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-He left me thus—he could not gather heart
To take a farewell of me; for he feared
That I should follow with my babes, and sink
Beneath the misery of that wandering life.'

This tale did Margaret tell with many tears : And, when she ended, I had little power To give her comfort, and was glad to take Such words of hope from her own mouth as served To cheer us both. But long we had not talked Ere we built up a pile of better thoughts, And with a brighter eye she looked around As if she had been shedding tears of joy. We parted.—'Twas the time of early spring ; I left her busy with her garden tools; And well remember, o'er that fence she looked, And, while I paced along the foot-way path, Called out, and sent a blessing after me, With tender cheerfulness, and with a voice That seemed the very sound of happy thoughts.

I roved o'er many a hill and many a dale, With my accustomed load ; in heat and cold, Through many a wood and many an open ground, In sunshine and in shade, in wet and fair, Drooping or blithe of heart, as might befal; My best companions now the driving winds, And now the trotting brooks' and whispering trees, And now the music of my own sad steps, With many a short-lived thought that passed

between, And disappeared.

I journeyed back this way, When, in the warmth of midsummer, the wheat Was yellow; and the soft and bladed grass, Springing afresh, had o'er the hay-field spread Its tender verdure. At the door arrived,

I found that she was absent. In the shade,
Where now we sit, I waited her return.
Her cottage, then a cheerful object, wore
Its customary look,-only, it seemed,
The honeysuckle, crowding round the porch,
Hung down in heavier tufts; and that bright weed,
The yellow stone-crop, suffered to take root
Along the window's edge, profusely grew
Blinding the lower panes. I turned aside,
And strolled into her garden. It appeared
To lag behind the season, and had lost
Its pride of neatness. Daisy-flowers and thrift
Had broken their trim border-lines, and straggled
O'er paths they used to deck : carnations, once
Prized for surpassing beauty, and no less
For the peculiar pains they had required,
Declined their languid heads, wanting support.
The cumbrous bind-weed, with its wreaths and bells,
Had twined about her two small rows of peas,
And dragged them to the earth.

Ere this an hour
Was wasted.-Back I turned my restless steps;
A stranger passed ; and, guessing whom I sought,
He said that she was used to ramble far.-
The sun was sinking in the west ; and now
I sate with sad impatience. From within
Her solitary infant cried aloud;
Then, like a blast that dies away self-stilled,
The voice was silent. From the bench I rose ;
But neither could divert nor soothe my thoughts.
The spot, though fair, was very desolate-
The longer I remained, more desolate :
And, looking round me, now I first observed
The corner stones, on either side the porch,
With dull red stains discoloured, and stuck o'er
With tufts and hairs of wool, as if the sheep,
That fed upon the Common, thither came

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Familiarly, and found a couching-place
Even at her threshold. Deeper shadows fell
From these tall elms; the cottage-clock struck

eight ;-
I turned, and saw her distant a few steps.
Her face was pale and thin-her figure, too,
Was changed. As she unlocked the door, she said,
'It grieves me you have waited here so long,
But, in good truth, I've wandered much of late ;
And, sometimes, to my shame I speak-have need
Of my best prayers to bring me back again.'
While on the board she spread our evening meal,
She told me interrupting not the work
Which gave employment to her listless hands-
That she had parted with her elder child ;
To a kind master on a distant farm
Now happily apprenticed.-'I perceive
You look at me, and you have cause ; to-day
I have been travelling far; and many days
About the fields I wander, knowing this
Only, that what I seek I cannot find;
And so I waste my time: for I am changed ;
And to myself,' said she, ‘have done much wrong
And to this helpless infant. I have slept
Weeping, and weeping have I waked; my tears
Have flowed as if my body were not such
As others are ; and I could never die.
But I am now in mind and in my heart
More easy; and I hope,' said she, 'that God
Will give me patience to endure the things
Which I behold at home.'

It would have grieved
Your very soul to see her. Sir, I feel
The story linger in my heart; I fear
'Tis long and tedious; but my spirit clings
To that poor Woman :-so familiarly
Do I perceive her manner, and her look,

And presence; and so deeply do I feel
Her goodness, that, not seldom, in my walks
A momentary trance comes over me; .
And to myself I seem to muse on One
By sorrow laid asleep; or borne away,
A human being destined to awake
To human life, or something very near
To human life, when he shall come again
For whom she suffered. Yes, it would have grieved
Your very soul to see her: evermore
Her eyelids drooped, her eyes downward were cast;
And, when she at her table gave me food,
She did not look at me. Her voice was low,
Her body was subdued. In every act
Pertaining to her house-affairs, appeared
The careless stillness of a thinking mind
Self-occupied ; to which all outward things
Are like an idle matter. Still she sighed,
But yet no motion of the breast was seen,
No heaving of the heart. While by the fire
We sate together, sighs came on my ear,
I knew not how, and hardly whence they came.

Ere my departure, to her care I gave, For her son's use, some tokens of regard, Which with a look of welcome she received ; And I exhorted her to place her trust In God's good love, and seek his help by prayer. I took my staff, and, when I kissed her babe, The tears stood in her eyes. I left her then With the best hope and comfort I could give : She thanked me for my wish ;-but for my hope It seemed she did not thank me.

I returned, And took my rounds along this road again When on its sunny bank the primrose flower Peeped forth, to give an earnest of the Spring.

I found her sad and drooping : she had learned
No tidings of her husband ; if he lived,
She knew not that he lived ; if he were dead.
She knew not he was dead. She seemed the same
In person and appearance ; but her house
Bespake a sleepy haud of negligence ;
The floor was neither dry nor neat, the hearth
Was comfortless, and her small lot of books,
Which, in the cottage-window, heretofore
Had been piled up against the corner panes
In seemly order, now, with straggling leaves
Lay scattered here and there, open or shut,
As they had chanced to fall. Her infant Babe
Had from its Mother caught the trick of grief,
And sighed among its playthings. I withdrew,
And once again entering the garden saw,
More plainly still, that poverty and grief
Were now come nearer to her: weeds defaced
The hardened soil, and knots of withered grass :
No ridges there appeared of clear black mold,
No winter greenness; of her herbs and flowers,
It seemed the better part were gnawed away
Or trampled into earth; a chain of straw,
Which had been twined about the slender stem
Of a young apple-tree, lay at its root;
The bark was nibbled round by truant sheep.
- Margaret stood near, her infant in her arms,
And, noting that my eye was on the tree,
She said, “I fear it will be dead and gone
Ere Robert come again. When to the House
We had returned together, she enquired
If I had any hope :—but for her babe
And for her little orphan boy, she said,
She had no wish to live, that she must die
Of sorrow. Yet I saw the idle loom
Still in its place; his sunday garments hung
Upon the self-same nail ; his very staff

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