In far-off England, years ago,
There dwelt a wise old sage
Who, from the book of future years
could tare for you a page
One day there came into his home
A youth of noble birth,
who asked that he'd unfold to him
His mission on the earth.
"Lord Allsmere," spoke the rev'rend sage,
"This day is born for you
A wife, in far-off Italy,
For whom, one day, you'll sue,
Your bride is born of humble birth,
No gold or lands has she;
But you will love her just the same,
However poor she be."
"What!--I? How dare you say these things
To me, Lord Allsmere's heir!
take a, beggar for my wife,
With me my wealth to share?
Ha! Ha! A fool you think me then.
I'll let my chances slip,
And leave the wealth of all the land
To kiss a pauper's lip!"
You'll see, young man," the sage replied,
"That all I've said is true,
In Venice, near the riverside
27A bride is born for you.
You'll know her by a blood-red mark
That stains her slender arm;
Upon that mark a leaf is traced,
Quite like a stately palm."
"I'll die before I'll bring such shame
Upon my noble home,
I'll seek this child, and murder her,
And then o'er seas I'll roam.
'Tis well you've told me where she bides;
I'll leave England to-night.
Farewell, old man, you'll see that I
Will make this thing allright."
Ah, man! Thou egotist,--how vain
To fight against thy fate;
Know thou the laws if destiny
Are powerful and great!
And its decrees obscured trolls thee
Thou trav'lest in the night!
Bide thou with peace, thou'it reach thy goal
Without the aid of light.
The night was dark, the air was cold,
The city slept in peace;
A whistle shrill rung on the breeze
But soon was made to cease.
Two men, both clad in strange costumes
Stole near the river's side;
28They launched a babe within a crib
Upon the flowing tide.
"At last, 'tis o'er; the babe will drown;
She'll be no bride of mine.
I'll show that old phlegmatic sage
And now, away to Lady dare,
The woman of my heart!
Oh, for that hour when we'll be one,
On earth, no more to part!"
Lord Allsmere traveled all that night,
And reached his lady's side,
And pledged again his vows of troth
To his intended bride.
And he forgot the lonely babe
He launched upon the deep,
But God, who guards the sparrows' nest,
Watched o'er the babe in sleep.
And when the morning's roseate tint
Was seen to light the sky,
A stray gondolier saw thecrib.
And greatly wondered why
An infant's wail was loudly heard
Upon the water's breast.
He took the crib within his boat,
And soothed the babe to rest.
He landed with his precious charge
And placed her near the gates
29Of old Count Dido's stately home,
Of whom the world relates
Is seven times a millionaire,
With neither kith nor kin.
And there the babe was reared, and grew
A maiden free from sin.
Oh, list! to sounds that cheer the heart;
Stay! 'Tis the clarion's peal;
The harp is mingled with the tones
That make the senses reel.
And from the water's surface blue
I hear the light guitar;
Some knight of Venice sings of love
That is his guiding star.
And why this song and merriment?
Count Dido gives a ball,
And his adopted daughter stands
Admired by one and all.
And oh, who would not love to gaze
Into those liquid eyes!
To clasp that slender, rounded form
Would seem like paradise.
But Mariann knows nought of this,
She hears the music of one voice.
She notes the air of grace
That marks her hero from the rest.
Lord Allsmere owns her heart,
And she not his?--Oh, dreadful thought
That makes the tear-drops start.
But see! he, too, has stood apart
From that gay company,
And notes with eyes lit up with love,
The charms that others see.
"Ye stars! I've
Lord Allsmere cries amazed.
"I thought I loved the Lady Clare,
But pshaw! My brain was crazed.
"I've loved a score of times, and
But 'twas not love like
My heart's on fire with doubt and fear,
Yet 'tis a state of bliss.
Oh, love, that wrings the human heart
Who has not felt its pain!
Who does not know its bitter sweets,
That madden soul and brain!"
Lord Allsmere smiles on Mariann,
31And begs a moonlight walk.
Her gentle hand is on his arm,
And soon engrossed in talk--
They near the famed Rialto's arch,
He finds for her a seat,
And lays his sore and bleeding heart
With fervor at her feet.
And Oh! the joy that thrills
To know she owns his heart.
Such heaven, ah, yes! 'tis paradise!
Will bliss like this depart?
Two arms she lifts, such perfect limbs;
Her hands are clasped in prayer.
But oh! What is that blood-red mark
He sees imprinted there?
He grasps the slender wrist, and looks
Upon the lovely arm;
And there a tiny leaf is traced
Quite like a stately palm
"The babe I drowned!" Lord Allsmere
"Say! how can this be true?
Explain!--I'm dazed!--Long years ago!
I sought to murder you!
"Aha! You've crossed my path again;
The sage then spoke aright.
Plebian! Ah, no! you'll
I'll slay you,
And who is Destiny that dares
Choose beggar for
Ye powers above, I pluck this thorn
That lingers in my side!"
"Oh, spare! Oh, spare! I thee implore,
I'll hide myself airway.
On thy dear face I'll never look,
Nor see the light of day.
I love thee! Ah, my heart is sore,
Why dost thou hate me so?
And what is this that thou dost speak?
Pray tell, I fain would know."
"Alas! I cannot do the deed,
My heart a traitor proves.'
He slowly hides his sword from view,
And from his hand removes
A brilliant ring with opals set,
And lustrous stones that shine.
"See here ! this ring will noir decide
If you will e'er be mine.
"If e'en in days that are to come,
I see your treacherous face,
And on that hand I loathe and spurn,
This ring finds not its place,
I swear to you this night in truth--
I swear I'll have your
And if, instead, you wear this ring,
We'll wed, no more to part."
He throws the ring far in the deep,
The water's sink it low.
He leaves her with, an angry oath,
To bear this dreadful blow.
Weep not, O maid! Dost thou not know
That thou art led by fate?
And it decreed e'er thou wast born
shouldst be his mate?
Ten years have passed; they've done their
On Allsmere's stony heart.
No longer proud, nor arrogant
He feels love's piercing dart.
He longs again to touch that hand,
To kiss that fevered check;
34Away! he hastens to that land
His destined bride to seek.
He sees her by the water's side,
She kneels in tearful prayer.
"What does' she lisp? What are those,
What is that sparkling there?
My ring! O Mariann, arise.
My love! Forgive thou me!
My other soul! I strove in vain
To baffle destiny."
"Lord Allsmere!--See, I wear thy ring?"
The maid, uprising, cried,
"In yonder fish, the cook, yestern,
By chance, the diamond spied.
And now, my love, no more this strife,
My heart's an fire for thee.
Oh, thou canst never fathom, love;
My heart's deep agony!"
"Come, Mariann! Fate's chosen bride,
Twin soul, I sought to slay.
Come to my heart, thou'lt never know
A care I cannot lay.
Come, warm my life,--thou beacon-light,
35Shine thou, this night, on me,
And I will bless forevermore
My planning Destiny.