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“I must not sleep, perchance the foe
Is hunting for me far and near,
Without the chance to strike one blow
Will seize me sleeping idly here, -
A prize for those bloodthirsty men.
I know the way the villains work,
A form of trial by Jeffreys then-
And slaughtered by that butcher Kirke.
My eyeballs burn, my brain doth ache;
Wilt thou, sweet wife, a vigil keep,
And guard me, for I e'en must sleep.
Should they pursue me e'er I wake,
Why plunge yon dagger in my breast.
Give me thy word and let me rest."
She answers not-her lips are dumb.
“Oh, let me not in vain beseech.
At least then should the foeman come,
Thou’lt place the knife within my reach;
Let them not seize me as I lie,
A traitor's shameful death to die."
Sore grieved is Lady Maud; she sees
The throbbing eyes and aching brain
Can ill endure the constant strain-
What can she do to bring him ease?
Then summoning her failing strength,
“I swear, by Heaven,” she cries at length.
He beard the vow and smiled.
“By Heaven and our pledged love, by both,
Thou wilt not break the double oath."
Then like a tired child
He stretches out each aching limb,
And longed-for sleep steals over him.
Yet once he stirs—“Be true to me,
Remember all my trust's in thee."
She sits and watches by his side,
Until at last a peaceful tide
Of happy thoughts steals o'er her heart,
And all her wretched fears depart;
Her husband-lover, her heart's lord,
Will be to health and strength restored,
And war and bloodshed soon will cease,
And long sweet years of love and peace
Will make amends for all this woe.
What flattering pictures hope can show!
A sudden sound-her pulses thrill,
A group of soldiers on the hill;
She hears the martial tread;
And hitherward their steps they bend-
Great Heaven ! is it foe or friend?
One moment-hope is fled !
“The soldiers of the King,—the foe!
And I have sworn-no, Malcolm, no,
I will not keep my vow.
Oh, God! why is this vengeance sent?
For what great crime this punishment
Is falling on me now?
Myself will die,”—she seized the knife.
“Coward that I am, false-hearted wife,
Unworthy I to bear his name,
Who'd doom him to a death of shame.
He trusted me, he trusted me,
And I have sworn to set him free.
And I will do it! Could I bear
To meet his look of wild despair,
And know myself forsworn ?
To hear him say with latest breath,
Through me he died a traitor's death,
Mid howls of wrath and scorn ?
They come, they come, and I have vowed ;-
Wake, Malcolm, wake," she calls aloud.
He answers to her cry.
She takes the dagger from its place,
But dares not look upon his face
Knowing that he must die.
Backward she moves with faltering tread,
And stands once more beside the bed;
The knife, held loosely in her grasp,
From out her hand to his has passed;
She feels one kiss, one tender clasp,
And knows it is the last.
Ab-h- a shuddering sigh, a groan,
And Lady Maud seems turned to stone,
For she stands within that room alone.
Two souls were here, and one has fled;
She feels as if her hand were red.
The martial footsteps gain the door,
And Lady Maud steps o'er the floor
And flings the portal wide.
“Nay, let them come, no boon I claim;
I've saved him from a death of shame,
My love, my joy, my pride!
Nay, let them come to wreak their hate,
Speed as they may, they come too late,
He's safe! though I am desolate.”
A soldier on the threshold stands,
He thrusts a paper in her hands,
"Lady, forgive unseemly haste,
Such errand brooks no time to waste.
Unto Lord Malcolm do we bring
Message of pardon from the King."
“Pardon!” She glances toward the bed;
“You bring your pardon to the dead !
And all my crime and all my pain,
Have been in vain-in vain-in vain !
Go back-your message comes too late!
And I-I have not long to wait,
One grave will hold us both.
And when heaven's gate I enter in,
And seek God's clemency to win
For many a dark and heavy sin,
I'll say—I kept my oath.”
If you could go back to the forks of the road, -
Back the long miles you have carried the load;
Back to the place where you had to decide
By this way or that through your life to abide;
Back of the sorrow and back of the care;
Back to the place where the future was fair,
If you were there now, a decision to make,
Oh, pilgrim of sorrow, which road would you take?
Then, after you'd trodden the other long track,
Suppose that again to the forks you went back,
After you found that its promises fair
Were but a delusion that led to a snare;
That the road you first traveled with sighs and unrest,
Though dreary and rough was most graciously blest
With balm for each bruise and a charm for each ache-
Oh, pilgriin of sorrow, which road would you take ?
A PARROT IN A DEACON'S MEETING.
Once upon a time, it does not matter when or where, the deacons of a certain church met together to consider the state of affairs in their little Zion. Things were going wrong. There were few conversions, many empty pews, and grumblers enough to stock a dozen churches. Even the collection plate was getting black in the face ; and when that is the case it is time to pass an Ecclesiastical Reform Bill.
So the deacons met in solemn assembly in the house of one of the brethren, to investigate the cause of their troubles, and to find a remedy. Great was the talklengthened was the conversation--and, alas! they fell upon
the minister as the root of all the evil. One said that he preached too long, and frightened the people away; another, that he did not visit enough; and another still that he lacked unction, fire and force. Well, sinners must have a scapegoat, and who is so fit for one as the minister? They resolved, therefore, to approach him and tell him their minds. This was a sad business, for they prayed before his settlement that God would send them the right man to the right place, and had they not thanked Him for guiding them so wisely in the choice of a pastor ? Now it seemed that their present purpose showed clearly that the Lord had made a mistitke and that they were the 'nen to rectify it.
At last one of them moved this resolution : Whereas, the state of affairs in the Church is so lamentable, we feel bound, in the interests of the cause, to suggest to our pastor the advisability of watching the leadings of Providence and to accept whatever call the Lord may be pleased to send.”
They passed this resolution with a hearty unanimity, and went on talking.
Now, in the corner of the room there hung a parrot cage, and on the perch within stood a fine green parrut. Lately arrived in the country it knew no other language
than that which it had learned at sea. It was evidently puzzled by the talk of the brethren, and held its head on one side as if it wished to master the subject under consid. eration. One thing was certain, it meant to have its say in the matter as soon as an opportunity offered. The chance came. A lugubrivus brother, in a long and mournful speech, was still wailing their unfortunate circumstances, and coming to the close said: “Well, brethren, I am sorry things are as they are; our minister may be a good man, yet think of it as I will, I see no remedy but—"
Work, you lubbers, work. Work, you lubbers, work.
So said the parrot, and abruptly finished the lugubrious brother's speech, starting the whole diaconate into a state of abnormal activity. Horrified at the untimely timeliness of the parrot's remark, the good brother who owned the parrot sprang up in anger-he was but a man--and made a dash at the cage with a fell intent of teaching the poor creature the dumb alphabet by twisting his neck.
"Stop, brother, stop," cried one of the brethren. “You may wring the parrot's neck but you cannot wring the neck of truth. The bird is right and we are wrong. Work is the remedy after all.”
Down they all sat again, with the cry of the parrot ringing in their ears and consciences. Dear, good men, like most of us they had sought the easiest way out of the difficulty, and had made a mistake. The minister's failings had so fully occupied their attention that they could not think of their own. The parrot had put them face to face with themselves and their own souls, and they were obliged to see that, if the pastor had not done his best, neither had they. This was the conclusion they had reached; and, like honest men, they tore up their first resolution, and were wise enough to make another. They then went home, and in a few weeks the church began to flourish. “Every man had a mind to work.” Some went out into the highways and hedges and compelled the wanderers to come in. Some took to the task