Lohengrin The Knight Of The Swan
Long years ago a maiden, fair as the morning itself, wandered through a
lonely greenwood in the Duchy of Brabant. She was Elsa, only daughter of
the late Duke of Brabant, who had died but a short time before this
Although Elsa was the rightful owner of all the wooded lands and fertile
fields for miles and miles around, she was far from happy. Although
arm and fragrant over those lands, and flowers blossomed
along her pathway, yet Elsa's heart was heavy within her. She was full
of sorrow. For, not long before, while walking in those self-same woods,
her brother Godfrey had suddenly and unaccountably disappeared from her
side. Elsa had searched and searched. She had wept, she had prayed,
but all in vain. No trace of him had she found anywhere. Spent with
grief and anxiety, she had run to her guardian, Frederick of Telramund,
and told him the story. But Frederick had repulsed her with unkind
glances and cruel words. He had even accused her of doing away with her
poor brother, that she might claim the entire Duchy of Brabant for
This guardian, Frederick of Telramund, knew well enough that Elsa was
incapable of so foul a deed. He knew that she had loved her brother
Godfrey far too well to do him harm. But Frederick had coveted the rich
lands and vast possessions of Brabant for many a year. And he was
determined to get them now by fair means or foul. Moreover, he had
married the pagan princess Ortrud, who was every whit as evil-minded and
ambitious as he. Ortrud's father, a heathen prince, had once owned part
of Brabant, and they were confident that, with Godfrey and Elsa out of
the way, they could lay claim to the whole Duchy. How they plotted and
schemed together against poor Elsa!
Do you wonder, then, that Elsa walked through the forest on that morning
long ago, with downcast eyes, oblivious to all save her own sad
thoughts? Her father was dead, her brother was gone, her guardian had
proved false. To whom should she turn for guidance? Weary and perplexed,
she sank down beneath the sheltering branches of a friendly tree near
by. All was calm and still. Her tired eyes rested upon the deep blue
dome of the sky, and thoughts of God, the All-Father, filled her mind.
Ah, she could put her trust in Him. And a prayer for help arose from her
heart. Perhaps it was the answer to her prayer, perhaps it was only a
dream, but then and there Elsa saw a marvelous vision. The heavens
opened, and disclosed a noble knight. Enveloped in heavenly light, this
knight descended to earth, and stood before Elsa. He smiled upon her,
and, like a miracle, she became tranquil and unafraid. He was so strong,
so stalwart, so brave! His shining white armor glittered in the
sunlight. A glistening sword hung by his side, a golden horn from his
shoulder. His eyes were kind. There was comfort in his voice.
"Arise!" spoke he, "and go your way. Be of good cheer, and fear not, for
when your need is sorest, I will come to defend you."
Then he vanished. Elsa was alone in the greenwood.
Just at this time the King of all Germany came down to Brabant. With
pomp and ceremony he came, bringing rough knights from Saxony and brave
nobles from Thuringia, all good men and true, to bear him company.
Henry the First was he, a wise king and a just. People called him Henry
the Fowler because he was so fond of hunting. It may be, however, that
it was not the hunt that he loved so much as the great out-of-doors, the
wide plains, the wild forests, the winding rivers. Whenever he summoned
his faithful subjects to discuss affairs of peace or war, he chose some
meeting place under the blue sky, in God's temple, where men breathe
deeply, think clearly, and judge rightly.
So, when at Brabant King Henry found no duke to greet him; when,
instead, he heard of strife, of discord, and of strange whispers, he sat
himself down beneath a giant oak on the bank of the winding river
Scheldt. And the trumpeters blew a great blast, the herald proclaimed
the King's presence, the trusty men who had come to bear him company
stood at arms, while the Brabantians gathered from north and south, from
east and west, of the Duchy to hearken to the King's word.
"I had come here, my good people," began the King, "to ask the aid of
your forces in subduing the wild Hungarian foe. Full well do I know
that as loyal German subjects you are ready to answer your country's
call. But I find discord in your midst, strife and confusion. Therefore
have I called you together to learn the causes thereof and to deal
justly with the offenders, be it possible."
The people of Brabant were pleased with the King's words and looked to
Frederick of Telramund to make answer. Frederick arose. Behind him stood
his wife, the dark-haired princess Ortrud, ready to prompt him should he
But false Frederick did not hesitate. His voice did not tremble,
although he spoke with much show of grief. He made a low obeisance to
the King and besought sympathy for the sad tale he was about to tell. He
told how the dying Duke had intrusted Elsa and Godfrey to his care, how
tenderly he had reared them, how devotedly he had loved them, and how
sorely the mysterious disappearance of Godfrey had grieved him. And
then, he continued, he had been forced to believe that Elsa had murdered
her brother in order to claim the whole Duchy for herself--or
mayhap--for some secret lover. Therefore he, Frederick of Telramund, and
his wife Ortrud, by right of inheritance, besought the King to make them
Duke and Duchess of Brabant.
"An astounding story indeed!" The free-men muttered to each other. The
nobles looked at Frederick and shook their heads. "The man must be sure
of his proof to make such an accusation," said they, as they turned
toward the King.
King Henry sat with bowed head, in deep thought. He ran his hand over
his forehead, pondered a moment, and then murmured:
"So foul a deed!"
Aloud he said:
"I would see this maid. I would look upon her face. I would hear her
tale. And may God guide my judgment aright."
Hanging his shield on the giant oak behind him, King Henry swore never
to wear it again until justice had been done. And all the German nobles
drew their swords and thrust them, points down, into the ground,
swearing never to wear them again until justice had been done. And the
men of Brabant laid their swords at their feet, swearing the same. Then
the herald summoned Elsa.
She came, the fair-haired Elsa, clad all in white, with her train of
ladies, all in white, behind her. They paused, and she, with hands
clasped and eyes cast down, advanced timidly, slowly, alone, until she
stood before the King. Her golden hair, unbound, hung a cloud of glory
about her. How young she was! How lovely! The rough knights gazed upon
her, and their eyes filled with tears. Surely no maiden with such a face
could be guilty of such a crime.
The King spoke very gently. Was she Elsa of Brabant? She bowed her
head. Did she know the heavy charge that had been brought against her?
She bowed again. Was she willing that he, King Henry, should judge her?
Once more her head was bowed in assent. And it was only when the King
asked whether she was guilty of this murder that Elsa found voice. She
wrung her hands piteously, and exclaimed, "Oh, my poor, poor brother!"
A dreamy look was upon Elsa's face as she told her story. Her voice
trembled, and her eyes strayed over the distant hills. It was as though
she saw it all again.
She told of that day in the woods, her sad walk alone, her deep grief,
her utter weariness. She told of her rest beneath the friendly tree and
of the blue heaven overhead. But when she told of her prayer to God for
guidance in her distress, her faltering voice grew stronger, braver.
Rapturously, she told of her dream, and of the noble knight whose white
armor had glittered in the sunlight, of his sword, his horn, and,
last, of his promise.
"Him will I trust!" she cried. "He shall my Champion be!"
The knights, the nobles, the King, were startled. But Frederick of
Telramund cried out.
"Such words do not mislead me. See! does she not speak of a secret
lover? What further proof do you need? Here stand I, and here's my
sword, both ready to fight for my honor."
Now since King Henry believed that God in His wisdom would surely give
might to the hands that fought for Right, he asked Frederick if he were
ready to fight for life or death to uphold this charge that he had
Frederick answered, "Yes."
Then the King turned to Elsa, and asked her if she were willing to have
her champion fight for life or death to prove her blameless.
Elsa answered, "Yes," and, to the great astonishment of all, named her
unknown knight as her champion.
"None other will I have," she said. "He will come to defend me, and upon
him will I bestow my father's lands. Aye, should he deign to wed me, I
will be his bride."
"Then cry out the summons," ordered the King.
The herald stepped forth with his trumpeters four. Placing one to the
east and one to the west, one to the north, and one to the south, he
bade them blow a great blast.
"Let him who dares to fight for Elsa of Brabant come forth!"
The trumpet's call, the herald's words, fell on the clear air. The echo
sounded and resounded. There was a long pause. All was still.
The dark-haired Ortrud curled her lips scornfully, and an evil smile lit
the face of Frederick of Telramund.
"Once more, O King!" implored Elsa, "once more let the summons be
sounded!" and she fell upon her knees at his feet.
The King nodded. The trumpeters blew another blast. Again the herald
"Let him who dares to fight for Elsa of Brabant come forth!"
Again the notes died away on the clear air. Again the echo sounded,
resounded. Another long pause. All was as still as before. Only the
voice of Elsa in prayer was heard. Oh, how she prayed! Her need was
great. Surely the noble knight of her dream would not fail her. God had
sent him to her in the greenwood. He would send him now. She would put
her trust in Him. And she bowed her head in her hands.
Suddenly the men on the river bank were seen peering eagerly into the
distance. They beckoned, they waved, they whispered. Others ran to join
them. And they, too, gazed, then pointed excitedly down the river. What
strange sight was there? What was it that glittered, glistened from
afar? Its brightness dazzled the eyes. Ah! it was lost to view behind
the curving shore. No, it appeared again. Behold a wonder! A swan, a
snow-white swan was gliding gracefully toward them. It drew a boat, a
silver boat. And in the boat, erect, his bright armor glittering in the
sun, stood a knight. He leaned upon his sword. A helmet was on his head,
a shield on his shoulder, a horn by his side. The swan drew him nearer.
He approached the very bank. Oh, wondrous sight! A gallant knight had
been sent by Heaven to defend the fair-haired maiden. Might had come to
fight for Right.
The men were awestruck. In silence, entranced, they gazed at the swan,
the boat, the Heaven-appointed knight. The King, from his seat beneath
the giant oak, surveyed the scene in bewilderment. Elsa felt the
excitement, heard the murmurs, still dared not lift her head. But the
face of Frederick was dark and gloomy to see, and Ortrud cowered down
in terror and shuddered strangely when she beheld the snow-white swan.
The noble knight had stepped to the shore. Casting a loving look at his
dear swan, he bade it a tender farewell, and watched it sadly as it
glided away, over the water, around the curve, out of sight.
Then he turned. Elsa, rising, uttered a cry of joy when she saw his
face. It was he! The noble knight of her dream! So strong, so stalwart,
so brave! He had come. There Was naught to fear.
Solemnly, with long strides, armor glistening, sword clanking, helmet in
hand, the Swan Knight advanced and stood before the King. He made a low
obeisance, then announced that he had come to champion a guiltless maid
who had been falsely accused of a woeful crime. He looked at Elsa.
"Elsa," he said, "do you choose me as your defender?"
"Yes," she cried.
"And if I prove victorious, will you be my bride?"
Surely there was little that she would not promise this noble knight who
had come from afar to defend her. And Elsa threw herself at his feet,
vowing to give him all she had, even her life, if need be. But the Swan
Knight raised her and, looking into her eyes, asked but one promise, a
strange one. If he was to defend her, if he was to be her husband, she
must trust him utterly. She must never ask his name. No, she must not
even think of it, or who he was, or from whence he came.
At that moment it seemed very easy for Elsa to promise so simple a
thing. But the Swan Knight was very solemn, and he repeated the words
"Mark this well, Elsa.
These questions ask me never,
Nor think upon them ever,
From whence I hither came,
What is my rank or name."
She listened carefully, then promised gladly never to doubt him, always
to obey him. It was such a little thing, and was he not her shield, her
angel, her preserver?
So the King arranged the fight. Three Saxons advanced for the Swan
Knight, three men of Brabant for Frederick of Telramund. With three
solemn paces they measured the ground. The King struck his sword three
times against his shield, and the battle was on.
"Oh, let the arm of Right be strong,
And feeble be the arm of Wrong,"
sang the men.
And it was so. God gave Might to the arm of the Knight. But a few passes
and falsehood and deceit were vanquished. Frederick the Traitor lay
prostrate on the ground with the sword of the Swan Knight pointed at his
throat. Still the Knight spared his life. He bade him go his way and
sin no more.
Justice had been done. King Henry took his shield from the tree behind
him. The Saxons, the Thuringians, the Brabantians, resumed their swords.
God had been with them that day under the blue sky, and so amid great
rejoicing they bore Elsa and her Swan Knight from the field.
Night hung over the palace. Sounds of revelry, a trumpet's blast, burst
from the gayly illuminated abode of the knights. But within the
apartments of the Duchess Elsa all was dark and still.
Opposite stood the cathedral wherein, on the morrow, Elsa would become
the Swan Knight's bride. Though the delicate spires of the cathedral
pointed to a starry sky, dark shadows lurked about the portico. And in
the gloom of these shadows, two figures sat, two abject, miserable
figures,--Frederick of Telramund and Ortrud his wife. Despoiled of their
rich garments and shunned by all, they knew not which way to turn. Since
the Stranger Knight was now Guardian of Brabant, banishment was their
fate, poverty their portion.
After the manner of evildoers, each charged the other with their
misfortune. False Frederick, who had been willing enough to listen to
the promptings of his witch-wife, now upraided her for having used
sorcery to accomplish her wicked ends. It was she who had urged him to
falsehood, he said; she who had induced him to turn traitor; she who had
blackened his ancient name and besmirched his honor. Stung to fury by
the recital of his woes, he called her evil names. He even wished for
his sword in order to strike her dead.
But Ortrud was not a sorceress for nothing. She knew how to cool his
wrath. She taunted him, in turn, for showing cowardice in the fight.
She called him weak of heart and feeble of purpose. She spoke thus: "Who
is this Swan Knight who has vanquished the once powerful Frederick? From
whence has he come? And what is his power? Only witchcraft has brought
him, witchcraft and magic. And magic will take him away. If but one
small point of his body can be injured, he will be helpless and at our
Frederick took heart when he heard these words. Perhaps all was not over
yet. Perhaps Ortrud's black magic and his strength could be used to some
purpose before the marriage day dawned. If doubt could be instilled into
the mind of Elsa, if she could be made to forget her promise, the spell
would be broken. Or, if the Swan Knight could be weakened, they would
regain their lost power over Brabant. So they plotted and planned, heads
close together, as the night wore away.
Toward morning a light glimmered in the apartments of the lovely Elsa.
Soon she appeared on the balcony singing a little song.
Ortrud crept near and called to her. She called in a piteous tone, her
voice full of misery. She wept loudly and begged meekly for forgiveness.
She pretended a repentance for all her former misdeeds that she was far
Elsa looked down and listened. When she beheld the once haughty Ortrud
clad in rags, on her knees, her heart melted. She held out her hands in
pity. That was just what the wicked Ortrud was waiting for. The rest was
easy. A few more tears, a little more make-believe penitence, and she
knew she would be forgiven. And sad to tell, it was so. Elsa, full of
love and new-found happiness, took Ortrud into her abode. She gave her a
splendid gown and allowed her to assist in the marriage preparations.
And the wicked Ortrud improved her opportunities. Artfully, she turned
the conversation to the approaching wedding, to the Stranger Knight who
had come by magic. Was not Elsa afraid that he would just as magically
disappear? But Elsa need not fear. Ortrud would always be her friend.
Elsa tried to shake off the disquiet that Ortrud's words caused. But the
seed of suspicion was planted in her mind, and it grew, just as the
wicked Ortrud meant that it should.
Meanwhile from his place behind the dark pillars of the cathedral,
Frederick had seen the first rosy streaks of dawn appear in the East. He
had heard the watchman in the tower give the signal of the new day, and
he had seen the answer flash from the distant turret. Rage overwhelmed
him. For he knew that Elsa's marriage morn had come.
The sleeping palace awoke to life and activity. Servants hurried to and
fro preparing for the festival. The herald stepped forth followed by his
trumpeters four. They summoned the people, who came in gala array from
all sides. Groups of richly clad nobles walked proudly down the palace
steps and stood before the cathedral, waiting. All eyes were fixed upon
the balcony before the abode of the Duchess Elsa.
All at once, a number of pages appeared there. They descended, two by
two, clearing the way to the cathedral steps and crying aloud:
"Make way, make way,
Our Lady Elsa comes!"
The crowd, hushed and expectant, fell back. Then, down the stairway,
across the balcony, came a long train of fair ladies. Their satin
dresses swept the ground. Bright jewels sparkled and flashed as they
advanced slowly toward the cathedral steps. There they halted, ranging
themselves on each side to allow the Duchess Elsa to pass between them.
She, the fairest of them all, walked alone.
Her dress of richest brocade trailed its heavy folds behind her. Ropes
of pearls were about her neck, and bound her golden hair. Her head was
held high, and her face was more beautiful than anything else in the
world. For joy illumined it and made it shine like a star. Was she not
going to meet her Knight, him whom God had sent to defend her?
Her foot was upon the lowest step. She was about to ascend to the
cathedral when she was rudely pushed aside. Ortrud had sprung forward,
"Get back! I'll go first. My rank is higher than yours, and I shall not
walk behind you!"
Elsa turned in astonishment. Was this the meek Ortrud who had come to
her begging forgiveness, pleading repentance?
The people cried out in anger. But Ortrud, unheeding, went on:
"My husband may be in disgrace, but he is greater than you all. He will
rule you yet. As for the husband you are to marry,--" and she looked at
the frightened Elsa,--"who is he? What is his rank? You dare not even
ask his name!"
Poor Elsa protested. She tried to say that she did not care to know her
Swan Knight's name. Heaven had sent him, and she was content. His face
bore the stamp of noble birth, and she would always trust him. But her
voice faltered as she spoke. The seed of suspicion had taken root, and
dark doubts arose to torment her.
At that moment, when the consternation was greatest, the King appeared
on the palace steps. With him, in proud array, were the good men and
true who had come to bear him company. And following them all was the
Swan Knight. His bearing seemed nobler than ever, as he trod proudly
forward to claim his bride.
But when he saw the wicked Ortrud and the false Frederick, who by this
time had joined in denouncing him and questioning his name, his face
clouded. King Henry, also, seeing the strife, pressed forward through
the crowd, giving orders to push aside the wicked couple.
The Swan Knight took Elsa tenderly into his arms for a moment, looking
deep into her eyes. Then, led by the King, the marriage procession
proceeded into the cathedral.
The wedding festival was over. With flaming torches held aloft and
joyous voices raised in song, the procession of ladies and nobles led
the bride and bridegroom to their flower-bedecked chamber. Then,
showering blessings upon them, they departed. The torchlights faded in
the distance; the sound of march and song grew faint. It died away. Elsa
and her Swan Knight were alone.
There was a brief silence while they gazed at each other in rapture.
She, so lovely, was his inmost heart's desire. He, so brave, was the
beloved Knight of her dream. Their voices grew soft with happiness, and
on their faces was the glow of a deep joy.
Too soon, however, at the sound of her name on her lover's lips, a shade
stole over Elsa's bright face. "Ah!" thought she, "I can never call him
by his name, for I shall never know what it is." Then, like a flash, all
of Ortrud's taunts came to her mind. And following them, all the dark
doubts, the vague suspicions, arose again to torment her.
First she sat in moody silence. But soon a strange curiosity showed
itself in her speech. Would the fetters that bound the Swan Knight's
lips ne'er be loosened? Must she, his wife, always remain in ignorance?
If he loved her truly, he would surely whisper his secret ever so softly
into her ear. No one should ever know. She would guard the secret well,
locking it within her very heart.
Thus she pleaded and begged, but the Swan Knight pretended not to hear
her. He spoke of other things, striving to distract her mind.
But Elsa would not be put off. Her eyes were fixed upon the Knight, and
her face, but lately aglow with wonder and delight, was clouded with
unbelief and suspicion.
The Knight was distressed by this sudden change. He reminded her gently
of the confidence that he had placed in her promise. He warned her
tenderly of the sorrows that would befall if she did not cease her
questioning. He had given up so much honor, yes, and glory besides, to
stay by her side. Would she not trust him utterly?
Scarcely had Elsa heard the words "glory and honor" than a horrible fear
seized her. "He had come by magic," Ortrud had said, "and by magic he
would go." Now she knew how it would befall. Soon he would tire of her
and would return to the honor and glory from which he had come. Stricken
with terror, she fancied that she already heard the Swan coming to carry
him away. It was too much to bear! Cost what it might, she must learn
who he was.
"Where do you come from?" she cried "Who are you?"
"Ah, Elsa!" answered the Knight, sadly, "what have you done?"
But before he could utter another word, Frederick of Telramund burst
into the room with drawn sword in hand.
Elsa saw him first. She forgot her doubt. She forgot her question. She
thought only that the Swan Knight, her lover, was in danger.
"Save yourself!" she shrieked. "Your sword, your sword!" She thrust it
into his hand.
He drew it quickly. There was a short parry, one blow; and base
Frederick lay dead at the Swan Knight's feet.
Then the Swan Knight turned to Elsa. His eyes were tender, but, oh, how
pitying! Their glance pierced Elsa's heart, and filled her with despair
for what she had done. His voice was sad as he bade her clothe herself
in bridal raiment and go before the King. There, on the morrow, he
would make fitting answer and tell her the rank he bore. And so saying,
he walked sorrowfully out of the flower-bedecked room.
The next day dawned bright and clear. As was his wont, King Henry the
Fowler sat beneath the giant oak on the bank of the winding river
Scheldt. By his side stood the nobles from Saxony and Thuringia who had
come to bear him company. And before him were assembled the men of
Brabant, from north and south, from east and west, of the Duchy.
Slowly, with measured strides, four men walked into their midst. They
bore the body of Frederick of Telramund on a bier, which they placed
before the King.
The nobles looked anxiously at one another. What strange happening was
this? For, closely following, tottering feebly, came the Duchess Elsa
and her train of ladies. Solemnly they marched with eyes downcast,
while she, who but lately had been radiant with happiness, was sad and
pale. Her eyes, unseeing, stared in anguish straight ahead!
The King stepped quickly forward. He looked inquiringly into her face as
he led her to a seat beside him. Elsa could not meet his eyes. She
moistened her lips twice, thrice, but no sound came.
Just then a shout arose from the men:
"Hail, all hail,
The hero of Brabant!"
The Swan Knight entered. His armor glittered in the sunlight. A sword
hung at his side, a horn from his shoulder. How strong he was! How
brave! But how strangely sad was his face. He advanced, helmet in hand,
and stood before the King. Making a low obeisance, he strode toward the
bier of the dead Frederick. He uncovered the body, and then solemnly
asked the King's pardon for having killed this man who had stolen by
stealth upon him.
"Nay, ask not our pardon!" spoke the just King. "We approve your deed!"
And all the men of Brabant nodded in assent.
But that was not all the Swan Knight had to tell. His wife, Elsa of
Brabant, had broken her promise. She had asked his name. And since it
was a law of the Order to which he belonged, he would make public answer
to her question. But then he must depart to the distant land from which
he had come.
Astonishment spread like wildfire among the people. As for Elsa, she sat
like a creature of stone. Only Ortrud, who had crept near to listen,
smiled in ill-concealed triumph.
The Swan Knight's face was suffused with holy light. The eyes of his
soul seemed to be peering far, far away into the distance beyond the
winding river, beyond the gray hills, perhaps to the very gates of
He told the tale of a marvelous Temple rising from the heights of
Mount Salvat, wherein, upon a mystic shrine, rested the sacred chalice
called the Holy Grail. He told of the few chosen knights who guarded the
wondrous Grail, and who, by its Heaven-given powers, were protected from
baneful harm and endowed with supernatural might. Whenever an innocent
cause needed a champion, whenever a grievous wrong had been done, one of
the knights sallied forth and defended the one who had been falsely
accused. But it was a law that no one might know from whence he came or
by what name he was called. For if once the truth were revealed, his
power was gone; the knight must hasten back to the Temple of the Grail.
The Swan Knight's voice rose higher. Like some rare, sweet strain of
music, it fell upon the air:
"The Grail obeying, here to you I came;
My father Parsifal, a crown he weareth,
His Knight am I and Lohengrin my name!"
The shadow of a great awe crept into the eyes of all who heard. They
stared at Lohengrin in silence.
Only Elsa sank moaning to the ground. Lohengrin caught her in his arms.
"Oh, Elsa, dear one," he cried, "why did you strive to learn my secret?
Now I must leave you forever. Had you but remained faithful to your
promise for one year, even your brother Godfrey would have come back to
you. Here is my sword, my horn, my ring. Should he ever return, give
them to him. The sword will help him in battle, the horn will give him
aid in an hour of need, and the ring will remind him of Lohengrin, who
defended you. Now farewell! The Grail calls me. My swan is here."
While he had been speaking, the snow-white swan, drawing the empty boat,
had glided quietly up the winding river. It stood at the shore. The
people gazed at it mournfully. Even Lohengrin greeted it in sadness.
Suddenly the dark-haired Ortrud, who had been watching, approached the
shore. She leaned over the snow-white swan, and when she saw the golden
circlet about its neck, she laughed fiendishly.
"It is he!" she cried. "It is Godfrey! My magic changed him into a swan,
and a swan he shall remain!" and she grinned exultingly at Elsa.
Lohengrin, about to enter the boat, stopped at the sound of Ortrud's
voice. He listened a moment. Then he fell upon his knees and prayed,
while all the people waited breathlessly.
His prayer was lifted up in silence and borne, who shall say where--to
what High and Holy presence? For as he prayed a white dove descended and
hovered over the boat.
Seeing that his prayer was answered, Lohengrin rose to his feet
enraptured. He took the chain from the neck of the swan. The swan sank
into the water. And where it had been stood Godfrey, the rightful Duke
Elsa fell into her brother's arms with a glad cry. Then together they
watched Lohengrin enter his boat which, drawn by the dove, glided slowly
down the winding river, and out of mortal sight forevermore.