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- Old Spookses' Pass - 10/37 -


Then roar'd the crackling mountains, and their fires Met in high heaven, clasping flame with flame. The thin winds swept a cosmos of red sparks Across the bleak, midnight sky; and the sun Walk'd pale behind the resinous, black smoke. And Max car'd little for the blotted sun, And nothing for the startl'd, outshone stars; For Love, once set within a lover's breast, Has its own Sun--it's own peculiar sky, All one great daffodil--on which do lie The sun, the moon, the stars--all seen at once, And never setting; but all shining straight Into the faces of the trinity,-- The one belov'd, the lover, and sweet Love! It was not all his own, the axe-stirr'd waste. In these new days men spread about the earth, With wings at heel--and now the settler hears, While yet his axe rings on the primal woods, The shrieks of engines rushing o'er the wastes; Nor parts his kind to hew his fortunes out. And as one drop glides down the unknown rock And the bright-threaded stream leaps after it, With welded billions, so the settler finds His solitary footsteps beaten out, With the quick rush of panting, human waves Upheav'd by throbs of angry poverty; And driven by keen blasts of hunger, from Their native strands--so stern, so dark, so dear! O, then, to see the troubl'd, groaning waves, Throb down to peace in kindly, valley beds; Their turbid bosoms clearing in the calm Of sun-ey'd Plenty--till the stars and moon, The blessed sun himself, has leave to shine And laugh in their dark hearts! So shanties grew Other than his amid the blacken'd stumps; And children ran, with little twigs and leaves And flung them, shouting, on the forest pyres, Where burn'd the forest kings--and in the glow Paus'd men and women when the day was done. There the lean weaver ground anew his axe, Nor backward look'd upon the vanish'd loom, But forward to the ploughing of his fields; And to the rose of Plenty in the cheeks. Of wife and children--nor heeded much the pangs Of the rous'd muscles tuning to new work. The pallid clerk look'd on his blister'd palms And sigh'd and smil'd, but girded up his loins And found new vigour as he felt new hope. The lab'rer with train'd muscles, grim and grave, Look'd at the ground and wonder'd in his soul, What joyous anguish stirr'd his darken'd heart, At the mere look of the familiar soil, And found his answer in the words--"_Mine own!_" Then came smooth-coated men, with eager eyes, And talk'd of steamers on the cliff-bound lakes; And iron tracks across the prairie lands; And mills to crush the quartz of wealthy hills; And mills to saw the great, wide-arm'd trees; And mills to grind the singing stream of grain; And with such busy clamour mingled still The throbbing music of the bold, bright Axe-- The steel tongue of the Present, and the wail Of falling forests--voices of the Past. Max, social-soul'd, and with his practised thews, Was happy, boy-like, thinking much of Kate, And speaking of her to the women-folk; Who, mostly, happy in new honeymoons Of hope themselves, were ready still to hear The thrice told tale of Katie's sunny eyes And Katie's yellow hair, and household ways: And heard so often, "There shall stand our home-- "On yonder slope, with vines about the door!" That the good wives were almost made to see The snowy walls, deep porches, and the gleam Of Katie's garments flitting through the rooms; And the black slope all bristling with burn'd stumps Was known amongst them all as "Max's House."

* * * * *

O, Love builds on the azure sea, And Love builds on the golden sand; And Love builds on the rose-wing'd cloud, And sometimes Love builds on the land.

* * * * *

O, if Love build on sparkling sea-- And if Love build on golden strand-- And if Love build on rosy cloud-- To Love these are the solid land.

* * * * *

O, Love will build his lily walls, And Love his pearly roof, will rear,-- On cloud or land, or mist or sea-- Love's solid land is everywhere!

* * * * *

PART III.

The great farm house of Malcolm Graem stood Square shoulder'd and peak roof'd upon a hill, With many windows looking everywhere; So that no distant meadow might lie hid, Nor corn-field hide its gold--nor lowing herd Browse in far pastures, out of Malcolm's ken. He lov'd to sit, grim, grey, and somewhat stern, And thro' the smoke-clouds from his short clay pipe Look out upon his riches; while his thoughts Swung back and forth between the bleak, stern past, And the near future, for his life had come To that close balance, when, a pendulum, The memory swings between me "Then" and "Now"; His seldom speech ran thus two diff'rent ways: "When I was but a laddie, this I did"; Or, "Katie, in the Fall I'll see to build "Such fences or such sheds about the place; "And next year, please the Lord, another barn." Katie's gay garden foam'd about the walls, 'Leagur'd the prim-cut modern sills, and rush'd Up the stone walls--and broke on the peak'd roof. And Katie's lawn was like a Poet's sward, Velvet and sheer and di'monded with dew; For such as win their wealth most aptly take Smooth, urban ways and blend them with their own; And Katie's dainty raiment was as fine As the smooth, silken petals of the rose; And her light feet, her nimble mind and voice, In city schools had learn'd the city's ways, And grafts upon the healthy, lonely vine They shone, eternal blossoms 'mid the fruit. For Katie had her sceptre in her hand And wielded it right queenly there and here, In dairy, store-room, kitchen--ev'ry spot Where women's ways were needed on the place. And Malcolm took her through his mighty fields, And taught her lore about the change of crops; And how to see a handsome furrow plough'd; And how to choose the cattle for the mart; And how to know a fair day's work when done; And where to plant young orchards; for he said, "God sent a lassie, but I need a son-- "Bethankit for His mercies all the same." And Katie, when he said it, thought of Max-- Who had been gone two winters and two springs, And sigh'd, and thought, "Would he not be your son?" But all in silence, for she had too much Of the firm will of Malcolm in her soul To think of shaking that deep-rooted rock; But hop'd the crystal current of his love For his one child, increasing day by day, Might fret with silver lip, until it wore Such channels thro' the rock, that some slight stroke Of circumstance might crumble down the stone. The wooer, too, had come, Max prophesied; Reputed wealthy; with the azure eyes And Saxon-gilded locks--the fair, clear face, And stalwart form that most women love. And with the jewels of some virtues set On his broad brow. With fires within his soul He had the wizard skill to fetter down To that mere pink, poetic, nameless glow, That need not fright a flake of snow away-- But if unloos'd, could melt an adverse rock Marrow'd with iron, frowning in his way. And Malcolm balanc'd him by day and night; And with his grey-ey'd shrewdness partly saw He was not one for Kate; but let him come, And in chance moments thought: "Well, let it be-- "They make a bonnie pair--he knows the ways "Of men and things: can hold the gear I give, "And, if the lassie wills it, let it be." And then, upstarting from his midnight sleep, With hair erect and sweat upon his brow, Such as no labor e'er had beaded there; Would cry aloud, wide-staring thro' the dark-- "Nay, nay; she shall not wed him--rest in peace." Then fully waking, grimly laugh and say: "Why did I speak and answer when none spake?" But still lie staring, wakeful, through the shades; List'ning to the silence, and beating still The ball of Alfred's merits to and fro-- Saying, between the silent arguments: "But would the mother like it, could she know? "I would there was a way to ring a lad "Like silver coin, and so find out the true; "But Kate shall say him 'Nay' or say him 'Yea' "At her own will." And Katie said him "Nay," In all the maiden, speechless, gentle ways A woman has. But Alfred only laugh'd To his own soul, and said in his wall'd mind: "O, Kate, were I a lover, I might feel "Despair flap o'er my hopes with raven wings; "Because thy love is giv'n to other love. "And did I love--unless I gain'd thy love, "I would disdain the golden hair, sweet lips,


Old Spookses' Pass - 10/37

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