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Crawford, Isabella Valancy (1850-1887)
Malcolm's Katie: A Love Story
                     PART I.

 MAX placed a ring on little Katie's hand,
 A silver ring that he had beaten out
 From that same sacred coin--first well prized wage
 For boyish labour, kept thro' many years.
 "See, Kate," he said, "I had no skill to shape
 Two hearts fast bound together, so I graved
 Just 'K' and 'M', for Katie and for Max."

"But look! you've run the  lines in such a way
 That 'M' is part of 'K,' and 'K' of 'M,'"
 Said Katie, smiling.  "Did you mean it thus?
 I like it better than the double hearts."

"Well, well," he said, "but womankind is wise!
 Yet tell me, dear, will such a prophecy
 Not hurt you sometimes when I am away?
 Will you not seek, keen-eyed, for some small break
 In those deep lines to part the 'K' and 'M'
 For you?  Nay, Kate, look down amid the globes
 Of those large lilies that our light canoe
 Divides, and see within the polished pool
 That small rose face of yours, so dear, so fair,--
 A seed of love to cleave into a rock
 And bourgeon thence until the granite splits
 Before its subtle strength.  I being gone--
 Poor soldier of the axe--to bloodless fields
 (Inglorious battles, whether lost or won),
 That sixteen-summered heart of yours may say:
 'I but was budding, and I did not know
 My core was crimson and my perfume sweet;
 I had not seen the sun, and blind I swayed
 To a strong wind, and thought because I swayed
 'Twas to the wooer of the perfect rose--
 That strong, wild wind has swept beyond my ken,
 The breeze I love sighs thro' my ruddy leaves.'"

"O words!" said Katie, blushing, "only words!
 You build them up that I may push them down.
 If hearts are flowers, I know that flowers can root,
 Bud, blossom, die--all in the same loved soil.
 They do so in my garden.  I have made
 Your heart my garden.  If I am a bud
 And only feel unfoldment feebly stir
 Within my leaves, wait patiently; some June
 I'll blush a full-blown rose, and queen it, dear,
 In your loved garden.  Tho' I be a bud,
 My roots strike deep, and torn from that dear soil
 Would shriek like mandrakes--those with things I
     read
 Of in your quaint old books.  Are you content?"

"Yes, crescent-wise, but not to round, full moon.
 Look at yon hill that rounds so gently up
 From the wide lake; a lover king it looks,
 In cloth of gold, gone from his bride and queen,
 And yet delayed because her silver locks
 Catch in his gilded fringe.  His shoulders sweep
 Into blue distance, and his gracious crest,
 Not held too high, is plumed with maple groves--
 One of your father's farms: a mighty man,
 Self-hewn from rock, remaining rock through all."

"He loves me, Max," said Katie.
                           "Yes, I know--
 A rock is cup to many a crystal spring.
 Well, he is rich; those misty, peak-roofed barns--
 Leviathans rising from red seas of grain--
 Are full of ingots shaped like grains of wheat.
 His flocks have golden fleeces, and his herds
 Have monarchs worshipful as was the calf
 Aaron called from the furnace; and his ploughs,
 Like Genii chained, snort o'er his mighty fields.
 He has a voice in Council and in Church--"

"He worked for all," said Katie, somewhat pained.

"Ay, so, dear love, he did.  I heard him tell
 How the first field upon his farm was ploughed.
 He and his brother Reuben, stalwart lads,
 Yoked themselves side by side to the new plough
 Their weaker father, in the grey of life--
 But rather the wan age of poverty
 Than many winters--in large, gnarlèd hands
 The plunging handles held; with mighty strains
 They drew the ripping beak through knotted sod,
 Thro' tortuous lanes of blackened, smoking stumps,
 And past great flaming brush-heaps, sending out
 Fierce summers, beating on their swollen brows.
 O such a battle! had we heard of serfs
 Driven to like hot conflict with the soil,
 Armies had marched and navies swiftly sailed
 To burst their gyves.  But here's the little point--
 The polished-diamond pivot on which spins
 The wheel of difference--they OWNED the soil,
 And fought for love--dear love of wealth and power--
 And honest ease and fair esteem of men.
 One's blood heats at it!"
                      "Yet you said such fields
 Were all inglorious," Katie, wondering, said.

"Inglorious?  Yes!  They make no promises
 Of Star or Garter, or the thundering guns
 That tell the earth her warriors are dead.
 Inglorious?  Ay, the battle done and won
 Means not a throne propped up with bleaching bones,
 A country saved with smoking seas of blood,
 A flag torn from the foe with wounds and death,
 Of Commerce, with her housewife foot upon
 Colossal bridge of slaughtered savages,
 The Cross laid on her brawny shoulder, and
 In one sly, mighty hand her reeking sword,
 And in the other all the woven cheats
 From her dishonest looms.  Nay, none of these.
 It means--four walls, perhaps a lowly roof;
 Kine in a peaceful posture; modest fields;
 A man and woman standing hand in hand
 In hale old age, who, looking o'er the land,
 Say, 'Thank the Lord, it all is mine and thine!"
 It means, to such thewed warriors of the Axe
 As your own father--well, it means, sweet Kate,
 Outspreading circles of increasing gold,
 A name of weight, one little daughter heir
 Who must not wed the owner of an axe,
 Who owns naught else but some dim, dusky woods
 In a far land, two arms indifferent strong,--"

"And Katie's heart," said Katie, with a smile;--
 For yet she stood on that smooth violet plain
 Where nothing shades the sun; nor quite believed
 Those blue peaks closing in were aught but mist
 Which the gay sun could scatter with a glance.
 For Max, he late had touched their stones, but yet
 He saw them seamed with gold and precious ores,
 Rich with hill flowers and musical with rills,--
 "Or that same bud that will be Katie's heart
 Against the time your deep, dim woods are cleared,
 And I have wrought my father to relent."

"How will you move him, sweet?  Why, he will rage
 And fume and anger, striding o'er his fields,
 Until the last bought king of herds lets down
 His lordly front and, rumbling thunder from
 His polished chest, returns his chiding tones.
 How will you move him, Katie, tell me how?"

"I'll kiss him and keep still; that way is sure,"
 Said Katie, smiling; "I have often tried."

"God speed the kiss," said Max, and Katie sighed,
 With prayerful palms close sealed, "God speed the
     axe!"

     O light canoe, where dost thou glide?
     Below thee gleams no silvered tide,
     But concave heaven's chiefest pride.

     Above thee burns Eve's rosy bar;
     Below thee throbs her darling star;
     Deep 'neath thy keel her round worlds are.

     Above, below--O sweet surprise
     To gladden happy lover's eyes!
     No earth, no wave--all jewelled skies.

                     PART II.

 The South Wind laid his moccasins aside,
 Broke his gay calumet of flowers, and cast
 His useless wampum, beaded with cool dews,
 Far from his northward; his long, ruddy spear
 Flung sunward, whence it came, and his soft locks
 Of warm, fine haze grew silvery as the birch.
 His wigwam of green leaves began to shake;
 The crackling rice-beds scolded harsh like squaws;
 The small ponds pouted up their silver lips;
 The great lakes eyed the mountains, whispered "Ugh!
 Are ye so tall, O chiefs?  Not taller than
 Our plumes can reach," and rose a little way,
 As panthers stretch to try their velvet limbs
 And then retreat to purr and bide their time.

 At morn the sharp breath of the night arose
 From the wide prairies, in deep-struggling seas,
 In rolling breakers, bursting to the sky;
 In tumbling surfs, all yellowed faintly thro'
 With the low sun; in mad, conflicting crests,
 Voiced with low thunder from the hairy throats
 Of the mist-buried herds.  And for a man
 To stand amid the cloudy roll and moil,
 The phantom waters breaking overhead,
 Shades of vexed billows bursting on his breast,
 Torn caves of mist walled with a sudden gold--
 Resealed as swift as seen--broad, shaggy fronts,
 Fire-eyed, and tossing on impatient horns
 The wave impalpable--was but to think
 A dream of phantoms held him as he stood.
 The late, last thunders of the summer crashed
 Where shrieked great eagles, lords of naked cliffs.

 The pulseless forest, locked and interlocked
 So closely bough with bough and leaf with leaf,
 So serfed by its own wealth, that while from high
 The moons of summer kissed its green-glossed locks,
 And round its knees the merry West Wind danced,
 And round its ring, compacted emerald,
 The South Wind crept on moccasins of flame,
 And the red fingers of th' impatient Sun
 Plucked at its outmost fringes, its dim veins
 Beat with no life, its deep and dusky heart
 In a deep trance of shadow felt no throb
 To such soft wooing answer.  Thro' its dream
 Brown rivers of deep waters sunless stole;
 Small creeks sprang from its mosses, and, amazed,
 Like children in a wigwam curtained close
 Above the great, dead heart of some red chief,
 Slipped on soft feet, swift stealing through the gloom,
 Eager for light and for the frolic winds.

 In this shrill moon the scouts of Winter ran
 From the ice-belted north, and whistling shafts
 Struck maple and struck sumach, and a blaze
 Ran swift from leaf to leaf, from bough to bough,
 Till round the forest flashed a belt of flame,
 And inward licked its tongues of red and gold
 To the deep-crannied inmost heart of all.
 Roused the still heart--but all too late, too late!
 Too late the branches, welded fast with leaves,
 Tossed, loosened, to the winds; too late the Sun
 Poured his last vigour to the deep, dark cells
 Of the dim wood.  The keen two-bladed Moon
 Of Falling Leaves rolled up on crested mists,
 And where the lush, rank boughs had foiled the Sun
 In his red prime, her pale, sharp fingers crept
 After the wind and felt about the moss,
 And seemed to pluck from shrinking twig and stem
 The burning leaves, while groaned the shuddering
    wood.

 Who journeyed where the prairies made a pause
 Saw burnished ramparts flaming in the sun
 With beacon fires, tall on their rustling walls.
 And when the vast horned herds at sunset drew
 Their sullen masses into one black cloud,
 Rolling thundrous o'er the quick pulsating plain,
 They seemed to sweep between two fierce, red suns
 Which, hunter-wise, shot at their glaring balls
 Keen shafts with scarlet feathers and gold barbs.

 By round, small lakes with thinner forests fringed--
 More jocund woods that sung about the feet
 And crept along the shoulders of great cliffs--
 The warrior stags, with does and tripping fawns,
 Like shadows black upon the throbbing mist
 Of evening's rose, flashed thro' the singing woods,
 Nor tim'rous sniffed the spicy cone-breathed air;
 For never had the patriarch of the herd
 Seen, limned against the farthest rim of light
 Of the low-dipping sky, the plume or bow
 Of the red hunter; nor, when stooped to drink,
 Had from the rustling rice-bed heard the shaft
 Of the still hunter hidden in its spears--
 His bark canoe close knotted in its bronze,
 His form as stirless as the brooding air,
 His dusky eyes two fixed, unwinking fires,
 His bow-string tightened, till it subtly sang
 To the long throbs and leaping pulse that rolled
 And beat within his knotted, naked breast.

 There came a morn the Moon of Falling Leaves
 With her twin silver blades had only hung
 Above the low set cedars of the swamp
 For one brief quarter, when the Sun arose
 Lusty with light and full of summer heat,
 And, pointing with his arrows at the blue
 Closed wigwam curtains of the sleeping Moon,
 Laughed with the noise of arching cataracts,
 And with the dove-like cooing of the woods,
 And with the shrill cry of the diving loon,
 And with the wash of saltless rounded seas,
 And mocked the white Moon of the Falling Leaves:

"Esa! esa! shame upon you, Pale Face!
 Shame upon you, Moon of Evil Witches!
 Have you killed the happy, laughing Summer?
 Have you slain the mother of the flowers
 With your icy spells of might and magic?
 Have you laid her dead within my arms?
 Wrapped her, mocking, in a rainbow blanket?
 Drowned her in the frost-mist of your anger?
 She is gone a little way before me;
 Gone an arrow's flight beyond my vision.
 She will turn again and come to meet me
 With the ghosts of all the stricken flowers,
 In a blue mist round her shining tresses,
 In a blue smoke in her naked forests.
 She will linger, kissing all the branches;
 She will linger, touching all the places,
 Bare and naked, with her golden fingers,
 Saying, 'Sleep and dream of me, my children;
 Dream of me, the mystic Indian Summer,--
 I who, slain by the cold Moon of Terror,
 Can return across the path of Spirits,
 Bearing still my heart of love and fire,
 Looking with my eyes of warmth and splendour,
 Whisp'ring lowly thro' your sleep of sunshine.
 I, the laughing Summer, am not turnèd
 Into dry dust, whirling on the prairies,
 Into red clay, crushed beneath the snowdrifts.
 I am still the mother of sweet flowers
 Growing but an arrow's flight beyond you
 In the Happy Hunting-Ground--the quiver
 Of great Manitou, where all the arrows
 He has shot from His great bow of Power,
 With its clear, bright singing cord of Wisdom,
 Are re-gathered, plumed again and brightened,
 And shot out, re-barbed with Love and Wisdom;
 Always shot, and evermore returning.
 Sleep, my children, smiling in your heart-seeds
 At the spirit words of Indian Summer.'
 Thus, O Moon of Falling Leaves, I mock you!
 have you slain my gold-eyed squaw, the Summer?"

 The mighty Morn strode laughing up the land,
 And Max, the lab'rer and the lover, stood
 Within the forest's edge beside a tree--
 The mossy king of all the woody tribes--
 Whose clatt'ring branches rattled, shuddering,
 As the bright axe cleaved moon-like thro' the air,
 Waking strange thunders, rousing echoes linked,
 From the full lion-throated roar to sighs
 Stealing on dove-wings thro' the distant aisles.
 Swift fell the axe, swift followed roar on roar
 Till the bare woodland bellowed in its rage
 As the first-slain slow toppled to his fall.
 "O King of Desolation, art thou dead?"
 Cried Max, and laughing, heart and lips, leaped on
 The vast prone trunk.  "And have I slain a king?
 Above this ashes will I build my house;
 No slave beneath its pillars, but--a king!"
 Max wrought alone but for a half-breed lad
 With tough, lithe sinews, and deep Indian eyes
 Lit with a Gallic sparkle.  Max the lover found
 The lab'rer's arms grow mightier day by day,
 More iron-welded, as he slew the trees;
 And with the constant yearning of his heart
 Toward little Kate, part of a world away,
 His young soul grew and shewed a virile front,
 Full-muscled and large-statured like his flesh.

 Soon the great heaps of brush were builded high,
 And, like a victor, Max made pause to clear
 His battle-field high strewn with tangled dead.
 Then roared the crackling mountains, and their fires
 Met in high heaven, clasping flame with flame;
 The thin winds swept a cosmos of red sparks
 Across the bleak midnight sky; and the sun
 Walked pale behind the resinous black smoke.

 And Max cared little for the blotted sun,
 And nothing for the startled, outshone stars;
 For love, once set within a lover's breast,
 Has its own sun, its own peculiar sky,
 All one great daffodil, on which do lie
 The sun, the moon, the stars, all see at once
 And never setting, but all shining straight
 Into the faces of the trinity--
 The one beloved, the lover, and sweet love.

 It was not all his own, the axe-stirred waste.
 In these new days men spread about the earth
 With wings at heel, and now the settler hears,
 While yet his axe rings on the primal woods,
 The shrieks of engines rushing o'er the wastes;
 Nor parts his kind to hew his fortunes out.
 And as one drop glides down the unknown rock
 And the bright-threaded stream leaps after it
 With welded billions, so the settler finds
 His solitary footsteps beaten out
 With the quick rush of panting human waves
 Upheaved by throbs of angry poverty,
 And driven by keen blasts of hunger from
 Their native strands, so stern, so dark, so drear!
 O then to see the troubled, groaning waves
 Throb down to peace in kindly valley beds,
 Their turbid bosoms clearing in the calm
 Of sun-eyed Plenty, till the stars and moon,
 The blessed sun himself, have leave to shine
 And laugh in their dark heart!

                          So shanties grew
 Other than his amid the blackened stumps;
 And children ran with little twigs and leaves
 And flung them, shouting, on the forest pyres
 Where burned the forest kings; and in the glow
 Paused men and women when the day was done.
 There the lean weaver ground anew his axe,
 Nor backward looked upon the vanished loom,
 But forward to the ploughing of his fields,
 And to the rose of plenty in the cheeks
 Of wife and children; nor heeded much the pangs
 Of the roused muscles tuning to new work.
 The pallid clerk looked on his blistered palms
 And sighed and smiled, but girded up his loins
 And found new vigour as he felt new hope.
 The lab'rer with trained muscles, grim and grave,
 Looked at the ground, and wondered in his soul
 What joyous anguish stirred his darkened heart
 At the mere look of the familiar soil,
 And found his answer in the words, "Mine own!"
 Then came smooth-coated men with eager eyes
 And talked of steamers on the cliff-bound lakes,
 And iron tracks across the prairie lands,
 And mills to crush the quartz of wealthy hills,
 And mills to saw the great wide-armèd trees,
 And mills to grind the singing stream of grain.
 And with such busy clamour mingled still
 The throbbing music of the bold, bright Axe--
 The steel tongue of the present; and the wail
 Of falling forests--voices of the past.

 Max, social-souled, and with his practised thews,
 Was happy, boy-like, thinking much of Kate,
 And speaking of her to the women-folk,
 Who, mostly happy in new honeymoons
 Of hope themselves, were ready still to hear
 The thrice-told tale of Katie's sunny eyes
 And Katie's yellow hair and household ways;
 And heard so often, "There shall stand our home
 On yonder slope, with vines about the door,"
 That the good wives were almost made to see
 The snowy walls, deep porches, and the gleam
 Of Katie's garments flitting through the rooms;
 And the black slope all bristling with burnt stumps
 Was known amongst them all as "Max's house."

     O Love builds on the azure sea,
       And Love builds on the golden sand,
     And Love builds on the rose-winged cloud,
       And sometimes Love builds on the land!

     O if Love build on sparkling sea,
       And if Love build on golden strand,
     And if Love build on rosy cloud,
       To Love these are the solid land!

     O Love will build his lily walls,
       And Love his pearly roof will rear
     On cloud, or land, or mist, or sea--
       Love's solid land is everywhere!

                     PART III.

The great farmhouse of Malcolm Graem stood,
Square-shouldered and peak-roofed, upon a hill,
With many windows looking everywhere,
So that no distant meadow might lie hid,
Nor corn-field hide its gold, nor lowing herd
Browse in far pastures, out of Malcolm's ken.
He loved to sit, grim, grey, and somewhat stern,
And thro' the smoke-clouds from his short clay pipe
Look out upon his riches, while his thoughts
Swung back and forth between the bleak, stern past
And the near future; for his life had come
To that close balance when, a pendulum,
The memory swings between the "then" and "now."
His seldom speech ran thus two different ways:
"When I was but a laddie, thus I did";
Or, "Katie, in the fall I'll see to build
Such fences or such sheds about the place;
And next year, please the Lord, another barn."
Kate's gay garden foamed about the walls,
Assailed the prim-cut modern sills, and rushed
Up the stone walls to break on the peaked roof.
And Katie's lawn was like a poet's sward,
Velvet and sheer and diamonded with dew;
For such as win their wealth most aptly take
Smooth urban ways and blend them with their own.
And Katie's dainty raiment was as fine
As the smooth, silken petals of the rose,
And her light feet, her nimble mind and voice,
In city schools had learned the city's ways,
And, grafts upon the healthy, lovely vine,
They shone, eternal blossoms 'mid the fruit;
For Katie had her sceptre in her hand
And wielded it right queenly there and here,
In dairy, store-room, kitchen--every spot
Where woman's ways were needed on the place.

And Malcolm took her through his mighty fields
And taught her lore about the change of crops,
And how to see a handsome furrow ploughed,
And how to choose the cattle for the mart,
And how to know a fair day's work when done,
And where to plant young orchards; for he said,
"God sent a lassie, but I need a son--
"Bethankit for His mercies all the same."
And Katie, when he said it, thought of Max,
Who had been gone two winters and two springs,
And sighed and thought, "Would he not be your
    son?"
But all in silence, for she had too much
Of the firm will of Malcolm in her soul
To think of shaking that deep-rooted rock;
But hoped the crystal current of his love
For his one child, increasing day by day,
Might fret with silver lip until it wore
Such channels thro' the rock that some slight stroke
Of circumstance might crumble down the stone.

The wooer too, Max prophesied, had come;
Reputed wealthy; with the azure eyes
And Saxon-gilded locks, the fair, clear face
And stalwart form that most of women love;
And with the jewels of some virtues set
On his broad brow; with fires within his soul
He had the wizard skill to fetter down
To that mere pink, poetic, nameless glow
That need not fright a flake of snow away,
But, if unloosed, could melt and adverse rock,
Marrowed with iron, frowning in his way.

And Malcolm balanced him by day and night,
And with his grey-eyed shrewdness partly saw
He was not one of Kate, but let him come
And in chance moments thought, "Well, let it be;
They make a bonnie pair; he knows the ways
Of men and things; can hold the gear I give,
And, if the lassie wills it, let it be;"
And then, upstarting from his midnight sleep,
With hair erect and sweat upon his brow
Such as no labour e'er had beaded there,
Would cry aloud, wide staring thro' the dark,
"Nay, nay!  She shall not wed him!  Rest in peace!"
Then, fully waking, grimly laugh and say,
"Why did I speak and answer when none spake?"
But still lie staring, wakeful, through the shades,
List'ning to the silence, and beating still
The ball of Alfred's merits to and fro,
Saying, between the silent arguments,
"But would the mother like it, could she know?
I would there were a way to ring a lad
Like silver coin, and so find out the true.
But Kate shall say him 'Nay' or say him 'Yea'
At her own will."

                        And Katie said him "Nay"
In all the maiden, speechless, gentle ways
A woman has.  But Alfred only laughed
To his own soul, and said in his walled mind,
"O Kate, were I a lover I might feel
Despair flap o'er my hopes with raven wings,
Because thy love is given to other love.
And did I love, unless I gained thy love
I would disdain the golden hair, sweet lips,
True violet eyes and gentle air-blown form,
Nor crave the beauteous lamp without the flame,
Which in itself would light a charnel house.
Unloved, and loving, I would find the cure
Of Love's despair in nursing Love's disdain--
Disdain of lesser treasure than the whole.
One cares not much to place against the wheel
A diamond lacking flame, nor loves to pluck
A rose with all its perfume cast abroad
To the bosom of the gale.  Not I, in truth!
If all man's days are three-score years and ten,
He needs must waste them not, but nimbly seize
The bright, consummate blossom that his will
Calls for most loudly.  Gone, long gone the days
When love within my soul forever stretched
Fierce hands of flame, and here and there I found
A blossom fitted for him, all up-filled
With love as with clear dew:--they had their hour
And burned to ashes with him as he drooped
In his own ruby fires.  No phoenix he
To rise again, because of Katie's eyes,
On dewy wings from ashes such as his!
But now another passion bids me forth
To crown him with the fairest I can find,
And makes me lover, not of Katie's face,
But of her father's riches.  O high fool,
Who feels the faintest pulsing of a wish
And fails to feed it into lordly life,
So that, when stumbling back to Mother Earth,
His freezing lip may curl in cold disdain
Of those poor, blighted fools who starward stare
For that fruition, nipped and scanted here!
And while the clay o'ermasters all his blood,
And he can feel the dust knit with his flesh,
He yet can say to them, 'Be ye content;
I tasted perfect fruitage thro' my life,
Lighted all lamps of passion till the oil
Failed from their wicks; and now, O now I know
There is no Immortality could give
Such boon as this--to simply cease to be!
There lies your Heaven, O ye dreaming slaves,
If ye would only live to make it so,
Nor paint upon the blue skies lying shades
Of--what is not.  Wise, wise and strong the man
Who poisons that fond haunter of the mind,
Craving for a hereafter with deep draughts
Of wild delights so fiery, fierce, and strong,
That when their dregs are deeply, deeply drained,
What once was blindly craved of purblind Chance--
Life, life eternal, throbbing thro' all space--
Is strongly loathed; and, with his face in dust,
Man loves his only heaven--six feet of earth.
So, Katie, tho' your blue eyes say me 'Nay,'
My pangs of love for gold must needs be fed,
And shall be, Katie, if I know my mind."

Events were winds close nestling in the sails
Of Alfred's bark, all blowing him direct
To his wished harbour.  On a certain day
All set about with roses and with fire--
One of three days of heat which frequent slip,
Like triple rubies, in between the sweet,
Mild, emerald days of summer--Katie went,
Drawn by a yearning for the ice-pale blooms,
Natant and shining, firing all the bay
With angel fires built up of snow and gold.
She found the bay close packed with groaning logs
Prisoned between great arms of close-hinged wood,
All cut from Malcolm's forests in the west
And floated thither to his noisy mills,
And all stamped with the potent "M" and "G"
Which much he loved to see upon his goods--
The silent courtiers owning him their king.
Out clear beyond, the rustling rice-beds sang,
And the cool lilies starred the shadowed wave.
"This is a day for lily-love," said Kate,
While she made bare the lilies of her feet
And sang a lily-song that Max had made
That spoke of lilies--always meaning Kate:

"While, Lady of the silvered lakes--
Chaste goddess of the sweet, still shrine
  The jocund river fitful makes
  By sudden, deep gloomed brakes--
Close sheltered by close warp and woof of vine,
Spilling a shadow gloomy-rich as wine
Into the silver throne where thou dost sit,
Thy silken leaves all dusky round thee knit!

"Mild Soul of the unsalted wave,
   White bosom holding golden fire,
 Deep as some ocean-hidden cave
   Are fixed the roots of thy desire,
 Thro' limpid currents stealing up,
 And rounding to the pearly cup.
     Thou dost desire,
 With all thy trembling heart of sinless fire,
     But to be filled
     With dew distilled
 From clear, fond skies that in their gloom
     Hold, floating high, thy sister moon.
     Pale chalice of a sweet perfume,
     Whiter-breasted than a dove,
     To thee the dew is--love!"

Kate bared her little feet and poised herself
On the first log close grating on the shore;
And with bright eyes of laughter and wild hair--
A flying wind of gold--from log to log
Sped, laughing as they wallowed in her track
Like brown-scaled monsters, rolling as her foot
Spurned deftly each in turn with rose-white sole.
A little island, out in middle wave
With its green shoulder held the great drive braced
Between it and the mainland,--here it was
The silver lilies drew her with white smiles--
And as she touched the last great log of all
It reeled, upstarting, like a column braced
A second on the wave, when it plunged
Rolling upon the froth and sudden foam,
Katie had vanished and with angry grind
The vast logs rolled together; nor a lock
Of drifting, yellow hair, an upflung hand,
Told where the rich man's chiefest treasure sank
Under the wooden wealth.

                         But Alfred, prone
With pipe and book upon the shady marge
Of the cool isle, saw all, and seeing hurled
Himself, and hardly knew it, on the logs.
By happy chance a shallow lapped the isle
On this green bank; and when his iron arms
Dashed the barked monsters, as frail stems of rice,
A little space apart, the soft, slow tide
But reached his chest, and in a flash he saw
Kate's yellow hair, and by it drew her up,
And lifting her aloft, cried out, "O Kate!"
And once again cried, "Katie! is she dead?"
For like the lilies broken by the rough
And sudden riot of the armoured logs,
Kate lay upon his hands; and now the logs
Closed in upon him, nipping his great chest,
Nor could he move to push them off again
For Katie in his arms.  "And now," he said,
"If none should come, and any wind arise
To weld these woody monsters 'gainst the isle,
I shall be cracked like any broken twig;
And as it is, I know not if I die,
For I am hurt--ay, sorely, sorely hurt!"
Then looked on Katie's lily face, and said,
"Dead, dead or living?  Why, an even chance.
O lovely bubble on a troubled sea,
I would not thou shouldst lose thyself again
In the black ocean whence thy life emerged,
By skyward steal on gales as soft as love,
And hang in some bright rainbow overhead,
If only such bright rainbow spanned the earth."
Then shouted loudly, till the silent air
Roused like a frightened bird, and on its wings
Caught up his cry and bore it to the farm.
There Malcolm, leaping from his noontide sleep,
Upstarted as at midnight, crying out,
"She shall not wed him!  Rest you, wife, in peace!"

They found him, Alfred, haggard-eyed and faint,
But holding Katie ever toward the sun,
Unhurt, and waking in the fervent heat.
And now it came that Alfred, being sick
Of his sharp hurts and tended by them both
With what was like to love--being born of thanks--
Had choice of hours most politic to woo,
And used his deed, as one might use the sun
To ripe unmellowed fruit; and from the core
Of Katie's gratitude hoped yet to nurse
A flower all to his liking--Katie's love.

But Katie's mind was like the plain, broad shield
Of a table diamond, nor had a score of sides;
And in its shield, so precious and so plain,
Was cut thro' all its clear depths Max's name.
And so she said him "Nay" at last, in words
Of such true-sounding silver that he knew
He might not win her at the present hour,
But smiled and thought, "I go, and come again;
Then shall we see.  Our three-score years and ten
Are mines of treasures, if we hew them deep,
Nor stop too long in choosing out our tools."

                     PART IV.

 From his far wigwam sprang the strong North Wind
 And rushed with war-cry down the steep ravines,
 And wrestled with the giants of the woods;
 And with his ice-club beat the swelling crests
 Of the deep watercourses into death;
 And with his chill foot froze the whirling leaves
 Of dun and gold and fire in icy banks;
 And smote the tall reeds to the hardened earth,
 And sent his whistling arrows o'er the plains,
 Scattering the lingering herds; and sudden paused,
 When he had frozen al the running streams,
 And hunted with his war-cry all the things
 That breathed about the woods, or roamed the bleak,
 Bare prairies swelling to the mournful sky.

"White squaw!" he shouted, troubled in his soul,
 "I slew the dead, umplumed before; wrestled
 With naked chiefs scalped of their leafy plumes;
 I bound sick rivers in cold thongs of death,
 And shot my arrows over swooning plains,
 Bright with the paint of death and lean an bare.
 And all the braves of my loud trible will mock and
 point at me when our great chief, the sun,
 Relights his council fire in the Moon
 Of Budding Leaves: 'Ugh, ugh! he is a brave!
 He fights with squaws and takes the scalps of babes!'
 And the least wind will blow his calumet,
 Filled with the breath of smallest flowers, across
 The war-paint on my face, and pointing with
 His small, bright pipe, that never moved a spear
 Of bearded rice, cry, 'Ugh! he slays the dead!'
 O my white squaw, come from thy wigwam grey,
 Spread thy white blanket on the twice-slain dead,
 And hide them ere the waking of the Sun!"

 High grew the snow beneath the low-hung sky,
 And all was silent in the wilderness;
 In trance of stillness Nature heard her God
 Rebuilding her spent fires, and veiled her face
 While the Great Worker brooded o'er His work.

 "Bite deep and wide, O Axe, the tree!
  What doth thy bold voice promise me?"

 "I promise thee all joyous things
  That furnish forth the lives of kings;

 "For every silver ringing blow
  Cities and palaces shall grow."

 "Bite deep and wide, O Axe, the tree!
  Tell wider prophecies to me."
 
 "When rust hath gnawed me deep and red
  A nation strong shall lift his head.

 "His crown the very heavens shall smite,
  Aeons shall build him in his might."

 "Bite deep and wide, O Axe, the tree!
  Bright Seer, help on thy prophecy!"

 Max smote the snow-weighed tree and lightly laughed.
 "See, friend," he cried to one that looked and smiled,
 "My axe and I, we do immortal tasks;
 We build up nations--this my axe and I."

"Oh!" said the other with a cold, short smile,
 "Nations are not immortal.  Is there now
 One nation throned upon the sphere of earth
 That walked with the first gods and with them saw
 The budding world unfold its slow-leaved flower?
 Nay, it is hardly theirs to leave behind
 Ruins so eloquent that the hoary sage
 Can lay his hand upon their stones and say:
 'These once were thrones!"

                   "The lean, lank lion peals
 His midnight thunders over lone, red plains,
 Long-ridged and crested on their dusty waves
 With fires from moons red-hearted as the sun,
 And deep re-thunders all the earth to him;
 For, far beneath the flame-flecked, shifting sands,
 Below the roots of palms, and under stones
 Of younger ruins, thrones, towers and cities
 Honeycomb the earth.  The high, solemn walls
 Of hoary ruins--their foundings all unknown
 But to the round-eyed worlds that walk
 In the blank paths of Space and blanker Chance--
 At whose stones young mountains wonder, and the
    seas'
 New-silvering, deep-set valleys pause and gaze--
 Are reared upon old shrines whose very gods
 Were dreams to the shrine-builders of a time
 They caught in far-off flashes--as the child
 Half thinks he can remember how one came
 And took him in her hand and showed him that,
 He thinks, she called the sun.

                   "Proud ships rear high
 On ancient billows that have torn the roots
 Of cliffs, and bitten at the golden lips
 Of firm, sleek beaches, till they conquered all
 And sowed the reeling earth with slated waves;
 Wrecks plunge, prow foremost, down still, solemn
     slopes,
 And bring their dead crews to as dead as quay--
 Some city built, before that ocean grew,
 By silver drops from many a floating cloud,
 By icebergs bellowing in their throes of death,
 By lesser seas tossed form their rocking cups,
 And leaping each to each; by dewdrops flung
 From painted sprays, whose weird leaves and flowers
 Are moulded for new dwellers on the earth,
 Printed in hearts of mountains and or mines.

"Nations immortal?  Where the well-trimmed lamps
 Of long-past ages?  When Time seemed to pause
 On smooth, dust-blotted graves that, like the tombs
 Of monarchs, held dead bones and sparkling gems,
 She saw no glimmer on the hideous ring
 Of the black clouds; no stream of sharp, clear light
 From those great torches passed into the black
 Of deep oblivion.  She seemed to watch, but she
 Forgot her long-dead nations.  When she stirred
 Her vast limbs in the dawn that forced its fire
 Up the black East, and saw the imperious red
 Burst over virgin dews and budding flowers,
 She still forgot her mouldered thrones and kings,
 Her sages and their torches and their gods,
 And said, 'This is my birth--my primal day!'
 She dreamed new gods, and reared them other shrines,
 Planted young nations, smote a feeble flame
 From sunless flint, re-lit the torch of mind.
 Again she hung her cities on the hills,
 Built her rich towers, crowned her kings again;
 And with the sunlight on her awful wings
 Swept round the flowery cestus of the earth,
 And said, 'I build for Immortality!'
 Her vast hand reared her towers, her shrines, her
     thrones;
 The ceaseless sweep of her tremendous wings
 Still beat them down and swept their dust abroad.
 Her iron finger wrote on mountain sides
 Her deeds and prowess, and her own soft plume
 Wore down the hills. Again drew darkly on
 A night of deep forgetfulness; once more
 Time seemed to pause upon forgotten graves;
 Once more a young dawn stole into her eyes;
 Again her broad wings stirred, and fresh, clear airs
 Blew the great clouds apart; again she said,
 'This is my birth--my deeds and handiwork
 Shall be immortal!'  Thus and so dream on
 Fooled nations, and thus dream their dullard sons.
 Naught is immortal save immortal--Death!"

 Max paused and smiled:  "O preach such gospel,
    friend,
 To all but lovers who most truly love;
 For them, their gold-wrought scripture glibly reads,
 All else is mortal but immortal--Love!"

"Fools! fools!" his friend said, "most immortal fools!
 But pardon, pardon, for perchance you love?"

"Yes," said Max, proudly smiling, "thus do I
 Possess the world and feel eternity."

 Dark laughter blackened in the other's eyes:
 "Eternity! why did such Iris arch
 Enter our worm-bored planet?  Never lived
 One woman true enough such tryst to keep."

"I'd swear by Kate," said Max; "and then I had
 A mother, and my father swore by her."

"By Kate?  Ah, that were lusty oath, indeed!
 Some other man will look into her eyes
 And swear me roundly, 'By true Catherine!'
 As Troilus swore by Cressèd--so they say."

"You never knew my Kate," said Max, and poised
 His axe again on high; "but let it pass.
 You are too subtle for me; argument
 Have I none to oppose yours with but this:
 Get you a Kate, and let her sunny eyes
 Dispel the doubting darkness in your soul."

"And have not I a Kate?  Pause, friend, and see.
 She gave me this faint shadow of herself
 The day I slipped the watch-star of our loves--
 A ring--upon her hand; she loves me, too.
 Yet tho' her eyes be suns, no gods are they
 To give me worlds, or make me feel a tide
 Of strong eternity set toward my soul;
 And tho' she loves me, yet am I content
 To know she loves me by the hour, the year,
 Perchance the second--as all women love."

 The bright axe faltered in the air and ripped
 Down the rough bark and bit the drifted snow,
 For Max's arm fell, withered in its strength,
 'Long by his side.  "Your Kate," he said, "your
     Kate?"

"Yes, mine--while holds her mind that way, my Kate;
 I saved her life, and had her love for thanks.
 Her father is Malcolm Graem--Max, my friend,
 You pale!  What sickness seizes on your soul?"

 Max laughed, and swung his bright axe high again:
 "Stand back a pace; a too far-reaching blow
 Might level your false head with yon prone truck!
 Stand back and listen while I say, 'You lie!'
 That is my Katie's face upon your breast,
 But 'tis my Katie's love lives in my breast!
 Stand back, I say! my axe is heavy, and
 Might chance to cleave a liar's brittle skull!
 Your Kate! your Kate! your Kate!--hark, how the
     woods
 Mock at your lie with all their woody tongues!
 O silence, ye false echoes!  Not his Kate
 But mine--I'm certain!  I will have your life!"
 All the blue heaven was dead in Max's eyes;
 Doubt-wounded lay Kate's image in his heart,
 And could not rise to pluck the sharp spear out.

"Well, strike, mad fool," said Alfred, somewhat pale;
 "I have no weapon but these naked hands!"

"Ay, but," said Max, "you smote my naked heart!
 O shall I slay him?  Satan, answer me;
 I cannot call on God for answer here!
 O Kate--!"

 A voice from God came thro' the silent woods
 And answered him; for suddenly a wind
 Caught the great tree-tops, coned with high-piled
     snow,
 And smote them to and fro, while all the air
 Was sudden filled with busy drifts; and high
 White pillars whirled amid the naked trunks,
 And harsh, loud groans, and smiting, sapless boughs
 Made hellish clamour in the quiet place.
 With a shrill shriek of tearing fibres, rocked
 The half-hewn tree above his fated head,
 And, tott'ring, asked the sudden blast, "Which way?"
 And, answering, its windy arms down crashed
 Thro' other lacing boughs with one loud roar
 Of woody thunder.  All its pointed boughs
 Pierced the deep snow; its round and mighty corpse,
 Bark-flayed and shudd'ring, quivered into death.
 And Max, as some frail, withered reed, the sharp
 And piercing branches caught at him, as hands
 In death-throe, and beat him to the earth;
 And the dead tree upon its slayer lay.

"Yet hear we much of gods!  If such there be,
 They play at games of chance with thunderbolts,"
 Said Alfred, "else on me this doom had come.
 This seals my faith in deep and dark unfaith.
 Now, Katie, are you mine, for Max is dead--
 Or will be soon, imprisoned by those boughs,
 Wounded and torn, soothed by the deadly palms
 Of the white, traitorous frost; and buried then
 Under the snows that fill those vast, grey clouds,
 Low sweeping on the fretted forest roof.
 And Katie shall believe you false--not dead.
 False, false!--And I?  O she shall find me true--
 True as a fabled devil to the soul
 He longs for with the heat of all Hell's fires.
 These myths serve well for simile, I see,
 And yet--down, Pity! knock not at my breast,
 Nor grope about for that dull stone, my heart.
 I'll stone thee with it, Pity!  Get thee hence!
 Pity, I'll strangle thee with naked hands;
 For thou dost bear upon thy downy breast
 Remorse, shaped like a serpent, and her fangs
 Might dart at me and pierce my marrow thro'!
 Hence, beggar, hence--and keep with fools, I say!
 He bleeds and groans!  Well, Max, thy God or mine,
 Blind Chance, here played the butcher--'twas not I.
 Down, hands! ye shall not lift his fallen head!
 What cords tug at ye?  What?  Ye'd pluck him up
 And staunch his wounds?  There rises in my breast
 A strange, strong giant, throwing wide his arms
 And bursting all the granite of my heart.
 How like to quivering flesh a stone may feel!
 Why, it has pangs!  I'll none of them!  I know
 Life is too short for anguish and for hearts!
 So I wrestle with thee, giant, and my will
 Turns the thumb, and thou shalt take the knife!
 Well done!  I'll turn thee on the arena dust
 And look on thee-What? thou wert Pity's self,
 Stolen in my breast; and I have slaughtered thee!
 But hist! where hast thou hidden thy fell snake,
 Fire-fanged Remorse?  Not in my breast, I know,
 For all again is chill and empty there,
 And hard and cold--the granite knitted up!

"So lie there, Max--poor fond and simple Max!
 'Tis well thou diest!  Earth's children should not call
 Such as thee father--let them ever be
 Fathered by rogues and villains fit to cope
 With the black dragon Chance and the black knaves
 Who swarm in loathsome masses in the dust!
 True Max, lie there, and slumber into death!"

                     PART V.

 Said the high hill, in the morning, "Look on me!
 Behold, sweet earth, sweet sister sky, behold
 The red flames on my peaks, and how my pines
 Are cressets of pure gold, my quarried scars
 Of black crevasse and shadow-filled canyon
 Are traced in silver mist.  Now on my breast
 Hang the soft purple fringes of the night;
 Close to my shoulder droops the weary moon,
 Dove-pale, into the crimson surf the sun
 Drives up before his prow; and blackly stands
 On my slim, loftiest peak an eagle with
 His angry eyes set sunward, while his cry
 Falls fiercely back from all my ruddy heights,
 And his bald eaglets, in their bare, broad nest,
 Shrill pipe their angry echoes: 'Sun, arise,
 And show me that pale dove beside her nest,
 Which I shall strike with piercing beak and tear
 With iron talons for my hungry young!"

"And that mild dove, secure for yet a space,
 Half wakened, turns her ringed and glossy neck
 To watch dawn's ruby pulsing on my breast,
 And see the first bright golden motes slip down
 The gnarlèd trunks about her leaf-deep nest,
 Nor sees nor fears the eagle on the peak."

"Ay, lassie, sing!  I'll smoke my pipe the while;
 And let it be a simple, bonnie song,
 Such as an old, plain man can gather in
 His dulling ear, and feel it slipping thro'
 The cold, dark, stony places of his heart."

"Yes, sing, sweet Kate," said Alfred in her ear;
 "I often heard you singing in my dreams
 When I was far away the winter past."
 So Katie on the moonlit window leaned,
 And in the airy silver of her voice
 Sang of the tender blue Forget-me-not:

     Could every blossom find a voice
       And sing a strain to me,
     I know where I would place my choice,
       Which my delight should be.
     I would not choose the lily tall,
       The rose from musky grot,
     But I would still my minstrel call
       The blue Forget-me-not.

     And I on mossy bank would lie,
       Of brooklet, rippling clear;
     And she of the sweet azure eye,
       Close at my listening ear,
     Should sing into my soul a strain
       Might never be forgot--
     So rich with joy, so rich with pain,
       The blue Forget-me-not.

     Ah, every blossom hath a tale,
       With silent grace to tell,
     From rose that reddens to the gale
       To modest heather-bell'
     But O the flower in every heart
       That finds a sacred spot
     To bloom, with azure leaves apart,
       Is the Forget-me-not.

     Love plucks it from the mosses green
       When parting hours are nigh,
     And places it Love's palms between
       With many an ardent sigh'
     And bluely up from grassy graves
       In some loved churchyard spot,
     It glances tenderly and waves--
       The dear Forget-me-not.

 And with the faint, last cadence stole a glance
 At Malcolm's softened face--a bird-soft touch
 Let flutter on the rugged, silver snarls
 Of his thick locks--and laid her tender lips
 A second on the iron of his hand.

"And did you ever meet," he sudden asked
 Of Alfred, sitting pallid in the shade,
 "Out by yon unco place, a lad,--a lad
 Named Maxwell Gordon; tall and straight and strong;
 About my size, I take it, when a lad?"

 And Katie at the sound of Max's name,
 First spoken for such space by Malcolm's lips,
 Trembled and started, and let down her brow,
 Hiding its sudden rose on Malcolm's arm.

"Max Gordon?  Yes.  Was he a friend of yours?"

"No friend of mine, but of the lassie's here.
 How comes he on?  I wager he's a drone,
 And never will put honey in the hive."

"No drone," said Alfred, laughing; "when I left,
 He and his axe were quarreling with the woods
 And making forests reel.  Love steels a lover's arm."

 O blush that stole from Katie's swelling heart,
 And with its hot rose brought the happy dew
 Into her hidden eyes!

                   "Ay, ay! is that the way?"
 Said Malcolm, smiling.  "Who may be his love?"

"In that he is a somewhat simple soul;
 Why, I suppose he loves--"he paused, and Kate
 Looked up with two forget-me-nots for eyes,
 With eager jewels in their centre set
 Of happy, happy tears, and Alfred's heart
 Became a closer marble than before--

"Why, I suppose he loves--his lawful wife."

"His wife! his wife!" said Malcolm, in amaze,
 And laid his heavy hand on Katie's head;
 "Did you two play me false, my little lass?
 Speak and I'll pardon.  Katie, lassie, what?"

"He has a wife," said Alfred, "lithe and bronzed,
 An Indian woman, comelier than her kind,
 And on her knee a child with yellow locks,
 And lake-like eyes of mystic Indian brown."

"And so you knew him; he is doing well?"
"False, false!" cried Katie, lifting up her head;
"Oh, you know not the Max my father means!"
"He came from yonder farm-house on the slope."
"Some other Max--we speak not of the same."
"He has a red mark on his temple set."
"It matters not--'tis not the Max we know."
"He wears a turquoise ring slung round his neck."
"And many wear them; they are common stones."
"His mother's ring--her name was Helen Wynde."
"And there be many Helens who have sons."
"O Katie, credit me--it is the man!"
"O not the man!  Why, you have never told
 Us of the true soul that the true Max has;
 The Max we know has such a soul, I know."

"How know you that, my foolish little lass?"
 Her father said, a storm of anger bound
 Within his heart like Samson with green withes;
 "Belike it is the false young cur we know."

"No, no," said Katie, simply, and low-voiced,
 "If he be traitor I must needs be false,
 For long ago love melted our two hearts,
 And time has moulded those two hearts in one,
 And he is true since I am faithful still."
 She rose and parted, trembling as she went,
 Feeling the following steel of Alfred's eyes,
 And with the icy hand of scorned mistrust
 Searching about the pulses of her heart,
 Feeling for Max's image in her breast.

"Tonight she conquers Doubt; tomorrow's noon
 His following soldiers sap the golden wall,
 And I shall enter and possess the fort,"
 Said Alfred, in his mind.  "O Katie, child,
 Wilt thou be Nemesis with yellow hair
 To rend my breast? for I do feel a pulse
 Stir when I look into thy pure-barbed eyes.
 Oh, am I breeding that false thing, a heart,
 Making my breast all tender for the fangs
 Of sharp Remorse to plunge their hot fire in?
 I am a certain dullard.  Let me feel
 But one faint goad, fine as a needle's point,
 And it shall be the spur in my soul's side
 To urge the maddening thing across the jags
 And cliffs of life into the soft embrace
 Of that cold mistress, who is constant, too,
 And never flings her lovers from her arms,--
 Not Death, for she is still a fruitful wife,
 Her spouse the Dead; and their cold marriage yields
 A million children, born of mouldering flesh.
 So Death and Flesh live on; immortal they!
 I mean the blank-eyed queen whose wassail bowl
 Is brimmed from Lethe, and whose porch is red
 With poppies, as it waits the panting soul.
 She, she alone is great!  No sceptred slave
 Bowing to blind, creative giants, she!
 No forces seize her in their strong, mad hands,
 Nor say, 'Do this--be that!" Were there a God,
 His only mocker, she, great Nothingness;
 And to her, close of kin, yet lover, too,
 Flies this large nothing that we call the soul."

  Doth true Love lonely grow?
                        And, no! ah, no!
  Ah, were it only so,
  That it alone might show
    Its ruddy rose upon its sapful tree,
       Then, then in dewy morn
       Joy might his brown adorn
      With Love's young rose as fair and glad as he.

  But with Love's rose doth blow,
                         Ah, woe! ah, woe!
  Truth, with its leaves of snow,
  And Pain and Pity grow
    With Love's sweet roses on its sapful tree!
       Love's rose buds not alone,
       But still, but still doth own
    A thousand blossoms cypress-hued to see!

                     PART VI.

 Who curseth Sorrow knows her not at all.
 Dark matrix she, from which the human soul
 Has its last birth; whence it, with misty thews
 Close knitted in her blackness, issues out
 Strong for immortal toil up such great heights
 As crown o'er crown rise through Eternity.
 Without the loud, deep clamour of her wail,
 The iron of her hands, the biting brine
 Of her black tears, the soul, but lightly built
 Of indeterminate spirit, like a mist
 Would lapse to chaos in soft, gilded dreams,
 As mists fade in the gazing of the sun.
 Sorrow, dark mother of the soul, arise!
 Be crowned with spheres where thy blest children
     dwell,
 Who, but for thee, were not.  No lesser seat
 Be thine, thou Helper of the Universe,
 Than planet on planet piled--thou instrument
 Close clasped within the great Creative Hand!

 The Land had put his ruddy gauntlet on,
 Of harvest gold, to dash in Famine's face;
 And like a vintage wain deep dyed with juice
 The great moon faltered up the ripe, blue sky,
 Drawn by silver stars--like oxen white
 And horned with rays of light.  Down the rich land
 Malcolm's small valleys, filled with grain lip high,
 Lay round a lonely hill that faced the moon
 And caught the wine kiss of its ruddy light.
 A cusped, dark wood caught in its black embrace
 The valleys and the hill, and from its wilds,
 Spiced with dark cedars, cried the whippoorwill.
 A crane, belated, sailed across the moon.
 On the bright, small, close linked lakes green islets
     lay--
 Dusk knots of tangled vines, or maple boughs,
 Or tufted cedars, bossed upon the waves.
 The gay, enamelled children of the swamp
 Rolled a low bass to treble, tinkling notes
 Of little streamlets leaping from the woods.
 Close to old Malcolm's mills two wooden jaws
 Bit up the water on a sloping floor;
 And here, in season, rushed the great logs down
 To seek the river winding on its way.
 In a green sheen, smooth as a naiad's locks,
 The water rolled between the shuddering jaws,
 Then on the river level roared and reeled
 In ivory-armèd conflict with itself.

"Look down," said Alfred, "Katie, look and see
 How that but pictures my mad heart to you.
 It tears itself in fighting that mad love
 You swear is hopeless.  Hopeless--is it so?
 "Ah, yes," said Katie, "ask me not again!"
 "But Katie, Max is false; no word has come,
 Nor any sign from him for many months,
 And--he is happy with his Indian wife."

 She lifted eyes fair as the fresh, grey dawn
 With all its dews and promises of sun.
 "O Alfred, saver of my little life,
 Look in my eyes and read them honestly!"
 He laughed till all the isles and forests laughed.
 "O simple child! what may the forest flames
 See in the woodland ponds but their own fires?
 And have you, Katie, neither fears nor doubts?"
 She with the flower-soft pinkness of her palm
 Covered her sudden tears, then quickly said,
 "Fears--never doubts, for true love never doubts."

 Then Alfred paused a space, as one who holds
 A white doe by the throat and searches for
 The blade to slay her.  "This your answer still?
 You doubt not--doubt not this far love of yours,
 Tho' sworn a false young recreant, Kate, by me?"
 "He is as true as I am," Katie said,
 "And did I seek for stronger simile
 I could not find such in the universe."
 "And were he dead? what, Katie, were he dead--
 A handful of brown dust, a flame blown out--
 What then? would love be strongly true to--
    naught?"
 "Still true to love my love would be," she said,
 And, faintly smiling, pointed to the stars,

"O fool!" said Alfred, stirred as craters rock
 To their own throes, while over his pale lips
 Rolled flaming stone--his molten heart.  "Then, fool,
 Be true to what thou wilt, for he is dead,
 And there have grown this gilded summer past
 Grasses and buds from his unburied flesh!
 I saw him dead.  I heard his last, loud cry,
 'O Kate!' ring thro' the woods; in truth I did!"
 She half-raised up a piteous, pleading hand,
 Then fell along the mosses at his feet.

"Now will I show I love you, Kate," he said,
 "And give you gift of love; you shall not wake
 To feel the arrow feather-deep within
 Your constant heart.  For me, I never meant
 To crawl an hour beyond what time I felt
 The strange fanged monster that they call Remorse
 Fold round my wakened heart.  The hour has come;'
 And as Love grew the welded folds of steel
 Slipped round in horrid zones.  In Love's flaming
     eyes
 Stared its fell eyeballs, and with hydra head
 It sank hot fangs in breast and brow and thigh.
 Come, Kate!  O Anguish is a simple knave
 Whom hucksters could outwit with small trade lies,
 When thus so easily his smarting thralls
 May flee his knout!  Come, come, my little Kate;
 The black porch with its fringe of poppies waits,--
 A propylaeum hospitality wide,--
 No lictors with their fasces at its jaws,
 Its floor as kindly to my fire-veined feet
 As to thy silver-lilied, sinless ones!
 O you shall slumber soundly, tho' the white,
 Wild waters pluck the crocus of your hair,
 And scaly spies stare with round, lightless eyes
 At your small face laid on my stony breast!
 Come, Kate; I must not have you wake, dear heart,
 To hear you cry, perchance, on your dead Max!"

 He turned her still face close upon his breast,
 And with his lips upon her soft-ringed hair
 Leaped from the bank, low shelving o'er the knot
 Of frantic waters at the long slide's foot.
 And as the severed waters crashed and smote
 Together once again, within the wave-
 Stunned chambers of his ear there pealed a cry,
 "O Kate!  Stay, madman, traitor, stay! O Kate!"

 Max, gaunt as prairie wolves in famine time
 With long-drawn sickness, reeled upon the bank,
 Katie, new rescued, waking in his arms.
 On the white riot of the waters gleamed
 The face of Alfred, clam, with close sealed eyes,
 And blood red on his temple where it smote
 The mossy timbers of the groaning slide.

"O God!" cried Max, as Katie's opening eyes
 Looked up to his, slow budding to a smile
 Of wonder and of bliss, "my Kate, my Kate!"
 She saw within his eyes a larger soul
 Than that light spirit that before she knew,
 And read the meaning of his glance and words.
 "Do as you will, my Max; I would not keep
 You back with one light falling finger-tip!"
 And cast herself from his large arms upon
 The mosses at his feet, and hid her face
 That she might not behold what he would do;
 Or lest the terror in her shining eyes
 Might bind him to her, and prevent his soul
 Work out its greatness; and her long, wet hair
 Drew massed about her ears, to shut the sound
 Of the vexed waters from her anguished brain.

 Max looked upon her, turning as he looked.
 A moment came a voice in Katie's soul:
 "Arise, be not dismayed, arise and look;
 If he shall perish, 'twill be as a god,
 For he will die to save his enemy."
 But answered her torn heart: "I cannot look--
 I cannot look and see him sob and die
 In those pale, angry arms.  O let me rest
 Blind, blind and deaf until the swift-paced end.
 My Max!  O God! was that his Katie's name?"
 Like a pale dove, hawk-hunted, Katie ran,
 Her fear's beak in her shoulder; and below,
 Where the coiled waters straightened to a stream,
 Found Max all bruised and bleeding on the bank,
 But smiling with man's triumph in his eyes
 When he has on fierce Danger's lion neck
 Placed his right hand and plucked the prey away.
 And at his feet lay Alfred, still and white,
 A willow's shadow trembling on his face.
 "There lies the false, fair devil, O my Kate,
 Who would have parted us, but could not, Kate!"
 "But could not, Max," said Katie.  "Is he dead?"
 But, swift perusing Max's strange, dear face,
 Close clasped against his breast, forgot him straight
 And ever other evil thing upon
 The broad green earth.

                     PART VI.

 Again rang out the music of the axe,
 And on the slope, as in his happy dreams,
 The home of Max with wealth of drooping vines
 On the rude walls, and in the trellised porch
 Sat Katie, smiling o'er the rich, fresh fields.
 And by her side sat Malcolm, hale and strong,
 Upon his knee a little smiling child
 Named--Alfred, as the seal of pardon set
 Upon the heart of one who sinned and woke
 To sorrow for his sins; and whom they loved
 With gracious joyousness, nor kept the duck
 Of his past deeds between their hearts and his.
 Malcolm had followed with his flocks and herds
 When Max and Katie, hand in hand, went out
 From his old home; and now, with slow, grave smile,
 He said to Max, who twisted Katie's hair
 About his naked arm, bare from his toil:
 "It minds me of old times, this house of yours;
 It stirs my heart to hearken to the axe,
 And hear the windy crash of falling trees.
 Ay, these fresh forests make an old man young."

"Oh, yes!" said Max, with laughter in his eyes;
 "And I do truly think that Eden bloomed
 Deep in the heart of tall, green maple groves,
 With sudden scents of pine from mountain sides,
 And prairies with their breasts against the skies.
 And Eve was only little Katie's height."

"Hoot, lad! you speak as every Adam speaks
 About his bonnie Eve; but what says Kate?"

"Oh, Adam had not Max's soul," she said;
 "And these wild woods and plains are fairer far
 Than Eden's self.  O bounteous mothers they,
 Beckoning pale starvelings with their fresh, green
    hands,
 And with their ashes mellowing the earth,
 That she may yield her increase willingly!
 I would not change these wild and rocking woods,
 Dotted by little homes of unbarked trees,
 Where dwell the fleers from the waves of want,
 For the smooth sward of selfish Eden bowers,
 Nor--Max for Adam, if I knew my mind!"
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