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WHEN the summer harvest was gathered in,
And the sheaf of the gleaner grew white and thin,
And the ploughshare was in its furrow left,
Where the stubble land had been lately cleft,
An Indian hunter, with unstrung bow,
Looked down where the valley lay stretched below.
He was a stranger there, and all that day
Had been out on the hills, a perilous way,
But the foot of the deer was far and fleet,
And the wolf kept aloof from the hunter's feet,
And bitter feelings passed o'er him then,
As he stood by the populous haunts of men.
The winds of autumn came over the woods,
As the sun stole out from their solitudes;
The moss was white on the maple's trunk,
And dead from its arms the pale vine shrunk,
And ripened the mellow fruit hung, and red
Where the trees withered leaves around it shed.
The foot of the reaper moved slow on the lawn,
And the sickle cut down the yellow corn;
The mower sung loud by the meadow side,
Where the mists of evening were spreading wide;
And the voice of the herdsman came up the lea,
And the dance went round by the greenwood tree.
Then the hunter turned away from that scene,
Where the home of his fathers once had been,
And heard, by the distant and measured stroke,
That the woodman hewed down the giant oak--
And burning thoughts flashed over his mind,
Of the white man's faith, and love unkind.
The moon of the harvest grew high and bright,
As her golden horn pierced the cloud of white,
A footstep was heard in the rustling brake,
Where the beech overshadowed the misty lake,
And a mourning voice, and a plunge from shors,
And the hunter was seen on the hills no more.
When years had passed on, by that still lake side,
The fisher looked down through the silver tide,
And there on the smooth yellow sand displayed,
A skeleton wasted and white was laid,
And 'twas seen, as the waters moved deep and slow,
That the hand was still grasping a hunter's bow.
ONE Autumn night, in Sudbury town,
Across the meadows bare and brown,
The windows of the wayside inn
Gleamed red with fire-light through the leaves
Of woodbine, hanging from the eaves
Their crimson curtains rent and thin.
As ancient is this hostelry
in the land may be,
Built in the old Colonial day,
When men lived in a grauder way,
With ampler hospitality;
A kind of old Hobgoblin Hall,
Now somewhat fallen to decay,
With weather-stains upon the wall,
And stairways worn, and crazy doors,
And creaking and uneven floors,
And chimneys huge, and tiled and tall.
A region of repose it seems,
A place of slumber and of dreams,
Remote among the wooded hills !
For there no noisy railway speeds,
Its torch-race scattering smoke and gleeds;
But noon and night, the panting teams
Stop under the great oaks, that throw
Tangles of light and shade below,
On roofs and doors, and window-sills.
Across the road the barns display
Their lines of stalls, their mows of hay,
Through the wide doors the breezes blow,
The wattled cocks strut to and fro,
And, half effaced by rain and shine,
The Red Horse prances on the sigu.
Round this old-fashioned, quaint abode
Deep silence reigned, save when a gust
Went rushing down the country road,
And skeletons of leaves, and dust,
A moment quickened by its breath,
Shuddered and danced their dance of death,
And through the ancient oaks o'erhead
Mysterious voices moaned and fled.
But from the parlour of the inn
A pleasant murmur smote the ear,
Like water rushing through a weir;
Oft interrupted by the din
Of laughter and of loud applause,
And, in each intervening pause,
The music of a violin.
The fire-light, shedding over all
The splendour of its ruddy glow,
Filled the whole parlour large and low;
It gleamed on wainscot and on wall,
It touched with more than wonted grace
Fair Princess Mary's pictured face;
It bronzed the rafters overhead,
On the old spinet's ivory keys
It played inaudible melodies,
It crowned the sombre clock with flame,
The hands, the hours, the maker's name,
And painted with a livelier red
The Landlord's coat-of-arms again;
And, flashing on the window-pane,
Emblazoned with its light and shade
The jovial rhymes, that still remain,'
Writ near a century ago,
By the great Major Molineaux,
Whom Hawthorne has immortal made.
Before the blazing fire of wood
Erect the rapt musician stood;
And ever and anon he bent
His head upon his instrument,
And seemed to listen, till he caught
Confessions of its secret thought, –
The joy, the triumph, the lament,
The exultation and the pain;
Then, by the magic of his art,
He soothed the throbbings of its heart,
And lulled it into peace again.
Around the fireside at their ease
There sat a group of friends entranced
With the delicious melodies;
Who from the far-off noisy town
Had to the wayside inn come down,
To rest beneath its old oak-trees,
The fire-light on their faces glanced, Their shadows on the wainscot danced, And, though of different lands and speech, Each had his tale to tell, and each Was anxious to be pleased and please. And while the sweet musician plays, Let me in outline sketch them all, Perchance uncouthly as the blaze With its uncertain touch portrays Their shadowy semblance on the wall. But first the Landlord will I trace; Grave in his aspect and attire; A man of ancient pedigree, A justice of the peace was he, Known in all Sudbury as “The Squire.” Proud was he of his name and race, Of old Sir William and Sir Hugh, And in the parlour, full in view, His coat-of-arms, well framed and glazed, Upon the wall in colours blazed ; He beareth gules upon his shield, A chevron argent in the field, With three wolves' heads, and for the crest A Wyvern part-per-pale addressed Upon a helmet barred; below The scroll reads, “ By the name of Howe.” And over this, no longer bright, Though glimmering with a latent light, Was hung the sword his grandsire bore, In the rebellious days of yore, Down there at Concord in the fight. A youth was there, of quiet ways, A Student of old books and days, To whom all tongues and lands were known, And yet a lover of his own; With many a social virtue graced, And yet a friend of solitude; A man of such a genial mood The heart of all things he embraced, And yet of such fastidious taste, He never found the best too good. Books were his passion and delight, And in his upper room at home Stood many a rare and sumptuous tome, In vellum bound, with gold bedight, Great volumes garmented in white, Recalling Florence, Pisa, Rome. He loved the twilight that surrounds
The border-land of old romance;
Where glitter hauberk, helm, and lance,
And banner waves, and trumpet sounds,
And ladies ride with hawk on wrist,
And mighty warriors sweep along,
Magnified by the purple mist,
The dusk of centuries and of song.
The chronicles of Charlemagne,
Of Merlin and the Mort d'Arthure,
Mingled together in his brain
With tales of Flores and Blanchefleur,
Sir Ferumbras, Sir Eglamour,
Sir Launcelot, Sir Morgadour,
Sir Guy, Sir Bevis, Sir Gawain.
A young Sicilian, too, was there ;
In sight of Etna born and bred,
Some breath of its volcanic air
Was glowing in his heart and brain,
And, being rebellious to his liege,
After Palermo's fatal siege,
Across the western seas he fled,
In good King Bomba's happy reign.
His face was like a summer night,
All flooded with a dusky light;
His hands were small; his teeth shone white
As sea-shells, when he smiled or spoke;
His sinews supple and strong as oak;
Clean shaven was he as a priest,
Who at the mass on Sunday sings,
Save that upon his upper lip
His beard, a good palm's length at least,
Level and pointed at the tip,
Shot sideways, like a swallow's wings.
The poets read he o'er and o'er,
And most of all the Immortal Four
Of Italy; and next to those,
The story-telling bard of prose,
Who wrote the joyous Tuscan tales
Of the Decameron, that make
Fiesole's green hills and vales
Remembered for Boccaccio's sake.
Much too of music was his thought ;
The melodies and measures fraught
With sunshine and the open air,
Of vineyards and the singing sea
Of his beloved Sicily ;
And much it pleased him to peruze
The songs of the Sicilian muse,-
Bucolic songs by Meli sung.