Lewis. No, not my purse:—stay—Where
is all that gold
I gave you, when the Jews came here from Koln?
Eliz. Oh, those few coins? I spent them
all next day
On a new chapel on the Eisenthal;
There were no choristers but nightingales—
No teachers there save bees: how long is this?
Have you turned niggard?
Lewis. Nay; go ask my steward—
Take what you will—this purse I want myself.
Eliz. Ah! now I guess. You have some trinket
You promised late to buy no more such baubles—
And now you are ashamed.—Nay, I must see—
[Snatches his purse. Lewis hides his face.]
Ah, God! what’s here? A new crusader’s
Whose? Nay, nay—turn not from me; I guess all—
You need not tell me; it is very well—
According to the meed of my deserts:
Lewis. Ah, love!—look not so calm—
Eliz. Fear not—I shall weep soon.
How long is it since you vowed?
Lewis. A week or more.
Eliz. Brave heart! And all that time your
Kept silence, knowing my weak foolish soul. [Weeps.]
O love! O life! Late found, and soon, soon lost!
A bleak sunrise,—a treacherous morning gleam,—
And now, ere mid-day, all my sky is black
With whirling drifts once more! The march is fixed
For this day month, is’t not?
Lewis. Alas, too true!
Eliz. Oh break not, heart!
Ah! here my master comes.
No weeping before him.
Lewis. Speak to the holy man:
He can give strength and comfort, which poor I
Need even more than you. Here, saintly master,
I leave her to your holy eloquence. Farewell!
God help us both! [Exit Lewis.]
Eliz [rising]. You know, Sir, that my husband has taken the cross!
Con. I do; all praise to God!
Eliz. But none to you:
Hard-hearted! Am I not enough your slave?
Can I obey you more when he is gone
Than now I do? Wherein, pray, has he hindered
This holiness of mine, for which you make me
Old ere my womanhood? [Conrad offers to go.]
Stay, Sir, and tell me
Is this the outcome of your ‘father’s care’?
Was it not enough to poison all my joys
With foulest scruples?—show me nameless sins,
Where I, unconscious babe, blessed God for all things,
But you must thus intrigue away my knight
And plunge me down this gulf of widowhood!
And I not twenty yet—a girl—an orphan—
That cannot stand alone! Was I too happy?
O God! what lawful bliss do I not buy
And balance with the smart of some sharp penance?
Hast thou no pity? None? Thou drivest me
To fiendish doubts: Thou, Jesus’ messenger?
Con. This to your master!
Eliz. This to any one
Who dares to part me from my love.
Con. ’Tis well—
In pity to your weakness I must deign
To do what ne’er I did—excuse myself.
I say, I knew not of your husband’s purpose;
God’s spirit, not I, moved him: perhaps I sinned
In that I did not urge it myself.