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THE

FOSTER MOTHER'S TALE,

A DRAMATIC FRAGMENT.

FOSTER-MOTHER.

I never saw the man whom you describe.

MARIA.

'Tis strange! he spake of you familiarly

As mine and Albert's common Foster-mother.

FOSTER-MOTHER.

Now blessings on the man, whoe'er he be,

That joined your names with mine! O my sweet lady,

As often as I think of those dear times

When you two little ones would stand at eve
On each side of my chair, and make me learn
All you
had learnt in the day; and how to talk

In gentle phrase, then bid me sing to you

'Tis more like heaven to come than what has been.

MARIA.

O my dear Mother! this strange man has left me
Troubled with wilder fancies, than the moon
Breeds in the love-sick maid who gazes at it,
Till lost in inward vision, with wet eye
She gazes idly!—But that entrance, Mother!

FOSTER-MOTHER.

Can no one hear? It is a perilous tale!

MARIA.

No one.

FOSTER-MOTHER

My husband's father told it me, Poor old Leoni!--Angels rest his soul!

He was a woodman, and could fell and saw

With lusty arm. You know that huge round beam Which props the hanging wall of the old chapel? Beneath that tree, while yet it was a tree

He found a baby wrapt in mosses, lined
With thistle-beards, and such small locks of wool
As hang on brambles. Well, he brought him home,
And reared him at the then Lord Velez' cost.

And so the babe grew up a pretty boy,
A pretty boy, but most unteachable-

And never learnt a prayer, nor told a bead,

But knew the names of birds, and mocked their notes,

And whistled, as he were a bird himself:

And all the autumn 'twas his only play

To get the seeds of wild flowers, and to plant them
With earth and water, on the stumps of trees.

A Friar, who gathered simples in the wood,

A grey-haired man—he loved this little boy,
The boy loved him—and, when the Friar taught him,
He soon could write with the pen and from that time,
Lived chiefly at the Convent or the Castle.

So he became a very learned youth.

But Oh! poor wretch !—he read, and read, and read, 'Till his brain turned—and ere his twentieth year,

He had unlawful thoughts of many things:
And though he prayed, he never loved to pray
With holy men, nor in a holy place-
But yet his speech, it was so soft and sweet,
The late Lord Velez ne'er was wearied with him.
And once, as by the north side of the Chapel
They stood together, chained in deep discourse,
The earth heaved under them with such a groan,
That the wall tottered, and had well-nigh fallen
Right on their heads. My Lord was sorely frightened;
A fever seized him, and he made confession

Of all the heretical and lawless talk

Which brought this judgment: so the youth was seized
And cast into that hole. My husband's father
Sobbed like a child—it almost broke his heart:

And once as he was working in the cellar,
He heard a voice distinctly; 'twas the youth's,
Who sung a doleful song about green fields,
How sweet it were on lake or wild savannah,
To hunt for food, and be a naked man,

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