And hither too the old man came, For why, tho' not akin in blood,
The maiden and her feer,

They sisters were in heart.]
* Then tell me, Sexton, tell me why
The toad has harbour here.

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 ;
Why here the hemlock, etc. [sic in MS.] And all the course of wooing' passed

Beneath the mother's eye.
Why these three graves all side by side,
Beneath the flow'ry thorn,

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.'

Nor ...

[sic in MS.]

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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

In spite of bolt or bar,
Did from beneath the belfry come,

When spirits wandering are.
And when the mother's soul to Hell

By howling fiends was borne,
This spade was seen to mark her grave 21

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.

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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 ;
And yellow leaves in sun and wind

Were falling from the tree.
On the hedge-elms in the narrow lane

Still swung the spikes of corn :
Dear Lord ! it seems but yesterday-

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.


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But when they to the church-yard came,

I've heard poor Mary say,
As soon as she stepped into the sun,

Her heart it died away.
And when the Vicar join'd their hands, 240

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.
Her feet upon the mossy track
The married maiden set :

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
Trudged every day to Edward's house, She rose up from her knee !
And made them all more cheery. 280 And left the church, nor e'er again

The church-door entered she.
Oh! Ellen was a faithful friend,
More dear than any sister !

I saw poor Ellen kneeling still,
As cheerful too as singing lark;

So pale ! I guessed not why :

And she ne'er left them till 'twas dark, When she stood up, there plainly was

And then they always missed her. A trouble in her eye.

inte ihan


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 if her heart was not at ease, 340
This was her constant cry-

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.
These tears will come—I dandled her
When 'twas the merest fairy--

Good creature ! and she hid it all :

350 She told it not to Mary.

To see a man tread over graves
I hold it no good mark ;

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 !
O Ellen, Ellen, she cursed me,
And now she liath cursed you !'

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.
He snatched a stick from every fence,
A twig from every tree.

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 ;
You see, good sir ! that single hill ? This month I'm in my seventieth year,
His farm lies underneath :

And still it makes me sad.
He heard it there, he heard it all,
And only gnashed his teeth.

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



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