Like a springing flame.

His wings were dipped in violet fire,

His limbs were strung to holy desire.

He lowered his head and passed under the arch,

And the air seemed beating a solemn march.

The Virgin waited

With eyes dilated.

Her face was quiet and innocent,

And beautiful with her strange assent.

A silver thread about her head

Her halo was poised. But in the stead

Of her gown, there remained

The vellum, unstained.

Clotilde painted the flowers patiently,

Lingering over each tint and dye.

She could spend great pains, now she had seen

That curious, unimagined green.

A colour so strange

It had seemed to change.

She thought it had altered while she gazed.

At first it had been simple green; then glazed

All over with twisting flames, each spot

A molten colour, trembling and hot,

And every eye

Seemed to liquefy.

She had made a plan, and her spirits danced.

After all, she had only glanced

At that wonderful snake, and she must know

Just what hues made the creature throw

Those splashes and sprays

Of prismed rays.

When evening prayers were sung and said,

The nuns lit their tapers and went to bed.

And soon in the convent there was no light,

For the moon did not rise until late that night,

Only the shine

Of the lamp at the shrine.

Clotilde lay still in her trembling sheets.

Her heart shook her body with its beats.

She could not see till the moon should rise,

So she whispered prayers and kept her eyes

On the window-square

Till light should be there.

The faintest shadow of a branch

Fell on the floor. Clotilde, grown staunch

With solemn purpose, softly rose

And fluttered down between the rows

Of sleeping nuns.

She almost runs.

She must go out through the little side door

Lest the nuns who were always praying before

The Virgin's altar should hear her pass.

She pushed the bolts, and over the grass

The red moon's brim

Mounted its rim.

Her shadow crept up the convent wall

As she swiftly left it, over all

The garden lay the level glow

Of a moon coming up, very big and slow.

The gravel glistened.

She stopped and listened.

It was still, and the moonlight was getting clearer.

She laughed a little, but she felt queerer

Than ever before. The snowdrop bed

Was reached and she bent down her head.

On the striped ground

The snake was wound.

For a moment Clotilde paused in alarm,

Then she rolled up her sleeve and stretched out her arm.

She thought she heard steps, she must be quick.

She darted her hand out, and seized the thick

Wriggling slime,

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