Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/142

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'Twas the time when the Southern soldiers,
Under Early's mad command,
O'er the border made their dashing raid
From the north of Maryland;

And Chambersburg, unransomed,
In smouldering ruins slept ;
While up the vale, like a fiery gale,
The rebel raiders swept.

And a squad of gray-clad horsemen
Came thundering o'er the bridge,
Where peaceful cows in the meadows browse
At the foot of the great Blue Ridge ;

And on till they reached the village
That fair in the valley lay,
Defenceless then—for its loyal men
At the front were far away.

"Pillage and spoil and plunder!"
This was the fearful word
That the Widow Brown, in gazing down
From her latticed window, heard.

'Neath the boughs of the sheltering oak-tree
The leader bared his head,
As left and right, until out of sight,
His dusty gray-coats sped.

Then he called "Halloo, within there!"
A gentle, fair-haired dame
Across the floor to the open door
In gracious answer came.

"Here, stable my horse, you woman!"
The soldier's tones were rude;
"Then bestir yourself, and from yonder shelf
Set out your store of food!"

For her guest she spread the table;
She motioned him to his place
With a gesture proud; then the widow bowed,
And gently asked a grace.