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"For The King"
by [?]

That cares of state, and–he dared to say–
Some fears that the King could not repay
The thoughtful zeal of his host, some way

Had marred his rest. Yet he trusted much
None shared his wakefulness; though such
Indeed might be! If he dared to touch

A theme so fine–the bride, perchance,
Still slept! At least, they missed her glance
To give this greeting countenance.

Be sure that the seneschal, in turn,
Was deeply bowed with the grave concern
Of the painful news his guest should learn:

“Last night, to her father’s dying bed
By a priest was the lady summoned;
Nor know we yet how well she sped,

“But hope for the best.” The grave Viceroy
(Though grieved his visit had such alloy)
Must still wish the seneschal great joy

Of a bride so true to her filial trust!
Yet now, as the day waxed on, they must
To horse, if they’d ‘scape the noonday dust.

“Nay,” said the seneschal, “at least,
To mend the news of this funeral priest,
Myself shall ride as your escort east.”

The Viceroy bowed. Then turned aside
To his nearest follower: “With me ride–
You and Felipe–on either side.

“And list! Should anything me befall,
Mischance of ambush or musket-ball,
Cleave to his saddle yon seneschal!

“No more.” Then gravely in accents clear
Took formal leave of his late good cheer;
Whiles the seneschal whispered a musketeer,

Carelessly stroking his pommel top:
“If from the saddle ye see me drop,
Riddle me quickly yon solemn fop!”

So these, with many a compliment,
Each on his own dark thought intent,
With grave politeness onward went,

Riding high, and in sight of all,
Viceroy, escort, and seneschal,
Under the shade of the Almandral;

Holding their secret hard and fast,
Silent and grave they ride at last
Into the dusty traveled Past.

Even like this they passed away
Two hundred years ago to-day.
What of the lady? Who shall say?

Do the souls of the dying ever yearn
To some favored spot for the dust’s return,
For the homely peace of the family urn?

I know not. Yet did the seneschal,
Chancing in after-years to fall
Pierced by a Flemish musket-ball,

Call to his side a trusty friar,
And bid him swear, as his last desire,
To bear his corse to San Pedro’s choir

At Leon, where ‘neath a shield azure
Should his mortal frame find sepulture:
This much, for the pains Christ did endure.

Be sure that the friar loyally
Fulfilled his trust by land and sea,
Till the spires of Leon silently

Rose through the green of the Almandral,
As if to beckon the seneschal
To his kindred dust ‘neath the choir wall.

I wot that the saints on either side
Leaned from their niches open-eyed
To see the doors of the church swing wide;

That the wounds of the Saviour on either flank
Bled fresh, as the mourners, rank by rank,
Went by with the coffin, clank on clank.

For why? When they raised the marble door
Of the tomb, untouched for years before,
The friar swooned on the choir floor;

For there, in her laces and festal dress,
Lay the dead man’s wife, her loveliness
Scarcely changed by her long duress,–

As on the night she had passed away;
Only that near her a dagger lay,
With the written legend, “Por el Rey.”

What was their greeting, the groom and bride,
They whom that steel and the years divide?
I know not. Here they lie side by side.

Side by side! Though the king has his way,
Even the dead at last have their day.
Make you the moral. “Por el Rey!”