BETA

Two women gather outside a castle and in front of a stone railing. A woman dressed in a veil and an ornate light-coloured gown stands and looks toward the ground. She clasps her hands in front of her body. A second woman in a simple dark gown sits next to her. She plays the lute and looks up toward the first woman. Trees and a body of water are in the distance. A tree in a decorative vase stands to the right of the illustration. There are clouds beyond the castle. Full-page illustration.

The Captive Princess.

It was a sweet and soothing strain,1
The voice that sang was silvery clear,2
It fell, like spring’s refreshing rain,3
Upon the lovely captive’s ear :4
It was not only music’s power5
That thus upon her spirit wrought,6
But with the dreams of many an hour7
Of by-gone bliss its tones were fraught.8
It was a song of other shores9
Than those which girt her prison round ;10
It came, as some soft wind explores11
A barren rock, with soothing sound.12
Proud had the captive Princess been,13
Unmoved ’ midst grief for many a day,14
But a beloved, distant scene15
Awaked to memory at the lay.16
Broods she upon her father’s halls,17
Their regal pomp, their stately ease ?18
Ah no ! her tender heart recalls19
Far lovelier, dearer things than these ;20
She rambles through the forest walks,21
O’erarched with graceful elm and beech,22
And one beside her fondly talks23
In the sweet language love can teach.24
The russet cloak, the cap of green,25
Bespeak a woodman’s low degree,26
But in his brow and eye serene27
Dwells nature’s own nobility ;28
His words, his thoughts, a soul proclaim29
That humblest raiment cannot dim ;30
She never feels one throb of shame,31
To bow her woman’s heart to him.32
Yes, she hath loved, she loveth now,33
Though he be nameless and unknown ;34
Her faith is his by many a vow,35
Whispered in low and timid tone.36
It was that only, early love,37
The natural blossom of the heart,38
Nurtured and bless’d from Heaven above,39
Nor sown, nor pruned, by worldly art.40
Alas, the mournful eve, when she41
Had stolen from her royal home,42
And waited by the well-known tree,43
Until the meeting hour should come !44
Then did the baron’s hostile band45
Surprise the wandering Princess there,46
And bore her to another land,47
Regardless of her wild despair.48
They bore her to the baron’s hold,49
The Baron Hubert, who in vain50
Had tried the power of love and gold51
The beauteous lady’s hand to gain.52
And here the Baron Hubert vowed53
That, whatsoever should betide,54
He yet would tame the Princess proud55
Into a meek and humble bride.56
So first he tried persuasion’s art,57
And thought rich presents might prevail,58
But the bright lady’s faithful heart59
True love had cased in coat of mail.60
Rare gifts, obsequious tendance, all61
Bent not her purpose or her will ;62
Though gay and gilded was the thrall,63
She felt she was a prisoner still.64
One friend ’ midst many foes she found,65
A hand-maiden, whose merry glance,66
And foot, like zephyr flitting round,67
Spoke her a child of laughing France,68
When darkest sorrow seemed to lower,69
The lady’s grief she would beguile,70
And lightened many a heavy hour71
With pleasant tales, and song, and smile.72
It was a soft and sunny day ;73
The Princess sought the terraced walks74
And tried to wile the time away75
With her attendant’s mirthful talk.76
At length she bade the damsel sing77
She had exhausted all her store,78
And wandered musing o’er each string,79
Seeking some lay unsung before.80
It was that sweet and soothing strain,81
The Captive Princess knew it well,82
And o’er her heart and o’er her brain83
It brought a strange and dreamy spell.84
Tears to her eyes unbidden rushed85
How oft, in summer twilight dear,86
That song upon her soul had gushed,87
The appointed signal he was near !88
Where didst thou learn that lay ? ” she said.89
Lady, from one who wanders far :90
Nay, some have deemed that he is dead,91
But his, in sooth, these lordships are.92
’T was Baron Hubert’s nephew brave ;93
Full oft, before he went away,94
My willing ear attention gave95
When he would sing some curious lay.96
This terrace walk he paced full oft,97
Singing that old melodious strain ;98
Ah never voice so rich and soft99
Will frame its mystic tones again.100
Three summers since, he left our land,101
Ah sorely may his vassals mourn,102
For Hubert rules with iron hand,103
Deeming he never will return ! ”104
The Princess sighed and turned away ;105
The tale had interest strange and strong,106
And often from that summer day107
She asked again to hear that song.108
And oftener she, to tell the truth,109
Walked on the terrace than before,110
The thought less of the peasant youth,111
The of the Baron’s nephew more !112
A short and drear November day113
Was followed by a stormy night,114
When a poor pilgrim, clad in gray,115
The castle sought in weary plight.116
He paused before he crossed the court,117
For music’s sound and merry din118
Told of the banquet’s festal sport,119
And the wild mirth that reigned within.120
At length he humbly knocked, and prayed121
A shelter from the pelting storm ;122
Right welcome here ! ” the menials said,123
And led him to a corner warm.124
In truth,” they cried, “ thou well hast sped125
To-night, Sir Pilgrim of the shrine,126
For now doth Baron Hubert wed127
The beauteous Princess Emmeline.”128
A forward start the pilgrim made,129
Then closer drew his scanty cloak,130
And sate where fell a heavy shade131
From a broad screen of ancient oak.132
Silent he sate, untouched the food133
A vassal brought with liberal hand,134
But his dark eye beneath his hood135
The busy scene intently scanned.136
The Baron Hubert’s deep-toned voice137
Now rose in words of boastful pride138
Fair sirs, behold our lovely choice139
A health unto our royal bride ! ”140
The vassals heard their lord’s command,141
They filled their goblets to obey,142
But ere they drank a lady’s hand143
Was raised—a sweet voice uttered “ Stay ! ”144
It was the Princess Emmeline !145
She flung aside the bridal veil,146
Her eye had light almost divine,147
Although her cheek was very pale.148
Forbear,” she cried, “ this mockery !149
Lord Hubert, hear this vow of mine :150
I tell thee I will sooner die151
Than ever let thee call me thine !152
I love—” she said no more—for down153
She sank amidst her maiden troop,154
And who hath rushed, with angry frown155
And voice of thunder, towards the group ?156
Who holds her in his manly arms,157
Who prays her to revive and wake,158
To put away her wild alarms,159
To live, to smile, for Albert’s sake ?160
’T is he—the pilgrim ! —it is he,161
The owner of this castle fair !162
Oh, Baron Hubert !  shame to thee !163
His vassals know and own him there.164
I need not tell the rest ; full well165
Will gentle ladies guess it all,166
How from his state the Baron fell,167
And no one e’er bemoaned his fall ;168
How Albert, now the castle’s lord,169
Resolved no more afar to roam,170
And how the Princess was restored171
In faith and honour to her home ;172
And how her young deliverer claimed173
Some guerdon from her native land,174
And, when a ransom rich was named,175
At once exchanged it for her hand.176
Once more she paced the forest walk,177
O’erhung with graceful elm and beech,178
Once more she heard a deep voice talk179
In the sweet language love can teach.180
Once more she trod the Baron’s halls,181
Bound in her heart, though free in will,182
And ever, midst their ancient walls,183
She dwelt a willing captive still !184