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By the loud thunder of Almighty wrath !
Irksome meantime the busy camp to me
A solitary woman. Isabel,
Wert thou the while companion of my tent, 85
Lightlier the time would pass. Return with me;
may not long be absent."
So she spake.
The wanderer in half-utter'd words express'd
Grateful assent. « Art thou astonish'd, then,
That one though powerful is benevolent? 90
In truth thou well mayest wonder !” Conrade cried.
But little cause to love the mighty ones
Hath the low cottager ; for with its shade
Too oft doth Power, a death-dew-dropping tree,
Blast every herb beneath its baleful boughs ! 95
Tell thou thy sufferings, Isabel! Relate
How warr'd the chieftains, and the people died.
The mission'd Virgin hath not heard thy woes ;
And pleasant to mine ear the twice-told tale
Gazing on the martial Maid 100 She read her wish, and spake.
“ A wanderer now, Friendless and hopeless, still I love to think Upon my native home, and call to mind Each haunt of careless youth; the woodbined wall, The jessamine that round the straw-roof'd cot 105 Its fragrant branches wreathed, beneath whose shade I wont to sit and watch the setting sun, And hear the thrushes song. Nor far remote, As o'er the subject landskip round I gazed, The towers of Yenville rose upon the view.
110 A foreign master holds my father's home!
I, far away, remember the past years,
Two brethren form'd our family; Humble we were, and happy; honest toil Pr ed our homely sustenance; our herds 115 Duly at morn and evening to my hand Gave their full stores ; the vineyard we had rear'd Purpled its clusters in the southern sun, And, plenteous produce of my father's toil, The yellow harvest billow'd o'er the plain. 120 How cheerfully around the blazing hearth When all the labour of the day was done, We past the evening hours; for they would sing Or merry roundelay, or ditty sad Of maid forsaken and the willow weed,
125 Or of the doughty Paladins of France Some warlike fit, the while my spinning wheel A fitting music made.
Thus long we lived, And happy. To a neighbouring youth my hand In holy wedlock soon to be consign'd
130 Was plighted: my poor Francis !” Here she paused, And here she wept awhile.
“ We did not think The desolating stream of war would reach To us; but soon as with the whirlwind's speed Ruin rush'd round us. Mehun, Clery, fell, 135 The banner'd Leopard waved on Gergeau's wall; Baugenci yielded; soon the foe approach'd The towers of Yenville.
Fatal was the hour To me and mine : for from the wall, alas !
The rusty sword was taken, and the shield 140
Which long had moulder'd on the mouldering nail,
To meet the war repair’d. No more was heard
The ballad, or the merry roundelay;
The clattering hammer's clank, the grating file
Harsh sounded through the day a dismal din; 145
I never shall forget their mournful sound !
“ My father stood encircling his old limbs
In long-forgotten arms. Come, boys,' he cried,
I did not think that this grey head again 149
Should bear the helmet's weight; but in the field
Better to bravely die a soldier's death,
Than here be tamely butcher’d. Isabel,
Go to the abbey ! if we should survive,
We soon shall meet again; if not, my child, 154
There is a better world !'
In broken words,
Lifting his eyes to Heaven, my father breathed
His blessing on me. As they went away,
My brethren gazed on me and wrung my
In silence, for they loved their sister well.
From the near cottage Francis join'd the troop. 160
Then did I look on our forsaken home,
And almost sob my very
away; For all my hopes of happiness were fled, Even like a dream."
“ Perish these mighty ones," Cried Conrade, “ these who let destruction loose, Who walk elated o'er their fields of fame, 166 And count the thousands that lie slaughter'd there, And with the bodies of the innocent, rear
Their pyramid of glory! perish these,
The epitome of all the pestilent plagues 170
That Egypt knew! who send their locust swarms
O'er ravaged realms, and bid the brooks run blood.
Fear and Destruction go before their path,
And Famine dogs their footsteps. God of Justice,
Let not the innocent blood cry out in vain !" 175
Thus while he spake, the murmur of the camp Rose on their ear; first like the distant sound When the full-foliaged forest to the storm Shakes its hoarse head ; anon with louder din ; 179 And through the opening glade gleam'd many a fire. The Virgin's tent they enter'd; there the board Was spread, the wanderer of the fare partook, Then thus her tale renew'd :
- “ Slow o'er the hill
Whose rising head conceald our cot I past,
Yet on my journey paused awhile, and gazed
And wept; for often had I crost the hill
With cheerful step, and seen the rising smoke
Of hospitable fire; alas ! no smoke
Curl'd o'er its melancholy chimneys now!
Orleans I reach’d. There in the suburbs stood 190
The abbey; and ere long I learnt the fall
On a day, a soldier ask'd
For Isabel. Scarce could my faltering feet
Support me. It was Francis, and alone...
The sole survivor of that company!
“ And soon the foes approach'd : impending war
Soon sadden'd Orleans. There the bravest chiefs
Assemble : Thouars, Coarase, Chabannes,
And the Sire Chapelle, in successful war 199
Since wounded to the death ; and that good Knight
Giresme of Rhodes, who in a better cause
Can never wield the crucifix that hilts
His hallowed sword; and Xaintrailles ransom'd now,
And Fayette late released, and that young Duke
Who at Verneuil senseless with many a wound 205
Fell prisoner, and La Hire, the merriest man
That ever yet did win his soldiers' love,
And over all for hardihood renown'd
The Bastard Orleans.
These within the town
Expect the foe. Twelve hundred chosen men 210
Well tried in war, uprear the guardian shield
Beneath their banners. Dreadful was the sight
Of preparation. The wide suburbs stretch'd
Along the pleasant borders of the Loire, 214
Late throng'd with multitudes, now feel the hand
Of ruin. These preventive care destroys,
Lest England, shelter'd by the friendly walls,
Securely should approach. The monasteries
Fell in the general waste. The holy monks
Unwillingly their long-accustom'd haunts 220
Abandon, haunts where every gloomy nook
Call’d to awaken'd memory some trace
Of vision seen, or sound miraculous.
Trembling and terrified, their noiseless cells,
For the rude uproar of a world unknown, 225
The nuns desert: their abbess, morc composed,
Collects her maids around, and tells her beads,