Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Count Julian; or, The Last Days of the Goth >> Chapter VIII >> Page 189

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Novel (Romance) | William Taylor & Co. | 1845 - 1846
Transcription THE LAST DAYS OF THE GOTH. 189

mote his passionate devices. " Why," said she, " should I not follow my lord in this march of peril ? Why should I not be near him in the hour of danger ? Too well I know that his fearless spirit will bear him where the strife is thickest—that he will rush to the embrace of war, and grow mad with rapture in the dreadful glory of the flashing spear and scvmitar. Verily, it is but meet that I should be near him in this peril, that I may tend upon him should he suffer hurt—which Jesu forbid—dress the wounds of his limbs, and sooth his weariness with my cares, and console him after his toils by the song and story which he so much loves."
It is thy duty, daughter, that thou shouldst thus attend thy lord. Thy thought becomes thee. It were pitiful if he should be wounded and alone, needing succor and soothing which thou mayst bestow—and thou absent here repcsing on thy couch, little heeding of his wants and sorrows."
Ah ! father, I thank thee from the bottom of my heart for this sanction. I have already spoken of it to my lord, but he chides me for the thought. Thou shalt help me in my quest. Thou shalt speak to my lord, and show him what is needful for me to do, and to desire, and what is but right and generous in him to grant. Wilt thou not do this, holy father—I pray thee to serve me in this wise, for well I know that thy counsel is of all others most grateful to my lord."
Verily, daughter, thou art a pattern of virtue and duty. The sex is honored in thee, and the church glories in thy faith. How rightly dost thou see these things. Where should the wife be, in the peril of her husband, but by his side ? I would not have thee share in his danger, for that becomes not thy feebleness of sex ; but there are duties in which thou art strong, and these are particularly needed of thee to exercise. Daughter, I will speak to thy lord in thy behalf."
Oh, father, how shall I thank thee ?"
Thanks, dearest daughter of the church, it needs not. It needs but duty only. Verily, the heavens smile upon thee, and thy virtues will greatly serve against the too erring and too vicious nature of thy lord. Thou art precious, my child, in the sight of heaven. Thou remind est me in thy meekness and loving-kindness of those accepted women which made lovely and secure the tents of the ancient patriarchs. Be thus, ever, my daughter, and the smiles of the Virgin shall give thee countenance and protection in the moment of thy greatest need."
Thus speaking, while the royal lady knelt with uncovered head before him, his paternal hand rested on her neck, and, unconsciously, as it were, glided into her bosom, the heaving billows of which were swelling with a sense of pleasure at the terms of commendation which she heard from one in whom she was accustomed to behold the visible agent, and almost the only means of communication with her Saviour and her God. She felt no distrust of that patriarchal pressure which was yet not without its influence upon other sensibilities than those which belonged to her devotions. How should she dream to find the wolf in the shepherd ! The pure heart, unconscious of guilt itself, not easily suspects the secret guilt in the souls and thoughts of others. The meek submissive woman, untrained and inexperienced in the strifes of the brutal world, is slow to fancy cunning or deceit in those minds upon which society itself commands that she shall rely. And thus it was that the pure-souled Egilona knelt before the lascivious and abandoned priest, submissive, while his polluting hands, made authoritative by his patriarchal mission, presumed upon freedoms with the person of the innocent and lovely, which are permitted by heaven to the sacred rites of wedlock only.
Very difficult was it for the bold and impious Oppas to tear himself away from the exercise of his audaciously assumed privileges. She, the meek and virtuous woman, knelt still, immovable as beneath a spell, looking down upon the earth,