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בס"ד

Female Scriptural Characters.

NO. XI.

By Mrs. R. Hyneman.

Judith.

Midnight’s in the Assyrian camp. No sound
Mingles with the light zephyr, whose faint breath
Fans the dull sleeper’s cheek, and lifts the tress
Of raven hair on many a sunburnt brow;
Or revels in light playfulness around
The gorgeous canopy of Holofernes.
‘Tis silence all. A murmuring rivulet,
Whose ripples Scarce disturb the wakeful ear
Of the tired sentinel, goes wandering by,
And whisperingly is answered by the bough
Of palm and cedar on the mountain side.
The moon hath waned, and in its stead the pale
And melancholy stars arE out upon
The midnight sky of Judea.

                                  Lift we now
The veil of yonder tent; what see we there?
Hush, for a sound might wake the slumberer,
Who soon must know a deeper, darker sleep.
There, on his couch, gleaming with gold, and bright
With glittering jewels, the grand conqueror lies.
Deep sleep is on him. Pause, and gaze upon
A nation’s dreaded scourge the embroidered robe
Clings to a form like that of majesty,
And the broad, massive brow and deep-set eye,
And the compression of the closed lips,
Are all indicative of firm resolve.
He is alone;—no, by the flickering beam
Of yonder lamp of fretted gold, we see
Another form.

A woman, a fair lovely flower,
   With eye of fire and lip of pride,
Why stands she by the hero’s side
   Thus at the midnight hour?

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The glossy tendrils of her hair
   Enwreathed with many a costly gem,
   Meet for a monarch’s diadem,
Float o’er her bosom fair,
And veil, nay grace the lovely form
   That trembles like a timid dove;
   Trembles, but not with thoughts of love,
Ah no! that bare white arm,
That plucks the falchion from its place,
   And waves it glittering o’er her head,
Attests ‘tis for no love embrace
   Her steps are hither lead.

Hark! heard you not a sudden sound?
   The drowsy sentry paused to hear,
   But the sweet brooklet, murmuring near,
   Is all that meets his startled ear
In the dim silence round.
And ere the dull, gray dawn of day
   Breaks from the chambers of the East,
The Hebrew matron takes her way
Among her native vales to pray;
   And ‘tis their lord’s behest
That she unquestioned pass, to where
Her feelings pour themselves in prayer.

She leaves that scene of blood behind,
   And speeds through many a lonely dell;
But the fearful workings of her mind
   Oh who shall guess or tell!
She leaves that scene, but not alone,
   A severed, ghastly, gory head,
Whose glance so lately met her own,
   Bears witness from the dead,
How fearfully her woman’s soul
Had mocked at nature’s soft control,
   How well her mission sped!
Oh not by woman’s gentle hand
   Should blood be shed, or victory won;
Yet for her God, her love, her land,
   What Hath not woman done!