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Marry you, Willy!” said I, “but I needs must
speak my mind, I fear you will listen to tales, be jealous and hard
and unkind.” But he turn’d and claspt me in his arms, and an
swer'd, “No, love, no;" Seventy years ago, my darling, seventy years ago.
So Willy and I were wedded: I wore a lilac
gown; And the ringers rang with a will, and he gave the
ringers a crown. But the first that ever I bare was dead before he
was born, Shadow and shine is life, little Annie, flower and
That was the first time, too, that ever I thought of
death. There lay the sweet little body that never had
drawn a breath. I had not wept, little Annie, not since I had been a
But I wept like a child that day, for the babe had
fought for his life.
His dear little face was troubled, as if with anger
or pain : I look'd at the still little body-his trouble had all
been in vain. For Willy I cannot weep, I shall see him another
But I wept like a child for the child that was dead
before he was born.
But he cheer'd me, my good man, for he seldom
said me nay: Kind, like a man, was he; like a man, too, would
have his way: Never jealous—not he: we had many a happy
year; And he died, and I could not weep-my own time
seem'd so near.
But I wish'd it had been God's will that I, too, then
could have died : I began to be tired a little, and fain had slept at
his side. And that was ten years back, or more, if I don't
forget: But as to the children, Annie, they're all about me
Pattering over the boards, my Annie who left me
Patter she goes, my own little Annie, an Annie like
you : Pattering over the boards, she comes and goes at
her will, While Harry is in the five-acre and Charlie plough
ing the hill.
And Harry and Charlie, I hear them too-they
sing to their team: Often they come to the door in a pleasant kind of a
dream. They come and sit by my chair, they hover about
my bed-I am not always certain if they be alive or dead.
And yet I know for a truth, there's none of them
left alive ; For Harry went at sixty, your father at sixty-five : And Willy, my eldest born, at nigh threescore and
ten; I knew them all as babies, and now they're elderly
For mine is a time of peace, it is not often I
grieve; I am oftener sitting at home in my father's farm at
And the neighbors come and laugh and gossip,
and so do I; I find myself often laughing at things that have
long gone by.
To be sure the preacher says, our sins should make
us sad: But mine is a time of peace, and there is Grace to
be had; And God, not man, is the Judge of us all when life
shall cease And in this Book, little Annie, the message is one
And age is a time of peace, so it be free from
pain, And happy has been my life; but I would not live
it again. I seem to be tired a little, that's all, and long for
rest; Only at your age, Annie, I could have wept with
So Willy has gone, my beauty, my eldest-born, iny
flower; But how can I weep for Willy, he has but gone for
an hour,Gone for a minute, my son, from this room into the
next; I too, shall go in a minute. What time have I to
And Willy's wife has written, she never was over
Get me my glasses, Annie: thank God that I keep
my eyes. There is but a trifle left you, when I shall have past
away. But stay with the old woman now: you cannot have
long to stay.
A CITY clerk, but gently born and bred;
And that one unctuous mouth which lured him,
rogue, To buy wild shares in some Peruvian mine. Now seaward-bound for health, they gain'd a
coast, All sand, and cliff, and deep inrunning cave, At close of day; slept, woke, and went the next, The Sabbath, pious variers from the church, To chapel; where a heated pulpiteer, Not preaching simple Christ to simple men, Announced the coming doom, and fulminated Against the scarlet woman and her creed : For sideways up he swung his arms, and shriek'd
Thus, thus with violence,” ev'n as if he held The Apocalyptic millstone, and himself Were that great Angel ; “Thus with violence Shall Babylon be cast into the sea; Then comes the close.” The gentle-hearted wife Sat shuddering at the ruin of a world; He at his own: but when the wordy storm Had ended, forth they moved and paced the sand, Ran in and out the long sea-foaming caves, Drank the large air, and saw, but scarce believed (The sootflake of so many a summer still Člung to their fancies) that they saw, So now on sand they walk'd, and now on cliff, Lingering on all the thymy promontories, Until the sails were darken'd in the west And rosed in the east: then homeward and to
bed: Where she, that kept a tender Christian hope Haunting a holy text, and still to that Returning, as the bird returns, at night, “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath,” Said, “ Love, forgive him :" but he did not speak: Then all in silence for an hour she lay, Remembering our dear Lord who died for all, And musing on the little lives of men, And how they mar that little with their feuds.