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Come, listen ! here is proof that you were miss'd : We seven stay'd at Christmas up to read ;

And there we took one tutor as to read :

The hard-grain's Muses of the cube and square

Were out of season : never man, I think,

So moulder'd in a sinecure as he :

For while our cloisters echo'd frosty feet,
And our long walks were stript as bare as brooms,
We did but talk you over, pledge you all
In wassail ; often, like as many girls

Sick for the hollies and the

yews

of homeAs many little trifling Lilias-play'd

Charades and riddles as at Christmas here,

And what 's my thought and when and where and how

And often told a tale from mouth to mouth

As here at Christmas.'

She remember'd that:

A pleasant game, she thought : she liked it more

Than magic music, forfeits, all the rest.

But these—what kind of tales did men tell men,

She wonder'd, by themselves?

A half-disdain

Perch'd on the pouted blossom of her lips :
And Walter nodded at me ; He began,

The rest would follow, each in turn ; and so
We forged a sevenfold story. Kind? what kind ?

Chimeras, crotchets, Christmas solecisms,

Seven-headed monsters only made to kill
Time by the fire in winter.'

• Kill him now,

The tyrant ! kill him in the summer too,'
Said Lilia ; Why not now,' the maiden Aunt.
Why not a summer's as a winter's tale ?

6

A tale for summer as befits the time,

And something it should be to suit the place,

Heroic, for a hero lies beneath,

Grave, solemn!'

Walter warp'd his mouth at this

To something so mock-solemn, that I laugh'd
And Lilia woke with sudden-shrilling mirth

An echo like an April woodpecker,

Hid in the ruins ; till the maiden Aunt

(A little sense of wrong had touch'd her face

With colour) turn'd to me with · As you

will ;

Heroic if

you will, or what you will, Or be yourself your hero if you

will.'

• Take Lilia, then, for heroine 'clamour'd he,

• And make her some great Princess, six feet high,

Grand, epic, homicidal ; and be you

The Prince to win her!'

· Then follow me, the Prince,'

I answer'd, each be hero in his turn !

Heroic seems our Princess as required. -
But something made to suit with Time and place,

A Gothic ruin and a Grecian house,

A talk of college and of ladies' rights,
A feudal knight in silken masquerade,
And, yonder, shrieks and strange experiments
Were such a medley we should have him back
Who told the winter's tale’ to do it for us.

No matter : we will say whatever comes.
And let the ladies sing us, if they will,

From time to time, some ballad or a song

To give us breathing-space.'

So I began,

And the rest follow'd : and the women sang

Between the rougher voices of the men,
Like linnets in the pauses of the wind :
And here I give the story and the songs.

I.

A PRINCE I was, blue-eyed, and fair in face,

Of temper amorous, as the first of May,
With lengths of yellow ringlet, like a girl,
For on my cradle shone the Northern star.

My mother was as mild as any saint,
Half-canonized by all that look'd on her,

So gracious was her tact and tenderness :

But my good father thought a king a king ;

He held his sceptre like a pedant's wand
To lash offence, and with long arms and hands

Reach'd out, and pick'd offenders from the mass

For judgment.

Now it chanced that I had been,

While life was yet in bud and blade, betroth'd To one, a neighbouring Princess : she to me Was proxy-wedded with a bootless calf

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