Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Michael Bonham; or, The Fall of Bexar. A Tale of Texas >> Part I — Scene III >> Page 9

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 9

Drama | John R. Thompson | 1852
Transcription Michael Bonham : or, the Fall of Bexar. 9

Is here, of green and waving meadow, in the moonlight, Glittering with thousand flowers of thousand hues That mock the rainbow's beauties. As the breeze Sweeps over the wide track, the gentle tops
Heave into tiny billows that beseem,
The billows of the gulf, when, roused from sleep By the soft zephyrs of the southern wastes,
They yield themselves unmurmuring to the embrace Of wooers that they love. Oh! gentle night.
Thus honored by the moon, that o'er this sea
Burns with a sweet benignity, and soothes
Its wildest forms to beauty, in my soul,
Shines a like hallowing aspect. Love is there
Above the forms of danger, like some angel
That, through the cloud and tempest, still looks down Speaking good will to earth. A footstep,—Hark! Who comes?

Enter Richard Harris.
R. Harris. A friend.
Bonham. He has a name.
R. Harris. 'Tis Harris, Sir.
Bonham. What would you with me, Harris?
R. Harris. Service, sir,
Provided that means peril, which they tell me
You are in quest of.
Bonham. I may meet with it.
R. Harris. Now danger flies from me! I cannot find it, Whether on sea or land. Most then fear death, But death fears me—hides from me—will not face me Though I implore him in the fatalest passage, Where other hearts have yielded. By day and night, Hourly, I seer his shaft to stretch me out, Sightless in sight of heaven. In quest of this, I come to you, since it is thought your purpose Takes you in danger's jaws, the worst of danger Within the walls of Bexar.
Bonham. This is madness! Life is a precious privilege, too precious, In momentary weariness or trial,
To be flung off with scorn.
R. Harris. Look I like one For such child weakness, to beseech my doom; It is not weariness that moves, or trials Such as compel the tear in other men, But the fixed purpose of a mood whose reason Lies deeper, is more hideous than the grave. Help me to human peril which may lose me The eternal one that haunts me.
Bonham. I would not know your secret ; but if true The blessed faith that's taught us, Death himself But opes the door for other and worse fiends, Than those which haunt the sinner to repentance. Repent, my friend, and live. To share my danger, One must love life.—on such good terms with it, That he shall use all prudence to preserve it. You cannot go with me. Your very temper Might wholly mar our purpose.
R. Harris. Cannot, sir!
Bonham. Impossible!
R. Harris Then no more's to be said. Bonham. Abide your time, my friend. Your quest for
Is sin not less than madness. Soon enough, Death seeks the very best of us—too soon, For many of the best. A word more, Harris Have better thoughts, my friend.
R. Harris. I would I could! In praying for death, I sometimes pray for them.
Bonham. Pray for them always! In another day Battle awaits us! Pray you to survive it.

It may, perchance, o'ercome the bravest spirit To meet its probable terrors. You may have Your criminal prayers vouchsafed you at a season, When all, the very humblest, could not save you From dreadfuller dooms than death. Comrade, hither!

Enter Crockett.
Crockett. I'm at your service, Major. Harris here ? Bonham. He goes not with us. To the camp, my friend !
You will not shrink from battle when it comes ;
Will wait its coming with a patient courage
That makes all strifes successful. my task To strip it of its perils as I play !
Commend yourself to patience ! Comrade, on !
[Exeunt Bonham and Crockett,.
R. Harris. Still baffled in my purpose! Should I wait On time, and chance, and opportunity,
When I can make them all? Here is the chance, When human eye is none for scrutiny—The time—what season half so meet for death, As when the heart has will'd it for itselt=-And opportunity is in the weapon here,
Which my own right hand clutches. Wherefore bear 'Phis torture, day and night, that hourly wakes Its hell within my heart, when with a stroke I still the strife for aye! I see no ghost! I strain these balls to see them ! Here's the plain, Ghastly beneath the moon. The midnight hour Ilas thrown apart the great gates of the grave,
And they may walk if they will. They covet darkness I do not seek the light. Whither I go,
They come not, though I bid them to my sight, With backward prayer and horrible invocation,
I summon them now,—I call them 'heath the moon: Coyne ye fell spectres—wherefore do ye mock, Mine ears with your reproaches ? I would see And dare ye face to thee. I hear diem still, Voices that through the void go hurrying on, Or lurk at hand to scare. Fla ! how they mock, They tell me that I dare not—though they see My hand that does not tremble, with the weapon Uplifted o'er the breast that does not shrink, And know that as I summon them to see, I strike with mortal sureness, thus
E. Harris, [who enters front behind and arrests his blow.] Mercy! mercy!
R. Harris, [turning fiercely.] To thy knees.
E. Harris. Spare me ! be merciful.
R. Harris. How durst thou on my steps?
E. Harris. I came—R. Harris. Thou hauntest me like a shadow.
E. Harris. Have mercy!
R. Harris, [sheathing the kn je.] No! I'll not harm
thee !
I will not pluck, with innocent blood like thine, More curses on my head.
E. Harris. Oh ! spare me'
R. Harris. Have I not said I will not harm thee, boy ? E. Harris. Oh! but thyself! thyself:
R. Harris. And what am I to thee ? What if I perish?
E. Harris. You promised to protect me.
R. Harris. Was't for this
You follow'd on my footsteps? Foolish boy
With fears like thine, a heart SO much a coward, What lost thou here in Texas ? To the Camp—Thou should'st be with thy mother! While I can, I'll care for thee and save thee,—but no word
Of what thou halt seen to-night.
E. Harris. Thou wilt not
R. Harris. What!
E. Harris. Do murder on thyself