Thompson, Priscilla Jane
|GLEANINGS OF QUIET HOURS.|
|THE HUSBAND'S RETURN.|
THE PROUD, majestic Southern sun,
Let fall a golden gleam;
It flickered through a leafy bower,
And fell aslant a traveler's brow,
And roused him from his dream.
A finer specimen of man,
Was never cast in clay;
A swarthy Hercules was he,
With that rash intrepidity,
Of manhood's earliest day.
He, an emancipated slave,
From Rappahanock's side;
Assured by Lincoln's strong decree,
Had journeyed southward, bold and free,
To claim his stolen bride.
From many a camp of Union men,
He'd found his rations free;
And by their kindly guiding hand,
He now locates the plundered land,
Where his young wife must be.
A three hours' tramp 'cross rugged hills,
Footsore, yet full of life;
Now brings him to the handsome gate,
Where flowers, bedeck a mansion great,
The prison of his wife.
And as he boldly seeks the porch,
On entering through the gate,
The master, from his wicker chair,
With grim forebodings, wildly glare,
As he his errand wait.
Advancing nearer, now, at hand,
He recognize the face,
The same firm mouth, the flashing eye,
The trouble wrought in days gone by,
Comes back with no good grace.
"Well Steve, you scoundrel, what's to pay?"
He said, with rising fear;
"You've run away, that is a fact,
I'll have you flogged, and shipped right
What do you want back here?"
Young Stephen, to keep down his wrath,
His strongest will employ;
He simply says, "All slaves are free,
The news is heard where e'er I be;
I want my wife and boy."
A white rage lights the planter's face,
His oaths are fierce and wild;
He calls on demons from below,
To take him if a will he'd show,
To yield the wife and child.
The rash young freedman with one bound,
Had seized his deadly foe,
But Providence sent "second thought,"
Before the murderous deed was wrought,
He loosed his hold to go.
There played about that swarthy youth,
As he strode down the path,
A threat'ning storm from rights bereft,
That stayed the planter's gasping breath,
And took away his wrath.
"Stop, Steve! where are you going now?"
He cried with deadly fear;
"Come, boy, now let me hear your plan,
Come, let us talk as man to man!
Your wife is happy here."
Young Stephen flung an answer back,
With fury in his eye,
That suddenly did take his breath,
And paled his face, as if grim death
Had dropped down from the sky.
"I'm a-goin' to the barracks,
An' fetch the 'blue-coats" here;
I swear this day I'll claim my wife,
Or you will pay it with your life,
Long 'fore the night appear."
Swift to the dairy, house hard by,
A summon speeds the while;
A slender girl, with, sweet, dark eyes,
Comes quickly forth in glad surprise,
Dangling a heavy child.
Young Stephen's wrath is all forgot,
As with a cry of joy,
With kisses sweet and sighs of love,
The bright sun smiling from above,
He clasps his wife and boy.
And, as he strained them to his breast,
Where tumult late held sway,
A peace suffused his storm tossed heart,
That bade all gloomy moods depart,
And lit with joy his way.