Sussex Poets. 269
His sire was full of manhood's pride
When he had left, a boy, his home; His mother's cheek had time defied,
He fondly thought, for years to come. He sought them both, but there, alas,
Within the churchyard's narrow bed A tombstone told him as he passed,
"Thy parents, Wanderer—they are dead!"
He sought again the ancient hall,
Where desolation held her sway, And heard the owls' dull croaking call
And bats against the casement play. His footsteps on the marble floor
Aroused th' intruders and they fled; Shrieking, "Thy friends, they are no more;
Maid, brother, sisters—all are dead!"
The following lines were a mere jeu d'esprit; but they showed an ability, which is rare, to deal airily with a bubble : —
THE CHINESE LOVERS.
I'll tell you a tale of a young Chinese Who wore her petticoats up to her knees, And put her feet, so pretty and small, Into a walnut-shell, heels and all— There never had been such a prize to win Before in the town of old Pekin!
There lived a youth in the very same town, Whose tail to the heels of his shoes came down, And he met the maid as she walked one day, With a servant to fan the flies away; And, stopping a moment near to sneeze, Walked off with the heart of the young Chinese!
That very same night, as in bed she lay,
There came a note from her Pa to say
As how as what a person had been
To ask her hand for a Mandarin—
A very great merchant who dealt in teas,
And who was coming next day for the young Chinese.
Then many a tear the maiden shed,
As she put on her clothes and jumped out of bed;
The moon shone cold on the river's stream
As the maid plunged in—one feeble scream
Is borne along on the passing breeze—
'Tis the dying moan of the young Chinese!
And ever since that time, they say, Those who by the spot do stray See the form of a skeleton maid Dancing along 'neath a willow's shade; And they know it to be the young Chinese, For it wears its petticoats up to its knees!