As long as the passion and fervour that impelled the act animated her with false fever, she clasped her infant to her breast, and was consoled,—resigned. But what bitter doubt of her own conduct, what icy pang of remorse shot through her heart, when, as they rested for a few hours on the road to Leghorn, she heard the woman who accompanied herself and Glyndon pray for safety to reach her husband’s side, and strength to share the perils that would meet her there! Terrible contrast to her own desertion! She shrunk into the darkness of her own heart,—and then no voice from within consoled her.
Zukunft hast du mir
Doch du nehmst den Augenblick.
(Futurity hast thou given to me,—yet takest from me the Moment.)
“Mejnour, behold thy work! Out, out upon our little vanities of wisdom!—out upon our ages of lore and life! To save her from Peril I left her presence, and the Peril has seized her in its grasp!”
“Chide not thy wisdom but thy passions! Abandon thine idle hope of the love of woman. See, for those who would unite the lofty with the lowly, the inevitable curse; thy very nature uncomprehended,—thy sacrifices unguessed. The lowly one views but in the lofty a necromancer or a fiend. Titan, canst thou weep?”
“I know it now, I see it all! It was her spirit that stood beside our own, and escaped my airy clasp! O strong desire of motherhood and nature! unveiling all our secrets, piercing space and traversing worlds!—Mejnour, what awful learning lies hid in the ignorance of the heart that loves!”
“The heart,” answered the mystic, coldly; “ay, for five thousand years I have ransacked the mysteries of creation, but I have not yet discovered all the wonders in the heart of the simplest boor!”
“Yet our solemn rites deceived us not; the prophet-shadows, dark with terror and red with blood, still foretold that, even in the dungeon, and before the deathsman, I,—I had the power to save them both!”
“But at some unconjectured and most fatal sacrifice to thyself.”
“To myself! Icy sage, there is no self in love! I go. Nay, alone: I want thee not. I want now no other guide but the human instincts of affection. No cave so dark, no solitude so vast, as to conceal her. Though mine art fail me; though the stars heed me not; though space, with its shining myriads, is again to me but the azure void,—I return but to love and youth and hope! When have they ever failed to triumph and to save!”
BOOK VII. — THE REIGN OF TERROR.
Orrida maesta nei fero
Terrore accresce, e piu superbo il rende;
Rosseggian gli occhi, e di veneno infetto
Come infausta cometa, il guardo splende,
Gil involve il mento, e sull ’irsuto petto
Ispida efoita la gran barbe scende;
E in GUISA de VORAGINE PROFONDA
SAPRE la bocca A’ATRO SANGUE IMMONDA.
(Ger. Lib., Cant. iv. 7.)