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Where roll of musketry and clash of sword
Announce the consummation of my vow
Of vengeance !''Nay,' she said, 'I follow thee;
No hand but mine shall keep thy weapons bright,
And I will spread thy cloak and watch thy sleep,
That none may wake thee with a false alarm.
I know the nidden virtues of the plants
That show their hardy heads in rocky nooks,
And from them I will simples cull, to heal
Thy bruises. Water will I bring, to bathe
Thy weary feet ; thy burdens I will bear;
And if thou diest, I will die with thee,
And we shall see Saint Stephen's blessèd face !'
‘But if I live,' I cried, 'wilt learn to love
Me?' Then she opened wide her eyes,
And every man shrank back as from a fire
Upspringing on a holy altar. “Love !'
She said, with maidenly simplicity,
'I know it not; but if 'tis love that fills
My bosom with delight, my heart with awe;
If it be love that makes the air so sweet,
And sets a newer beauty on the world
When thou art near me, then 'tis love I feel !
If it be love that makes my feeble limbs
Seem strong as sinews of these mountaineers;
If it be love that puts my soul in pain,
Yet makes that pain more grateful to the sense
Than echoes of divinest music are ;
If it be love that at my temples throbs
When thou and I touch hands ; if it be love
That makes me wish to die for thee, yet makes
My longing heart rebel at thought of Heaven
Without thee, then 'tis love I feel !
Strange flower sprung up within a single night,
May all the saints protect and keep thee green !'
She ceased, and with her trembling hands her face She covered.
Through and through the camp the hum Of voices echoed now; and every one Cried out against the Turk. "To arms ! to arms ! And let Saint Stephen's hero lead us on !' So ran the clamour ; and that night we wound In stern array of war among the rocks, Across the torrents and beside the cliffs, To fall upon the Turkish tents at dawn. Beside me marched the maiden, and she held Our martial pace, nor uttered word of fear.
I LOVE the memory of those brisk days
Of constant battle. For two years we fought
The tyrants ; in their blood we dipped our hands ;
And from their fortified and cool retreats,
From latticed harems redolent of musk
And Asiatic perfumes, nameless, strange ;
From fertile valleys where the olives grow
In rich profusion, where the silkworm spins,
And where the grain nods to the vagrant breeze,
We drove them headlong.
In Saint Stephen's name
Were many deeds of valour done : the Turk
At thought of us was seized with such a fear
That all his Oriental calm forsook
Him, and he cursed, and cursing, fled.
Throughout the danger and the clangour kept
Serenely to her purpose : day by day
She followed me and toiled for me : she fought,
When in a mountain fastness once we lay
Besieged by thrice our number. Like a saint
She lived, so lily-pure that not a breath
Assailed her spotless fame ; and every hour
Of peril or of duty that I saw
Found her beside me, with her peerless eyes
Invoking love, commanding reverence.
Her image utterly possessed my soul ;
Before me, even in the battle's front,
The vision of her beauty seemed to float.
I dreamed of her by night, and every morn
Her cherished name came leaping to my lips.
Thrice had I tried to speak to her of love,
But, with a gentleness that made my flame
The fiercer, had she bade me think of nought
Save good Saint Stephen and his mighty work;
Nor was it without tremor that I came,
When all our enemies had fled, once more
To plead my cause.
Beneath an olive tree
We halted on a sunny afternoon,
High on a table-land, whence we could see
The blue of far-off waters, and a sail
White, fluttering, and fugitive.
Yearned for the hills and groves of Thessaly.
I took the maiden's hand,-grown hard because
It oft had held the barrel of a gun, -
And looked into her matchless face, made brown
By sun and storm, and said,
Dost love me still ?
If all the love which once thou didst profess
For my poor self still swells within thy heart,
Come to my breast and be my bride--my joy,
My jewel, my soul's comfort! We will leave
These liberated lands, and down the sea
Southward to my sweet Thessaly will sail.
Together we will wander in the vales
Where gods have made their home : will see the trees
Where oracles have whispered : we will climb
The crags, and see Saint Stephen's goodly monks,
And tell them all our story. Wilt thou come ?
I love thee-love thee! Dost thou love me still ? '
There was a sudden light upon her brow-
I thought it was the sunshine of her soul,
And marvelled at it—as she softly said :
• If it be love that draws me to thy side,
And makes me hunger for thy close caress :
If it be love that gives me courage now
To gaze into thine eyes, and see my heart
Reflected there : if it be love to long