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Quick at the word—they seized him each a torch,
And fire the dome from minaret to porch.
A stern delight was fix'd in Conrad's eye,
But sudden sunk-for on his ear the cry
Of women struck, and like a deadly knell 810
Knock'd at that heart unmoved by battle's yell.
" Oh ! burst the Haram-wrong not on your lives
“ One female form-remember--we have wives.
“ On them such outrage Vengeance will repay;
“ Man is our foe, and such 'tis ours to slay: 815
“ But still we spared---must spare the weaker prey.
“Oh! I forgot---but Heaven will not forgive
“ If at my word the helpless cease to live;
“Follow who will--- I go---we yet have time
“Our souls to lighten of at least a crime.” 820
He climbs the crackling stair---he bursts the door,
Nor feels his feet glow scorching with the floor;
His breath choak'd gasping with the volumed smoke,
But still from room to room his way he broke.
They search---they find---they save: with lusty arms
Each bears a prize of unregarded charms; 826
Calm their loud fears ; sustain their sinking frames
With all the care defenceless beauty claims:
So well could Conrad tame their fiercest mood,
And check the very hands with gore inbrued. 830
But who is she? whom Conrad's arms convey
From reeking pile and combat's wreck-away-
Who but the love of him he dooms to bleed ?
The Haram queen-but still the slave of Seyd!
VI. Brief time had Conrad now to greet Gulnare, (9) 835 Few words to reassure the trembling fair ; For in that pause compassion snatch'd from war, The foe before retiring, fast and far, With wonder saw their footsteps unpursued, First slowlier fled-then rallied—then withstood. 840 This Seyd perceives, then first perceives how few, Compared with his, the Corsair's roving crew, And blushes o'er his error, as he eyes The ruin wrought by panic and surprise. Alla il Alla! Vengeance swells the cry
845 Shame mounts to rage that must atone or die! And flame for flame and blood for blood must tell, The tide of triumph ebbs that flow'd too wellWhen wrath returns to renovated strife, And those who fought for conquest strike for life. 850 Conrad beheld the danger--he beheld His followers faint by freshening foes repellid: “ One effort--one-to break the circling host !" They form-unite--charge--waver--all is lost! Within a narrower ring compress'd, beset,
855 Hopeless, not heartless, strive and struggle yet-Ah! now they fight in firmest file no more, Hemm'd in--cut off--cleft down--and trampled o'er ;
But each strikes singly, silently, and home,
And sinks outwearied rather than o'ercome, 360
His last faint quittance rendering with his breath,
Till the blade glimmers in the grasp of death!
But first, ere came the rallying host to blows,
And rank to rank, and hand to hand oppose,
Gulnare and all her Haram handmaids freed,
Safe in the dome of one who held their creed,
By Conrad's mandate safely were bestow'd,
And dried those tears for life and fame that flow'd :
And when that dark-eyed lady, young Gulnare,
Recall'd those thoughts late wandering in despair, 870
Much did she marvel o'er the courtesy
That smooth'd his accents; soften'd in his eye :
'Twas strange-that robber thus with gore bedew'd,
Seem'd gentler then than Seyd in fondest mood.
The Pacha woo'd as if he deem'd the slave 875
Must seem delighted with the heart he gave;
The Corsair vow'd protection, soothed affright,
As if his homage were a woman's right.
“ The wish is wrong---nay worse for female---vain :
“ Yet much I long to view that chief again; 880
“ If but to thank for, what my fear forgot,
“ The life---my loving lord remember'd not !"
And him she saw, where thickest carnage spread,
But gather'd breathing from the happier dead ;
Far from his band, and battling with a host 885
That deem right dearly won the field he lost,
Fellid---bleeding---baffled of the death he sought,
And snatch'd to expiate all the ills he wrought;
Preserved to linger and to live in vain,
While Vengeance ponder'd o'er new plans of pain, 890
And stanch'd the blood she saves to shed again---
But drop by drop, for Seyd's unglutted eye
Would doom him ever dying---ne'er to die !
Can this be he? triumphant late she saw,
When his red hand's wild gesture waved, a law! 895
'Tis he indeed---disarm'd but undeprest,
His sole regret the life he still possest;
His wounds too slight, though taken with that will,
Which would have kiss'd the hand that then could kill.
Oh were there none, of all the many given, 900
To send his soul---he scarcely ask'd to heaven?
Must he alone of all retain his breath,
Who more than all had striven and struck for death?
He deeply felt---what mortal hearts must feel,
When thus reversed on faithless fortune's wheel, 905
For crimes committed, and the victor's threat
Of lingering tortures to repay the debt---
He deeply, darkly felt; but evil pride
That led to perpetrate---now serves to hide.
Still in his stern and self-collected mien
910 A conqueror's more than captive's air is seen, Though faint with wasting toil and stiffening wound, But few that saw---s0 calmly gazed around :