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With rose and ivy tangles, wreathed in floods,
   Are mullion'd windows quaintly draperied o'er.
In the deep porch the lurking winds lie mute,
   Death's silence guards the broken, latchless door;
The weed-grown pathways echo to no foot
   To one swift foot shall echo never more!
Yet, always through the dim and murky night,
   When darkness comes with neither moon nor star,
Shoots out into the mist a glowing light
   From one low window, shining straight and far:
A light of cheery fire, of sparkling brand,
   High piled upon the hearthstone's ample space;
No cot, no hall, no palace in the land
   Shows ever brighter hearth than Hawkswell Place.

One ancient room still wears a look of home
   A look of home some fifty years ago;
You half expect to see the master come,
   And sit him down to rest, all tired and low.
Old pictures smile familiar from the wall,
   Old books upon old tables dusty lie;
Rich, faded curtains, on dim carpets fall,
   The antique chairs are stiff, and worn, and high.
The leaping flames the ruddy wainscot fill,
   Above the mantel, towers a broken glass;
All is so hushedso coldly, deadly still,
   That almost you could hear a shadow pass.

With dreamy eye, but heart and ear awake,
   Dame Avice sits beside the glowing brands;
She prays, then lists, then prays for his dear sake,
   Who wanders far away in unknown lands.
Thus has she watched for thirty years and more;
   Stiff eld has come upon her, all unheard;
She wearies not, though oft her heart is sore:
   Despairs not, though her hope is long deferred.

Hoar-finger'd Ruin crumbles wall and gate;
   Windows are dark with matted leaves and flowers;
The spider weaves her web in rooms of state;
   The unroof'd hall stands wide to heaven's showers.
But this was his, and he may come again
   Without a warning wordcome as he went;
There, through long years, his favourite books have lain,
   There Avice waits, her faith and hope unspent.
Dimly the pictures of old times return,
   Freighted with sorrow, wash'd and worn with tears;
And yet, in tracing them, her heart will burn,
   Forgotten all that chilling waste of years.
Her master's gentle tone, his grave sad face,
   His quiet student ways and dreamy air,
His lustrous eyesthose eyes like all his race
   So beautiful, yet thunder-fraught with care.
These shine upon her still from out their frame,
   Tender and kind; but she remembers well
A moment when they flash'd with lightning flame;
   Then, o'er them darkness, like a curtain, fell.


In the dim rooms a strange fresh voice went singing,
   And he would sit and listen in his chair,
While ev'ry pulse in his proud heart was ringing
   To that sweet tone an echo of despair.
A sunny face would come with wild, shy smile,
   To beckon Cousin Percie out to play;
And though his strong heart writhed and burn'd the
   He would be firm, and frown that face away.
A soft white arm oft round his neck would coil,
   No clasp of serpent deadlier in its might;
He put it off, and sought, in night-long toil,
   To quench his passion's loved yet fearful light.
If her bright perfumed hair but touched his cheek,
   It burnt in pain for many a tortured hour;
If her small rosy lips a kiss did seek,
   His soul was melted by their wondrous power.
Melted, and weak, and wav'ring for a day,
   Mad-happy with wild hopes and wilder dreams,
Till with the purple tinge of swift decay,
   One deadly thought swept off their roseate beams.

Half-child, half-woman, vain, as women are,
   Yet tender, loving, passionate, and proud;
To him an angel, gracious, kind, and fair,
   At whose bright feet his heart unwilling bow'd.
The little hands that once would blind his eyes,
   The mimic voice that bade him guess who pass'd,
Teased him no more; instead, a blush would rise:
   The friendly time was goneshe loved at last.

Counsel he took within his stern, closed heart,
   Most bitter counsel in the night's dead hour;
"We lovewe love; for this we two must part:
   The curse is on us bothit yet may lour!
O God, my God! Thou givest me strength to bear
   This heavy, burning cross, through my dark life,
Shelter Thou Lilian from all earthly care,
   Keep her aloof from anguish and from strife!
My heritagea heritage of sorrow
   Never will I bequeath to son of mine,—
To tremble daily for the dread to-morrow,
   'Till lost is reasonall of man divine.
From Thee I ask but patience, O my God!
   Patience to live my span of sunless days,
Calmly to look beyond the lifted rod,
While I thread out the rest of this dark maze!"

A summer night it was when he departed,
   Moonlight and starlight, hush'd as death or sleep;
Still firm and true, he went, though broken-hearted,
   Yet not too proud or firm at last to weep.
Dame Avice saw her master near the limes,
   Looking up skyward, with uncover'd head,
As if he pray'd, or listen'd to soft chimes,
   Or wavelets trickling o'er a stony bed.

In that dim hour he listen'd to his heart,
   To fond warm pleadings far more sweet than bells,
Or voice of many waters when they part
   With foamy Naiads in their sparkling cells.
Listen'd and linger'd till temptation grew
   Almost too strong for his quick, conscious soul;
Sweet Passion round his heart her trammels threw,
   Urging submission to her soft control.

On him his race's curse might never fall;
   Was not his reason strong, his spirit clear?
Why put away Life's dearest charm, of all,
   For such a vague, uncertain, distant fear?

"Be strong to suffer, be not weak to sin,"
   Whisper'd God's warner in his shrinking ear;
Be strong, and overcome! If Passion win,
   Peace shall pass from thee, leaving with thee Fear

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