Katharine Howard.

Candle flame; a play [for reading only] online

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[jhr reading only]



Author of "Eve," "The Book of the Serpent," etc.


Entered at Stationers* Hall

Foreign Rights Reserved

Translation Rights Reserved

Copyright, 1914
Sherman, French & Company

MAY 23 1 9 14

4i^ /


Like aromatic wax your genius bums.
Is it the wholesome bayberry I scent,
Or subtile pungence of the Orient?
Swift in your thoughts, as in enchanted urns.
The seething, pregnant substance deftly turns
To quickening shapes. So, dipped in images.
Molded by art, the beauty you express
Becomes a candle for which the dark Earth

But the flame! Was it kindled in the East,
By the lavish Persian rose whose petals are
Florescent fires? Or was it just a star
Touched your taper and blessed it for the feast ?
How the ochre rose fades to ashen night,
And still the silver flame spirals its light!

Chaeles Pearson Anthony.




"Les enfants de cire jouaient un grand
role dans la sorcellerie du moyen age,
Quiconque voulait faire tomber son en-
nemi en langueur fahriquait une petite
figure de cette espece et la donnait a une
jeune fille, qui la portait emmaillottee
durant neuf mots dans son giron: les neuf
mois revolus, un mauvais pretre baptisait
V enfant, a la clarte de la lune, dans Veau
courante d'un moulin. On lui ecrivait au
front le nom de la personne qu'on voulait
faire mourir, au dos le mot Belial, et le
sortilege ne manquait jamais d'operer,"


Hersart De La Villemarque.











A forest in Bretagne,

A shrine in the forest. Two are talk-
ing — a woman and a young girl. They
are seated on a large flat stone and do
not see the shrine. . . . It is a sombre
forest^ but here and there the sunlight
pierces through the trees. It strikes
obliquely across the shrine like a burning
shaft, and touches lightly the brow of the
young girl.

The Woman

It cannot do you harm; it is made of

The Young Girl

The candles were made of wax that
burned around my mother. There were



so many candles, they burned straight up
to heaven. Oh! it was beautiful! They
seemed like spirits telling me that I must
do no wrong.

{The Woman trembles,)

The Woman

If you will wear this image next your
heart — for nine months near your heart
— I will give to you a necklace of rubies
. . . rubies red like drops of blood.
They will show well on your white neck.

The Young Girl

Like drops of blood? Oh! I would
rather have them pearls. {The Woman
shivers.) This image has a look like
someone I have forgotten. ... I must
have dreamed it. {She caresses the
waocen image and laughs softly, ) I never
had a doll so small. . , . The time has



passed for me to play with dolls. ... I
have had fifteen years.

The Woman

That is the reason you should hide it;
the others would make sport of you.

The Young Girl

Oh! a secret! a secret! But you said
I must not tell ; a secret is not sweet until
'tis told. I could tell Nurse — but no.
... I told her of the time I met you by
the fountain and she was angry. . . .
When I told her how you changed from
old to young — how sometimes you grew
beautiful — she said you were a Druid
Priestess. (She crosses herself,) Have
you not heard the legends? Oh! she was
angry; she forbade me going to the foun-
tain; she said perhaps you were the spirit
of a Priestess, for in the ancient time this



was a sacred forest, a Druid forest where
maidens were sacrificed. Nurse said you
might have done me harm. ( T'he Woman
shrinks away from her,) Are you the
spirit of a Priestess? For when you look
at me sometimes I am afraid. ... I feel
a chill go over me — and yet I come again.
. . . {She caresses the image as if it were
a doll,)

Why do you love me enough to give
me this image which you hold so dear? If
I were beautiful, then I should know you
could not choose but love me — all beauty
is beloved.

When Nurse sees me looking in the
great mirror in the banquet hall, she calls
me to come away — for fear the mirror
may crack and fall out of its frame. The
angels all have yellow hair, and mine?
There is no name for it, she says, unless
she calls it with my eyes — which are not
even blue, but pansy. I grieve about it



some . . . and yet . . . sometimes when
I am looking, I like myself . . . perhaps
it is one always likes one's self — do you?

(A vivid shaft of sunlight pierces through
the trees and strikes across the eyes of
The Woman,)

The Woman

Oh! oh! Something has blinded me —
as if a sword struck me across the eyes.

{They rise and see the shrine in a glory
of sunlight, , , , The Woman shrinks
hack into the shadow,)

The Young Girl

Oh! Look! look! It is a shrine!
See! see! the lovely sunlight falling on
Our Lady. {She laughs and holds the
image out into the light,)




The garden of a ruined chateau on the
edge of the forest. The Seigneur old and
blind sits sleeping in his chair. The old
Nurse is knitting and the aged Serving
Man goes bach and forth in his work from
chateau to garden. All is worn and an-
cient; the only youth and freshness is the
young girl Genevieve,

The Nurse

There is something you hide. You do
not talk of late. What is it that you find
to keep you silent? It is no good thing
— ^no good thing is hidden. What is it
that is hidden in the forest?



There is a shrine.

The Nurse
A shrine?

Yes, a shrine — an ancient shrine.

The Nurse

How can that be ? A shrine, and I not
know of it?


It is so old, and green with moss. A
little path leads up to it and the sun shines
through the trees upon Our Lady. It is
the only place in all the forest where the
sun shines.



The Nurse

Aha! I will go with you to see the


No! no! It is too far! The path is
full of rocks and roots of trees to trip you
up, and places hard to climb.

The Nurse

Ah! When I had my legs, no goat
could climb so well as I.

{The Old Seigneur rouses from his nap
and searches around for his tall gold-
headed stick. It has fallen so that he
cannot reach it.)

The Old Seigneur

Genevieve ! Genevieve ! Where is the
child ? Genevieve !




Here, here, Grandfather, close to you.
Here is your stick. Grandfather. {She
places it against his hand.)

The Old Seigneur

Come, read the book again. We left
off in an interesting place — about the
purification of their sins. The candles
had been lighted.

{The Nurse moves near to listen.)

Genevieve {reading slowly)
'And while the candles burned, their
souls went up to God. Their carnal bod-
ies were the wax, the flames their souls —
and when the flames had burned away
their sinful bodies, their spirits were puri-
fied and safe in heaven.'

O Grandfather! may I not read about
the troubadours? 'Tis so much easier, it



will cheer you {she caresses him timidly)
— that part about the cavaliers and the
gay ladies. They were so beautiful,
Grandfather — ladies such as you used to

The Old Seigneur

Yes! yes! We will have that. Begin
about the ladies.


Oh! thank you, Grandfather. I will
fetch the book. {She runs into the cha-
teau, returning quickly with a large il-
luminated folio,)

The Nurse {with pride)
She will please you. Sir; she reads well.

Genevieve {reading)

* "Now bring the maid before me," said


the Lady Jocelyn, *'that I may know if
she be fah\" But when the maid was
brought, she could not see her beauty for
the soiled and ragged gown.

' "I cannot judge of beauty in such
guise," said the Lady Jocelyn. "Go,
take the maid among you, and bathe her
feet, and comb her yellow hair, and clothe
her in a silken gown, and put a golden
chain and ornaments upon her, that I may
justly know if she be fair." '
(Genevieve closes the book, dropping on

her knees and clasping her hands on her

grandfather s arm,)

O Grandfather! I am so old! Can I
not have the key? This gown of faded
green I wear is like a rag! Indeed,
Grandfather, I am like the 'ragged maid.'
{She caresses her grandfather.) The
key! the key! Grandfather! may I not
have the key? Let me unlock the chest
and wear my mother's gowns, that I too



may be beautiful. I am so old. {She
whispers in his ear,)

The Old Seigneur
So old. ... It seems the other day . . .

I have had fifteen years.

The Nukse

She has had fifteen years come Whit-
suntide. My Lady Genevieve had fif-
teen years when Sir Alain stole her away
and married her.


The key, Grandfather, the key! {She
caresses The Old Seigneur and whispers
in his ear,)



The Old Seigneur

This is the key. (He takes it from a
long gold chain around his neck and gives
it to her.) This is the key; be careful of
it, child.


Oh! thank you! thank you, Grand-
father ! (She embraces him joyously, and
runs quickly into the chateau.)

The Old Seigneur

(calling after her)

Guard it well, my child, guard it well.

(The Nurse hastens after her into the
chateau. )



The chateau garden. The Old Seig-
neur is talking with a cavalier.

The Old Seigneur (mz^^m^Z^/)

So you are Yalvain, youngest son of
my old friend.

The Cavalier

Yes, Seigneur, I am that son born to
a broken family during the 'Wars,' when
fell Tinteniac and my sire in the same
battle. I came into a house of broken
fortunes which have been somewhat re-
trieved. My mxOther has spoken to me of
your castle in its former grandeur. She
has told me how, bereft of all by fortune
of the *Wars,' you live here in this ruined
chateau and are honored by so doing.



Now she has sent me as a suitor for the
hand of the young daughter of 'Genevieve
the Fair' and Sir Alain.

{Genevieve suddenly comes from the cha-
teau. She does not see The Cavalier,
who starts to his feet and gazes intently
at her,)


O Grandfather! if you could only see
me! I am so beautiful! so beautiful! so
happy! It is a fairy key that opens to
me all my mother's treasures. {The sun-
light falls upon her, making her beautiful
in her gown of green and gold brocade.
Suddenly she sees The Cavalier — she
drops the key,) Oh! oh! My dream!
My waxen image !

The Old Seigneur

'Tis little Genevieve of whom we spoke
but now. She is a good child, obedient



and affectionate, though sometimes wilful ;
and has not much of beauty — so her nurse
tells me.

The Cavalier

Ha! By my faith she lies! or has no
eyes for beauty — for when I saw her my
heart was like to strangle me. Such
beauty have I not seen till now I

The Old Seigneur

Ah! So? 'Tiswell. This gentleman,
my child, is Sir Yalvain, the son of an old
friend. Ere many days have passed you
two shall wed, and I may give up care,
and die in peace.

Come, child, are you not satisfied ? He
seems a goodly man and godly, as he is
his mother's son. Come, give The Cava-
lier your hand, and let me hear you speak.

{Genevieve approaches timidly and gives

her hand,)




Pardon, pardon, Grandfather. It is all
strange to me, as if I dreamed it in the
middle of the night.

The Old Seigneur

What ? What ? What's this about the
middle of the night? Is it not broad day?

{The Serving 31 an brings wine.)

The Serving Man
The wine is served, Seigneur.

(With some difficulty The Old Seigneur
rises to his feet, assisted on either side
by Genevieve arid Sir Yalvain.)

The Old Seigneur

Give me the wine, that I may drink
your healths. {Genevieve gives him the
wine. He raises the cup to his lips.) A



long life and a joyous life — as long as
mine, with more of ease. {He drinks.
. . . The silver cup shakes in his hand and
falls.) Yalvain! Give me your arm.
. . . Oh! oh! 'Tis Death! {He sinks
back into his chair, trying to speak aloud.
Sir Yalvain stoops to listen. ) I trust her
to you, Yalvain ...

{Genevieve falls sobbing on her knees, lay-
ing her hands on his. The Nurse comes
hobbling from the chateau where she
has been listening.)

The Nurse

The priest! the priest! Go fetch the
priest !

SiE Yalvain

The surgeon. Go fetch the surgeon.



The Nurse

'Tis Death! Go fetch the priest!
{She speaks aside with The Serving
Man, )

The Old Seigneur (faintly)

The priest ... the priest. . . . The
wine is spilt. The drinking cup is fallen.
... It is Death.




Before the curtain rises the chanting of
the ''Miserere'' is heard.

The curtain rises, showing an avenue
in the forest. A funeral jjrocession has
gone by. The chanting is heard down the
forest. A procession of nuns passes,
bearing candles. The chanting can be
heard fainter and fainter down the
avenues of the wood. Silence for a few
moments. . . .

The curtain falls.



The shrine in the forest. The Woman
sits uyon the large flat stone. Sir YaU
vain stands before her.

The Woman speaks — as she speaks, she
grows heautiful — a glitter as of gold
shows when her long cloak falls open.

The Woman

Did I sin more than you? Because I
am a woman and frail, does that make my
sin more? Because — a woman may be a
mother — because a mother may be divine
— because — because our Christ was born
of Woman? Yes — ves, 'tis true. ... A
woman's sin is more than man's because of
Mary. {The sunlight falls upon the
shrine and, refracting, touches her,)

'Tis not for you or for the lack of you


I grieve; no, it is something else. . . .
What? ... I forget. ... I made an
image out of wax. ... I made a virgin
wear it next her heart — {She pauses,
, . . A look of utter hlankness comes into
her face.) Why? Why? ... I have
forgotten something. . . . Oh! Because
'revenge is sweet' I have heard somewhere
. . . 'revenge is sweet.'

The image is hke you, and I could melt
your life away — and play with it, . . .
now fast, . . . now slow. {She laughs,)
I had a lover once. . . . Oh! oh! why can
I not remember? I know — it is the pearl
I miss . . . the pearl I wore so long.
. . . I lost it somewhere in this wood.
{She kneels and searches among the fallen
leaves.) I get so tired searching among
the dead leaves, among the fallen twigs.
It was so white, ... so pure, . . . and
it was mine, ... all mine, . . . and there
was something else . . . something . . .



I remember ! There was pain ! ... I re-
member ... I was in a tomb, . . . noth-
ing but walls and silence. . . . Oh! that
silence. ... I shrieked to it, . . . and no
one heard. . . . Oh! oh! I want my
j^earl. ... I want happiness. Do you
think that I may find it if I search always?

{Genevieve comes singing through the
wood. Sir Yalvain slips away among
the trees,)

Genevie^ts ( singing )

'And as the candles burned away,
Their souls went up to God

At early morn or close of day
As prayers go up to God.'

{She meets The Woman and they walk
slowly up and down the path and sit to-
gether at the foot of the shrine,)




I have been here three days at sunset
time to find you. Such things have hap-
pened as never happened in the hfe of
mortal maid before. They happened all
at once, at the same moment. I have a
lover and my grandfatlier has died. He
gave me to Sir Yalvain and he died.
{The Woman looks at her intently. As
she looks a smile grows on her face. ) All
happened in a moment as I tell you. Do
you remember my saying that the image
looked like some one I had known in
dreams? It was Sir Yalvain. I had
grown to love the image from wearing it
close to my heart. So — when he came, I
loved him. Is it not beautiful?

{The Woman sits with hands clasjjed on
her knees. She looks at her wide eyed
and sorrowful. )



The Woman
I know not — is love beautiful?


Oh ! beautiful ! My heart has grown so
large and kind. I love all things. I am
so happy that if I die to-night, I shall go
straight to heaven. {She clasps her
hands and gazes upward,) I feel, I am
already there. ... Is not love beautiful?

The Woman

I know not ... is it so? Is it a pearl?
I lost a pearl ... I lost it somewhere in
this wood.


My grandfather has told me of a pearl
beyond all price; perhaps it is that pearl.

The Woman

I do not know. ... I have forgotten.



It was the waxen image made me think
of love. I pray you let me have my way
with it — to mould it to a candle to burn
before the shrine.

The Woman

I made it of a candle. A sacred can-
dle that burned before the altar Easter
morn. See! see! The wick is there; if
you but scrape a bit of wax you'll find it,
and it will burn as clear a flame, as clear
a flame as any candle . . . {she trembles)
as clear ... as clear a flame. . . . O!
Mary! Mother Mary!! {she crosses her-
self) I took it from the altar Easter morn.


I read a book which said that as the
candles burned, all sin was burned away.



I made a little song about it as I came
through the wood. {She sings)

'And as the candles burned away,
Their souls went up to God

At early morn or close of day
As prayers go up to God.'

{In the black shadows of the wood Sir
Yalvain stands and listens, Genevieve
touches The Woman's hand.)

And may I have the image to do with
as I will?

The Woman

Yes ! Yes ! You may have it to burn
. . . to burn. . . . How goes the song?
*And as the candle burns so sin is burned
awav' ?


Sometimes I used to be afraid of you,
but now I love you. Where Love is, there



is no room for fear. Love is so great,
there is no room for anything but Love.

{She kisses her. The setting sun throws
a rose light over The Virgin, over The
Woman and Genevieve,)


The same scene — a little later. The
Woman is not there. The Man stands in
the shadow. The light is sombre after the
sun has set. The image hums before the

Genevieve {praying)

Hail, Mary! Gracious Mother! Hail,
Mary! Queen of Heaven! The book
said, *As the candles burn so sin is burned
away!' O Mother! make the flame burn
all my sins away. I am so often wilful.
. . . And if the thing be possible that he
has sinned, let his sins burn with mine, so
that w^e both be pure. Oh! make my
grandfather to know that he did well to
trust me to Sir Yalvain . . . for that I
love him, and am happy in my love. That
all is well with little Genevieve.

O Holy Mother! See how the candle


burns! The flame is clear ... I feel
myself grow pure ... I feel the wings
of angels touch my head ... I seem so
near to God.

{Sir Yalvain steps froiii behind the trees.
He crosses hiinself. He kneels behind
her . . . and bows his head.)


The same scene. Later, The forest is
quite dark. The image hums low. The
Woman is alone. She kneels before the
shrine and prays in broken, interrupted

The Woman

O Holy Mother! Mary! Mother!
look upon me, for I am Woman, too, and
worn — and faint — with grief. . . . Once
I loved. The world was Sanctuary ! All
things seemed made of purity. . . . 'Twas
such as Heaven must be. . . . And I the
centre ... as if I also might be the
Mother of a Christ!

... I could hear the angels singing —
'Holy! Holy! Holy!' And then . . .
I have forgotten ... I have forgotten.
. . . But I search always . . . because



. . . {she sobs) because . . . my arms
are empty.

{The image flares and goes out. The
moon rises slowly behind the sitting Vir-
gin, It makes a halo around her head.
The light falls ifi soft radiance over the
kneeling woman. The Virgin leans
and lays the little Christ witliin her
arms, A halo slowly grows about The
Woman's head,)



"That piquant book of wisdom touched with
subtle humor." — Revieio of Reviews.

"Replete with subtle humor and sparkling wit."
— Boston Herald.

"The genius of it is . . . there is no effect of
blasphemy." — Hartford Courant.

"A type of reading as rare as it is delicious."
— Hexry L. Southwick, President of Emerson
College of Oratory.

"She has no dull spots. She is crisp, condensed,
and altogether delightful, but deep, with the
philosophy of all things now and to come." —
Merrick Whitcomb in Cincinnati Times-Star.

"Original, piquant, delicately cynical. . . . These
are cryptic pages, innocent of chapter headings,
introduction or notes, anything, in fact, to spoil
so slyly gnomic a work by any condescension to
the stupid. There is no denying that at times this
little book wears the astonishing aspect of an in-
dividual creation of a world-myth. ... A unique
morsel of sly humor for the elect." — New York

"A delectable little book. . . . One gets here
the picture of a sort of up-to-date Bergsonian
Creator, at work in his laboratory." — Heading a
several page quotation from the book in Current

$1.00 net; by mail, $1.05




"Eve is a superb expression of the new femi-
nism of our times. It embodies a great idea
greatly conveyed." — Johk Haynes Holmes.

"It is not only unique but strong. Nothing near
its power, nothing approaching its probe to the
fundamentals of the question, nothing reaching to
its heights of prophetic and ethical vision and
passion has been produced by an American
writer" — Lewis J. Duncan in Montana Socialist.

"Eve is a message to begin life with. It is a
book for the unspoiled and will eventually take
its place in American literature, for it is too great
to be lost."— W. J. Leech, R.H.A., Dublin Ire-

"Written in verse which sways like the branch
of a tree moved by winds of varying force."

"There is majesty, there is beauty in her phras-
ing, and there is a big haunting rhythm that leaves
with the reader an impressive echo like that of a
deep bronze bell." — Frederick Orin Bartlett.

"Eve is also for the elect. It is an epic of the
beginning and the end, too serious in its solemn
slow music to give us humor. It is the voice dimly
heard of the higher urge that stirs woman . . .
the groping toward certain nobler races now dimly

"Books of timely interest." — Review of Reviews.

$1.00 net; by mail, $1.06



Online LibraryKatharine HowardCandle flame; a play [for reading only] → online text (page 1 of 1)