ページの画像
PDF
ePub

“ A challenge fair! We meet then there,” Rejoin'd the Prince of the Powers of the Air;

“ The Bondsman is mine by right. Let the whole city come at thy call : And great and small, in face of them all,

I will have him in thy despite !"

So having said, he tarried not

To hear the Saint's reply.
“ Beneath the sign which Constantine,”

Said Basil, “ beheld in the sky,
We strive, and have our strength therein,

Therein our victory !”

IX.

The Church is fill’d, so great the faith

That City in its Bishop hath;

And now the Congregation
Are waiting there in trembling prayer

And terrible expectation.

Emmelia and her sisterhood

Have taken there their seat ;
And Choristers and Monks and Priests
And Psalmists there, and Exorcists,

Are station'd in order meet.

In sackcloth clad, with ashes strewn

Upon his whiter hair,
Before the steps of the altar,
His feet for penance bare,
Eleëmon stands, a spectacle
For men and Angels there.

Beside him Cyra stood, in weal

Or woe, in good or ill,
Not to be sever'c from his side,

His faithful helpmate still.

Dishevell’d were her raven locks,

As one in mourner's guise ;
And pale she was, but faith and hope

Had now relumed her eyes.

At the altar Basil took his stand;
He held the Gospel in his hand,

And in his ardent eye
Sure trust was seen, and conscious power,

And strength for victory.

At his command the Chorister
Enounced the Prophet's song,
66 To God our Saviour mercies
And forgivenesses belong.".

Ten thousand voices join’d to raise

The holy hymn on high, And hearts were thrill’d and eyes were fill'd

By that full harmony.

And when they ceased, and Basil's hand

A warning signal gave,
The whole huge multitude was hush'd
In a stillness like that of the

grave.

The Sun was high in a bright blue sky,

But a chill came over the crowd,
And the Church was suddenly darken'd,

As if by a passing cloud.

A sound as of a tempest rose,
Though the day was calm and clear;
Intrepid must the heart have been

Which did not then feel fear.

In the sound of the storm came the dreadful Form ;

The Church then darken'đ more,
And He was seen erect on the screen

Over the Holy Door.

Day-light had sicken'd at his sight;

And the gloomy Presence threw
A shade profound over all around,

Like a cheerless twilight hue.

“I come hither,” said the Demon,
- For

my

Bondsman Eleëmon!
Mine is he, body and soul.
See all men !” and with that on high

He held the open scroll.

The fatal signature appear'd

To all the multitude,
Distinct as when the accursed pen

Had traced it with fresh blood.
“ See all men ! ” Satan cried again,

And then his claim pursued.

“I ask for justice! I prefer

An equitable suit !
I appeal to the Law, and the case

Admitteth of no dispute.

“If there be justice here,
If Law have place in Heaven,
Award

upon

this Bond Must then for me be given.

“What to my rightful claim,

Basil, canst thou gainsay,
That I should not seize the Bondsman,

And carry him quick away?

“The writing is confess'd;..
No plea against it shown;..

The forfeiture is mine,
And now I take my own!”

“ Hold there !” cried Basil, with a voice

That arrested him on his way, When from the screen he would have swoopt To pounce upon

his

prey ;

“ Hold there, I say !

Thou canst not sue
Upon this Bond by law !

A sorry legalist were he
Who could not in thy boasted plea

Detect its fatal flaw.

“ The Deed is null, for it was framed

"With fraudulent intent;
A thing unlawful in itself;

A wicked instrument,
Not to be pleaded in the Courts. . .

Sir Fiend, thy cause is shent !

“ This were enough; but, more than this,

A maxim, as thou knowest, it is

Whereof all Laws partake,
That no one may of his own wrong

His own advantage make.

“ The man, thou sayest, thy Bondsman is ;

Mark now, how stands the fact!
Thou hast allow'd, . . nay, aided him

As a Freedman to contract
A marriage with this Christian woman here,

And by a public act.

“ That act being publicly perform'd

With thy full cognizance,
Claim to him as thy Bondsman thou

Canst never more advance.

« 前へ次へ »