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Though nought was left undone which staff, or voice, Or looks, or threatening gestures, could perform.
But soon as Luke, full ten years old, could stand
Against the mountain blasts; and to the heights,
Not fearing' toil, nor length of weary ways,
He with his father daily went, and they
Were as companions; why should I relate
That objects which the Shepherd loved before
Were dearer now? that from the Boy there came
Feelings and emanations things which were
Light to the sun and Music to the wind :
And that the Old Man's heart seemed born again?
Thus in his Father's sight the Boy grew up:
And now, when he had reached his eighteenth year,
He was his comfort and his daily hope.
While in this sort the simple Household lived
From day to day, to Michael's ear there came
Distressful tidings. Long before the time
Of which I speak, the Shepherd had been bound
In surety for his Brother's Son, a man
Of an industrious life, and ample means,
But unforeseen misfortunes suddenly
Had prest upon him, -- and old Michael now
Was summoned to discharge the forfeiture,
À grievous penalty, but little less
Than half his substance. This unlooked for claim,
At the first hearing, for a moment took
More hope out of his life than he supposed
That any old man ever could have lost.
As soon as he had gathered so much strength
That he could look his trouble in the face,
It seemed that his sole refuge was to sell
A portion of his patrimonial fields.
Such was his first resolve; he thought again.
And his heart failed him. “ Isabel," said he,
Two evenings after he had heard the news,
I have been toiling more than seventy years,
And in the open sunshine of God's love
Have we all lived: yet if these fields of ours
Should pass into a Stranger's hand, I think
That I could not lie quiet in my grave.
Our lot is a hard lot; the sun himself
Has scarcely been more diligent than I;
And I have lived to be a fool at last
To my own family. An evil Man
That was, and made an evil choice, if he
Were false to us; and if he were not false,
There are ten thousand to whom loss like this
Had been no sorrow. I forgive him but
'Twere better to be dumb than to talk thus.
When I began, my purpose was to speak
Of remedies, and of a cheerful hope.
Our Luke shall leave us, Isabel; the land
Shall not go from us, and it shall be free;
He shall possess it, free as is the wind
That passes over it. We have, thou know'sť,
Another Kinsman --- he will be our Friend
In this distress. He is a prosperous man,
Thriving in trade and Luke to him shall go,
And with his Kinsman's help and his own thrift
He quickly will repair this loss, and then
May come again to us.
If here he stay,
What can be done? Where every one is poor,
What can be gained ?" At this the old Man paused,
And Isabel sat silent, for her mind
Was busy, looking back into past times.
There's Richard Bateman, thought she to herself
He was a Parish-boy at the Church-door
They made a gathering for him, — shillings, pence,
And halfpennies, wherewith the neighbors bought
A Basket, which they filled with Pedlar's wares;
And with this Basket on his arm, the Lad
Went up to London, found a Master there,
Who, out of many, chose the trusty Boy
To go and overlook his merchandise
Beyond the seas; where he grew wondrous rich,
And left estates and moneys to the poor,
And, at his birth-place, built a Chapel floored
With Marble, which he sent from foreign lands.
These thoughts, and many others of like sort,
Passed quickly through the mind of Isabel,
And her face brightened. The Old Man was glad,
And thus resumed: “Well, Isabel, this scheme,
These two days, has been meat and drink to me.
Far more than we have lost is left us yet.
We have enough -- I wish indeed that I
- but this hope is a good hope. Make ready Luke's best garments, of the best Buy for him more, and let us send him forth Tomorrow, or the next day, or to-night:
If he could go, the Boy should go to-night.” Here Michael ceased, and to the fields went forth With a light heart. The Housewife for five days Was restless morn and night, and all day long Wrought on with her best fingers to prepare Things needful for the journey of her son. But Isabel was glad when Sunday came To stop her in her work : for, when she lay By Michael's side, she through the two last nights Heard him, how he was troubled in his sleep: And when they rose at morning she could see That all his hopes were gone. That day at noon
She said to Luke, while they two by themselves
Were sitting at the door, “ Thou must not go:
We have no other Child but thee to lose,
None to remember
do not go away,
For if thou leave thy Father he will die."
The Youth made answer with a jocund voice;
And Isabel, when she had told her fears,
Recovered heart. That evening her best fare
Did she bring forth, and all together sat
Like happy people round a Christmas fire.
With daylight Isabel resumed her work :
And all the ensuing week the house appeared
As cheerful as a grove in Spring: at length
The expected letter from their Kinsman came,
With kind assurances that he would do
His utmost for the welfare of the Boy ;
To which requests were added that forthwith
He might be sent to him. Ten times or more
The letter was read over; Isabel
Went forth to show it to the neighbors round
Nor was there at that time on English land
A prouder heart than Luke's. When Isabel
Had to her house returned, the Old Man said,
" He shall depart to-morrow." To this word
The Housewife answered, talking much of things
Which, if at such short notice he should go,
Would surely be forgotten. But at length
She gave consent, and Michael was at ease.
Near the tumultuous brook of Green-head Ghyll
In that deep Valley, Michael had designed
To build a Sheep-fold ; and before he heard
The tidings of his melancholy loss,
For this same purpose he had gathered up
A heap of stones, which by the Streamlet's edge
Lay thrown together, ready for the work.
With Luke that evening thitherward he walked :
And soon as they had reached the place he stopped,
And thus the Old Man spake to him: 66 My Son,
To-morrow thou wilt leave me: with full heart
I look upon thee, for thou art the same
That wert a promise to me ere thy birth,
And all thy life hast been my daily joy.
I will relate to thee some little part
Of our two histories ; 'twill do thee good
When thou art from me, even if I should speak
Of things thou canst not know of. — After thou
First camest into the world as oft befalls
To new-born infants - thou didst sleep away
Two days, and blessings from thy Father's tongue
Then fell upon thee. Day by day passed on,
And still I loved thee with increasing love.
Never to living ear came sweeter sounds
Than when I heard thee. by our own fireside
First uttering, without words, a natural tune;
When thou, a feeding babe, didst in thy joy
Sing at thy Mother's breast. Month followed month,
And in the open fields my life was passed
And on the mountains ; else I think that thou
Hadst been brought up upon thy Father's knees.
But we were playmates, Luke; among these hills,
As well thou knowest, in us the old and young
Have played together, nor with me didst thou
Lack any pleasure which a boy can know."
Luke had a manly heart; but at these words
He sobbed aloud. The Old Man grasped his hand,
And said, “ Nay, do not take it so — I see
That these are things of which I need not speak.
Even to the utmost I have been to thee