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COUNT GISMOND.

AIX IN PROVENCE.

I

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.

II

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.

III

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.

IV

They, too, so beauteous! Each a queen

By virtue of her brow and breast;
Not needing to be crowned, I mean,

As I do. E'en when I was dressed,
Had either of them spoke, instead
Of glancing sideways with still head !

V

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

VI
And come out on the morning troop

Of merry friends who kissed my cheek,
And called me queen, and made me stoop

Under the canopy-(a streak
That pierced it, of the outside sun,
Powdered with gold its gloom's soft dun)-

VII

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 !

VIII

However that be, all eyes were bent

Upon me, when my cousins cast
Theirs down, it was time I should present

The victor's crown, but ... there, 't will last
No long time ... the old mist again
Blinds me as then it did. How vain!

IX

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 -
But Gauthier? and he thundered “ Stay !
And all stayed. “ Bring no crowns, I say !

X

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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

say !"

XI

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.

XII

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 ?

XIII

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,

XIV

my content

This glads me most, that I enjoyed

The heart o' the joy, with
In watching Gismond unalloyed

By any doubt of the event:.
God took that on him-I was bid
Watch Gismond for my part : I did.

XV

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.

XVI

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.

XVII

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.

66

XVIII

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.

XIX

Over my head his arm he flung

Against the world ; and scarce I felt
His sword (that dripped by me and swung)

A little shifted in its belt :
For he began to say the while
How South our home lay many a mile.

XX

So, 'mid the shouting multitude

We two walked forth to never more
Return. My cousins have pursued

Their life, untroubled as before
I vexed them. Gauthier's dwelling-place
God lighten! May his soul find grace !

XXI

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?
I was just telling Adela
How many birds it struck since May.

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