He struck a light, and breeched and booted in the
And lit the new horn-lantern and went from her sight,
And vanished down the turret; and she heard him pass the postern,
And go out into the night.
She listened as she lay, till she heard his step returning,
And his voice as he unclothed him: “’Twas nothing, as I said,
But the nor’-west wind a-blowing from the moor ath’art the river,
And the tree that taps the gurgoyle-head.”
“Nay, husband, you perplex me; for if the noise
I heard here,
Awaking me from sleep so, were but as you avow,
The rain-fall, and the wind, and the tree-bough, and the river,
Why is it silent now?
“And why is thy hand and thy clasping arm so
And thy sleeve and tags of hair so muddy and so wet,
And why feel I thy heart a-thumping every time thou kissest me,
And thy breath as if hard to get?”
He lay there in silence for a while, still quickly
Then started up and walked about the room resentfully:
“O woman, witch, whom I, in sooth, against my will have wedded,
Why castedst thou thy spells on me?
“There was one I loved once: the cry you
heard was her cry:
She came to me to-night, and her plight was passing sore,
As no woman . . . Yea, and it was e’en the cry you heard, wife,
But she will cry no more!
“And now I can’t abide thee: this
place, it hath a curse on’t,
This farmstead once a castle: I’ll get me straight away!”
He dressed this time in darkness, unspeaking, as she listened,
And went ere the dawn turned day.
They found a woman’s body at a spot called Rocky
Where the Froom stream curves amid the moorland, washed aground,
And they searched about for him, the yeoman, who had darkly known
But he could not be found.
And the bride left for good-and-all the farmstead
once a castle,
And in a county far away lives, mourns, and sleeps alone,
And thinks in windy weather that she hears a woman crying,
And sometimes an infant’s moan.
When your soft welcomings were said,
This curl was waving on your head,
And when we walked where breakers dinned
It sported in the sun and wind,
And when I had won your words of grace
It brushed and clung about my face.
Then, to abate the misery
Of absentness, you gave it me.
Where are its fellows now? Ah, they
For brightest brown have donned a gray,
And gone into a caverned ark,
Ever unopened, always dark!
Yet this one curl, untouched of time,
Beams with live brown as in its prime,
So that it seems I even could now
Restore it to the living brow
By bearing down the western road
Till I had reached your old abode.