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If that day
Should come, 'twould needs be a glad day for him :
He would himself, no doubt, be happy then
As any that should meet him-
You said his kindred all were in their graves,
And that he had one brother-
That is but A fellow-tale of sorrow. From his youth James, though not sickly, yet was delicate; And Leonard being always by his side, Had done so many offices about him, That, though he was not of a timid nature, Yet still the spirit of a mountain boy In him was somewhat checked ; and when his brother Was gone to sea, and he was left alone The little colour that he had was soon Stolen from his cheek; he drooped, and pined, and pined-
But these are all the graves of full-grown men !
Ay, sir, that passed away : we took him to us ;
He was the child of all the dale-he lived
Three months with one, and six months with another ;
And wanted neither food, nor clothes, nor love :
And many, many happy days were his.
But, whether blithe or sad, 'tis my belief
His absent brother still was at his heart.
Andjwhen he lived beneath our roof, we found
(A practice till this time unknown to him)
That often, rising from his bed at night,
He in his sleep would walk about, and sleeping
He sought his brother Leonard.—You are moved !
Forgive me, sir-before I spoke to you,
I judged you most unkindly.
But this youth, How did he die at last ?
One sweet May morning (It will be twelve years since when spring returns) He had gone forth among the new-dropp'd lambs, With two or three companions, whom it chanced Some further business summoned to a house Which stands at the dale-head. James, tired, perhaps, Or from some other cause, remained behind. You see yon precipice; it almost looks Like some vast building made of many crags; And in the midst is one particular rock That rises like a column from the vale, Whence by our shepherds it is called THE PILLAR. James pointed to its summit, over which They all had purposed to return together, And told them that he there would wait for them :
They parted, and his comrades passed that way
Some two hours after, but they did not find him
Upon the summit-at the appointed place.
Of this they took no heed : but one of them,
Going by chance, at night, into the house
Which at that time was James's home, there learned
That nobody had seen him all that day :
The morning came, and still he was unheard of:
The neighbours were alarmed, and to the brook
Some went, and some towards the lake : ere noon
They found him at the foot of that same rock
Dead, and with mangled limbs. The third day after,
I buried him, poor youth, and there he lies!
And that then is his grave ?—Before his death
You said that he saw many happy years ?
And all went well with bim -
If he had one, the youth had twenty homes.
And you believe, then, that his mind was easy ?
Yes, long before he died he found that time
Is a true friend to sorrow; and unless
His thoughts were turned on Leonard's luckless fortune, He talked about him with a cheerful love.
He could not come to an unhallowed end !
PRIEST. Nay, God forbid !-You recollect I mentioned A habit which disquietude and grief Had brought upon him; and we all conjectured That, as the day was warm, he had lain down Upon the grass, and, waiting for his comrades, He there had fallen asleep; that in his sleep He to the margin of the precipice Had walked, and from the summit had fallen headlong ; And so no doubt he perished : at the time, We guess, that in his hands he must have had His shepherd's staff; for midway in the cliff It had been caught; and there for many years It hung -and mouldered there.
The Priest here ended.
The stranger would have thanked him, but he felt
A gushing from his heart that took away
The power of speech. Both left the spot in silence
And Leonard, when they reached the churchyard gate.
As the Priest lifted up the latch, turned round.-
And, looking at the grave, he said, “My Brother !"
The Vicar did not hear the words : and now,
Pointing towards the cottage, he entreated
That Leonard would partake his homely fare :
The other thanked him with a fervent voice;
But added, that, the evening being calm,
He would pursue his journey. So they parted.
It was not long ere Leonard reach'd a grove
That overhung the road : he there stopped short,
And sitting down beneath the trees, reviewed
All that the Priest had said : his early years
Were with him in his heart—his cherished hopes,
And thoughts which had been his an hour before,
All press'd on him with such a weight, that now
This vale, where he had been so happy, seemed
A place in which he could not bear to live:
So he relinquished all his purposes.
He travell’d on to Egremont : and thence,
That night, he wrote a letter to the Priest,
Reminding him of what had passed between them ;
And adding, with a hope to be forgiven,
That it was from the weakness of his heart
He had not dared to tell him who he was.
This done, he went on shipboard, and is now
A seaman, a gray-headed mariner.