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" My father should wear a broadcloth coat; My brother should sail a painted boat;
" I'd dress my mother so grand and gay,
And the baby should have a new toy each day.
"And I'd feed the hungry and clothe the poor, And all should bless me who left our door."
The Judge looked back as he climbed the hill, And saw Maud Muller standing still.
"A form more fair, a face more sweet, Ne'er hath it been my lot to meet;
"And her modest answer and graceful air Show her wise and good as she is fair.
"Would she were mine, and I, to-day, Like her. a harvester of hay!
"No doubtful balance of rights and wrongs, Nor weary lawyers with endless tongues,
" But low of cattle and songs of birds, And health and quiet and loving words."
But he thought of his sisters proud and cold, And his mother vaiu of her rank and gold.
So, closing his heart, the Judge rode on, And Maud was left in the field alone.
But the lawyers smiled that afternoon, When he hummed in court an old love-tune;
And the young girl mused beside the well, Till the rain on the unraked clover fell.
He wedded a wife of richest dower, Who lived for fashion, as he for power.
Yet oft, in his marble hearth's bright glow, He watched a picture come and go;
And sweet Maud Muller's hazel eyes Looked out in their innocent surprise.
Oft, when the wine in his glass was red, He longed for the way-side well instead;
And closed his eyes on his garnished rooms, To dream of meadows and clover-blooms.
And the proud man sighed, with a secret pain, " Ah that I were free again!"
" Free as when I rode that day,
Where the barefoot maiden raked her hay!"
She wedded a man unlearned and poor, And many children played round her door;
But care and sorrow and childbirth pain Left their traces on heart and brain.
Aud oft, when the summer sun shone hot On the new-mown hay in the meadow lot,
And she heard the little spring brook fall Over the road-side, through the wall,
In the shade of the apple-tree again, She saw a rider draw his rein:
And, gazing down with timid grace, She felt his pleased eyes read his face.
Sometimes her narrow kitchen walls Stretched away into stately halls;
The weary wheel to a spinnet turned, The tallow-candle an astral burned;
And for him who sat by the chimney lug, Doziug and grumbling o'er pipe and mug,
A manly form at her side she saw, And joy was duty, and love was law.
Theu she took up her burden of life again. Saying only, " It might have been !"
Alas for maiden ! alas for judge!
For rich repiner, and household drudge!
God pity them both and pity us all, Who vainly the dreams of youth recall!
For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: " It might have been!"
Ah well! for us all some sweet hope lies Deeply buried from human eyes;
And, in the hereafter, angels may Roll the stone from its grave away!