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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,

Nor how to speak to her. Poor Wretch! at last
She rose from off her seat, and then, -O 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 past,
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 beheld
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
Öf Soldiers, going to a distant Land.

He left me thus he could not gather heart
To take a farewell of me; for he feared
That I should follow with my Babes, and sink
Beneath the misery of that wandering Life.'

"This Tale did Margaret tell with many tears.
And, when she ended, I had little power

To give her comfort, and was glad to take
Such words of hope from her own mouth as served
To cheer us both:- but long we had not talked
Ere we built up a pile of better thoughts,
And with a brighter eye she looked around,
As if she had been shedding tears of joy.
We parted. 'Twas the time of early spring;
I left her busy with her garden tools;

And well remember, o'er that fence she looked,
And, while I paced along the foot-way path,
Called out, and sent a blessing after me;
With tender cheerfulness; and with a voice
That seemed the very sound of happy thoughts.

"I roved o'er many a hill and many a dale,
With my accustomed load; in heat and cold,
Through many a wood, and many an open ground,
In sunshine and in shade, in wet and fair,
Drooping or blithe of heart, as might befal;
My best companions now the driving winds,
And now the 'trotting brooks' and whispering trees,
And now the music of my own sad steps,
With many a short-lived thought that passed between,
And disappeared. I journeyed back this way,
When, in the warmth of Midsummer, the wheat
Was yellow; and the soft and bladed grass,
Springing afresh, had o'er the hay-field spread
Its tender verdure. At the door arrived,

I found that she was absent. In the shade,
Where now we sit, I waited her return.
Her Cottage, then a cheerful Object, wore
Its customary look, only, it seemed,
The honeysuckle, crowding round the porch,

Hung down in heavier tufts; and that bright weed,
The yellow stone-crop, suffered to take root
Along the window's edge, profusely grew,
Blinding the lower panes. I turned aside,
And strolled into her garden. It appeared
To lag behind the season, and had lost
Its pride of neatness. Daisy-flowers and thrift
Had broken their trim lines, and straggled o'er
The paths they used to deck: carnations, once
Prized for surpassing beauty, and no less
For the peculiar pains they had required,
Declined their languid heads, wanting support.
The cumbrous bind-weed, with its wreaths and bells,
Had twined about her two small rows of pease,
And dragged them to the earth. Ere this an hour
Was wasted. Back I turned my restless steps;
A Stranger passed; and, guessing whom I sought,
He said that she was used to ramble far.
The sun was sinking in the west; and now
I sate with sad impatience. From within

Her solitary Infant cried aloud;

Then, like a blast that dies away self-stilled,
The voice was silent. From the bench I rose
But neither could divert nor soothe my thoughts.
The spot, though fair, was very desolate

The longer I remained, more desolate;

And, looking round me, now I first observed
The corner stones, on either side the porch,
With dull red stains discolored, and stuck o'er
With tufts and hairs of wool, as if the Sheep,
That fed upon the Common, thither came
Familiarly; and found a couching-place
Even at her threshold. Deeper shadows fell
From these tall elms; the Cottage clock struck eight

I turned, and saw her distant a few steps.

Her face was pale and thin; her figure, too,
Was changed. As she unlocked the door, she said,
It grieves me you have waited here so long;
But, in good truth, I've wandered much of late,
And, sometimes to my shame I speak - have need
Of my best prayers to bring me back again.'
While on the board she spread our evening meal,
She told me—interrupting not the work
Which gave employment to her listless hands-
That she had parted with her elder Child;
To a kind master on a distant farm,
Now happily apprenticed. 'I perceive
You look at me, and you have cause; to-day
I have been travelling far; and many days
About the fields I wander, knowing this
Only,—that what I seek I cannot find;
And so I waste my time

for I am changed;

And to myself,' said she, 'have done much wrong,
And to this helpless Infant. I have slept

Weeping, and weeping have I waked; my tears
Have flowed as if my body were not such

As others are; and I could never die.

But I am now in mind and in my heart

More easy; and I hope,' said she, 'that God

Will give me patience to endure the things

Which I behold at home.' It would have grieved Your very soul to see her; Sir, I feel

The story linger in my heart; I fear

'Tis long and tedious; but my spirit clings

To that poor Woman:- so familiarly

Do I perceive her manner, and her look,
And presence, and so deeply do I feel

Her goodness, that, not seldom, in my walks,
A momentary trance comes over me;
And to myself I seem to muse on One

By sorrow laid asleep

or borne away,

A human being destined to awake

To human life, or something very near

To human life, when he shall come again

For whom she suffered. Yes, it would have grieved
Your very soul to see her; evermore

Her eyelids drooped, her eyes were downward cast,
And, when she at her table gave me food,
She did not look at me. Her voice was low,

Her body was subdued. In every act
Pertaining to her house affairs, appeared
The careless stillness of a thinking mind
Self-occupied; to which all outward things
Are like an idle matter. Still she sighed,
But yet no motion of the

breast was seen,

No heaving of the heart. While by the fire
We sate together, sighs came on my ear,

I knew not how, and hardly whence they came.

“Ere my departure, to her care I gave,
For her son's use, some tokens of regard,
Which with a look of welcome she received;
And I exhorted her to place her trust

In God's good love, and seek his help by prayer.
I took my staff, and when I kissed her babe
The tears stood in her eyes. I left her then,
With the best hope and comfort I could give;
She thanked me for my wish-but for my hope
Methought she did not thank me.

"I returned,

And took my rounds along this road again
Ere on its sunny bank the primrose flower
Peeped forth, to give an earnest of the spring.
I found her sad and drooping; she had learned

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