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The lady strange made answer meet, And her voice was faint and sweet: "Have pity on my sore distress, I scarce can speak for weariness: Stretch forth thy hand, and have no fear!”

75 Said Christabel, “How camest thou here?" And the lady, whose voice was faint and

sweet, Did thus pursue her answer meet: "My sire is of a noble line, And my name is Geraldine: Five warriors seized me yestermorn, Me, even me, a maid forlorn: They choked my cries with force and

fright, And tied me on a palfrey white. The palfrey was as fleet as wind, And they rode furiously behind. They spurred amain, their steeds were

white: And once we crossed the shade of night. As sure as Heaven shall rescue me, I have no thought what men they be; 90 Nor do I know how long it is (For I have lain entranced, I wis) Since one, the tallest of the five, Took me from the palfrey's back, A weary woman, scarce alive. Some muttered words his comrades spoke: He placed me underneath this oak; He swore they would return with haste; Whither they went I cannot tell I thought I heard, some minutes past, Sounds as of a castle bell. Stretch forth thy hand," thus ended she, "And help a wretched maid to fee.”

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Hush, beating heart of Christabel!
Jesu, Maria, shield her well!
She folded her arms beneath her cloak, 55
And stole to the other side of the oak.

What sees she there?

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Then Christabel stretched forth her hand,
And comforted fair Geraldine:
"O well, bright dame, may you command
The service of Sir Leoline;
And gladly our stout chivalry
Will he send forth, and friends withal,
To guide and guard you safe and free
Home to your noble father's hall.”
She rose: and forth with steps they passed
That strove to be, and were not, fast.

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They passed the hall, 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 fame;
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.”

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They crossed the moat, and Christabel
Took the key that fitted well;
A little door she opened straight,
All in the middle of the gate;
The gate that was ironed within and with-

out,
Where an
army in battle

array

had marched out. The lady sank, belike through pain, And Christabel with might and main Lifted her up, a weary weight, Over the threshold of the gate: Then the lady rose again, And moved, as she were not in pain.

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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, 170
As still as death, with stifled breath!
And now have reached her chamber door;
And now doth Geraldine press down
The rushes of the chamber floor.

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Again the wild-flower wine she drank: 220
Her 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 countrèe.

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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.

"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.”

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