The falsehood is in her. She hath been friend
With Rezon in his priestly plot to win
Assyria’s favour,—friend to his design
To sell his country to enrich his temple,—
And friend to him in more,—I will not name it.
Nor will I credit it. Impossible!
Did she not plead with you against the war,
Counsel surrender, seek to break your will?
She did not love my work, a soldier’s task.
She never seemed to be at one with me
Until I was a leper.
From whose hand
Did you receive the sacred cup?
And from that hour the curse began to work.
But did she not have pity when she saw
Me smitten? Did she not beseech the King
For letters and a guard to make this journey?
Has she not been the fountain of my hope,
My comforter and my most faithful guide
In this adventure of the dark? All this
Is proof of perfect love that would have shared
A leper’s doom rather than give me up.
Can I doubt her who dared to love like this?
O master, doubt her not,—but know her name;
Ruahmah! It was she alone who wrought
This wondrous work of love. She won the King
To furnish forth this company. She led
Our march, kept us in heart, fought off despair,
Watched over you as if you were her child,
Prepared your food, your cup, with her own hands,
Sang you asleep at night, awake at dawn,—
Enough! I do remember every hour
Of that sweet comradeship! And now her voice
Wakens the echoes in my lonely breast.
Shall I not see her, thank her, speak her name?
Ruahmah! Let me live till I have looked
Into her eyes and called her my Ruahmah!
[To his soldiers.]
Away! away! I burn to
take the road
That leads me back to Rimmon’s House,—
But not to bow,—by God, never to bow!
TIME: Three days later
Inner court of the House of Rimmon; a temple with
huge pillars at each side. In the right foreground
the seat of the King; at the left, of equal height,
the seat of the High Priest. In the background
a broad flight of steps, rising to a curtain of cloudy
gray, embroidered with two gigantic hands holding
The temple is in half darkness at first. Enter KHAMMA and NUBTA, robed as Kharimati, or religious dancers, in gowns of black gauze with yellow embroideries and mantles.
All is ready for the rites of worship; our lady will play
a great part in them. She has put on her Tyrian robes,
and all her ornaments.