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"Nay now, my child," said Alice the nurse,
"But keep the secret all ye can."
She said "Not so: but I will know
If there be any faith in man."
Nay now, what faith?" said Alice the nurse, "The man will cleave unto his right." "And he shall have it," the lady replied,
Though I should die to-night.”
"Yet give one kiss to your mother dear!
Alas, my child, I sinned for thee.”
"O mother, mother, mother," she said,
"So strange it seems to me.
"Yet here's a kiss for my mother dear,
My mother dear, if this be so,
And lay your hand upon my head,
And bless me, mother, ere I go."
She clad herself in a russet gown,
She was no longer Lady Clare:
She went by dale, and she went by down,
With a single rose in her hair.
The lily-white doe Lord Ronald had brought
Leapt up from where she lay,
Dropt her head in the maiden's hand,
And followed her all the way.
Down stept Lord Ronald from his tower:
"O Lady Clare, you shame your worth!
Why come you drest like a village maid,
That are the flower of the earth?"
"If I come drest like a village maid,
I am but as my fortunes are:
I am a beggar born," she said,
"And not the Lady Clare."
"Play me no tricks," said Lord Ronald,
“For I am yours in word and deed.
Play me no tricks,” said Lord Ronald,
"Your riddle is hard to read."
O and proudly stood she up!
Her heart within her did not fail : She looked into Lord Ronald's eyes, And told him all her nurse's tale.
He laughed a laugh of merry scorn:
He turned and kissed her where she stood:
"If you are not the heiress born,
And I," said he, "the next in blood
"If you are not the heiress born,
And I," said he, "the lawful heir,
We two will wed to-morrow morn,
And you shall still be Lady Clare.”
In her ear he whispers gayly,
"If my heart by signs can tell,
Maiden, I have watched thee daily,
And I think thou lov'st me well.”
She replies, in accents fainter,
"There is none I love like thee."
He is but a landscape-painter,
And a village maiden she.
He to lips, that fondly falter,
Presses his without reproof;
Leads her to the village altar,
And they leave her father's roof.
"I can make no marriage present;
Little can I give my wife.
Love will make our cottage pleasant,
And I love thee more than life.”
They by parks and lodges going
See the lordly castles stand:
Summer woods, about them blowing,
Made a murmur in the land.
From deep thought himself he rouses,
Says to her that loves him well,
"Let us see these handsome houses
Where the wealthy nobles dwell."
So she goes by him attended,
Hears him lovingly converse,
Sees whatever fair and splendid
Lay betwixt his home and hers;
Parks with oak and chestnut shady,
Parks and ordered gardens great,
Ancient homes of lord and lady,
Built for pleasure and for state.
All he shows her makes him dearer:
Evermore she seems to gaze
On that cottage growing nearer,
Where they twain will spend their days. O but she will love him truly!
He shall have a cheerful home;
She will order all things duly,
When beneath his roof they come.
Thus her heart rejoices greatly,
Till a gateway she discerns
With armorial bearings stately,
And beneath the gate she turns;
Sees a mansion more majestic
Than all those she saw before;
Many a gallant gay domestic
Bows before him at the door.
And they speak in gentle murmur,
When they answer to his call,
While he treads with footstep firmer,
Leading on from hall to hall.
And, while now she wonders blindly,
Nor the meaning can divine,
Proudly turns he round and kindly,
"All of this is mine and thine."
Here he lives in state and bounty,
Lord of Burleigh, fair and free,
Not a lord in all the county
Is so great a lord as he.
All at once the color flushes
Her sweet face from brow to chin: As it were with shame she blushes, And her spirit changed within. Then her countenance all over
Pale again as death did prove : But he clasped her like a lover,
And he cheered her soul with love. So she strove against her weakness, Though at times her spirit sank: Shaped her heart with woman's meekness To all duties of her rank: And a gentle consort made he,
And her gentle mind was such
That she grew a noble lady,
And the people loved her much. But a trouble weighed upon her,
And perplexed her, night and morn, With the burthen of an honor
Unto which she was not born.
Faint she grew, and ever fainter,
As she murmured, “O, that he
Were once more that landscape-painter
Which did win my heart from me!"
So she drooped and drooped before him,
Fading slowly from his side:
Three fair children first she bore him,
Then before her time she died.
Weeping, weeping late and early,
Walking up and pacing down,
SIR LAUNCELOT AND QUEEN GUINEVERE.
Deeply mourned the Lord of Burleigh,
Burleigh-house by Stamford town.
And he came to look upon her,
And he looked at her and said,
Bring the dress, and put it on her
That she wore when she was wed "
Then her people, softly treading,
Bore to earth her body, drest
In the dress that she was wed in,
That her spirit might have rest.
SIR LAUNCELOT AND QUEEN GUINE-
LIKE souls that balance joy and pain,
With tears and smiles from heaven again
The maiden Spring upon the plain
Came in a sun-lit fall of rain.
In crystal vapor everywhere
Blue isles of heaven laughed between,
And, far in forest-deeps unseen,
The topmost elm tree gathered green
From draughts of balmy air.
Sometimes the linnet piped his song:
Sometimes the throstle whistled strong:
Sometimes the sparhawk, wheeled along,
Hushed all the groves from fear of wrong:
By grassy capes with fuller sound
In curves the yellowing river ran,
And drooping chestnut-buds began
To spread into the perfect fan,
Above the teeming ground.