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But when she had finished the tour, she began
To think about the Blue Chamber.
Well, the woman was curiously inclined, So she left her sister and prudence behind (With a little excuse), and started to find
The mystery forbidden. She paused at the door ;-all was still as night! She opened it: then, through the dim, blue light, There blistered her vision the horrible sight
That was in that chamber hidden !
The room was gloomy and damp and wide,
And the floor was red with the bloody tide
From headless women, laid side by side,
The wives of her lord and master!
Frightened and fainting, she dropped the key,
But seized it and lifted it quickly; then she
Hurried as swiftly as she could tee
From the scene of the disaster.
She tried to forget the terrible dead,
But shrieked when she saw that the key was red,
And sickened and shook with an awful dread
When she heard BLUEBEARD was coming!
He did not appear to notice her pain;
But he took his keys, and, seeing the stain,
He stopped in the middle of the refrain
That he had been quietly humming.
“Mighty well, madam !” said he, "mighty well !
What does this little blood-stain tell ?
You've broken your promise : prepare to dwell
With the wives I've had before you !
You've broken your promise, and you shall die !"
Then Fatima, supposing her death was nigh,
Fell on her knees and began to cry,
“Have mercy, I implore you!"
“No!" shouted BLUEBEARD, drawing his sword;
“You shall die this very minute !” he roared.
“ Grant me time to prepare to meet my
The terrified woman entreated.
“Only ten minutes !” he roared again;
And, holding his watch by its great gold chain,
He marked on the dial the fatal ten,
And retired till they were completed.
Sister, O sister, fly up to the tower!
Look for release from this murderer's power !
Our brothers should be here this
hour-Speak! Does there come assistance ?" “No: I see nothing but sheep on the hill." “Look again, sister!”—“I'm looking still, But naught can I see, whether good or ill,
Save a furry of dust in the distance." • Time's up !" shouted BLUEBEARD, out from his room ; “This moment shall witness
terrible doom, And give you a dwelling within the room
Whose secrets you have invaded.” “Comes there no help for my terrible need ?” “There are horsemen twain riding hither with speed.” “Oh, tell them to ride very fast indeed,
Or I must meet death unaided !”
• Time's fully up—now have done with your prayer!” Shouted BLUEBEARD, swinging his sword on the stair.
Then he entered, and grasping her beautiful hair,
Swung his glittering weapon around him;
But a loud knock rang at the castle gate,
And Fatima was saved from her horrible fate,
For, shocked with surprise, he paused too late-
And then the two soldiers found him.
They were her brothers—and quick as they knew What the fiend was doing, their swords they drew, And attacked him fiercely, and ran him through,
So that soon he was mortally wounded. With a wild remorse was his conscience filled, When he thought of the hapless wives he had killed ; But quickly the last of his blood was spilled,
And his dying groan was sounded.
As soon as Fatima recovered from fright,
She embraced her brothers with great delight;
And they were as glad and as grateful quite
As she was glad and grateful.
Then they all went out from that scene of pain,
And sought in quietude to regain
Their minds, which had come to be quite insane,
In a place so horrid and hateful.
'Twas a private funeral BLUEBEARD had;
For the people knew he was very bad,
And, though they said nothing, they all were glad
For the fall of the evil-doer;
But Fatima first ordered some graves to be made,
And there the unfortunate ladies were laid;
And after some painful months, with the aid
Of her friends, her spirits came to her.
Then she cheered the hearts of the suffering poor,
And an acre of land around each door,
And a cow and a couple of sheep, or more,
To her tenantry she granted.
So all of them had enough to eat,
And their love for her was so complete,
They would kiss the dust from her little feet,
Or do any thing she wanted.
(From “ ALICE OF MONMOUTH.")
HE strawberry-vines lie in the sun,
Their myriad tendrils twined in one;
Spread like a carpet of richest dyes,
The strawberry-field in sunshine lies.
Each timorous berry, blushing red,
Has folded the leaves above her head,
The dark, green curtains gemmed with dew;
But each blushful berry, peering through,
Shows like a flock of the underthread-
The crimson woof of a downy cloth
Where the elves may kneel and plight their troth.
Run through the rustling vines, to show
Each picker an even space to go,
Leaders of twinkling cord divide
The field in lanes from side to side;
And here and there, with patient care,
Lifting the leafage everywhere,
Rural maidens and mothers dot
The velvet of the strawberry-plot:
Fair and freckled, old and young,
With baskets at their girdles hung,
Searching the plants with no rude haste-
Lest berries should hang unpicked, and waste,
Of the pulpy, odorous, hidden quest,
First gift of the fruity months, and best.
Crates of the laden baskets cool
Under the trees at the meadow's edge,
Covered with grass and dripping sedge,
And lily-leaves from the shaded pool;
Filled, and ready to be borne
To market before the morrow morn.
Beside them, gazing at the skies,
Hour after hour a young man lies.
From the hill-side, under the trees,
He looks across the field, and sees
The waves that ever beyond it climb
Whitening the rye-slope's early prime;
At times he listens, listlessly,
To the tree-toad singing in the tree,
Or sees the cat-bird peck his fill
With feathers adroop and roguish bill.
But often, with a pleased unrest,
He lifts his glances to the v'est,