Page:All quiet along the Potomac and other poems.djvu/157

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To tell me that Luke has been here and is gone, While yet sings the bird in the tree.

��None knew where he went as the years rolled away,

And we heard not the sound of his name, While only in whispers the story was told

Of Bessie her weakness and shame. Still, pitiful sorrow for youth gone astray,

And sighs for the desolate hearth, Were mingled with prayers for poor Bessie and Luke,

Who might meet nevermore on the earth.

But one August night, when the low, gibbous moon

Shot fitful gleams hither and thither, There came up a shout from a fisherman s boat

Just launched on the black, flowing river; A traveller passing stopped short at the cry,

For he heard the rude fisherman say, "Help, master, at once ! a woman s white dress

Over yonder seems drifting away."

Ashore, still ashore, like a lily afloat,

Untethered by guidance or care Ashore, still ashore, came the face wan and white,

With its water-soaked tresses of hair Ashore, still ashore, till the waif from the wave

At last on the river-bank lay, And the traveller, Luke, from the current at last

Drew Bessie, who drifted away.

�� �