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She tapt her tiny silken-sandaled foot:
"That's your light way; but I would make it death For any male thing but to peep at us.”
Petulant she spoke, and at herself she laughed ;
A rosebud set with little wilful thorns,
And sweet as English air could make her, she :
But Walter hailed a score of names upon her,
And "petty Ogress," and "ungrateful Puss,"
And swore he longed at college, only longed,
All else was well, for she-society.
They boated and they cricketed; they talked
At wine, in clubs, of art, of politics;
They lost their weeks; they vext the souls of deans;
They rode; they betted; made a hundred friends,
And caught the blossom of the flying terms,
But missed the mignonette of Vivian-place,
The little hearth-flower Lilia. Thus he spoke,
Part banter, part affection.
"We doubt not that. O yes, I'll stake my ruby ring upon
True," she said, you missed us much. it you did."
She held it out; and as a parrot turns
Up through gilt wires a crafty loving eye,
And takes a lady's finger with all care,
And bites it for true heart, and not for harm,
So he with Lilia's. Daintily she shrieked
And wrung it. "Doubt my word again!" he said.
"Come, listen! here is proof that you were missed:
We seven stayed at Christmas up to read;
And there we took one tutor as to read:
The hard-grained Muses of the cube and square
Were out of season: never man, I think,
So mouldered in a sinecure as he:
For while our cloisters echoed frosty feet,
And our long walks were stript as bare as brooms, We did but talk you over, pledge you all
In wassail: often, like as many girls
Sick for the hollies and the yews of home-
As many little trifling Lilias-played
Charades and riddles as at Christmas here,
And what's my thought and when and where and how, And often told a tale from mouth to mouth
A pleasant game, she thought: she liked it more
Than magic music, forfeits, all the rest.
But these-what kind of tales did men tell men,
She wondered, by themselves?
Perched on the pouted blossom of her lips:
And Walter nodded at me:" He began,
The rest would follow, each in turn; and so
We forged a seven-fold story. Kind? what kind?
Chimeras, crotchets, Christmas solecisms,
Seven-headed monsters only made to kill
Time by the fire in winter.'
The tyrant! kill him in the summer too,"
Said Lilia; "Why not now," the maiden Aunt.
"Why not a summer's as a winter's tale?
A tale for summer, as befits the time;
And something it should be to suit the place,
Heroic, for a hero lies beneath,
Walter warped his mouth at this
To something so mock-solemn, that I laughed,
And Lilia woke with sudden-shrilling mirth
An echo, like a ghostly woodpecker,
Hid in the ruins; till the maiden Aunt
(A little sense of wrong had touched her face
With color) turned to me with "As you will-
Heroic if you will, or what you will,
Or be yourself your hero if you will."
"Take Lilia, then, for heroine," clamored he,
"And make her some great Princess, six feet high,
Grand, epic, homicidal; and be you
The Prince to win her!"
"Then follow me, the Prince,"
I answered; " each be hero in his turn!
Seven and yet one, like shadows in a dream.---
Heroic seems our Princess as required.-
But something made to suit with time and place,
A Gothic ruin, and a Grecian house,
A talk of college and of ladies' rights,
A feudal knight in silken masquerade,
And, yonder, shrieks and strange experiments,
For which the good Sir Ralph had burnt them
This were a medley! we should have him back
Who told the 'Winter's tale,' to do it for us.
No matter: we will say whatever comes.
And let the ladies sing us, if they will,
From time to time, some ballad, or a song,
To give us breathing-space.”
And the rest followed; and the women sang
Between the rougher voices of the men,
Like linnets in the pauses of the wind:
And here I give the story and the songs.
A PRINCE I was, blue-eyed, and fair in face,
Of temper amorous, as the first of May,
With lengths of yellow ringlet, like a girl,
For on my cradle shone the northern star.
There lived an ancient legend in our house.
Some sorcerer, whom a far-off grandsire burnt
Because he cast no shadow, had foretold,
Dying, that none of all our blood should know
The shadow from the substance, and that one
Should come to fight with shadows, and to fall.
For so, my mother said, the story ran.
And, truly, waking dreams were, more or less,
An old and strange affection of the house.
Myself too had weird seizures, Heaven knows what
On a sudden, in the midst of men and day,
And while I walked and talked as heretofore,
I seemed to move among a world of ghosts,
And feel myself the shadow of a dream.
Our great court-Galen poised his gilt-head cane,
And pawed his beard, and mutter'd catalepsy.
My mother pitying made a thousand prayers;
My mother was as mild as any saint,
Half-canonized by all that looked on her,
So gracious was her tact and tenderness:
But my good father thought a king a king;
He cared not for the affection of the house;
He held his sceptre like a pedant's wand
To lash offence, and with long arms and hands
Reached out, and picked offenders from the mass
Now it chanced that I had been,
While life was yet in bud and blade, betrothed
To one, a neighboring Princess; she to me
Was proxy-wedded with a bootless calf
At eight years old; and still from time to time
Came murmurs of her beauty from the South,
And of her brethren, youths of puissance;
And still I wore her picture by my heart,
And one dark tress; and all around them both
Sweet thoughts would swarm, as bees about their
But when the days drew nigh that I should wed, My father sent ambassadors with furs
And jewels, gifts, to fetch her: these brought back
A present, a great labor of the loom;
And therewithal an answer vague as wind:
Besides, they saw the king; he took the gifts;
He said there was a compact; that was true:
But then she had a will; was he to blame?
And maiden fancies; loved to live alone
Among her women: certain would not wed.
That morning in the presence-room I stood With Cyril and with Florian, my two friends: The first, a gentleman of broken means, (His father's fault,) but given to starts and bursts Of revel; and the last, my other heart, And almost my half-self, for still we moved Together, twinned, as horse's ear and eye.
Now while they spake I saw my father's face Grow long and troubled, like a rising moon, Inflamed with wrath: he started on his feet, Tore the king's letter, snowed it down, and rent The wonder of the loom through warp and woof, From skirt to skirt; and at the last he sware That he would send a hundred thousand men, And bring her in a whirlwind; then he chewed The thrice-turned cud of wrath, and cooked his spleen,
Communing with his captains of the war.
At last I spoke. "My father, let me go. It cannot be but some gross error lies In this report, this answer of a king, Whom all men rate as kind and hospitable: Or, maybe, I myself, my bride once seen, Whate'er my grief to find her less than fame, May rue the bargain made." And Florian said:
"I have a sister at the foreign court,
Who moves about the Princess; she, you know,
Who wedded with a nobleman from thence:
He, dying lately, left her, as I hear,
The lady of three castles in that land.
Through her this matter might be sifted clean." And Cyril whispered: "Take me with you too." Then, laughing," What if these weird seizures come Upon you in those lands, and no one near