Puslapio vaizdai

If our old halls could change their sex, and flaunt
With prudes for proctors, dowagers for deans,

And sweet girl-graduates in their golden hair.
I think they should not wear our rusty gowns,
But move as rich as Emperor-moths, or Ralph
Who shines so in the corner; yet I fear,

If there were many Lilias in the brood,

However deep you might embower the nest,

Some boy would spy it.'

At this upon the sward

She tapt her tiny silken-sandal'd foot:

'That's your light way; but I would make it death


any male thing but to peep at us.'

Petulant she spoke, and at herself she laugh'd;

A rosebud set with little wilful thorns,

And sweet as English air could make her, she:
But Walter hail'd a score of names upon her,
And 'petty Ogress,' and ' ungrateful Puss,'
And swore he long'd at College, only long'd,

All else was well, for she-society.

They boated and they cricketed; they talk'd

At wine, in clubs, of art, of politics;

They lost their weeks; they vext the souls of deans;

They rode; they betted; made a hundred friends,

And caught the blossom of the flying terms,

But miss'd the mignonette of Vivian-place,
The little hearth-flower Lilia. Thus he spoke,
Part banter, part affection.

'True,' she said,

'We doubt not that. O yes, you miss'd us much. I'll stake my ruby ring upon it you did.'

She held it out; and as a parrot turns

Up thro' gilt wires a crafty loving eye,

And takes a lady's finger with all care,

And bites it for true heart and not for harm,

So he with Lilia's. Daintily she shriek'd

And wrung it. 'Doubt my word again!' he said.

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We seven stay'd at Christmas up to read ;

And there we took one tutor as to read :

The hard-grain'd Muses of the cube and square
Were out of season: never man, I think,

So moulder'd in a sinecure as he:

For while our cloisters echo'd frosty feet,

And our long walks were stript as bare as brooms,
We did but talk you over, pledge you all
In wassail; often, like as many girls-

Sick for the hollies and the


of home

As many little trifling Lilias--play'd

Charades and riddles as at Christmas here,

And what's my thought and when and where and how,

And often told a tale from mouth to mouth


As here at Christmas.'

She remember'd that:

A pleasant game, she thought: she liked it more

Than magic music, forfeits, all the rest.
But these—what kind of tales did men tell men,

She wonder'd, by themselves ?

A half-disdain

Perch'd on the pouted blossom of her lips:

And Walter nodded at me; 'He began,

The rest would follow, each in turn; and so

We forged a sevenfold story. Kind? what kind? 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 an April 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



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,'

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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

For which the good Sir Ralph had burnt them all—

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