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In sacred vests, a venerable train,
By the Maiden's side.
Dissembled inspiration. As he stood
“ Woman, if any fiend of hell “ Lurk in thy bosom, so to prompt the vaunt “ Of inspiration, and to mock the power “ Of God and holy Church, thus by the virtue “ Of water hallowed in the name of God “ That damned spirit adjure I to depart “ From his possessed prey.” ,
Slowly he spake, And sprinkled water on the virgin's face: Indignant at the unworthy charge, the Maid Felt her cheek flush, but soon the transient glow Fading, she answer'd meek.
“ Most holy Sires, “ Ye reverend Fathers of the Christian church, “ Most catholic! I stand before you here “ A poor weak woman; of the grace vouchsafed,
“ How far unworthy, conscious: yet tho' mean,
“ Thou speakest," said the Priest, “ Of dark and shadowing visions of the night. “ Canst thou remember, Maid, what vision first “Seem'd more than Fancy's shaping? From such tale, “ Minutely told with accurate circumstance, “ Best judgement might be formed.”
The Maid replied,
“ Amid the mountain vallies I had driven “ My father's flock. The eve was drawing on, “ When by a sudden storm surprized, I sought “ A chapel's neighbouring shelter; ruin'd now, “ But I remember when its vesper bell “ Was heard among the hills, a pleasant sound, “ That made me pause upon my homeward road, “ Awakening in me comfortable thoughts “ Of holiness. The unsparing soldiery “ Had sack'd the hamlet near, and none was left “ Duly at sacred seasons to attend “ Saint Agnes' chapel. In the desolate pile “ I drove my flock, with no irreverent thoughts, “ Nor mindless that the place on which I trod “ Was holy ground. It was a fearful night! “ Devoutly to the virgin Saint I pray'd, . “ Then heap'd the wither'd leaves which autumn winds “ Had drifted in, and laid me down upon them, “ And sure I think I slept. But so it was “ That, in the dead of night, Saint Agnes stood .
“ Before mine eyes, such and so beautiful “ As when, amid the house of wickedness, “ The Power whom with such fervent love she served “ Veild her with glory. And she seem'd to point “ To the moss-grown altar, and the crucifix “ Half hid by weeds and grass; .. and then I thought “ I could have wither'd armies with a look, “ For from the present Saint such divine power “ I felt infused.... 'Twas but a dream perhaps. “ And yet methought that when a louder peal “ Burst o'er the roof, and all was left again “ Utterly dark, the bodily sense was clear “ And accurate in every circumstance “ Of time and place.”
Attentive to her words Thus the Priest answer'd.
“ Brethren, ye have heard “ The woman's tale. Beseems us now to ask “ Whether of holy Church a duteous child “ Before our court appears, so not unlike