Слике страница

Now in the court a statue stood,

Which there full long had been;
It was a Heathen goddess, or

Perhaps a Heathen queen.
Upon its marble finger then

He tried the ring to fit ;
And, thinking it was safest there,

Thereon he fastened it.
And now the tennis sports went on,

Till they were wearied all,
And messengers announced to them

Their dinner in the hall.
Young Rupert for his wedding-ring

Unto the statue went ;
But, oh! how was he shocked to find

The marble finger bent !
The hand was closed upon the ring

With firm and mighty clasp;
In vain he tried, and tried, and tried,

He could not loose the grasp !
How sore surprised was Rupert's mind -

As well his mind might be ;
“I'll come,” quoth he,“ at night again,

When none are here to see.'
He went unto the feast, and much

He thought upon his ring ;
And much he wondered what could mean

So very strange a thing !
The feast was o'er, and to the court,

He went without delay,
Resolved to break the marble hand,

And force the ring away !
But mark a stranger wonder still-

The ring was there no more ;
Yet was the marble hand ungrasped,

And open as before !
He searched the base, and all the court,

And nothing could he find,
But to the castle did return

With sore-bewildered mind.
Within he found them all in mirth,

The night in dancing flew;
The youth another ring procured,

And none the adventure knew.

And now the priest has joined their hands,

The hours of love advance! Rupert almost forgets to think

Upon the morn's mischance.
Within the bed fair Isabel

In blushing sweetness lay,
Like flowers, half-opened by the dawn,

And waiting for the day.
And Rupert, by her lovely side,

In youthful beauty glows,
Like Phoebus, when he bends to cast

His beams upon a rose !
And here my song should leave them both,

Nor let the rest be told,
But for the horrid, horrid tale

It yet has to unfold !
Soon Rupert, 'twixt his bride and him,

A death-cold carcass found;
He saw it not, but thought he felt
Its arms embrace him

round. He started up, and then returned,

But found the phantom still ;
In vain he shrunk, it clipped him round,

With damp and deadly chill !
And when he bent, the earthly lips

A kiss of horror gave; 'Twas like the smell from charnel vaults.

Or from the mouldering grave ! Ill-fated Rupert, wild and loud

Thou criedst to thy wife,
“Oh! save me from this horrid fiend,

My Isabel ! my life!”
But Isabel had nothing seen,

She looked around in vain;
And much she mourned the mad conce't

That racked her Rupert's brain. At length from this invisible

These words to Rupert came ; (O God! while he did hear the words,

What terrors shook his frame!) " Husband ! husband ! I've the ring

Thou gav'st to-day to me ; And thou’rt to me for ever wed,

As I am wed to thee!”

And all the night the demon lay

Cold-chilling by his side, And strained him with such deadly grasp,

He thought he should have died !
But when the dawn of day was near

The horrid phantom fled,
And left the affrighted youth to weep

By Isabel in bed.
All, all that day a gloomy cloud

Was seen on Rupert's brows;
Fair Isabel was likewise sad,

But strove to cheer her spouse.
And, as the day advanced, he thought

Of coming night with fear :
Ah ! that he must with terror view

The bed that should be dear!

At length the second night arrived,

Again their couch they pressed ;
Poor Rupert hoped that all was o'er,

And looked for love and rest.
But, oh! when midnight came, again

The fiend was at his side,
And, as it strained him in its grasp,

With howl exulting cried, -
“Husband ! husband ! I've the ring,

The ring thou gav'st to me; And thou'rt to me for ever wed

As I am wed to thee!”

In agony of wild despair,

He started from the bed ;
And thus to his bewildered wife

The trembling Rupert said : "O Isabel ! dost thou not see

A shape of horrors here,
That strains me to the deadly kiss

And keeps me from my dear?"

“No, no, my love ! my Rupert,

No shape of horrors see;
And much I mourn the phantasy

That keeps my dear from me!”
This night, just like the night before,

In terrors passed away,
Nor did the demon vanish thence

Before the dawn of day.

Says Rupert then, “My Isabel,

Dear partner of my woe,
To Father Austin's holy cave

This instant will I go.”
Now Austin was a reverend man,

Who acted wonders maint,
Whom all the country round believed

A devil or a saint !
To Father Austin's holy cave

Then Rupert went full straight,
And told him all, and asked him how

To remedy his fate.
The father heard the youth, and then

Retired awhile to pray;
And having prayed for half an hour,

Returned, and thus did say:
" There is a place where four roads meet,

Which I will tell to thee;
Be there this eve, at fall of night,

And list what thou shalt see.
Thou'lt see a group of figures pass

In strange disordered crowd, Travelling by torchlight through the roads,

With noises strange and loud.
And one that's high above the rest,

Terrific towering o'er,
Will make thee know him at a glance,

So I need say no more.
To him from me these tablets give,

They'll soon be understood ;
Thou need'st not fear, but give them straight,

I've scrawled them with my blood !”
The night-fall came, and Rupert all

In pale amazement went
To where the cross-roads met, and he

Was by the father sent.
And lo! a group of figures came

In strange disordered crowd,
Travelling by torchlight through the roads,

With noises strange and loud.
And, as the gloomy train advanced

Rupert beheld from far
A female form of wanton mien

Seated upon a car,


And Rupert, as he gazed upon

The loosely-vested dame,
Thought of the marble statue's look,

For hers was just the same.
Behind her walked a hideous form,

With eyeballs flashing death;
Whene'er he breathed, a sulphured smoke

Came burning in his breath!
He seemed the first of all the crowd,

Terrific towering o'er;
“Yes, yes,” said Rupert,

“this is he,
And I need ask no more.
Then slow he went, and to this fiend

The tablets trembling gave,
Who looked and read them with a yell

That would disturb the grave.
And when he saw the blood-scrawled name,

His eyes with fury shine;
** I thought," cries he, “his time was out,

But he must soon be mine!”

Then darting at the youth a look,

Which rent his soul with fear,
He went unto the female fiend,

And whispered in her ear.

The female fiend no sooner heard

Than, with reluctant look,
The very ring that Rupert lost

She from her finger took.
And, giving it unto the youth,

With eyes that breathed of hell,
She said, in that tremendous voice

Which he remembered well :

“In Austin's name take back the ring,

The ring thou gav'st to me;
And thou’rt to me no longer wed,

No longer I to thee."
He took the ring, the rabble passed,

He home returned again;
His wife was then the happiest fair,

The happiest he of men.

« ПретходнаНастави »