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- Tales - 5/52 -

"And what became of the forsaken maid?" The woman answer'd: "I remember now, She used to tell the lasses of her vow, And of her lover's loss, and I have seen The gayest hearts grow sad where she bas been; Yet in her grief she married, and was made Slave to a wretch, whom meekly she obey'd, And early buried--but I know no more: And hark! our friends are hast'ning to the shore." Allen soon found a lodging in the town, And walk'd a man unnoticed up and down, This house, and this, he knew, and thought a face He sometimes could among a number trace: Of names remember'd there remain'd a few, But of no favourites, and the rest were new: A merchant's wealth, when Allen went to sea, Was reckon'd boundless.--Could he living be? Or lived his son? for one he had, the heir To a vast business, and a fortune fair. No! but that heir's poor widow, from her shed, With crutches went to take her dole of bread: There was a friend whom he had left a boy, With hope to sail the master of a hoy; Him, after many a stormy day, he found With his great wish, his life's whole purpose, crown'd. This hoy's proud captain look'd in Allen's face, - "Yours is, my friend," said he, "a woeful case; We cannot all succeed: I now command The Betsy sloop, and am not much at land: But when we meet, you shall your story tell Of foreign parts--I bid you now farewell!" Allen so long had left his native shore, He saw but few whom he had seen before; The older people, as they met him, cast A pitying look, oft speaking as they pass'd - "The man is Allen Booth, and it appears He dwelt among us in his early years: We see the name engraved upon the stones, Where this poor wanderer means to lay his bones," Thus where he lived and loved--unhappy change! - He seems a stranger, and finds all are strange. But now a widow, in a village near, Chanced of the melancholy man to hear; Old as she was, to Judith's bosom came Some strong emotions at the well-known name; He was her much-loved Allen, she had stay'd Ten troubled years, a sad afflicted maid; Then was she wedded, of his death assured. And much of mis'ry in her lot endured; Her husband died; her children sought their bread In various places, and to her were dead. The once fond lovers met; not grief nor age, Sickness nor pain, their hearts could disengage: Each had immediate confidence; a friend Both now beheld, on whom they might depend: "Now is there one to whom I can express My nature's weakness, and my soul's distress." Allen look'd up, and with impatient heart - "Let me not lose thee--never let us part: So heaven this comfort to my sufferings give, It is not all distress to think and live." Thus Allen spoke--for time had not removed The charms attach'd to one so fondly loved; Who with more health, the mistress of their cot, Labours to soothe the evils of his lot. To her, to her alone, his various fate, At various times, 'tis comfort to relate; And yet his sorrow--she too loves to hear What wrings her bosom, and compels the tear. First he related how he left the shore, Alarm'd with fears that they should meet no more. Then, ere the ship had reach'd her purposed course, They met and yielded to the Spanish force; Then 'cross th' Atlantic seas they bore their prey, Who grieving landed from their sultry bay: And marching many a burning league, he found Himself a slave upon a miner's ground: There a good priest his native language spoke, And gave some ease to his tormenting yoke; Kindly advanced him in his master's grace, And he was station'd in an easier place; There, hopeless ever to escape the land, He to a Spanish maiden gave his hand; In cottage shelter'd from the blaze of day, He saw his happy infants round him play; Where summer shadows, made by lofty trees, Waved o'er his seat, and soothed his reveries; E'en then he thought of England, nor could sigh, But his fond Isabel demanded, "Why?" Grieved by the story, she the sigh repaid, And wept in pity for the English maid: Thus twenty years were pass d, and pass'd his views Of further bliss, for he had wealth to lose: His friend now dead, some foe had dared to paint "His faith as tainted: he his spouse would taint; Make all his children infidels, and found An English heresy on Christian ground." "Whilst I was poor," said Allen, "none would care What my poor notions of religion were; None ask'd me whom I worshipp'd, how I pray'd, If due obedience to the laws were paid: My good adviser taught me to be still, Nor to make converts had I power or will. I preach'd no foreign doctrine to my wife, And never mention'd Luther in my life; I, all they said, say what they would, allow'd, And when the fathers bade me bow, I bow'd; Their forms I follow'd, whether well or sick, And was a most obedient Catholic. But I had money, and these pastors found My notions vague, heretical, unsound: A wicked book they seized; the very Turk Could not have read a more pernicious work; To me pernicious, who if it were good Or evil question'd not, nor understood: Oh! had I little but the book possess'd, I might have read it, and enjoy'd my rest." Alas! poor Allen--through his wealth was seen Crimes that by poverty conceal'd had been: Faults that in dusty pictures rest unknown, Are in an instant through the varnish shown. He told their cruel mercy; how at last, In Christian kindness for the merits past, They spared his forfeit life, but bade him fly, Or for his crime and contumacy die; Fly from all scenes, all objects of delight: His wife, his children, weeping in his sight, All urging him to flee, he fled, and cursed his flight. He next related how he found a way, Guideless and grieving, to Campeachy-Bay: There in the woods he wrought, and there, among Some lab'ring seamen, heard his native tongue: The sound, one moment, broke upon his pain With joyful force; he long'd to hear again: Again he heard; he seized an offer'd hand, "And when beheld you last our native land!" He cried, "and in what country? quickly say." The seamen answer'd--strangers all were they; Only one at his native port had been; He, landing once, the quay and church had seen, For that esteem'd; but nothing more he knew. Still more to know, would Allen join the crew, Sail where they sail'd, and, many a peril past, They at his kinsman's isle their anchor cast; But him they found not, nor could one relate Aught of his will, his wish, or his estate. This grieved not Allen; then again he sail'd For England's coast, again his fate prevailed: War raged, and he, an active man and strong, Was soon impress'd, and served his country long. By various shores he pass'd, on various seas, Never so happy as when void of ease. - And then he told how in a calm distress'd, Day after day his soul was sick of rest; When, as a log upon the deep they stood, Then roved his spirit to the inland wood; Till, while awake, he dream'd, that on the seas Were his loved home, the hill, the stream, the trees: He gazed, he pointed to the scenes: --"There stand My wife, my children, 'tis my lovely land. See! there my dwelling--oh! delicious scene Of my best life: --unhand me--are ye men?" And thus the frenzy ruled him, till the wind Brush'd the fond pictures from the stagnant mind. He told of bloody fights, and how at length The rage of battle gave his spirits strength: 'Twas in the Indian seas his limb he lost, And he was left half-dead upon the coast; But living gain'd, 'mid rich aspiring men, A fair subsistence by his ready pen. "Thus," he continued, "pass'd unvaried years, Without events producing hopes or fears." Augmented pay procured him decent wealth, But years advancing undermined his health; Then oft-times in delightful dream he flew To England's shore, and scenes his childhood knew: He saw his parents, saw his fav'rite maid, No feature wrinkled, not a charm decay'd; And thus excited, in his bosom rose A wish so strong, it baffled his repose: Anxious he felt on English earth to lie; To view his native soil, and there to die. He then described the gloom, the dread he found, When first he landed on the chosen ground, Where undefined was all he hoped and fear'd, And how confused and troubled all appear'd; His thoughts in past and present scenes employ'd, All views in future blighted and destroy'd: His were a medley of be wild'ring themes, Sad as realities, and wild as dreams. Here his relation closes, but his mind Flies back again some resting-place to find; Thus silent, musing through the day, he sees His children sporting by those lofty trees, Their mother singing in the shady scene, Where the fresh springs burst o'er the lively green; - So strong his eager fancy, he affrights The faithful widow by its powerful flights; For what disturbs him he aloud will tell, And cry--"'Tis she, my wife! my Isabel!

Tales - 5/52

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