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440

For there were seen in that dark wall,
Two niches, narrow, deep, and tall ; --
Who enters at such grisly door,
Shall ne'er, I ween, find exit more.
In each a slender meal was laid,
Of roots, of water, and of bread:
By each, in Benedictine dress,
Two haggard monks stood motionless;
Who, holding high a blazing torch,
Showed the grim entrance of the porch :
Reflecting back the smoky beam,
The dark-red walls and arches gleam.
Hewn stones and cement were displayed,
And building tools in order laid.

445

XXIV.

450

455

These executioners were chose,
As men who were with mankind foes,
And with despite and envy fired,
Into the cloister had retired ;
Or who, in desperate doubt of grace,
Strove, by deep penance, to efface

Of some foul crime the stain;
For, as the vassals of her will,
Such men the Church selected still,
As either joyed in doing ill,

Or thought more grace to gain,
If, in her cause, they wrestled down
Feelings their nature strove to own.
By strange device were they brought there,
They knew not how, and knew not where.

460

XXV.

465

470

And now that blind old Abbot rose,

To speak the Chapter's doom,
On those the wall was to enclose,

Alive, within the tomb,
But stopped, because that woful maid,
Gathering her powers, to speak essayed.
Twice she essayed, and twice in vain;
Her accents might no utterance gain;
Nought but imperfect murmurs slip
From her convulsed and quivering lip;
'Twixt each attempt all was so still,
You seemed to hear a distant rill

'Twas ocean's swells and falls;
For though this vault of sin and fear
Was to the sounding surge so near,
A tempest there you scarce could hear,

So massive were the walls.

475

480

XXVI.

485

At length, an effort sent apart
The blood that curdled to her heart,

And light came to her eye,
And color dawned upon her cheek,
A hectic and a fluttered streak,
Like that left on the Cheviot peak

By Autumn's stormy sky;
And when her silence broke at length,
Still as she spoke she gathered strength,

And armed herself to bear.
It was a fearful sight to see
Such high resolve and constancy,

In form so soft and fair.

490

XXVII.

495

500

505

“I speak not to implore your grace; Well know I, for one

minute's

space
Successless might I sue:
Nor do I speak your prayers to gain ;.
For if a death of lingering pain,
To cleanse my sins, be penance vain,

Vain are your masses too.
I listened to a traitor's tale,
I left the convent and the veil;
For three long years I bowed my pride,
A horse-boy in his train to ride;
And well my folly's meed he gave,
Who forfeited, to be his slave,
All here, and all beyond the grave. —
He saw young Clara's face more fair,
He knew her of broad lands the heir,
Forgot his vows, his faith forswore,
And Constance was beloved no more.
'Tis an old tale, and often told;

But did my fate and wish agree,
Ne'er had been read, in story old,
Of maiden true betrayed for gold,

That loved, or was avenged, like me!

510

515

XXVIII.

520

“The King approved his favorite's aim;
In vain a rival barred his claim,

Whose faith with Clare's was plight,
For he attaints that rival's fame
With treason's charge — and on they came,

In mortal lists to fight.

525

530

Their oaths are said,
Their prayers are prayed,

Their lances in the rest are laid,
They meet in mortal shock;
And hark! the throng, with thundering cry,
Shout Marmion, Marmion! to the sky,

De Wilton to the block !'
Say ye, who preach Heaven shall decide
When in the lists two champions ride,

Say, was Heaven's justice here?
When, loyal in his love and faith,
Wilton found overthrow or death

Beneath a traitor's spear?
How false the charge, how true he fell,
This guilty packet best can tell." -
Then drew a packet from her breast,
Paused, gathered voice and spoke the rest.

535

540

XXIX.

545

“Still was false Marmion's bridal staid ; To Whitby's convent fled the maid,

The hated match to shun.
Ho! shifts she thus ?' King Henry cried.
"Sir Marmion, she shall be thy bride,

If she were sworn a nun.'
One way remained — the King's command
Sent Marmion to the Scottish land:
I lingered here, and rescue planned

For Clara and for me:
This caitiff monk for gold did swear
He would to Whitby's shrine repair,
And by his drugs my rival fair

A saint in heaven should be.

550

555

But ill the dastard kept his oath,
Whose cowardice hath undone us both,

XXX.

560

“ And now my tongue the secret tells,
Not that remorse my bosom swells,
But to assure my soul that none
Shall ever wed with Marmion.
Had fortune my last hope betrayed,
This packet, to the King conveyed,
Had given him to the headsman's stroke,
Although my heart that instant broke.
Now, men of death, work forth your will,
For I can suffer, and be still ;
And come he slow, or come he fast,
It is but Death who comes at last.

565

XXXI.

570

575

“ Yet dread me, from my living tomb,
Ye vassal slaves of bloody Rome!
If Marmion's late remorse should wake,
Full soon such vengeance will he take,
That you shall wish the fiery Dane
Had rather been your guest again.
Behind, a darker hour ascends!
The altars quake, the crosier bends,
The ire of a despotic King
Rides forth upon destruction's wing;
Then shall these vaults, so strong and deep,
Burst open to the sea-winds' sweep;
Some traveller then shall find

my Whitening amid disjointed stones,

580

bones

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