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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,
865 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,
Fell'd---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
A conqueror's more than captive's air is seen,
Though faint with wasting toil and stiffening wound,
But few that saw---so calmly gazed around:
Though the far shouting of the distant crowd,
Their terrors o'er, rose insolently loud,
The better warriors who beheld him near,
Insulted not the foe who taught them fear;
And the grim guards that to his durance led,
In silence eyed him with a secret dread.
The Leech was sent---but not in mercy---there 920
To note how much the life yet left could bear;
He found enough to load with heaviest chain,
And promise feeling for the wrench of pain :
To-morrow---yea---to-morrow's evening sun
Will sinking see impalement's pangs begun, 925
And rising with the wonted blush of morn
Behold how well or ill those pangs are borne.
Of torments this the longest and the worst,
Which adds all other agony to thirst,
That day by day death still forbears to slake, 930
While famish'd vultures flit around the stake.
“Oh! water---water!"---smiling Hate denies
The victim's prayer---for if he drinks---he dies.
This was his doom :---the Leech, the guard were gone,
And left proud Conrad fetter'd and alone.
'Twere vain to paint to what his feelings grew---
It even were doubtful if their victim knew.
There is a war, a chaos of the mind,
When all its elements convulsed.--combined---
Lie dark and jarring with perturbed force, 940
And gnashing with impenitent Remorse;
That juggling fiend---who never spake before---
But cries, “I warn'd thee!" when the deed is o'er.
Vain voice! the spirit burning but unbent,
May writhe---rebel---the weak alone repent! 945
Even in that lonely hour when most it feels,
And, to itself, all---all that self reveals,
No single passion, and no ruling thought
That leaves the rest as once unseen, unsought;
But the wild prospect when the soul reviews--- 950
All rushing through their thousand avenues.
Ambition's dreams expiring, love's regret,
Endanger'd glory, life itself beset ;
The joy untasted, the contempt or hate
'Gainst those who fain would triumph in our fate; 955
The hopeless past, the hasting future driven
Too quickly on to guess if hell or heaven;
Deeds, thoughts, and words, perhaps remember'd not
So keenly till that hour, but ne'er forgot;
Things light or lovely in their acted time, 960
But now to stern reflection each a crime;
The withering sense of evil unreveald,
Not cankering less because the more conceald---
All, in a word, from which all eyes must start,
That opening sepulchre---the naked heart
Bares with its buried woes, till Pride awake,
To snatch the mirror from the soul.--and break.
Ay---Pride can veil, and Courage brave it all,
All---all---before---beyond---the deadliest fall.
Each hath some fear, and he who least betrays, 970
The only hypocrite deserving praise:
Not the loud recreant wretch who boasts and flies;
But he who looks on death---and silent dies.
So steel'd by pondering o'er his far career,
He halfway meets him should he menace near! 975
In the high chamber of his highest tower,
Sate Conrad, fetter'd in the Pacha's power.
His palace perish'd in the flame—this fort
Contain'd at once his captive and his court.
Not much could Conrad of his sentence blame, 980
His foe, if vanquish’d, but had shared the same :-
Alone he sate-in solitude had scann'd
His guilty bosom, but that breast he mann'd:
One thought alone he could not—dared not meet--
Oh, how these tidings will Medora greet ?" 935
Then-only then-his clanking hands he raised,
And strain’d with rage the chain on which he gazed;
But soon he found—or feign'd-or dream'd relief,
And smiled in self-derision of his grief,
“ And now come torture when it will--or may, 990
“ More need of rest to nerve me for the day!”
This said, with languor to his mat he crept,
And, whatsoe'er his visions, quickly slept.
'Twas hardly midnight when that fray begun, For Conrad's plans matured, at once were done ; 995