Nathan the Wise (2 of 49)
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And HIM? What him?
With him, who from the fire
Preserved her life,
Who was it? Where is he,
That saved my Recha for me?
A young templar,
Brought hither captive a few days ago,
And pardoned by the Sultan.
How, a TEMPLAR
Dismissed with life by Saladin. In truth,
Not a less miracle was to preserve her,
Without this man, who risked afresh
The Sultan's unexpected boon, we'd lost her.
Where is he, Daya, where's this noble youth?
Do, lead me to his feet. Sure, sure you gave him
What treasures I had left you--gave him all,
Promised him more--much more?
How could we?
He came, he went, we know not whence, or whither.
Quite unacquainted with the house, unguided
But by his ear, he prest through smoke and flame,
His mantle spread before him, to the room
Whence pierced the shrieks for help; and we began
To think him lost--and her; when, all at once,
Bursting from flame and smoke, he stood before us,
She in his arm upheld. Cold and unmoved
By our loud warmth of thanks, he left his booty,
Struggled into the crowd, and disappeared.
But not for ever, Daya, I would hope.
For some days after, underneath you palms,
That shade his grave who rose again from death,
We saw him wandering up and down. I went,
With transport went to thank him. I conjured,
Intreated him to visit once again
The dear sweet girl he saved, who longed to shed
At her preserver's feet the grateful tear -
But in vain. Deaf to our warmest prayers,
On me he flung such bitter mockery -
That hence rebuffed -
Oh, no, oh, no, indeed not,
Daily I forced myself upon him, daily
Afresh encountered his dry taunting speeches.
Much I have borne, and would have borne much more:
But he of late forbears his lonely walk
Under the scattered palms, which stand about
Our holy sepulchre: nor have I learnt
Where he now is. You seem astonished--thoughtful -
I was imagining what strange impressions
This conduct makes on such a mind as Recha's.
Disdained by one whom she must feel compelled
To venerate and to esteem so highly.
At once attracted and repelled--the combat
Between her head and heart must yet endure,
Regret, Resentment, in unusual struggle.
Neither, perhaps, obtains the upper hand,
And busy fancy, meddling in the fray,
Weaves wild enthusiasms to her dazzled spirit,
Now clothing Passion in the garb of Reason,
And Reason now in Passion's--do I err?
This last is Recha's fate--Romantic notions -
Aye; but such pious, lovely, sweet, illusions.
Yes: and the one, her bosom
Clings to most fondly, is, that the brave templar
Was but a transient inmate of the earth,
A guardian angel, such as from her childhood
She loved to fancy kindly hovering round her,
Who from his veiling cloud amid the fire
Stepped forth in her preserver's form. You smile -
Who knows? At least beware of banishing
So pleasing an illusion--if deceitful
Christian, Jew, Mussulman, agree to own it,
And 'tis--at least to her--a dear illusion.
Also to me. Go, my good Daya, go,
See what she's after. Can't I speak with her?
Then I'll find out our untamed guardian angel,
Bring him to sojourn here awhile among us -
We'll pinion his wild wing, when once he's taken.
You undertake too much.
And when, my Daya,
This sweet illusion yields to sweeter truth,
(For to a man a man is ever dearer
Than any angel) you must not be angry
To see our loved enthusiast exercised.