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And the Lady Abbess dead before it,
And the chanting nuns whom yesterweek
Her voice did charge and bless,-
Chanting steady, chanting meek,
Chanting with a solemn breath
Because that they are thinking less
Upon the dead than upon death.
Beati, beati mortui !
Now the vision in the sound
Wheeleth on the wind around ;
Now it sweepeth back, away-
The uplands will not let it stay
To dark the western sun :
Mortui !-away at last,-

Or ere the page's blush is past :
And the knight heard all, and the page

heard none.

“A boon, thou noble knight,

If ever I servëd thee !
Though thou art a knight and I am a page,

Now grant a boon to me;
And tell me sooth, if dark or bright,
If little loved or loved aright

Be the face of thy ladye.”

Gloomily looked the knight

“ As a son thou hast servëd me,
And would to none I had granted boon

Except to only thee!
For haply then I should love aright,
For then I should know if dark or bright

Were the face of my ladye.
“Yet it ill suits my knightly tongue

To grudge that granted boon,
That heavy price from heart and life

I paid in silence down;

The hand that claimed it, cleared in fine
My father's fame : I swear by mine,

That price was nobly won !

“Earl Walter was a brave old earl,

He was my father's friend ;
And while I rode the lists at court

And little guessed the end,
My noble father in his shroud
Against a slanderer lying loud

He rose up to defend.

“Oh, calm below the marble grey

My father's dust was strown! Oh, meek above the marble grey

His image prayed alone ! The slanderer lied : the wretch was brave-. For, looking up the minster-nave, He saw my father's knightly glaive

Was changed from steel to stone.

“Earl Walter's glaive was steel,

With a brave old hand to wear it, And dashed the lie back in the mouth

Which lied against the godly truth

And against the knightly merit:
The slanderer, 'neath the avenger's heel,
Struck up the dagger in appeal
From stealthy lie to brutal force-
And out upon the traitor's corse

Was yielded the true spirit.

“I would mine hand had fought that fight

And justified my father! I would mine heart had caught that wound

And slept beside him rather !

I think it were a better thing
Than murdered friend and marriage ring

Forced on my life together.


" Wail shook Earl Walter's house ;

His true wife shed no tear;
She lay upon her bed as mute

As the earl did on his bier :
Till— Ride, ride fast,' she said at last,

• And bring the avengëd's son anear ! Ride fast, ride free, as a dart can flee, For white of blee with waiting for me

Is the corse in the next chambère.'

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I came,

I knelt beside her bed ;
Her calm was worse than strife :
My husband, for thy father dear,
Gave freely when thou wast not here

His own and eke my life.
A boon! Of that sweet child we make
An orphan for thy father's sake,

Make thou, for ours, a wife.'

" I said, “My steed neighs in the court,

My bark rocks on the brine,
And the warrior's vow I am under now

To free the pilgrim's shrine ;
But fetch the ring and fetch the priest

And call that daughter of thine,
And rule she wide from my castle on Nyde

While I am in Palestine.'

“ In the dark chambère, if the bride was fair,

Ye wis, I could not see, But the steed thrice neighed, and the priest fast

prayed, And wedded fast were we.

Her mother smiled upon her bed
As at its side we knelt to wed,

And the bride rose from her knee
And kissed the smile of her mother dead,

Or ever she kissed me.
“My page, my page, what grieves thee so,

That the tears run down thy face ?"
“Alas, alas ! mine own sister

Was in thy lady's case :
But she laid down the silks she wore
And followed him she wed before,
Disguised as his true servitor,

To the very battle-place."

And wept the page, but laughed the knight,

A careless laugh laughed he:
“ Well done it were for thy sister,

But not for my ladye !
My love, so please you, shall requite
No woman, whether dark or bright,

Unwomaned if she be."
The page stopped weeping and smiled cold-

“ Your wisdom may declare
That womanhood is proved the best
By golden brooch and glossy vest

The mincing ladies wear ;
Yet is it proved, and was of old,
Anear as well, I dare to hold,

By truth, or by despair."
He smiled no more, he wept no more,

But passionate he spake--
Oh, womanly she prayed in tent,

When none beside did wake !
Oh, womanly she paled in fight,

For one belovëd's sake !-


And her little hand, defiled with blood,
Her tender tears of womanhood

Most woman-pure did make !”

“Well done it were for thy sister,

Thou tellest well her tale ! But for my lady, she shall pray

l' the kirk of Nydesdale.
Not dread for me but love for me

Shall make my lady pale ;
No casque shall hide her woman's tear;
It shall have room to trickle clear

Behind her woman's veil.”

“But what if she mistook thy mind

And followed thee to strife,
Then kneeling did entreat thy love
As paynims ask for life ?"

I would forgive, and evermore
Would love her as my servitor,

But little as my wife.

“ Look up--there is a small bright cloud

Alone amid the skies !
So high, so pure, and so apart,
A woman's honour lies."

looked up--the cloud was sheenA sadder cloud did rush, I ween,

Betwixt it and his eyes.

The page

Then dimly dropped his eyes away

From welkin unto hill.
Ha ! who rides there ?--the page is 'ware,

Though the cry at his heart is still :
And the page seeth all and the knight seeth none,
Though banner and spear do fleck the sun,

And the Saracens ride at will.

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