Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

Down the long minster's aisle

Crowds mutely gazing streamed,
Altar and tomb the while

Through mists of incense gleamed.
And, by the torches' blaze,

The stately priest had said
High words of power and praise

To the glory of the dead.
They lowered him, with the sound

Of requiems, to repose ;
When from the throngs around

A solemn voice arose :

“ Forbear! forbear !” it cried ;

“In the holiest name forbear ! He hath conquered regions wide,

But he shall not slumber there!

“By the violated hearth
Which made

way
for

yon proud shrine :
By the harvests which this earth

Hath borne for me and mine ;

“By the house e'en here o’erthrown,

On my brethren's native spot;
Hence! with his dark renown,

Cumber our birthplace not !
“Will my sire's unransomed field,

O’er which your censers wave,
To the buried spoiler yield

Soft slumbers in the grave !

66

In the name of Heaven, I forbid that the body of the spoiler be placed there, and that it be covered by my glebe.' The man who spoke was named Asselin, and all the bystanders confirmed the truth of his assertions. The Bishops made him approach, and agreed to pay him sixty sous for the place of sepulture alone, and to compensate him justly for the rest of the ground."-THIERRY'S Hist. of the Conquest of England by the Normans. “The tree before him fell

Which we cherished many a year ;
But its deep root yet shall swell,

And heave against his bier.
“The land that I have tilled

Hath yet its brooding breast
With my home's white ashes filled,

And it shall not give him rest !
“ Each pillar's massy bed

Hath been wet by weeping eyes
Away! bestow your dead

Where no wrong against him cries.”
Shame glowed on each dark face

Of those proud and steel-girt men,
And they bought with gold a place

For their leader's dust e'en then ;-
A little earth for him

Whose banner flew so far!
And a peasant's tale could dim

The name, a nation's star !
One deep voice thus arose

From a heart which wrongs had riven:
Oh! who shall number those

That were but heard in Heaven ?

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

a

Who is yonder poor Maniac, whose wildly-fixed eyes

Seem a heart overcharged to express ?
She weeps not, yet often and deeply she sighs ;
She never complains, but her silence implies

The composure of settled distress.

No pity she looks for, no alms doth she seek,

Nor for raiment nor food doth she care :
Through her tatters the winds of the winter blow bleak
On that withered breast, and her weather-worn cheek

Hath the hue of a mortal despair.
Yet cheerful and happy, nor distant the day,

Poor Mary the Maniac hath been ;
The Traveller remembers, who journeyed this way,
No damsel so lovely, no damsel so gay,

As Mary, the Maid of the Inn.
Her cheerful address filled the guests with delight,

As she welcomed them in with a smile ;
Her heart was a stranger to childish affright,
And Mary would walk by the Abbey at night,

When the wind whistled down the dark aisle.
She loved, and young Richard had settled the day,

And she hoped to be happy for life ;
But Richard was idle and worthless, and they
Who knew him would pity poor Mary, and say

That she was too good for his wife. 'Twas in autumn, and stormy and dark was the night,

And fast were the windows and door ;
Two guests sat enjoying the fire that burnt bright,
And smoking in silence with tranquil delight,

They listened to hear the wind roar.
“ 'Tis pleasant,” cried one,“ seated by the fire-side,

To hear the wind whistle without.” “What a night for the Abbey !” his comrade replied, “ Methinks a man's courage would now be well tried

Who should wander the ruins about. “I myself, like a school-boy, should tremble to hear

The hoarse ivy shake over my head ;
And could fancy I saw, half-persuaded by fear,
Some ugly old abbot’s grim spirit appear,

For this wind might awaken the dead !”

[ocr errors]

a

a

[ocr errors]

Then wager

a

“I'll wager a dinner,” the other one cried, “ That Mary would venture there now.”

and lose !" with a sneer he replied, “I'll warrant she'd fancy a ghost by her side,

And faint if she saw a white cow." “ Will Mary this charge on her courage allow ?"

His companion exclaimed with a smile : “ I shall win, for I know she will venture there now, And earn a new bonnet by bringing a bough

From the elder that grows in the aisle.”
With fearless good-humour did Mary comply,

And her way to the Abbey she bent ;
The night was dark and the wind was high ;
And, as hollowly howling it swept through the sky,

She shivered with cold as she went.
O’er the path so well known still proceeded the Maid

Where the Abbey rose dim on the sight;
Through the gateway she entered,-she felt not afraid,
Yet the ruins were lonely and wild, and their shade

Seemed to deepen the gloom of the night.
All around her was silent, save when the rude blast

Howled dismally round the old pile ;
Over weed-covered fragments she fearlessly passed,
And arrived at the innermost ruin at last,

Where the elder-tree grew in the aisle.
Well pleased did she reach it, and quickly drew near,

And hastily gathered the bough ;
When the sound of a voice seemed to rise on her ear,-
She paused, and she listened intently, in fear,

And her heart panted painfully now.
The wind blew, the hoarse ivy shook over her head,

She listened-nought else could she hear;
The wind fell ; her heart sunk in her bosom with dread,
For she heard in the ruins distinctly the tread

Of footsteps approaching her near.

a

a

Behind a wide column half breathless with fear,

She crept to conceal herself there :
That instant the moon o'er a dark cloud shone clear,
And she saw in the moonlight two ruffians appear,

And between them a corpse did they bear.
Then Mary could feel her heart-blood curdle cold;

Again the rough wind hurried by,
It blew off the hat of the one, and, behold !
Even close to the feet of poor Mary it rolled, -

She felt,—and expected to die. “Curse the hat !” he exclaims. “Nay, come on till we hide

The dead body,” his comrade replies.
She beholds them in safety pass on by her side,
She seizes the hat, fear her courage supplied,

And fast through the Abbey she flies.
She ran with wild speed,—she rushed in at the door,-

She gazed in her terror around,
Then her limbs could support their faint burden no more,
And, exhausted and breathless, she sunk on the floor,

Unable to utter a sound.
Ere yet her pale lips could the story impart,

For a moment the hat met her view ;-
Her eyes from that object conyulsively start,
For—what a cold horror then thrilled through her heart

When the name of her Richard she knew !
Where the old Abbey stands, on the common hard by,

His gibbet is now to be seen ;
His irons you still from the road may espy ;
The traveller beholds them and thinks with a sigh

Of poor Mary, the Maid of the Inn.

a

a

« PředchozíPokračovat »