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I. 'Twas Autumn; thro' Provence had ceased The vintage, and the vintage-feast. The sun had set behind the hill, The moon was up, and all was still, And from the Convent's neighbouring tower The clock had tolled the midnight-hour, When Jacqueline came forth alone, Her kerchief o'er her tresses thrown; A guilty thing and full of fears, Yet ah, how lovely in her tears !
She starts, and what has caught her eye?
What-but her shadow gliding by?
She stops, she pants; with lips apart
She listeng--to her beating heart!
Then, thro' the scanty orchard stealing,
The clustering boughs her track concealing,
She flies, nor casts a thought behind,
But gives her terrors to the wind;
Flies from her home, the humble sphere
Of all her joys and sorrows here,
Her father's house of mountain-stone,
And by a mountain-vine o'ergrown.
At such an hour in such a night,
So calm, so clear, so heavenly bright,
Who would have seen, and not confessed
It looked as all within were blest?
What will not woman, when she loves ?
Yet lost, alas, who can restore her?-
She lifts the latch, the wicket moves ;
And now the world is all before her.
Up rose St. Pierre, when morning shone; -And Jacqueline, his child, was gone! Oh what the maddning thought that came? Dishonour coupled with his name ! By Condé at Rocroy he stood; By Turenne, when the Rhine ran blood. Two banners of Castile he gave Aloft in Notre Dame to wave;
Nor did thy cross, St. Louis, rest
Upon a purer, nobler breast.
He slung his old sword by his side,
And snatched his staff and rushed to save;
Then sunk—and on his threshold cried,
“ Oh lay me in my grave!
-Constance ! Claudine! where were ye then?
But stand not there. Away! away!
Thou, Frederic, by thy father stay.
Though old, and now forgot of men,
Both must not leave him in a day.”
Then, and he shook his hoary head,
Unhappy in thy youth!” he said.
“ Call as thou wilt, thou call'st in vain;
No voice sends back thy name again.
To mourn is all thou hast to do;
Thy play-mate lost, and teacher too."
And who but she could soothe the boy,
Or turn his tears to tears of joy?
Long had she kissed him as he slept,
Long o'er his pillow hung and wept;
And, as she passed her father's door,
She stood as she would stir no more.
But she is gone, and gone for ever!
No, never shall they clasp her--never!
They sit and listen to their fears;
And he, who thro' the breach had led
Over the dying and the dead,
Shakes if a cricket's cry he hears !
Oh! she was good as she was fair. None-none on earth above her! As pure in thought as angels are, To know her was to love her. When little, and her eyes, her voice, Her every gesture said “ rejoice," Her coming was a gladness; And, as she grew, her modest grace, Her down-cast look 'twas heaven to trace, When, shading with her hand her face, She half inclined to sadness. Her voice, whate'er she said, enchanted ; Like music to the heart it went. And her dark eyes—how eloquent! Ask what they would, 'twas granted. Her father loved her as his fame; -And Bayard's self had done the same!
Soon as the sun the glittering pane On the red floor in diamonds threw, His songs she sung and sung again, Till the last light withdrew. But she is dead to him, to all! Her lute hangs silent on the wall; And on the stairs, and at the door Her fairy-step is heard no more! At every meal an empty chair Tells him that she is not there; She, who would lead him where he went, Charm with her converse while he leant;
Or, hovering, every wish prevent;
At eve light up the chimney-nook,
Lay there his glass within his book;
And that small chest of curious mould,
(Queen Mab’s, perchance, in days of old,)
Tusk of elephant and gold;
Which, when a tale is long, dispenses
Its fragrant dust to drowsy senses.
In her who mourned not, when they missed her,
The old a child, the young a sister?
No more the orphan runs to take
From her loved hand the barley-cake.
No more the matron in the school
Expects her in the hour of rule,
To sit amid the elfin brood,
Praising the busy and the good.
The widow trims her hearth in vain.
She comes not-nor will come again.
Not now, his little lesson done,
With Frederic blowing bubbles in the sun;
Nor spinning by the fountain-side,
(Some story of the days of old,
Barbe Bleue or Chaperon Rouge half-told
To him who would not be denied ;)
Not now, to while an hour away,
Gone to the falls in Valombrè,
Where 'tis night at noon of day;
Nor wandering up and down the wood,
To all but her a solitude,