Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/60

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<poem> End this great line in sorrow!" Ere I grew Of years to know myself a thing accursed, A second son was born, to steal the love Which fate had else scarce rifled: he became My parents' hope, the darling of the crew Who lived upon their smiles, and thought it flattery To trace in every foible of my youth— A prince's youth—the workings of the curse. My very mother—Jove! I cannot bear To speak it now—looked freezingly upon me. Ion.But thy brother — Ad.Died. Thou hast heard the lie, The common lie that every peasant tells Of me, his master,—that I slew the boy. 'Tis false! One summer's eve, below a crag Which, in his wilful mood, he strove to climb, He lay a mangled corpse: the very slaves, Whose cruelty had shut him from my heart, Now coined their own injustice into proofs To brand me as his murderer. Ion.Did they dare Accuse thee ? Ad.Not in open speech: they felt I should have seized the miscreant by the throat, And crushed the lie half-spoken with the life Of the base speaker: but the tale looked out From the stolen gaze of coward eyes, which shrank When mine have met them; murmured through the crowd That at the sacrifice, or feast, or game, Stood distant from me; burnt into my soul, When I beheld it in my father's shudder! Ion.Didst not declare thy innocence? Ad.To whom? To parents who could doubt me? To the ring Of grave impostors, or their shallow sons, Who should have studied to prevent my wish Before it grew to language; hailed my choice To service as a prize to wrestle for; And whose reluctant courtesy I bore, Pale with proud anger, till from lips compressed The blood has started? To the common herd, The vassals of our ancient house, the mass Of bones and muscles framed to till the soil