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If ceremonies due they did aright;
Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require
Full of this whim was thoughtful Madeline :
But she saw not: her heart was otherwhere;
She danced along with vague, regardless eyes,
Save to St. Agnes and her lambs unshorn,
So, purposing each mornent to retire,
But for one moment in the tedious hours,
That he might gaze and worship all unseen ; Perchance speak, kneel, touch, kiss — in sooth such
things have been.
He ventures in : let no huzz'd whisper tell :
eyes be muffled, or a hundred swords Will storm his heart, Love's feverous citadel : For him, those chambers held barbarian hordes, Hyena foemen, and hot-blooded lords, Whose very dogs would execrations howl Against his lineage : not one breast affords
Him any mercy, in that mansion foul, Save one old beldame, weak in body and in soul.
Ah, happy chance! the aged creature came,
place; They are all here to-night, the whole blood-thirsty
“Get hence! get hence! there's dwarfish Hilde
He had a fever late, and in the fit
Flit like a ghost away.” -“Ah, Gossip dear, We're safe enough; here in this arm-chair sit, And tell me how Good Saints ! not here, not here
i Follow me, child, or else these stones will be thy
He follow'd through a lowly arched way, Brushing the cobwebs with his lofty plume; And as she mutter'd “ Well-a — well-a-day!” He found him in a little moonlight room, Pale, latticed, chill, and silent as a tomb. 6. Now tell me where is Madeline,” said he, “O tell me, Angela, by the holy loom
Which none but secret sisterhood may see, When they St. Agnes' wool are weaving piously.”
“St. Agnes ! Ah! it is St. Agnes' Eve –
This very night : good angels her deceive !
Feebly she laugheth in the languid moon,
His lady's purpose ; and he scarce could brook
Tears, at the thought of those enchantments cold, And Madeline asleep in lap of legends old.
Sudden a thought came like a full-blown rose, Flushing his brow, and in his pained heart Made purple riot : then doth he
propose A stratagem, that makes the beldame start : “A cruel man and impious thou art : Sweet lady, let her pray, and sleep and dream Alone with her good angels, far apart
From wicked men like thee. Go, Go! I deem Thou canst not surely be the same that thou didst
“I will not harm her, by all saints I swear,” Quoth Porphyro: “O may I ne'er find grace When my weak voice shall whisper its last
Awake, with horrid shout, my foemen's ears, And beard them, though they be more fang'd than
wolves and bears."
“Ah! why wilt thou affright a feeble soul ?
A gentler speech from burning Porphyro;
Which was, to lead him, in close secrecy,
Never on such a night have lovers met,
“ It shall be as thou wishest,” said the Dame : “All cates and dainties shall be stored there Quickly on this feast-night: by the tambour
frame Her own lute thou wilt see : no time to spare, For I am slow and feeble, and scarce dare On such a catering trust my dizzy head. Wait here, my child, with patience kneel in
prayer The while: Ah! thou must needs the lady wed, Or may I never leave my grave among the dead.”
So saying she hobbled off with busy fear.