Insipid as the Queen upon a card ; Herall of thought and bearing hardly more Than his own shadow in a sickly sun.

He lean'd not on his fathers but himself.
But Leolin, his brother, living oft
With Averill, and a year or two before
Call’d to the bar, but ever call’d away
By one low voice to one dear neighbour-

hood, Would often, in his walks with Edith,

claim A distant kinship to the gracious blood That shook the heart of Edith hearing


Aland of hops and poppy-mingled corn, Little about it stirring save a brook ! A sleepy land, where under the same

wheel The same old rut would deepen year by

year; Where almost all the village had one

name; Where Aylmer follow'd Aylmer at the

Hall And Averill Averill at the Rectory Thrice over ; so that Rectory and Hall, Bound in an immemorial intimacy, Were open to each other ; tho' to dream That Love could bind them closer well

had made The hoar hair of the Baronet bristle up With horror, worse than had he heard his

priest Preach an inverted scripture, sons of men Daughters of God; so sleepy was the land.

Sanguine he was : a but less vivid hue Than of that islet in the chestnut-bloom Flamed in his cheek; and eager eyes,

that still Took joyful note of all things joyful,

beam'd, Beneath a manelike mass of rolling gold, Their best and brightest, when they dwelt

on hers, Edith, whose pensive beauty, perfect else, But subject to the season or the mood, Shone like a mystic star between the less And greater glory varying to and fro, We know not wherefore ; bounteously

made, And yet so finely, that a troublous touch Thinn'd, or would seem to thin her in a

day, A joyous to dilate, as toward the light. And these had been together from the


And might not Averill, had he will'd it

so, Somewhere beneath his own low range of

roofs, Have also set his many-shielded tree? There was an Aylmer-Averill marriage

once, When the red rose was redder than itself, And York's white rose as red as Lancas

ter's, With wounded peace which each had

prick'd to death. Not proven ' Averill said, or laughingly, Some other race of Averills'--prov'n or

no, What cared he? what, if other or the


Leolin's first nurse was, five years after,

hers : So much the boy foreran ; but when his

date Doubled her own, for want of playmates,

he (Since Averill was a decad and a half His elder, and their parents underground) Had tost his ball and flown his kite, and


Broke with a phosphorescence charming


His hoop to pleasure Edith, with her dipt Against the rush of the air in the prone

swing, Made blossom-ball or daisy-chain, ar

ranged Her garden, sow'd her name and kept it

green In living letters, told her fairy-tales, Show'd her the fairy footings on the grass, The little dells of cowslip, fairy palms, The petty marestail forest, fairy pines, Or from the tiny pitted target blew What look'd a flight of fairy arrows aim'd All at one mark, all hitting : make-be

lieves For Edith and himself: or else he forged, But that was later, boyish histories Of battle, bold adventure, dungeon,

wreck, Flights, terrors, sudden rescues, and true

love Crown'd after trial; sketches rude and

faint, But where a passion yet unborn perhaps Lay hidden as the music of the moon Sleeps in the plain eggs of the nightingale. And thus together, save for college-times Or Temple-eaten terms, a couple, fair As ever painter painted, poet sang, Or Heav'n in lavish bounty moulded, grew. And more and more, the maiden woman

grown, He wasted hours with Averill ; there,

when first The tented winter-field was broken up Into that phalanx of the summer spears That soon should wear the garland ; there

again When burr and bine were gatherd;

lastly there At Christmas; ever welcome at the Hall, On whose dull sameness his full tide of


My lady; and the Baronet yet had laid No bar between them : dull and self

involved, Tall and erect, but bending from his

height With half-allowing smiles for all the

world, And mighty courteous in the main-his

pride Lay deeper than to wear it as his ringHe, like an Aylmer in his Aylmerism, Would care no more for Leolin's walking

with her Than for his old Newfoundland's, when

they ran To loose him at the stables, for he rose Twofooted at the limit of his chain, Roaring to make a third : and how should

Love, Whom the cross-lightnings of four chance

met eyes Flash into fiery life from nothing, follow Such dear familiarities of dawn? Seldom, but when he does, Master of


So these young hearts not knowing that

they loved, Not she at least, nor conscious of a

bar Between them, nor by plight or broken

ring Pound, but an immemorial intimacy, Wander'd at will, and oft accompanied By Averill : his, a brother's love, that

hung With wings of brooding shelter o'er her

peace, Might have been other, save for Leolin'sWho knows? but so they wander'd, hour

by hour

Not sowing hedgerow texts and passing

Gather'd the blossom that rebloom'd, and

drank The magic cup that fill'd itself anew.


A whisper half reveal'd her to herself. For out beyond her lodges, where the

brook Vocal, with here and there a silence, ran By sallowy rims, arose the labourers'

homes, A frequent haunt of Edith, on low knolls That dimpling died into each other, huts At random scatter'd, each a nest in bloom. Her art, her hand, her counsel all had

wrought About them : here was one that, summer.

blanch'd, Was parcel-bearded with the traveller's

joy In Autumn, parcel ivy-clad ; and here The warm-blue breathings of a hidden

hearth Broke from a bower of vine and honey

suckle : One look'd all rosetree, and another

wore A close-set robe of jasmine sown with

stars : This had a rosy sea of gillyflowers About it; this, a milky-way on earth, Like visions in the Northern dreamer's

heavens, A lily-avenue climbing to the doors ; One, almost to the martin-haunted eaves A summer burial deep in hollyhocks ; Each, its own charm; and Edith's every

where; And Edith ever visitant with him, He but less loved than Edith, of her poor : For she-so lowly-lovely and so loving, Queenly responsive when the loyal hand Rose from the clay it work'd in as she


Nor dealing goodly counsel from a height
That makes the lowest hate it, but a voice
Of comfort and an open hand of help,
A splendid presence flattering the poor

roofs Revered as theirs, but kindlier than them

selves To ailing wife or wailing infancy Or old bedridden palsy,—was adored ; He, loved for her and for himself. A

grasp Having the warmth and muscle of the

heart, A childly way with children, and a laugh Ringing like proven golden coinage true, Were no false passport to that easy realm, Where once with Leolin at her side the

girl, Nursing a child, and turning to the

warmth The tender pink five-beaded baby-soles, Heard the good mother softly whisper

* Bless, God bless 'em : marriages are made in


A flash of semi-jealousy clear'd it to


My lady's Indian kinsman unannounced With half a score of swarthy faces came. His own, tho'keen and bold and soldierly, Seard by the close ecliptic, was not fair ; Fairer his talk, a tongue that ruled the

hour, Tho' seeming boastful : so when first he

dash'd Into the chronicle of a deedful day, Sir Aylmer half forgot his lazy smile Of patron Good ! my lady's kinsman

good !' My lady with her fingers interlock'd,

Down from the beetling crag to which he


Tumbled the tawny rascal at his feet, This dagger with him, which when now

admired By Edith whom his pleasure was to please, At once the costly Sahib yielded to her.

And rotatory thumbs on silken knees, Calld all her vital spirits into each ear To listen : unawares they flitted off, Busying themselves about the flowerage That stood from out a stiff brocade in

which, The meteor of a splendid season, she, Once with this kinsman, ah so long ago, Stept thro' the stately minuet of those

days : But Edith's eager fancy hurried with him Snatch'd thro' the perilous passes of his

life : Till Leolin ever watchful of her eye, Hated him with a momentary hate. Wife-hunting, as the rumour ran, was

he : I know not, for he spoke not, only

shower'd His oriental gifts on everyone And most on Edith : like a storm he

came, And shook the house, and like a storm

he went.

And Leolin, coming after he was gone, Tost over all her presents petulantly : And when she show'd the wealthy

scabbard, saying * Look what a lovely piece of workman

ship!' Slight was his answer · Well-I care not

for it :' Then playing with the blade he prick'd

his hand, *A gracious gift to give a lady, this!' * But would it be more gracious’ ask'd

the girl "Were I to give this gift of his to one That is no lady?' 'Gracious ? No'said

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Among the gifts he left her (possibly He flow'd and ebb’d uncertain, to return When others had been tested) there was


Me?-but I cared not for it. O pardon

me, I seem to be ungraciousness itself.' "Take it' she added sweetly, tho' his

gift; For I am more ungracious ev'n than you, I care not for it either ;' and he said • Why then I love it :' but Sir Aylmer

past, And neither loved nor liked the thing he


A dagger, in rich sheath with jewels on it Sprinkled about in gold that branch'd

itself Fine as ice-ferns on January panes Made by a breath. I know not whence

at first, Nor of what race, the work ; but as he

told The story, storming a hill-fort of thieves He got it; for their captain after fight, His comrades having fought their last

below, Was climbing up the valley ; at whom he

The next day came a neighbour.

Blues and reds They talk'd of: blues were sure of it, he

thought : Then of the latest fox-—where started In such a bottom : 'Peter had the brush, My Peter, first :' and did Sir Aylmer know That great pock-pitten fellow had been

shot :


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caught? Then made his pleasure echo, hand to

hand, And rolling as it were the substance of it Between his palms a moment up and

down* The birds were warm, the birds were

warm upon him ; We have him now :' and had Sir Aylmer

heardNay, but he must—the land was ringing

of itThis blacksmith border-marriage--one

they knewRaw from the nursery--who could trust

a child? That cursed France with her egalities ! And did Sir Aylmer (deferentially With nearing chair and lower'd accent)

thinkFor people talk'd—that it was wholly wise To let that handsome fellow Averill walk So freely with his daughter ? people

talk'd The boy might get a notion into him ; The girl might be entangled ere she knew. Sir Aylmer Aylmer slowly stiffening spoke: * The girl and boy, Sir, know their

differences ! Good,' said his friend, but watch !'

and he, Enough, More than enough, Sir ! I can guard my

own. They parted, and Sir Aylmer Aylmer


Pale as the Jephtha's daughter, a rough

piece Of early rigid colour, under which Withdrawing by the counter door to that Which Leolin open'd, she cast back upon

him A piteous glance, and vanish’d. He, as

one Caught in a burst of unexpected storm, And pelted with outrageous epithets, Turning beheld the Powers of the House On either side the hearth, indignant; her, Cooling her false cheek with a featherfan, Him, glaring, by his own stale devil

spurr'd, And, like a beast hard-ridden, breathing

hard. • Ungenerous, dishonourable, base, Presumptuous ! trusted as he was with

her, The sole succeeder to their wealth, their

lands, The last remaining pillar of their house, The one transmitter of their ancient name, Their child. Our child !! “Our

heiress !' 'Ours !' for still, Like echoes from beyond a hollow, came Her sicklier iteration. Last he said, • Boy, mark me! for your fortunes are to

make. I swear you shall not make them out of

mine. Now inasmuch as you have practised on

her, Perplext her, made her half forget herself, Swerve from her duty to herself and us-Things in an Aylmer deem'd impossible, Far as we track ourselves—I say that

this, Else I withdraw favour and countenance From you and yours for ever---shall you do. Sir, when you see her—but you shall not

see her-

Pale, for on her the thunders of the

house llad fallen first, was Edith that same


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