PRINCE HENRY and ELSIE, with their attendants on horseback.ONWARD and onward the highway runs to the distant city, impatiently bearing
|Tidings of human joy and disaster, of love and of hate, of doing and daring!|
PRINCE HENRY.This life of ours is a wild æolian harp of many a joyous strain,
|But under them all there runs a loud perpetual wail, as of souls in pain.|
ELSIE.Faith alone can interpret life, and the heart that aches and bleeds with the stigma
|Of pain, alone bears the likeness of Christ, and can comprehend its dark enigma.|
PRINCE HENRY.Man is selfish, and seeketh pleasure with little care of what may betide,
|Else why am I travelling here beside thee, a demon that rides by an angels side?|
ELSIE.All the hedges are white with dust, and the great dog under the creaking wain
|Hangs his head in the lazy heat, while onward the horses toil and strain.|| 10|
PRINCE HENRY.Now they stop at the wayside inn, and the wagoner laughs with the landlords daughter,
|While out of the dripping trough the horses distend their leathern sides with water.|
ELSIE.All through life there are wayside inns, where man may refresh his soul with love;
|Even the lowest may quench his thirst at rivulets fed by springs from above.|
PRINCE HENRY.Yonder, where rises the cross of stone, our journey along the highway ends,
|And over the fields, by a bridle path, down into the broad green valley descends.|
ELSIE.I am not sorry to leave behind the beaten road with its dust and heat;
|The air will be sweeter far, and the turf will be softer under our horses feet.|
They turn down a green lane.
ELSIE.Sweet is the air with the budding haws, and the valley stretching for miles below
|Is white with blossoming cherry-trees, as if just covered with lightest snow.|| 20|
PRINCE HENRY.Over our heads a white cascade is gleaming against the distant hill;
|We cannot hear it, nor see it move, but it hangs like a banner when winds are still.|
ELSIE.Damp and cool is this deep ravine, and cool the sound of the brook by our side!
|What is this castle that rises above us, and lords it over a land so wide?|
PRINCE HENRY.It is the home of the Counts of Calva; well have I known these scenes of old,
|Well I remember each tower and turret, remember the brooklet, the wood, and the wold.|
ELSIE.Hark! from the little village below us the bells of the church are ringing for rain!
|Priests and peasants in long procession come forth and kneel on the arid plain.|
PRINCE HENRY.They have not long to wait, for I see in the south uprising a little cloud,
|That before the sun shall be set will cover the sky above us as with a shroud.|
They pass on.