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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 answer'd, "No, love, no;"
Seventy years ago, my darling, seventy years ago.
So Willy and I were wedded: I wore a lilac
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 thorn.
That was the first time, too, that ever I thought of
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
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
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
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
Pattering over the boards, she comes and goes at her will,
While Harry is in the five-acre and Charlie ploughing 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
I knew them all as babies, and now they're elderly
For mine is a time of peace, it is not often I
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
And God, not man, is the Judge of us all when life shall cease;
And in this Book, little Annie, the message is one of Peace.
And age is a time of peace, so it be free from
And happy has been my life; but I would not live
I seem to be tired a little, that's all, and long for
Only at your age, Annie, I could have wept with the best.
So Willy has gone, my beauty, my eldest-born, my 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
I, too, shall go in a minute. What time have I to
And Willy's wife has written, she never was overwise.
Get me my glasses, Annie: thank God that I keep
There is but a trifle left you, when I shall have past
But stay with the old woman now: you cannot have long to stay.
A CITY clerk, but gently born and bred;
Came, with a month's leave given them, to the sea
And that one unctuous mouth which lured him, rogue,
To buy wild shares in some Peruvian mine.
All sand, and cliff, and deep inrunning cave,
Then comes the close." The gentle-hearted wife
He at his own: but when the wordy storm
And rosed in the east: then homeward and to
Where she, that kept a tender Christian hope
Haunting a holy text, and still to that
Returning, as the bird returns, at night,
Said, "Love, forgive him :" but he did not speak:
Remembering our dear Lord who died for all,
And how they mar that little with their feuds.