24 THE SPHINX'S CHILDREN.
turbans and gleaming sabres, their skill at massacre
and their fiendish tortures ; Italy, fair and sad,
woman country," droops shuddering at sight of their
Austrian uniforms ; and the Brahmin sees them in
scarlet, blood-dyed, hurling from the cannon's mouth
helpless captives, — killing, not converting.
Wherever, all the wide world over, a nation shrinks
from its oppressors, or a slave from its master, —
wherever a child flees from the face of a parent who
knows neither justice nor mercy, or a wife goes mad
under the secret tyranny of her inevitable fate, —
wherever pity and mercy and love veil their faces and
wring their hands outside the threshold, — there abide
the Sphinx's children.
For this she longed and hoped and waited in the
desert ! for this she envied the red fox and the ostrich !
for this her dumb lips parted, in their struggle after
speech, to ask of earth and air some solace to her soli-
tude ! for this, for these, she poured out her dim life
in one strong, wilful aspiration!
Happy Sphinx, to be left even of that dull existence !
blessedly unconscious of that granted desire ! moulder-
ing away in the curling sand-hills, the prey of hostile
elements, the mysterious symbol of a secret yearning
and a vain desire ! Not for thee the bitterness of suc-
cess ! not for thee the conscious agony of penitence, —
the falling temple of the will crushing its idolater ! No
wild voices in the wind reproach the wilder pulses of a
slow-breaking heart; no keen words of taunt sting thee
into madness ; Memory hurls at thee no flying javelins ;
broken-winged Hope flutters about thee no more !
Thy day is over, thine hour is past!
"Wherefore I praised the dead which are already
dead, more than the living which are yet alive!"