Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 10/The Lady of the Grange

THE LADY OF THE GRANGE.

The Lady of the Grange - Charles Green.png

In spring-time, with its opening flowers,
In summer, when the woods are fair,
In autumn, with its blust'ring showers,
In winter, when the trees are bare,
From the morn till day is gone,
Like a statue carved from stone,
Sits a lady, sad and lone;
Sits watching, with a steadfast air,
Until the ev'ning light has flown,
From day to day, without a change,
Monotonous, and still the same;
And she is known by this one name—
"The pale-faced Lady of the Grange."


Beneath the avenue of beeches
The nettles sprout amidst the grass,
And many a weed climbs up and reaches
The windows with their clouded glass.
The stainèd walls, the rusted bell,
The weed-choked garden, blister'd door,
The step with dank moss cover'd o'er,
The broken windlass of the well,
The window corners cobweb deckt,
All speak of long years of neglect,—
Some think it haunted ground;
But there's a sad tale, sad but true,
Of that pale lady, known by few
Of these who live around;
For most of them, the simple youth,
Prefer the ghost-tale to the truth.

The tale runs thus:—Some years ago
The bells rang out a merry chime,
One sunny morning, in the time
When first the summer breezes blow;
Rang out a chime of gladsome strife
For th' fair daughter of the Grange,
Who pass'd below a new-made wife,
And happy in the change.
For youth was hers, and wealth and love,
And all the blessings that can move
The heart to joy and gladness;
But, as 'tis said, extremes do meet,
So sweetest joy, and hers was sweet,
Is oft allied with sadness.

The board was spread,
The speeches said,
Fond words of love and hope were spoken,
And for the old dear life now broken
Some simple tears were shed.
Last words were breathed, last kisses taken,
Good wishes utter'd and hands shaken,
And they must go,—one minute more,
For one last kiss the bride did linger,
And then a stranger, by the door,
A stranger never mark'd before,
Beckon'd the bridegroom with his finger,
And merely mutter'd: "Come with me."
They pass'd into the shrubbery,
And they were seen no more.

A cry was raised, a merry cry,
They did not know how near was sorrow,
"Where is the bridegroom?" no reply
Came to the question. Then, around,
They search'd about the garden ground,
But all that day he was not found,
Nor on the morrow.
The search began in busy sort,
A merry scampering up and down,
As though it were some joyful sport,
Until the truth was known.
He was not there, there was no trace,
Not e'en a footstep near the place;
No! not the slightest sign was seen;
But still again, and yet again,
Each corner where he might remain,
They search'd, but only search'd in vain:
It was as though he ne'er had been.

Did he still live, or was he dead?
Or had that stranger by the door,
Who never had been seen before,
Whisper'd some tale at which he fled?
No man could say,
But from that day
His face was seen no more.

And many years have pass'd since then,
Her parents in the churchyard rest,
Eased of the burden as 'tis best,
And youths have grown grey-headed men.
But she still sits, from early dawn,
From early dawn to ev'ning late,
And has sat, ever since the morn
When she was render'd desolate,
Sits weariedly forlorn.

The bridal robe is dingy now,
But she still wears it; and the hair
Is golden still upon her brow,
And she is very fair.
Her heart is dead, her tears ne'er flow,
There is no sign of care,
Except a touch of dreaminess,
Which is not pain, but something less,
Just bordering on despair.

For Time seems to have pass'd her by,
As one who is not of this earth,—
And still, as on that day of mirth,
Her face shows youthfully;
Except a wrinkle here and there,
A grey streak in the golden hair,
A blankness of the eye.

A weary watch for ever keeping,
A pain without a word of woe,
Without the sweet relief of weeping,
'Tis so the long years onward go.
For ever watching for his coming,
Sad and still without a change,
From the sunrise to the gloaming,
Ever steadfast at her post,
Waiting for a love that's lost,
Sits the Lady of the Grange.

W. G.