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ALICE

AND

COMUS.

ner.

the attentions and homage rendered to her. CHAPTER III.

With feminine, but certainly venial vanity, she now dwelt in her recollections mostly upon

those who had distinguished her in this man. In the mean time, Alice awaited in solitude

There appeared before her excited imathe return of her brother. His sudden disap

gination now the image of the nobleman from pearance occasioned her at first but little un

Wales to whom her brother Thomas had aleasiness, as she was already familiar with the

luded, now the expressive face of Kenelm impetuosity of his proceedings. She believed, Digby, a gentleman then already famous both moreover, that he could not have gone very for his eccentricities and his learning—a relafar, and would be back in the course of a few

tive of the Derby family, who had abducted, minutes. It was not until he had stayed away married, and lost by her speedy death a daughmuch longer than she had expected, that she

ter of the noble house, the beautiful and ecbecame seriously alarmed. She possessed as

centric Lady Venetia Stanley. The various much courage as any woman would have un

rumors which Alice had heard in regard to der similar circumstances, and soon succeeded, the eminent gentleman, were in themselves therefore, in overcoming her rising apprehen- calculated to excite her liveliest interest in sions. She sought and found an occupation him and his strange doings. Moreover, he to divert her idle thoughts. She had discov

was surrounded by a certain veil of mystery ered on the edge of the gorge a few flowers, which always inflames the susceptible imaginaforget-me-nots and pansies, which she resolved tion of women and interests their sentimental to gather and make a wreath of them. She

hearts. went quickly to work, and it was not long be A third gentleman played a prominent part fore she was done. With childlike joy she in her recollections. It was a modest poet, placed the pretty wreath on her blond head named John Milton, with delicate, almost after removing the inconvenient barret-cap. girlish features, of great intellectual beauty. But Thomas had not yet returned, and she Only in moments of enthusiasm and inspiragave way again to her anxiety, although she tion did he overcome his innate timidity, and tried to overcome it by deriding it and think- display a wealth of sublime aud charming ing of other and more pleasant subjects. In ideas which could not but surprise the listener the first place, she remembered the beautiful the more, the less he had previously suspected hours which she had passed at the hospitable him to be possessed of such faculties. It had house of her relatives. The castle of her aunt, not escaped Alice that his dreamy hazel eyes the Countess of Derby, had always been the followed her whenever they could do so withrendezvous of the high aristocracy and the out being noticed. Besides, she herself had neighboring gentry. In its high and ancient witnessed the triumph which his poetical gehalls reigned a cheerful tone of refined soci- nius had achieved. A charming mask, enability and culture. Alice had there made the titled “The Arcades," and written by Milton, acquaintance of ladies and gentlemen of emi was performed at the aunt's house and received nent accomplishments and fascinating man with rapturous applause by the whole audiners, and bad found among the latter many ence. Only Kenelm Digby did not seem to an admirer of her budding charms. Although share the favorable opinion of all others; but no one had made a deeper impression on her Alice was delighted with the melodious verses innocent heart, she had not been insensible to and their poetical sentiments. She deemed it

even incumbent on her to express her joy to form bearing the familiar features of John the poet, and her heart-felt praise had called a Milton flitted down to her. With a strong blush of modesty to his cheeks, paled by noc arm he lifted her from the burning ruins, rising turnal studies. But modesty, perhaps, was not with her above the smoke and the hissing the only cause of his blushing: it was occa- flames, and borne aloft by the powerful silver sioned even more by his rising love for the wings growing from his shoulders. Only after sweet girl. Like the poets of all times, young reaching a golden star did he repose with his Milton possessed a heart susceptible of the sweet burden ; sacred music received them power of love. Whether the charming Alice there; choirs of angels intoned hymns sweeter perceived or even shared his affection, we ven- than she had ever heard before. Her Saviour, ture to decide the less, as she herself, not yet too, seized a harp hanging on a golden pillar, fully conscious of her own sentiments, resem and the most sublime melodies fell from His bled a bud, filled much more with vague an- lips. The poet grew taller and taller, bis ticipations and longing than well-defined wishes whole form glowed with the light of transand thoughts.

figuration, and the strings of the barp turned All these recollections did not assume a into radiant rivers flowing from heaven down definite shape, but passed before the girl's to earth. His words became figures and assoul like dissolving views and fleeting shadows. sumed now human, now supernatural forms. This dreaming with open eyes, something by A man and a woman stood under a tree full no means unusual in young persons of the of tempting fruits; but coiled around its trunk hopeful age of seventeen, soon passed into a she saw the serpent, whose head bore the feareal, gentle slumber. The long journey and tures of the famous Kenelm Digby. Suddenly unwonted sojourn in the open air had rendered the modest Carbury approached, unsheathed Alice tired and exhausted. Her weariness his sword, and sundered the head of the serwas increased by the stillness surrounding pent with a powerful blow from the trunk; her, broken only by the monotonous rustling but from the drops of its blood sprang countof the wind in the tree-tops, or the mournful less infernal demons, who were dancing with notes of a bird which had strayed into this horrible grimaces and scornful laughter about melancholy wilderness. Vainly she struggled the terrified girl. against her sleepiness; her beautiful eyes Louder and louder grew the laughter of the closed gradually, and her fair head sank down demons, and, blended with it, she seemed to to the soft turf. The images and ideas of her hear the notes of wild music. Alice opened fancy became confused and dissolved like thin her eyes wonderingly, but she thought she was clouds, from which the fantastic god of dreams dreaming on, for the demons whom she had shaped all sorts of wonderful forms. As echo seen in her slumbers surrounded her couch. renders the real tone, these dissolving views It was a troop of wild, daring fellows in all echoed the events of her immediate past. Be- sorts of fantastic costumes. The procession fore the closed eyes of the girl appeared the was headed by a band of strangely-dressed lofty halls of Castle Derby, with its pinnacles musicians, who made an infernal noise with and towers glistening in the rays of the setting their instruments. Some of them were dis

The sunbeams were transformed into guised as Moors, and had blackened their devouring flames which seized her dress, and faces; in their hands they held small drums, threatened to burn ber. Already she believed tambourines, and cymbals, which they were herself irretrievably lost, when a heavenly I striking together. Others were dressed in the

sun.

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