Page images
PDF
EPUB

Fire, and dead ashes and all fire again Thrice in a second, felt him tremble too, And heard him muttering, 'So like, so

like; She never had a sister.

I knew none. Some cousin of his and hers - O God, so

like!' And then he suddenly ask'd her if she

The passionate moment would not suffer

that Past thro' his visions to the burial; thence Down to this last strange hour in his own

hall; And then rose up, and with him all his

guests Once more as by enchantment; all but he, Lionel, who fain had risen, but fell again, And sat as if in chains — to whom he said:

were.

came

She shook, and cast her eyes down, and

was dumb. And then some other question'd if she From foreign lands, and still she did not

speak. Another, if the boy were hers: but she To all their queries answer'd not a word, Which made the amazement more, till

one of them Said, shuddering, 'Her spectre!' But

his friend Replied, in half a whisper, ‘Not at least The spectre that will speak if spoken to. Terrible pity, if one so beautiful Prove, as I alınost dread to find her,

dumb!'

Take my free gift, my cousin, for

your wife; And were it only for the giver's sake, And tho'she seem so like the one you lost, Yet cast her not away so suddenly, Lest there be none left here to bring her

back: I leave this land for ever.' Here he

ceased.

But Julian, sitting by her, answer'd all: "She is but dumb, because in her you

see

That faithful servant whom we spoke

about, Obedient to her second master now; Which will not last. I have here to-night

a guest So bound to me by common icve and

loss What! shall I bind him mcie? in his

behalf, Shall I exceed the Persian, giving him That which of all things is the dearest to

me, Not only showing? and he himself pro

nounced That my rich gift is wholly miñe to give.

Then taking his dear lady by one

hand, And bearing on one arm the noble babe, He slowly brought them both to Lionel. And there the widower husband and dead

wife Rush'd each at each with a cry, that rather

seem'd For some new death than for a life re.

new'd; Whereat the very babe began to wail; At once they turn'd, and caught and

brought him in To their charm'd circle, and, half killing

him With kisses, round him closed and claspt

again. But Lionel, when at last he freed himself From wife and child, and lifted up a face All over glowing with the sun of lise, And love, and boundless thanks — the

sight of this So frighted our good friend, that turning

to me And saying, 'It is over: let us go'There were

our horses ready at the doors We bade them no farewell, but mounting

these He past for ever from his native land; And I with him, my Julian, back to

mine.

• Now all be dumb, and promise all of

you Not to break in on what I say iny word Or whisper, while I show you all my

heart.' And then began the story of his love As here to-day, but not so wordily –

TO ALFRED TENNYSON

[blocks in formation]

MY GRANDSON. GOLDEN-HAIR'D Ally whose name is one with

mine, Crazy with laughter and babble and earth's new

wine, Now that the flower of a year and a half is thine, O little blossom, O mine, and mine of mine, Glorious poet who never hast written a line, Laugh, for the name at the head of my verse is

thine. May'st thou never be wrong'd by the name that

is mine!

III. There was a farmer in Dorset of Harry's

kir, that had need Of a good stout lad at his farm; he sent

an' ie father agreed; So Harry was bound to the Dorsetshirë

farm for years an' for years; I walked with him down to the quar,

poor lad, an’ we parted in tears. The boat was beginning to move, we

heard them a-ringing the bell, “I'll never love any but you, God bless

you, my own little Nell.'

Those were the pla

an' my man We seem'd like

a-sailing wi

IV.

THE FIRST QUARREL. (IN THE ISLE OF WIGHT.)

Bat work was sca

tried the vil So Harry went ov

work could An' he wrote I

little wife, 11 come for an h

[ocr errors]

I was a caild, an' he was a child, an' be

carne to harm; There was a girl, a hússy, that workt with

him up at the farm, One had deceived her an' left her alone

with her sin an' her shame, An' so she was wicked with Harry; the

giri was the most to blame.

you before

So I set to righting

he coming An' I hit on an

V.

push'd in a It was full of old

letter along I had better ha' pe

hornets' nee

Wait a little, you say, 'you are sure

it'll all come right,' But the boy was born i' trouble, an' looks

so wan an' so white: Wait! an' once I ha' waited — I hadn't

to wait for long. Now I wait, wait, wait for Harry. — No,

no, you are doing me wrong! Harry and I were married: the boy can

hold up his head, The boy was born in wedlock, but after

my man was dead; I ha' work'd for him fifteen years, an' I

work an' I wait to the end. I am all alone in the world, an' you are my only friend.

II. Doctor, if you can wait, I'll tell you the

tale o' my life. When Harry an' I were children, he callid

me his own little wife; I was happy when I was with him, an'

sorry when he was away, An' when we play'd together, I loved him

better than play; He workt me the daisy chain - he made

me the cowslip ball, He fought the boys that were rude, an' I

loved him better than all. Passionate girl tho' I was, an' often at

home in disgrace, I never could quarrel with Harry - I had

but to look in his face.

An' years went over till I that was little

had grown so tall,
The mix would say of the maids, 'Our

Ne!!y's the flower of 'em all.'
I didn't take heed o' them, but I taught

myself all I could
To make a good wife for Harry, when
Harry came home for good.

VI. Often i seem'd unhappy, and often as For I kcard it abroad in the fields • I'll Didn't you kiss

happy • I'll never love any but you 'the morning As I almost died

er love any but you

song of the lark, * I'll never love any but you'the nightin

gale's hyn.n in the dark.

'Saeetheart' - the

was the lett You promised to f

an' I wish I

haven't don

an' I wish

VII.

[blocks in formation]

And Harry came home at last, but he

lock'd at me sidelong and shy, Vext me a bit, till he told me that su

many years had gone by, I had grown so handsome and tall — that

I might ha' forgot him somehow -For he thought - there were other lads –

For Harry came i

he was fear'd to look at me now.

letter that And he told it me

as any child

VIII.

Hard was the frost in the field, we were

married o’ Christmas day, Married among the red berries, an' all as

merry as May Those were the pleasant times, my house

an' my man were my p:ide, We seem'd like ships i' the Channel

a-sailing with wind an' tide.

IX.

But work was scant in the Isle, tho' he

tried the villages round, So Harry went over the Solent to see if

work could be found; An' he wrote *I ha' six weeks' work,

little wife, so far as I know; I'll come for an hour to-morro!y, an' kiss

you before I go.

x.

So I set to righting the house, or wasn't

he coming that day? An' I hit on an old deal-box hat was

push'd in a corner away, It was full of old odds an' ends, an' a

letter along wi' the resi, I had better ha' put my naked hand in a

hornets' nest.

What can it matter, my lass, what I did

wi' my single life? I ha' been as true to you as ever a man

to his wife; An' she wasn't one o'the worst. •Then,'

I said, “I'm none o' the best.' An' he smiled at me, ‘Ain't you, my

love? Come, come, little wife, let

it rest! The man isn't like the woman, no need

to make such a stir.' But he anger'd me all the more, an' I said

• You were keeping with her, When I was a-loving you all along an'

the same as before.' An' he didn't speak for a while, an' he

anger'd me more and more. Then he patted my hand in his gentle

way, “Let bygones be!' • Bygones ! you kept yours hush’d,' I said,

when you married me! By-gones ma' be come-agains; an’she

in her shame an' her sin You'll have her to nurse my child, if I

die o' my lying in! You'll make her its second mother! I

hate her - an' I hate you!' Ah, Harry, my man, you had better ha'

beaten me black an' blue Than ha' spoken as kind as you did,

when I were so crazy wi' spite, • Wait a little, my lass, I am sure it ’ill all come right.'

XIV. An' he took three turns in the rain, an' I

watch'd him, an' when he came in I felt that my heart was hard, he was all

wet thro' to the skin, An' I never said off wi'the wet,' I never

said on wi' the dry,' So I knew my heart was hard, when he

came to bid me goodbye. • You said that you hated me, Ellen, but

that isn't true, you know; I am going to leave you a bit - you'll

kiss me before I go?'

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

XV.

For Harry came in, an' I Aung him the

letter that drove me wild, An' he told it me all at once, as simple

as any child,

. Going! you're going to her — kiss her

- if you will,' I said I was near my time wi' the boy, I must

ha' been light i' my head

[blocks in formation]

And the jailer force

VI.

bid him my

WAILING, wailing, wailing, the wind over

land and sea — And Willy's voice in the wind, O mother

come out to me.' Why should he call me to-night, when

he knows that I cannot go? For the downs are as bright as day, and

the full moon stares at the snow.

They had fastend

O mother!

I couldn't get bac

And now I never

something i

jailer forced

II.

Nay – for it's kind of you, Madam, to

sit by an old dying wife. But say nothing hard of my boy, I have

only an hour of life. I kiss'd my boy in the prison, before he

went out to die. *They dared me to do it,' he said, and he

never has toki me a lie. I whipt him for robbing an orchard once

when he was but a child • The farmer dared me to do it,' he said;

he was always so wild And idie — and couldn't be idle -- my

Willy - he never could rest. The King should have made him a sol,

dier, he would have been one of his vest.

We should be seen, my dear; they would

spy us out of the town. The loud black nights for us, and the

storm rushing over the down, When I cannot see my own hand, but

am led by the creak of the chain, And grovel and grope for my son till I

find myself drenched with the rain.

1

Then since I coul

of my boy They seized me a

lastend me Hutber, O mothe

dark to me They beat me for

you know the

VII.

And then at the last they found I had

grown so stupid and still They let me abroad again — but the

creatures had worked their will.

XI.

But he lived with a lot of wild mates, and

they never would let him be good; They swore that he dare not rob the

mail, and he swore that he would; And he took no life, but he took one

purse, and when all was done He Aung it among his fellows - I'll none

of it, said my son.

VIII.

Flesh of my flesh was gone, but bone of

my bone was left I stole them all from the lawyers — and

you, will you call it a theft? – My baby, the bones that had suck'd me,

the bones that had laugh'd and

had cried Theirs? O no! they are mine - not theirs

- they had moved in my side.

XII.

I came into court to the Judge and the

lawyers. I told them my tale, God's own truth — but they kill'd him,

they kill'd him for robbing the

mail. They hang’d him in chains for a show

we had always borne a good

name To be hang'd for a thief - and then put

away - isn't that enougn shame? Dust to dust - low down -- let us hide!

but they set him so high That all the ships of the world could

stare at him, passing by. God 'ill pardon the hell-black raven and

horrible fowls of the air, But not the black heart of the lawyer who

kill'd him and hang'd him there.

Do you think I was scared by the bones?

kiss'd 'em, I buried 'em all — I can't dig deep, I am old — in the night

by the churchyard wall. My Willy 'ill rise up whole when the

trumpet of judgment ’ill sound; But I charge you never to say that I laid

him in holy ground.

XIII.

IX.

And the jailer forced me awa;. I had

bid him my last goodbye;. They had fasten'd the door of his cell.

O mother!' I heard him cry. I couldn't get back tho' I tried, he had

something further to say, And now I never shall know it. The

jailer forced me away.

They would scratch him up— they would

hang him again on the cursed

tree. Sin? O yes

-- we are sinners, I know -

let all that be, And read me a Bible verse of the Lord's

good will toward men Full of compassion and mercy, the Lord'

let me hear it again; * Full of compassion and mercy -- long

suffering. Yes, O yes ! For the lawyer is born but to murder

the Saviour lives but to bless. He'll never put on the black cap except

for the worst of the worst, And the first may be last — I have heard

it in church — and the last may

be first Suffering – O long-suffering - yes, as the

Lord must know, Year after year in the mist and the wind

and the shower and the snow.

X.

Then since I couldn't but hear that cry

of my boy that was dead, They seized me and shut me up: they

fasten'd me down on my bed. 6 Mother, O mother!! -- he call'd in the

dark to me year after year – They beat me for that, they bcat me –

you know that I couldn': but hear;

« PreviousContinue »