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He thought of all, Gonsalvo and his band,
His fleeting triumph and his failing hand;
He thought on her afar, his lonely bride:
He turn'd and saw---Gulnare, the homicide!
She watch'd his features till she could not bear Their freezing aspect and averted air, And that strange fierceness foreign to her eye, Fell quench'd in tears, too late to shed or dry. She knelt beside him and his hand she prest, 1645 “Thou may’st forgive, though Alla's self detest; “But for that deed of darkness what wert thou ? “Reproach me, but not yet, Oh! spare me now ! “I am not what I seem, this fearful night
My brain bewilderd, do not madden quite ! 1650 “ If I had never loved, though less my guilt, " Thou hadst not lived to hate me if thou wilt.”
She wrongs his thoughts, they more himself upbraid
Than her, though undesign'd, the wretch he made;
But speechless all, deep, dark, and unexprest, 1655
They bleed within that silent cell---his breast.
Still onward, fair the breeze, nor rough the surge,
The blue waves sport around the stern they urge ;
Far on the horizon's verge appears a speck,
A spot, a mast, a sail, an armed deck !
1660 Their little bark her men of watch descry, And ampler canvass woos the wind from high ;
She bears her down majestically near,
Speed on her prow, and terror in her tier ;
A flash is seen---the ball beyond their bow 1665
Booms harmless, hissing to the deep below.
Up rose keen Conrad from his silent trance,
A long, long absent gladness in his glance;
6 'Tis mine, my blood-red flag! again, again,
“I am not all deserted on the main !"
1670 They own the signal, answer to the hail, Hoist out the boat at once, and slacken sail. “ 'Tis Conrad ! Conrad !" shouting from the deck, Command nor duty could their transport check! With light alacrity and gaze of pride,
1675 They view him mount once more his vessel's side; A smile relaxing in each rugged face, Their arms can scarce forbear a rough embrace. He, half forgetting danger and defeat, Returns their greetings as a chief may greet,
1680 Wrings with a cordial grasp Anselmo's hand, And feels he yet can conquer and command !
These greetings o'er, the feelings that o'erflow,
Yet grieve to win him back without a blow;
They sail'd prepared for vengeance-had they known
A woman's hand secured that deed her own,
She were their queen--less scrupulous are they
Than haughty Conrad how they win their way.
With many an asking smile, and wondering stare,
They whisper round, and gaze upon Gulnare; 1690
And her, at once above-beneath her sex,
Whom blood appall'd not, their regards perplex.
To Conrad turns her faint imploring eye,
She drops her veil, and stands in silence by;
Her arms are meekly folded on that breast 1695
Which-Conrad safe--to fate resign'd the rest.
Though worse than phrensy could that bosom fill,
Extreme in love or hate, in good or ill,
The worst of crimes had left her woman still !
This Conrad mark'd, and felt-ah! could he less 1700
Hate of that deed, but grief for her distress;
What she has done no tears can wash away,
And heaven must punish on its angry day:
But-it was done: he knew, whate'er her guilt,
For him that poniard smote, that blood was spilt; 1705
And he was free!—and she for him had given
Her all on earth, and more than all in heaven!
And now he turn'd him to that dark-eyed slave
Whose brow was bow'd beneath the glance he gave,
Who now seem'd changed and humbled :-faint and
But varying oft the colour of her cheek
To deeper shades of paleness—all its red
That fearful spot which stain'd it from the dead!
He took that hand-it trembled-now too late-
So soft in love--so wildly served in hate; 1715
He clasp'd that hand-it trembled--and his own
Had lost its firmness, and his voice its tone.
“ Gulnare !"--but she replied not dear Gulnare!"
She raised her eye-her only answer there-
At once she sought and sunk in his embrace: 1720
If he had driven her from that resting place,
His had been more or less than mortal heart,
But-good or ill-it bade her not depart.
Perchance, but for the bodings of his breast,
His latest virtue then had join'd the rest. 1725
Yet even Medora might forgive the kiss
That ask'd from form so fair no more than this,
The first, the last that Frailty stole from Faith-
To lips where Love had lavish'd all his breath,
To lips--whose broken sighs such fragrance fling,
As he had fann’d them freshly with his wing! 1731
XVIII. They gain by twilight's hour their lonely isle. To them the very rocks appear to smile ; The haven hums with many a cheering sound, The beacons blaze their wonted stations round, 1735 The boats are darting o’er the curly bay, And sportive dolphins bend them through the spray; Even the hoarse sea-bird's shrill, discordant shriek, Greets like the welcome of his tuneless beak!
Beneath each lamp that through its lattice gleams, 1740
Their fancy paints the friends that trim the beams.
Oh! what can sanctify the joys of home,
Like Hope's gay glance from Ocean's troubled foam ?
The lights are high on beacon and from bower,
And midst them Conrad seeks Medora's tower: 1745
He looks in vain—'tis strange—and all remark,
Amid so many, hers alone is dark.
'Tis strange-of yore its welcome never faild,
Nor now, perchance, extinguish'd, only veil'd.
With the first boat descends he for the shore, 1750
And looks impatient on the lingering oar.
Oh! for a wing beyond the falcon's flight,
To bear him like an arrow to that height!
With the first pause the resting rowers gave,
He waits not-looks not-leaps into the wave, 1755
Strives through the surge, bestrides the beach, and high
Ascends the path familiar to his eye.
He reach'd his turret door---he paused---no sound
Broke from within; and all was night around.
He knock’d, and loudly---footstep nor reply 1760
Announced that any heard or deem'd him nigh;
He knock'd---but faintly---for his trembling hand
Refused to aid his heavy heart's demand.
The portal opens---'tis a well known face---
But not the form he panted to embrace. 1765