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With farmer Allan at the farm abode
William and Dora. William was his son,
And she his niece. He often look'd at them,
And often thought “ I 'll make them man and wife.”
Now Dora felt her uncle's will in all,
And yearn’d towards William ; but the youth, because
He had been always with her in the house,
Thought not of Dora.
Then there came a day
When Allan call’d his son, and said, “ My son :
I married late, but I would wish to see
My grandchild on my knees before I die :
And I have set my heart upon a match.
Now therefore look to Dora ; she is well
To look to; thrifty too beyond her age.
She is my brother's daughter : he and I
Had once hard words, and parted, and he died
In foreign lands; but for his sake I bred
His daughter Dora : take her for your wife ;
For I have wish'd this marriage, night and day,
For many years.” But William answer'd short ;
“ I cannot marry Dora; by my life,
I will not marry Dora.” Then the old man
Was wroth, and doubled up his hands, and said :
“ You will not, boy! you dare to answer thus !
But in my time a father's word was law,
And so it shall be now for me. Look to 't;
Consider, William : take a month to think,
And let me have an answer to my wish;
Or, by the Lord that made me, you shall pack,
And nevermore darken my doors again.”
But William answer'd madly; bit his lips,
And broke away. The more he look'd at her
The less he liked her; and his ways were harsh ;
But Dora bore them meekly. Then before
The month was out he left his father's house,
And hired himself to work within the fields ;
And half in love, half spite, he woo'd and wed
A labourer's daughter, Mary Morrison.
Then, when the bells were ringing, Allan callid
His niece and said : “My girl, I love you well ;
But if you speak with him that was my son,
Or change a word with her he calls his wife,
My home is none of yours. My will is law.”
And Dora promised, being meek. She thought,
“ It cannot be : my uncle's mind will change !”
And days went on, and there was born a boy To William ; then distresses came on him ; And day by day he pass’d his father's gate, Heart-broken, and his father help'd him not. But Dora stored what little she could save, And sent it them by stealth, nor did they know Who sent it ; till at last a fever seized On William, and in harvest time he died.
Then Dora went to Mary. Mary sat And look’d with tears upon her boy, and thought Hard things of Dora. Dora came and said :
“I have obeyed my uncle until now, And I have sinn'd, for it was all thro' me This evil came on William at the first. But, Mary, for the sake of him that 's gone, And for your sake, the woman that he chose, And for this orphan, I am come to you : You know there has not been for these five years So full a harvest: let me take the boy, And I will set him in my uncle's eye Among the wheat ; that when his heart is glad Of the full harvest, he may see the boy, And bless him for the sake of him that 's gone.”
And Dora took the child, and went her way Across the wheat, and sat upon a mound That was unsown, where many poppies grew. Far off the farmer came into the field And spied her not ; for none of all his men Dare tell him Dora waited with the child ; And Dora would have risen and gone to him, But her heart fail'd her ; and the reapers reap'd, And the sun fell, and all the land was dark.
But when the morrow came, she rose and took
The child once more, and sat upon the mound;
And made a little wreath of all the flowers
That grew about, and tied it round his hat
To make him pleasing in her uncle's eye.
Then when the farmer pass'd into the field
He spied her, and he left his men at work,
And came and said ; “Where were you yesterday?
Whose child is that! What are you doing here?”
So Dora cast her eyes upon the ground,
And answer'd softly, “ This is William's child ! ”
“ And did I not,” said Allan, “ did I not
Forbid you, Dora ?” Dora said again ;
“ Do with me as you will, but take the child
And bless him for the sake of him that 's gone!”
And Allan said, “I see it is a trick
Got up betwixt you and the woman there.
I must be taught my duty, and by you !
You knew my word was law, and yet you dared
To slight it. Well—for I will take the boy ;
But go you hence, and never see me more.”
So saying, he took the boy, that cried aloud And struggled hard. The wreath of flowers fell