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Seven days she lurked in brake and field,
Seven nights her course renewed, Sustained by what her scrip might yield,
Or berries of the wood;
When lowly doors were shut,
Her Foster-mother's hut.
“To put your love to dangerous proof
I come,” said she, “from far;
In terror of the Czar."
No second look she cast,
Embracing and embraced.
She led the Lady to a seat
Beside the glimmering fire, Bathed duteously her wayworn feet,
Prevented each desire :-
And on that simple bed,
When she, whose couch had been the sod,
Whose curtain, pine or thorn,
Who comforts the forlorn;
While over her the Matron bent
Sleep sealed her eyes, and stole Feeling from limbs with travel spent,
And trouble from the soul.
Refreshed, the Wanderer rose at morn,
And soon again was dight
Through long and perilous flight;
“My thanks with silent tears Have unto Heaven and You been paid :
Now listen to my fears!
“Have you forgot”—and here she smiled
“The babbling flatteries
Disporting round your knees ?
Your star, your gem, your flower;
In many a cloudless hour!
“The blossom you so fondly praised
Is come to bitter fruit;
I spurned his lawless suit,
You, Foster-father dear,
may not tarry here!
“I cannot bring to utter woe
Your proved fidelity.”“Dear Child, sweet Mistress, say not so!
For you we both would die.” “Nay, nay, I come with semblance feigned
And cheek embrowned by art; Yet, being inwardly unstained,
With courage will depart.”
“ But whither would
flee? A poor
Man's counsel take; The Holy Virgin gives to me
A thought for your dear sake; Rest, shielded by our Lady's grace, And soon shall
be led Forth to a safe abiding-place,
Where never foot doth tread.”
The dwelling of this faithful pair
In a straggling village stood, For One who breathed unquiet air
A dangerous neighbourhood; But wide around lay forest ground
With thickets rough and blind; And pine-trees made a heavy shade
Impervious to the wind.
And there, sequestered from the sight,
Was spread a treacherous swamp,
As from a lonely lamp ;
A single Island rose
Adorned, and shady boughs.
The Woodman knew, for such the craft
This Russian vassal plied,
Of archer, there was tried ;
From all intrusion free;
For perfect secrecy.
With earnest pains unchecked by dread
Of Power's far-stretching hand, The bold good Man his labour sped
At nature's pure command;
While, in a hollow nook,
Above a murmuring brook.
His task accomplished to his mind,
The twain ere break of day Creep forth, and through the forest wind
Their solitary way;
Few words they speak, nor dare to slack Their pace
from mile to mile, Till they have crossed the quaking marsh,
And reached the lonely Isle.
The sun above the pine-trees showed
A bright and cheerful face; And Ina looked for her abode,
The promised hiding-place; She sought in vain, the Woodman smiled;
No threshold could be seen, Nor roof, nor window;-all seemed wild
As it had ever been.
Advancing, you might guess an hour,
The front with such nice care
But in they entered are;
With branches intertwined,
And delicately lined:
And hearth was there, and maple dish,
cups in seemly rows, And couch—all ready to a wish
For nurture or repose;
abide In solitude, with every want
By cautious love supplied.