Guta. Is it not a double bondage?
A husband’s will is clog enough. Be sure,
Though free, I crave more freedom.
Eliz. So do I—
This servitude shall free me—from myself.
Therefore I’ll swear.
Isen. To what?
Eliz. I know not wholly:
But this I know, that I shall swear to-night
To yield my will unto a wiser will;
To see God’s truth through eyes which, like the eagle’s,
From higher Alps undazzled eye the sun.
Compelled to discipline from which my sloth
Would shrink, unbidden,—to deep devious paths
Which my dull sight would miss, I now can plunge,
And dare life’s eddies fearless.
Isen. You will repent it.
Eliz. I do repent, even now. Therefore
And bind myself to that, which once being light,
Will not be less right, when I shrink from it.
No; if the end be gained—if I be raised
To freer, nobler use, I’ll dare, I’ll welcome
Him and his means, though they were racks and flames.
Come, ladies, let us in, and to the chapel. [Exeunt.]
A Chamber. Guta, Isentrudis, and a Lady.
Lady. Doubtless she is most holy—but
Say if ’tis wise to spurn all rules, all censures,
And mountebank it in the public ways
Till she becomes a jest?
Isen. How’s this?
Lady. For one thing—
Yestreen I passed her in the open street,
Following the vocal line of chanting priests,
Clad in rough serge, and with her soft bare feet
Wooing the ruthless flints; the gaping crowd
Unknowing whom they held, did thrust and jostle
Her tender limbs; she saw me as she passed—
And blushed and veiled her face, and smiled withal.
Isen. Oh, think, she’s not seventeen yet.
Guta. Why expect
Wisdom with love in all? Each has his gift—
Our souls are organ pipes of diverse stop
And various pitch; each with its proper notes
Thrilling beneath the self-same breath of God.
Though poor alone, yet joined, they’re harmony.
Besides these higher spirits must not bend
To common methods; in their inner world
They move by broader laws, at whose expression
We must adore, not cavil: here she comes—
The ministering Saint, fresh from the poor of Christ.
[Elizabeth enters without cloak or shoes, carrying an empty basket.]
Isen. What’s here, my Princess?
Guta, fetch her robes!
Rest, rest, my child!
Eliz [throwing herself on a seat] Oh! I have
seen such things!
I shudder still; your gay looks dazzle me;
As those who long in hideous darkness pent
Blink at the daily light; this room’s too bright!
We sit in a cloud, and sing, like pictured angels,
And say, the world runs smooth—while right below
Welters the black fermenting heap of life