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In the neighboring town ; and with them came riding

John Estaugh. At Elizabeth's door they stopped to rest, and alighting Tasted the currant wine, and the bread of rye, and the

honey Brought from the hives, that stood by the sunny wall

of the garden ; Then remounted their horses, refreshed, and continued

their journey, And Elizabeth with them, and Joseph, and Hannah the

housemaid. But, as they started, Elizabeth lingered a little, and

leaning Over her horse's neck, in a whisper said to John Es

taugh: “ Tarry awhile behind, for I have something to tell thee, Not to be spoken lightly, nor in the presence of others ; Them it concerneth not, only thee and me it concerneth.” And they rode slowly along through the woods, con

versing together.

a pleasure to breathe the fragrant air of the

forest; It was a pleasure to live on that bright and happy May


It was

Then Elizabeth said, though still with a certain re

luctance, As if impelled to reveal a secret she fain would have

guarded : I will no longer conceal what is laid upon me to tell

thee : I have received from the Lord a charge to love thee,

John Estaugh."

And John Estaugh made answer, surprised by the

words she had spoken, “ Pleasant to me are thy converse, thy ways, thy meek

ness of spirit; Pleasant thy frankness of speech, and thy soul's immac

ulate whiteness, Love without dissimulation, a holy and inward adorning. But I have yet no light to lead me, no voice to direct


When the Lord's work is done, and the toil and the labor

completed He hath appointed to me, I will gather into the still


Of my own heart awhile, and listen and wait for his


Then Elizabeth said, not troubled nor wounded in

spirit, “So is it best, John Estaugh. We will not speak of it

further. It hath been laid upon me to tell thee this, for to-mor


Thou art going away, across the sea, and I know not When I shall see thee more ; but if the Lord hath de

creed it, Thou wilt return again to seek me here and to find me.” And they rode onward in silence, and entered the town

with the others.


Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in

passing, Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the dark

ness ;

So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another, Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a


Now went on as of old the quiet life of the home

stead. Patient and unrepining Elizabeth labored, in all things Mindful not of herself, but bearing the burdens of others, Always thoughtful and kind and untroubled; and Han

nah the housemaid Diligent early and late, and rosy with washing and

scouring, Still as of old disparaged the eminent merits of Joseph, And was at times reproved for her light and frothy be

havior, For her shy looks, and her careless words, and her evil

surmisings, Being pressed down somewhat, like a cart with sheaves

overladen, As she would sometimes say to Joseph, quoting the


Meanwhile John Estaugh departed across the sea, and But the light shone at last, and guided his wavering

departing Carried hid in his heart a secret sacred and precious, Filling its chambers with fragrance, and seeming to him

in its sweetness Mary's ointment of spikenard, that filled all the house

with its odor. O lost days of delight, that are wasted in doubting and

waiting! O lost hours and days in which we might have been


footsteps, And at last came the voice, imperative, questionless cer


Then John Estaugh came back o'er the sea for the

gift that was offered, Better than houses and lands, the gift of a woman's af

fection. And on the First-Day that followed, he rose in the Si

lent Assembly, Holding in his strong hand a hand that trembled a little, Promising to be kind and true and faithful in all things. Such were the marriage-rites of John and Elizabeth Es


And not otherwise Joseph, the honest, the diligent

servant, Sped in his bashful wooing with homely Hannah the

housemaid ; For when he asked her the question, she answered

“Nay”; and then added : “But thee may make believe, and see what will come of

it, Joseph.”


These are the tales those merry guests
Told to each other, well or ill ;
Like summer birds that lift their crests
Above the borders of their nests
And twitter, and again are still.

These are the tales, or new or old,
In idle moments idly told ;
Flowers of the field with petals thin,
Lilies that neither toil nor spin,
And tufts of wayside weeds and gorse
Hung in the parlor of the inn
Beneath the sign of the Red Horse.

And still, reluctant to retire,
The friends sat talking by the fire
And watched the smouldering embers burn
To ashes, and flash up again
Into a momentary glow,
Lingering like them when forced to go,
And going when they would remain ;
For on the morrow they must turn
Their faces homeward, and the pain
Of parting touched with its unrest
A tender nerve in every breast.

But sleep at last the victory won;
They must be stirring with the sun,
And drowsily good night they said,
And went still gossiping to bed,
And left the parlor wrapped in gloom.
The only live thing in the room
Was the old clock, that in its pace
Kept time with the revolving spheres
And constellations in their flight,
And struck with its uplifted mace
The dark, unconscious hours of night,
To senseless and unlistening ears.

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