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THE SPANISH MOTHER.

BY SIR FRANCIS HASTINGS DOYLE.

(Supposed to be related by a Veteran French Officer.) YES! I have served that noble chief throughout his

proud career, And heard the bullets whistle past in lands both far and

near

Amidst Italian flowers, below the dark pines of the North, Where'er the Emperor willed to pour his clouds of battle

forth.

'Twas then a splendid sight to see, though terrible, I ween, How his vast spirit filled and moved the wheels of the

machine; Wide-sounding leagues of sentient steel, and fires that

lived to kill, Were but the echo of his voice, the body of his will,

But now my heart is darkened with shadows that rise and

fall Between the sunlight and the ground to sadden and

appal ; The woeful things both seen and done we heeded little

then, But they return, like ghosts, to shake the sleep of aged

men.

snow;

The German and the Englishman were each an open foe, And open hatred hurled us back from Russia's blinding Intenser far, in blood-red light, like fires unquenched,

remain The dreadful deeds wrung forth by war from the brood

ing soul of Spain. I saw a village in the hills, as silent as a dream, Nought stirring but the summer sound of a merry moun.

tain stream, The evening star just smiled from heaven with its quiet

silver eye,

And the chestnut woods were still and calm beneath the

deepening sky. But in that place, self-sacrificed, nor man nor beast we

found, Nor fig-tree on the sun-touched slope, nor corn upon the

ground, Each roofless but was black with smoke, wrenched up

each trailing vine, Each path was foul with mangled meat and floods of

wasted wine.

W

We had been marching, travel-worn, a long and burning

way, And when such welcoming we met, after that toilsome

day,

The pulses in our maddened breasts were human hearts

no more, But like the spirit of a wolf hot on the scent of gore. We lighted on a dying man, they slew him where he

layHis wife, close-clinging, from the corpse they tore and

wrenched away, Then thundered in her widowed ears, with frowns and

curses grim, Food, woman-food and wine, or else we tear thee limb

from limb!”

The woman, shaking off his blood, rose, raven-haired and

tall, And our stern glances quailed before one sterner far than

all, “Both food and wine," she said, “I have. I meant them

for the dead, But ye are living still, and so let them be yours instead.” The food was brought, the wine was brought out of a

secret place, But each one paused aghast, and looked into his neigh

bour's face; Her haughty step and settled brow, and chill, indifferent

mien, Suited so strangely with the gloom and grimness of the

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She glided here, she glided there, before our wondering

eyes, Nor anger

showed nor shame, nor fear, por sorrow, nor surprise; At every step from soul to soul a nameless horror ran, And made us pale and silent as that silent murdered man. She sat and calmly soothed her child into a slumber

sweet, Calmly the bright blood on the floor crawled red around

our feet, On placid fruits and bread lay soft the shadows of the

wine, And we like marble statues glared--a chill, unmoving

line, All white, all cold, and moments thus flew by without a

breath, A company of living things where all was still—but

death. My hair rose up from roots of ice as there unnerved I

stood, And watched the only thing that stirred—the rippling of

the blood..

That woman's voice was heard at length, it broke the

solemn spell, And human fear, displacing awe, upon our spirits fell—, "Ho! slayers of the sinewless; ho! tramplers of the weak; What? shrink ye from the ghastly meats and life-bought

wine ye seek? “Feed and be gone! I wish to weep. I bring you out

my store Devour it-waste it all--and then-pass and be seen no

more.

Poison? Is that your craven fear?” She snatched a

goblet up And raised it to her queen-like head, as if to drain the

сир.

But our fierce leader grasped her wrist—“No, woman!

No!” he said, “A mother's heart of love is deep-give it your child in

stead.” She only smiled a bitter smile—“ Frenchmen, I do not

shrink: As pledge of my fidelity, behold the infant drink!” He fixed on her his proud black eye, scanning the inmost

soul, But her chill fingers trembled not as she returned the

bowl ; And we, with lightsome hardihood, dismissing idle care, Sat down to eat and drink and laugh over our dainty

fare. The laugh was loud around the board, the jesting wild

and light, But I was fevered with the march, and drank no wine

that night; I just had filled a single cup, when through my very

brain, Stung sharper than a serpent's tooth an infant's cry of

pain.

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Through all that heat of revelry, through all that boister

ous cheer, To every heart its feeble moan pierced like a frozen

spear, “ Ay," shrieked the woman, darting up, “1 pray you

trust again A widow's hospitality in our unyielding Spain.

“Helpless and hopeless, by the light of God himselt I

Swore

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To treat you as you treated himthat body on the floor; Yon secret place I filled, to feel, that if ye did not spare,

I The treasure of a dread revenge was ready hidden there. A mother's love is deep, no doubt-ye did not phrase it

illBut in your hunger you forgot that hate is deeper still ; The Spanish woman speaks for Spain ; for her butchered

love the wife; To tell you that an hour is all my vintage leaves of life.”

I cannot paint the many forms of wild despair put on, Nor count the crowded brave who sleep under a single

stone; I can but tell you how, before that horrid nour went by, I saw the murderess beneath the self-avengers die. But though upon her wrenched limbs they leaped like

beasts of prey, And with fierce hands like madmen tore the quivering

life away Triumphant hate and joyous scorn, without a trace of

pain, Burned to the last, like sullen stars, in that haughty eye

of Spain.

And often now it breaks my rest, the tumult vague and

wild, Drifting, like storm-tossed clouds, around the mother and

her child

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