“But I behold thee without fear! Though beneath thine eyes thousands have perished; though, where they burn, spring up the foul poisons of the human heart, and to those whom thou canst subject to thy will, thy presence glares in the dreams of the raving maniac, or blackens the dungeon of despairing crime, thou art not my vanquisher, but my slave!”
“And as a slave will I serve thee! Command thy slave, O beautiful Chaldean! Hark, the wail of women!—hark, the sharp shriek of thy beloved one! Death is in thy palace! Adon-Ai comes not to thy call. Only where no cloud of the passion and the flesh veils the eye of the Serene Intelligence can the Sons of the Starbeam glide to man. But I can aid thee!—hark!” And Zanoni heard distinctly in his heart, even at that distance from the chamber, the voice of Viola calling in delirium on her beloved one.
“Oh, Viola, I can save thee not!” exclaimed the seer, passionately; “my love for thee has made me powerless!”
“Not powerless; I can gift thee with the art to save her,—I can place healing in thy hand!”
“For both?—child and mother,—for both?”
A convulsion shook the limbs of the seer,—a mighty struggle shook him as a child: the Humanity and the Hour conquered the repugnant spirit.
“I yield! Mother and child—save both!”
In the dark chamber lay Viola, in the sharpest agonies of travail; life seemed rending itself away in the groans and cries that spoke of pain in the midst of frenzy; and still, in groan and cry, she called on Zanoni, her beloved. The physician looked to the clock; on it beat: the Heart of Time,—regularly and slowly,—Heart that never sympathised with Life, and never flagged for Death! “The cries are fainter,” said the leech; “in ten minutes more all will be past.”
Fool! the minutes laugh at thee; Nature, even now, like a blue sky through a shattered temple, is smiling through the tortured frame. The breathing grows more calm and hushed; the voice of delirium is dumb,—a sweet dream has come to Viola. Is it a dream, or is it the soul that sees? She thinks suddenly that she is with Zanoni, that her burning head is pillowed on his bosom; she thinks, as he gazes on her, that his eyes dispel the tortures that prey upon her,—the touch of his hand cools the fever on her brow; she hears his voice in murmurs,—it is a music from which the fiends fly. Where is the mountain that seemed to press upon her temples? Like a vapour, it rolls away. In the frosts of the winter night, she sees the sun laughing in luxurious heaven,—she hears the whisper of green leaves; the beautiful world, valley and stream and woodland, lie before, and with a common voice speak to her, “We are not yet past for thee!” Fool of drugs and formula, look to thy dial-plate!—the hand has moved on; the minutes are with Eternity; the soul thy sentence would have dismissed, still dwells on the shores of Time. She sleeps: the fever abates; the convulsions are gone; the living rose blooms upon her cheek; the crisis is past! Husband, thy wife lives; lover, thy universe is no solitude! Heart of Time, beat on! A while, a little while,—joy! joy! joy!—father, embrace thy child!