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Save when at midnight, o'er the wold,
The priests did bend their way, With taper bright and holy light,
For some sinful soul to pray.
35. Then louder wailed the knight; and rued
His fortune, to be torn From a maid as fair, and true, and good
As ever yet was born.
36. Now slower sped that pilgrim-boy,
And reined his prancing steed, Some sudden
had seized his heart, So formed for gentle deed.
Why art thou pale, thou pilgrim-boy?'
The knight all wondering cried ; Why dost thou pant, thou pilgrim-boy,
When I am by thy side ?'
38. The knight he ran and clasped the youth,
And oped his pilgrim's vest, And, lo ! it was his lady fair,
His lady dear he pressed.
«Grieve not for me, my faithful knight,
The lady faint did cry; 'I'm well content, my faithful knight,
Though in thy arms I die.
In truth full cheerfully,
41. Nay, Heaven forfend,' the knight replied,
· And rather grant thee grace To live for him—now,
oh! how blest, Who gazes on thy face !'
In time of need they spy;
To cheer her, from their hoard ;
They sped right gaily on;
45. And blessed was he, that Red-Cross Knight,
To find his sorrows o'er ;
Never to leave him more.
To that knight so true and bold,
O'er their cups of pearl and gold.
THE NATIVE VILLAGE.
A kind of dread had hitherto kept me back; but I was restless now, till I had accomplished my wish. I set out one morning to walk; I reached Widford about eleven in the forenoon, after a slight breakfast at my inn, where I was mortified to perceive the old landlord did not know me again-old Thomas Billet, he has often made angle-rods for me when a child—I rambled over all my accustomed haunts.
Our old house was vacant, and to be sold; I entered, unmolested, into the room that had been my
bed-chamber. I kneeled down on the spot where my little bed had stood : I felt like a child ; I prayed like one. It seemed as though old times were to return again. I looked round involuntarily, expecting to see some face I knew; but all was naked and mute. The bed was gone. My little pane of painted window, through which I loved to look at the sun, when I awoke in a fine summer's morning, was taken out, and had been replaced by one of common glass.
I visited by turns every chamber; they were all desolate and unfurnished, one excepted, in which the owner had left a harpsichord, probably to be sold : I touched the keys; I played some old Scottish tunes, which had delighted me when a child. Past associations revived with the music, blended with a sense of unreality, which at last became too powerful—I rushed out of the room to give vent to my feelings.
I wandered, scarce knowing where, into an old wood, that stands at the back of the house; we called it the Wilderness. A well-known form was missing that used to meet me in this place : it was thine, Ben Moxam, the kindest, gentlest, politest of human beings, yet was he nothing higher than a gardener in the family. Honest creature, thou didst never pass me in my childish rambles without a soft speech and a smile. I remember thy good-natured face. But there is one thing for which I can never forgive thee, Ben Moxam, that thou didst join with an old maiden aunt of mine in a cruel plot to lop away the hanging branches of the old fir-trees. I remember them sweeping to the ground.
I have often left my childish sports to ramble in this place ; its glooms and its solitude had a mysterious charm for my young mind, nurturing within me that love of quietness and lonely thinking which have accompanied me to maturer years.
In this Wilderness I found myself after a ten years' absence. Its stately fir-trees were yet standing, with all their luxuriant company of underwood : the squirrel was there, and the melancholy cooings of the wood-pigeonall was as I had left it; my heart softened at the sightit seemed as though my character had been suffering a change since I forsook these shades.
My parents were both dead; I had no counsellor left, no experience of age to direct me, no sweet voice of reproof. The Lord had taken away my friends, and I knew not where He had laid them. I paced round the Wilderness, seeking a comforter. I prayed that I might be restored to that state of innocence in which I had wandered in those shades.
Methought my request was heard, for it seemed as though the stains of manhood were passing from me, and I were relapsing into the purity and simplicity of childhood. I was content to have been moulded into a perfect child. I stood still as in a trance. I dreamed that I was enjoying a personal intercourse with my heavenly Father, and extravagantly put off the shoes from my feet, for the place where I stood, I thought, was holy ground.
This state of mind could not last long, and I returned, with languid feelings, to my inn. I ordered my dinner, green peas and a sweetbread : it had been a favourite dish with me in my childhood—I was allowed to have it on my birthdays. I was impatient to see it come upon table; but when it came I could scarce eat a mouthful, my tears choked me. I called for wine; I drank a pint and a half of red wine, and not till then had I dared to visit the churchyard where my parents were interred.
The cottage lay in my way. Margaret had chosen it for that very reason, to be near the church, for the old lady was regular in her attendance on public worship. I passed on, and in a moment found myself among the tombs.
I had been present at my father's burial, and knew the spot again ; my mother's funeral I was prevented by illness from attending : a plain stone was placed over the grave, with their initials carved upon it, for they both occupied one grave.
I prostrated myself before the spot; I kissed the earth that covered them ; I contemplated with gloomy delight the time when I should mingle my dust with theirs, and