Page images

That were there


our people there

In want or peril, there was one to hear
And help them : look ! for such are these and I.'

Are you that Psyche 'Florian ask'd 'to whom,
In gentler days, your arrow-wounded fawn
Came flying while you sat beside the well ?
The creature laid his muzzle on your lap,
And sobb’d, and you sobb’d with it, and the blood

Was sprinkled on your kirtle, and you wept.
That was fawn's blood, not brother’s, yet you wept.
O by the bright head of my little niece,
You were that Psyche, and what are you now?'
• You are that Psyche' Cyril said again,

• The mother of the sweetest little maid,

That ever crow'd for kisses.'

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She answer'd, 'peace ! and why should I not play The Spartan Mother with emotion, be

The Lucius Junius Brutus of


kind ?


you call great: he for the common weal, The fading politics of mortal Rome, As I might slay this child, if good need were,

Slew both his sons : and I, shall I, on whom

The secular emancipation turns
Of half this world, be swerved from right to save
A prince, a brother ? a little will I yield.
Best so, perchance, for us, and well for you.
O hard, when love and duty clash! I fear
My conscience will not count me fleckless ; yet-
Hear my conditions : promise (otherwise
You perish) as you came to slip away,
To-day, to-morrow, soon : it shall be said,

These women were too barbarous, would not learn ;

They fled, who might have shamed us : promise, all.'

What could we else, we promised each ; and she,

Like some wild creature newly-caged, commenced
A to-and-fro, so pacing till she paused

By Florian ; holding out her lily arms

Took both his hands, and smiling faintly said :


• I knew

at the first : tho'



You scarce have alter'd : I am sad and glad
To see you, Florian. I give thee to death
My brother! it was duty spoke, not I.
My needful seeming harshness, pardon it.

Our mother, is she well ?'

With that she kiss'd

His forehead, then, a moment after, clung

About him, and betwixt them blossom’d


From out a common vein of memory

Sweet household talk, and phrases of the hearth,

And far allusion, till the gracious dews
Began to glisten and to fall: and while
They stood, so rapt, we gazing, came a voice,
• I brought a message here from Lady Blanche.'
Back started she, and turning round we saw
The Lady Blanche's daughter where she stood,
Melissa, with her hand upon the lock,

A rosy blonde, and in a college gown
That clad her like an April daffodilly

(Her mother's colour) with her lips apart, And all her thoughts as fair within her eyes,

As bottom agates seen to wave and float
In crystal currents of clear morning seas.

So stood that same fair creature at the door.

Then Lady Psyche Ah-Melissa--you!
You heard us?' and Melissa, pardon me!
I heard, I could not help it, did not wish :
But, dearest Lady, pray you fear me not,
Nor think I bear that heart within my breast,

To give three gallant gentlemen to death.' • I trust you ’ said the other for we two

Were always friends, none closer, elm and vine :

But yet your mother's jealous temperament,
Let not your prudence, dearest, drowse, or prove
The Danaïd of a leaky vase, for fear
This whole foundation ruin, and I lose

My honour, these their lives.' 'Ah, fear me not'
Replied Melissa ‘no-I would not tell,
No, not for all Aspasia's cleverness,

No, not to answer, Madam, all those hard things

That Sheba came to ask of Solomon.'

• Be it so 'the other that we still may lead
The new light up, and culminate in peace, ,
For Solomon may come to Sheba yet.'
Said Cyril - Madam, he the wisest man

Feasted the woman wisest then, in halls

Of Lebanonian cedar : nor should you

(Tho' madam


answer, we would ask)

Less welcome find among us, if you came

Among us, debtors for our lives to you,
Myself for something more.' He said not what,

But . Thanks,' she answer'd.go: we have been too long Together : keep your hoods about the face ;

They do so that affect abstraction here.

Speak little ; mix not with the rest ; and hold
Your promise : all, I trust, may yet be well.'

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