« PreviousContinue »
But after these were sleeping, a full tide Rose with ground-swell, which, on the foremost rocks Touching, upjetted in spirts of wild sea-smoke, And scaled in sheets of wasteful foam, and fell In vast sea-cataracts-ever and anon Dead claps of thunder from within the cliffs Heard through the living roar. At this the child, Their little Margaret, cradled near them, made A wail which, howsoever slight, aroused
The mother, and the father suddenly cried,
"A wreck, a wreck!" then turn'd, and groaning
Forgive! How many will say, 'Forgive,' and find A sort of absolution in the sound
To hate a little longer! No; the sin
It is not true that second thoughts are best,
"Not fearful; fair," Said the good wife, "if every star in heaven Can make it fair: you do but hear the tide. Had you ill dreams?"
"O yes," he said, "I dream'd Of such a tide swelling toward the land, And I from out the boundless outer deep Swept with it to the shore, and enter'd one Of those dark caves that run beneath the cliffs. I thought the motion of the boundless deep Bore through the cave, and I was heaved upon it In darkness: then I saw one lonely star Larger and larger. What a world,' I thought, 'To live in;' but in moving on I found Only the landward exit of the cave, Bright with the sun upon the stream beyond: And near the light a giant woman sat, All over earthy, like a piece of earth, A pickaxe in her hand: then out I slipt Into a land all sun and blossom, trees As high as heaven, and every bird that sings: And here the firelight flickering in my eyes Awoke me."
"That was then your dream," she said; "Not sad, but sweet."
"So sweet, I lay," said he, "And mused upon it, drifting up the stream In fancy, till I slept again, and pieced The broken vision; for I dream'd that still The motion of the great deep bore me on, And that the woman walk'd upon the brink: I wonder'd at her strength, and ask'd her of it: 'It came,' she said, 'by working in the mines: Oh, then, to ask her of my shares, I thought; And ask'd; but not a word; she shook her head. And then the motion of the current ceas'd, And there was rolling thunder; and we reach'd A mountain, like a wall of burs and thorns; But she, with her strong feet, up the steep hill Trod out a path; I follow'd; and at top She pointed seaward: there a fleet of glass, That seem'd a fleet of jewels under me, Sailing along before a gloomy cloud
That not one moment ceased to thunder, past
I heard the clash so clearly. Now, I see,
"Nay," said the kindly wife to comfort him, "You raised your arm, you tumbled down and broke
The glass with little Margaret's medicine in it; And, breaking that, you made and broke your dream:
A trifle makes a dream; a trifle breaks.”
"No trifle," groan'd the husband; "yesterday I met him suddenly in the street, and ask'd That which I ask'd the woman in my dream. Like her, he shook his head. 'Show me the books!' He dodged me with a long and loose account. 'The books, the books!' but he, he could not wait, Bound on a matter he of life and death:
When the great Books (see Daniel seven, the tenth)
That makes the widow lean. 6
makes me sick to quote him-last Gript my hand hard, and with God-bless-you went. I stood like one that had received a blow: I found a hard friend in his loose accounts, A loose one in the hard grip of his hand, A curse in his God-bless-you: then my eyes Pursued him down the street, and far away, Among the honest shoulders of the crowd, Read rascal in the motions of his back, And scoundrel in the supple sliding knee."
"Was he so bound, poor soul?" said the good wife; "So are we all but do not call him, love, Before you prove him, rogue, and proved, forgive. His gain is loss; for he that wrongs his friend Wrongs himself more, and ever bears about A silent court of justice in his breast, Himself the judge and jury, and himself The prisoner at the bar, ever condemn'd : And that drags down his life: then comes what
Hereafter; and he meant, he said he meant,
"With all his conscience and one eye askew 'Love, let me quote these lines, that you may learn A man is likewise counsel for himself, Too often, in that silent court of yours— • With all his conscience and one eye askew, So false, he partly took himself for true; Whose pious talk, when most his heart was dry, Made wet the crafty crow's-foot round his eye; Who, never naming God except for gain, So never took that useful name in vain; Nor deeds of gift, but gifts of grace he forged, And snakelike slimed his victim ere he gorged, Made God his cat's-paw, and the cross his tool, And Christ the snare to trap a fledgling fool; And oft at Bible meetings, o'er the rest
Arising, did his holy oily best,
Nay," she said,
It awed me. Well-I dream'd that round the north
Swell'd up and died; and, as it swell'd, a ridge
The statues, saint, or king, or founder fall;