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AIX IN PROVENCE.
CHRIST God who savest man, save most
Of men Count Gismond who saved me! Count Gauthier, when he chose his post,
Chose time and place and company To suit it; when he struck at length My honour, 't was with all his strength.
And doubtlessly, ere he could draw
All points to one, he must have schemed ! That miserable morning saw
Few half so happy as I seemed, While being dressed in queen's array To give our tourney prize away.
I thought they loved me, did me grace
To please themselves ; 't was all their deed God makes, or fair or foul, our face;
If showing mine so caused to bleed My cousins' hearts, they should have dropped A word, and straight the play had stopped.
They, too, so beauteous! Each a queen
By virtue of her brow and breast;
As I do. E'en when I was dressed,
But no : they let me laugh, and sing
My birthday song quite through, adjust The last rose in my garland, Aling
A last look on the mirror, trust My arms to each an arm of theirs, And so descend the castle-stairs
Of merry friends who kissed my cheek,
Under the canopy-(a streak
And they could let me take my state
And foolish throne amid applause Of all come there to celebrate
My queen’s-day-Oh I think the cause Of much was, they forgot no crowd Makes up for parents in their shroud !
However that be, all eyes were bent
Upon me, when my cousins cast
The victor's crown, but ... there, 't will last
See ! Gismond 's at the gate, in talk
With his two boys : I can proceed,
Well, at that moment, who should stalk
Forth boldly—to my face, indeed -
Bring torches ! Wind the penance-sheet
“ About her! Let her shun the chaste, “Or lay herself before their feet !
“ Shall she, whose body I embraced “A night long, queen it in the day? « For honour's sake no crowns,
I? What I answered ? As I live,
I never fancied such a thing As answer possible to give.
What says the body when they spring Some monstrous torture-engine's whole Strength on it? No more says the soul.
Till out strode Gismond ; then I knew
That I was saved. I never met His face before, but, at first view,
I felt quite sure that God had set Himself to Satan : who would spend A minute's mistrust on the end ?
He strode to Gauthier, in his throat
Gave him the lie, then struck his mouth With one back-handed blow that wrote
In blood men's verdict there. North, South, East, West, I looked. The lie was dead, And damned, and truth stood up instead,
This glads me most, that I enjoyed
The heart o' the joy, with
By any doubt of the event:.
Did I not watch him while he let
His armourer just brace his greaves, Rivet his hauberk, on the fret
The while! His foot . . . my memory leaves No least stamp out, nor how anon He pulled his ringing gauntlets on.
And e’en before the trumpet's sound
Was finished, prone lay the false knight, Prone as his lie, upon the ground:
Gismond flew at him, used no sleight O'the sword, but open-breasted drove, Cleaving till out the truth he clove.
Which done, he dragged him to my feet
And said, “Here die, but end thy breath “In full confession, lest thou fleet
“From my first, to God's second death ! Say, hast thou lied ?” And, “I have lied “To God and her," he said, and died.
Then Gismond, kneeling to me, asked
-What safe my heart holds, though no word
Could I repeat now, if I tasked
My powers for ever, to a third Dear even as you are.
Pass the rest Until I sank upon his breast.
Over my head his arm he flung
Against the world ; and scarce I felt
A little shifted in its belt :
So, 'mid the shouting multitude
We two walked forth to never more
Their life, untroubled as before
Our elder boy has got the clear
Great brow; tho' when his brother's black Full eye shows scorn, it . .. Gismond here?
And have you brought my tercel back?