The Saint's Tragedy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 146 pages of information about The Saint's Tragedy.
They snatched it thankless (was it not their own? 
Wrung from their veins, returning all too late?);
Or in the new delight of rare possession,
Forgot the giver; one did sit apart,
And shivered on a stone; beneath her rags
Nestled two impish, fleshless, leering boys,
Grown old before their youth; they cried for bread—­
She chid them down, and hid her face and wept;
I had given all—­I took my cloak, my shoes
(What could I else?  ’Twas but a moment’s want
Which she had borne, and borne, day after day),
And clothed her bare gaunt arms and purpled feet,
Then slunk ashamed away to wealth and honour.

[Conrad enters.]

What!  Conrad? unannounced!  This is too bold! 
Peace!  I have lent myself—­and I must take
The usury of that loan:  your pleasure, master?

Con.  Madam, but yesterday, I bade your presence,
To hear the preached word of God; I preached—­
And yet you came not.—­Where is now your oath? 
Where is the right to bid, you gave to me? 
Am I your ghostly guide?  I asked it not. 
Of your own will you tendered that, which, given,
Became not choice, but duty.—­What is here? 
Think not that alms, or lowly-seeming garments,
Self-willed humilities, pride’s decent mummers,
Can raise above obedience; she from God
Her sanction draws, while these we forge ourselves,
Mere tools to clear her necessary path. 
Go free—­thou art no slave:  God doth not own
Unwilling service, and His ministers
Must lure, not drag in leash; henceforth I leave thee: 
Riot in thy self-willed fancies; pick thy steps
By thine own will-o’-the-wisp toward the pit;
Farewell, proud girl. [Exit Conrad.]

Eliz.  O God!  What have I done? 
I have cast off the clue of this world’s maze,
And, like an idiot, let my boat adrift
Above the waterfall!—­I had no message—­
How’s this?

Isen.  We passed it by, as matter of no moment
Upon the sudden coming of your guests.

Eliz.  No moment!  ’Tis enough to have driven him forth—­
And that’s enough to damn me:  I’ll not chide you—­
I can see nothing but my loss; I’ll to him—­
I’ll go in sackcloth, bathe his feet with tears—­
And know nor sleep nor food till I am forgiven—­
And you must with me, ladies.  Come and find him.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE V

A Hall in the Castle.  In the background a Group of diseased and deformed Beggars; Conrad entering, Elizabeth comes forward to meet him.

Con.  What dost thou, daughter?

Eliz.  Ah, my honoured master! 
That name speaks pardon, sure.

Con.  What dost thou, daughter?

Eliz.  I have been washing these poor people’s feet.

Con.  A wise humiliation.

Eliz.  So I meant it—­
And use it as a penance for my pride;
And yet, alas, through my own vulgar likings
Or stubborn self-conceit, ’tis none to me. 
I marvel how the Saints thus tamed their spirits: 
Sure to be humbled by such toil, but proves,
Not cures, our lofty mind.

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The Saint's Tragedy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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