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X.

He ventures in : let no buzz'd whisper tell:
All

eyes be muffled, or a hundred swords
Will storm his heart, Love's feverous citadel :
For him, those chambers held barbarian hordes,
Hyena foemen, and hot-blooded lords,
Whose very dogs would execrations howl
Against his lineage: not one breast affords

Him any mercy, in that mansion foul, Save one old beldame, weak in body and in soul.

XI.

Ah, happy chance ! the aged creature came,
Shuffling along with ivory-headed wand,
To where he stood, hid from the torch's flame,
Behind a broad hall-pillar, far beyond
The sound of merriment and chorus bland :
He startled her; but soon she knew his face,
And grasp'd his fingers in her palsied hand,
Saying, "Mercy, Porphyro! hie thee from this

place; They are all here to-night, the whole blood

thirsty race!

XII.

“Get hence! get hence! there's dwarfish Hilde

brand; He had a fever late, and in the fit He cursed thee and thine, both house and land: Then there's that old Lord Maurice, not a whit More tame for his gray hairs—Alas me! flit! Flit like a ghost away."_"Ah, Gossip dear, We're safe enough; here in this arm-chair sit, And tell me how ”“ Good Saints! not here,

not here; Follow me, child, or else these stones will be thy

bier.”

XIII.

He follow'd through a lowly arched way, Brushing the cobwebs with his lofty plume; And as she mutter'd “ Well-a-well-a-day!” He found him in a little moonlight room, Pale, latticed, chill, and silent as a tomb. “ Now tell me where is Madeline,” said he, “O tell me, Angela, by the holy loom

Which none but secret sisterhood may see, When they St. Agnes' wool are weaving piously.”

XIV.

“St. Agnes ! Ah! it is St. Agnes' Eve-
Yet men will murder upon holy days:
Thou must hold water in a witch's sieve,
And be liege-lord of all the Elves and Fays,
To venture so: it fills me with amaze
To see thee, Porphyro !-St. Agnes' Eve!
God's help! my lady fair the conjurer plays

This very night: good angels her deceive! But let me laugh awhile, I've mickle time to

grieve."

XV.

Feebly she laugheth in the languid moon,
While Porphyro upon her face doth look,
Like puzzled urchin on an aged crone
Who keepeth closed a wondrous riddle-book,
As spectacled she sits in chimney nook.
But soon his eyes grew brilliant, when she told
His lady's purpose ; and he scarce could brook
Tears, at the thought of those enchantments

cold,
And Madeline asleep in lap of legends old.

XVI.

Sudden a thought came like a full-blown rose,
Flushing his brow, and in his pained heart
Made purple riot: then doth he propose
A stratagem, that makes the beldame start :
“A cruel man and impious thou art:
Sweet lady, let her pray, and sleep and dream
Alone with her good angels, far apart

From wicked men like thee. Go, Go! I deem Thou canst not surely be the same that thou didst

seem.

XVII.

“I will not harm her, by all saints I swear," Quoth Porphyro: “O may I ne'er find grace When my weak voice shall whisper its last

prayer, If one of her soft ringlets I displace,

Or look with ruffian passion in her face:
Good Angela, believe me by these tears ;
Or I will, even in a moment's space,
Awake, with horrid shout, my foemen's ears,

, And beard them, though they be more fang'd than

wolves and bears."

XVIII.

“Ah! why wilt thou affright a feeble soul?
A poor, weak, palsy-stricken, church-yard thing,
Whose passing bell may ere the midnight toll ;
Whose prayers for thee, each morn and evening,
Were never miss’d.” Thus plaining, doth she

bring
A gentler speech from burning Porphyro;
So woful, and of such deep sorrowing,

That Angela gives promise she will do Whatever he shall wish, betide her weal or woe.

XIX.

Which was, to lead him, in close secrecy,
Even to Madeline's chamber, and there hide
Him in a closet, of such privacy
That he might see her beauty unespied,
And win perhaps that night a peerless bride,
While legion'd fairies paced the coverlet,
And pale enchantment held her sleepy-eyed.

Never on such a night have lovers met,
Since Merlin paid his Demon all the monstrous

debt.

XX.

“ It shall be as thou wishest,” said the Dame : “All cates and dainties shall be stored there Quickly on this feast-night: by the tambour

frame Her own lute thou wilt see: no time to spare, For I am slow and feeble, and scarce dare On such a catering trust my dizzy head. Wait here, my child, with patience kneel in

prayer The while : Ah! thou must needs the lady wed, Or may I never leave my grave among the dead.”

XXI.

So saying she hobbled off with busy fear.
The lover's endless minutes slowly pass'd ;
The Dame return’d, and whisper'd in his ear
To follow her; with aged eyes aghast
From fright of dim espial. Safe at last,
Through many a dusky gallery, they gain
The maiden's chamber, silken, hush'd and chaste;

Where Porphyro took covert, pleased amain. His poor guide hurried back with agues in her

brain.

XXII.

Her faltering hand upon the balustrade,
Old Angela was feeling for the stair,
When Madeline, St. Agnes' charmed maid,
Rose, like a mission'd spirit, unaware:

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