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The ancient house of Erlingford
Stood in a fair domain,
Rolled through the fertile plain.
And often the way-faring man
Would love to linger there, Forgetful of his onward road,
To gaze on scenes so fair.
But never could Lord William dare
To gaze on Severn's stream ;
He heard young Edmund's scream !
In vain at midnight's silent hour,
Sleep closed the murderer's eyes, In every dream the murderer saw
Young Edmund's form arise !
In vain by restless conscience driven
Lord William left his home, Far from the scenes that saw his guilt,
In pilgrimage to roam ;
To other climes the pilgrim fled,
But could not fly despair ; He sought his home again, but peace
Was still a stranger there.
Slow were the passing hours, yet swift
The months appeared to roll ; And now the day returned that shook
With terror William's soul.
A day that William never felt
Return without dismay,
Young Edmund's dying day.
A fearful day was that! the rains
Fell fast with tempest roar,
Far on the level shore.
In vain Lord William sought the feast,
In vain he quaffed the bowl,
The anguish of his soul.
The tempest, as its sudden swell
In gusty howlings came, With cold and death-like feelings seemed
To thrill his shuddering frame. Reluctant now, as night came on,
His lonely couch he pressed ;
To sleep-but not to rest.
Lord Edmund seemed to stand,
He grasped his brother's hand;
Such and so pale his face as when
With faint and faltering tongue, To William's care, a dying charge,
He left his orphan son.
“I bade thee with a father's love
My orphan Edmund guard ;-
Now, take thy due reward.”
With agonising fear;
'Twas music to his ear.
When, lo! the voice of loud alarm
His inmost soul appals ;
The water saps thy walls !”
He saw the flood appear;
No human aid was near.
He heard a shout of joy! for now
A boat approached the wall And eager to the welcome aid ;
They crowd for safety all.
“My boat is small,” the boatman cried,
6 'Twill bear but one away ; Come in, Lord William, and do ye
In God's protection stay."
Strange feelings filled them at his voice
Even in that hour of woe,
Who wished with him to go.
But William leapt into the boat,
His terror was so sore; “ Thou shalt have half my gold,” he cried,
“Haste, haste to yonder shore."
The boatman plied the oar, the boat
Went light along the stream ; Sudden Lord William heard a cry
Like Edmund's drowning scream. The boatman paused, “Methought I heard
A child's distressful cry!” 6 'Twas but the howling wind of night,”
Lord William made reply.
“Haste-haste-ply swift and strong the oar;
Haste-haste across the stream !” Again Lord William heard a cry
Like Edmund's drowning scream!
I heard a child's distressful scream,”
The boatman cried again. “Nay, hasten on-the night is dark
And we should search in vain."
“O God! Lord William, dost thou know
How dreadful 'tis to die ?
A child's expiring cry?
Beneath the closing stream,
In vain for help to scream !”
The shriek again was heard : it came
More deep, more piercing loud; That instant o'er the flood the moon
Shone through a broken cloud ;
And near them they beheld a child;
Upon a crag he stood,
Was spread the rising flood.
The boatman plied the oar, the boat
Approached his resting-place;
And showed how pale his face.
“Now reach thy hand,” the boatman cried,
“ Lord William, reach and save !" The child stretched forth his little hands,
To grasp the hand he gave.
Then William shrieked : the hands he felt
Were cold and damp and dead !
A heavier weight than lead !
The boat sunk down the murderer sunk
Beneath the avenging stream ;
Heard William's drowning scream.
THERE was a sound of revelry by night,
looked love to eyes which spake again, And all went merry as a marriage-bell ; But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell!
Did ye not hear it ?— No; 'twas but the wind,
And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before !