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And taught her to preserve its stately grace
Upon her lips, albeit around her rang
Barbaric dialects of peasant boors.
And now when in her twentieth year
she sought With love and care to soothe the honest priest, And help him bear the weight of his full years, Down came the Turkish hordes upon their home, As eagles on a dovecote.
And they fled. He faltered on the cruel road, and now Lay dead before her.
'Twas a simple tale, And simply told : but every word that rose, With troubled accent, from her wounded heart, Filled me with stronger and with purer love For this poor maid.
The anxious shepherd came,
Wild-eyed and pallid, urging us to flight.
A wreath of smoke upon a far-off crag
Announced the coming of the Turks.
Upon my shoulders took the dead; the guide
Gave food and water to the trembling girl,
And down we stole into a roomy cave,
Hard by a torrent's course.
The sun had set
Before we dared to venture forth anew.
In shadowed silence we had made a grave, And laid the priest within it; from the spot We led the weeping maid, who asked to die Beside her benefactor's tomb. Her woe Tore my fond heart as briars tear the flesh.
AND when the dawning came again to set
The merry sunbeams dancing on the rocks,
We stood upon a ledge of blackened stone,
High over all the barren hills. The birds
Circled about our heads in saucy flight.
The distant Adriatic showed a fringe
Of surf at mountain bases dimly seen.
A cold wind blew.
Below us, in a patch
Of stunted olives, lay the Slavic camp.
The maiden trembled at the armed men
Who thronged about us, shaking matted locks
Suspiciously, and prating of her charms
In voices over bold, when down at last
And to the camp we came.
Wild men were these, With silvered breastplates on ; with cruel knives
Set in their belts ; with guns bedecked with gems-
Heirlooms from Montenegrins ages dead;
Wiid men who stooped, as ever climbing hills ;
Who sang in circles seated round the fires ;
Who roasted sheep and oxen whole, yet ate
But sparingly, nor drank of wine, but smoked
With Oriental fervour ; men who slept
All night upon the rocks, nor ever asked
For shelter from the rain or wind : who hid
In ambuscade for passing Turks, and took
A keen delight in slaughter merciless ;
Who laughed when homeward with a Turkish head
Still bleeding in his hands a comrade came;
Strange men, who wrote upon their hearts the hate
Of tyrants, and who loved their native rocks
As those who live in happy lowlands love
Their fat and lusty fields of grain and vine !
But when the maiden saw the warriors flock
About me with obeisance, as the guide,
Perched on a stone, declaimed my history,
And read the letters of the pious monks,
Declaring me a chosen instrument,
-Saint Stephen's knight to war against the Turk,-
With awe she kissed the edges of my cloak,
And to her blessed orbs the tears arose,
As dew springs on the petals of the flowers,
To beauty adding beauty.
Then she told The story of our meeting ; and the men In reverent silence listened, for she seemed Like some fair spirit from another world, So radiant and beautiful she was. “The saints,' she said, "have set him on my path, That I may serve him ; and, from this day forth, I humbly follow him, to do his will.' In Greek she told me this, and, blushing, knelt Before me, and the groups
savage men Around her came, and clutched my garment's hem To kiss it. In my eyes a sudden flame Of triumph danced. The poor Thessalian hind, , The wayside plunderer, by chance became A leader in the camps of liberty ; Protector and defender of the saints, And not their pillager ! A miracle !
While grizzled warriors still crouched, and youths
Prayed me to bid them do some daring deed
Against the Turk, I raised the maiden up,
And kissed her hands, her forehead, and her hair,
With kisses pure as prayer of holy priest,
And murmured in her ear, 'I love thee !
Stay By me and light my pathway with thine eyes, While in the camp I walk ; but never come