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PART III.

She told how Peter, bound with chains,

Lay in the prison-ward, How God's good angel freed him straight, And the strong prison's iron gate

Oped of its own accord.

“God knows our wants," said Marien

"And in our sorest need, Puts forth his arm to rescue us, For he is merciful, and thus

It is that thou art freed."

“Let us go hence !" the old man said,

And o'er the forest sod, They, hand in hand, with quiet steps,

Went forward praising God.

Ere noontide, to a forest grange

They came, á sylvan place, Where trooped, no longer fearing man,

The forest's native race, The white doe and the antlered slag,

And every beast of chase.

'Twas joy to see them drawing near

The old man as he came; And this he stroked, and that he called

By some familiar name.

'Twas joy unto the little child

This little pleasant place to see; “This is my home,” he said, “ and here

Thou shalt abide with me."

“ I have no child to be mine heir,

And I am growing old ; -
Thou shalt be heir of all my lands,

And heir of all my gold.
“Thou shalt be comfort to mine age,

And here within this wood, 'Mongst faithful, gentle things, shalt thou

Grow up to womanhood !"

THROUGH the wild wood went Marien,

For many a weary day;
Her food the forest-fruits, and on

The forest-turf she lay.
The wildern wood was skirted

By moorlands dry and brown;
And after them came Marien

Into a little town.
At entrance of the little town

A cross stood by the way,
A rude stone cross, and there she knelt

A little prayer to say.
Then on the stone-steps sate her down;

And soon beside her crept,
A pale child with a clasped book,

And all the while she wept. “Why weep you, child," asked Marien,

“What troubleth you so sore ?" At these words spoken tenderly,

The child wept more and more. "I have not heard," at length he said,

“ Kind words this many a year, My mother is dead — and my father

Is a hard man and severe. “I sit in corners of the house

Where none can see me weep; And in the quiet of the day

'Tis here I often creep. “The kid leaps by his mother's side,

The singing birds are glad : But when I play me in the sun,

My heart is ever sad.
“They say this blessèd book can heal

All trouble, and therefore
All day I keep it in my sight;
I lay it 'neath my head at night,
But it doth bring no cure to me:-
I know not what the cause may be,

For I of learning have no store !"
Thereat, like to a broken flower

The child drooped down his head;
Then Marien took the clasped book

And of the Saviour read.
She read of him the humble child

Of poverty and scorn ;
How holy angels sang for him

The night that he was born.
How blessèd angels came from heaven

To hail that Christmas night,
And shepherd people with their flocks

Beheld the glorious sight.
Then read she how, a growing youth,

His parents he obeyed,
And served with unrepining will
St. Joseph at his trade.

There dwelt the lovely Marien,

Within the forest wild, And she unto the lone old man

Was dearer than a child.

There dwelt the lovely Marien;

Yet not long dwelt she there ; The old man died ; -- and then came forth

A kinsman for the heir.

A lean and rugged man of pelf,

In wickedness grown old;
From some vile city-den he came

And seized upon the gold ;-
He slew the tamed forest-beasts, –

The forest-grange he sold.
And with hard speeches, coarse and rude,

Away the child he sent :
Meek Marien answered not a word,

But through the forest went.

Then how he grew to man's estate

And wandered up and down,
Preaching upon the lone sea-side,

And in the busy town.
Of all his tenderness, his love,

Page after page she read;
How he made whole the sick, the maimed,

And how he raised the dead.
And how he loved the children small,

Even of low degree;
And how he blessed them o'er and o'er,

And set them on his knee.
When this the little child had heard

He spoke in accents low,
· Would that I had been one with them

To have been blessed so!" w Thou shalt be blessed, gentle one!"

Said Marien kind and mild, " Christ, the Great Comforter, doth bless

Thee, even now, poor child!"
So conversed they of holy things

Until the closing day,
Then Marien and the little child

Rose up to go their way.
As to the town they came, they passed

An ancient church, and “here
Let us go in!" the pale child said,

"For the organ pealeth over head, And that sweet strain of holy sound Like a heavenly vesture wraps me round,

And my heavy heart doth cheer.” So Marien and the little child

Into the church they stole ; And many voices rich and soft Rose upward from the organ loft, And the majestic instrument Pealed to an anthem that was sent

To soothe a troubled soul.
Anon the voices died away,

The pealing organ ceased,
And through the church's ancient door

Passed chorister and priest.
And Marien and the little child

Went forward hand in hand Adown the chancel aisle, and then

At once they made a stand. Over the altar hung a piece

With holy influence fraught, A work divine of wondrous skill

By some old painter wrought.
The gracious Saviour breathing love,

Was there like life expressed,
And round his knees the children small

Were thronging to be blessed.
Down dropped the child upon his knees,

And weeping, tenderly
Cried "bless me also, poor and weak,

Or let me go to thee!"

Anon his little head dropped low,

And his white lips 'gan to say, “Oh kiss me gentle one, for now

Even I am called away –
The blessed mother's voice I hear,

It calleth me away!"
So died the child ;- and Marien laid

His meek arms on his breast,
With the clasped book between his hands:-

Thus God had given him rest!
And Marien, weeping holy tears,

Sate down beside the dead,
And slept that night within the church,

As in a kingly bed.
Scarce from the church had Marien passed,

When came the father there,
As was his wont, though fierce and bad,

To say a morning prayer.
Not seven paces had he gone,

When, heart-struck, he surveyed
Before his feet, that little child

In his dead beauty laid.
At once as by a lightning stroke

His softened soul was torn
With a deep sense of all the wrong

That liule child had borne.
And then came back the timid voice

The footstep faint and low,
The many little arts to please,

The look of hopeless woe. And many a shuddering memory

or harsh rebuke and blow.
No prayer of self-approving words,

As was his wont, he said,
But humbled, weeping, self-condemned,

He stood before the dead.

PART IV.

Ten long days' travel Marien went,

O'er woodland and o'er wold, Teaching and preaching by the way,

Like Jesus Christ of old.
Sometimes within the Baron's hall

A lodging she would find,
And never went she from the door

But blessings staid behind;
Proud foes forgiven, revenge withheld,

And plenteous peace of mind. With shepherd people on the hills ;

With toiling peasant men, She sate; with women dwelling lone,

On mountain or in glen. By wayside wells she sate her down,

With pilgrims old and bent; Or, hand in hand, with children small, To the village school she went.

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On went the child, - and as she went,

Within the Baron's hall,
Were hung up helm and mail and sword,

To rust upon the wall.
On went she, — and the poets sung

No longer war's acclaim,
But holy hymns of love and joy,

To hail her as she came.

On went she, like an angel good ;

With bounding steps she went, Day after day, until she came

To the great Conqueror's tent. There sat he, a strong man of blood,

Steel-mailed and scarfed with blue, Poring o'er charts of distant lands,

For new lands to subdue.

“ Up, sin no more! 'Tis coming now,

The day thou canst not flee, When all the thousands thou hast slain

God will require of thee!
"Thou man of blood, repent, repent,

Repent whilst yet thou may,
And store up deeds of love and peace

Against that awful day!"
Up from his seat the conqueror rose,

And paced the uneasy tent,
And ground his teeth and groaned aloud,

As one that doth repent,
Forth from the tent sped Marien ;

And many a summer's day
Throughout a blessed land of peace
She journeyed on her way.

PART V.

At length, after long travel past,

She came as it grew late,
Along a beaten road, that led

To a vast city gate.
A vast and populous city, where

Rose dome, and tower, and spire,
And many a gilded pinnacle,
Far-seen, as the bright sunset fell,

Like glittering points of fire.
A city vast and populous,

Whose thronging multitude
Sent forth a sound afar-off heard,

Strong as the ocean-food.
A strong, deep sound of many sounds,

Toil, pleasure, pain, delight,
And traffic, myriad-wheeled, whose din

Ceased not by day or night.
And through the city gate a throng

Passed ever, never spent ; A busy mingling human tide

Of those who came and went. 'Twas a proud city and a rich;

A city fair and old; Filled with the world's most costly things, –

of precious stones and gold; Of silks, fine woods, and spiceries ;

And all that's bought and sold.
Thither came homeless Marien,

Came there as it grew late,
Foot-sore and weary, friendless, poor,

Unto the city gate.
There found her a poor carpenter

Returning from his trade,
And he, with pitying countenance,

Her weary form surveyed.
« Corne!" said he, “thou unto my house,

Shalt go: and of my bread,
And of my cup, thou shalt partake ;
Shalt bide with me!" and as he spake

Her weary steps he led.
Unto an humble place that stood

'Mong dwellings of the poor
He brought her; bade her welcome thrice

Unto his lowly door.
The good-wife met her with like cheer,

" And though our fare is scant,
Fear not,” she said, “whilst we have food

It is not thou shalt want!"
So dwelt she with this humble pair
. In the great city, cherished so,
As parents cherish their first-born ;

Nor would they let her go.
Thus for a year she dwelt with them;

And that while their abode

Was blessed exceedingly; their store

Grew daily, weekly, more and more ;
And peace so multiplied around,
The very hearth seemed holy ground,
As if once more on earth was found

The Paradise of God.
'T was she that blessed the bread they ate,

"T was she soothed all their cares; They knew not that they entertained

An angel unawares.
With simple hearts that had no guile

They of the Saviour heard;
And, weeping tears of joyful faith,

Believed and blessed each word.
No more they marvelled how their board

With plenteous food was spread;
Five barley loaves dispensed by Christ

The famished thousands fed.
With love that would not be repressed,

Their kindling bosoms burned,
And 'mong their neighbours poor they went

To teach what they had learned.
To teach how Christ unto the poor,

The sinner vile, was sent;
How Mary washed his feet with tears,
And wiped them with her golden hairs,

A weeping penitent.
And how the sinful woman stood

Unjudged before his face;
How the poor prodigal sped back

Repentant to his place ;
How to the thief upon the cross

He said, thou art forgiven,
And thou shalt be with me this day,

In the paradise of Heaven.
So preached the carpenter; and men

Turned from their evil ways,
And Christian prayer was heard around,

And Christian hymns of praise.
Strange seemed these things ; and to the rich,

And to the proud, 't was told, How many of the meaner sort

Lived like the saints of old.

How holy, blameless, were their lives;

And how poor craftsmen vile, Amid their fellows, tool in hand,

The gospel preached the while. 'T was told of Marien ; how she came

A wanderer none knew whence; Friendless and poor, of mind mature,

A child in innocence ; As thus 't was told, some blessed God,

But others took oflence.

" Why,” said they, “should this simple child,

These men of low degree, Thus preach and practise? what new faith Is there, or need there be ?

“ Bishops have taught a thousand years,

And learned men are they ;
These are mad doctrines, false, unfit,

Devised to lead astray."
Therefore the simple people were

To a full synod brought,
To answer for their altered lives,

And for the faith they taught.
Much marvelled all those learnòd men

To see them searless stand,
Calm, unabashed; with ready wit,

And language at command.
And to their taunts of low estate,

They answered, “ let alone All pride of rank; Christ chose the poor,

To make his gospel known.
" And what are we? - Immortal souls,

For whom Christ's blood was shed;
Children of one great sire, with ye,
Co-heirs of Immortality;
Alike you both in birth and death;
Alone our lot so differeth,

As God shall judge the dead!"
Then were they questioned of old creeds ;

By sophistries perplexed ;
So that their artless lore might fail,

Their simple souls be vexed.
But they were steadfast in the faith

As taught the holy book ;
And thence it was adjudged a crime

Upon its page to look.
And the grave synod rose in wrath,

And they were judged blasphemers dire, And doomed, their daring heresies

To expiate in fire.

Throughout the city rang the tale

Of this divinest child ;
And for her sake unto her faith

Many were reconciled.
Unto the synod came these things;

And “here let her be brought,
To answer for hersell," they said,

“And suffer as she ought." . As Christ among the doctors stood.

So she among these men,
Stern, rugged-browed, and deeply versed

In parchment and in pen;
Meekly she stood; when they reviled,

Reviling not again.
Yet with sweet words and argument,

Rather of love than lore,
She pleaded for the faith, as ne'er

Pled youthful tongue before.
All were amazed who heard her words;

And straightway spoke each one Unto his neighbour, " Through this child

May mighty things be done !" Then threatening words anon grew soft,

" And thou with us shalt go," They said, “and with the poor and vile,

No longer suffer woe. “Thou shalt be clothed in purple robes,

In gold and linen fine; Shalt eat the daintiest food ; shalt drink

The spirit-gladdening wine. · And with us in proud palaces

A crowned queen shalt be; Leave but these men, for they are poor,

And can do nought for thee! “ Behold the stake at which they burn

The iron-rack behold -
Are these the men to make thee rich

With silver and with gold ?
“Come with us, glorious Marien,

And in our places high,
We will exalt thee as a queen,

Will deck thee royally!" “ Nay," said sweet Marien, “ as a queen

It is not I may bide;
I am not won with power nor gold,

Nor aught of human pride.
“Who clothes the lilies of the field,

Will clothe me, even as they ;
Who hears the ravens when they cry,

Will feed me day by day!"
But still the tempters kept with her;

And “Come away," they said,
And she unto a sumptuous dome

With royal pomp was led. They showed her all that palace proud ;

They showed her store of gold; They told her of a hundred realms, And wealth a hundred-fold.

PART VI.

So perished for their faith in Christ,

This righteous couple; for their foes Beseeching pardon; blessing God

That they were reckoned among those Worthy to die for Christ, whose place Is with the Holiest face to face. Beside the pile stood Marien

Weeping sad human tears,
Yet strengthening, comforting the while,

And soothing all their fears.
And as she spoke, her countenance

With heavenly lustre beamed,
And all around her youthful form

Celestial beauty streamed. Men looked on her with wondering awe,

As on an angel's face, And pity, and love, and sweet remorse,

In every heart had place.

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