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Alas, alas ! said Geraldine, I cannot speak for weariness. So free from danger, free from fear, They crossed the court: right glad they were. Outside her kennel the mastiff old Lay fast asleep, in moonshine cold. The mastiff old did not awake, Yet she an angry moan did make! And what can ail the mastiff bitch ? Never till now she uttered yell Beneath the eye of Christabel. Perhaps it is the owlet's scritch: For what can ail the mastiff bitch ? They passed the ball, that echoes still, Pass as lightly as you will ! The brands were flat, the brands were dying, Amid their own white ashes lying ; But when the lady passed, there came A tongue of light, a fit of flame; And Christabel saw the lady's eye, And nothing else saw she thereby,. Save the boss of the shield of Sir Leoline tall, Which hung in a murky old niche in the wall. O softly tread, said Christabel, My father seldom sleepeth well. Sweet Christabel her feet doth bare, And, jealous of the listening air, They steal their way from stair to stair, Now in glimmer, and now in gloom, And now they pass the Baron's room, As still as death with stifled breath! And now have reached her chamber door ;
And now doth Geraldine
down The rushes of the chamber floor.
The moon shines dim in the open air,
And not a moonbeam enters here.
But they without its light can see
The chamber carved so curiously,
Carved with figures strange and sweet, .
All made out of the carver's brain,
For a lady's chamber meet :
The lamp with twofold silver chain
Is fastened to an angel's feet.
The silver lamp burns dead and dim;
But Christabel the lamp will trim.
She trimmed the lamp, and made it bright,
And left it swinging to and fro,
While Geraldine, in wretched plight,
Sank down upon the floor below.
O weary lady, Geraldine,
I pray you, drink this cordial wine!
It is a wine of virtuous powers ;
My mother made it of wild flowers.
And will your mother pity me,
Who am a maiden most forlorn ?
Christabel answered-Woe is me!
She died the hour that I was born.
I have heard the grey-haired friar tell,
How on her death-bed she did say,
That she should hear the castle-bell
Strike twelve upon my wedding-day.
O mother dear! that thou wert here!
I would, said Geraldine, she were !
But soon with altered voice, said she-
" Off, wandering mother! Peak and pine !
I have power to bid thee flee."
Alas! what ails poor Geraldine ?
Why stares she with unsettled eye?
Can she the bodiless dead
And why with hollow voice cries she,
" ON, woman, off! this hour is mine-
Though thou her guardian spirit be,
Oll, woman, off! 'tis given to me.”
Then Christabel knelt by the lady's side,
And raised to heaven her eyes so blue —
Alas I said she, this ghastly ride-
Dear lady, it hath wildered you !
The lady wiped her moist cold brow,
And faintly said, “ 'Tis over now !”
Again the wild-flower wine she drank :
ller fair large eyes ’gan glitter bright,
And from the floor whereon she sank,
The lofty lady stood upright;
She was most beautiful to see,
Like a lady of a far countrée.
And thus the lofty lady spake-
All they, who live in the upper sky,
Do love you, holy Christabel !
And you love them, and for their sake
And for the good which me befell,
Even I in my degree will try,
Fair maiden, to requite you well.
But now unrobe yourself; for I
Must pray, ere yet in bed I lie.
Quoth Christabel, so let it be !
And as the lady bade, did she.
Her gentle limbs did she undress,
And lay down in her loveliness.
But through her brain of weal and woe
So many thoughts moved to and fro,
That vain it were her lids to close ;
So half-way from the bed she rose,
And on her elbow did recline
To look at the lady Geraldine.
Beneath the lamp the lady bowed,
And slowly rolled her eyes around;
Then drawing in her breath aloud
Like one that shuddered, she unbound
The cincture from beneath her breast:
Her silken robe, and inner vest,
Dropt to her feet, and full in view,
Behold! her bosom and half her side-
A sight to dream of, not to tell !
O shield her! shield sweet Christabel !
Yet Geraldine nor speaks nor stirs ;
Ah! what a stricken look was hers!
Deep from within she seems half-way
To lift some weight with sick assay,
the maid and seeks delay ;
Then suddenly as one defied
Collects herself in scorn and pride,
And lay down by the maiden's side !-
And in her arms the maid she took,
And with low voice and doleful look
These words did say:
In the touch of this bosom there worketh a spell,
Which is lord of thy utterance, Christabel!
Thou knowest to-night, and wilt know to-morrow
This mark of my shame, this seal of my sorrow;
But vainly thou warrest,
For this is alone in
Thy power to declare,
That in the dim forest
Thou heard'st a low moaning, And found’st a bright lady, surpassingly fair : And didst bring her home with thee in love and in charity To shield her and shelter her from the damp air.
THE CONCLUSION To Part I.
It was a lovely sight to see
The lady Christabel, when she
Was praying at the old oak tree.
Amid the jagged shadows
Of mossy leafless boughs,
Kneeling in the moonlight,
To make her gentle vows;
Her slender palms together prest,
Heaving sometimes on her breast;
Her face resigned to bliss or bale-
Her face, oh call it fair not pale,
And both blue eyes more bright than clear,
Each about to have a tear.
With open eyes (ah woe is me!)
Asleep, and dreaming fearfully,
Fearfully dreaming, yet I wis,
Dreaming that alone, which is-