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A chill dim spectreever at thy side,
   With outspread frozen wings 'twixt thee and Heaven,
A shadow of the grave, an ebbing tide,
   Thy heart upon it from the Life-shore driven."

"Lilian, sweet Lilian, wake from out thy dream!
   Wake, Lilian!" sigh'd the night-wind 'gainst the
"O, Lilian! say farewell!" The white moonbeam
   Crept to her eyes, and kiss'd them once again.
A wavering smile toy'd on her parted lips,
   While Percie's name stole from them, dreamy low,
Like zephyr playing on the daisy-tips,
   When falls the rain-dew, silent, soft, and slow.
"O, Lilian, he is gone!" The winds made moan,
   All mournfully, against the window-pane.
"Sweet Lilian, wake and weep, for he is gone
   Percie is goneis gonenor comes again!"


Up rose the dawn, with sunshine on the wold,
   With hymns of birds and incense-breath of flowers;
The shadows fled into the forests old,
   And opening buds look'd up for dewy showers.
The summer slaked his thirst in the swift rill,
   The breezes hid away in shady nooks,
The mavis sang one wild continuous trill,
   And white-eyed pebbles peer'd from out the brooks.

The ruby light woke Lilian with a kiss,
   Then nestled in her waves of silken hair;
Stole to her bosom like a soft caress,
   Then changed to rosy snow, and linger'd there.
Draped in her maiden purity, she lay
   Radiant as early summer, fresh as spring,
Half-sleeping, half-awake, with thoughts astray,
   In dream-land wand'ring still, on pure white wing.
But the vague, beauteous vision of the night
   Faded so fast, her heart could scarce pursue;
Vainly she strove to stay its wavering light,
   It died away in formless shadowy hue.

Then rose she up with sudden smile and sigh,
   And let the sun in on her morning prayer;
The moted raylets, floating noiseless by,
   Were fain to stay and make a halo there.
Forth from her chamber-door she slowly went,
   Ling' ring from step to step in tranced calm;
Up from the open porch, with odours blent.
   Flew the fresh air with morning kiss of balm,
To ope the blushing rose upon her cheek,
   The lustrous beauty of her eyes to light,
To give her sweet Good-morrow! and to deck
   Her lips with smiles of gracious, loving might.

Her little foot paused not, nor slack'd its pace,
   As on she went to Cousin Percie's room,
A moment's kindling blush dawn'd on her face,
   To fade as fast before the chamber's gloom.
The curtains hung adown upon the floor,
   And o'er the windows, shutting out the morn,
And, though the sunbeams red, rush'd by the door,
   Still it look'd dim, forsaken, and forlorn.
A little while she waited in the porch,
   And listen'd for his step with ear intent;
Then through the sunshine, yet too pale to scorch,
   Along the garden-paths her ways the bent.
And as she sometimes linger'd, and then ran,
   Still "Percie, Cousin Percie!" was her cry;
"Where are you, Percie?" Then her pulse began
   To beat a little faster, and her eye
Ranged o'er the tangled woods, where echoes lay,
   And answer'd her with distant mocking tone:
"Lilian, sweet Lilian, he is far away!
   Lilian, bright Lilian, where is Percie gone?"

They sought him far and near, in wood, on wold,
   'Neath the black tarn that lurks within the hill;
Yet vainly sought. The keen autumnal cold
   Yule's frosts were come, but Percie came not still.
Then Lilian, losing hope, grew wan and weak,
   And faded like a snow-wreath in the sun;
Her morning eyes were dim, white was her cheek,
   Wasted her youth ere it was well begun.
Dame Avice spoke to cheer her, "He will come;
   Be of good cheer, O Lilian dear," said she;
But Lilian answer'd sadly, "Though he come,
   It is too latehe will not come to me."

And Lilian truly spake; for, ere the spring
   Merged into summer over Hawkswell Chace,
Across the shadow'd hills there thrill'd the ring
   Of passing bells for one at Hawkswell Place.
For fairy Lilian, dying in her prime,
   As die the violets ere the rose is blown;
For angel Lilian rang that gathering chime
   With a low, sad rebuke, in its deep tone.


The snow lay deep upon the open Chace,
   The sky above was murk, and dull, and drear;
The winter winds were out on their mad race,
   Driving the clouds along like hunted deer.
In the church-tower were clanging Christmas-bells,
   Mingling their carol with the loud free breeze,
Which bore their echoes far o'er the bleak fells,
   Then left them sighing midst the tall bare trees.

Twilight was past, and darkness had come down
   O'er Hawkswell Place, in a thick starless veil;
Dame Avice sat beside the fire alone,
   Watching and waiting, silent, grey, and pale.
The ancient room was full of fragrant heat,
   From Yule-tide logs upon the hearth piled high;
Stood in their ruddy glow their master's seat,
   With Christmas cheer upon the table nigh.
Old wine of ruby lustre, clear as light,
   Waited his lip to drain its sparkling tide;
While sconced walls, with garlands gay bedight,
   Shone mocking down, the stillness to deride;
For, they were deck'd, as if for Christmas guests,
   With wreaths of bright-gemm'd holly twined about;
Above the mantel, pictures, and old chests,
   Which shone and glitter'd as the blaze flamed out.

The night sped on, the long, long Christmas night,
   The bells were still, the wild wind wilder grew;
Bow'd the great oaks before its steady might,
   Shiver'd the elms, and groan'd the darksome yew.

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