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THE

LUCRECE OF FRANCE.

“ Have I liv'd thus long - Let me speak myself,"

Since virtue finds no friends. -- A wife, a true one ? A woman (I dare say, without vain-glory) Never yet branded with suspicion ? Have I with all my full affections .... loved him next heaven ? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What will become of me now, wretched lady? I am the most unhappy woman living. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ....... Like the lily That once was mistress of the field, and flourish'd, I'll hang my head, and perish.”

SHAKSPEARE.

THE

LUCRECE OF FRANCE.

It was a grand and stately building that castle of Argenteuil, where once resided the gentle lady of Carongne; where she lived long in her beauty and her youth, a faithful wife to her brave lord ; and was loved, and looked up to by her menials, and many attendants, both male and female. The knight of Carongne had been for a while absent upon an enterprise beyond sea for the advancement of his honour. Alas! it seemed not, in one plain sense, to have been for the advancement of the brave knight's honour, that he had departed from his castle in the marches of Perche, and from his fair and sorrowful lady. The time of his return drew nigh, and the lady Aline had been apprised thereof. There was a tall narrow tower, which stood out from

the front wall of the castle, and rose far above the loftiest roofs of the ancient pile. On the summit of that tower the noble lady was used to stand for hours, watching for her lord's approach, and looking with anxious eyes far, far over the distant country. Ah, what a beauteous vision did she seem, when standing alone there in calm and earnest dignity, motionless for many minutes; when her eyes were wearied with gazing vainly for the dearest object of her earthly love, and when the abstraction of her mind had drawn away her thoughts from all external objects! Almost like a statue of pure marble did she appear, when the wild breeze had for a short space died away, and lifted not her long hair, and ceased to flutter in the folds of her white garments. But if aught like the figure of him whom she sought appeared, and gathered in its approach a nearer resemblance to his loved person, how quickly the trance of her stillness was broken, how every feature, and every limb, woke into expression, while eagerness and joy that was half indulged darted like a sunbeam into her eyes, and the crimson blood rushed over her pale cheeks, and glowed in her parted lips ! Then most carelessly her soft white 'arms were flung over the rough parapet, and her tender bosom pressed against the cold stones with heavings of tumultuous delight. The time was come that the knight of Carongne should look in vain, as he rode along, for the well-known form of his lady. Anxiously he strained his sight, but she stood not as usual on the high tower. Aline had received the messenger that told of his approach, but she left not the hall till her husband arrived. With slow and trembling steps she traversed the upper end thereof, and sometimes she stopped and leaned against the wall in the thoughtfulness of her sorrow. There was no colour upon her wan cheek, save the flitting tints which were thrown from the stained glass of the casements toward the west, and her eyes were seldom raised from the veiling of their heavy lids. The shouts of her rejoicing domestics told her that the knight was at hand, and the lady Aline hasted to meet him. The joyous knight sought to clasp her in his embrace, but silently she glided from his arms, and when he raised her tenderly from

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