The land of Avia, lovely is the scene,
Clothed every evening in a silvery sheen;
The rippling brook and birds make music clear,
Wild flowers bloom in plenty all the year,
And mistletoe’s the largest tree that’s found,
It’s roots embedded firmly in the ground.
In vales of mistle, ‘long the Aztec shore,
Stand board-roofed huts, numbering but a score;
The largest one is Haggar’s-well in years;
No happier man in all the place appears.
His daughter, Alice, simple, pure and good,
And loved by all in that fair neighborhood.
Of all the youths that came to woo her love
No voice but Ed’s could cause her heart to move.
Ed Lassiters, son of a magistrate,
Was loved by all, and no one could he hate;
In peace and love he served the village long,
And no one e’er complained he’d done them wrong;
And Ed, his son, a steady, sober youth,
Was famed throughout the village for his truth.
Alice loved Ed; when children it was seen
That Ed loved her and held her as his queen.
Together they were always seen at play.
What e’er she willed, it pleased Ed to obey;
“My doll, a house,” was all she had to speak,
For sticks and bark at once Ed went to seek;
To bake mud cakes more water she’ demand;
Ed quickly brought and placed it at her hand.
In all their play they were not seen to pout;
Always in love there was no falling out.
Each day to school they hand in hand would go,
Her books and slate Ed carried to and fro;
Each Sunday morn the chapel bell would chime,
And Ed with Alice marched away on time;
To church at night Alice alone he’d bring,
And from one book both in the choir would sing.
The childish love that bound them when at play
To greater love soon yielded up its sway.
Were children once, but ah, no children now;
Ed was a farmer, master of the plow;
Alice, a maid, how skilful at the loom,
And all affairs pertaining to the home;
Once close they lived, but now three miles apart;
But miles cannot divide true heart from heart.
The village lads loved well the maiden dear,
But knew their love and would not interfere;
So hand in hand through life they always went,
So lovingly, so happy, so content.
But, ah, if he had known the pain to come,
He would have had her safely in his home.
To Avia came a family seeking health;
A noble family; great, too, was their wealth;
A man and wife, a son, the darling joy;
John his name, and handsome was the boy.
He saw the maid, and love came at the sight;
To win her love he sought with all his might.
Soon she loved John and soon he loved the maid,
So swift is love when gold can give it aid.
And since that day the youth came from the north
Ed’s cloak of love had keenly felt a moth.
E’er on his face there dwelt a heavy frown;
Each day he passed his head was hanging down.
And all the village wondered as he passed
What made the change, what made him so downcast.
Each Sunday morn he strolled alone to church;
We sympathized-we knew it grieved him much;
As when the ivy from the oak we tear,
It seemeth lonely, ah! it seemeth bare.
So ’twas with Ed when they were seen apart,
He seemed e’er sad, so withered was his heart.
He loved her still, and each time he would call
He plead in vain that she would love him all.
Each night Ed called each night both lovers met;
They’d try in vain each other to outset,
When on her face Ed read her heart’s desire
He’d ask his hat, reluctantly retire.
Poor Ed, from youth could see her any time,
Now once a week his visits were confined.
Each youth desired the maid to be his bride;
She loved them both, and how could she decide.
Three months had passed-the choice she had not made;
With bashful face she sought her mother’s aid.
She hinted out the burden of her heart;
Her loving mother knew the other part.
“Oh, Ed and John,” she said, with trembling voice,
“I love them both and cannot make a choice;
Three months in vain the choice I’ve tried to make;
It’s left with you mother, which one to take.”
The mother thought a while and slowly said:
“I cannot choose the man for you to wed,
For much is in the saying of the bard
‘Make your own bed and keep it if it’s hard;’
So, make your choice; if he’s not what he seems
On no one else can you well place the blame.
Since I’m your ma, advice ’tis mine to give:
With whom you choose through life pray try to live,
For they who wed and quit without a cause
Have broken o’er our Holy Father’s laws.
Unless you can for him lay down your life
Never, my child, consent to be his wife,
For married life is greater than a dream,
And all have found it greater than it seemed.
To know the one whose love is pure and best,
I think it right to bring him to a test.
How can you judge from the word the greater love?
Does rain tell all that it has seen above?
What steed an empty wagon cannot pull?
Ah, place him to a wagon that is full.
The many words! but, ah, the simple few,
Can have a great effect if spoken true.
The sweetest words make not the greatest youth,
Ah, he is great who sayest but the truth.
The world to-day is so enrapt with sin,
That it is right with women and with men,
Before they be exalted in our sight,
We must have great assurance they are right.
So Ed and John seem good, I love them well;
The one for you to choose I cannot tell.
The way to find the one to suit you best,
Put life at stake and give them both a test,
For he who takes a maiden for his wife
Should count it joy to give for her his life.”
She knew that neither Ed nor John could swim;
To try the deep, would be a test for them.
She thought how each of them enjoyed to row.
She said: “Some day, while rowing, drop your oar,
And tell him bring the oar you’ll be his bride;
First let the oar ‘neath the boat be tied;
Engage them now, go quick and tie the oar.”
One came at three, the other came at four.
I feign to tell them what the mother said;
So great the plot when by a woman made.
She set the time, and John and Ed complied;
The evening came and John was by her side.
With John she goes, as though she loved him best,
Out in the boat that she his love might test.
From youth she knew the art to dive and swim;
‘Twas all a secret, ‘t was not known to him.
They reached the deep where angry billows roar;
She for a purpose dropped her only oar.
Out from the boat the oar the waves did toss;
The maid screamed out in anguish, “We are lost!”
The oar was fairly whirling by a wave;
The frightened maid knelt praying God to save.
The coward youth sat trembling pale as death;
His face had changed, it seemed he had no breath.
The maid knelt still, pretending loud to weep.
But through her fingers at the youth she’d peep.
She saw the youth still fainting in dismay;
She would have laughed, but thought she would betray.
She raised her head, the oar again she spied;
Beneath the boat the oar with cord was tied.
She really cried, for lo! her face was red,
“John, bring the oar, I’ll be your wife,” she said.
But John sat still, for he could not obey;
“I cannot swim,” was all she heard him say.
She bade him think, she bade him count the cost;
“Without the oar won’t both our lives be lost?
If you sit here is death not sure?” she said.
John knew it was, and cowardly dropped his head.
With trembling voice she cried, imploring still:
‘”Go, bring the oar; if you won’t, John, I will.
What will you do?” She paused to give him time.
He would not go; she leaped into the brine;
She sank and rose, and loudly came a sound:
“Pray come and help! quick! love, for soon I drown!”
John saw his love the third time disappear;
She cried in vain, for John refused to steer.
Again she rose and quickly seized the oar,
Towards the boat the oar she swiftly bore
Soon in the boat, dripping, she took her seat,
As John sat cowardly gazing at her feet;
Then to the shore she quickly made her way;
She reached the shore, to him was heard to say
“The oar wasn’t lost; by this thread it was tied;
My life to you I’m thinking to confide.”
And this she said: “I did it just to prove
Whether or not you’re worthy of my love.”
She told him all, and said: “John can’t you see
That you are false and do not care for me.”
And John stood crying, begging not to tell;
She vowed she’d not, and said to him farewell.
He went his way and she sat on the beach-
I’ll tell you why before the end is reached-
‘Twas nearly four, and Ed, her other beau,
Had promised then to meet her for a row.
The hour had come, the village clock was heard;
Ah! Ed was there; he always kept his word.
Up from the beach she rose, her friend to greet;
She had not heard the tramping of his feet.
Soon in the boat they both sat face to face;
She took the oar as though out for a race;
Then with the oar she gave the sea a sweep,
And soon the boat was sailing on the deep;
“Here comes a ship; look, Ed, I see the top.”
He turned his head, the oar she did let drop.
“Dear Ed,” she cried, “pray take me to my home;
I dropped the oar and death is sure our doom.”
He gazed at her and saw her faint away,
“Don’t cry, my dear,” she softly heard him say;
He raised her head, consoling words he speaks,
Brushed back her hair and kissed her rosy cheeks;
Pretended she unconscious of a kiss;
Yet still her soul was thrilled with holy bliss.
He raised her gently in a fond embrace,
And gently wipes her tear-stained, blushing face,
The tears upon her rosy cheek repose
Appeared like sparkling dewdrops on a rose.
As men in hurrying pressed for want of time,
Can find a moment still to sip the wine,
So hurried Ed, for fear the oar he’d miss,
Yet still found time, yea, thrice, her lips to kiss;
Just as a man is moved by sparkling drinks
Performs an act before of danger thinks.
The kiss affected Ed as strongest wine;
He could not swim, yet did not fear the brine;
He did not stop for once to count the cost,
Nor thought he once that either would be lost.
He said, unless his queen should reach the shore,
Out of his arm he would have made an oar;
Then from the boat he leaped, and could not swim;
An angry wave came quick and covered him.
Strangled he rose, though struggling for his life,
He cried aloud: “O, God, pray, save my wife!”
He did not drown, for she well knew the art,
And leaped and bore him speechless to her heart.
Hold of the cord the oar she quickly drew;
Yet, brought the oar she said he never knew;
He really thought he saved his lover’s life.
He woke and cried aloud “You are my wife.”
For when he sank he was a senseless elf;
To-day he thinks he brought the oar himself.
And when she saw how artless was his love
The love within her heart was felt to move;
Where there is love much love it doth inspire,
Thus blazed her love and set his soul on fire.
It seemed as love her heart would ‘sunder rent,
Unless by hasty means could give it vent;
For when love’s heart is free from doubt and fear
It sayeth much that love would feign to hear.
Thus went the time until the glowing west
Was telling that the sun had gone to rest.
They reached the shore, though he was soaking wet,
Before they left, the wedding day was set.
Three weeks passed on, the blessed eve drew near,
The wedding bells were chiming loud and clear.
That night they vowed to love and serve through life;
There never lived a happier man and wife.
In Mistle still to-day there can be seen
A thatch-roofed house, twined round with ivy green;
Upon the lawn a boy and girl at play-
This is the home where Ed and Alice stay.
(James Ephraim McGirt)
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Based on Keywords: complied, outset, enrapt, pertaining, s-well, passed-the, haggar, mistle, thatch-roofed