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[p. 156]

Zophiel approaches and bends over the maid; he tries to whisper in her ear, but

a higher power that loved her, and would keep her innocent, repelled his evil touch. He follows her, however, to the bridalchamber, where, sad and reluctant, she awaits the coming of Meles. He whispers words of love to her, decks her with precious jewels, paints Meles as unworthy of her love, and strives by all subtle art to win her.

As the little reptile in some lonely grove,
With fixed bright eye, of fascinating flames,
Lures on by slow degrees the plaining dove,
So nearer, nearer still, the bride and spirit came.
Success seemed his; but secret, in the height
Of exultation, as he braved the power
Which baffled him at morn, a subtle light
Shot from his eye, with guilt and treachery fraught.
The spell was broke; and doubts and terrors prest
Her sore. While Zophiel! “ Meles' step I hear!— He's a betrayer! Wilt receive him still?

She said in accents faint but firm, “ I will.”

Meles enters: ‘He stopt; a groan was heard; he gasped and fell, low by the couch of her who widowed lay.’

Meles was a favorite of Sardius, the young king of Media. Egla, with her parents, is bidden to his court to answer for the murder of Meles. Here, though treated with kindness, she is kept under close surveillance. Ere long the king falls in love with her. But Idaspes, the chief councillor, fears lest in winning Egla he suffers the mysterious fate of Meles; and so advises: ‘And, ere this dangerous beauty be thy bride, let him who loves thee best come forth and prove the peril first.’ One brave warrior after another sues for the hand of Egla, only to find death, as did Meles, on the bridal eve. The last of the suitors is the beautiful youth, Altheetor, the favorite of the court and of the king. His death resulted in the banishment of Egla.

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