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“My gentle lad, what is't you read

Romance or fairy fable ? Or is it some historic page,

Of kings and crowns unstable ?" The

young boy gave an upward glance-
“It is the death of Abel."
The usher took six hasty strides,

As smit with sudden pain;
Six hasty strides beyond the place,

Then slowly back again :
And down he sat beside the lad,

And talked with him of Cain;
And, long since then, of bloody men,

Whose deeds tradition saves;
Of lonely folk cut off unseen,

And hid in sudden graves;
Of horrid stabs, in groves forlorn,

And murders done in caves ;
And how the sprites of injured men

Shriek upward from the sod-
Ay, how the ghostly hand will point

To show the burial clod :
Aud unknown facts of guilty acts

Are seen in dreams from God!
He told how murderers walked the earth

Beneath the curse of Cain-
With crimson clouds before their eyes,

And flames about their brain :
For blood has left upon their souls

Its everlasting stain ! “ And well,” quoth he, “ I know, for truth, Their

pangs must be extremeWoe, woe, unutterable woe

Who spill life's sacred stream!
For why? Methought last night I wrought

A murder in a dream !

66 One that had never done me wrong

A feeble man, and old ; I led him to a lonely field,

The moon shone clear and cold : Now here, said I, this man shall die,

And I will have his gold !
“ Two sudden blows with a ragged stick,

And one with a heavy stone,
One hurried gash with a hasty knife-

And then the deed was done :
There was nothing lying at my foot,

But lifeless flesh and bone !
'Nothing but lifeless flesh and bone,

That could not do me ill ;
And yet I feared him all the more,

For lying there so still ;
There was a manhood in his look,

That murder could not kill ! “ And lo! the universal air

Seemed lit with ghastly flame-
Ten thousand thousand dreadful eyes

Were looking down in blame:
I took the dead man by the hand,

And called upon his name;
“Oh, God! it made me quake to see

Such sense within the slain !
But when I touched the lifeless clay,

The blood gushed out amain !
For every clot, a burning spot

Was scorching in my brain !
“My head was like an ardent coal,

My heart as solid ice;
My wretched, wretched soul, I knew,

Was at the devil's price :
A dozen times I groaned, the dead

Had never groaned but twice ;

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“ And now from forth the frowning sky,

From the heaven's topmost height; I heard a voice—the awful voice,

Of the blood-avenging sprite; • Thou guilty man! take up thy dead,

And hide it from my sight.' “I took the dreary body up,

And cast it in a stream-
A sluggish water black as ink,

The depth was so extreme.
My gentle boy, remember this

Is nothing but a dream ! 6 Down went the corpse with a hollow plunge,

And vanished in the pool;
Anon I cleansed my bloody hands,

And washed my forehead cool,
And eat among the urchins young

That evening in the school!
“Oh heaven, to think of their white souls,

And mine so black and grim!
I could not share in childish prayer,

Nor join in evening hymn:
Like a devil of the pit I seemed,

'Mid holy cherubim !
“ And peace went with them one and all,

And each calm pillow spread;
But Guilt was my grim chamberlain

That lighted me to bed,
And drew my midnight curtains round,

With fingers bloody red ! “All night I lay in agony,

In anguish dark and deep;
My fevered eyes I dared not close,

But stared aghast at sleep;
For sin had rendered unto her

The keys of hell to keep!

“ All night I lay in agony, ,

From weary chime to chime, With one besetting horrid hint,

That racked me all the timeA mighty yearning, like the first

Fierce impulse unto crime ! “One stern, tyrannic thought, that made

All other thoughts its slave; Stronger and stronger every pulse

Did that temptation craveStill urging me to go and see

The dead man in his grave!
Heavily I rose up—as soon

As light was in the sky-
And sought the black accursed pool

With a wild misgiving eye;
And I saw the dead in the river bed,

For the faithless stream was dry! “Merrily rose the lark, and shook

The dewdrop from its wing;
But I never marked its morning flight,

I never heard it sing:
For I was stooping once again

Under the horrid thing. “ With breathless speed, like a soul in chase, I took him


and ran-
There was no time to dig a grave

Before the day began;
In a lonesome wood with heaps of leaves,

I hid the murdered man!
“ And all that day I read in school,

But my thought was other where !
As soon as the midday task was done,

In secret I was there :
And a mighty wind had swept the leaves,

And still the corse was bare !


66 Then down I cast me on my face,

And first began to weep,
For I knew my secret then was one,

That earth refused to keep ;
Or land or sea, though he should be

Ten thousand fathoms deep!
“So wills the fierce avenging sprite,

Till blood for blood atones!
Ay, though he's buried in a cave,

And trodden down with stones,
And years have rotted off his flesh-

The world shall see his bones!
“Oh, God, that horrid, horrid dream

Besets me now awake!
Again—again, with a dizzy brain

The human life I take;
And my red right hand grows raging hot,

Like Cranmer's at the stake. “ And still no peace for the restless clay,

Will wave or mould allow :
The horrid thing pursues my soul-

It stands before me now !”
The fearful boy looked up, and saw

Huge drops upon his brow!
That very night, while gentle sleep

The urchin's eyelids kissed,
Two stern-faced men set out from Lynn,

Through the cold and heavy mist; And Eugene Aram walked between

With gyves upon his wrists.

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