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With the sad news, that he had joined a troop
-He left me thus-he could not gather heart
That I should follow with my babes, and sink
This tale did Margaret tell with many tears:
And well remember, o'er that fence she looked,
I roved o'er many a hill and many a dale, With my accustomed load; in heat and cold, Through many a wood and many an open ground, In sunshine and in shade, in wet and fair, Drooping or blithe of heart, as might befal; My best companions now the driving winds,
And now the trotting brooks' and whispering trees, And now the music of my own sad steps,
With many a short-lived thought that passed between, And disappeared.
I journeyed back this way, When, in the warmth of midsummer, the wheat Was yellow; and the soft and bladed grass, Springing afresh, had o'er the hay-field spread Its tender verdure. At the door arrived, I found that she was absent. In the shade, Where now we sit, I waited her return. Her cottage, then a cheerful object, wore Its customary look,-only, it seemed, The honeysuckle, crowding round the porch, Hung down in heavier tufts; and that bright weed, The yellow stone-crop, suffered to take root Along the window's edge, profusely grew Blinding the lower panes. I turned aside, And strolled into her garden. It appeared To lag behind the season, and had lost Its pride of neatness. Daisy-flowers and thrift Had broken their trim border-lines, and straggled O'er paths they used to deck: carnations, once Prized for surpassing beauty, and no less For the peculiar pains they had required, Declined their languid heads, wanting support. The cumbrous bind-weed, with its wreaths and bells, Had twined about her two small rows of peas, And dragged them to the earth.
Ere this an hour Was wasted.-Back I turned my restless steps; A stranger passed; and, guessing whom I sought, He said that she was used to ramble far.The sun was sinking in the west; and now I sate with sad impatience. From within Her solitary infant cried aloud; Then, like a blast that dies away self-stilled,
From the bench I rose;
The voice was silent.
I turned, and saw her distant a few steps.
Her face was pale and thin-her figure, too,
And so I waste my time: for I am changed;
Weeping, and weeping have I waked; my tears
It would have grieved Your very soul to see her. Sir, I feel The story linger in my heart; I fear "T is long and tedious; but my spirit clings To that poor Woman :-so familiarly Do I perceive her manner, and her look, And presence; and so deeply do I feel Her goodness, that, not seldom, in my walks A momentary trance comes over me; And to myself I seem to muse on one! By sorrow laid asleep; or borne away, A human being destined to awake To human life, or something very near To human life, when he shall come again For whom she suffered. Yes, it would have grieved Your very soul to see her: evermore
Her eyelids drooped, her eyes downward were cast; And, when she at her table gave me food,
She did not look at me.
Her voice was low,
Her body was subdued. In
Are like an idle matter.
breast was seen,
We sate together, sighs came on my ear,
Ere my departure, to her care I gave, For her son's use, some tokens of regard, Which with a look of welcome she received; And I exhorted her to place her trust In God's good love, and seek his help by prayer. I took my staff, and, when I kissed her babe, The tears stood in her eyes. I left her then With the best hope and comfort I could give: She thanked me for my wish ;-but for my hope It seemed she did not thank me.
I returned, And took my rounds along this road again When on its sunny bank the primrose flower Peeped forth, to give an earnest of the Spring. I found her sad and drooping: she had learned No tidings of her husband; if he lived, She knew not that he lived; if he were dead, She knew not he was dead. She seemed the same In person and appearance; but her house Bespake a sleepy hand of negligence; The floor was neither dry nor neat, the hearth Was comfortless, and her small lot of books, Which, in the cottage-window, heretofore Had been piled up against the corner panes In seemly order, now, with straggling leaves Lay scattered here and there, open or shut, As they had chanced to fall. Her infant Babe Had from its Mother caught the trick of grief, And sighed among its playthings. I withdrew, And once again entering the garden saw,