The bell struck one, and shook the silent tower; The graves give up their dead: fair Elenor Walk'd by the castle gate, and lookиd in. A hollow groan ran thro' the dreary vaults. She shriek'd aloud, and sunk upon the steps, On the cold stone her pale cheeks. Sickly smells Of death issue as from a sepulchre, And all is silent but the sighing vaults.
Chill Death withdraws his hand, and she revives; Amaz'd, she finds herself upon her feet, And, like a ghost, thro' narrow passages Walking, feeling the cold walls with her hands.
Fancy returns, and now she thinks of bones And grinning skulls, and corruptible death Wrapp'd in his shroud; and now fancies she hears Deep sighs, and sees pale sickly ghosts gliding.
At length, no fancy but reality Distracts her. A rushing sound, and the feet Of one that fled, approaches--Ellen stood Like a dumb statue, froze to stone with fear.
The wretch approaches, crying: `The deed is done; Take this, and send it by whom thou wilt send; It is my life--send it to Elenor:-- He's dead, and howling after me for blood!
`Take this,' he cried; and thrust into her arms A wet napkin, wrapp'd about; then rush'd Past, howling: she receiv'd into her arms Pale death, and follow'd on the wings of fear.
They pass'd swift thro' the outer gate; the wretch, Howling, leap'd o'er the wall into the moat, Stifling in mud. Fair Ellen pass'd the bridge, And heard a gloomy voice cry `Is it done?'
As the deer wounded, Ellen flew over The pathless plain; as the arrows that fly By night, destruction flies, and strikes in darkness. She fled from fear, till at her house arriv'd.
Her maids await her; on her bed she falls, That bed of joy, where erst her lord hath press'd: `Ah, woman's fear!' she cried; `ah, cursиd duke! Ah, my dear lord! ah, wretched Elenor!
`My lord was like a flower upon the brows Of lusty May! Ah, life as frail as flower! O ghastly death! withdraw thy cruel hand, Seek'st thou that flow'r to deck thy horrid temples?
`My lord was like a star in highest heav'n Drawn down to earth by spells and wickedness; My lord was like the opening eyes of day When western winds creep softly o'er the flowers;
`But he is darken'd; like the summer's noon Clouded; fall'n like the stately tree, cut down; The breath of heaven dwelt among his leaves. O Elenor, weak woman, fill'd with woe!'
Thus having spoke, she raisиd up her head, And saw the bloody napkin by her side, Which in her arms she brought; and now, tenfold More terrifiиd, saw it unfold itself.
Her eyes were fix'd; the bloody cloth unfolds, Disclosing to her sight the murder'd head Of her dear lord, all ghastly pale, clotted With gory blood; it groan'd, and thus it spake:
`O Elenor, I am thy husband's head, Who, sleeping on the stones of yonder tower, Was 'reft of life by the accursиd duke! A hirиd villain turn'd my sleep to death!
`O Elenor, beware the cursиd duke; O give not him thy hand, now I am dead; He seeks thy love; who, coward, in the night, Hirиd a villain to bereave my life.'
She sat with dead cold limbs, stiffen'd to stone; She took the gory head up in her arms; She kiss'd the pale lips; she had no tears to shed; She hugg'd it to her breast, and groan'd her last.