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The only words that Avarice could utter,
"There's not enough, enough, yet in my store!" While Envy, as she scanned the glittering sight, Groaned as she gnashed her yellow teeth with spite,
"She's more than I, more, still forever more!"
Thus, each in her own fashion, as they wandered,
The God Desire stood before their eyes.
Said he to the two sisters, "Beauteous ladies,
Or in one word, whatever you'd like best.
Imagine how our amiable pair,
At this proposal, all so frank and fair,
Were mutually troubled!
Misers and enviers of our human race,
Say, what would you have done in such a case?
"What boots it, oh, Desire, to me to have
Crowns, treasures, all the goods that heart can crave, Or power divine bestow,
Since still another must have always more?"
So each, lest she should speak before
The other, hesitating slow and long
With two such beauties in the public road;
He wished them both—well, not in heaven.
Envy at last the silence broke,
And smiling, with malignant sneer,
Who stood in expectation by,
'TWAS the fisher's wife at her neighbor's door,
And haste with me o'er the sands."
Now a kind man was the fisherman,
And the wife had plenty on her board,
And she stood at her neighbor's door and cried,
For the fairies have stolen my pretty babe
"My pretty babe, that was more than all
"I went to look for his father's boat, When I heard the stroke of the oar; And I left him cooing soft in his bed,
As the bird in her nest by the door.
"And there was the father fair in sight,
And my foot was back o'er the sill again,
"But the fairies had time to steal my babe, And leave me in his place
A restless imp, with a wicked grin,
And Nora took her cloak and hood,
She led the fisher's wife through the night
"Nay, do not rave, and talk so wild;" 'Twas Nora thus that spoke;
"We must have our wits to work against The arts of fairy folk.
"There's a charm to help us in our need, But its power we can not try,
With the black cloud hanging o'er the brow, And the salt tear in the eye.
"For wicked things may gibe and grin
But the joyous peal of a happy laugh
"And if this sprite we can but please Till he laughs with merry glee,
We shall break the spell that holds him here, And keeps the babe from your knee."
So the mother wiped her tears away,
They blew a blast on the fisher's horn,
But there the hateful creature kept,
Then Nora cried, "Take yonder egg
And make of it two hollow cups,
Like tiny cups of delf."
And the mother took the sea-mew's egg,
And made of it two tiny cups,
And filled them at the well.
She filled them up as Nora bade,
And the imp grew still, for he ne'er had seen In fairy-land such bowls.
And when the water bubbled and boiled,
Mirth bubbled up to his lips, and he laughed
And the mother turned about, and felt
For the imp was gone, and there in his place
And Nora said to her neighbor, "Now
But a merry heart and a merry laugh
"And who can say but the dismal frown
That keeps the good from our homes and hearts,
"O MARY, go and call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home,
Across the sands o' Dee;"
The western wind was wild and dank wi' foam,
The creeping tide came up along the sand,
And o'er and o'er the sand,
And round and round the sand,
As far as eye could see;
The blinding mist came down and hid the land—
And never home came she.
"Oh, is it weed, or fish, or floating hair—
A tress o' golden hair,
O' drowned maiden's hair,
Above the nets at sea?
Was never salmon yet that shone so fair
They rowed her in across the rolling foam,
The cruel, crawling foam,
The cruel, hungry foam,
To her grave beside the sea;
But still the boatmen hear her call the cattle home,