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Chimeras, crotchets, Christmas solecisms,
Seven-headed monsters only made to kill
Time by the fire in winter.”

“ Kill him now, The tyrant! kill him in the summer too,” Said Lilia; “Why not now," the maiden Aunt. “Why not a summer's as a winter's tale ? A tale for summer as befits the time, And something it should be to suit the place Heroic, for a hero lies beneath,

Grave, solemn!”

Walter warp'd his mouth at this To something so mock-solemn, that I laugh'd And Lilia woke with sudden-shrilling mirth An echo like a ghostly woodpecker, Hid in the ruins; till the maiden Aunt (A little sense of wrong had touch'd her face With colour) turn'd to me with “ As you will ; Heroic if you will, or what you will, Or be yourself your hero if you will."

“ Take Lilia, then, for heroine" clamour'd he,

“And make her some great Princess, six feet high,

Grand, epic, homicidal; and be you
The Prince to win her!"

“Then follow me, the Prince,”

I answer'd, "each be hero in his turn!

Seven and yet one, like shadows in a dream.-
Heroic seems our Princess as required
But something made to suit with Time and place,
A Gothic ruin and a Grecian house,
A talk of college and of ladies' rights,
A feudal knight in silken masquerade,
And, yonder, shrieks and strange experiments
Forwhich thegood Sir Ralph had burnt them all-
This were a medley! we should have him back
Who told the Winter's tale' to do it for us.

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No matter: we will say whatever comes.
And let the ladies sing us, if they will,
From time to time, some ballad or a song
To give us breathing-space.”

So I began,
And the rest follow'd : and the women sang
Between the rougher voices of the men,
Like linnets in the pauses of the wind :
And here I give the story and the songs.

I.

PRINCE I was, blue-eyed, and fair

in face,

Of temper amorous, as the first of May, With lengths of yellow ringlets, like a girl, For on my cradle shone the Northern star.

There lived an ancient legend in our house. Some sorcerer, whom a far-off grandsire burnt Because he cast no shadow, had foretold, Dying, that none of all our blood should know The shadow from the substance, and that one Should come to fight with shadows and to fall. For so, my mother said, the story ran. And, truly, waking dreams were, more or less, An old and strange affection of the house.

Myself too had weird seizures, Heaven knows

what:

On a sudden in the midst of men and day,
And while I walk'd and talk'd as heretofore,
I seem'd to move among a world of ghosts,
And feel myself the shadow of a dream.
Our great court-Galen poised his gilt-head cane,
And paw'd his beard, and mutter'd “catalepsy.”
My mother pitying made a thousand prayers;
My mother was as mild as any saint,
Half-canonized by all that look'd on her,
So gracious was her tact and tenderness :
But my good father thought a king a king;
He cared not for the affection of the house ;
He held his sceptre like a pedant's wand
To lash offence, and with long arms and hands
Reach'd out, and pick'd offenders from the mass
For judgment.

Now it chanced that I had been,

While life was yet in bud and blade, betroth'd
To one, a neighbouring Princess: she to me
Was proxy-wedded with a bootless calf
At eight years old ; and still from time to time

a

Came murmurs of her beauty from the South,
And of her brethren, youths of puissance;
And still I wore her picture by my heart,
And one dark tress; and all around them both
Sweet thoughts would swarm as bees about their

queen.

But when the days drew nigh that I should wed, My father sent ambassadors with furs And jewels, gifts, to fetch her : these brought back A present, a great labour of the loom ; And therewithal an answer vague as wind : Besides, they saw the king; he took the gifts; He said there was a compact ; that was true : But then she had a will; was he to blame? And maiden fancies; loved to live alone

Among her women; certain, would not wed.

That morning in the presence room I stood With Cyril and with Florian, my two friends : The first, a gentleman of broken means (His father's fault) but given to starts and bursts Of revel; and the last, my other heart,

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