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Tenderly JOAN adjusts the cord about SIMON's neck so that the stone falls upon his
bare breast. Then there is another flash of lightning, followed by a loud roll of thunder.

JOAN (clinging to SIMON). Saints!

SIMON. Fear not.

JOAN (glancing up at the loft). The lightning! 'twill strike us where we stand.

SIMON. Why should it seek us out, that are as the rats of the town? (Lightning again.)


SIMON. Will close the door of the loft. (He goes up the steps laboriously, and enters the loft.)

JOAN (at the foot of the steps). Prithee have a care for thyself. 'Twould break my heart in twain, did aught befall thee. (There is a still brighter flash of lightning, and the crash of
some heavy object falling in the alley.
JOAN runs to the door and opens it).
Blessed Virgin!

SIMON re-appears, dragging the door of the loft after him. He makes the door fast and descends the steps slowly and painfully. There is another peal of thunder.

JOAN (at the door, peering out). The lightning hath struck the sign and brought it to the ground. Holy Mother, protect us! it hath hung there for full eighteen years, since the day our Laine was born.

LAINE returns. She has resumed her old apparel; her face, which is once more
enclosed in her little cap, is pinched and sickly; her shoulder is humped; and, as
before, she hobbles with the aid of her crutch.

LAINE. Mother! the storm! it frightens me!

JOAN (coming to her). Oh, to see thee bowed and twisted again when to-day thou wert as straight as a poplar! Simon, our child! (JOAN and SIMON embrace her.)

LAINE. Nay, dears, heed me not. What horrid noise was that?

JOAN. The sign has been struck by lightning and has fallen. Husband, go drag it in, lest our neighbours break their shins upon it. (SIMON goes out.)

LAINE. Mother, the sign is heavy, and father is old and weak. Let us go help him.

JOAN. Stay you there. (Calling to SIMON.) Simon, my man, let me aid thee — (At the door, starting back.) Ah!

SIMON (without — in the ringing voice of youth). Nay, I need no aid. Lo!

He re-enters, carrying lightly the fallen sign — a weighty piece of twisted metal-work.
He is handsome, fresh-coloured, and beardless, his hair is dark and thick, his body
erect and lissom.


JOAN. Holy St. Jude! Simon!

SIMON (throwing the sign down). Wife! daughter!

LAINE. Father!

JOAN. Blessed be the Saints! (To LAINE.) Guess ye not he wears the sacred stone upon his breast? (Embracing SIMON.) My lad! my lad!

The DEVIL appears at the open door.

DEVIL. H'm, how fortunate! the family is still up and about. (Beckoning to SAIDA.) Hist!

SAIDA appears and enters the room.

SAIDA. Where is the maid upon whom beauty has fallen so wondrously?

LAINE (presenting herself). Madam?

SAIDA. Thou! why, thou crooked thing, thou art not the weaver's daughter — she I saw an hour agone!

LAINE. Even I.

DEVIL (at SAIDA's elbow — in her ear). She hath lost her beauty as she found it — in a hurry. Truly this is but unholy magic.

SAIDA (turning from LAINE). What unnatural jugglery is here?

She comes face to face with SIMON, who is gazing at her with rapture.

SIMON (in a low voice). Lady —

SAIDA. Who art thou?

SIMON. Simon Limal, the weaver.

SAIDA. The old man that was lately driven from the castle!

SIMON. Old I was, but — (looking into her face, entranced) lady, I am young.

DEVIL (to SAIDA, as before). Mischief take him! Why he hath gained possession of the charm!

SAIDA (to the DEVIL, in a whisper). Then 'tis mine indeed. My fading beauty hath still enough of power to coax the mystery out of this common fellow, I promise thee.

JOAN (to SIMON, aloud — clutching his arm). Simon! why do you fix your eyes thus upon the lady Saida?

SIMON (shaking JOAN off). Hence! begone! (To SAIDA.) Saints! how fair thou art!

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