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Among the dewy grass, -in early spring,
Ere the last star had vanished. They who passed
At evening, from behind the garden fence
Might hear his busy spade, which he would ply,
After his daily work, until the light
Had failed, and every leaf and flower were lost
In the dark hedges. So their days were spent
In peace and comfort; and a pretty boy
Was their best hope-next to the God in heaven.

;

“Not twenty years ago, but you, I think, Can scarcely bear it now in mind, there came Two blighting seasons when the fields were left With half a harvest. It pleased Heaven to add A worse affliction in the plague of war; This happy land was stricken to the heart ! A wanderer then among the cottages, I, with my freight of winter raiment, saw The hardships of that season ; many rich Sank down, as in a dream, among the poor ; And of the poor did many cease to be, And their place knew them not. Meanwhile, abridged Of daily comforts, gladly reconciled To numerous self-denials, Margaret Went struggling on through those calamitous years With cheerful hope ; until the second autumi, When her life's help-mate on a sick bed lay, Smitten with perilous fever. In disease He lingered long ; and when his strength returned, He found the little he had stored to meet The hour of accident or crippling age, Was all consumed. A second infant now

Was added to the troubles of a time
Laden, for them and all of their degree,
With care and sorrow; shoals of artisans,
From ill-requited labour turned adrift,
Sought daily bread from public charity,
They, and their wives and children-happier far
Could they have lived as do the little birds
That peck along the hedge-rows, or the kite
That makes her dwelling on the mountain rocks!

:

“A sad reverse it was for him who long Had filled with plenty, and possessed in peace, This lonely cottage. At his our he stood, And whistled many a sra: 1 of merry tunes That had no mirt!: in : or with his linise Carved unccuil is on the heads of sticks. Then, roilsis, sought, through every nook I:: hose or garden, any casual work Giu:e or ornament; and with a strange, Amusing, yet uneasy novelty, He blended, where he might, the various tasks Of summer, autumn, winter, and of spring. But this endured not ; his good humour soon Became a weight in which no pleasure was : And poverty brought on a pettish mood And a sore temper : day by day he drooped, And he would leave his work, and to the town, Without an errand, would direct his steps ; Or wander here and there among the fields. One while he would speak lightly of his babes, And with a cruel tongue ; at other times He tossed them with a false, unnatural joy :

And 'twas a rueful thing to see the looks
Of the poor innocent children. 'Every smile,'
Said Margaret to me here beneath these trees,
“Made my heart bleed.'

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At this the wanderer paused
And, looking up to those enormous elms,
He said, “'Tis now the hour of deepest noon.-
At this still season of repose and peace,
This hour, when all things which are not at rest
Are cheerful; while this multitude of fies
Is filling all the air with melody ;
Why should a tear be in an old man's eye ?
Why should we thus, with an untoward mind,
And in the weakness of humanity,
From natural wisdom turn our hearts away ;
To natural comfort shut our eyes and ears,
And feeding on disquiet, thus disturb
The calm of nature with our restless thoughts ?”

He spake with somewhat of a solemn tone : But, when he ended, there was in his face Such easy cheerfulness, a look so mild, That for a little time it stole away All recollection ; and that simple tale Passed from my mind like a forgotten soun:!. A while on trivial things we held discout <, To me soon tasteless. In my own des lie, I thought of that poor woman as of one Whom I had known and loved. lle lial rehearsed Her homely tale with such familiar power, With such an active countenance, an eye

So busy, that the things of which he spake
Seemed present; and, attention now relaxed,
There was a heart-felt chillness in my veins.
I rose ; and turning from the breezy shade,
Went forth into the open air, and stood
To drink the comfort of the warmer sun,
That had not cheered me long, -ere, looking round
Upon that tranquil ruin, I returned,
And begged of the old man that, for my sake,
He would resume his story. -

He replied,
It were a wantonness, and would demand
Severe reproof, if we were men whose hearts
Could hold vain dalliance with the misery
Even of the dead; contented thence to draw
A momentary pleasure, never marked
By reason, barren of all future good.
But we have known that there is often found
In mournful thoughts, and always might be found,
A power to virtue friendly : wer't not so,
I am a dreamer among men,

indeed
An idle dreamer ! 'Tis a common tale,
An ordinary sorrow of man's life,
A tale of silent suffering, hardly clothed
In bodily form. But, without further bidding,
I will proceed.

" While thus it fared with them, To whom this cottage, till those hapless years, Had been a blessed home, it was my chance To travel in a country far remote ;

And when these lofty elms once more appeared,
What pleasant expectations lured me on
O’er the flat common !- With quick step I reached
The threshold, lifted with light hand the latch ;
But when I entered, Margaret looked at me
A little while ; then turned her head away
Speechless; and, sitting down upon a chair,
Wept bitterly. I wist not what to do,
Or how to speak to her. Poor wretch ! at last
She rose from off her seat, and then,-oh, sir !
I cannot tell how she pronounced my name.
With fervent love, and with a face of grief
Unutterably helpless, and a look
That seemed to cling upon me, she inquired
If I had seen her husband. As she spake,
A strange surprise and fear came to my heart,
Nor had I power to answer ere she told
That he had disappeared-not two months gone,
He left his house ; two wretched days had passed ;
And on the third, as wistfully she raised
Her head from off her pillow, to look forth,
Like one in trouble, for returning light,
Within her chamber casement she espied
A folded paper, lying as if placed
To meet her waking eyes. This tremblingly
She opened-found no writing, but therein
Pieces of money carefully enclosed,
Silver and gold—'I shuddered at the sight,'
Said Margaret, 'for I knew it was his hand
Which placed it there; and ere that day was ended,
That long and anxious day! I learned from one
Sent hither by my husband to impart
The heavy news, that he had joined a troop

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