Page images
PDF
EPUB

How low his brother's mood had fallen, Mastering the lawless science of our law, fetch'd

That codeless myriad of precedent, His richest beeswing from a binn reserved That wilderness of single instances, For banquets, praised the waning red, and Thro' which a few, by wit or fortune led, told

May beat a pathway out to wealth and The vintage—when this Aylmer came of fame. age

The jests, that flash'd about the pleader's Then drank and past it; till at length the

room, two,

Lightning of the hour, the pun, the Tho' Leolin flamed and fell again, agreed scurrilous tale, That much allowance must be made for Old scandals buried now seven decads deep men.

In other scandals that have lived and died, After an angry dream this kindlier glow And left the living scandal that shall dieFaded with morning, but his purpose held. Were dead to him already; bent as he was

To make disproof of scorn, and strong in

hopes, Yet once by night again the lovers met, And prodigal of all brain-labour he, A perilous meeting under the tall pines Charier of sleep, and wine, and exercise, That darken’d all the northward of her Except when for a breathing-while at eve, Hall.

Some niggard fraction of an hour, he ran Him, to her meek and modest bosom prest Beside the river-bank : and then indeed In agony, she promised that no force, Harder the times were, and the hands of Persuasion, no, nor death could alter her:

power He, passionately hopefuller, would go, Were bloodier, and the according hearts Labour for his own Edith, and return

of men In such a sunlight of prosperity

Seem'd harder too; but the soft riverHe should not be rejected. Write to breeze, me !

Which fann'd the gardens of that rival rose They loved me, and because I love their | Yet fragrant in a heart remembering child

His former talks with Edith, on him They hate me: there is war between us,

breathed dear,

Far purelier in his rushings to and fro, Which breaks all bonds but ours; we After his books, to flush his blood with must remain

air, Sacred to one another.' So they talk'd, Then to his books again. My lady's Poor children, for their comfort: the wind cousin, blew;

Half-sickening of his pension’d afternoon, The rain of heaven, and their own bitter Drove in upon the student once or twice, tears,

Ran a Malayan amuck against the times, Tears, and the careless rain of heaven, Had golden hopes for France and all mixt

mankind, Upon their faces, as they kiss'd each other Answer'd all queries touching those at Indarkness, and above them roar'd the pine. home

With a heaved shoulder and a saucy smile, So Leolin went; and as we task our- And fain had haled him out into the selves

world, To learn a language known but smatter- And aird him there : his nearer friend

ingly In phrases here and there at random, Screw not the chord too sharply lest it toil'd

snap.'

would say

forth

saw

Then left alone he pluck'd her dagger They barr'd her : yet she bore it : yet her

cheek From where his worldless heart had kept Kept colour : wondrous ! but, O mystery! it warm,

What amulet drew her down to that old Kissing his vows upon it like a knight.

oak, And wrinkled benchers often talk'd of So old, that twenty years before, a part him

Falling had let appear the brand of JohnApprovingly, and prophesied his rise : Once grovelike, each huge arm a tree, For heart, I think, help'd head : her

but now letters too,

The broken base of a black tower, a cave Tho' far between, and coming fitfully Of touchwood, with a single flourishing Like broken music, written as she found

spray. Or made occasion, being strictly watch'd, There the manorial lord too curiously Charm'd him thro' every labyrinth till he Raking in that millennial touchwood-dust

Found for himself a bitter treasure-trove ; An end, a hope, a light breaking upon him. Burst his own wyvern on the seal, and read

Writhing a letter from his child, for which But they that cast her spirit into flesh, Came at the moment Leolin's emissary, Her worldly-wise begetters, plagued them- A crippled lad, and coming turn'd to fly, selves

But scared with threats of jail and halter To sell her, those good parents, for her

gave good.

To him that fluster'd his poor parish wits Whatever eldest-born of rank or wealth The letter which he brought, and swore Might lie within their compass, him they

besides lured

To play their go-between as heretofore Into their net made pleasant by the baits Nor let them know themselves betray'd ; Of gold and beauty, wooing him to woo.

and then, So month by month the noise about their Soul - stricken at their kindness to him, doors,

went And distant blaze of those dull banquets, Hating his own lean heart and miserable.

made The nightly wirer of their innocent hare Thenceforward oft from out a despot Falter before he took it. All in vain.

dream Sullen, defiant, pitying, wroth, return'd The father panting woke, and oft, as dawn Leolin's rejected rivals from their suit Aroused the black republic on his elms, So often, that the folly taking wings Sweeping the frothfly from the fescue Slipt o'er those lazy limits down the wind

brush'd With rumour, and became in other fields Thro' the dim meadow toward his A mockery to the yeomen over ale,

treasure-trove, And laughter to their lords : but those at Seized it, took home, and to my lady,home,

who made As hunters round a hunted creature draw A downward crescent of her minion mouth, The cordon close and closer toward the Listless in all despondence,-read ; and death,

tore, Narrow'd her goings out and comings in ; As if the living passion symbol'd there Forbad her first the house of Averill, Were living nerves to feel the rent; and Then closed her access to the wealthier

burnt, farms,

Now chafing at his own great self defied, Last from her own home-circle of the Now striking on huge stumbling-blocks of

poor

scorn

his name,

In babyisms, and dear diminutives

Star to star vibrates light : may soul Scatter'd all over the vocabulary

to soul Of such a love as like a chidden child, Strike thro' a finer element of her own ? After much wailing, hush'd itself at last So,--from afar,--touch as at once? or Hopeless ofanswer: then tho’Averill wrote why And bad him with good heart sustain That night, that moment, when she named

himselfAll would be well—the lover heeded not, Did the keen shriek “Yes love, yes, Edith, But passionately restless came and went,

yes,' And rustling once at night about the place, Shrill, till the comrade of his chambers There by a keeper shot at, slightly hurt,

woke, Raging return'd: nor was it well for her And came upon him half-arisen from sleep, Kept to the garden now, and grove of pines, With a weird bright eye, sweating and Watch'd even there ; and one was set to

trembling, watch

His hair as it were crackling into flames, The watcher, and Sir Aylmer watch'd His body half flung forward in pursuit, them all,

And his long arms stretch'd as to grasp a Yet bitterer from his readings: once flyer : indeed,

Nor knew he wherefore he had made the Warm'd with his wines, or taking pride

cry ; in her,

And being much befool'd and idioted She look'd so sweet, he kiss'd her tenderly By the rough amity of the other, sank Not knowing what possess'd him: that As into sleep again. The second day, one kiss

My lady's Indian kinsman rushing in, Was Leolin's one strong rival upon earth ; A breaker of the bitter news from home, Seconded, for my lady follow'd suit, Found a dead man, a letter edged with Seem'd hope's returning rose : and then

death ensued

Beside him, and the dagger which himself A Martin's summer of his faded love, Gave Edith, redden'd with no bandit's Or ordeal by kindness; after this

blood : He seldom crost his child without a sneer ; ‘From Edith' was engraven on the blade. The mother flow'd in shallower acrimonies:

Then Averill went and gazed upon his Never one kindly smile, one kindly word :

death. So that the gentle creature shut from all And when he came again, his flock beHer charitable use, and face to face

lieved With twenty months of silence, slowly lost Beholding how the years which are not Nor greatly cared to lose, her hold on life.

Time's Last, some low fever ranging round to spy Had blasted him—that many thousand The weakness of a people or a house,

days Like flies that haunt a wound, or deer, or Were clipt by horror from his term of life. men,

Yet the sad mother, for the second death Or almost all that is, hurting the hurt-- Scarce touch'd her thro' that nearness of Save Christ as we believe him—found the

the first, girl

And being used to find her pastor texts, And Aung her down upon a couch of fire, Sent to the harrow'd brother, praying Where careless of the household faces near,

him And crying upon the name of Leolin, To speak before the people of her child, She, and with her the race of Aylmer, And fixt the Sabbath. Darkly that day

past.

rose :

one

Autumn's mock sunshine of the faded When since had flood, fire, earthquake, woods

thunder, wrought Was all the life of it; for hard on these, Such waste and havock as the idolatries, A breathless burthen of low-folded heavens Which from the low light of mortality Stifled and chill’d at once; but every roof | Shot up their shadows to the Heaven of Sent out a listener: many too had known Heavens, Edith among the hamlets round, and And worshipt their own darkness in the since

Highest ? The parents' harshness and the hapless Gash thyself, priest, and honour thy loves

brute Baäl, And double death were widely murmurd, And to thy worst self sacrifice thyself, left

For with thy worst self hast thou clothed Their own gray tower, or plain-faced thy God. tabernacle,

Then came a Lord in no wise like to To hear him ; all in mourning these, and

Baäl. those

The babe shall lead the lion. Surely now With blots of it about them, ribbon, glove The wilderness shall blossom as the rose. Or kerchief ; while the church, – Crown thyself, worm, and worship thine night, except

own lusts !For greenish glimmerings thro’the lancets, No coarse and blockish God of acreage -made

Stands at thy gate for thee to grovel toStill paler the pale head of him, who Thy God is far diffused in noble groves tower'd

And princely halls, and farms, and flowing Above them, with his hopes in either

lawns, grave.

And heaps of living gold that daily grow,

And title-scrolls and gorgeous heraldries. Long o'er his bent brows linger'd In such a shape dost thou behold thy Averill,

God. His face magnetic to the hand from which Thou wilt not gash thy flesh for him ; for Livid he pluck'd it forth, and labour'd

thine thro'

Fares richly, in fine linen, not a hair His brief prayer-prelude, gave the verse Ruffled upon the scarfskin, even while • Behold,

The deathless ruler of thy dying house Your house is left unto you desolate !' Is wounded to the death that cannot die ; But lapsed into so long a pause again And tho’thou numberest with the followers As half amazed half frighted all his flock : Of One who cried, “Leave all and follow Then from his height and loneliness of

me.” grief

Thee therefore with His light about thy Bore down in food, and dash'd his angry heart

Thee with His message ringing in thine Against the desolations of the world.

ears,

Thee shall thy brother man, the Lord from Never since our bad earth became one

Heaven, sea,

Born of a village girl, carpenter's son, Which rolling o'er the palaces of the Wonderful, Prince of peace, the Mighty proud,

God, And all but those who knew the living Count the more base idolater of the two; God

Crueller : as not passing thro' the fire Eight that were left to make a purer Bodies, but souls—thy children's—thro' world

the smoke,

feet,

first;

The blight of low desires-darkening One spiritual doubt she did not soothe? thine own

Or when some heat of difference sparkled To thine own likeness ; or if one of these,

out, Thy better born unhappily from thee, How sweetly would she glide between Should, as by miracle, grow straight and

your wraths, fair

And steal you from each other ! for she Friends, I was bid to speak of such a one

walk'd By those who most have cause to sorrow Wearing the light yoke of that Lord of for her

love, Fairer than Rachel by the palmy well, Who still’d the rolling wave of Galilee ! Fairer than Ruth among the fields of corn, And one-of him I was not bid to Fair as the Angel that said “Hail !" she speak— seem'd,

Was always with her, whom you also Who entering fill'd the house with sudden

knew. light.

Him too you loved, for he was worthy For so mine own was brighten'd: where

love. indeed

And these had been together from the The roof so lowly but that beam of Heaven

They might have been together till the Dawn'd sometime thro' the doorway?

last. whose the babe

Friends, this frail bark of ours, when Too ragged to be fondled on her lap,

sorely tried, Warm'd at her bosom? The poor child May wreck itself without the pilot's guilt, of shame

Without the captain's knowledge : hope The common care whom no one cared

with me. for, leapt

Whose shame is that, if he went hence To greet her, wasting his forgotten heart,

with shame? As with the mother he had never known, Nor mine the fault, if losing both of these In gambols ; for her fresh and innocent I cry to vacant chairs and widow'd walls, eyes

· My house is left unto me desolate.”' Had such a star of morning in their blue, That all neglected places of the field While thus he spoke, his hearers wept ; Broke into nature's music when they saw her.

Sons of the glebe, with other frowns than Low was her voice, but won mysterious

those way

That knit themselves for summer shadow, Thro' the seal'd ear to which a louder

scowl'd

At their great lord. He, when it seem'd Was all but silence-free of alms her

he saw hand

No pale sheet-lightnings from afar, but The hand that robed your cottage-walls

fork'd with flowers

Of the near storm, and aiming at his Has often toild to clothe your little ones ; head, How often placed upon the sick man's Sat anger-charm'd from sorrow, soldierbrow

like, Cool'd it, or laid his feverous pillow Erect : but when the preacher's cadence smooth !

flow'd Had you one sorrow and she shared it Softening thro' all the gentle attributes not?

Of his lost child, the wife, who watch'd One burthen and she would not lighten it?

his face,

but some,

one

« PreviousContinue »