[Chanting heard in the distance.]
Peasant. Hush! here the psalm-singers come!
[Conrad enters on a mule, chanting the Psalter, Gerard following.]
Con. My peace with you, my children!
1st Voice. Psalm us no psalms; bless us no devil’s blessings: Your balms will break our heads. [A murmur rises.]
2d Voice. You are welcome, sir; we are a-waiting for you.
3d Voice. Has he been shriven to-day?
4th Voice. Where is your ergo, Master Conrad? Faugh! How both the fellows smell of smoke!
5th Voice. A strange leech he, to suck, and suck, and suck, And look no fatter for’t!
Old Woman. Give me back my sons!
Old Man. Give me back the light of mine eyes,
Mine only daughter!
My only one! He hurled her over the cliffs!
Avenge me, lads; you are young!
4th Voice. We will, we will: why smit’st him not, thou with the pole-axe?
3d Voice. Nay, now, the first blow costs most, and heals last; Besides, the dog’s a priest at worst.
C. Saym. Mass! How the shaveling rascal stands at bay! There’s not a rogue of them dare face his eye! True Domini canes! ’Ware the bloodhound’s teeth, curs!
Preacher. What! Are ye afraid? The huntsman’s here at last Without his whip! Down with him, craven hounds! I’ll help ye to’t. [Springs from the stone.]
Gent. Ay, down with him! Mass, have these yelping boors More heart than I? [Spurs his horse forward.]
Mob. A knight! a champion!
Voice. He’s not mortal man!
See how his eyes shine! ’Tis the archangel!
St. Michael come to the rescue! Ho! St. Michael!
[He lunges at Conrad. Gerard turns the lance aside, and throws his arms round Conrad.]
Ger. My master! my master! The chariot of Israel and the horses thereof! Oh call down fire from Heaven!
[A peasant strikes down Gerard. Conrad, over the body.]
Alas! my son! This blood shall cry for vengeance
Before the throne of God!
Gent. And cry in vain!
Follow thy minion! Join Folquet in hell!
[Bears Conrad down on his lance-point.]
Con. I am the vicar of the Vicar of Christ:
Who touches me doth touch the Son of God.
[The mob close over him.]
O God! A martyr’s crown! Elizabeth! [Dies.]
NOTES TO ACT 1
The references, unless it be otherwise specified,
are to the Eight
Books concerning Saint Elizabeth, by Dietrich the Thuringian; in
Basnage’s Canisius, Vol. IV. p. 113 (Antwerp; 1725).
Page 21. Cf. Lib. I. section 3. Dietrich is eloquent about her youthful inclination for holy places, and church doors, even when shut, and gives many real proofs of her ‘sanctae indolis,’ from the very cradle.