MARGARET on FAUST'S arm.
MARTHA with MEPHISTOPHELES.
[Promenading up and down.]
The gentleman but makes me more confused
With all his condescending goodness.
Men who have travelled wide are used
To bear with much from dread of rudeness;
I know too well, a man of so much mind
In my poor talk can little pleasure find.
One look from thee, one word, delights me more
Than this world's wisdom o'er and o'er.
[Kisses her hand.]
Don't take that trouble, sir! How could you bear to kiss it?
A hand so ugly, coarse, and rough!
How much I've had to do! must I confess it--
Mother is more than close enough.
[They pass on.]
And you, sir, are you always travelling so?
Alas, that business forces us to do it!
With what regret from many a place we go,
Though tenderest bonds may bind us to it!
'Twill do in youth's tumultuous maze
To wander round the world, a careless rover;
But soon will come the evil days,
And then, a lone dry stick, on the grave's brink to hover,
For that nobody ever prays.
The distant prospect shakes my reason.
Then, worthy sir, bethink yourself in season.
[They pass on.]
Yes, out of sight and out of mind!
Politeness you find no hard matter;
But you have friends in plenty, better
Than I, more sensible, more refined.
Dear girl, what one calls sensible on earth,
Is often vanity and nonsense.
Ah, that the pure and simple never know
Aught of themselves and all their holy worth!
That meekness, lowliness, the highest measure
Of gifts by nature lavished, full and free--
One little moment, only, think of me,
I shall to think of you have ample time and leisure.
You're, may be, much alone?
Our household is but small, I own,
And yet needs care, if truth were known.
We have no maid; so I attend to cooking, sweeping,
Knit, sew, do every thing, in fact;
And mother, in all branches of housekeeping,
Is so exact!
Not that she need be tied so very closely down;
We might stand higher than some others, rather;
A nice estate was left us by my father,
A house and garden not far out of town.
Yet, after all, my life runs pretty quiet;
My brother is a soldier,
My little sister's dead;
With the dear child indeed a wearing life I led;
And yet with all its plagues again would gladly try it,
The child was such a pet.
An angel, if like thee!
I reared her and she heartily loved me.
She and my father never saw each other,
He died before her birth, and mother
Was given up, so low she lay,
But me, by slow degrees, recovered, day by day.
Of course she now, long time so feeble,
To nurse the poor little worm was unable,
And so I reared it all alone,
With milk and water; 'twas my own.
Upon my bosom all day long
It smiled and sprawled and so grew strong.
Ah! thou hast truly known joy's fairest flower.
But no less truly many a heavy hour.
The wee thing's cradle stood at night
Close to my bed; did the least thing awake her,
My sleep took flight;
'Twas now to nurse her, now in bed to take her,
Then, if she was not still, to rise,
Walk up and down the room, and dance away her cries,
And at the wash-tub stand, when morning streaked the skies;
Then came the marketing and kitchen-tending,
Day in, day out, work never-ending.
One cannot always, sir, good temper keep;
But then it sweetens food and sweetens sleep.
[They pass on.]
But the poor women suffer, you must own:
A bachelor is hard of reformation.
Madam, it rests with such as you, alone,
To help me mend my situation.
Speak plainly, sir, has none your fancy taken?
Has none made out a tender flame to waken?
The proverb says: A man's own hearth,
And a brave wife, all gold and pearls are worth.
I mean, has ne'er your heart been smitten slightly?
I have, on every hand, been entertained politely.
Have you not felt, I mean, a serious intention?
Jesting with women, that's a thing one ne'er should mention.
Ah, you misunderstand!
It grieves me that I should!
But this I understand--that you are good.
[They pass on.]
So then, my little angel recognized me,
As I came through the garden gate?
Did not my downcast eyes show you surprised me?
And thou forgav'st that liberty, of late?
That impudence of mine, so daring,
As thou wast home from church repairing?
I was confused, the like was new to me;
No one could say a word to my dishonor.
Ah, thought I, has he, haply, in thy manner
Seen any boldness--impropriety?
It seemed as if the feeling seized him,
That he might treat this girl just as it pleased him.
Let me confess! I knew not from what cause,
Some flight relentings here began to threaten danger;
I know, right angry with myself I was,
That I could not be angrier with the stranger.
Let me once!
[She plucks a china-aster and picks off the leaves one after another.]
What's that for? A bouquet?
No, just for sport.
Go! you'll laugh at me; away!
[She picks and murmurs to herself.]
What murmurest thou?
Margaret [half aloud].
He loves me--loves me not.
Sweet face! from heaven that look was caught!
Margaret [goes on].
Loves me--not--loves me--not--
[picking off the last leaf with tender joy]
He loves me!
Yes, my child! And be this floral word
An oracle to thee. He loves thee!
Knowest thou all it mean? He loves thee!
[Clasping both her hands.]
What thrill is this!
O, shudder not! This look of mine.
This pressure of the hand shall tell thee
What cannot be expressed:
Give thyself up at once and feel a rapture,
An ecstasy never to end!
Never!--It's end were nothing but blank despair.
No, unending! unending!
[MARGARET presses his hands, extricates herself, and runs away.
He stands a moment in thought, then follows her].
The night falls fast.
Ay, and we must away.
If it were not for one vexation,
I would insist upon your longer stay.
Nobody seems to have no occupation,
No care nor labor,
Except to play the spy upon his neighbor;
And one becomes town-talk, do whatsoe'er they may.
But where's our pair of doves?
Flown up the alley yonder.
He seems attached to her.
And she to him. So goes the world, they say.