Then he piled the fire, and crept within
The ring of its light, that closed him in
Like tender mercy, and drove away
For a time the specters that stood at bay,
And waited to clutch him as demons wait.
Shut out from the sinner by Faith's bright gate.
But the fire burnt low, and the slayer slept.
And the key of his sleep was always kept
By the leaden hand of him he had slain,
That oped the door but to drench the brain
With agony cruel. The night wind crept
Like a snake on the shuddering form that slept
And dreamt, and woke and shrieked; for there.
With its gray-blue lines and its ghastly stare.
Cutting into the vitals of Aaron Mace,
In the flickering light was the sawyer's face!
Evermore 'twas with him, that dismal sight,—
The white face set in the frame of night.
He wandered away from the spot, but found
No inch of the West Australian ground
Where he could hide from the bleeding breast,
Or sink his head in a dreamless rest.
And always with him he bore the prize
In a pouch of leather: the staring eyes
Might burn his soul, but the diamond' s gleam
Was solace and joy for the haunted dream.
So the years rolled on, while the murderer's mind
Was bent on a futile quest,—to find
A way of escape from the blood-stained soil
And the terrible wear of the penal toil.
But this was a part of the diamond's curse, —
The toil that was heavy before grew worse.
Till the panting wretch in his fierce unrest
Would clutch the pouch as it lay on his breast,