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The Poetical Works of George MacDonald

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SCENE XVIII.--Night. The Nurse's room. LILIA; to her JULIAN.

How changed he is! Yet he looks very noble.


My Lilia, will you go to England with me?

Julian, my father!


  Not without his leave.

He says, God bless us both.

Leave him in prison?

No, Lilia; he's at liberty and safe, And far from this ere now.


  You have done this,

My noble Julian! I will go with you To sunset, if you will. My father gone! Julian, there's none to love me now but you. You will love me, Julian?--always?


  I but fear

That your heart, Lilia, is not big enough To hold the love wherewith my heart would fill it.

I know why you think that; and I deserve it. But try me, Julian. I was very silly. I could not help it. I was ill, you know; Or weak at least. May I ask you, Julian, How your arm is to-day?


  Almost well, child.

Twill leave an ugly scar, though, I'm afraid.

Never mind that, if it be well again.

I do not mind it; but when I remember That I am all yours, then I grudge that scratch Or stain should be upon me--soul, body, yours. And there are more scars on me now than I Should like to make you own, without confession.

My poor, poor Julian! never think of it;

[Putting her arms round him.]

I will but love you more. I thought you had Already told me suffering enough; But not the half, it seems, of your adventures. You have been a soldier!


I have fought, my Lilia.

I have been down among the horses' feet; But strange to tell, and harder to believe, Arose all sound, unmarked with bruise, or blood Save what I lifted from the gory ground.


My wounds are not of such.

[LILIA, loosening her arms, and drawing back a little with a kind of shrinking, looks a frightened interrogation.]

  No. Penance, Lilia;

Such penance as the saints of old inflicted Upon their quivering flesh. Folly, I know; As a lord would exalt himself, by making His willing servants into trembling slaves! Yet I have borne it.

(laying her hand on his arm).

  Ah, alas, my Julian,

You have been guilty!


  Not what men call guilty,

Save it be now; now you will think I sin. Alas, I have sinned! but not in this I sin.-- Lilia, I have been a monk.


A monk?


  I thought--


Julian,--I thought you said.... did you not say ... ?

[Very pale, brokenly.]

I thought you said ...

[With an effort.]

  I was to be your wife!

[Covering her face with her hands, and bursting into tears.]

(speaking low and in pain). And so I did.

(hopefully, and looking up). Then you've had dispensation?

God has absolved me, though the Church will not. He knows it was in ignorance I did it. Rather would he have men to do his will, Than keep a weight of words upon their souls, Which they laid there, not graven by his finger. The vow was made to him--to him I break it.

(weeping bitterly).
I would ... your words were true ... but I do know ... It never can ... be right to break a vow; If so, men might be liars every day; You'd do the same by me, if we were married.

(in anguish).
'Tis ever so. Words are the living things! There is no spirit--save what's born of words! Words are the bonds that of two souls make one! Words the security of heart to heart! God, make me patient! God, I pray thee, God!

(not heeding him).
Besides, we dare not; you would find the dungeon Gave late repentance; I should weep away My life within a convent.

Come to England,
To England, Lilia.

Men would point, and say:
There go the monk and his wife; if they, in truth, Called me not by a harder name than that.

There are no monks in England.

But will that
Make right what's wrong?


  Did I say so, my Lilia?

I answered but your last objections thus; I had a different answer for the first.

No, no; I cannot, cannot, dare not do it.

Lilia, you will not doubt my love; you cannot. --I would have told you all before, but thought, Foolishly, you would feel the same as I;-- I have lived longer, thought more, seen much more; I would not hurt your body, less your soul, For all the blessedness your love can give: For love's sake weigh the weight of what I say.

Think not that must be right which you have heard
From infancy--it may----

[Enter the Steward in haste, pale, breathless, and bleeding.]

My lord, there's such an uproar in the town! They call you murderer and heretic. The officers of justice, with a monk, And the new Count Nembroni, accompanied By a fierce mob with torches, howling out For justice on you, madly cursing you! They caught a glimpse of me as I returned, And stones and sticks flew round me like a storm; But I escaped them, old man as I am, And was in time to bar the castle-gates.-- Would heaven we had not cast those mounds, and shut The river from the moat!

[Distant yells and cries.]

Escape, my lord!

Will the gates hold them out awhile, my Joseph?

A little while, my lord; but those damned torches! Oh, for twelve feet of water round the walls!

Leave us, good Joseph; watch them from a window, And tell us of their progress.

[JOSEPH goes. Sounds approach.]

  Farewell, Lilia!

[Putting his arm round her. She stands like stone.]

Fear of a coward's name shall not detain me. My presence would but bring down evil on you, My heart's beloved; yes, all the ill you fear, The terrible things that you have imaged out If you fled with me. They will not hurt you, If you be not polluted by my presence.

[Light from without flares on the wall.]

They've fired the gate.

[An outburst of mingled cries.]

They've fired the gate, my lord!

Well, put yourself in safety, my dear Joseph. You and old Agata tell all the truth, And they'll forgive you. It will not hurt me; I shall be safe--you know me--never fear.

God grant it may be so. Farewell, dear lord!

[Is going.]

But add, it was in vain; the signorina Would not consent; therefore I fled alone.

[LILIA stands as before.]

Can it be so? Good-bye, good-bye, my master!


Put your arms round me once, my Lilia. Not once?--not once at parting?

[Rushing feet up the stairs, and along the galleries.]

O God! farewell!

[He clasps her to his heart; leaves her; pushes back the panel, flings open a door, enters, and closes both behind him. LILIA _starts suddenly from her fixed bewilderment, and flies after him, but forgets to close the panel.]

Julian! Julian!

[The trampling offset and clamour of voices. The door of the room is flung open. Enter the foremost of the mob.]

I was sure I saw light here! There it is, burning still!

Nobody here? Praise the devil! he minds his own. Look under the bed, Gian.

Nothing there.

Another door! another door! He's in a trap now, and will soon be in hell! (Opening the door with difficulty.) The devil had better leave him, and make up the fire at home--he'll be cold by and by. (Rushes into the inner room.) Follow me, boys! [The rest follow.]

Voices from within.

  I have him! I have him! Curse

your claws! Why do you fix them on me, you crab? You won't pick up the fiend-spawn so easily, I can tell you. Bring the light there, will you? (One runs out for the light.) A trap! a trap! and a stair, down in the wall! The hell-faggot's gone! After him, after him, noodles!

[Sound of descending footsteps. Others rush in with torches and follow.]

* * * * *

SCENE XIX.--The river-side. LILIA seated in the boat; JULIAN handing her the bags.

There! One at a time!--Take care, love; it is heavy.--
Put them right in the middle, of the boat: Gold makes good ballast.

[A loud shout. He steps in and casts the chain loose, then pushes gently off.]

  Look how the torches gleam

Among the trees. Thank God, we have escaped!

[He rows swiftly off. The torches come nearer, with cries of search.]

(In a low tone.) Slip down, my Lilia; lie at full length In the bottom of the boat; your dress is white, And would return the torches' glare. I fear The damp night-air will hurt you, dressed like this.

[Pulling off his coat, and laying it over her.]

Now for a strong pull with my muffled oars! The water mutters Spanish in its sleep. My beautiful! my bride! my spirit's wife! God-given, and God-restored! My heart exults, Hovering about thee, beautiful! my soul!-- Once round the headland, I will set the sail; The fair wind bloweth right adown the stream. Dear wind, dear stream, dear stars, dear heart of all, White angel lying in my little boat! Strange that my boyhood's skill with sail and helm, Oft steering safely 'twixt the winding banks, Should make me rich with womanhood and life!

[The boat rounds the headland, JULIAN singing.]


Thou hast been blowing leaves, O wind of strife, Wan, curled, boat-like leaves, that ran and fled; Unresting yet, though folded up from life; Sleepless, though cast among the unwaking dead! Out to the ocean fleet and float; Blow, blow my little leaf-like boat.

O wind of strife, to us a wedding wind, O cover me with kisses of her mouth; Blow thou our souls together, heart and mind; To narrowing northern lines, blow from the south! Out to the ocean fleet and float; Blow, blow my little leaf-like boat.

Thou hast been blowing many a drifting thing From circling cove down to the unsheltered sea; Thou blowest to the sea my blue sail's wing, Us to a new love-lit futurity: Out to the ocean fleet and float; Blow, blow my little leaf-like boat.

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