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The Love-Charm
by [?]

To-day he confidently expected him; for Roderick had been forced to give him a solemn promise of spending the evening with him, in order to learn what it was that for weeks had been depressing and agitating his thoughtful friend. Meanwhile Emilius wrote down the following lines:

‘Tis sweet when spring its choir assembles,
And every nightingale is steeping
The trees in his melodious weeping,
Till leaf and bloom with rapture trembles.

Fair is the net which moonlight weaves;
Fair are the breezes’ gambolings,
As with lime-odours on their wings
They chase each other through the leaves.

Bright is the glory of the rose,
When Love’s rich magic decks the earth,
From countless roses Love looks forth,
Those stars wherewith Love’s heaven glows.

But sweeter, fairer, brighter far
To me that little lamp’s pale gleaming,
When through the narrow casement streaming,
It bids me hail my evening star;

As from their braids her locks she flings,
Then twines them in a flowery band,
While at each motion of her hand
The white robe to her fair form clings;

Or when she breaks her lute’s deep slumbers,
And as at morning’s touch up-darting,
The notes, beneath her fingers starting,
Dance o’er the strings in playful numbers.

To stop their flight her voice she pours
Full after them; they laugh and fly,
And to my heart for refuge hie;
Her voice pursues them through its doors.

Leave me, ye fierce ones! hence remove!
They bar themselves within, and say,
‘Till this be broken, here we stay,
That thou mayst know what ’tis to love.’

Emilius arose fretfully. It grew darker, and Roderick came not, and he was wishing to tell him of his love for an unknown fair one, who dwelt in the opposite house, and who kept him all day long at home, and waking through many a night. At length footsteps sounded up the stairs; the door opened without anybody knocking at it, and in walked two gay masks with ugly visages, one a Turk, dressed in red and blue silk, the other a Spaniard in pale yellow and pink with many waving feathers on his hat. As Emilius was becoming impatient, Roderick took off his mask, showed his well-known laughing countenance, and said: ‘Heyday, my good friend, what a drowned puppy of a face! Is this the way to look in carnival time? I and our dear young officer are come to fetch you away. There is a grand ball to-night at the masquerade rooms; and as I know you have forsworn ever going out in any other suit than that which you always wear, of the devil’s own colour, come with us as black as you are, for it is already somewhat late.’

Emilius felt angry, and said: ‘You have, it seems, according to custom, altogether forgotten our agreement. I am extremely sorry,’ he continued, turning to the stranger, ‘that I cannot possibly accompany you; my friend has been over-hasty in promising for me; indeed I cannot go out at all, having something of importance to talk to him about.’

The stranger, who was well-bred, and saw what Emilius meant, withdrew; but Roderick, with the utmost indifference, put on his mask again, placed himself before the glass, and said: ‘Verily I am a hideous figure, am I not? To say the truth, it is a tasteless, worthless, disgusting device.’

‘That there can be no question about,’ answered Emilius, in high indignation. ‘Making a caricature of yourself, and making a fool of yourself, are among the pleasures you are always driving after at full gallop.’

‘Because you do not like dancing yourself,’ said the other, ‘and look upon dancing as a mischievous invention, not a soul in the world must wear a merry face. How tiresome it is, when a person is made up of nothing but whims!’