صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

The sweet song died, and a vague unrest
And a nameless longing filled her breast,

A wish, that she hardly dared to own,
For something better than she had known.

The Judge rode slowly down the lane,
Smoothing his horse's chestnut mane.

He drew his bridle in the shade

Of the apple-trees, to greet the maid,

And ask a draught from the spring that flowed
Through the meadows across the road.

She stooped where the cool stream bubbled up,
And filled for him her small tin cùp,

And blushed as she gave it, looking down
On her feet so bare, and her tattered gown.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Thanks!" said the Judge, a sweeter draught From a fairer hand was never quaffed.”

He spoke of the grass, and flowers, and trees,
Of the singing birds and the humming bees;

Then talked of the haying, and wondered whether
The cloud in the west would bring foul weather.

And Maud forgot her brier-torn gown,
And her graceful ankles bare and brown;

And listened, while a pleased surprise
Looked from her long-lashed hazel eyes..

At last, like one who for delay
Seeks a vain excuse, he rode away.

Maud Muller looked and sighed: “Ah, me!
That I the Judge's bride might be!

"He would dress me up in silks so fine,
And praise and toast me at his wine.

[ocr errors][merged small]

"I'd dress my mother so grand and gay, And the baby should have a new toy each day.

"And I'd feed the hungry and clothe the poor, And all should bless me who left our door."

The Judge looked back as he climbed the hill, And saw Maud Muller standing still.

"A form more fair, a face more sweet, Ne'er hath it been my lot to meet.

"And her modest answer and graceful air, Show her wise and good as she is fair.

"Would she were mine, and I to-day, Like her, a harvester of hay:

66

No doubtful balance of rights and wrongs, Nor weary lawyers with endless tongues,

"But low of cattle and song of birds, And health and quiet and loving words."

But he thought of his sisters, proud and cold,
And his mother, vain of her rank and gold.

So, closing his heart, the Judge rode on,
And Maud was left in the field alone.

But the lawyers smiled that afternoon,
When he hummed in court an old love-tune;

And the young girl mused beside the well,
Till the rain on the unraked clover fell.

He wedded a wife of richest dower,
Who lived for fashion, as he for power.

Yet oft, in his marble hearth's bright glow,
He watched a picture come and go :

And sweet Maud Muller's hazel eyes
Looked out in their innocent surprise.

Oft when the wine in his glass was red
He longed for the wayside well instead ;

And closed his eyes on his garnished rooms,
To dream of meadows and clover blooms.

And the proud man sighed, with a secret pain, "Ah, that I were free again!

"Free as when I rode that day,

Where the barefoot maiden raked her hay."

She wedded a man unlearned and poor,
And many children played round her door.

But care and sorrow, and childbirth pain,
Left their traces on heart and brain.

And oft, when the summer sun shone hot
On the new-mown hay in the meadow lot,

And she heard the little spring brook fall
Over the roadside, through the wall,

In the shade of the apple-tree again
She saw a rider draw his rein :

And, gazing down with timid grace,
She felt his pleased eyes read her face.

Sometimes her narrow kitchen walls
Stretched away into stately halls ;

The weary wheel to a spinnet turned,
The tallow candle an astral burned,

And for him who sat by the chimney lug,
Dozing and grumbling o'er pipe and mug,

A manly form at her side she saw,
And joy was duty, and love was law.

Then she took up her burden of life again,
Saying only, "It might have been!"

Alas for maiden, alas for Judge,

For rich repiner and household drudge!

God pity them both! and pity us all,
Who vainly the dreams of youth recall.

For of all sad words of tongue or pen,

[ocr errors]

The saddest are these: It might have been!"

Ah, well! for us all some sweet hope lies,
Deeply buried from human eyes;

And, in the hereafter, angels may
Roll the stone from its grave away!

[blocks in formation]

Health that mocks the doctor's rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee's morning chase,
Of the wild-flower's time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude

Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole's nest is hung;

Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape's clusters shine;
Of the black wasp's cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,

And the architectural plans

[blocks in formation]
« السابقةمتابعة »