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Till I was forty years of age, not more
Than half of my inheritance was mine.
I toiled and toiled; God blessed me in my
work,

And till these three weeks past the land was free.

It looks as if it never could endure 380 Another Master. Heaven forgive me, Luke, If I judge ill for thee, but it seems good That thou shouldst go.' At this the old Man paused;

Then, pointing to the stones near which they stood,

Thus, after a short silence, he resumed: 'This was a work for us; and now, my

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Who, being innocent, did for that cause Bestir them in good deeds. Now, fare thee well

When thou return'st, thou in this place wilt

see

A work which is not here: a covenant 415 'T will be between us - But, whatever fate Befall thee, I shall love thee to the last, And bear thy memory with me to the grave.'

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Of an unusual strength. Among the rocks He went, and still looked up to sun and cloud

And listened to the wind; and as before Performed all kinds of labor for his sheep, And for the land, his small inheritance. 460 And to that hollow dell from time to time Did he repair, to build the fold of which His flock had need. 'Tis not forgotten yet The pity which was then in every heart For the old Man-and 't is believed by all That many and many a day he thither went, And never lifted up a single stone.

467

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So that it seems a thing endued with sense: Like a sea-beast crawled forth, that on a shelf

Of rock or sand reposeth, there to sun itself;

Such seemed this Man, not all alive nor dead,

Nor all asleep-in his extreme old age: 65 His body was bent double, feet and head Coming together in life's pilgrimage;

As if some dire constraint of pain, or rage Of sickness felt by him in times long past, A more than human weight upon his frame had cast.

70

Himself he propped, limbs, body, and pale face,

Upon a long gray staff of shaven wood: And, still as I drew near with gentle pace, Upon the margin of that moorish flood Motionless as a cloud the old Man stood; 75 That heareth not the loud winds when they call;

And moveth altogether, if it move at all.

At length, himself unsettling, he the pond
Stirred with his staff, and fixedly did look
Upon the muddy water, which he conned, 80
As if he had been reading in a book:
And now a stranger's privilege I took;
And, drawing to his side, to him did say,
This morning gives us promise of a glori-
ous day.'

A gentle answer did the old Man make, 85 In courteous speech which forth he slowly drew:

And him with further words I thus bespake, What occupation do you there pursue? This is a lonesome place for one like you.' Ere he replied, a flash of mild surprise Broke from the sable orbs of his yet vivid

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And soon with this he other matter blended,
Cheerfully uttered, with demeanor kind, 135
But stately in the main; and when he
ended,

I could have laughed myself to scorn to find
In that decrepit Man so firm a mind.
'God,' said I, 'be my help and stay secure;
I'll think of the leech-gatherer on

lonely moor!'

the

140

(1807)

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