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Rocking beneath the cedars to and fro,
As the wind pass’d, and with a fitful glow
Lighting the victim's face : But who could tell
Of what within his secret heart befel,
Known but to Heaven that hour?
-Perchance a thought
Of his far home then so intensely wrought,
That its full image, pictured to his eye
On the dark ground of mortal agony,
Rose clear as day !-and he might see the band,
Of his young sisters wandering hand in hand,
Where the laburnums droop'd ; or haply binding
The jasmine, up the door's low pillars winding ;
Or, as day clos'd upon their gentle mirth,
Gathering with braided hair, around the hearth
Where sat their mother and that mother's face
Its grave, sweet smile yet wearing in the place
Where so it ever smiled !—Perchance the prayer
Learn'd at her knee came back on his despair !
The blessing from her voice, the very tone
Of her “Good night” might breathe from boyhood
He started and look'd up :-thick cypress boughs,
Full of strange sound, wav'd o'er him, darkly red In the broad, stormy firelight ;-savage brows,
With tall plumes crested and wild hues o'erspread,
Girt him like feverish phantoms; and pale stars
Look'd through the branches as through dungeon bars,
Shedding no hope.—He knew, he felt his doom-
Oh ! what a tale to shadow with its gloom
That happy hall in England !—Idle fear!
Would the winds tell it ?-Who might dream or hear
The secret of the forests ?- To the stake
They bound him ; and that proud young soldier strove His father's spirit in his breast to wake,
Trusting to die in silence! He, the love
Of many hearts !—the fondly rear'd,—the fair,
Gladdening all eyes to see !—And fetter'd there
He stood beside his death-pyre, and the brand
Flamed up to light it, in the chieftain's hand.
He thought upon his God.—Hush ! hark !-a cry
Breaks on the stern and dread solemnity,-
A step had pierced the ring !-Who dares intrude
On the dark hunters in their vengeful mood ?-
A girl-a young slight girl-a fawn-like child
Of green savannas and the leafy wild,
Springing unmark'd till then, as some lone flower,
Happy because the sunshine is its dower ;
Yet one tiiat knew how early tears are shed, -
For hers had mourn'd a playmate brother dead.
She had sat gazing on the victim long,
Until the pity of her soul grew strong ;
And, by its passion's deepening fervor sway'd,
Ev'n to the stake she rush'd, and gently laid
His bright head on her bosom, and around
His form her slender arms to shield it wound
Like close Lianes ; then rais'd her glittering eye
And clear-toned voice that said, “ He shall not die !"
“ He shall not die !”—the gloomy forest thrillid
To that sweet sound. A sudden wonder fell On the fierce throng; and heart and hand were stilld,
Struck down, as by the whisper of a spell. They gaz'd,—their dark souls bow'd before the maid, She of the dancing step in wood and glade! And, as her cheek flush'd through its olive hue, As her black tresses to the night-wind flew, Something o'ermaster'd them from that young mienSomething of heaven, in silence felt and seen ; And seeming, to their child-like faith, a token That the Great Spirit by her voice had spoken.
They loos’d the bonds that held their captive's breath :
From his pale lips they took the cup of death ;
They quench’d the brand beneath the cypress tree;
Away,” they cried, "young stranger, thou art free !”
Art thou then desolate?
Of friends, of hopes forsaken ?-Come to me!
I am thine own.-Have trusted hearts prov'd false ?
Flatterers deceiv'd thee? Wanderer, come to me!
Why didst thou ever leave me? Know'st thou all
I would have borne, and call’d it joy to bear,
For thy sake? Know'st thou that thy voice had power
To shake me with a thrill of happiness
By one kind tone ?—to fill mine eyes with tears
of yearning love? And thou-oh! thou didst throw
That crush'd affection back upon my heart ;--
Yet come to me!--it died not.
She knelt in prayer. A stream of sunset fell Through the stain’d window of her lonely cell, And with its rich, deep, melancholy glow Flushing her cheek and pale Madonna-brow,