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Indeed fulfill'd, and hath the grave given up
Its dead? . . . So saying, on the old man he turn'd
Eyes full of wide astonishment, which told
The incipient thought that for incredible
He spake no farther. But enough had past;
For old Siverian started at the words
Like one who sees a spectre, and exclaim'd,
Blind that I was to know him not till now!
My Master, O my Master!
With easy pace moved on to meet their march.
King, to Pelayo he began, this day
By means scarce less than miracle, thy throne
Is stablish'd, and the wrongs of Spain revenged.
Orpas the accursed, upon yonder field
Lies ready for the ravens. By the Moors
Treacherously slain, Count Julian will be found
Before Saint Peter's altar; unto him
Grace was vouchsafed; and by that holy power
Which at Visonia from the Primate's hand
Of his own proper act to me was given,
Unworthy as I am, yet sure I think
Not without mystery, as the event hath shown,
Did I accept Count Julian's penitence,
And reconcile the dying man to Heaven.
Beside him hath his daughter fallen asleep;
Deal honourably with his remains, and let
One grave with Christian rites receive them both.
Is it not written that as falls the Tree
So it shall lie?
In this and all things else,
Pelayo answered, looking wistfully
Upon the Goth, thy pleasure shall be done.
Then Roderick saw that he was known, and turn'd
His head away in silence. But the old man
Laid hold upon his bridle, and look'd up
In his master's face, weeping and silently.
Thereat the Goth with fervent pressure took
His hand, and bending down toward him, said,)
My good Siverian, go not thou this day
To war! I charge thee keep thyself from harm!
Thou art past the age for battles, and with whom
Hereafter should thy mistress talk of me
If thou wert gone? . . Thou seest I am unarm'd;
Thus disarray'd as thou beholdest me,
Clean through yon miscreant army have I cut
My way unhurt; but being once by Heaven
Preserved, I would not perish with the guilt
Of having wilfully provoked my death.
Give me thy helmet and thy cuirass! . . nay,
Thou wert not wont to let me ask in vain,
Nor to gainsay me when my will was known!
To thee methinks I should be still the King. . .
O who could tell what deeds were wrought that day,
Or who endure to hear the tale of rage,
Hatred, and madness, and despair, and fear,
Horror, and wounds, and agony, and death,
The cries, the blasphemies, the shrieks, and groans,
And prayers, which mingled with the din of arms
In one wild uproar of terrific sounds;
While over all predominant was heard,
Reiterate from the conquerors o'er the field,
Roderick the Goth! Roderick and Victory!
Roderick and Vengeance! ...
The evening darken'd, but the avenging sword
Turned not away its edge till night had closed
Upon the field of blood. The Chieftains then
Blew the recall, and from their perfect work
Return'd rejoicing, all but he for whom
All look'd with most expectance. He full sure
Had thought upon that field to find his end
Desired, and with Florinda in the grave
Rest, in indissoluble union joined.
But still where through the press of war he went
Half-arm'd, and like a lover seeking death,
The arrows past him by to right and left,
The spear-point pierced him not, the scymitar
Glanced from his helmet; he, when he beheld
The rout complete, saw that the shield of Heaven
Had been extended over him once more,
And bowed before its will. Upon the banks
Of Sella was Orelio found, his legs
And flanks incarnadined, his poitral smeared
With froth and foam and gore, his silver mane
Sprinkled with blood, which hung on every hair,
Aspersed like dew-drops; trembling there he stood
From the toil of battle, and at times sent forth
His tremulous voice far echoing loud and shrill,
A frequent anxious cry, with which he seem'd
To call the master whom he loved so well,
And who had thus again forsaken him.
Siverian's helm and cuirass on the grass
Lay near; and Julian's sword, its hilt and chain
Clotted with blood; but where was he whose hand
Had wielded it so well that glorious day? . . .
Days, months, and years, and generations pass'd, And centuries held their course, before, far off Within a hermitage near Viseu's walls A humble tomb was found, which bore inscribed In ancient characters King Roderick's name.
He found a Woman in the cave,
A solitary Woman,
Who by the fire was spinning,
And singing as she spun.
The pine boughs were cheerfully blazing,
And her face was bright with the flame;
Her face was as a Damsel's face,
And yet her hair was grey.
She bade him welcome with a smile,
And still continued spinning,
And singing as she spun....
The thread she spun it gleam'd like gold
In the light of the odorous fire,
Yet was it so wonderously thin,
That, save when it shone in the light,
You might look for it closely in vain.
The youth sate watching it,
And she observed his wonder,
And then again she spake,
And still her speech was song;
'Now twine it round thy hands I say,
Now twine it round thy hands I pray;
My thread is small, my thread is fine,
But he must be
A stronger than thee,
Who can break this thread of mine!'
And up she raised her bright blue eyes, And sweetly she smiled on him, And he conceived no ill;
And round and round his right hand,
And round and round his left,
He wound the thread so fine.
And then again the Woman spake,
And still her speech was song,
'Now thy strength, O Stranger, strain!
Now then break the slender chain.'
Thalaba strove, but the thread
By magic hands was spun,
And in his cheek the flush of shame
Arose, commixt with fear.
She beheld and laugh'd at him,
And then again she sung,
'My thread is small, my thread is fine, But he must be
A stronger than thee,
Who can break this thread of mine!'
And up she raised her bright blue eyes, And fiercely she smiled on him:
'I thank thee, I thank thee, Hodeirah's son!
I thank thee for doing what can't be undone,
For binding thyself in the chain I have spun!'
Then from his head she wrench'd
A lock of his raven hair,
And cast it in the fire,
And cried aloud as it burnt,
'Sister! Sister! hear my voice!
'Sister! Sister! come and rejoice!
The thread is spun,
The prize is won,
The work is done,
For I have made captive Hodeirah's Son.'
O force of faith! O strength of virtuous will! Behold him in his endless martyrdom, Triumphant still!
The Curse still burning in his heart and brain, And yet doth he remain
Patient the while, and tranquil, and content!
The pious soul hath framed unto itself
A second nature, to exist in pain
As in its own allotted element.
Such strength the wi'l reveal'd had given
This holy pair, such influxes of grace,
That to their solitary resting place
They brought the peace of Heaven. Yea, all around was hallow'd! Danger, Fear, Nor thought of evil ever enter'd here.
A charm was on the Leopard when he came Within the circle of that mystic glade; Submiss he crouch'd before the heavenly maid, And offer'd to her touch his speckled side; Or with arch'd back erect, and bending head, And eyes half-closed for pleasure, would he stand Courting the pressure of her gentle hand.