[A servant-man bursts in.]
Servant. Madam, the Landgrave gave me strict commands—
Isen. The Landgrave, dolt?
Eliz. I might have saved him!
Servant [to Isen.] Ay, saucy madam!—
The Landgrave Henry, lord and master,
Freer than the last, and yet no waster,
Who will not stint a poor knave’s beer,
Or spin out Lent through half the year.
Why—I see double!
Eliz. Who spoke there of the Landgrave?
What’s this drunkard?
Give him his answer—’Tis no time for mumming—
Serv. The Landgrave Henry bade me see you out
Safe through his gates, and that at once, my Lady.
Eliz. Why—that’s hasty—I
must take my children
Ah! I forgot—they would not let me see them.
I must pack up my jewels—
Serv. You’ll not need it—
His Lordship has the keys.
Eliz. He has indeed.
Why, man!—I am thy children’s godmother—
I nursed thy wife myself in the black sickness—
Art thou a bird, that when the old tree falls,
Flits off, and sings in the sapling?
[The man seizes her arm.]
Keep thine hands off—
I’ll not be shamed—Lead on. Farewell, my Ladies.
Follow not! There’s want to spare on earth already;
And mine own woe is weight enough for me.
Go back, and say, Elizabeth has yet
Eternal homes, built deep in poor men’s hearts;
And, in the alleys underneath the wall,
Has bought with sinful mammon heavenly treasure,
More sure than adamant, purer than white whales’ bone,
Which now she claims. Lead on: a people’s love shall right me.
[Exit with Servant.]
Guta. Where now, dame?
Isen. Where, but after her?
Guta. True heart!
I’ll follow to the death. [Exeunt.]
A street. Elizabeth and Guta at the door of a Convent. Monks in the porch.
Eliz. You are afraid to shelter me—afraid.
And so you thrust me forth, to starve and freeze.
Soon said. Why palter o’er these mean excuses,
Which tempt me to despise you?
Monks. Ah! my lady,
We know your kindness—but we poor religious
Are bound to obey God’s ordinance, and submit
Unto the powers that be, who have forbidden
All men, alas! to give you food or shelter.
Eliz. Silence! I’ll go. Better
in God’s hand than man’s.
He shall kill us, if we die. This bitter blast
Warping the leafless willows, yon white snow-storms,
Whose wings, like vengeful angels, cope the vault,
They are God’s,—We’ll trust to them.
[Monks go in.]
Fair frocks hide foul hearts. Why, their altar now
Is blazing with your gifts.