Eliz. Thou traitor!
So thou would’st part us?
Con. Aught that makes thee greater
I’ll dare. This very outburst proves in thee
Passions unsanctified, and carnal leanings
Upon the creatures thou would’st fain transcend.
Thou badest me cure thy weakness. Lo, God brings thee
The tonic cup I feared to mix:—be brave—
Drink it to the lees, and thou shalt find within
A pearl of price.
Eliz. ’Tis bitter!
Con. Bitter, truly:
Even I, to whom the storm of earthly love
Is but a dim remembrance—Courage! Courage!
There’s glory in’t; fulfil thy sacrifice;
Give up thy noblest on the noblest service
God’s sun has looked on, since the chosen twelve
Went conquering, and to conquer, forth. If he fall—
Eliz. Oh, spare mine ears!
Con. He falls a blessed martyr,
To bid thee welcome through the gates of pearl;
And next to his shall thine own guerdon be
If thou devote him willing to thy God.
Eliz. Have mercy!
Con. Wilt thou? Sit not thus
Watching the sightless air: no angel in it
But asks thee what I ask: the fiend alone
Delays thy coward flesh. Wilt thou devote him?
Eliz. I will devote him;—a crusader’s
I’ll glory in it. Thou speakest words from God—
And God shall have him! Go now—good my master;
My poor brain swims. [Exit Conrad.]
Yes—a crusader’s wife!
And a crusader’s widow!
[Bursts into tears, and dashes herself on the floor.]
A street in the town of Schmalcald. Bodies of Crusading troops defiling past. Lewis and Elizabeth with their suite in the foreground.
Lewis. Alas! the time is near; I must be gone—
There are our liegemen; how you’ll welcome us,
Returned in triumph, bowed with paynim spoils,
Beneath the victor cross, to part no more!
Eliz. Yes—we shall part no more,
where next we meet.
Enough to have stood here once on such an errand!
Lewis. The bugle calls.—Farewell,
my love, my lady,
Queen, sister, saint! One last long kiss—Farewell!
Eliz. One kiss—and then another—and
Till ’tis too late to go—and so return—
O God! forgive that craven thought! There, take him
Since Thou dost need him. I have kept him ever
Thine, when most mine; and shall I now deny Thee?
Oh! go—yes, go—Thou’lt not forget to pray,
With me, at our old hour? Alas! he’s gone
And lost—thank God he hears me not—for ever.
Why look’st thou so, poor girl? I say, for ever.
The day I found the bitter blessed cross,
Something did strike my heart like keen cold steel,
Which quarries daily there with dead dull pains—
Whereby I know that we shall meet no more.
Come! Home, maids, home! Prepare me widow’s weeds—
For he is dead to me, and I must soon
Die too to him, and many things; and mark me—
Breathe not his name, lest this love-pampered heart
Should sicken to vain yearnings—Lost! lost! lost!