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“Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
How many may you be?” 15 " How many ? Seven in all,” she said,
And wondering looked at me.
“And where are they? I pray you tell." She answered, “Seven are we;
And two of us at Conway dwell, 20 And two are gone to sea.
“ Two of us in the churchyard lie,
25 “ You say that two at Conway dwell, And two are gone
sea, Yet ye are seven! I pray you tell, Sweet Maid, how this may be.”
Then did the little Maid reply,
“You run about, my little Maid,
Your limbs they are alive; 35 If two are in the churchyard laid
Then ye are only five.”
“ Their graves are green, they may be seen," The little Maid replied,
“ Twelve steps or more from my mother's door, 40 And they are side by side.
“ My stockings there I often knit,
45 “ And often after sunset, Sir,
“ The first that died was sister Jane; 50 In bed she moaning lay,
Till God released her of her pain ;
“So in the churchyard she was laid ;
And, when the grass was dry, 55 Together round her grave we played,
My brother John and I.
“ And when the ground was white with snow And I could run and slide,
My brother John was forced to go, 60 And he lies by her side."
“How many are you, then,” said I,
“ But they are dead; those two are dead!
THE PET LAMB.
Barbara Lewthwaite, now residing at Ambleside (1843) though much changed as to beauty, was one of two most lovely sisters, [but she] was not in fact the child whom I had seen and overheard as engaged in the poem.
The dew was falling fast, the stars began to blink; I heard a voice ; it said, “ Drink, pretty creature,
drink!” And, looking o'er the hedge, before me I espied A snow-white mountain-lamb with a maiden at its
5 Nor sheep nor kine were near; the lamb was all
alone, And by a slender cord was tethered to a stone; With one knee on the grass did the little maiden
kneel, While to that mountain-lamb she gave its evening
The lamb, while from her hand he thus his supper
took, 10 Seemed to feast with head and ears; and his tail
with pleasure shook. “ Drink, pretty creature, drink!” she said, in such
a tone That I almost received her heart into my own.
’T was little Barbara Lewthwaite, a child of beauty
I watched them with delight, they were a lovely
15 Now with her empty can the maiden turned away, But ere ten yards were gone, her footsteps did she
Right towards the lamb she looked ; and from a
shady place I unobserved could see the workings of her face: If nature to her tongue could measured numbers
bring, 20 Thus, thought I, to her lamb that little maid might
“What ails thee, young one? what? Why pull so
at thy cord ? Is it not well with thee? well both for bed and
board ? Thy plot of grass is soft, and green as grass can
be; Rest, little young one, rest; what is 't that aileth
25 * What is it thou wouldst seek? What is wanting
to thy heart ? Thy limbs, are they not strong ? And beautiful
thou art: This grass is tender grass; these flowers they have
no peers; And that green cord all day is rustling in thy ears !
“ If the sun be shining hot, do but stretch thy wool
len chain, 30 This beech is standing by, its covert thou canst
For rain and mountain-storms! the like thou need'st
not fear, The rain and storm are things that scarcely can
“Rest, little young one, rest; thou hast forgot the
day When my father found thee first in places far
away ; 35 Many flocks were on the hills, but thou wert owned
by none, And thy mother from thy side for evermore was
“ He took thee in his arms, and in pity brought
thee home: A blessed day for thee! then whither wouldst thou
A faithful nurse thou hast; the dam that did thee
yean 40 Upon the mountain - tops no kinder could have
“ Thou know'st that twice a day I have brought
thee in this can Fresh water from the brook, as clear as ever ran; And twice in the day, when the ground is wet with
dew, I bring thee draughts of milk, — warm milk it is
45 “ Thy limbs will shortly be twice as stout as they
are now, Then I'll yoke thee to my cart like a pony in the