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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 363 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 01.

Thy mother’s son.

MARGARET

Almighty God!  I am undone!

VALENTINE

I’m dying—­’tis a soon-told tale,
And sooner done the deed. 
Why, women, do ye howl and wail? 
To my last words give heed!

[All gather round him.]

My Gretchen, see! still young art thou,
Art not discreet enough, I trow,
Thou dost thy matters ill;
Let this in confidence be said: 
Since thou the path of shame dost tread,
Tread it with right good will!

MARGARET

My brother!  God! what can this mean?

VALENTINE

Abstain,
Nor dare God’s holy name profane! 
What’s done, alas, is done and past! 
Matters will take their course at last;
By stealth thou dost begin with one,
Others will follow him anon;
And when a dozen thee have known,
Thou’lt common be to all the town. 
When infamy is newly born,
In secret she is brought to light,
And the mysterious veil of night
O’er head and ears is drawn;
The loathsome birth men fain would slay;
But soon, full grown, she waxes bold,
And though not fairer to behold,
With brazen front insults the day: 
The more abhorrent to the sight,
The more she courts the day’s pure light,
The time already I discern,
When thee all honest folk will spurn,
And shun thy hated form to meet,
As when a corpse infects the street. 
Thy heart will sink in blank despair,
When they shall look thee in the face! 
A golden chain no more thou’lt wear! 
Nor near the altar take in church thy place! 
In fair lace collar simply dight
Thou’lt dance no more with spirits light! 
In darksome corners thou wilt bide,
Where beggars vile and cripples hide,
And e’en though God thy crime forgive,
On earth, a thing accursed, thou’lt live!

MARTHA

Your parting soul to God commend! 
Your dying breath in slander will you spend?

VALENTINE

Could I but reach thy wither’d frame,
Thou wretched beldame, void of shame! 
Full measure I might hope to win
Of pardon then for every sin.

MARGARET

Brother! what agonizing pain!

VALENTINE

I tell thee, from vain tears abstain! 
’Twas thy dishonor pierced my heart,
Thy fall the fatal death-stab gave. 
Through the death-sleep I now depart
To God, a soldier true and brave.

[Dies.]

CATHEDRAL

Service, Organ, and Anthem.

MARGARET amongst a number of people

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