declare:
Where throned he is: with man how dealeth he:
In all aright instruct me: for, till now,
Worship of other gods have I been taught;
Gods who false must be, since they are not thine:
Thine, only, can be true; for, truth itself
Not truer is than thou, who, on thy face,
Written, as if with pen in sunbeam dipped,
Bearest heaven's warrant, `ever pure, and true'...
But ah! I see thy thought; `not this the hour,'
Thy spirit saith, `for matter deep as such.'
On lighter speak thou then. Come,--pleasant task
I set thee now,--of thy betrothed--one speak:
For, with thy name, his, too, hath gone abroad;
His comeliness, and goodness, next to thine
By some reported; nay, by maidens' tongues,
E'en more than thine deemed excellent. And see,--
Already have my sister's lustrous eyes
Fallen dimmed to earth, with admiration quelled
Of his scarce mortal beauty. Side by side,
With voices murmuring music, now they walk.
Communion dangerous,--even for both alike;
Were they not both of second passion made
Incapable,--already overfilled
With great first love. On one same spot of earth
Stand not two hills;--nor, in that heart where lives
One pure love, can a second love find place.
No fear, then, have thou, lest her beauty rare,--
For, truly, doth it second stand to thine,--
His love from thee should lure. Betrothed is she
Already, to a prince, in all things held
Worthiest of admiration; and their day
Of marriage is at hand.'' ``I pray thee, prince,''
With calm, yet serious voice, said Rachel then,
``Speak thou to me the words of truth alone.
Surely must thou, and all who on us look,
See plainly that, with me compared, is she
As lily to a nettle! Yet no fear,
Even for a moment, have I, that the love
Of Reuben should from me be drawn aside:
For, of a true and faithful mind he is;
Humble in self--esteem; and knoweth well,
That upon him no princess of the earth
With eye of love would look. From earliest years,
Betrothëd have we been: and, sooth to say,
The tree, methinks, from out its native bed
Amid the mountains, would as soon arise,
And in some stately garden plant itself,
As he my side would leave, for even a queen's.''

``Nor wonder, fairest, purest, holiest, best!''
Burst forth the enraptured prince: ``for that sweet hill
Whereon he hath found root, so radiant is
With Heaven's pure light; with atmosphere of Heaven
So richly fragrant; that no garden of earth,
Though flowered for kings, may with it have compare!
Far more is mine the peril, lest, on thee
Looking, and filled with wonder, should my heart
Be shaken from its faith toward one most loved;
A princess beautiful, by every eye
Admired, nay worshipped,--unto whom my hand
Is pledged; and whom, ere fades another moon,
Shall I call wife. Far, far beyond all else,--
My sister sole except,--whom, till this day,
Mine eyes have looked on, beautiful is she:
Yet, in thy presence,--pardon me,--for truth,
Truth only must I speak, or silent be,--
In presence of thee, angelic, as a cloud
Is she,--a pure, serene, moon--lighted cloud,
To the silvery moon herself.'' While speaking thus,
Full in her face, with eyes like sunshine bright
And warm, he looked; his radiant countenance,
Love seeming to give out, as, waked by morn,
Earth gives out mist. But, as the star's ray weak
To melt the polar ice,--so passion's fire
Weak was, in her pure heart one throb to stir.
Love's silent language, warm, and eloquent
Beyond conception, saw she: yet, surprise,
And gentle sorrow only did it raise;
Above her pure heart passing harmlessly,
As sound o'er rock of crystal. His strange speech,
Quickly, then, thus she answered. ``Of such things,
I pray thee, prince, say thou to me no more;
For flattery, even when gentle and sincere,
Is but a sickly food; when wild, and gross,
Nauseous, nay hateful is it. What I am,
Well know I; and content have ever been,
As our good God created me, to be.
I do implore thee, then, truth, simple truth
Alone to speak; else, honor though it is,
Thy presence painful were.....But, all surprised
By such unlooked for visit,--meet respect
And hospitality to strangers due,
Have I forgotten. Pardon me, I pray.
My father, and my mother, as I said,
Are absent; with our long--lost Moses gone,
A friend of old to visit: but, if thou,
And thy fair sister, in our poor abode
Will deign to enter; and with fruits, and wine,
Humble refreshment make,--glad will they be,
On their return, to hear it: and I, too,
Be glad such guests to honor.'' ``Sweet the bread,
By thine hands broken!'' cried the enraptured prince;
``Fruit by thee touched, the wine by thee poured out!..
But I forget me; and displeasure raise,
Though but truth uttering; truth from out my soul
Gushing uncalled, as water from a spring!
Far as I can, upon this restless tongue
Will I put bridle; and, if e'er again
Too freely it shall move, I pray of thee,
Think but, that, for a moment, the hot steed
His rider hath o'ermastered; bearing him
On path that, else, he willingly had shunned.''

Gently she smiled, and bowed; and her fair hand,
Pure as pearl--tint of morn, extending, signed
Toward the bright princess; mutely saying thus,
``Most fit that thou conduct her; I await.''
The sign he read; bowed low; and with a step
Light as the sweep of cloud,--yet full of grace,
And princely dignity,--toward where still walked
His sister, and the astounded youth, went on.

Meantime, the phantom princess, with dread lure
Of flattery, and of love, half hid, half shown,
Had striven the innocent heart of that true youth
With warmth impure to stir. From eyes more bright
Than sun--lit sapphire, on him did she shoot
Heart--fire, which, to the man of common mould,
Lightning had been,--within his very bones
Heat kindling; and to cinder scorching up
Even oaks of virtue, human growth alone.
From face all smiling, now, as richest bed
Of flowers, breeze--rocked, and glistening in the sun,--
Now, sad as solitary vale at night,
To the lone lover, wandering,--did she pour
Floods of strange passion,--now, like Hecla's springs
From earth's heart boiling; now, like soft, warm stream,
'Neath overhanging branches, in sweet gloom,
Through tropical forest gliding; gentle, sad;
Yet the hot traveller, as with arms outspread,
Wooing to its embrace: from lips, whose play
Bright was and graceful, as of sun--tipped waves
Just waked at morn,--sounds exquisite she breathed;
Melodies sweet of Heaven, not yet forgot;
Tones that of every nerve of sensual man,
Had made a quivering harp--string; and all strength
So melted, that, as death--struck, had he dropped,
And quivered at her feet. And, with these charms
Of eye, and look, and voice, words dangerous
To strongest virtue spake she; telling half,
And half concealing, of a passion strange,--
Sudden as lightning in a crystal sky,--
Resistless as its stroke,--which her weak heart,
Fresh, till that moment, as an opening rose,
Had scorched to ashes. Sighing deep, she told
Of her troth plighted to a prince, young, rich,
By all men honored; but by her, alas!
Not greatly, ever, loved; and, now, abhorred!
So, in all excellence that woman loves,
Immeasurably less was he, than whom--
Oh pity! now, too late, she had beheld,
And even to madness worshipped! yea, for whom,
Her promised greatness, riches, pomp, and throne,
As dust she would fling off; and, with him blest,
Shun all the world beside! A stifled sob
At times came forth, as though, with pangs suppressed,
Her heart were breaking; then, as if to hide
Emotion so revealed,--though roseate all
With sweetest blushes,--a sad smile she forced;
And, lifting up her eyes, which on the earth,
Confession making, humbly she had dropped,
In seeming modesty,--a sudden gleam,
A passion's lightning, on his face she shot:
A radiance that was language, and spake out,
``Thou art the loved one! love me, or I die!''

As in a dream distracted, Reuben stood,
Seeing, and hearing, sights, and sounds, and words,
Which, in the inflammable mind of simple youth,
By heavenly thoughts unguarded, and pure love,
Stark madness had engendered; but, in him,
Amazement only raised they,--trouble, doubt.
Excess of light brings blindness; and that blaze
Of beauty, over reason, sense, and soul,
Darkness bewildering cast; that, what he saw,
Illusion seemed; what heard, appeared as nought.

But, when the phantom--prince, all smiles, drew nigh;
And, leading toward the house that sister--shade,
The hospitable words of Rachel spake,
Inviting them to enter,--rousing then
From stupor almost trancelike, Reuben too,
Though silent still, went onward; nor one word,
Even to Rachel, spake, when to her side
He came; but, buried in deep wonderment,
Walked as in sleep: within the house arrived,
As in a dream all saw; and stood, or sat,
Or, sometimes, question answered; or aught did,
At Rachel's soft requirement; yet with sense
Uncertain still as vision in thick fog.

Attendance summoned, and refreshment placed
Before her guests,--all purity and truth,
The Hebrew maiden, to that pair impure,
The rites of simple hospitality,
With native grace administered; nor words
Of cheerful converse shunned; doubt feeling none
In her sweet virgin mind, of aught amiss;
Save, in that ardent prince, high fantasy,
O'ermastering reason. For his sister, she,
Pure, now, as snow appeared; gentle and calm
As breath of summer's twilight. But the time
Of their departure came,--for well they felt
The advent of a presence they would shun,--
And, rising then,--with modest tone, and look
All bashfulness, as though of such high grace
Unworthy feeling,--to the chosen maid
Low bowed the prince, and spake. ``Our thanks accept,
Daughter of Judah, for such courtesies
As monarchs well might envy us; so rich
In those fine graces that, of mortal food,
Refection spiritual make; mere earthly bread,
And fruit, and wine, as by some holy spell,
To heavenly feast transmuting. Such rare bliss
Who once partakes,--for his whole life to come,
Happy might deem himself: yet, who that once,
Once only, had beheld the glory of day;
Had seen the sun mid clouds of gold arise;
Like orb of steadfast lightning path the sky;
Like a vast world of ruby sink at eve,--
Who, that one day had seen it, would not long
For an eternity of days, to see
Glory, else inconceivable? Who could bear,
Thereafter, in eternal night to dwell,
Hopeless of second sunrise? Even so,
Fairest of Israel's daughters,--blessed once
To see, and feel the sunshine sweet and pure
Of thy most holy presence,....nay,--turn not
With darkening visage from me,--for my words
Are but my soul's voice; and, if less I say,
False shall I be to that divinest truth
Speaking within me,....but I see thee still
O'ercast,--like star of evening dimmed by mist,--
And, from the poor plant I would offer thee,
Will dock the flower. In homeliest language then,--
May we thy kind permission crave, again
This favored house to visit? To the court
Of Pharaoh go we now; his guests awhile:
And, such brief distance interposed, far more
Would be our sorrow and privation,--barred
From presence so desired; from hope of good
That might be ours, in thy sweet converse blest,
Instructed, purified, than if wide lands
'Twixt thee and us had lain,--our hearts' first wish
Impossible making, as the gems to seize
Beneath the ocean caverned. Nigh the lips
When stands the sparkling cup they may not taste,
Oh! thousand times more torturing the thirst,
Than when, in fancy only, the clear springs,
Leagues off are figured. Kindly yield us then
Admission to thy Paradise: nor fear
That alway with the look, and word, and tone,
Of admiration irrepressible,
Thy soul, too humble in its own esteem,
I shall offend. Who on the wide sea first,
And suddenly looks,--all wonder and delight,
Even shouts, for rapture: but in awe, at length,
And holy silence gazes; in that vast,
Visible, seeing the Great Invisible.
So, my first vehemence of wonder o'er,--
By musing silence only; or few words,
And simple, may I mark the holy joy
Which fills me in thy presence.'' Modestly,
Thus having spoken, his fine head he bowed,
And silent stood. Silent stood also she,
Unknowing how to answer. For herself,
Converse with strangers gladly had she shunned;
Even those of speech most plain: with one to courts
Accustomed, and to flattery thus prone,
Task painful was it. Of his high estate
She thought not; nor his princely courtesy;
His beauty matchless, both in form and face;
Nor of his fancy's play; nor eloquence
Of word and look; nor music of his voice,--
On her was all as nought: but, such small boon
As he had begged, she liked not to refuse:
Churlish it seemed, nay even unjust, to weigh,
'Gainst any fellow being's harmless wish,
Slight self--distaste, and let it turn the scale.
Nay, even a grievous sin might it not be,
So to refuse; for, who aright could know
What good momentous,--from the converse high
Of her loved father, and of holy priests,
His visitors oft,--to that so gifted pair
Might come, when, in the place of Heathen night,
Should rise upon them that great sun of Heaven,--
Knowledge of Israel's God. So rapt in thought,
And silent standing; with her face down bent,
Gentle and pure as some young drooping flower,
When he beheld her,--with a cheerful voice
Thus spake he. ``Silence oft best eloquence is;
Without word telling, what a host of words
So well could not. The musings of thy soul,
Through thy pure face all clear before me lie,
As pebbles through sea's crystal. Thy kind boon,
In spirit granted, with deep gratitude
Do we accept: and now with cheerful heart
May pass into the night; assured that day
Will visit us again. Our chariot long
Before thy gate hath tarried; and the hour
Compels departure. All that Heaven hath best
For mortal happiness, on thee, fair maid,
And on thy house, be ever.'' Like farewell
The sister--phantom gave: to Reuben then
Turned, and in words, though kind, yet plain and calm,
As to a new--made friend, leave--taking, spake:
But, when his eyes one moment unto hers
Upraised she saw,--sudden as lightning glance,--
Unseen of all beside,--a stream of fire,
Like flight of arrows all together shot,
Even to his heart she sent; that, like to one
Stricken in fight, he staggered. Yet the bolts,
Though the strong mail of purity they shook,
As battering rams a wall, pierced not within.
Sense was an instant stunned, but soul stood firm.
A shock he felt, unknowing what the cause:
And when upon the face, all heavenly calm
And innocent, of Rachel next he looked,
A peace serene came on him; as on woods
By tempest shaken, when the wind falls dead.

Loudly the horses snorted at the gate,
And stamped the ground, impatient to be gone.
Forth walked the guests, the hostess, and the youth:
Lightly the phantoms to the chariot rose;
Again the farewell spake, and bowed the head,
Smiling, though seeming sad: with gentle words
The Hebrew maiden answered, and the youth
In silence bent: then, without word, or sign
Apparent given them, the black steeds flung out
Their mighty feet; and, like a golden cloud,
Wind--swift the chariot flew. Silent, not sad,
Though not untroubled,--since not seeing clear
If all aright had been; if good might come,
Or evil most, from that strange visiting,--
Hand locked in hand, unto the house returned
The innocent pair: and quickly then, like breath
Of Spring upon the flowers, on Reuben fell
The music exquisite of Rachel's voice;
The music visible, beaming from her face;
Soft flow of music from each moving limb,--
Body and soul one heavenly harmony,--
That, like a thick mist from a hill top blown,
When freshly wakes the wind, from off his soul,
Wide scattered flew the lurid atmosphere
By that fair phantom cast: and soon again
With hers his clear voice mingled cheerfully.

In brief time, other voices also joined;
For the loved parents of the youth and maid,
With Moses, their all honored guest, returned,
Radiant with joy; of the approaching day,
Israel's deliverance bringing, in few words,
A foretaste having had; and, of the end,
Doubting no more than of the morrow's dawn;
For, was it not of God? But when, at length,
From Rachel, of those guests so wondrous strange,
In full they had heard; and of permission craved,
And unrefused, the visit to renew;
Awhile, in dim distrust of evil meant,
All silent sat: for, of his flattering speech,
With open heart, disguising nought, she had told:
Of his so ardent looks, and passionate tones;
The beauty of his countenance, and form;
The music of his voice; the graces rare
Of all his motions: of that princess, too,
Had told; how radiant past all thought she was;
Scarce earthly in her exquisite loveliness;
And voiced as might be angel,....though, of her,
Fitliest might Reuben speak,--with her sweet talk
Most favored, and apart. Full on the youth,
Thus saying, looked she; from her virgin face,
Purest effulgence of all trusting love
Beaming upon him. But, with troubled mien,
Sat he, and spake not: pallid now, now flushed;
With eyes now downcast, now, with hurried glance,
On every countenance looking anxiously:
Yet not as one shame--bowed, but soul--disturbed;
Unknowing of the cause. With gentle words,
Yet solemn; and with aspect grave, yet kind;
As to loved offspring speaks an anxious sire,
Then, after silence brief, thus Moses spake.

``As my own children were ye,--nay, far more,
As being of God for some high purpose chosen,--
Dear to me are ye both. What hath befallen,--
Commanded, or permitted,--for some end
Inscrutable hath been: your faith, perchance,
Or holiness, to prove: but, whatsoe'er,--
Be it of Heaven, or hell,--for you can be
One only course. Plain as high road at noon,
Before you lies the way that ye should walk.
Even as your right hand from your left, ye know
The path of holiness, from path of sin.
Keep steadfast on the way which ye have trod:
To neither side, though gardens as of heaven
Would tempt you, for one moment turn your eyes.
Before you straight is the clear road of God:
If thence ye turn,--though seeming angels call,--
From God ye turn,--His chosen ones no more;
But lost! all lost! Of evil, if one breath,
Though weaker than the air--sigh which scarce moves
The floating gossamer, on your souls should touch,--
Your own strength trust not, even for so short time
As measures flash of light; but on your knees,
And on your faces fall; and cry to Him
Who everywhere is present; who each sigh
Of troubled heart doth hear; and in whose might,
Against ten thousand enemies of hell,
Shall ye be victors. Admonition thus,
By duty urged, I give; though confident
That in yourselves, Heaven--destined, are ye strong
'Gainst evil's worst assault. Thy countenance,
Blest Rachel, is as sky without a cloud:
And thine, young Reuben, though a vapour hang
Brief time above it,--from some murky cloud
Blown thither,--no pollution thence hath caught;
And quickly will shine clear.... But now to God
Let us give worship.'' On his knees he sank,
And with him all that pious company;
And to the throne of God wont up a voice.
Solemn as holy hush of midnight, now;
Now, joyful in bright hope, as morning's prime;
Now, fervent as the breath of summer's noon,
Seemed that scarce human utterance. It ceased:
A silent moment followed; gently then,
Tremulous with holy awe, down bending, all
Sank noiselessly, with forehead to the floor,
In spirit to worship: and throughout the house
Was stillness, as of midnight on the hills.

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