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four months past abroad, and I have bound me by a vow that no strange knight, nor man-at-arms, nor even priest nor friar, shall tarry after sunset beneath my castle-roof till he return from peril. Pardon me, therefore, gentle knight-pardon me in that I seem discourteous, and deem, I pray you, my vow churlish, and not
“Ladye,” replied the Coucy, "ladye, I do beseech you, ope to me, and by my faith, my knighthood, and mine honor, thou shalt in naught infringe the strictness of thine honorable vow.
I ask not to set foot within thine hall—not to break bread or drain cup at thy board. I ask but leave to pass your outer gates, to plant my pennon on your outer wall, to aid with my good sword, and such poor skill as I may boast, in the defence of this your castle against the villain routiers of that accursed ruffian Talebardin, who will be at your gates with sixty spears, long before daybreak. God and the Virgin aid us, and blessed St. Paul of Tankerville, we will beat off the dogs who else will be too strong for you, and the adventure done, we will ride forth again, asking no guerdon, e'en of thanks—no benison, nor reward, save of our own good thoughts. Refuse me this poor boon, and ladye, hear me swearI, Hugues de Coucy, Baron of Flanders, Count of France, Knight of the Empire-swear by my ladye love, and by patron saint, and by the bones and soul of my dead father—that if I may not on this field preserve your life and honor, I will at least die for them ; that if I may not win for Tankerville and Verneuil, I will at least fall without stain, and draw my last breath under shield, nobly and in a noble cause, fearless of naught on earth, and confident of heaven!”
“Good knight-good knight,” exclaimed the lady, "good knight and noble, if ever was one yet-ride in! ride in ! and wel. come; I do repose me on your honor; I do confide me to your valor ; I do trust fearlessly to your strong arm-for his arm must of need be strong, whose spirit is so high and holy. Let fall the gates there, knaves-lower the bridge, raise the portcullis grate! room for the Count of Tankerville !" And with the words, she left her stand upon the ramparts, and came down hastily to meet the renowned and mighty champion, whose fame was rife through all the bounds of Christendom.
Meantime the heavy grate of the barbican was raised, and the wide leaves of the gate Aung open, and Hugues rode in, bowing his lofty crest beneath the pointed arch, followed by his stout men-at-arms, and his young spirited esquire. The moment he had entered the dark vault, the stately warrior leaped to the ground, and turning short to one of the men who had admitted him, and
who had of course heard all the previous parley,“We have no time at all to lose,” he said, “good fellow, so run down thou, and summon all the serfs of the hamlet, and all the free men, if there be any in the place, bound to man-service; bid them make haste, if they would live and prosper, for Talebardin and his routiers will be upon them ere an hour. And ye have room enough within, I trow-get all the women in and children, these dogs spare neither age nor sex! Haste thee, good fellow, for I will bear thee out with thy good ladye. Ermold, take thou my rein-dismount not, Ivernois, por thou, good Francon, I shall have need of ye anon, for we will charge on their advance with a good sally! So, so !here comes the Chatelaine !" And, as he spoke the words, he lowered the beaver of his plumed helmet, but keeping the avantaille still lowered, so that, although his mouth and all the lower part of his countenance was uncovered, his eyes and brow were still concealed; so that a person who knew him only by sight, without being acquainted with his style or title, would have had some difficulty in recognising him, and advanced to meet the lady Chatelaine, who was now standing in the arched gateway, on the inner side of the moat, surrounded by some six or eight men-at-arms, with the old seneschal before mentioned, and a single hand-maid at her elbow. She was a delicate and slender girl, with nothing matronly either of air or figure, not certainly above eighteen, and of rare beauty, as might easily be seen; for her furred hood had fallen back, and left the whole of her fair face, and all her classically moulded head, exposed to the full glare of the torches, which lent a warmer tinge than common to those pale eloquent features. Hers was the beauty, which, though not so generally appreciated, must be pronounced far higher in the scale of loveliness, than mere voluptuous charms. Beauty it was, indeed, of the first intellectual order —the high pale forehead, from which the dark brown curls fell off in shadowy masses--the slight expressive curve of the black eyebrows; the long cut eye of deep clear gray, radiant and pure as a transparent spring, yet calm and self-restrained—the classic, almost stern profile, contrasted with the sweet arch of the rosy lips—the bright translucent paleness of the skin—all, all were perfect-perfect in their unsensual tranquil beauty ; while the expression of the whole was full of eloquence, of mind, of music. She was a being whom, perhaps, ninety-nine men out of every hundred would have passed by unheeded, as cold and passionless as a fair statue, rich in proportions, rare in grace, but senseless and inanimate-whom he, the hundredth-would not have loved, but adored, idolized! as a thing almost too pure, too spiritual, for any earthly worship. And so she had been worshipped !
and had returned that worship with the young, trusting, innocent, devoted love of a free virgin heart! She had been wooed, and won, and plighted-and then ill days and evil tongues had come between-and the frail thread of true-love had been brokenbroken, alas ! to reunite no more.
Two years had intervened ; and they who parted then, heartbroken lovers, met for the first time now. She, the sad spiritbroken bride of an unworthy spouse. He, the young unknown knight of those past days, revealed as by enchantment, noble, and chief, and champion. It boots not to search back into their early fortunes—it now were profitless alike, and tedious. Enough, they stood together. He knew her as of old ; and worshipped, as he did then; and pitied, as he then did not. For he well knew the cruel arts by which her late consent had been wrung from her, to that most ill-assorted wedlock-he knew her spirit true to himself alone, when all beside was given to another. Yet did he know her pure and innocent of soul, as in her earliest maidenhood-a too true wife to a stern, faithless lord. Therefore, concealed, he stood before her, and quelled his passions like a hero as he was, resolved to add no sorrow to her sufferings by revelation of the identity, all unsuspected and undreamed, of her young nameless wooer with the renowned and far-famed baron, who thus had ridden to her rescue-And she received him as a stranger; yet as a stranger known so well by the loud bruit of his great deeds, that he was scarce less than an intimate, even before he had approved himself a friend, by this his gallant aid. She prayed him raise his avantaille, and enter her court-yard, and begged him once more to excuse her vow, which must prohibit his admission to the hall. Meanwhile,” she added, “ my vassals are even now preparing, with earnest speed, such a pavilion as may suffice to shield a champion so famed for hardihood of mood as the great Hugues de Coucy-and there, good knight and gentle, there may I tender you the kiss of honorable welcome, the rights of courteous hospitality!"
“I too, dear lady"-answered the Coucy—“I too must plead a vow; and pray your pardon also, for the semblance of discourtesy. When first I learned by chance the purpose of this dog banditti, I registered an oath in heaven, never to raise my vizor, nor to unhelt my weapon from my side, until the slaves were scattered to the four winds of heaven, and you, dear lady of Verneuil, were scatheless, even from fear. For the rest, I beseech you, waste no time in rearing gay pavilions; but let each man-atarms, and groom, and varlet of your household do on his harness for defence-let them fetch arbalasts and quarrels, long bows
and sheaves of arrows, to the wall-and let them bend that great mangonel I see upon the ballium, and suit it with a fitting stone. Your seneschal,-if you permit me to take the ordering of the day,--should take post in the keep, and when the villains show front clear of the forest, ring the ban cloche in one continuous peal, and ply them from the battlements with hail of flight-shot, arrow, and bolt, and bullet. There must you be too, ladye, with every woman of your household, and such serfs of the hamlet as you may best rely on-nay, I insist on't, and will lead you thither.” And, with the words, he led the Chatelaine to the door of the kecp, and as the villagers came in, he picked a dozen of the stoutest vassals, and placing them under the guidance of the seneschal, commanded him-as he regarded his young ladye's life and honor—to bar the gate of the dongeon on the inner side, and open it no more, save at his bidding, or till the Routiers should be driven from the walls, and utterly cut down. This done, at length, for Gabrielle, convinced after much instance, ceased to remonstrate, Hugues took command of all the out-works; and having placed his little band-(little indeed !--since he found in the place only six menat-arms, and five stout serving-men, to whom were added eight or ten half-armed vassals from the village)-on all the points of vantage, he joined his own men in the barbican, resolved to charge once with the lance, before he should be shut up within walls of stone; and sat there motionless on his tall war-horse, until the stars paled in the azure heavens, awaiting the approach of those fell desperadoes.
LINES TO A FAMOUS BELLE.
I'm not in love with you, you bright young creature
No, no, I'm not in love — though all the world,
Of your sweet face, till thought and feeling whirled
I'm not in love with you — though I confess,
You little mischief, you're the loveliest thing
And beautiful as the imagining
And that sweet voice's joyous melody,
Whose music still on my charmed ear is ringing,
Some wandering echo of a seraph's singing !
And then their smile - ah, that delicious smile,
The sunny radiance of your young heart's gladness!
Per annum, with its witchery to madness.
Ah me! the time hath been when glimpse of such
As you, fair girl, had thrilled my inmost heart;
Had bid each pulse in trembling passion start
I've known a little of the world since then;
I've loved a little — and I've flirted more;
Have learned some things I dreamed not of before ;
And many a passion, too, and grief, and thought,
I would not syllable to your young ears,
An age of heart that half belies my years
And now, as some still lake, all motionless,
An angel's hovering shadow yet may glass,
Across the mirror of my spirit pass ;
But pshaw !- forgive me, dearest K — (the verse
Commands the bold superlative !) — all this
So let it pass as a parenthesis ;
If I have played the lover, 'twas but playing.