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The Female Vagrant
by [?]


By Derwent’s side my Father’s cottage stood,
(The Woman thus her artless story told)
One field, a flock, and what the neighbouring flood
Supplied, to him were more than mines of gold.
Light was my sleep; my days in transport roll’d:
With thoughtless joy I stretch’d along the shore
My father’s nets, or from the mountain fold
Saw on the distant lake his twinkling oar
Or watch’d his lazy boat still less’ning more and more

My father was a good and pious man,
An honest man by honest parents bred,
And I believe that, soon as I began
To lisp, he made me kneel beside my bed,
And in his hearing there my prayers I said:
And afterwards, by my good father taught,
I read, and loved the books in which I read;
For books in every neighbouring house I sought,
And nothing to my mind a sweeter pleasure brought.

Can I forget what charms did once adorn
My garden, stored with pease, and mint, and thyme,
And rose and lilly for the sabbath morn?
The sabbath bells, and their delightful chime;
The gambols and wild freaks at shearing time;
My hen’s rich nest through long grass scarce espied;
The cowslip-gathering at May’s dewy prime;
The swans, that, when I sought the water-side,
From far to meet me came, spreading their snowy pride.

The staff I yet remember which upbore
The bending body of my active sire;
His seat beneath the honeyed sycamore
When the bees hummed, and chair by winter fire;
When market-morning came, the neat attire
With which, though bent on haste, myself I deck’d;
My watchful dog, whose starts of furious ire,
When stranger passed, so often I have check’d;
The red-breast known for years, which at my casement peck’d.

The suns of twenty summers danced along,–
Ah! little marked, how fast they rolled away:
Then rose a stately hall our woods among,
And cottage after cottage owned its sway.
No joy to see a neighbouring house, or stray
Through pastures not his own, the master took;
My Father dared his greedy wish gainsay;
He loved his old hereditary nook,
And ill could I the thought of such sad parting brook.

But when he had refused the proffered gold,
To cruel injuries he became a prey,
Sore traversed in whate’er he bought and sold:
His troubles grew upon him day by day,
Till all his substance fell into decay.
His little range of water was denied; [1]
All but the bed where his old body lay.
All, all was seized, and weeping, side by side,
We sought a home where we uninjured might abide.

[Footnote 1: Several of the Lakes in the north of England are let
out to different Fishermen, in parcels marked out by imaginary lines
drawn from rock to rock.]

Can I forget that miserable hour,
When from the last hill-top, my sire surveyed,
Peering above the trees, the steeple tower
That on his marriage-day sweet music made?
Till then he hoped his bones might there be laid,
Close by my mother in their native bowers:
Bidding me trust in God, he stood and prayed,–
I could not pray:–through tears that fell in showers,
Glimmer’d our dear-loved home, alas! no longer ours!

There was a youth whom I had loved so long.
That when I loved him not I cannot say.
‘Mid the green mountains many and many a song
We two had sung, like gladsome birds in May.
When we began to tire of childish play
We seemed still more and more to prize each other;
We talked of marriage and our marriage day;
And I in truth did love him like a brother,
For never could I hope to meet with such another.