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Wearied at home, ere long the lover fled;
Returned but three short days ago,
The golden chain they round him throw,
He is enticed, and onward led
To marry Angela, and yet
Is thinking ever of Margaret.
Then suddenly a maiden cried,
" Anna, Theresa, Mary, Kate i TIere comes the cripple Jane !” And by a fountain's
A woman, bent and gray with years,
Under the mulberry-trees appears,
And all towards her run, as fleet
As had they wings upon their feet.
It is that Jane, the cripple Jane,
Is a soothsayer, wary and kind.
She telleth fortunes, and none complain.
She promises one a village swain,
Another a happy wedding-day,
And the bride a lovely boy straightway.
All comes to pass as she avers;
She never deceives, she never errs.
But for this once the village seer
Wears a countenance severe,
And from beneath her eyebrows thin and white
Her two eyes flash like cannons bright
Aimed at the bridegroom in waistcoat blue,
Who, like a statue, stands in view;
Changing color, as well he might,
When the beldame wrinkled and gray
Takes the young bride by the hand,
And, with the tip of her reedy wand
Making the sign of the cross, doth say :-
“Thoughtless Angela, beware!
Lest when thou weddest this false bridegroom,
Thou diggest for thyself a tomb !”
And she was silent; and the maidens fair
Saw from each eye escape a swollen tear;
But on a little streamlet silver-clear,
What are two drops of turbid rain ?
Saddened a moment, the bridal train
Resumed the dance and song again ;
The bridegroom only was pale with fear;
And down green alleys
Of verdurous valleys,
With merry sallies,
They sang the refrain :-
si The roads should blossom, the roads should bloom,
So fair a bride shall leave her home!
Should blossom and bloom with garlands gay,
So fair a bride shall pass to-day!”
And by suffering worn and weary,
But beautiful as some fair angel yet,
Thus lamented Margaret,
In her cottage lone and dreary :-
“ He has arrived! arrived at last ! Yet Jane has named him not these three days past
Arrived ! yet keeps aloof so far!
And knows that of my night he is the star !
Knows that long months I wait alone, benighted,
And count the moments since he went away!
Come ! keep the promise of that happier day,
That I may keep the faith to thee I plighted !
What joy have I without thee? what delight ?
Grief wastes my life, and makes it misery ;
Day for the others ever, but for me
Forever night! forever night!
When he is gone 't is dark! my soul is sad !
I suffer! O my God! come, make me glad.
When he is near, no thoughts of day intrude ;
Day has blue heavens, but Baptiste has blue
Within them shines for me a heaven of love,
A heaven all happiness, like that above,
No more of grief! no more of lassitude !
Earth I forget-and heaven, and all distresses,
When seated by my side my hand he presses ;
But when alone, remember all !
Where is Baptiste ? he hears not when I call!
A branch of ivy, dying on the ground,
I need some bough to twine around !
In pity come ! be to my suffering kind !
True love, they say, in grief doth more abound !
What then-when one is blind ?
“Who knows? perhaps I am forsaken! Ah! woe is me! then bear me to my grave!
O God! what thoughts within me waken!
Away! he will return! I do but rave!
He will return! I need not fear!
He swore it by our Saviour dear;
He could not come at his own will;
Is weary, or perhaps is ill!
Perhaps his heart, in this disguise,
Prepares for me some sweet surprise !
But some one comes! Though blind, my heart
can see ! And that deceives me not ! 't is he! 't is he!
And the door ajar is set,
And poor, confiding Margaret Rises, with outstretched arms, but sightless eyes ; 'T is only Paul, her brother, who thus cries :
Angela the bride has passed !
I saw the wedding guests go by;
Tell me, my sister, why were we not asked ?
For all are there but you and I !”
Angela married ! and not send
To tell her secret unto me!
0, speak ! who may the bridegroom be ? "
My sister, 't is Baptiste, thy friend !”
A cry the blind girl gave, but nothing said:
A milky whiteness spreads upon her cheeks;
An icy hand, as heavy as lead,
Descending, as her brother speaks,
Upon her heart, that has ceased to beat,
Suspends awhile its life and heat.
She stands beside the boy, now sore distressed,
A wax Madonna as a peasant dressed.
At length, the bridal song again
Brings her back to her sorrow and pain.
“ Hark! the joyous airs are ringing !
Sister, dost thou hear them singing ?
How merrily they laugh and jest !
Would we were bidden with the rest!
I would don my hose of homespun gray,
And my doublet of linen striped and gay ;
Perhaps they will come; for they do not wed
Till to-morrow at seven o'clock, it is said !”
“ I know it!" answered Margaret; Whom the vision, with aspect black as jet,
Mastered again ; and its hand of ice
ITeld her heart crushed, as in a vice!
“Paul, be not sad ! 'T is a holiday;
To-morrow put on thy doublet gay!
But leave me now for a while alone.”
Away, with a hop and a jump, went Paul,
And, as he whistled along the hall,
Entered Jane, the crippled crone.
“ Holy Virgin! what dreadful heat !
I am faint, and weary, and out of breath!
But thou art cold,-art chill as death ;
My little friend! what ails thee, sweet? * Nothing ! I heard them singing home the bride;
And, as I listened to the song,
I thought my turn would come ere long,
Thou knowest it is at Whitsuntide.
Thy cards forsooth can never lie.
To me such joy they prophesy,
Thy skill shall be vaunted far and wide
When they behold him at my side.
And poor Baptiste, what sayest thou ?
It must seem long to him;-methinks I see him
Jane, shuddering, her hand doth press :
" Thy love I cannot all approve; We must not trust too much to happiness; Go, pray to God, that thou mayst love him less ! ”
“ The more I pray, the more I love ! It is no sin, for God is on my side !" It was enough; and Jane no more replied.
Now to all hope her heart is barred and cold ;
But to deceive the beldame old
She takes a sweet, contented air ;
Speak of foul weather or of fair,
At every word the maiden smiles !
Thus the beguiler she beguiles ;
So that, departing at the evening's close,
" She may be saved ! she nothing knows !"
Poor Jane, the cunning sorceress !
Now that thou wouldst, thou art no prophetess !
This morning, in the fulness of thy heart,
Thou wast so, far beyond thine art !