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The air is still ! through mist and cloud
That merry peal comes ringing loud ;
And Geraldine shakes off her dread,
And rises lightly from the bed ;
Puts on her silken vestments white,
And tricks her hair in lovely plight,
And nothing doubting of her spell
Awakens the lady Christabel.
Sleep you, sweet lady Christabel ?
I trust that you have rested well.”
And Christabel awoke and spied
The same who lay down by her side-
O rather say, the same whom she
beneath the old oak tree ! Nay, fairer yet! and yet more fair! For she belike hath drunken deep Of all the blessedness of sleep! And while she spake, her looks, her air Such gentle thankfulness declare, That (so it seemed, her girded vests Grew tight beneath her heaving breasts.
Sure I have sinned !” said Christabel, “Now heaven be prais'd if all be well!” And in low faltering tones, yet sweet, Did she the lofty lady greet With such perplexity of mind As dreams too lively leave behind.
So quickly she rose, and quickly arrayed Her maiden limbs, and having prayed That He, who on the cross did groan, Might wash away her sins unknown,
forth with led fair Geraldine To meet her sire, Sir Leoline.
The lovely maid and the lady tall
Are pacing both into the hall,
And pacing on through page and groom,
Enter the Baron's presence-room.
The Baron rose, and while he prest
His gentle daughter to his breast,
With cheerful wonder in his eyes
The lady Geraldine espies,
such welcome to the same,
As might beseem so bright a dame!
But when he heard the lady's tale,
And when she told her father's name,
Why waxed Sir Leoline so pale,
Murmuring o'er the name again,
Lord Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine ?
Alas! they had been friends in youth ;
But whispering tongues can poison truth;
And constancy lives in realms above;
And life is thorny; and youth is vain ;
And to be wroth with one we love,
Doth work like madness in the brain.
And thus it chanced, as I divine,
With Roland and Sir Leoline.
Each spake words of high disdain,
And insult to his heart's best brother:
They parted-ne'er to meet again!
But never either found another
To free the hollow heart from paining-
They stood aloof, the scars remaining,
Like cliffs which had been rent asunder;
A dreary sea now flows between ;-
But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder,
Shall wholly do away, I ween,
The murks of that which once hath been.
Sir Leoline, a moment's space,
Stood gazing on the damsel's face;
And the youthful Lord of Tryermaine
Came back upon his heart again.
O then the Baron forgot his age,
His noble heart swelled high with rage;
He swore by the wounds in Jesu's side,
He would proclaim it far and wide
With trump and solemn heraldry,
That they who thus had wrong'd the dame,
Were base as spotted infamy!
“ And if they dare deny the same,
My herald shall appoint a week,
And let the recreant traitors seek
My tourney court—that there and then
I may dislodge their reptile souls
From the bodies and forms of men!
He spake: his eye in lightning rolls !
For the lady was ruthlessly seized: and he kenned
In the beautiful lady the child of his friend !
And now the tears were on his face,
And fondly in his arms he took
Fair Geraldine, who met the embrace,
Prolonging it with joyous look.
Which when she viewed, a vision fell
Upon the soul of Christabel,
The vision of fear, the touch and pain!
She shrunk and shuddered, and saw again—
(Ah! woe is me! Was it for thee,
Thou gentle maid! such sights to see ?)
Again she saw that bosom old,
Again she felt that bosom cold,
And drew in her breath with a hissing sound :
Whereat the Knight turned wildly round,
And nothing saw, but his own sweet maid
With eyes upraised, as one that prayed.
The touch, the sight, had passed away,
And in its stead that vision blest,
Which comforted her after rest,
While in the lady's arms she lay:
IIad put a rapture in her breast.
And on her lips and o'er her eyes
Spread smiles like light!
With new surprise,
“ What ails, then, my beloved child ?”
The Baron said-His daughter mild
Made answer, “All will yet be well!"
I ween, she had no power to tell
Aught else! so mighty was the spell.
Yet he, who saw this Geraldine,
Had deemed her sure a thing divine,
Such sorrow with such grace she blended,
As if she feared, she had offended
Sweet Christabel, that gentle maid !
And with such lowly tones she prayed,
She might be sent without delay
Home to her father's mansion.
“Nay! Nay, by my soul!" said Leoline. “Ho! Bracy! the bard, the charge be thine !
Go thou, with music sweet and loud,
And take two steeds with trappings proud,
And take the youth whom thou lov'st best
To bear thy barp and learn thy song,
And clothe you both in solemn vest,
And over the mountains haste along,
Lest wandering folk, that are abroad,
Detain you on the valley road.
And when he has crossed the Irthing food,
My merry bard! he hastes, he hastes
Up Knorren Moor, through Halegarth Wood
And reaches soon that castle good
Which stands and threatens Scotland's wastes,
“ Bard Bracy! bard Bracy! your horses are fleet,
Ye must ride up the hall, your music so sweet,
More loud than your horses' echoing feet!
And loud and loud to Lord Roland call,
Thy daughter is safe in Langdale Hall !
Thy beautiful daughter is safe and free-
Sir Leoline greets thee thus through me.
He bids thee come without delay
With all thy numerous array ;
And take thy lovely daughter home:
And he will meet thee on the way
With all his numerous array
White with their panting palfreys' foam :
And by mine honor! I will say,
That I repent me of the day
When I spake words of fierce disdain
To Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine !
-For since that evil hour hath flown,
Many a summer's sun hath shone;
Yet ne'er found I a friend again
Like Roland de Vaux of Tryermaine."