Oh, Paul! Why undertake this task?—Why not fly to peace in other lands?
Fly!—Desert France in the hour of her agony?—In the awful travail which gives birth to a new and nobler era for mankind?—No, no! I love you more than life, but my Country—ah, that is mother, sister, wife, and child!
Hush, sweetheart, you must not make the struggle harder! The infant age is threatened with miscarriage!—The torch of Liberty, which should light mankind to progress, if left in madmen’s hands, kindles that blaze of Anarchy whose only end is ashes.
Hush! Listen! What is that?
Nothing, foolish child.
[He is about to embrace her.
[Turning sadly away.]
Nay, we are too rash! We forget the dangers that environ us.
Would we could forget the weak concealment that makes cowards of us both!—Oh, that something would happen to make us end this living lie!
Perhaps that something has happened, Paul. We have been warned that we’re no longer safe beneath this roof.
What matter by whom?—Enough that we’ve been told the Civil Guard may search the house this very day.
[With sudden resolution.]
I am glad of it. Thank fate that something forces us to tell your father you are mine.
Nay, Paul—I cannot, dare not tell him that!
Then leave the task to me.
’Twould be but to win his curse. You little dream the deathless pride that’s rooted in his heart! To wrench out that pride would break the heart that holds it.
Then let it break! I, too, am proud, Diane, proud as all are proud to be who owe their manhood to their God and not to the favour of a king!—If your father scorns the sacred work of heaven’s hand, then he is only fit for scorn himself.