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We had looked down upon it. All within,
As left by the departed company,

Was silent, save the solitary clock

That on mine ear ticked with a mournful sound.—
Following our Guide, we clomb the cottage-stairs
And reached a small apartment dark and low,
Which was no sooner entered than our Host
Said gaily, "This is my domain, my cell,
My hermitage, my cabin, what you will-
I love it better than a snail his house.
But now ye shall be feasted with our best."

So, with more ardor than an unripe girl
Left one day mistress of her mother's stores,
He went about his hospitable task.

My eyes were busy, and my thoughts no less,
And pleased I looked upon my grey-haired Friend,
As if to thank him; he returned that look,
Cheered, plainly, and yet serious. What a wreck
Had we about us! scattered was the floor,
And, in like sort, chair, window-seat, and shelf,
With books, maps, fossils, withered plants and

And tufts of mountain moss.

Mechanic tools

Lay intermixed with scraps of paper, some
Scribbled with verse: a broken angling-rod
And shattered telescope, together linked
By cobwebs, stood within a dusty nook;
And instruments of music, some half-made,
Some in disgrace, hung dangling from the walls.
But speedily the promise was fulfilled;
A feast before us, and a courteous Host
Inviting us in glee to sit and eat.

A napkin, white as foam of that rough brook
By which it had been bleached, o'erspread the board;
And was itself half-covered with a store

Of dainties,―oaten bread, curd, cheese, and cream;
And cakes of butter curiously embossed,
Butter that had imbibed from meadow-flowers
A golden hue, delicate as their own
Faintly reflected in a lingering stream.
Nor lacked, for more delight on that warm day,
Our table, small parade of garden fruits,

And whortle-berries from the mountain side.

The Child, who long ere this had stilled his sobs,
Was now a help to his late comforter,

And moved, a willing Page, as he was bid,
Ministering to our need.

In genial mood, While at our pastoral banquet thus we sate Fronting the window of that little cell, I could not, ever and anon, forbear To glance an upward look on two huge Peaks, That from some other vale peered into this. "Those lusty twins," exclaimed our host, "if here It were your lot to dwell, would soon become Your prized companions.-Many are the notes Which, in his tuneful course, the wind draws forth From rocks, woods, caverns, heaths, and dashing shores;

And well those lofty brethren bear their part
In the wild concert-chiefly when the storm
Rides high; then all the upper air they fill
With roaring sound, that ceases not to flow,
Like smoke, along the level of the blast,
In mighty current; theirs, too, is the song

Of stream and headlong flood that seldom fails;
And, in the grim and breathless hour of noon,
Methinks that I have heard them echo back
The thunder's greeting. Nor have nature's laws
Left them ungifted with a power to yield
Music of finer tone; a harmony,

So do I call it, though it be the hand

Of silence, though there be no voice;—the clouds,
The mist, the shadows, light of golden suns,
Motions of moonlight, all come thither-touch,
And have an answer-t
-thither come, and shape
A language not unwelcome to sick hearts
And idle spirits :-there the sun himself,
At the calm close of summer's longest day
Rests his substantial orb ;-between those heights
And on the top of either pinnacle,

More keenly than elsewhere in night's blue vault,
Sparkle the stars, as of their station proud.
Thoughts are not busier in the mind of man
Than the mute agents stirring there :—alone
Here do I sit and watch.-"

A fall of voice, Regretted like the nightingale's last note, Had scarcely closed this high-wrought strain of


Ere with inviting smile the Wanderer said: "Now for the tale with which you threatened us!" "In truth the threat escaped me unawares: Should the tale tire you, let this challenge stand For my excuse. Dissevered from mankind,

As to your eyes and thoughts we must have seemed

When ye looked down upon us from the crag,
Islanders mid a stormy mountain sea,

We are not so ;—perpetually we touch
Upon the vulgar ordinances of the world;
And he, whom this our cottage hath to-day
Relinquished, lived dependent for his bread
Upon the laws of public charity.

The Housewife, tempted by such slender gains
As might from that occasion be distilled,
Opened, as she before had done for me,
Her doors to admit this homeless Pensioner;
The portion gave of coarse but wholesome fare
Which appetite required—a blind dull nook,
Such as she had, the kennel of his rest!
This, in itself not ill, would yet have been
Ill borne in earlier life; but his was now
The still contentedness of seventy years.
Calm did he sit under the wide-spread tree
Of his old age; and yet less calm and meek,
Winningly meek or venerably calm,

Than slow and torpid; paying in this wise
A penalty, if penalty it were,

For spendthrift feats, excesses of his prime.
I loved the old Man, for I pitied him!
A task it was, I own, to hold discourse
With one so slow in gathering up his thoughts,
But he was a cheap pleasure to my eyes;
Mild, inoffensive, ready in his way,

And helpful to his utmost power: and there
Our housewife knew full well what she possessed!

He was her vassal of all labor, tilled

Her garden, from the pasture fetched her kine;
And, one among the orderly array

Of hay-makers, beneath the burning sun
Maintained his place; or heedfully pursued

His course, on errands bound, to other vales,
Leading sometimes an inexperienced child
Too young for any profitable task.

So moved he like a shadow that performed
Substantial service. Mark me now, and learn
For what reward!--The moon her monthly round
Hath not completed since our dame, the queen
Of this one cottage and this lonely dale,
Into my little sanctuary rushed--
Voice to a rueful treble humanized,
And features in deplorable dismay.
I treat the matter lightly, but, alas !

It is most serious: persevering rain

Had fallen in torrents; all the mountain tops
Were hidden, and black vapors coursed their sides;
This had I seen, and saw; but, till she spake,
Was wholly ignorant that my ancient Friend-
Who at her bidding, early and alone,
Had clomb aloft to delve the moorland turf
For winter fuel-to his noontide meal
Returned not, and now, haply, on the heights
Lay at the mercy of this raging storm.

• Inhuman !'--said I, was an old Man's life
Not worth the trouble of a thought ?—alas !
This notice comes too late.' With joy I saw
Her husband enter-from a distant vale.
We sallied forth together; found the tools
Which the neglected veteran had dropped,
But through all quarters looked for him in vain.
We shouted--but no answer! Darkness fell
Without remission of the blast or shower,
And fears for our own safety drove us home.

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