Notfar from where the hermit’s cell was placed,
Within a village dwelled a widow chaste;
Her residence was at the further end
And all her store—a daughter as a friend,
Who candour, youth, and charms supreme possessed;
And still a virgin lived, howe’er distressed.
Though if the real truth perhaps we name,
’Twas more simplicity than virtuous aim;
Not much of industry, but honest heart;
No wealth, nor lovers, who might hope impart.
In Adam’s days, when all with clothes were born,
She doubtless might like finery have worn;
A house was furnished then without expense;
For sheets or mattresses you’d no pretence;
Not e’en a bed was necessary thought
No blankets, pillowbiers, nor quilts were bought.
Those times are o’er; then Hymen came alone;
But now a lawyer in his train is shown.
Ouranchorite, in begging through the place;
This girl beheld,—but not with eyes of grace.
Said he, she’ll do, and, if thou manag’st right,
Lucius, at times, with her to pass the night.
No time he lost, his wishes to secure:
The means, we may suppose, not over pure.
Quitenear the open fields they lived, I’ve said;
An humble, boarded cottage o’er their head.
One charming night—no, I mistake ’tis plain,
Our hermit, favoured much by wind and rain,
Pierced in the boarding, where by time ’twas worn;
A hole through which he introduced a horn;
And loudly bawled:—attend to what I say,
Ye women, my commands at once obey.
This voice spread terror through the little cot;
Both hid their heads and trembled for their lot;
But still our monk his horn would sound aloud
Awake! cried he; your favour God has vowed;
My faithful servant, Lucius, haste to seek;
At early dawn go find this hermit meek
To no one say a word: ’tis Heav’n ordains;
Fear nothing, Lucius ever blessed remains;
I’ll show the way myself: your daughter place,
Good widow, with this holy man of grace;
And from their intercourse a pope shall spring,
Who back to virtue christendom will bring.
Hespoke to them so very loud and clear,
They heard, though ’neath the clothes half dead with fear.
Some time howe’er the females lay in dread;
At length the daughter ventured out her head,
And, pulling hastily her parent’s arm,
Said she, dear mother, (not suspecting harm)
Good Heav’ns! must I obey and thither go?