(While she speaks, a monk enters her apartment and approaches unobserved)
Monk. Refuge thou hast,
Sweet daughter! in Heaven. Think of eternal things!
Give up thy soul to penitence, and pray!
(arising hurriedly). I cannot pray!—My soul is at war with God!
The frightful sounds of merriment below;
Disturb my senses—go! I cannot pray—
The sweet airs from the garden worry me!
Thy presence grieves me—go!—thy priestly raiment
Fills me with dread—thy ebony crucifix
With horror and awe!
Monk. Think of thy precious soul!
Lal. Think of my early days!—think
of my father
And mother in Heaven! think of our quiet home,
And the rivulet that ran before the door!
Think of my little sisters!—think of them!
And think of me!—think of my trusting love
And confidence—his vows—my ruin—think—think
Of my unspeakable misery!——begone!
Yet stay! yet stay!—what was it thou saidst of prayer
And penitence? Didst thou not speak of faith
And vows before the throne?
Monk. I did.
Lal. ’Tis well.
There is a vow ’twere fitting should be made—
A sacred vow, imperative and urgent,
A solemn vow!
Monk. Daughter, this zeal is well!
Lal. Father, this zeal is anything
Hast thou a crucifix fit for this thing?
A crucifix whereon to register
This sacred vow? (he hands her his own.)
Not that—Oh! no!—no!—no (shuddering.)
Not that! Not that!—I tell thee, holy man,
Thy raiments and thy ebony cross affright me!
Stand back! I have a crucifix myself,—
I have a crucifix! Methinks ’twere fitting
The deed—the vow—the symbol of the deed—
And the deed’s register should tally, father!
(draws a cross-handled dagger and raises it on high.)
Behold the cross wherewith a vow like mine
Is written in heaven!
Monk. Thy words are madness,
And speak a purpose unholy—thy lips are livid—
Thine eyes are wild—tempt not the wrath divine!
Pause ere too late!—oh, be not—be not rash!
Swear not the oath—oh, swear it not!