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What makes her in the wood so late,
She stole along, she nothing spoke,
The lady leaps up suddenly,
It moaned as near, as near can be,
But what it is, she cannot tell.—
On the other side it seems to be,
Of the huge, broad-breasted, old oak tree.
The night is chill; the forest bare;
Is it the wind that moaneth bleak?
There is not wind enough in the air
To move away the ringlet curl
From the lovely lady's cheek —
There is not wind enough to twirl
The one red leaf, the last of its clan,
That dances as often as dance it can,
Hanging so light, and hanging so high,
On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky.
Hush, beating heart of Christabel!
She folded her arms beneath her cloak,
There she sees a damsel bright,
Mary mother, save me now!
(Said Christabel,) And who art thou?
The lady strange made answer meet,
Stretch forth thy hand, and have no fear,
My sire is of a noble line,
And my name is Geraldine.
Five warriors seiz'd meyesterraorn,
Me, even me, a maid forlorn:
They chok'd my cries with force and fright.
And tied me on a palfrey white.
The palfrey was as fleet as wind,
And they rode furiously behind.
They spurr'd amain, their steeds were white;
And once we cross'd the shade of night.
As sure as Heaven shall rescue me,
I have no thought what men they be;
Nor do I know how long it is
(For I have lain in fits, I wis)
Since one, the tallest of the five,
Took me from the palfrey's back,
A weary woman, scarce alive.
Some mutter'd words his comrades spoke:
He placed me underneath this oak,
He swore they would return with haste;
Whither they went I cannot tell—
I thought I heard, some minutes past,
Sounds as of a castle bell.
Stretch forth thy hand (thus ended she),
And help a wretched maid to flee.
Then Christabel stretch'd forth her hand
And comforted fair Geraldine,
Saying, that she should command
The service of Sir Leoline;
And straight be convoy'd, free from thrall,
Back to her noble father's hall.