Lucile

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Author: Owen Meredith

XXII.

The tent has been clear’d,
The chieftain stroked moodily somewhat his beard,
A sable long silver’d: and press’d down his brow
On his hand, heavy vein’d. All his countenance, now
Unwitness’d, at once fell dejected, and dreary,
As a curtain let fall by a hand that’s grown weary,
Into puckers and folds. From his lips, unrepress’d,
Steals th’ impatient sigh which reveals in man’s breast
A conflict conceal’d, and experience at strife
With itself,—the vex’d heart’s passing protest on life.
He turn’d to his papers. He heard the light tread
Of a faint foot behind him: and, lifting his head,
Said, "Sit, Holy Sister! your worth is well known
To the hearts of our soldiers; nor less to my own.
I have much wish’d to see you. I owe you some thanks;
In the name of all those you have saved to our ranks
I record them. Sit! Now then, your mission?"
The nun
Paused silent. The General eyed her anon
More keenly. His aspect grew troubled. A change
Darken’d over his features. He mutter’d "Strange! strange!
Any face should so strongly remind me of HER!
Fool! again the delirium, the dream! does it stir?
Does it move as of old? Psha!
"Sit, Sister! I wait
Your answer, my time halts but hurriedly. State
The cause why you seek me."
"The cause? ay, the cause!"
She vaguely repeated. Then, after a pause,—
As one who, awaked unawares, would put back
The sleep that forever returns in the track
Of dreams which, though scared and dispersed, not the less
Settle back to faint eyelids that yield ’neath their stress,
Like doves to a pent-house,—a movement she made,
Less toward him than away from herself; droop’d her head
And folded her hands on her bosom: long, spare,
Fatigued, mournful hands! Not a stream of stray hair
Escaped the pale bands; scarce more pale than the face
Which they bound and lock’d up in a rigid white case.
She fix’d her eyes on him. There crept a vague awe
O’er his sense, such as ghosts cast.
"Eugene de Luvois,
The cause which recalls me again to your side,
Is a promise that rests unfulfill’d," she replied.
"I come to fulfil it."
He sprang from the place
Where he sat, press’d his hand, as in doubt, o’er his face;
And, cautiously feeling each step o’er the ground
That he trod on (as one who walks fearing the sound
Of his footstep may startle and scare out of sight
Some strange sleeping creature on which he would ’light
Unawares), crept towards her; one heavy hand laid
On her shoulder in silence; bent o’er her his head,
Search’d her face with a long look of troubled appeal
Against doubt: stagger’d backward, and murmur’d . . . "Lucile?
Thus we meet then? . . . here! . . . thus?"
"Soul to soul, ay,
Eugene,
As I pledged you my word that we should meet again.
Dead, . . ." she murmur’d, "long dead! all that lived in our lives—
Thine and mine—saving that which ev’n life’s self survives,
The soul! ’Tis my soul seeks thine own. What may reach
From my life to thy life (so wide each from each!)
Save the soul to the soul? To thy soul I would speak.
May I do so?"
He said (work’d and white was his cheek
As he raised it), "Speak to me!"
Deep, tender, serene,
And sad was the gaze which the Soeur Seraphine
Held on him. She spoke.

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Chicago: Owen Meredith, "22," Lucile, ed. Sutherland, Alexander, 1853-1902 and trans. Seaton, R. C. in Lucile (New York: George E. Wood, ""Death-bed"" edition, 1892), Original Sources, accessed February 27, 2020, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4SI53IN759N6BFA.

MLA: Meredith, Owen. "22." Lucile, edited by Sutherland, Alexander, 1853-1902, and translated by Seaton, R. C., in Lucile, New York, George E. Wood, ""Death-bed"" edition, 1892, Original Sources. 27 Feb. 2020. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4SI53IN759N6BFA.

Harvard: Meredith, O, '22' in Lucile, ed. and trans. . cited in ""Death-bed"" edition, 1892, Lucile, George E. Wood, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 27 February 2020, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4SI53IN759N6BFA.