George MacDonald

(10 December 1824 – 18 September 1905 / Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland)

Within And Without: Part Ii: A Dramatic Poem - Poem by George MacDonald

Hark, hark, a voice amid the quiet intense!
It is thy Duty waiting thee without.
Rise from thy knees in hope, the half of doubt;
A hand doth pull thee-it is Providence;
Open thy door straightway, and get thee hence;
Go forth into the tumult and the shout;
Work, love, with workers, lovers, all about:
Of noise alone is born the inward sense
Of silence; and from action springs alone
The inward knowledge of true love and faith.
Then, weary, go thou back with failing breath,
And in thy chamber make thy prayer and moan:
One day upon
His
bosom, all thine own,
Thou shall lie still, embraced in holy death.

SCENE I.-A room in Julian's castle. JULIAN
and the old
Nurse.

Julian
.
Nembroni? Count Nembroni?-I remember:
A man about my height, but stronger built?
I have seen him at her father's. There was something
I did not like about him:-ah! I know:
He had a way of darting looks at you,
As if he wished to know you, but by stealth.


Nurse
.
The same, my lord. He is the creditor.
The common story is, he sought the daughter,
But sought in vain: the lady would not wed.
'Twas rumoured soon they were in grievous trouble,
Which caused much wonder, for the family
Was always reckoned wealthy. Count Nembroni
Contrived to be the only creditor,
And so imprisoned him.


Julian
.
Where is the lady?


Nurse
.
Down in the town.


Julian
.
But where?


Nurse
.
If you turn left,
When you go through the gate, 'tis the last house
Upon this side the way. An honest couple,
Who once were almost pensioners of hers,
Have given her shelter: still she hopes a home
With distant friends. Alas, poor lady! 'tis
A wretched change for her.


Julian
.
Hm! ah! I see.
What kind of man is this Nembroni, nurse?


Nurse
.
Here he is little known. His title comes
From an estate, they say, beyond the hills.
He looks ungracious: I have seen the children
Run to the doors when he came up the street.


Julian
.
Thank you, nurse; you may go. Stay-one thing more:
Have any of my people seen me?


Nurse
. None
But me, my lord.


Julian
.
And can you keep it secret?-
know you will for my sake. I will trust you.
Bring me some supper; I am tired and faint. [Nurse goes.]
Poor and alone! Such a man has not laid
His plans for nothing further! I will watch him.
Heaven may have brought me hither for her sake.
Poor child! I would protect thee as thy father,
Who cannot help thee. Thou wast not to blame;
My love had no claim on like love from thee.-How
the old tide comes rushing to my heart!

I know not what I can do yet but watch.
I have no hold on him. I cannot go,
Say,
I suspect
; and,
Is it so or not
?
I should but injure them by doing so.
True, I might pay her father's debts; and will,
If Joseph, my old friend, has managed well
During my absence.
I
have not spent much.
But still she'd be in danger from this man,
If not permitted to betray himself;
And I, discovered, could no more protect.
Or if, unseen by her, I yet could haunt
Her footsteps like an angel, not for long
Should I remain unseen of other eyes,
That peer from under cowls-not angel-eyes-
Hunting me out, over the stormy earth.
No; I must watch. I can do nothing better.

SCENE II.-A poor cottage. An old Man
and
Woman
sitting together
.


Man
.
How's the poor lady now?


Woman
.
She's poorly still.
I fancy every day she's growing thinner.
I am sure she's wasting steadily.


Man
.
Has the count
Been here again to-day?


Woman
.
No. And I think
He will not come again. She was so proud
The last time he was here, you would have thought
She was a queen at least.


Man
.
Remember, wife,
What she has been. Trouble like that throws down
The common folk like us all of a heap:
With folks like her, that are high bred and blood,
It sets the mettle up.


Woman
.
All very right;
But take her as she was, she might do worse
Than wed the Count Nembroni.


Man
.
Possible.
But are you sure there is no other man
Stands in his way?


Woman
.
How can I tell? So be,
He should be here to help her. What she'll do
I am sure I do not know. We cannot keep her.
And for her work, she does it far too well
To earn a living by it. Her times are changed-
She should not give herself such prideful airs.


Man
.
Come, come, old wife! you women are so hard
On one another! You speak fair for men,
And make allowances; but when a woman
Crosses your way, you speak the worst of her.
But where is this you're going then to-night?
Do they want me to go as well as you?


Woman
.
Yes, you must go, or else it is no use.
They cannot give the money to me, except
My husband go with me. He told me so.


Man
.
Well, wife, it's worth the going-but to see:
I don't expect a groat to come of it.

SCENE III.-
Kitchen of a small inn
. Host
and
Hostess.

Host
.
That's a queer customer you've got upstairs!
What the deuce is he?


Hostess
.
What is that to us?
He always pays his way, and handsomely.
I wish there were more like him.


Host
.
Has he been
At home all day?


Hostess
.
He has not stirred a foot
Across the threshold. That's his only fault-
He's always in the way.


Host
.
What does he do?


Hostess
.
Paces about the room, or sits at the window.
I sometimes make an errand to the cupboard,
To see what he's about: he looks annoyed,
But does not speak a word.


Host
.
He must be crazed,
Or else in hiding for some scrape or other.


Hostess
.
He has a wild look in his eye sometimes;
But sure he would not sit so much in the dark,
If he were mad, or anything on his conscience;
And though he does not say much, when he speaks
A civiller man ne'er came in woman's way.


Host
.
Oh! he's all right, I warrant. Is the wine come?

SCENE IV.-The inn; a room upstairs. JULIAN
at the window, half
hidden by the curtain
.


Julian
.
With what profusion her white fingers spend
Delicate motions on the insensate cloth!
It was so late this morning ere she came!
I fear she has been ill. She looks so pale!
Her beauty is much less, but she more lovely.
Do I not love he? more than when that beauty
Beamed out like starlight, radiating beyond
The confines of her wondrous face and form,
And animated with a present power
Her garment's folds, even to the very hem!

Ha! there is something now: the old woman drest
In her Sunday clothes, and waiting at the door,
As for her husband. Something will follow this.
And here he comes, all in his best like her.
They will be gone a while. Slowly they walk,
With short steps down the street. Now I must wake
The sleeping hunter-eagle in my eyes!

SCENE V.-A back street. Two Servants
with a carriage and pair
.


1st Serv
.
Heavens, what a cloud! as big as Aetna! There!
That gust blew stormy. Take Juno by the head,
I'll stand by Neptune. Take her head, I say;
We'll have enough to do, if it should lighten.


2nd Serv
.
Such drops! That's the first of it. I declare
She spreads her nostrils and looks wild already,
As if she smelt it coming. I wish we were
Under some roof or other. I fear this business
Is not of the right sort.


1st Serv
.
He looked as black
As if he too had lightning in his bosom.
There! Down, you brute! Mind the pole, Beppo!


SCENE VI.-Julian's room. JULIAN
standing at the window, his face
pressed against a pane. Storm and gathering darkness without
.


Julian
.
Plague on the lamp! 'tis gone-no, there it flares!
I wish the wind would leave or blow it out.
Heavens! how it thunders! This terrific storm
Will either cow or harden him. I'm blind!
That lightning! Oh, let me see again, lest he
Should enter in the dark! I cannot bear
This glimmering longer. Now that gush of rain
Has blotted all my view with crossing lights.
'Tis no use waiting here. I must cross over,
And take my stand in the corner by the door.
But if he comes while I go down the stairs,
And I not see? To make sure, I'll go gently
Up the stair to the landing by her door.

[
He goes quickly toward the door
.]


Hostess
(opening the door and looking in).
If you please, sir-

[
He hurries past
]

The devil's in the man!

SCENE VII.-The landing.


Voice within
.
If you scream, I must muffle you.


Julian
(rushing up the stair).
He
is
there!
His hand is on her mouth! She tries to scream!

[
Flinging the door open, as NEMBRONI springs
forward on the other side
.]

Back!


Nembroni
.< br>What the devil!-Beggar!

[
Drawing his sword, and making a thrust at JULIAN, which
he parries with his left arm, as, drawing his dagger, he
springs within NEMBRONI'S guard
.]


Julian
(taking him by the throat).
I have faced worse
storms than you.

[
They struggle
.]

Heart point and hilt strung on the line of force,

[
He stabs him
.]

Your ribs will not mail your heart!

[NEMBRONI
falls dead
. JULIAN
wipes his dagger on the
dead man's coat
.]

If men
will
be devils,
They are better in hell than here.

[
Lightning flashes on the blade
.]

What a night
For a soul to go out of doors! God in heaven!

[
Approaches the lady within
.]

Ah! she has fainted. That is well. I hope
It will not pass too soon. It is not far
To the half-hidden door in my own fence,
And that is well. If I step carefully,
Such rain will soon wash out the tell-tale footprints.
What! blood?
He
does not bleed much, I should think!
Oh, I see! it is mine-he has wounded me.
That's awkward now.

[
Takes a handkerchief from the floor by the window
.]

Pardon me, dear lady;

[
Ties the handkerchief with hand and teeth round his arm
.]

'Tis not to save my blood I would defile
Even your handkerchief.

[
Coming towards the door, carrying her
.]

I am pleased to think
Ten monkish months have not ta'en all my strength.

[
Looking out of the window on the landing
.]

For once, thank darkness! 'Twas sent for us, not him.

[
He goes down the stair
]

SCENE VIII.-A room in the castle. JULIAN
and the
Nurse.


Julian
.
Ask me no questions now, my dear old nurse.
You have put your charge to bed?


Nurse
.
Yes, my dear lord.


Julian
.
And has she spoken yet?


Nurse
.
After you left,
Her eyelids half unclosed; she murmured once:

Where am I, mother
?-then she looked at me,
And her eyes wandered over all my face,
Till half in comfort, half in weariness,
They closed again. Bless her, dear soul! she is
As feeble as a child.


Julian
.
Under your care
She'll soon be well again. Let no one know
She is in the house:-blood has been shed for her.


Nurse
.
Alas! I feared it; blood is on her dress.


Julian
.
That's mine, not his. But put it in the fire.
Get her another. I'll leave a purse with you.


Nurse
.
Leave?


J ulian
.
Yes. I am off to-night, wandering again
Over the earth and sea. She must not know
I have been here. You must contrive to keep
My share a secret. Once she moved and spoke
When a branch caught me, but she could not see me.
She thought, no doubt, it was Nembroni had her;
Nor would she have known me. You must hide her, nurse.
Let her on no pretense guess where she is,
Nor utter word that might suggest the fact.
When she is well and wishes to be gone,
Then write to this address-but under cover

[
Writing
.]

To the Prince Calboli at Florence. I
Will see to all the rest. But let her know
Her father is set free; assuredly,
Ere you can say it is, it will be so.


Nurse
.
How shall I best conceal her, my good lord?


Julian
.
I have thought of that. There's a deserted room
In the old west wing, at the further end
Of the oak gallery.


Nurse
.
Not deserted quite.
I ventured, when you left, to make it mine,
Because you loved it when a boy, my lord.


Julian
.
You do not know, nurse, why I loved it though:
I found a sliding panel, and a door
Into a room behind. I'll show it you.
You'll find some musty traces of me yet,
When you go in. Now take her to your room,
But get the other ready. Light a fire,
And keep it burning well for several days.
Then, one by one, out of the other rooms,
Take everything to make it comfortable;
Quietly, you know. If you must have your daughter,
Bind her to be as secret as yourself.
Then put her there. I'll let her father know
She is in safety.-I must change attire,
And be far off or ever morning break.

[Nurse
goes
.]

My treasure-room! how little then I thought,
Glad in my secret, one day it would hold
A treasure unto which I dared not come.
Perhaps she'd love me now-a very little!-
But not with even a heavenly gift would I
Go begging love; that should be free as light,
Cleaving unto myself even for myself.
I have enough to brood on, joy to turn
Over and over in my secret heart:-
She lives, and is the better that I live!


Re-enter
Nurse.


Nu rse
.
My lord, her mind is wandering; she is raving;
She's in a dreadful fever. We must send
To Arli for the doctor, else her life
Will be in danger.


Julian

(rising disturbed).
Go and fetch your daughter.
Between you, take her to my room, yours now.
I'll see her there. I think you can together!


Nurse
.
O yes, my lord; she is so thin, poor child!

[Nurse
goes
.]


Julian
.
I ought to know the way to treat a fever,
If it be one of twenty. Hers has come
Of low food, wasting, and anxiety.
I've seen enough of that in Prague and Smyrna!

SCENE IX.-The Abbot's room in the monastery. The Abbot.


Abbot
.
'Tis useless all. No trace of him found yet.
One hope remains: that fellow has a head!


Enter
STEPHEN.

Stephen, I have sent for you, because I am told
You said to-day, if I commissioned you,
You'd scent him out, if skulking in his grave.


Stephen
.
I did, my lord.


Abbot
.
How would you do it, Stephen?


Stephen
.
Try one plan till it failed; then try another;
Try half-a-dozen plans at once; keep eyes
And ears wide open, and mouth shut, my lord:
Your bull-dog sometimes makes the best retriever.
I have no plan; but, give me time and money,
I'll find him out.


Abbot
.
Stephen, you're just the man
I have been longing for. Get yourself ready.

SCENE X.-Towards morning. The Nurse's room. LILIA
in bed
.
JULIAN
watching
.


Julian
.
I think she sleeps. Would God it be so; then
She will do well. What strange things she has spoken!
My heart is beating as if it would spend
Its life in this one night, and beat it out.
And well it may, for there is more of life
In one such moment than in many years!
Pure life is measured by intensity,
Not by the how much of the crawling clock.
Is that a bar of moonlight stretched across
The window-blind? or is it but a band
Of whiter cloth my thrifty dame has sewed
Upon the other?-'Tis the moon herself,
Low in the west. 'Twas such a moon as this-


Lilia

(half-asleep, wildly).
If Julian had been here, you dared not do it!-
Julian! Julian!

[
Half-rising
.]


Julian

(forgetting his caution, and going up to her).
I am here, my Lilia.
Put your head down, my love. 'Twas all a dream,
A terrible dream. Gone now-is it not?

[
She looks at him with wide restless eyes; then sinks back on
the pillow. He leaves her.]

How her dear eyes bewildered looked at me!
But her soul's eyes are closed. If this last long
She'll die before my sight, and Joy will lead
In by the hand her sister, Grief, pale-faced,
And leave her to console my solitude.
Ah, what a joy! I dare not think of it!
And what a grief! I will not think of that!
Love? and from her? my beautiful, my own!
O God, I did not know thou wast so rich
In making and in giving; did not know
The gathered glory of this earth of thine.
What! wilt thou crush me with an infinite joy?
Make me a god by giving? Wilt thou take
Thy centre-thought of living beauty, born
In thee, and send it home to dwell with me?

[
He leans on the wall
.]


Lilia

(softly).
Am I in heaven? There's something makes me glad,
As if I were in heaven! Yes, yes, I am.
I see the flashing of ten thousand glories;
I hear the trembling of a thousand wings,
That vibrate music on the murmuring air!
Each tiny feather-blade crushes its pool
Of circling air to sound, and quivers music!-
What is it, though, that makes me glad like this?
I knew, but cannot find it-I forget.
It must be here-what was it?-Hark! the fall,
The endless going of the stream of life!-
Ah me! I thirst, I thirst,-I am so thirsty!

[
Querulously
.]

[JU LIAN gives her drink, supporting her. She looks at him
again, with large wondering eyes.]

Ah! now I know-I was so very thirsty!

[
He lays her down. She is comforted, and falls asleep. He
extinguishes the light, and looks out of the window
.]


Julian
.
The gray earth dawning up, cold, comfortless;
With its obtrusive
I am
written large
Upon its face!

[
Approaches the bed, and gazes on
LILIA
silently with
clasped hands; then returns to the window
.]

She sleeps so peacefully!
O God, I thank thee: thou hast sent her sleep.
Lord, let it sink into her heart and brain.

Enter
Nurse
.

Oh, nurse, I'm glad you're come! She is asleep.
You must be near her when she wakes again.
I think she'll be herself. But do be careful-
Right cautious how you tell her I am here.
Sweet woman-child, may God be in your sleep!

[JULIAN
goes
.]


Nurse
.
Bless her white face, she looks just like my daughter,
That's now a saint in heaven! Just those thin cheeks,
And eyelids hardly closed over her eyes!-
Dream on, poor darling! you are drinking life
From the breast of sleep. And yet I fain would see
Your shutters open, for I then should know
Whether the soul had drawn her curtains back,
To peep at morning from her own bright windows.
Ah! what a joy is ready, waiting her,
To break her fast upon, if her wild dreams
Have but betrayed her secrets honestly!
Will he not give thee love as dear as thine!

SCENE XI.-A hilly road. STEPHEN,
trudging alone, pauses to look
around him
.


Stephen
.
Not a footprint! not a trace that a blood-hound
would nose at! But Stephen shall be acknowledged
good dog and true. If I had him within stick-length-mind
thy head, brother Julian! Thou hast not
hair enough to protect it, and thy tonsure shall not.
Neither shalt thou tarry at Jericho.-It is a poor man
that leaves no trail; and if thou wert poor, I would not
follow thee.

[
Sings
]


Oh, many a hound is stretching out
His two legs or his four,
And the saddled horses stand about
The court and the castle door,
Till out come the baron, jolly and stout,
To hunt the bristly boar!

The emperor, he doth keep a pack
In his antechambers standing,
And up and down the stairs, good lack!
And eke upon the landing:
A straining leash, and a quivering back,
And nostrils and chest expanding!

The devil a hunter long hath been,
Though Doctor Luther said it:
Of his canon-pack he was the dean,
And merrily he led it:
The old one kept them swift and lean
On faith-that's devil's credit!

Each man is a hunter to his trade,
And they follow one another;
But such a hunter never was made
As the monk that hunted his brother!
And the runaway pig, ere its game be played,
Shall be eaten by its mother!


Better hunt a flea in a woolly blanket, than a leg-bail
monk in this wilderness of mountains, forests, and
precipices! But the flea
may
be caught, and so
shall

the monk. I have said it. He is well spotted, with
his silver crown and his uncropped ears. The rascally
heretic! But his vows shall keep him, though he won't
keep his vows. The whining, blubbering idiot! Gave
his plaything, and wants it back!-I wonder whereabouts
I am.


SCENE XII.-The Nurse's room. LILIA
sitting up in bed
. JULIAN

seated by her; an open note in his hand
.


Lilia
.
Tear it up, Julian.


Julian
.
No; I'll treasure it
As the remembrance of a by-gone grief:
I love it well, because it is
not
yours.


Lilia.
Where have you been these long, long years away?
You look much older. You have suffered, Julian!


Julian
.
Since that day, Lilia, I have seen much, thought much,
Suffered a little. When you are quite yourself,
I'll tell you all you want to know about me.


Lilia
.
Do tell me something now. I feel quite strong;
It will not hurt me.


Julian
.
Wait a day or two.
Indeed 'twould weary you to tell you all.


Lilia
.
And I have much to tell you, Julian. I
Have suffered too-not all for my own sake.

[
Recalling something
.]

Oh, what a dream I had! Oh, Julian!-
I don't know when it was. It must have been
Before you brought me here! I am sure it was.


Julian
.
Don't speak about it. Tell me afterwards.
You must keep quiet now. Indeed you must.


Lilia
.
I will obey you, will not speak a word.

Enter Nurse.


Nurse
.
Blessings upon her! she's near well already.
Who would have thought, three days ago, to see
You look so bright! My lord, you have done wonders.


Julian
.
My art has helped a little, I thank God.-
To please me, Lilia, go to sleep a while.

[JULIAN
goes
.]


Lilia
.
Why does he always wear that curious cap?


Nurse
.
I don't know. You must sleep.


Lilia
.
Yes. I forgot.

SCENE XIII.-The Steward's room. JULIAN
and the
Steward.
Papers
on the table, which
JULIAN
has just finished examining
.


Julian
.
Thank you much, Joseph; you have done well for me.
You sent that note privately to my friend?


Steward
.
I did, my lord; and have conveyed the money,
Putting all things in train for his release,
Without appearing in it personally,
Or giving any clue to other hands.
He sent this message by my messenger:
His hearty thanks, and God will bless you for it.
He will be secret. For his daughter, she
Is safe with you as with himself; and so
God bless you both! He will expect to hear
From both of you from England.


Julian
.
Well, again.
What money is remaining in your hands?


Steward
.
Two bags, three hundred each; that's all.
I fear To wake suspicion, if I call in more.


Julian
.
One thing, and I have done: lest a mischance
Befall us, though I do not fear it much-
have been very secret-is that boat
I had before I left, in sailing trim?


Steward
.
I knew it was a favorite with my lord;
I've taken care of it. A month ago,
With my own hands I painted it all fresh,
Fitting new oars and rowlocks. The old sail
I'll have replaced immediately; and then
'Twill be as good as new.


Julian
.
That's excellent.
Well, launch it in the evening. Make it fast
To the stone steps behind my garden study.
Stow in the lockers some sea-stores, and put
The money in the old desk in the study.


Steward
.
I will, my lord. It will be safe enough.


SCENE XIV.-A road near the town.
A
Waggoner. STEPHEN,
in lay
dress, coming up to him
.


Stephen
.
Whose castle's that upon the hill, good fellow?


Waggoner
.
Its present owner's of the Uglii;
They call him Lorenzino.


Stephen
.
Whose is that
Down in the valley?


Waggoner
.
That is Count Lamballa's.


Stephen
.
What is his Christian name?


Waggoner
.
Omfredo. No,
That was his father's; his is Julian.


Stephen
.
Is he at home?


Waggoner
.
No, not for many a day.
His steward, honest man, I know is doubtful
Whether he be alive; and yet his land
Is better farmed than any in the country.


Stephen
.
He is not married, then?


Waggoner
.
No. There's a gossip
Amongst the women-but who would heed their talk!-
That love half-crazed, then drove him out of doors,
To wander here and there, like a bad ghost,
Because a silly wench refused him:-fudge!


Stephen
.
Most probably. I quite agree with you.
Where do you stop?


Waggoner
.
At the first inn we come to;
You'll see it from the bottom of the hill.
There is a better at the other end,
But here the stabling is by far the best.


Stephen
.
I must push on. Four legs can never go
Down-hill so fast as two. Good morning, friend.


Waggoner
.
Good morning, sir.


Stephen
(aside)
I take the further house.

SCENE XV.-The Nurse's room. JULIAN
and
LILIA
standing near the
window
.


Julian
.
But do you really love me, Lilia?


Lilia
.
Why do you make me say it so often, Julian?
You make me say
I love you
, oftener far
Than you say you love me.


Julian
.
To love you seems
So much a thing of mere necessity!
I can refrain from loving you no more
Than keep from waking when the sun shines full
Upon my face.


Lilia
.
And yet I love to say
How, how I love you, Julian!

[
Leans her head on his arm
. JULIAN
winces a little. She
raises her head and looks at him
.]

Did I hurt you?
Would you not have me lean my head on you?


Julian
.
Come on this side, my love; 'tis a slight hurt Not yet quite healed.


Lilia
.
Ah, my poor Julian! How-
I am so sorry!-Oh, I
do
remember!
I saw it all quite plain! It was no dream!
I saw you fighting!-Surely you did not kill him?


Julian

(calmly, but drawing himself up).
I killed him as I would a dog that bit you.


Lilia

(turning pale, and covering her face with her
hands.)
Oh, that was dreadful! there is blood on you!


Julian
.
Shall I go, Lilia?


Lilia
.
Oh no, no, no, do not.-
I shall be better presently.


Julian
.
You shrink
As from a murderer!


Lilia
.
Oh no, I love you-
Will never leave you. Pardon me, my Julian;
But blood is terrible.


Julian

(drawing her close to him).
My own sweet Lilia,
'Twas justly shed, for your defense and mine,
As it had been a tiger that I killed.
He had no right to live. Be at peace, darling;
His blood lies not on me, but on himself;
I do not feel its stain upon my conscience.

[A tap at the door.]

Enter Nurse.


Nurse
.
My lord, the steward waits on you below.

[JULIAN
goes
.]

You have been standing till you're faint, my lady!
Lie down a little. There!-I'll fetch you something.

SCENE XVI.-The Steward's room. JULIAN.
The Steward
.


Julian
.
Well, Joseph, that will do. I shall expect
To hear from you soon after my arrival.
Is the boat ready?


Steward
.
Yes, my lord; afloat
Where you directed.


Julian
.
A strange feeling haunts me,
As of some danger near. Unlock it, and cast
The chain around the post. Muffle the oars.


Steward
.
I will, directly.

[
Goes
.]


Julia n
.
How shall I manage it?
I have her father's leave, but have not dared
To tell her all; and she must know it first!
She fears me half, even now: what will she think
To see my shaven head? My heart is free-
I know that God absolves mistaken vows.
I looked for help in the high search from those
Who knew the secret place of the Most High.
If I had known, would I have bound myself
Brother to men from whose low, marshy minds
Never a lark springs to salute the day?
The loftiest of them dreamers, and the best
Content with goodness growing like moss on stones!
It cannot be God's will I should be such.
But there was more: they virtually condemned
Me in my quest; would have had me content
To kneel with them around a wayside post,
Nor heed the pointing finger at its top?
It was the dull abode of foolishness:
Not such the house where God would train his children!
My very birth into a world of men
Shows me the school where he would have me learn;
Shows me the place of penance; shows the field
Where I must fight and die victorious,
Or yield and perish. True, I know not how
This will fall out: he must direct my way!
But then for her-she cannot see all this;
Words will not make it plain; and if they would,
The time is shorter than the words would need:
This overshadowing bodes nearing ill.-
It
may
be only vapour, of the heat
Of too much joy engendered; sudden fear
That the fair gladness is too good to live:
The wider prospect from the steep hill's crest,
The deeper to the vale the cliff goes down;
But how will she receive it? Will she think
I have been mocking her? How could I help it?
Her illness and my danger! But, indeed,
So strong was I in truth, I never thought
Her doubts might prove a hindrance in the way.
My love did make her so a part of me,
I never dreamed she might judge otherwise,
Until our talk of yesterday. And now
Her horror at Nembroni's death confirms me:
To wed a monk will seem to her the worst
Of crimes which in a fever one might dream.
I cannot take the truth, and, bodily,
Hold it before her eyes. She is not strong.
She loves me-not as I love her. But always
-There's Robert for an instance-I have loved
A life for what it might become, far more
Than for its present: there's a germ in her
Of something noble, much beyond her now:
Chance gleams betray it, though she knows it not.

This evening must decide it, come what will.

SCENE XVII.-The inn; the room which had been JULIAN'S. STEPHEN,
Host,
and
Hostess.
Wine on the table
.


Stephen
.
Here, my good lady, let me fill your glass;
Then send the bottle on, please, to your husband.


Hostess
.
I thank you, sir; I hope you like the wine;
My husband's choice is praised. I cannot say
I am a judge myself.


Host
.
I'm confident
It needs but to be tasted.


Stephen

(tasting critically, then nodding).
That is wine!
Let me congratulate you, my good sir,
Upon your exquisite judgment!


Host
.
Thank you, sir.


Stephen

(
to the
Hostess).
And so this man, you say, was here until
The night the count was murdered: did he leave
Before or after that?


Hostess
.
I cannot tell;
He left, I know, before it was discovered.
In the middle of the storm, like one possessed,
He rushed into the street, half tumbling me
Headlong down stairs, and never came again.
He had paid his bill that morning, luckily;
So joy go with him! Well, he was an odd one!


Stephen
.
What was he like, fair Hostess?


Hostess
.
Tall and dark,
And with a lowering look about his brows.
He seldom spoke, but, when he did, was civil.
One queer thing was, he always wore his hat,
Indoors as well as out. I dare not say
He murdered Count Nembroni; but it was strange
He always sat at that same window there,
And looked into the street. 'Tis not as if
There were much traffic in the village now;
These are changed times; but I have seen the day-


Stephen
.
Excuse me; you were saying that the man
Sat at the window-


Hostess
.
Yes; even after dark
He would sit on, and never call for lights.
The first night, I brought candles, as of course;
He let me set them on the table, true;
But soon's my back was turned, he put them out.


Stephen
.
Where is the lady?


Hostess
.
That's the strangest thing
Of all the story: she has disappeared,
As well as he. There lay the count, stone-dead,
White as my apron. The whole house was empty,
Just as I told you.


Stephen
.
Has no search been made?


Host
.
The closest search; a thousand pieces offered
For any information that should lead
To the murderer's capture. I believe his brother,
Who is his heir, they say, is still in town,
Seeking in vain for some intelligence.


Stephen
.
'Tis very odd; the oddest thing I've heard
For a long time. Send me a pen and ink;
I have to write some letters.


Hostess
(rising).
Thank you, sir,
For your kind entertainment.

[
Exeunt Host and Hostess
.]


Stephen
.
We've found the badger's hole; we'll draw
him next. He couldn't have gone far with her and not
be seen. My life on it, there are plenty of holes and
corners in the old house over the way. Run off with a
wench! Holy brother Julian! Contemptuous brother
Julian! Stand-by-thyself brother Julian! Run away
with a wench at last! Well, there's a downfall! He'll
be for marrying her on the sly, and away!-I know the
old fox!-for her conscience-sake, probably not for his!
Well, one comfort is, it's damnation and no reprieve.
The ungrateful, atheistical heretic! As if the good old
mother wasn't indulgent enough to the foibles of her
children! The worthy lady has winked so hard at her
dutiful sons, that she's nearly blind with winking. There's
nothing in a little affair with a girl now and then; but to
marry, and knock one's vows on the head! Therein is
displayed a little ancestral fact as to a certain respectable
progenitor, commonly portrayed as the knight of the
cloven foot.
Keep back thy servant
, &c.-Purgatory
couldn't cleanse that; and more, 'twill never have the
chance. Heaven be about us from harm! Amen. I'll
go find the new count. The Church shall have the
castle and estate; Revenge, in the person of the new
count, the body of Julian; and Stephen may as well
have the thousand pieces as not.

SCENE XVIII.-Night. The Nurse's room. LILIA;
to her
JULIAN.


Lilia
.
How changed he is! Yet he looks very noble.

Enter JULIAN.


Julian
.
My Lilia, will you go to England with me?


Lilia
.
Julian, my father!


Julian
.
Not without his leave.
He says, God bless us both.


Lilia
.
Leave him in prison?


Julian
.
No, Lilia; he's at liberty and safe,
And far from this ere now.


Lilia
.
You have done this,
My noble Julian! I will go with you
To sunset, if you will. My father gone!
Julian, there's none to love me now but you.
You
will
love me, Julian?-always?


Julian
.
I but fear
That your heart, Lilia, is not big enough
To hold the love wherewith my heart would fill it.


Lilia
.
I know why you think that; and I deserve it.
But try me, Julian. I was very silly.
I could not help it. I was ill, you know;
Or weak at least. May I ask you, Julian,
How your arm is to-day?


Julian
.
Almost well, child.
Twill leave an ugly scar, though, I'm afraid.


Lilia
.
Never mind that, if it be well again.


Julian
.
I do not mind it; but when I remember
That I am all yours, then I grudge that scratch
Or stain should be upon me-soul, body, yours.
And there are more scars on me now than I
Should like to make you own, without confession.


Lilia
.
My poor, poor Julian! never think of it;

[
Putting her arms round him
.]

I will but love you more. I thought you had
Already told me suffering enough;
But not the half, it seems, of your adventures.
You have been a soldier!


Julian
.
I have fought, my Lilia.
I have been down among the horses' feet;
But strange to tell, and harder to believe,
Arose all sound, unmarked with bruise, or blood
Save what I lifted from the gory ground.

[
Sighing
.]

My wounds are not of such.

[LILIA,
loosening her arms, and drawing back a little with a
kind of shrinking, looks a frightened interrogation
.]

No. Penance, Lilia;
Such penance as the saints of old inflicted
Upon their quivering flesh. Folly, I know;
As a lord would exalt himself, by making
His willing servants into trembling slaves!
Yet I have borne it.


Lilia

(
laying her hand on his arm
).
Ah, alas, my Julian,
You have been guilty!


Julian
.
Not what men call guilty,
Save it be now; now you will think I sin.
Alas, I have sinned! but not in this I sin.-
Lilia, I have been a monk.


Lilia

A monk?

[
Turningpale
.]

I thought-

[
Faltering
.]

Julia n,-I thought you said…. did you not say… ?

[
Very pale, brokenly
.]

I thought you said…

[
With an effort
.]

I was to be your wife!

[
Covering her face with her hands, and bursting into tears
.]


Julian

(
speaking low and in pain
).
And so I did.


Lilia

(
hopefully, and looking up
).
Then you've had dispensation?


Julian
.
God has absolved me, though the Church will not.
He knows it was in ignorance I did it.
Rather would he have men to do his will,
Than keep a weight of words upon their souls,
Which they laid there, not graven by his finger.
The vow was made to him-to him I break it.


Lilia

(
weeping bitterly
).
I would… your words were true… but I do know…
It never can… be right to break a vow;
If so, men might be liars every day;
You'd do the same by me, if we were married.


Julian

(
in anguish
).
'Tis ever so. Words are the living things!
There is no spirit-save what's born of words!
Words are the bonds that of two souls make one!
Words the security of heart to heart!
God, make me patient! God, I pray thee, God!


Lilia

(not heeding him).
Besides, we dare not; you would find the dungeon
Gave late repentance; I should weep away
My life within a convent.


Julian
.
Come to England,
To England, Lilia.


Lilia
.
Men would point, and say:

There go the monk and his wife
; if they, in truth,
Called me not by a harder name than that.


Julian
.
There are no monks in England.


Lilia
.
But will that
Make right what's wrong?


Julian
.
Did I say so, my Lilia?
I answered but your last objections thus;
I had a different answer for the first.


Lilia
.
No, no; I cannot, cannot, dare not do it.


Julian
.
Lilia, you will not doubt my love; you cannot.
-I would have told you all before, but thought,
Foolishly, you would feel the same as I;-
I have lived longer, thought more, seen much more;
I would not hurt your body, less your soul,
For all the blessedness your love can give:
For love's sake weigh the weight of what I say.
Think not that
must
be right which you have heard
From infancy-it may--

[Enter the
Steward in haste, pale, breathless, and bleeding
.]


Steward
.
My lord, there's such an uproar in the town!
They call you murderer and heretic.
The officers of justice, with a monk,
And the new Count Nembroni, accompanied
By a fierce mob with torches, howling out
For justice on you, madly cursing you!
They caught a glimpse of me as I returned,
And stones and sticks flew round me like a storm;
But I escaped them, old man as I am,
And was in time to bar the castle-gates.-
Would heaven we had not cast those mounds, and shut
The river from the moat!

[
Distant yells and cries
.]

Escape, my lord!


Julian

(
calmly
).< br>Will the gates hold them out awhile, my Joseph?


Steward
.
A little while, my lord; but those damned torches!
Oh, for twelve feet of water round the walls!


Julian
.
Leave us, good Joseph; watch them from a window,
And tell us of their progress.

[JOSEPH goes. Sounds approach.]

Farewell, Lilia!

[
Putting his arm round her. She stands like stone
.]

Fear of a coward's name shall not detain me.
My presence would but bring down evil on you,
My heart's beloved; yes, all the ill you fear,
The terrible things that you have imaged out
If you fled with me. They will not hurt you,
If you be not polluted by my presence.

[
Light from without flares on the wall
.]

They've fired the gate.

[
An outburst of mingled cries
.]


Steward

(entering).
They've fired the gate, my lord!


Julian
.
Well, put yourself in safety, my dear Joseph.
You and old Agata tell all the truth,
And they'll forgive you. It will not hurt me;
I shall be safe-you know me-never fear.


Steward
.
God grant it may be so. Farewell, dear lord!

[
Is going
.]


Julian
.
But add, it was in vain; the signorina
Would not consent; therefore I fled alone.

[LILIA
stands as before
.]


Steward
.
Can it be so? Good-bye, good-bye, my master!

[Goes.]


Julian
.
Put your arms round me once, my Lilia.
Not once?-not once at parting?

[
Rushing feet up the stairs, and along the galleries
.]

O God! farewell!

[
He clasps her to his heart; leaves her; pushes back the
panel, flings open a door, enters, and closes both
behind him
. LILIA
starts suddenly from her fixed bewilderment,
and flies after him, but forgets to close
the panel
.]


Lilia
.
Julian! Julian!

[
The trampling offset and clamour of voices. The door
of the room is flung open. Enter the foremost of
the mob
.]


1st
.
I was sure I saw light here! There it is, burning still!


2nd
.
Nobody here? Praise the devil! he minds his
own. Look under the bed, Gian.


3rd
.
Nothing there.


4th
.
Another door! another door! He's in a trap
now, and will soon be in hell! (
Opening the door with
difficulty
.) The devil had better leave him, and make up
the fire at home-he'll be cold by and by. (
Rushes into
the inner room
.) Follow me, boys! [The rest follow.]


Voices from within
.
I have him! I have him! Curse
your claws! Why do you fix them on me, you crab? You
won't pick up the fiend-spawn so easily, I can tell you.
Bring the light there, will you? (
One runs out for the
light
.) A trap! a trap! and a stair, down in the wall!
The hell-faggot's gone! After him, after him, noodles!

[
Sound of descending footsteps. Others rush in with
torches and follow
.]

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

SCENE XIX.-The river-side. LILIA
seated in the boat
; JULIAN

handing her the bags
.


Julian
.
There! One at a time!-Take care, love; it
is heavy.-
Put them right in the middle, of the boat:
Gold makes good ballast.

[
A loud shout. He steps in and casts the chain loose,
then pushes gently off
.]

Look how the torches gleam
Among the trees. Thank God, we have escaped!

[
He rows swiftly off. The torches come nearer, with
cries of search
.]

(
In a low tone
.) Slip down, my Lilia; lie at full length
In the bottom of the boat; your dress is white,
And would return the torches' glare. I fear
The damp night-air will hurt you, dressed like this.

[
Pulling off his coat, and laying it over her
.]

Now for a strong pull with my muffled oars!
The water mutters Spanish in its sleep.
My beautiful! my bride! my spirit's wife!
God-given, and God-restored! My heart exults,
Hovering about thee, beautiful! my soul!-
Once round the headland, I will set the sail;
The fair wind bloweth right adown the stream.
Dear wind, dear stream, dear stars, dear heart of all,
White angel lying in my little boat!
Strange that my boyhood's skill with sail and helm,
Oft steering safely 'twixt the winding banks,
Should make me rich with womanhood and life!

[The boat rounds the headland, JULIAN singing.]

SONG.

Thou hast been blowing leaves, O wind of strife,
Wan, curled, boat-like leaves, that ran and fled;
Unresting yet, though folded up from life;
Sleepless, though cast among the unwaking dead!
Out to the ocean fleet and float;
Blow, blow my little leaf-like boat.

O wind of strife, to us a wedding wind,
O cover me with kisses of her mouth;
Blow thou our souls together, heart and mind;
To narrowing northern lines, blow from the south!
Out to the ocean fleet and float;
Blow, blow my little leaf-like boat.

Thou hast been blowing many a drifting thing
From circling cove down to the unsheltered sea;
Thou blowest to the sea my blue sail's wing,
Us to a new love-lit futurity:
Out to the ocean fleet and float;
Blow, blow my little leaf-like boat.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010



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