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{White Rose and Red 1873}





BACK in a swoon, with haggard face,
Falleth the woman of wild race,
Dumb, cold as stone, her weary eyes
Fix’d as in very death she lies—
While little Phœbe trembling stands,
Wetting her lips, chafing her hands,
Trembling, almost afraid to stir
For wonder, as she looks at her:
So weird, so wild a shape, she seems
Like some sad spirit seen in dreams;
Beauteous of face beyond belief,
And yet so worn with want and grief.

The clock ticks low within. Without
The wind still wanders with shrill shout.
The cuckoo strikes the hour—midnight!                                      193
And Phœbe starteth in affright.

“O what can keep Eureka still?”
She thinks, and listens with a thrill
For his foot’s sound. It doth not come.
The clock ticks low. All else is dumb.
And still the woman lieth there,
Down drooping in the great arm-chair,
With hanging hands, chin on her breast,
And ’neath her cloak the babe at rest.
She doth not breathe, she doth not moan.
But lieth like a thing of stone.
“O God,” thinks Phœbe, deadly white,
“If she be dead!” and faint with fright,
Chafeth the fingers marble cold
That seem to stiffen in her hold.
She cannot stir, she cannot move,
To wake the maids who sleep above;
Her heart is fluttering in its fear,                                                     194
“Eureka! O that he were here!”

[He hurries not! Perchance some sense
Of danger may detain him hence.
He would not hasten, if he knew
The curious sight he has to view.
Few mortal husbands, red or white,
Would care to wear his shoes this night.]

“What can she be?” thinks little Phœbe,
“Some Indian tramp—a beggar maybe—
And yet she’s got a different mien
To such of these as I have seen.
Her face is like a babe’s—she’s young,
And she can speak no other tongue
Than Indian. When she spoke her words
Came like the gurgling notes of birds.
Poor thing! and out on such a night,
When all the world is wild and white
With the Great Snow. And O, to see                                           195
The little babe upon her knee!
I wonder now, if I should take it
From her cold bosom, I should wake it—
Poor little child!” And as she spake
Those words she saw the baby wake,
Sweet-smiling in the fire’s red streaks,
With beaded eyes and rosy cheeks.
Then Phœbe started. “Why,” thought she,
“The babe is near as fair as me!
With just one dark flush on its face
To show the taint of Indian race.
That’s strange! Poor little outcast mite!
I guess his father’s skin is white.”
Then, for a moment, Phœbe’s mien
Wore an expression icy-keen,
As now in scrutiny amazed
The sleeping woman’s hand she raised,
And dropt it quickly, murmuring—
“She is no wife! she wears no ring!”
So for a space her features took                                                   196
Pure matronhood’s Medusa-look,—
That look, so pitiless and lawful,
Which oft makes little women awful;
And which weak women, when they fall,
Dread in their sisters worst of all!
But bless thee, Phœbe, soon the child
Soften’d thy face and made it mild;
To see it lie so bright and pretty,
Thy woman’s eyes were moist for pity,
And soon thy tears began to flow—
“Poor soul! and out in the Great Snow!”

E’en as she spake the stranger stirr’d.

The cold lips trembled with no word.
The fingers quiver’d, the great eyes
Open’d in stupefied surprise,
A deep sigh tore her lips apart,
And with a thickly-throbbing heart
She gazed around. The ruddy light,                                               197
The cosy kitchen warm and bright,
The clock’s great shining face, the human
Soft kindly eyes of the white woman,
Came like a dream—her eyes she closed
A moment with a moan, and dozed.
Then suddenly her soul was ’ware
Of the wild quest that brought her there!
She open’d eyes—a flush of red
Flash’d to her cheeks so chill and dead—
She murmur’d quick with quivering lips,
And, trembling to the finger tips,
Thrust her chill hand into her breast,
Under the ragged cloak, in quest
Of something precious hidden there!—
’Tis safe,—she draws it forth with care;
A wretched paper, torn and wet,
     Thumb-mark’d with touch of many a hand,
’Tis there—’tis safe—she has it yet,
Her heart’s sole guide, the amulet,
     That led her lone feet thro’ the land!
But first, unto her lips of ice                                                          198
She holds it eagerly, and thrice
She kisses it; then, with wild eyes
And unintelligible cries,
Holds it to Phœbe. “Read!” cries she,
In her own tongue, distractedly;
And little Phœbe understands,
And takes the paper in her hands,
And on the hearth she stoopeth low,
To read it in the firelight glow.

Now courage, Phœbe! steel thy spirit!
A blow is coming—thou must bear it!

Slowly, so vilely it is writ,
Her unskill’d eyes decipher it;
So worn it is with snow and rain,
That scarce a letter now is plain,
And every red and ragged mark
Is smudged with handling, dim, and dark.

“E-U-R-E”—in letters blurr’d                                                     199
She spells. “Eureka!” that’s the word.
But why does little Phœbe start
As she reads on? “Eureka Hart”—                                             [l.iv]
His name, her husband’s name; and now
The red blood flames on cheek and brow!
She stops—she quivers—glares wild-eyed
At the red woman at her side,
Who watches her with one sick gaze
Of wild entreaty and amaze:
Then she spells on—her features turn
To marble, though her bright eyes burn,
For all the bitter truth grows plain.


First lightning flash of fierce surprise!
It burns her cheek, and blinds her eyes
Again she looks on the strange creature’s
Tall, ragged form and beauteous features.
Next lightning flash, and muffled thunder—                                   200
“The baby’s skin is white—no wonder!”
And she perceives, as plain as may be,
All the event—down to the baby!
Last flash, the whole dark mystery lighting,—
“Why, it’s Eureka’s own handwriting!”

     Ay, little wife!—and these dim stains
Are life-blood from Eureka’s veins;
In blood the words were writ by him,
And see! how faded and how dim!

The woman took her hand. She shook
The touch away with tiger-look,
And trembling gazed upon her. So
She stagger’d underneath the blow,
Watch’d by the stranger’s luminous eyes
In mingled stupor and surprise;
Ah! little did the stranger guess
The situation’s bitterness,
But in her own wild tongue did say,                                              201
“Where is my love? show me the way!”

A hand upon the latch. Both start,—
     The door swings wide—the drift sweeps in.
Footsteps: and lo! Eurcka Hart,
     Snow-cover’d, muffled to the chin.


Alterations in the 1901 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan:
Page 199, l. iv: As she reads on? ‘Eureka Hart!’— ]





WARMLY muffled to the chin there,
     Blind with snow-drift, stamping, waiting,
Dazzled by the light within there,
     Stood the giant oscillating.
Then he closed the door, and turning
     His great back against it, smiled!
Slightly tipsy, not discerning
     The red woman and her child.
By the great eyes dimly blinking,
     Feebly leering at his mate,
Phœbe saw he had been drinking,
     While he hiccup’d, “Guess I’m late!”
So he stood; when, wildly ringing,
     Rose a scream upon the air,
’Twas the Indian woman, springing,                                             203
     Gasping, gazing, from her chair.

Round her face the black hair raining,
To her heart the baby straining,
Gasping, gazing, half believing
’Twas some phantom soul-deceiving,
Bound as by a spell she linger’d,
Pointing at him fiery-finger’d;
And the giant mighty-jointed,
Groan’d and stagger’d as she pointed,
Thinking, while his heart beat quicker,
’Twas some phantom born of liquor! . . .
While he rubb’d his eyes and mutter’d,
     While he roll’d his eyes distress’d,
O’er the floor a thin form flutter’d,
     Cried, and sank upon his breast!

Phœbe screams. Stagger’d and blinded,
Stands the creature beaver-minded,
While upon his heart reposes                                                     204
Cheeks he knows full well—Red Rose’s!
Half repulsing and half holding,
While her arms are round him folding,
Gaunt he stands in pain afflicted,
An impostor self-convicted!
While her great eyes, upward-looking,
Not reproaching, not rebuking,
Trusting, loving, lustre-pouring,
Happy now, and still adoring,
Burn on his; and her dark passion
Masters her in the old fashion,
Thrills the frail thin figure, burning
With a lightning flash of yearning,
Lights the worn cheeks and the faded
Forehead with her dark locks shaded,
Thrills, transfigures, seems to lend her
All the soul of her old splendour;—
So that all the rags upon her,
All the anguish and dishonour,
All the weary days of wandering,                                                 205
All the weeping, plaining, pondering,
All the sorrow, all the striving
Ne’er a man could face surviving,
All the Past, burns iridescent
In one Rainbow of the Present.
See! she feasts on every feature
Madly, like a famish’d creature,
Reads each line in rapture, reeling
With the frantic bliss of feeling;
Kindling now her arms are round him,
Murmuring madly, she hath found him,
He is folded close unto her,
And the bliss of God thrills thro’ her!

Her white Chief, whom God had brought her
From the shining Big Sea Water,
Her great Chief of the pale races,
With wise tongues and paintless faces!
More than mortal in her seeing,                                                    206
Glorious, grand, a god-like being!
Nor, tho’ Phœbe stands there, looking
Most distractedly rebuking,
Doth this child of the red nation
Comprehend the situation!
Not a thought hath she to move her,
Save that all the quest is over!
He is living, he is near her,
Grander, greater, braver, dearer!
No reproach in her fixed gaze is
While her eyes to his she raises—
Only hungering and thirsting
Of a heart with pleasure bursting;
Only a supreme sensation
Of ecstatic admiration,
Melting in one soul-flush splendid
Years of heart-ache past and ended.

Her white Warrior, her fair Master!
Hers, all hers, despite disaster!
Hers, her own, that she may cry for,                                             207
Cling to, smile to, trust in, die for!
Is she blind? Hath the glad wonder
Struck her to the soul and stunn’d her?
Sees she not on every feature
The sick horror of the creature?
Sober now, and looking ghastly,
Trembling while his breath comes fastly,
With the cold sweat on his forehead,
Shrinking as from something horrid,
Paralyzed with guilt, despairing,
Not at her but Phœbe glaring,
Speechless, helpless, and aghast,
Stands the giant, pinion’d fast.

Yes, her eyes are blindly gleaming
Thro’ the warm tears wildly streaming—
Yes, her soul is blind (God guide her!);
Hunger, thirst, and grief have tried her,
She is feeble, not perceiving
Cause for bitterness or grieving;
She is foolish, never guessing                                                       208
That her visit is distressing,
She is mad, mad, mad, presuming
He has waited for her coming!

No, she will not see the horror
Fate hath been preparing for her—
All the little strength remaining
She will wildly spend in straining,
In a rapturous confusion,
To her breast the old delusion.
Hark! her lips speak, words are springing
Like the notes of a bird singing,
Like a fountain sunward throbbing
With a silvern song of sobbing;
Not a word is clear, but all
Rise in rapture, blend, and fall!

Suddenly the rapture falters,
Her hands loosen, her face alters,
Drawing from him softly, quickly,                                                  209
While he staggers white and sickly,
She, with grace beyond all beauty,
     Doth her ragged cloak unloose,
Then, with looks of loving duty,
     Shows Eureka—the papoose!

Tiny, pink-cheek’d, blushing brightly,
Like a mummy roll’d up tightly;
Puffing cheeks, and fat hands spreaning                                        [note]
In an ecstasy unmeaning;
Blinking, his pink cheeks in gathers,
With blue eyes just like his father’s!
In his pretty face already
Just the image of his daddy!
Stolid, stretching hands to pat him,
Lies the baby, smiling at him!

Still stands little Phœbe, panting,
This, and only this, was wanting;
Now, with all her courage rallied,                                                 210
She between them—panting, pallid—
Stands; and, keen-eyed as an eagle,
     Tho’ as fluttering as a linnet,
Folds her virtue, like a regal
     Robe, around her; frowning in it.
Yet so wildly doth she flutter,
Not a sentence can she utter;
Stately, speechless, with eyes blazing,
Stands the little White Rose, gazing!

Suddenly, with acclamation,
On that group of desperation
Bursts the Storm!—With one wild rattle
Of the elements at battle,
With one horrid roar and yelling,
Tearing, tugging at the dwelling,
Strikes the Wind; the latch is lifted,
     With a crash wide swings the door;
In the blinding Snow is drifted,
     With a melancholy roar!
’Tis the elements of Nature                                                          211
Flocking round the weary creature,
Crying to her, while they blind her,
“Come to us! for we are kinder!
Cross the cruel, fatal portal
Of the miserable mortal;
Come, our hands are cold but loving!
Back into the midnight moving,
In some spot of silence creeping,
Find a quiet place for sleeping.
We, the Winds, will dig it straightway,
Far beyond the white man’s gateway.
I, the Snow, will place above it
My soft cheek, and never move it;
With my beauty, white and chilly,
Lying o’er thee like a lily,
Dress’d for sleep in snowy clothing
Thou shalt slumber, hearing nothing.
We will freeze thine ears from hearing
His hard foot when it is nearing;
We will close thine eyes from conning                                          212 [l.i]
His that look upon thee shunning.
We will keep thee, we will guard thee,
Till the kiss of God reward thee.
Come, O come!” Thus, unavailing,
Sounds the elemental wailing.

Peace, O Winds, your weary voices
Teach her nothing: she rejoices!
Hush, O Snow, let your chill hands not
Touch her cheek; she understands not!
Hush! But God, who is that other,
     Standing beckoning unto her?
Winds and Snows, ’tis your pale brother,
     And his chilly breath thrills thro’ her.
Ay, the Shadow there is looming
Thro’ the tempest and the glooming!
O’er each path her feet have chosen—
Mountains, valleys, rivers frozen;
Creeping near, with eyes that glisten,                                             213
When her cold foot flagg’d, to listen;
As a bloodhound, ever flitting,
Night-time, day-time, never quitting;
Sure of scent, with thin foot trailing
In the snowdrift, never failing,
He has follow’d, follow’d slow,
That red footprint in the Snow!
Now he finds her white and wan,—
’Tis the Winter, Peboan.                                                             [note]

Spare her! Who would bid him spare her?
Let him trance her and upbear her
In his arms, and softly place her
Where no cruel foot can trace her.
Let her die! See, his eyes con her,
And his icy hand is on her;
Thro’ her form runs the quick shiver,
Light as leaves her eyelids quiver,
And with quick, spasmodic touches,                                             214
The belovèd form she clutches;
From the cruelty of man,
Take her gently, Peboan!

Phœbe shivers. To her reaching,
With an agony beseeching,
Red Rose holds the babe; one moment,
With a shrug of bitter comment,
Phœbe shrinks; then, being human,
     Frighten’d, thinking Death is there,
Quietly the little woman
     Takes the burden unaware.
Not a breath too soon; for, rocking
     In the roaring of the storm,
With the snow flakes round her flocking,
     And the wild wind round her form,
With a cry of anguish, prone
Falls the wanderer, cold as stone!


Alterations in the 1901 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan:
Page 212, l. i: We will close thine ears from conning ]


                                                                                                                                                           215 [note]



O POOR Red Rose! rent by the storm!
The flame still flickered in her form.

Moveless she lay; but in her breast
The tumult was not quite at rest.

They raised her up, and, with soft tread,
They bore her slowly to a bed.

And little Phœbe’s heart did ache,
Despite her wrongs, for pity’s sake;

And little Phœbe’s own kind hands
(God bless them!) loosed the wand’rer’s bands,

Took softly off the dripping dress,                                                216
With eyes that wept for kindliness,

Wrung the wet hair, and smoothed it right,
And clad the Red Rose all in white.

There, all in white, on a white bed,
The Red Rose hung her heavy head.

Around her was a roar, a gleam,
And she was struggling in a dream.

Faces round her went and came,
Her great eyes flash’d with fading flame.

For all the time, fever’d and sore,
She did her journey yet once more;

Once again her Soul’s feet trod
The pathless wild, the weary road;

Once again she sail’d along                                                          217
The mighty meres and rivers strong;

Once again, with weary tread,
She stagger’d on, and begged her bread;

Once again she falter’d slow
Into the realm of the Great Snow.

Oh, the roaring in her brain!
Oh, the wild winds that moan again!

Against her, as she clasps her child,
The hail is driven, the drift is piled.

She sees a light that shines afar;
It beckons her—a hand, a Star.

She hears a voice afar away;
It calls to her; she must not stay.

Around her clouds of tempest roll,                                               218
And, oh! the storm within her soul!

But now and then, amid the snow,
There comes a silence and a glow;

And white she lies, in a white room,
And some one watches in the gloom.

Close by the bed where she doth rest,
Sits, with the babe upon her breast,

A little woman, waiting there,
Despite her wrongs, so kind, so fair!

E’en as she wakens, wild and weak,
Red Rose sits up, and tries to speak,

And reaching out, with a thin moan,
She takes a white hand in her own;

But swoons once more, and hears again                                        219
The tempest roaring in her brain!

Now as she dreams, with fever’d cries,
Phœbe looks on with quiet eyes;

And Phœbe and her maidens go
Softly and lightly to and fro.

Down-stairs by the great fire of wood,
Alone, Eureka Hart doth brood;

And when his little wife descends
He scowls, and eyes his finger-ends.

She scarcely looks into his face,
But orders him about the place;

And at her will he flies full meek,
With red confusion on his cheek.

Her eyes are swoll’n with tears; to him                                          220
Her face is pitiless and grim.

But as she reascends the stairs
Her pale cheek flushes unawares.

In pity half, and half in scorn,
She sees again that shape forlorn.

She cannot love her; yet her heart
Flutters, and takes the wand’rer’s part.

Her thoughts are angry, weak and wild,
Yet carefully she tends the child.

Often she prays, with heart astir,
The white man’s God to strengthen her.

And thus, despite her heart’s distress,
She doth a deed of blessedness.

Silent for days by that bedside                                                      221
She waiteth, watching, weary-eyed:

Not all alone; by her unseen,
Sitteth another, strange of mien.

He squatteth in the corner there,
And looketh on through his thin hair.

Clad in fantastic Indian weeds,
With calumet and skirt of beads,

Gaunt, haggard, hungry, woebegone,
Waiteth Pauguk, the Skeleton! 

For wintry Peboan hath fled,
Leaving this shadow in his stead.

And there he waits, unseen, unheard;
And as a serpent on a bird

Fixeth his glittering gaze, Pauguk
Watcheth the bed with hungry look.





A SOUND of streamlets flowing, flowing;
A cry of winds so bleakly blowing;
A stir, a tumult ever growing;
Deep night; and the Great Snow was going.

Underneath her death-shroud thick,
Like a body buried quick,
Heaved the Earth, and thrusting hands
Crack’d the ice and brake her bands.
Heaven, with face of watery woe,
Watched the resurrection grow.
All the night, bent to be free,
In a sickening agony,
Struggled Earth. With silent tread                                                 223
From his cold seat at her head
Rose the Frost, and northward stole
To his cavern near the pole.
When the bloodshot eyes of Morn
Opened in the east forlorn,
’Twas a dreary sight to see
Blotted waste and watery lea,
All the beautiful white plains
Blurr’d with black’ning seams and stains,
All the sides of every hill
Scarr’d with thaw and dripping chill,
All the cold sky scowling black
O’er the soaking country track;
There a sobbing everywhere
In the miserable air,
And a thick fog brooding low
O’er the black trail of the snow;
While the Earth, amid the gloom
Still half buried in her tomb,
Swooning lay, and could not rise,                                                224
With dark film upon her eyes.

In the farmhouse (where a light
Glimmer’d feebly day and night
From the sick-room) Red Rose heard
Earth’s awakening, and stirr’d,
Gazed around her, and descried
Phœbe sitting at her side,
Knitting, while the little child,
Sleeping on the pillow, smiled.
Little Phœbe’s face was still,
Calm with quiet strength and will.
And the lamplight round her flitted
Faintly, feebly, as she knitted.
Full confession had she brought
From Eureka’s soul distraught.
What he hid, in desperation,
She supplied, by penetration.
So she traced from the beginning                                                 225
All the story of the sinning.
Had her spirit felt perchance
Just a little more romance;
Had the giant in her sight
Seem’d a paragon more bright;
Had the married love she bore
Been a very little more—
Why, perchance poor Phœbe’s heart
Might have taken the man’s part,
Heaping fiercely, as is common,
All its hate upon the woman.
Not so Phœbe! cold and pale
Did she listen to the tale;
Ne’er relenting, scarcely heeding,
Heard the man’s excusing, pleading;
Felt her blood boil, and her face
Crimson for a moment’s space,
Thinking darkly, in dismay,
“What will Parson Pendon say?”
But at last the little soul                                                                226
Back to the sick chamber stole;
Saw the wanderer lying there,
Wildly, marvellously fair;
Saw the little baby too
Blinking with big eyes of blue;
And she murmured, with a sigh,
“She’s deceived, as well as I.
Hers is far the bitterest blow,
’Cause she seems to love him so.”
So thought Phœbe, calmly sitting
By the bedside at her knitting,
While the fog hung thick and low
O’er the black trail of the Snow.

Thus she did her duty there,
Tending with a bitter care
Her sick rival; spite her pain,
Able, with a woman’s brain,
To discern as clear as day
On whose side the sinning lay;                                                     227
Able to compassionate
Her deluded rival’s fate,
All the weariness and care
Of the fatal journey there;
Able to acknowledge (this
Far the most amazing is)
On how dull and mean a thing
Wasted was this passioning;
On how commonplace a chance
Hung the wanderer’s romance;
Round how mere a Log did twine
The wild tendrils of this vine.

Screen’d thus from the wintry blast,
Droopt the Red Rose, fading fast;
While the White Rose, hanging near,
Trembled in a pensive fear.
So the snow had nearly fled,
And upon her dying bed
Earth was quick’ning; damp and chill                                           228
Streamed the fog on vale and hill.
Like a slimy crocodile
Weltering on banks o’ Nile,
Everywhere, with muddy maw,
Crawl’d the miserable Thaw.
On the pond and on the stream
Loosen’d lights began to gleam,
And before the snow could fleet
Drizzly rains began to beat.

Here and there upon the plain,
’Mid the pools of thaw and rain,
Linger’d in the dismal light
Patches of unmelted white.
As these melted, very slowly,
In a quiet melancholy,
Vacant gleams o’ the clouded blue
Through the dismal daylight flew,
And the wind, with a shrill clang,
Went into the west, and sang.

     A sound of waters ever flowing;                                             229
A stir, a tumult, ever growing;
A gleam o’ the blue, a west wind blowing;
Warmth, and the last snow wreath was going.

Not alone! ah! not alone!

Waking up with fever’d moan,
Red Rose started and looked round,
Listening for a voice, a sound,
And the skeleton, Pauguk,
Crouching silent in his nook,
Panted, like a famish’d thing,
In the very act to spring.

’Twas at sunset; on the bed
Crimson shafts of light were shed,
And the face, famish’d and thin,
Flash’d to sickly flame therein,
While the eyes, with fevered glare,
Sought a face they saw not there.
Then she moan’d, and with a cry,                                                 230
Beckoning little Phœbe nigh,
Whisper’d; but the words she said
Perish’d uninterpreted.
Still, in bitterest distress,
Clinging to poor Phœbe’s dress,
With wild gestures, she in vain
Tried to make her meaning plain.
Then did little Phœbe see
How the face changed suddenly!
For invisible Pauguk,
Creeping swiftly from his nook,
Stood erect, and hung the head
O’er the woman on the bed.
Still the woman, glaring round,
Listen’d for a voice, a sound,
Crying wildly o’er and o’er,
With her great eyes on the door.

Pale, affrighted, and aghast,
Phœbe understood at last—
Knew the weary wanderer cried                                                  231
To behold him ere she died;
So, without a word of blame,
Phœbe called him, and he came.

The sun was set, the night was growing,
Softly the wind o’ the west was blowing,
The gates of heaven were overflowing;
With the last snow Red Rose was going.





TO the bedside, white and quaking,
     Came Eureka, with a groan,
Conscience-stricken now, and taking
     Her thin hand into his own.
At the touch she kindled, rallied,
     With a look of gentle grace;
Clung about him deathly pallid,
     And, uplooking in his face,
Smiled! Ah, God! that smile of parting
From her soul’s dim depths upstarting!
’Twas a smile of awful beauty,
Full of fatal love and duty;
Such a smile as haunts for ever                                                    233
Any being but a beaver.
Ev’n Eureka’s stolid spirit
Was half agonized to bear it.
Smiling thus, and softly crooning
     Words he could not understand,
Sank she on the pillow, swooning,
     Clutching still her hero’s hand.

Silent Spirits, shapes that love her,
Is she resting? is all over?
Nay; for while Eureka, quaking,
     Heart-sick, soul-sick to behold her,
From the bed her worn form taking,
     Leans her head upon his shoulder;
Once again, the spirit flying,
     With a last expiring ray,
Waves a message, dimly dying,
     From its tenement of clay.
Those great eyes upon him looking.
Not reproaching, not rebuking,
Brighten into bliss—perceiving                                                     234
Nought of shame or of deceiving:
Only for the last time seeing
Her great Chief, a god-like being;
Only happy, all at rest,
To be dying—on his breast.

See! her hand points upward, slowly,
With an awful grace and holy,
And her eyes are saying clearly,
“Master, lord, beloved so dearly,
We shall meet, with souls grown fonder,
In God’s happy prairies yonder;
Where no Snow falls; where, for ever,
Flows the shining Milky River,
On whose banks, divinely glowing,
Shapes like ours are coming, going,
In the happy star-dew moving,
Silent, smiling, loved, and loving!
Fare thee well, till then, my Master!”
Hark, her breath comes fainter, faster,                                          235
While, in love man cannot measure,
     Kissing her white warrior’s hand,
She sinks, with one great smile of pleasure—
     Last flash upon the blackening brand!








IN a dark corner of the burial-place,
Where sleep apart the creatures of red race,
Red Rose was laid, cold, beautiful, and dead,
With all the great white Snow above her bed.
And soon the tiny partner of her quest,
The little babe, was laid upon her breast;
For, though the heart of Phœbe had been kind,
And sought to save the infant left behind,
It wither’d when the mother’s kiss withdrew—
The Red Rose faded, and the Blossom too.
There sleeps their dust, but ’neath another sky,
More kind than this, their Spirits sleeping lie.

Sleeping, or waking? There, with eyes tear-wet,
Is her soul homeless? doth she wander yet,
Silent by those still pathways, with bent head,                              240
Still listening, listening, for her warrior’s tread?
It came not, comes not—tho’ the ages roll,
Still with that life-long hunger in her soul,
She must wait on, and thousand others too,
If waking Immortality be true.
But, no; God giveth his belovèd sleep;
Rose of the wilderness, may thine be deep!
Not near the white man’s happy Death-domains,
But in the red man’s mighty hunting-plains;
Amid the harmless shades of flocks and herds,
Amid the hum of bees, the song of birds,
With fields and woods all round, and skies above
Dark as thine eyes, and deathless as thy love!

Here ends my tale; what further should I state?
Save that poor Phœbe soon forgave her mate,
As small white wives forgive; with words outspoken
The peace was patch’d almost as soon as broken;
For Phœbe argued, after a good cry,                                            241
“’Tis a bad job; but break my heart—not I!
All the men do it—that’s a fact confess’d,
And my great stupid’s only like the rest.
But what’s the good of fretting more than need?
I’ve got the cows to mind, the hens to feed.
I ’spose it’s dreadful, but ’tis less a sin
Than if the wench had a white woman’s skin!”
Oft at his head her mocking shafts she aim’d,
While by the hearth he hung the head ashamed,
Pricking his moral hide right thro’ and thro’,
As virtuous little wives so well can do,
Till out he swagger’d, cursing, sorely hit,
And puzzled by the little woman’s wit.
Indeed, for seasons of domestic strife,
She kept this rod in pickle all her life.

As for Eureka, why, he felt, of course,
Some conscience-prick, some tremor of remorse,
Not deep enough to cause him many groans,
Or keep the fat from growing on his bones.                                 242
He throve, he prosper’d, was esteem’d by all,—
At fifty, he was broad as he was tall;
Loved much his pipe and glass, and at the inn
Spake oft—an oracle of double chin.
Did he forget her? Never! Often, while
He sat and puff’d his pipe with easy smile,
Surveying fields and orchards from the porch,
And far away the little village church,
While all seem’d peaceful—earth, and air, and sky,—
A twinkle came into his fish-like eye;
“Poor critter!” sigh’d he, as a cloud he blew,
“She was a splendid figure, and that’s true!”





P. 209.
“Puffing cheeks and fat hands spreaning.”

     The Printer’s Devil queries this, but he does not know the Old Poets. See (e.g.) Michael Drayton’s “Moses’ Birth and Miracles”—“And spreans the pretty hands.”                                                                                  [back]

P. 213.
“’Tis the Winter, Peboan.”

     See the American-Indian Mythology. “Peboan” is the personification of extreme Cold.                     [back]

P. 215.
“Pauguk, the Skeleton.”

     In the same mythology, Pauguk is, as represented in the poem, the Indian spirit of DEATH.                [back]






[Note: This page is followed by the rest of the Testimonies as reprinted in the 1896 edition of St. Abe and His Seven Wives, available here.]


[Note: This page is followed by the rest of the Press Opinions as reprinted in the 1896 edition of St. Abe and His Seven Wives, available here.]



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