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Half-legend, half-historic, counts and kings

Who laid about them at their wills and died ;

And mixt with these, a lady, one that arm’d

Her own fair head, and sallying thro' the gate,
Had beat her foes with slaughter from her walls.


And, I all rapt in this, . Come out,' he said, • To the Abbey : there is Aunt Elizabeth

And sister Lilia with the rest.'

We went

(I kept the book and had my finger in it)

Down thro' the park : strange was the sight to me ;
For all the sloping pasture murmur'd sown
With happy faces and with holiday.

There moved the multitude, a thousand heads :

The patient leaders of their Institute
Taught them with facts. One rear'd a font of stone

And drew, from butts of water on the slope,

The fountain of the moment, playing now
A twisted snake, and now a rain of pearls,

Or steep-up spout whereon the gilded ball

Danced like a wisp : and somewhat lower down

A man with knobs and wires and vials fired

A cannon : Echo answer'd in her sleep
From hollow fields : and here were telescopes
For azure views; and there a group of girls

In circle waited, whom the electric shock

Dislink'd with shrieks and laughter : round the lake A little clock-work steamer paddling plied

And shook the lilies : perch'd about the knolls

A dozen angry models jetted steam :
A petty railway ran : a fire-balloon

Rose gem-like up before the dusky groves
And dropt a fairy parachute and past :
And there thro' twenty posts of telegraph

They flash'd a saucy message to and fro

Between the mimic stations ; so that sport

With Science hand in hand went ; otherwhere

Pure sport : a herd of boys with clamour bowld
And stump'd the wicket ; babies roll’d about

Like tumbled fruit in grass ; and men and maids

Arranged a country dance, and flew thro' light

And shadow, while the twangling violin

Struck up with Soldier-laddie, and overhead

The broad ambrosial aisles of lofty lime

Made noise with bees and breeze from end to end.

Strange was the sight and smacking of the time ;

And long we gazed, but satiated at length
Came to the ruins. High-arch'd and ivy-claspt,

Of finest Gothic lighter than a fire,
Thro' one wide chasm of time and frost they gave

The park, the crowd, the house ; but all within

The sward was trim as any garden lawn :

And here we lit on Aunt Elizabeth,

And Lilia with the rest, and lady friends

From neighbour seats : and there was Ralph himself, A broken statue propt against the wall,

As gay as any. Lilia, wild with sport,

Half child half woman as she was, had wound

A scarf of orange round the stony helm,

And robed the shoulders in a rosy silk,

That made the old warrior from his ivied nook

Glow like a sunbeam : near his tomb a feast


Shone, silver-set ; about it lay the guests,
And there we join'd them : then the maiden Aunt
Took this fair day for text, and from it preach'd

An universal culture for the crowd,

And all things great ; but we, unworthier, told
Of college : he had climb'd across the spikes,
And he had squeez'd himself betwixt the bars,
And he had breathed the Proctor's dogs ; and one
Discuss'd his tutor, rough to common men
But honeying at the whisper of a lord ;
And one the Master, as a rogue in grain


Veneer'd with sanctimonious theory.

But while they talk'd, above their heads I saw The feudal warrior lady-clad ; which brought My book to mind : and opening this I read Of old Sir Ralph a page or two that rang

With tilt and tourney ; then the tale of her

That drove her foes with slaughter from her walls,


And much I praised her nobleness, and · Where,'
Ask'd Walter, patting Lilia's head (she lay
Beside him) • lives there such a woman now ?'


Quick answer'd Lilia • There are thousands now

Such women, but convention beats them down :

It is but bringing up ; no more than that :

You men have done it : how I hate


all !

Ah, were I something great! I wish I were
Some mighty poetess, I would shame you then,
That love to keep us children! 0 I wish
That I were some great Princess, I would build
Far off from men a college like a man's,


And I would teach them all that men are taught ;

We are twice as quick !' And here she shook aside The hand that play'd the patron with her curls.

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