Scene XII

PAPHNUTIUS. Thais, my little daughter! Thais! Open the window and let me see you.

THAIS. Who speaks?

PAPHNUTIUS. Paphnutius.

THAIS. Why should you visit a poor sinner? Why should I be given this great joy and happiness?

PAPHNUTIUS. These years that I have been absent from you in the body have been weary to me too. I have thought of you night and day. I have yearned for your salvation.

THAIS. I never doubted that.

PAPHNUTIUS. Tell me how things are with you. How have you lived here? What have you been doing?

THAIS. Nothing worth the telling! I have nothing to offer God.

PAPHNUTIUS. The offering He loves best is a humble spirit.

THAIS. All I have done is to gather up the many sins on my conscience into a mighty bundle and keep them always in mind. All day I have sat gazing towards the East, saying only this one prayer: “O God Who made me, pity me!” If my bodily senses have always been conscious of the offensiveness of this place, my heart’s eyes have never been blind to the dreadfulness of hell.

PAPHNUTIUS. Your great penitence has won a great forgiveness. Yet God has not pardoned you for your valiant expiation so much as for the love with which you have given yourself to Christ.

THAIS. Can that be true? Would that it were!

PAPHNUTIUS. Give me your hand. Let me bring you out of your cell to prove you are forgiven.

THAIS. No, father, leave me here. This place with all its uncleanness is best for me.

PAPHNUTIUS. The time has come for you to cast away your fear, and hope for life! God wishes your penance to end.

THAIS. Let the angels praise Him! He has not despised the love of a humble sinner.

PAPHNUTIUS. Thais, would you rejoice if now you were called upon to lay aside this body?

THAIS. Oh, father, my soul longs to escape from this earth.

PAPHNUTIUS. Thais, you have finished your course here. In fifteen days you will, by God’s grace, pass straight to Paradise.

THAIS. To Paradise! I should be happy if I might be spared hell’s torments and be mercifully cleansed in a gentle fire until my spirit is fit for the eternal happiness.

PAPHNUTIUS. Grace is the free gift of God and does not depend on our merits. If it did, it could not be called grace.

THAIS. For this let the choirs of heaven praise Him, and all the little twigs and fresh green leaves on earth, all animals, and the great waters. He is patient with us when we fall! He is generous in His gifts when we repent.

PAPHNUTIUS. He loves to be merciful. From all eternity He has preferred pardon to punishment.


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