Slow passes the darkness of that trance,
And the youth now faintly sees
Huge shadows and gushes of light that dance
On a rugged ceiling of unhewn trees,
And walls where the skins of beasts are hung,
And rifles glitter on antlers strung.
On a couch of shaggy skins he lies;
As he strives to raise his head,
Hard-featured woodmen, with kindly eyes,
Come round him and smooth his furry bed
And bid him rest, for the evening star
Is scarcely set and the day is far.
They had found at eve the dreaming one
By the base of that icy steep,
When over his stiffening limbs begun
The deadly slumber of frost to creep,
And they cherished the pale and breathless form,
Till the stagnant blood ran free and warm.
The summer morn is bright and fresh, the birds are
As if they loved to breast the breeze that sweeps the cool clear sky;
Young Albert, in the forest’s edge, has heard a rustling sound,
An arrow slightly strikes his hand and falls upon the ground.
A dark-haired woman from the wood comes suddenly in
Her merry eye is full and black, her cheek is brown and bright;
Her gown is of the mid-sea blue, her belt with beads is strung,
And yet she speaks in gentle tones, and in the English tongue.
“It was an idle bolt I sent, against the villain
Fair sir, I fear it harmed thy hand; beshrew my erring bow!”
“Ah! would that bolt had not been spent! then, lady, might I wear
A lasting token on my hand of one so passing fair!”
“Thou art a flatterer like the rest, but wouldst
thou take with me
A day of hunting in the wilds, beneath the greenwood tree,
I know where most the pheasants feed, and where the red-deer herd,
And thou shouldst chase the nobler game, and I bring down the bird.”
Now Albert in her quiver lays the arrow in its place,
And wonders as he gazes on the beauty of her face:
“Those hunting-grounds are far away, and, lady, ’twere not meet
That night, amid the wilderness, should overtake thy feet.”
“Heed not the night; a summer lodge amid the
wild is mine,—
’Tis shadowed by the tulip-tree, ’tis mantled by the vine;
The wild plum sheds its yellow fruit from fragrant thickets nigh,
And flowery prairies from the door stretch till they meet the sky.
“There in the boughs that hide the roof the
mock-bird sits and sings,
And there the hang-bird’s brood within its little hammock swings;
A pebbly brook, where rustling winds among the hopples sweep,
Shall lull thee till the morning sun looks in upon thy sleep.”
Away, into the forest depths by pleasant paths they
He with his rifle on his arm, the lady with her bow,
Where cornels arch their cool dark boughs o’er beds of winter-green,
And never at his father’s door again was Albert seen.