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Racked, prisoned, poor, and miserable,
Thou shalt be, even as they !" Down on the floor sank Marien,
And, “Oh, dear Lord," she cried, " Assist thy poor and trembling one
This awful hour to bide ;
Like him who bowed, and died !"
The secrets who may say ?Racked, fettered, captived, in their power,
The gentle Marien lay; Captive within their torture-halls
A long night and a day!
“And all this shall be thine," they said,
“All this be thine, and more, So thou wilt bind thyself to us,
And leave the weak and poor! “Thou that art weak and poor thyself,
A crowned queen shalt be!" Said Marien, “In the wilderness
The Tempter came, and he Offered to Jesus Christ such gifts
As now ye offer me!" Those rugged brows grew dark. “Come now
With us," they fiercely said, " And see what never daylight saw,
The halls of dool and dread!"
Mysterious, far from view,
The knotted cord, the screw,
Whose dark ensanguined hue Told of their purpose, “These,” said they, “Many strange wonders do! " Look well; could'st thou endure these things ?
Strong men have died ere now
A little child art thou !"
God suffereth you to dare,
Will strengthen me to bear!"
Damp, broken stairs they went; Down, down to hidden vaults of stone,
Through vapours pestilent. And then with sullen iron keys
They opened doors of stone;
They showed her, one by one.
That had been strong of limb;
Like spectres worn and dim.
Ne'er lifted up the head ;Heart-broken victims of long pain,
Whose very hope was dead. Others with feverish restlessness
Sprang up, and with quick cry,
And her conductors spake,
The rack, the cord, the stake.
If thou our will gainsay ;
Or, on this very day,
THEN forth they brought her; gave her wine
And pleasant food to eat;
Sung syren voices sweet.
Thy fainting soul with wine ; Eat and be glad ; forget the past,
And make all pleasure thine !" “Tempt me not!" said the feeble child,
“Take hence your spicèd bowl ; Is 't not enough to rack my limbs,
But you must vex my soul ?
Look at your bloody rack;—
To my own people back.
A bruised and broken reed;
Let me go hence with speed."
But those remorseless men,
Unto their prison-den.
With iron-doors made fast, 'Mong felons and 'mong murderers,
Was gentle Marien cast. Upon the hard, cold prison-floor
Sick unto death she lay,
For many a weary day.
And of those creatures small,
That came unto her call.
And of the forest-grange;
Thus, amid blessings, prayers, and tears
About the break of day,
Upon her unknown way.
And as she thought, even as a child's,
The ceaseless tears did flow, For torturing pain and misery
llad brought her spirit low, When one from out the felon-band
Came sofily to her side,
With pitying voice, he cried.
My softened heart doth burn, And the gone tenderness of youth
Doth to my soul return.
Like unto days of heaven;
And pray to be forgiven!"
And rose up from the floor; "I was not hither brought in vain!
His mercy I adore, Who out of darkness brought forth light!"
And thus she wept no more. But ever of the Saviour taught;
How he came down to win,
The sinner from his sin.
He came, nor to the wise,
And those whom men despise.
Goes yet a louder praise
From his unrighteous ways,
Who sin not all their days. Thus with the felons she abode,
And that barred prison rude Was as if angels dwelt therein,
And not fierce men of blood; For God had her captivity
Turned into means of good. Now all this while sweet Marien's friends,
Who in the town remained, or her took painful thought, resolved
Her freedom should be gained.
With labour long and great;
Unto the city-gate.
Weeping with friendly woe,
And then to bid her go.
Nor once more see her face;
To some more friendly place.
A BOW-Shot from the city.gate
Turned Marien from the plain,
The mountain-land to gain.
Over the moorland fells;
And crimson heather-bells.
Still onward yet, and higher;
As if she could not tire.
Among the breezy hills,
Unto the singing rills. The days of her captivity,
The days of fear and pain, Were past, and now through shade and shine
She wandered free again.
Free, like the waters wild ;
Went on the blessed child.
And ever when she needed food,
Some wanderer of the hill Drew forth the morsel from his scrip,
And bade her eat her fill.
For He who fed by Cherith-brook
The prophet in his need,
Unceasingly had heed.
Some little cove she found,
As angels girt it round.
Alone, yet wanting nought,
For her no longer sought. Then forth she journeyed. Soon the hills
Were of more smooth descent; And downward now, and onward still, Toward the sea she went,
Toward the great sea for many days;
And now she heard its roar;
And now she trod the shore.
And barren wave-washed sand,
By patches on the strand.
Beside the booming sea,
Throughout the day saw she.
And as the day declined
A rose a stormy wind.
With the strong coming tide;
Closed in on every side.
With bare, unsandaled feet;
The raging tempest beat.
"In tempest, and in night:" She cried, “ Oh Lord, I trust in thee,
And thou wilt lead me right!" Now underneath a shelving bank
Of sea-driven sand, there stood
Of a poor fisher good,
Died in his arms, and he,
Casting his nets at sea.
And would be back, he said,
Arose that tempest dread.
Wherein the man was set,
With many a laden net. "Oh sorrow, sorrow!" groaned he forth,
As rose the sudden squall, Thinking upon the mother dead,
And on his children small. "Oh sorrow, sorrow!" loud he cried,
As the helm flew from his hand, And he knew the boat was sinking
But half a league from land.
Was still his wailing cry;
Now all this while the children small
Kept in their dreary place, Troubled and sad, and half afear'd
Of their dead mother's face. And when, to while the time, they played
With shells beside the door, They found they had not hearts for mirth,
And so they played no more. Yet keeping up with forced content
Their hearts as best they might,
And it was only night.
And the night tempest black
The father came not back;
To see their looks of fear -
Of counsel small to hear.
And then with better wit,
A fire of wood they lit,
And steer his boat by it.
And ere her weary feet
With eager arms to meet
And give him welcome sweet.
Had run his mortal race ;
To fill his earthly place.
Woe's me, what secret tears are shed,
What wounded spirits bleed ; What loving hearts are sundered,
And yet man takes no heed! He goeth on his daily course,
Made fat with oil and wine,
That in his bondage pine ;
That delve for him the mine.
In noisy factories dim,
Do heavy tasks for him!
Beneath his feet that lie:
And everywhere kind Christian folks
They found, as Marien said, Who gave them lodging for the night,
And gave them daily bread.
It entereth not his thoughts that God
Heareth the sufferer's groan, That in his righteous eye, their life
Is precious as his own.
Unto the fisher's shed,
Three days beside the dead.
Of barren sand, which bore
For miles along the shore.
Sped Marien, and besought
They would take Christian thought. So in the churchyard by the sea.
The senseless dead was laid : “And now what will become of us !"
The weeping children said.
“For who will give us bread to eat?
The neighbours are so poor! And he, our kinsman in the town,
Would drive us from his door.
And thus they pilgrimed, day by day,
Alone yet not cast down,
Unto the sea-port town.
Where men were all astir,
Merchant and mariner.
Far off, beyond the main;
Was in repute but gain.
About the eventide ;
They asked on every side.
An old man and a poor,
Unto the kinsman's door.
He to himself did say,
“Their kinsman !- well-a-way!" All through a labyrinth of walls
Blackened with cloudy smoke, He led them, where was heard the forge
And the strong hammer's stroke. And beneath lofty windows dim
In many a doleful row, Whence came the jangle of quick looms,
Down to the courts below. Still on the children, terrified,
With wildered spirits passed ; Until of these great mammon halls,
They reached the heart at last, A little chamber hot and dim,
With iron bars made fast.
" For he is rich and pitiless,
With heart as cold as stone! Who will be parents to us now
That ours are dead and gone ?" “ Weep not,” said faithful Marien,
“Man's heart is not so hard, But it your friendless misery
Will tenderly regard ! “And I with you will still abide
Your friendless souls to cheer, Be father and mother both to you;
for this God sent me here.
Who hath such store of gold,
His spirit stern and cold.
From earth his soul may win.
The journey will begin."
And at the break of day,
Set out upon their way. 'Mong sandy hills their way they wound;
O'er sea-grass dusk and harsh ;
Through many a salt sea-marsh.
A little loving band,
Like angels, hand in hand.
There sate the kinsman, shrunk and lean,
And leaden-eyed and old, Busied before a lighted lamp
In sealing bags of gold.
The moment that they entered in,
He clutched with pallid fear His heavy bags, as if he thought
That sudden thieves were near. « Rich man!” said Marien, “ope thy bags
And of thy gold be free, Make gladsome cheer, for Heaven hath sent
A blessing unto thee!" “What !" said the miser, " is there news Of my lost argosy ?"
"Better than gold, or merchant-ships,
Is that which thou shalt win," Said Marien, “ thine immortal soul
From its black load of sin." " Look at these children, thine own blood,"
And then their name she told;
To love them more than gold;-
To thee, a thousand-fold !"
Some gainful work may do,
I have not half enow;
Yes, child, thy words are true!"
To cast thy soul away!
Upon his reckoning day!
He sees them day and night; And as thou doest unto them,
On thee he will requite!" “Gave I not alms upon a time?"
Said he, with anger thrilled ; " And when I die, give I not gold,
A stately church to build ? “What wouldst thou more ? my flesh and blood
I seek not to gainsay.
Their labour should repay !"
He locked his bags of gold,
In accents harsh and cold.
And the sweet memory of the past,
The white sands stretching wide;
Upon the rocking tide ;
The ocean's ceaseless boom;
Within the noisy loom.
A weary life they knew;
That were of rosy hue.
Passed ever and anon;
Except to urge them on.
They worked the livelong day;
A soothing word to say :-
The long months wore away.
And the hard kinsman told
Increased the board of gold;
That more may yet be sold !"
Of children weak and poor,
Increased more and more.
The spirit of the boy
He found his chiefest joy.
On leave us not sweet Marien !''
The little children spake ; For if thou leave us here, alone,
Our wretched hearts will break.” She left them not — kind Marien!
And in a noisome room, Day after day, week after week,
They laboured at the loom. The while they thought with longing souls
Upon the breezy strand, The flying shuttles, to and fro,
Passed through each little hand. The while they thought with aching hearts,
Upon their parents dear, The growing web was watered,
With many a bitter tear.
The hardness of the kinsman's soul
Wrought on him like a spell, Exciting in his outraged heart,
Revenge and hatred fell; The will impatient to control;
The spirit to rebel. Hence was there warfare 'twixt the two,
The weak against the strong;
That could not last for long :
Against the rich man's wrong!
Was gone ; his brow was cold;
Was reckless, fierce, and bold.
Nor soothed her as she wept;