Clotilde had done.

Done! She drooped, though her heart beat loud

At the beauty before her, and her spirit bowed

To the Virgin her finely-touched thought had made.

A lady, in excellence arrayed,

And wonder-souled.

Christ's Blessed Mould!

From long fasting Clotilde felt weary and faint,

But her eyes were starred like those of a saint

Enmeshed in Heaven's beatitude.

A sudden clamour hurled its rude

Force to break

Her vision awake.

The door nearly leapt from its hinges, pushed

By the multitude of nuns. They hushed

When they saw Clotilde, in perfect quiet,

Smiling, a little perplexed at the riot.

And all the hive

Buzzed "She's alive!"

Old Francois had told. He had found the strain

Of silence too great, and preferred the pain

Of a conscience outraged. The news had spread,

And all were convinced Clotilde must be dead.

For Francois, to spite them,

Had not seen fit to right them.

The Abbess, unwontedly trembling and mild,

Put her arms round Clotilde and wept, "My child,

Has the Holy Mother showed you this grace,

To spare you while you imaged her face?

How could we have guessed

Our convent so blessed!

A miracle! But Oh! My Lamb!

To have you die! And I, who am

A hollow, living shell, the grave

Is empty of me. Holy Mary, I crave

To be taken, Dear Mother,

Instead of this other."

She dropped on her knees and silently prayed,

With anguished hands and tears delayed

To a painful slowness. The minutes drew

To fractions. Then the west wind blew

The sound of a bell,

On a gusty swell.

It came skipping over the slates of the roof,

And the bright bell-notes seemed a reproof

To grief, in the eye of so fair a day.

The Abbess, comforted, ceased to pray.

And the sun lit the flowers

In Clotilde's Book of Hours.

It glistened the green of the Virgin's dress

And made the red spots, in a flushed excess,

Pulse and start; and the violet wings

Of the angel were colour which shines and sings.

The book seemed a choir

Of rainbow fire.

The Abbess crossed herself, and each nun

Did the same, then one by one,

They filed to the chapel, that incensed prayers

Might plead for the life of this sister of theirs.

Clotilde, the Inspired!

She only felt tired.

* * * * *

The old chronicles say she did not die

Until heavy with years. And that is why

There hangs in the convent church a basket

Of osiered silver, a holy casket,

And treasured therein

A dried snake-skin.

The Exeter Road

Panels of claret and blue which shine

Under the moon like lees of wine.

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