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And now all's hush'd !-a certain still awes The motley crowd ; they gaze on each With a quick-meaning eye—but speech Lies stifled with a numbing fear!
A single voice appals the ear, And tells—but with a whispered breathHow
easy is an infant's death. . And that we only do fulfil laws • Given by Nature—to deny Life to the wretched things that mock Nature herself !'.
Then suddenly There ran a chill electric shock Thro' every woman there whose breast The soft lips of a babe had prest ; But she who spake—an aged croneThe mother's love had never known !
The gossip ceased ; and you might mark
The influence of her words was creeping Slowly but sure—throughout the rest. And in the pause, and thro' the dark, You heard the mother's quiet weepin
-Out rang a sharp and wailing cry From where the Twins were lain, And from their first and gentlest sleeping
They woke to earth and pain !
As snows that in some deep ravine
Lie motionless and dumb,
conquer as they come;
My children---they are mine !"
And weird, and ghast, and desolate
That sound of woman's deepest fear,
Rung on the humbled father's ear; Where, deadening thought in gloom, he sate With downcast eyes, that loathed to.see, And numb hands drooping on his knee; And, as a voice that from the skies Bids one the Grave hath housed arise, He rose : the crowd on either side Fell back; sound answered not his stride. He reach'd the cradled pair---no word, No breath, from that hush'd crowd was heard :The mother stretched her arms, but she
Read not the features from her turning, Nor dreamt that there, all visibly
His heart was to the new-born yearning.
Those parted lips forsook.
But, with a fixed and gentle look
And trembling clasp, the father took His children:—to her side he came And breathed—yet scarcely breathed-her name. But not another word he said, That whisper had exorcised Dread.
Lo! on her breast the Twins !-and there
They clung, and sought for food,
The bending mother view'd.
There stands the touched and silent Father ;
And hushed and melted round, the while,
The wondering gossips gaze and gather. And thus, our Twins were saved to flow
Thro' Time's far stream in rhyme and glory, And inch by inch together grow,
The heroes of an English story.
END OF CHAPTER I. BOOK I.