His prophet dwells nigh to Samaria;
And I have heard that he hath brought the dead
To life again. We’ll go to him. The King,
If I beseech him, will appoint a guard
Of thine own soldiers and Saballidin,
Thy friend, to convoy us upon our journey.
He’ll give us royal letters to the king
Of Israel to make our welcome sure;
And we will take the open road, beneath
The open sky, to-morrow, and go on
Together till we find the door of hope.
Come, come with me!
[She grasps his hand.]
NAAMAN: [Drawing back.]
Thou must not touch me!
RUAHMAH: [Unclasping her girdle and putting
the end in hand.]
Take my girdle, then!
NAAMAN: [Kissing the clasp of the girdle.]
I do begin to think there is a God,
Since love on earth can work such miracles!
TIME: A month later: dawn
NAAMAN’S tent, on high ground among the mountains near Samaria: the city below. In the distance, a wide and splendid landscape. SABALLIDIN and soldiers on guard below the tent. Enter RUAHMAH in hunter’s dress, with a lyre slung from her shoulder.
Peace and good health to you, Saballidin.
Good morrow to you all. How fares my lord?
The curtains of his tent are folded still:
They have not moved since we returned, last night,
And told him what befell us in the city.
Told him! Why did you make report to him.
And not to me? Am I not captain here,
Intrusted by the King’s command with care
Of Naaman’s life, until he is restored?
’Tis mine to know the first of good or ill
In this adventure: mine to shield his heart
From every arrow of adversity.
What have you told him? Speak!
Lady, we feared
To bring our news to you. For when the king
Of Israel had read our monarch’s letter,
He rent his clothes, and cried, “Am I a god,
To kill and make alive, that I should heal
A leper? Ye have come with false pretence,
Damascus seeks a quarrel with me. Go!”
But when we told our lord, he closed his tent,
And there remains enfolded in his grief.
I trust he sleeps; ’t were kind to let him sleep!
For now he doth forget his misery,
And all the burden of his hopeless woe
Is lifted from him by the gentle hand
Of slumber. Oh, to those bereft of hope
Sleep is the only blessing left,—the last
Asylum of the weary, the one sign
Of pity from impenetrable heaven.
Waking is strife: sleep is the truce of God!
Ah, lady, wake him not. The day will be
Full long for him to suffer, and for us
To turn our disappointed faces home
On the long road by which we must return.