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Against that overcoming light)
Was then reviewed, and prompt word given,
That to what place soever fled
· He should be seized, alive or dead.
The troop of horse had gained the height
Where Francis stood in open sight.
They hem him round—“Behold the proof,
Behold the ensign in his hand !
He did not arm, he walked aloof!
For why ?-to save his father's land ;-
Worst traitor of them all is he,
A traitor dark and cowardly!"
“I am no traitor,” Francis said,
“Though this unhappy freight I bear;
It weakens me, my heart hath bled
Till it is weak-but you, beware,
Nor do a suffering spirit wrong,
Whose self-reproaches are too strong!”
At this he from the beaten road
Retreated towards a brake of thorn,
Which like a place of 'vantage showed;
And there stood bravely, though forlorn.
In self-defence with warlike brow
He stood,--nor weaponless was now;
He from a soldier's hand had snatched
A spear,--and with his eyes he watched
Their motions, turning round and round:
His weaker hand the banner held;
And straight, by savage zeal impelled,
Forth rushed a pikeman, as if he,
Not without harsh indignity,
Would seize the same:-instinctively-
To smite the offender-with his lance
Did Francis from the brake advance
But, from behind, a treacherous wound,
Unfeeling, brought him to the ground,
A mortal stroke:--oh, grief to tell !
Thus, thus, the noble Francis fell :
There did he lie of breath forsaken;
The banner from his grasp was taken,
And borne exultingly away;
And the body was left on the ground where it lay.
Two days, as many nights, he slept
Alone, unnoticed, and unwept;
For at that time distress and fear
Possessed the country far and near;
The third day, one, who chanced to pass,
Beheld him stretched upon the grass.
A gentle forester was he,
And of the Norton tenantry;
And he had heard that by a train
Of horsemen Francis had been slain.
Much was he troubled for the man
Hath recognized his pallid face;
And to the nearest huts he ran,
And called the people to the place.
How desolate is Rylstone Hall !
Such was the instant thought of all;
And if the lonely lady there
Should be, this sight she cannot bear!
Such thought the forester expressed ;
And all were swayed, and deemed it best
That, if the priest should yield assent
And join himself to their intent,
Then they, for Christian pity's sake,
In holy ground a grave would make ;
That straightway buried he should be
In the churchyard of the priory.
Apart, some little space, was made
The grave where Francis must be laid.
In no confusion or neglect
This did they,--but in pure respect
That he was born of gentle blood;
And that there was no neighbourhood
of kindred for him in that ground;
So to the churchyard they are bound,
Bearing the body on a bier
In decency and humble cheer;
And psalms are sung with holy sound.
But Emily hath raised her head,
And is again disquieted;
She must behold !-so many gone,
Where is the solitary one?
And forth from Rylstone Hall stepped she;
To see her brother forth she went,
And tremblingly her course she bent
Toward Bolton's ruined priory.
She comes, and in the vale hath heard
The funeral dirge;—she sees the knot
Of people, sees them in one spot-
And darting like a wounded bird
She reached the grave, and with her breast
Upon the ground received the rest,-
The consummation, the whole ruth
And sorrow of this final truth!
Thou spirit, whose angelic hand
Was to the harp a strong command,
Called the submissive strings to wake
In glory for this maiden's sake,
Say, spirit! whither hath she fled
To hide her poor afflicted head?
What mighty forest in its gloom
Enfolds her?-is a rifted tomb
Within the wilderness her seat?
Some island which the wild waves beat,
Is that the sufferer's last retreat ?
Or some aspiring rock that shrouds
Its perilous front in mists and clouds?
High-climbing rock-low sunless dale-
Sea-desert-what do these avail?
Oh, take her anguish and her fears
Into a deep recess of years!
'Tis done ;-despoil and desolation O'er Rylstone's fair domain have blown; The walks and pools neglect hath sown With weeds, the bowers are overthrown, Or have given way to slow mutation, While, in their ancient habitation, The Norton name hath been unknown. The lordly mansion of its pride Is stripped; the ravage hath spread wide Through park and field, a perishing That mocks the gladness of the spring! And with this silent gloom agreeing There is a joyless huinan being, Of aspect such as if the waste Were under her dominion placed: Upon a primrose bank, her throne Of quietness, she sits alone; There seated, may this maid be seen, Among the ruins of a wood, Erewhile a covert bright and green, And where full many a brave tree stood;
That used to spread its boughs, and ring
With the sweet birds' carolling
Behold her, like a virgin queen,
Neglecting in imperial state
These outward images of fate,
And carrying inward a serene
And perfect sway, through many a thought
Of chance and change, that hath been brought
To the subjection of a holy,
Though stern and rigorous, melancholy !
The like authority, with grace
Of awfulness, is in her face,
There hath she fixed it; yet it seems
To o'ershadow by no native right
That face, which cannot lose the gleams,
Lose utterly the tender gleams
Of gentleness and meek delight,
And loving-kindness ever bright:
Such is her sovereign mien ;-her dress
(A vest, with woollen cincture tied,
A hood of mountain-wool undyed)
Is homely,-fashioned to express
A wandering pilgrim's humbleness.
And she hath wandered, long and far,
Beneath the light of sun and star;
Hath roamed in trouble and in grief,
Driven forward like a withered leaf,
Yea, like a ship at random blown
To distant places and unknown.
But now she dares to seek a haven
Among her native wilds of Craven ;
Hath seen again her father's roof,
And put her fortitude to proof;
The mighty sorrow hath been borne,