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Intemperate triumph fades to discontent,
And Lara's soul alone seems still unbent:
But few remain to aid his voice and hand, 955
And thousands dwindled to a scanty band :
Desperate, though few, the last and best remain'd
To mourn the discipline they late disdain'd.
One hope survives, the frontier is not far,
And thence they may escape from native war; 960
And bear within them to the neighbouring state
An exile's sorrows, or an outlaw's hate:
Hard is the task their father land to quit,
But harder still to perish or submit.
XII. It is resolved-they march—consenting Night 965 Guides with her star their dim and torchless flight; Already they perceive its tranquil beam Sleep on the surface of the barrier stream; Already they descry—Is yon the bank? Away! 'tis lined with many a hostile rank. 970 Return or fly!—What glitters in the rear? 'Tis Otho's banner--the pursuer's spear! Are those the shepherds' fires upon the height ? Alas! they blaze too widely for the flight: Cut off from hope, and compass'd in the toil, 975 Less blood perchance hath bought a richer spoil !
XIII. A moment's pause, 'tis but to breathe their band, Or shall they onward press, or here withstand ?
It matters little—if they charge the foes
Who by the border-stream their march oppose, 989
Some few, perchance, may break and pass the line,
However link'd to baffle such design.
“ The charge be ours! to wait for their assault
"Were fate well worthy of a coward's halt.”
Forth flies each sabre, reined is every steed, 985
And the next word shall scarce outstrip the deed :
In the next tone of Lara's gathering breath
How many shall but hear the voice of death!
XIV. His blade is bared, in him there is an air As deep, but far too tranquil for despair ; 990 A something of indifference more than then Becomes the bravest, if they feel for menHe turn'd his eye on Kaled, ever near, And still too faithful to betray one fear; Perchance 'twas but the moon's dim twilight threw 995 Along his aspect an unwonted hue Of mournful paleness, whose deep tint exprest The truth, and not the terror of his breast. This Lara mark'd, and laid his hand on his : It trembled not in such an hour as this;
1000 His lip was silent, scarcely beat his heart, His eye alone proclaim'd, “We will not part ! “Thy band may perish, or thy friends may flee, 66 Farewell to life, but not adieu to thee!"
The word hath pass'd his lips, and onward driven, 1005
Pours the link'd band through ranks asunder riven;
Well has each steed obey'd the armed heel,
And flash the scimitars, and rings the steel;
Outnumber'd not outbraved, they still oppose
Despair to daring, and a front to foes ;
And blood is mingled with the dashing stream,
Which runs all redly till the morning beam.
XV. Commanding, aiding, animating all, Where foe appeard to press, or friend to fall, Cheers Lara's voice,and waves or strikes his steel, 1015 Inspiring hope, himself had ceased to feel. None fled, for well they knew that flight were vain; But those that waver turn to smite again, While yet they find the firmest of the foe Recoil before their leader's look and blow: 1020 Now girt with numbers, now almost alone, He foils their ranks, or reunites his own; Himself he spared not-once they seem'd to flyNow was the time, he waved his hand on high, And shook-why sudden droops that plumed crest? The shaft is sped--the arrow's in his breast! That fatal gesture left the unguarded side, And Death hath stricken down yon arm of pride. The word of triumph fainted from his tongue; That hand, so raised, how droopingly it hung! 1030
But yet the sword instinctively retains,
Though from its fellow shrink the falling reins;
These Kaled snatches : dizzy with the blow,
And senseless bending o'er his saddle-bow,
Perceives not Lara that bis anxious page 1035
Beguiles his charger from the combat’s rage :
Meantime his followers charge, and charge again;
Too mix'd the slayers now to heed the slain!
Day glimmers on the dying and the dead,
The cloven cuirass, and the helmless head; 1040
The war-horse masterless is on the earth,
And that last gasp hath burst his bloody girth;
And near yet quivering with what life remain'd,
The heel that urged him and the hand that rein'd;
And some too near that rolling torrent lie, 1045
Whose waters mock the lip of those that die;
That panting thirst which scorches in the breath
Of those that die the soldier's fiery death,
In vain impels the burning mouth to crave
One drop-—the last—to cool it for the grave; 1050
With feeble and convulsive effort swept,
Their limbs along the crimson'd turf have crept;
The faint remains of life such struggles waste,
But yet they reach the stream, and bend to taste:
They feel its freshness, and almost partake-- 1055
Why pause ? No further thirst have they to slake-
It is unquench’d, and yet they feel it not;
It was an agony—but now forgot!
Beneath a lime, remoter from the scene,
Where but for him that strife had never been, 1060
A breathing but devoted warrior lay:
'Twas Lara bleeding fast from life away.
His follower once, and now his only guide,
Kneels Kaled watchful o'er his welling side,
And with his scarf would staunch the tides that rush,
With each convulsion, in a blacker gush; 1066
And then, as his faint breathing waxes low,
In feebler, not less fatal tricklings flow:
He scarce can speak, but motions him 'tis vain,
And merely adds another throb to pain. 1070
He clasps the hand that pang which would assuage,
And sadly smiles his thanks to that dark page
Who nothing fears, nor feels, nor heeds, nor sees,
Save that damp brow which rests upon his knees;
Save that pale aspect, where the eye, though dim, 1075
Held all the light that shone on earth for him.
XVIII. The foe arrives, who long had search'd the field, Their triumph nought till Lara too should yield; They would remove him, but they see 'twere vain, And he regards them with a calm disdain, 1080 That rose to reconcile him with his fate, And that escape to death from living hate: