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Act 2 Scene 3

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A Turret Chamber in Torquilstone. REBECCA. ULRICA spinning; as she spins she sings fragments of song.

Whet the keen axes,
Sons of the Dragon!
Kindle the torches,
Daughters of Hengist!
Wave your long tresses,
Maids of Valhalla!
Wave your long tresses,
Maids of Valhalla!
Many a war-chief
Mighty in combat,
Mighty in combat,
Pale from the death-blow,
Wends to your greeting.
Light ye the torches,
Maids of Valhalla!

Good mother, of thy pity say
What fate is mine? Speak, as thou art a woman!
In mercy answer me!

Evil and dark thy fate shall be,
Dark as the fate which long ago,
Befell a noble Saxon maid.
Look on me!
In this cursed place
My father, and my brethren twain,
Their fair curls clotted with their blood,
Fought till they fell; and ere the stair
Was washed from that most holy stain,
I, the sole daughter of their race,
I, who was once as proud as fair,
Was sport of conqueror's wanton mood.
If such my fate, what hope for thee?

Is there no way of safety?
Have mercy on me! Point me out a way!
Be it through tortuous paths, where death may lie,
And I no more behold the light of day;
Be it through ghostly night or whelming flood,
Ghostly night or whelming flood
I will essay it!
Is there no way of safety?

No way but through the gates of death,
And they do open late, too late!
My task is done,
My thread is spun,
Farewell! I leave thee to thy fate.

O stay with me, in mercy stay!
Curse me, but leave me not! Thy presence here
Were surely some protection in my need.

Not e'en the presence of the Mother of God

She points to a rude image of the Virgin.

Can save thee from thy doom! Go, kneel to her,
And see if she will save a Jewish girl.
Whet ye the steel,
Sons of the Dragon,
Kindle the torches,
Daughters of Hengist!

Exit ULRICA. REBECCA goes quickly to the door, and tries it, but ULRICA has barred it behind her. Then she goes to the window. She peers over the low parapet, and starts back into the room with her hands over her eyes.

O awful depth below the castle wall!
Sheer down it falls and bare;
No smallest weed
Can find a cranny there.
O for the wings
Of which the Psalmist sang, that I might fly,
And hide me from all eyes.
O Lord Jehovah! aid me in this hour!

Lord of our chosen race,
In hour of deep distress
And utter loneliness,
I lift weak hands and pray Thee of Thy grace,
Guard me, Jehovah, guard me!
Guard me, guard me,
Guard me, Jehovah, guard me!

Lord, on Thy name I cry
From depths where no man hears,
And half distraught with fears!
Stretch forth Thine arm to save me or I die!
Guard me, Jehovah, guard me!
Guard me, guard me,
Guard me, Jehovah, guard me!

Spirit, who movest everywhere,
O Thou, who know'st the deeps o' the sea
And climbest the heights o' the air,
Now, in this narrow place,
I pray Thee of Thy grace
Descend to me, descend to me
I pray Thee of Thy grace
I pray Thee of Thy grace
Descend to me!

Guard, in mercy guard,
O guard me!

The door opens, and BRIAN enters, his mantle held to shield his face. At sight of him she tears the jewels from her arms and throat, and advancing, offers them to him.

Take thou these jewels; here is wealth enow
To give thee life of happy days;
And when I leave these castle walls
For every gem a thousand shall be thine.

Now, nay, fair flower of Palestine,
Thou dost mistake me; I am one
More apt to hang thy neck with Orient pearl
Than to take jewels from thee.
I love thee, I love thee, I love thee!
By my soul, I swear
That not for all the wealth of all thy tribe
Will I resign thy beauty.

Ah! As thou dost hope for mercy at the last,
Stand back and hear me!
I am a Jewess, thou a Christian knight;
Accursed in the sight of God and man
Were our unholy marriage.

Fair girl, I would not wed with thee,
Wert thou the Queen of Sheba, Jewess-born;
Nor wert thou Christian damsel, would I wed.
My vow forbids me. See, on my heart the Cross!

Thou would'st appeal to thy most holy sign?

Thou art a Jewess; the Cross is naught to thee.

I hold my father's faith, and if I err,
May God forgive me and He will forgive.
But thou, a Christian knight, wilt thou appeal
To thine own Cross to aid thee in thy sins?

Thou art a Jewess; the Cross is naught to thee.

To the Cross appeal to aid thee in thy sins?

Preach me no more,
Daughter of Sirach! Let it suffice for thee
That thou art captive to my bow and spear.

If thou dost wrong me, then by heaven I swear
I will proclaim thy deathless infamy
Till each Preceptory, each Chapter of thy Order,
Ring with thy shame!

And loud must be thy tongue
If it be heard beyond these castle walls.
Yield to thy fate!

He advances upon her.

Never! The God of Abraham
Opens a path of safety,
E'en from the pit of infamy.

She leaps upon the parapet.

Rebecca and the Templar
Rebecca repelling the Templar
(Wedgewood tile design.)
Stand back, proud man! If thou but stir,
I will leap down to death; and thou shalt know
The Jewish girl would rather yield her soul
To God than trust her honour to the Templar.

A pause. He stands regarding her.

Now, by my sword, art thou a noble heart!
Mine must thou be, for now I know thy soul,
And know it mate for mine;
Attend and hear! Our Holy Order grows
In power greater than the pomp of kings;
And of this Order I will be the head.
My mailed foot shall climb the throne of kings,
And my steel gauntlet pluck their sceptres down.
And thou shalt share my glory and my pride;
For I will make thee Empress of the East,
Carve thee a throne more fair than Solyman's;
And thou and I, fearing nor man nor God,
Nor man nor God,
Shall sit, on high the monarchs,
The crowned monarchs of the world.

Blaspheme no more! Thy Order of the Temple
Was formed for poverty and chastity.
Beware, rash man! Blaspheme no more!
God's arrows fly afar to smite the proud.
And know, if there were truth in thy wild words,
And thou couldst throne me o'er the necks of kings,
Rather would I go forth to mourn my life
With Jephthah's daughter on the lonely hills,
Than sit with thee on thy imperial throne.
God judge thee, and not I!

A bugle sounds.

What sound is that?

The bugle sounds again.

A summons, as I live!
I must be gone to see who sounds so bold!

If twere some hope of safety!

Hope not at all, or hope to mate with me.
Though the Archangel's trumpet sounded war,
I would return and dare his fiery sword,
Ere I would cease to claim thee for mine own.

And if thou camest with all the Lords of Hell,
I would defy them in the name of Him
Who set His bounds to th'eternal sea.


I Hope not at all,
would defy
themHope not at all,
I would defy them,I would return and
defy themdare his fiery sword, Ere I would
In the name of Him above, above.cease to claim thee for mine own, mine own.

Exit BRIAN. REBECCA kneels in prayer.

O Jehovah, guard, O guard!

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Page created 6 October 2003