A Lady's apartment, with a window
into a garden. Lalage, in deep mourning, reading at a table on which
some books and a hand mirror. In the background Jacinta (a servant
leans carelessly upon a chair.
Lalage. Jacinta! is
Lal. I did not know,
Sit down! — Let not my presence trouble you —
Sit down! — for I am humble, most humble.
Jac. (aside.) 'Tis time.
(Jacinta seats herself in a side-long manner upon the
resting her elbows upon the back, and regarding her mistress with a
look. Lalage continues to read.[[ ) ]]
Lal. "It in another climate, so he said,
"Bore a bright golden flower, but not i' [[in]] this soil!"
(pauses — turns over some leaves,
"No lingering winters there, nor snow, nor shower —
"But Ocean ever to refresh mankind
"Breathes the shrill spirit of the western wind."
Oh, beautiful! — most beautiful! — how like
To what my fevered soul doth dream of Heaven!
O happy land! (pauses.) She died! — the maiden died!
O still more happy maiden who couldst die!
(Jacinta returns no answer, and
Again! — a similar tale
Told of a beauteous dame beyond the sea! [page 35:]
Thus speaketh one Ferdinand in the words of the play —
"She died full young" — one Bossola answers him —
"I think not so — her infelicity
"Seemed to have years too many" — Ah luckless lady!
Jacinta! (still no answer.)
Here 's a far sterner story
But like — oh, very like in its despair —
Of that Egyptian queen, winning so easily
A thousand hearts — losing at length her own.
She died. Thus endeth the history — and her maids
Lean over and weep — two gentle maids
With gentle names — Eiros and Charmion!
Rainbow and Dove! —— Jacinta!
Jac. (pettishly.) Madam, what is
Lal. Wilt thou, my good Jacinta, be so
As go down in the library and bring me
The Holy Evangelists.
Jac. Pshaw! (exit.)
Lal. If there be balm
For the wounded spirit in Gilead it is there!
Dew in the night time of my bitter trouble
Will there be found — "dew sweeter far than that
Which hangs like chains of pearl on Hermon hill."
(re-enter Jacinta, and throws a
volume on the table.)
There, ma'am, 's the book. Indeed she is very troublesome. (aside.)
Lal. (astonished.) What didst
thou say, Jacinta? Have I done aught
To grieve thee or to vex thee? — I am sorry.
For thou hast served me long and ever been
Trust-worthy and respectful.
(resumes her reading.)
Jac. I can't believe
She has any more jewels — no — no — she gave me all.
(aside.) [page 36:]
Lal. What didst thou say,
Now I bethink me
Thou hast not spoken lately of thy wedding.
How fares good Ugo? — and when is it to be?
Can I do aught? — is there no farther aid
Thou needest, Jacinta?
Jac. Is there no farther aid!
That's meant for me. (aside) I'm sure, madam, you need not
Be always throwing those jewels in my teeth.
Lal. Jewels! Jacinta, — now indeed, Jacinta,
I thought not of the jewels.
Jac. Oh! perhaps not!
But then I might have sworn it. After all,
There 's Ugo says the ring is only paste,
For he's sure the Count Castiglione never
Would have given a real diamond to such as you;
And at the best I'm certain, Madam, you cannot
Have use for jewels now. But I might have sworn
(Lalage bursts into tears and leans
her head upon the
— after a short pause raises it.)
Lal. Poor Lalage! — and is it come to
Thy servant maid! — but courage! — 'tis but a viper
Whom thou hast cherished to sting thee to the soul!
(taking up the mirror)
Ha! here at least's a friend — too much a friend
In earlier days — a friend will not deceive thee.
Fair mirror and true! now tell me (for thou canst)
A tale — a pretty tale — and heed thou not
Though it be rife with woe: It answers me.
It speaks of sunken eyes, and wasted cheeks,
And Beauty long deceased — remembers me
Of Joy departed — Hope, the Seraph Hope,
Inurned and entombed! — now, in a tone
Low, sad, and solemn, but most audible, [page 37:]
Whispers of early grave untimely yawning
For ruined maid. Fair mirror and true! — thou liest not!
Thou hast no end to gain — no heart to break —
Castiglione lied who said he loved ——
Thou true — he false! — false! — false!
(While she speaks, a monk enters her
Monk. Refuge thou hast,
Sweet daughter! in Heaven. Think of eternal things!
Give up thy soul to penitence, and pray!
Lal. (arising hurriedly.) I cannot
pray! — My soul is at war with God!
The frightful sounds of merriment below
Disturb my senses — go! I cannot pray —
The sweet airs from the garden worry me!
Thy presence grieves me — go! — thy priestly raiment
Fills me with dread — thy ebony crucifix
With horror and awe!
Monk. Think of thy precious soul!
Lal. Think of my early
days! — think of my
And mother in Heaven! think of our quiet home,
And the rivulet that ran before the door!
Think of my little sisters! — think of them!
And think of me! — think of my trusting love
And confidence — his vows — my ruin — think — think
Of my unspeakable misery! —— begone!
Yet stay! yet stay! — what was it thou saidst of prayer
And penitence? Didst thou not speak of faith
And vows before the throne?
Monk. I did.
Lal. 'Tis well.
There is a vow were fitting should be made — [page 38:]
A sacred vow, imperative, and urgent,
A solemn vow!
Monk. Daughter, this zeal is well !
Lal. Father, this zeal is anything but
Hast thou a crucifix fit for this thing?
A crucifix whereon to register
(he hands her his own.)
Not that — Oh! no! — no! —
Not that! Not that! — I tell thee, holy man,
Thy raiments and thy ebony cross affright me!
Stand back! I have a crucifix myself, —
I have a crucifix! Methinks 'twere fitting
The deed — the vow — the symbol of the deed —
And the deed's register should tally, father!
(draws a cross-handled dagger and
raises it on high.)
Behold the cross wherewith a vow like mine
Is written in Heaven!
Monk. Thy words are madness, daughter,
And speak a purpose unholy — thy lips are livid —
Thine eyes are wild — tempt not the wrath divine!
Pause ere too late! — oh be not — be not rash!
Swear not the oath — oh swear it not!
Lal. 'Tis sworn!