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“Now haste, Bernardo, haste! for there,
In very truth, is he,
Hath yearned so long to see.”?
His cheek's hue came and went; He reached that gray-haired chieftain's side,
And there, dismounting, bent; -
His father's hand he took ;-
His fiery spirit shook ?
That hand was cold,- a frozen thing,
It dropped from his like lead !
The face was of the dead!
The brow was fixed and white !
But in them was no sight!
But who could paint that gaze ?
Its horror and amaze :
That, stony form he stood ;
And from his lip the blood.
Then, starting suddenly, he rushed
And seized the monarch's rein,
Of all the courtier train ;
The rearing war-horse led,
The king before the dead !
• Came I not forth upon thy pledge,
My father's hand to kiss? -
And tell me what is this !
Give answer, where are they?
Send life through this cold clay! “Into these glassy eyes put light,
Be stilll keep down thine ire, -
This earth is not my sire!
For whom my blood was shed ;-
His dust be mountains on thy head !”
Defiance in his look ;
A warning finger shook.
Vassal or chief dared stir, —
And gave his steed the spur.
With some good ten of his chosen men,
Bernardo hath appeared,
The lying king to bēard ;
He came in reverend guise ;
And flame broke from his eyes. “And dar’st thou, caitiff,” cries the king,
“ Thus come unbid to me? But what from traitor's blood should spring,
Save traitor like to thee?
His sire, lords, had a traitor's heart,
Perchance our champion brave May think it were a pious part
To share Don Sancho's grave."
Will he the tale repeat ?”
Before the liar's feet.
No stain in mine doth lie :
The coward calumny?
“ Your horse was down,—your hope was flown,
I saw the falchion shine,
Had I not ventured mine ;
Deserteth the in-grate';
By the father's bloody fate.
To set Don Sancho free ;
The light he ne'er did see :
By Alfonzo's base decree;
Were all you gave to me.
“ The king that swerveth from his word
Hath stained his purple black, -
Behind a liar's back;
An open hate I'll show ;-
And Bernard is his foe !"
“ Seize-seize him!” loud the king doth scream;
" There are a thousand here;
What! caitiffs, do ye fear?
To move a finger dareth :
And calm his sword he bareth.
He drew the falchion from the sheath,
And held it up on high ;
Cries Bernard, “Here am I;
Excepting Heaven and me:
King, condé, or grandee.”
Then to his mouth his horn he drew;
(It hung below his cloak;) His ten true men the signal knew,
And through the ring they broke.
The knights the circle brake,*
And the false king to quake.
“Ha! Bernard,” quoth Alfonzo,
“What means this warlike guise ? Ye know full well I jested ;
Ye know your worth I prize!” But Bernard turned upon his heel,
And, smiling, passed away :Long rued Alfonzo and Castile
The jesting of that day!
* Obsolete preterit of to break. We now say bronce.
1. The attacks which, during successive centuries, the walls of Constantinople had sustained, were but the rehearsal of the tragedy in store. That power, which, as early as the year 668, had appeared in arms before them, had continued century after century to watch for their downfall. The might of Islam burned to fling itself upon the ancient Christian capital, and was resolved to hang about its neck until one or the other had perished. In that wonderful career of success which had attended it within but a few years of the prophet's* death, the capture of Constantinople had been its highest aspiration. That aspiration was never lost sight of; for instinctively and inveterately the Crescent hated the Cross.
2. The fatal hour had at last arrived. On the sixth of April, 1453, Ma'homet II. planted his standard before the gate of St. Roma'nus, and commenced that siege which ended in the loss to Christendom of what had for so many centuries been revered as her eastern metrop'olis. One thing alone, it is probable, could have averted that calamity. Had it been possible to heal
* Mohammed, the so-called prophet, founder of the Mohammedan religion.