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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

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


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

at two,

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

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 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

it again.

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

be vext?


And Willy's wife has written, she never was overwise.

Get me my glasses, Annie: thank God that I keep

my eyes.

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;
His wife an unknown artist's orphan child—
One babe was theirs, a Margaret, three years old;
They, thinking that her clear germander eye
Droopt in the giant-factoried city-gloom,

Came, with a month's leave given them, to the sea
For which his gains were dock'd, however small:
His gains were small, and hard his work; besides,
Their slender household fortunes (for the man
Had risk'd his little), like the little thrift,
Trembled in perilous places o'er a deep:
And oft, when sitting all alone, his face
Would darken, as he cursed his credulousness,

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

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
Clung to their fancies) that they saw, the sea.
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


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.

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