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White Hood and Blue Cap: A Christmas Bough with Two Branches

In Vita Non Disjunctia

page 140

In Vita Non Disjunctia.

Out on the mountain, weary and worn,
Downcast, depressed, deserted, forlorn,—
On the ragged edge of a jutting stone,—
In a wide, wide, blinding waste of snow,
Sat a man, unaided, unfriended, alone.
Nothing but snow—dazzling snow,
Before him, behind him, above, below;
And the feathery flakes were bitterly borne
On the chill night-air as he made his moan,
There on that desolate mountain alone.

“Oh God!—my God!—Is this, then, the end
Of a life I had hoped with my love to spend—
With my love, my darling, my Alice, my own?
I have wrought for years for the tempting gold,
That I have in the belt that is round me girt;
For her sake I have wrought night, morning and noon,
And what is it now but so much dirt?
Some aid, oh Heaven!—some aid, oh! send,
Let it come to me quickly—come to me soon,
Ere I sink, bewildered, and sick, and cold.”

Response there was none to the lost one's cry,
And the snow fell thicker and faster around,
With a dreary, death-like absence of sound,—
Shrouding the earth and obscuring the sky;
And he felt that his heart was turning to stone,
As he sank in despair on the sheeted ground,
And sobbed “No hope! I must needs then die;
I shall see thee no more, sweet Alice—good-bye!
My bones some day, perchance, may be found
Here on this desolate mountain alone.”

* * * * *

Bright was the fire on the cot's hearthstone,
But Alice stood by the window-pane,
page 141 Looking forth, pale and woe-begone——
“My love——my love! shall I see you again?
I know that men have gone forth to save,
But fierce is the storm, and their quest may be vain.
And life ere this, God wot, may have flown.
Oh, would I were strong—oh, would I were brave!
To snatch my love from a snow-wreathed grave,
There on that desolate mountain alone.”

Night's curtain fell, and the bright stars shone.
And the pitiless snow ceased to vex the earth,
But Alice stood at the window still,—
“They are strong men and true, and they have the will——
If they find him too late, what is life to me worth?”
Then a light appeared on the crown of the hill,
And she cried aloud with hysterical mirth,—
“Living or dead, he is coming—my own—
They have found him, nor left him in dismalest death,
There on that desolate mountain alone.”

Slowly the life-blood began to flow
Through the frozen veins of the rescued one,
As he lay with his head on fair Alice's breast;
And he murmered in accents feeble and low,
“Surely this is eternal rest?
An angel's arms are around me now,
An angel's tears bedew my brow,
And an angel's lips are on my lips press'd.
Thank God!—thank God!—oh, Alice my own,
I am not on that desolate mountain alone.”

Vincent Pyke.