Charles Kingsley, Alton Locke, Tailor and Poet: Ch. 26

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I.

  "O Mary, go and call the cattle home,
      And call the cattle home,
      And call the cattle home,
    Across the sands o' Dee;"
  The western wind was wild and dank wi' foam,
    And all alone went she.

II.

  The creeping tide came up along the sand,
      And o'er and o'er the sand,
      And round and round the sand,
    As far as eye could see;
  The blinding mist came down and hid the land—
    And never home came she.

III.

  "Oh, is it weed, or fish, or floating hair—
      A tress o' golden hair,
      O' drowned maiden's hair,
    Above the nets at sea?
  Was never salmon yet that shone so fair,
    Among the stakes on Dee."

IV.

  They rowed her in across the rolling foam,
      The cruel crawling foam,
      The cruel hungry foam,
    To her grave beside the sea:
  But still the boatmen hear her call the cattle home,
    Across the sands o' Dee.

There—let it go!—it was meant as an offering for one whom it never reached.

About mid-day I took my way towards the dean's house, to thank him for his hospitality—and, I need not say, to present my offering at my idol's shrine; and as I went, I conned over a dozen complimentary speeches about Lord Ellerton's wisdom, liberality, eloquence—but behold! the shutters of the house were closed. What could be the matter? It was full ten minutes before the door was opened; and then, at last, an old woman, her eyes red with weeping, made her appearance. My thoughts flew instantly to Lillian—something must have befallen her. I gasped out her name first, and then, recollecting myself, asked for the dean.

"They had all left town that morning,"

"Miss—Miss Winnstay—is she ill?"

"No."

"Thank God!" I breathed freely again. What matter what happened to all the world beside?

"Ay, thank God, indeed; but poor Lord Ellerton was thrown from his horse last night and brought home dead. A messenger came here by six this morning, and they're all gone off to * * * *. Her ladyship's raving mad.—And no wonder." And she burst out crying afresh, and shut the door in my face.

Lord Ellerton dead! and Lillian gone too! Something whispered that I should have cause to remember that day. My heart sunk within me. When should I see her again?

That day was the 1st of June, 1845. On the 10th of April, 1848, I saw Lillian Winnstay again. Dare I write my history between those two points of time? Yes, even that must be done, for the sake of the rich who read, and the poor who suffer.