The Poetical Works of Elizabeth Margaret Chandler/The Devoted
It was a beautiful turn given by a great lady, who being asked where
her husband was, when he lay concealed for having been deeply concerned
in a conspiracy, resolutely answered, that she had hidden him. This confession
caused her to be carried before the governor, who told her that
nought but confessing where she had hidden him, could save her from the
torture. “And will that do?” said she. “Yes,” replied the governor, “I
will pass my word for your safety, on that condition.” “Then,” replied
she, “I have hidden him in my heart, where you may find him.”
Stern faces were around them bent, and eyes of vengeful ire,
And fearful were the words they spake of torture, stake, and fire:
Yet calmly in the midst she stood, with eye undimm'd and clear,
And though her lip and cheek were white, she wore no sign of fear.
“Where is thy traitor spouse?” they said;—a half-form'd smile of scorn,
That curl'd upon her haughty lip, was back for answer borne;—
“Where is thy traitor spouse?” again, in fiercer notes, they said,
And sternly pointed to the rack, all rusted o'er with red!
Her heart and pulse beat firm and free—but in a crimson flood,
O'er pallid lip and cheek and brow, rush'd up the burning blood;
She spake, but proudly rose her tones, as when in hall or bower,
The haughtiest chief that round her stood had meekly own'd their power;
“My noble lord is placed within a safe and sure retreat”—
“Now tell us where, thou lady bright, as thou wouldst mercy meet,
Nor deem thy life can purchase his—he cannot ‘scape our wrath,
For many a warrior's watchful eye is placed o'er every path.
“But thou may'st win his broad estates to grace thine infant heir,
And life and honour to thyself, so thou his haunts declare.”
She laid her hand upon her heart; her eye flash'd proud and clear,
And firmer grew her haughty tread—“My lord is hidden here!
“And if ye seek to view his form, ye first must tear away,
From round his secret dwelling place these walls of living clay!”
They quail'd beneath her haughty glance, they silent turn'd aside,
And left her all unharm'd amidst her loveliness and pride!