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And hither too the old man came, For why, tho' not akin in blood,
They sisters were in heart.]
Small need to tell to any man
That ever shed a tear The Thorn is neither dry nor dead, What passed within the lover's heart But still it blossoms sweet ;
The happy day so near. Then tell me why all round its roots
The mother, more than mothers use, 50 The dock and nettle meet.
Rejoiced when they were by ;
Beneath the mother's eye.
And here within the flowering thorn Stretch out their lengths so green and How deep they drank of joy : dark,
The mother fed upon the sight, By any foot unworn.'
[sic in MS.]
The mother still was in the bower,
And with a greedy heart She drank perdition on her knees,
Which never may depart.
But when their steps were heard below
On God she did not call ; She did forget the God of Heaven, 170
For they were in the hall.
Three times, three times this spade of
When spirits wandering are.
By howling fiends was borne,
Beneath the flowery thorn. And when the death-knock at the door
Called home the maid forlorn, This spade was seen to mark her grave
Beneath the flowery thorn. And 'tis a fearsul, fearful tree;
The ghosts that round it meet, 'Tis they that cut the rind at night,
Yet still it blossoms sweet.
She started up-the servant maid
Did see her when she rose; And she has oft declared to me
The blood within her froze.
As Edward led his bride away
And hurried to the door, The ruthless mother springing forth
Stopped midway on the floor.
What did she mean? What did she mean?
180 For with a smile she cried : • Unblest ye shall not pass my door,
The bride-groom and his bride.
Be Llithe as lambs in April are,
As flies when fruits are red; May God forbid that thought of me
Should haunt your marriage-bed.
* And let the night be given to bliss,
The day be given to glee : I am a woman weak and old,
Why turn a thought on me?
The grapes upon the Vicar's wall
Were ripe as ripe could be ;
Were falling from the tree.
Still swung the spikes of corn :
Young Edward's marriage-morn. Up through that wood behind the church,
There leads from Edward's door A mossy track, all over boughed, 230
For half a mile or more. And from their house-door by that track
The bride and bridegroom went ; Sweet Mary, though she was not gay,
Seemed cheerful and content.
But when they to the church-yard came,
I've heard poor Mary say,
Her heart it died away.
Her limbs did creep and freeze ; But when they prayed, she thought she saw
Her mother on her knees.
And o'er the church-path they returned- And now Ash - Wednesday came—that I saw poor Mary's back,
day Just as she stepped beneath the boughs But few to church repair : Into the mossy track.
For on that day you know we read
The Commination prayer.
Our late old Vicar, a kind man,
290 That moment I have heard her say
Once, Sir, he said to me, She wished she could forget.
He wished that service was clean out 251
Of our good Liturgy. The shade o'er-flushed her limbs with heat
The mother walked into the church-Then came a chill like death :
To Ellen's seat she went : And when the merry bells rang out,
Though Ellen always kept her church They seemed to stop her breath.
All church-days during Lent. Beneath the foulest mother's curse
And gentle Ellen welcomed her No child could ever thrive :
With courteous looks and mild : A mother is a mother still,
Thought she, “What if her heart should The holiest thing alive.
And all be reconciled !' So five months passed : the mother still
The day was scarcely like a dayWould never heal the strife ; 261
The clouds were black outright : But Edward was a loving man,
And many a night, with half a moon, And Mary a fond wife.
I've seen the church more light. My sister may not visit us,
The wind was wild ; against the glass My mother says her nay :
The rain did beat and bicker ; O Edward ! you are all to me,
The church-tower swinging over head, I wish for your sake I could be
You scarce could hear the Vicar ! More lifesome and more gay.
And then and there the mother knelt, 310 I'm dull and sad ! indeed, indeed
And audibly she cried I know I have no reason !
270 *Oh! may a clinging curse consume Perhaps I am not well in health,
This woman by my side ! And ’tis a gloomy season.'
.O hear me, hear me, Lord in Heaven, 'Twas a drizzly time--no ice, no snow ! Although you take my lifeAnd on the few fine days
O curse this woman, at whose house She stirred not out, lest she might meet Young Edward woo'd his wife. Her mother in the ways.
By night and day, in bed and bower, But Ellen, spite of miry ways
0 let her cursed be!!!! And weather dark and dreary,
So having prayed, steady and slow, 320
The church-door entered she.
I saw poor Ellen kneeling still,
So pale ! I guessed not why :
And then they always missed her. A trouble in her eye.
And when the prayers were done, we all And Ellen's name and Mary's name 370
Came round and asked her why : Fast-linked they both together came, Giddy she seemed, and sure, there was Whene'er he said his prayers. A trouble in her eye.
And in the moment of his prayers But ere she from the church-door stepped
He loved them both alike : She smiled and told us why : ,
Yea, both sweet names with one sweet • It was a wicked woman's curse,'
joy Quoth she, “and what care I?'
Upon his heart did strike ! She smiled, and smiled, and passed it off He reach'd his home, and by his looks Ere from the door she stept
They saw his inward strife : But all agree it would have been
And they clung round him with their Much better had she wept.
Both Ellen and his wife.
And Mary could not check her tears, • It was a wicked woman's curse
So on his breast she bowed ; God's good, and what care I?'
Then frenzy melted into grief,
And Edward wept aloud. There was a hurry in her looks,
Dear Ellen did not weep at all, Her struggles she redoubled: • It was a wicked woman's curse,
But closelier did she cling, And why should I be troubled ?'
And turned her face and looked as if
She saw some frightful thing.
350 She told it not to Mary.
To see a man tread over graves
390 But Mary heard the tale : her arms 'Tis wicked in the sun and moon, Round Ellen's neck she threw;
And bad luck in the dark !
You see that grave? The Lord he gives,
The Lord, he takes away : I saw young Edward by himself
O Sir ! the child of
age Stalk fast adown the lee,
Lies there as cold as clay.
Except that grave, you scarce see one
That was not dug by me; He snapped them still with hand or knee, I'd rather dance upon 'em all And then away they flew !
361 Than tread upon these three ! As if with his uneasy limbs He knew not what to do !
• Aye, Sexton ! 'tis a touching tale.'
You, Sir ! are but a lad ;
And still it makes me sad.
And Mary's sister told it me,
For three good hours and more ; Now Ellen was a darling love
Though I had heard it, in the main, In all his joys and cares :
From Edward's self, before. W