And now the house-dog stretched once more
His limbs upon the glowing floor;
The children half resume their play,
Though from the warm hearth scared away;
The goodwife left her spinning-wheel
And spread with smiles the evening meal;
The shepherd placed a seat and pressed
To their poor fare his unknown guest,
And he unclasped his mantle now,
And raised the covering from his brow,
Said, voyagers by land and sea
Were seldom feasted daintily,
And cheered his host by adding stern
He'd no refinement to unlearn.
A silence settled on the room,
The cheerful welcome sank to gloom;
But not those words, though cold or high,
So froze their hospitable joy.
No—there was something in his face,
Some nameless thing which hid not grace,
And something in his voice's tone
Which turned their blood as chill as stone.
The ringlets of his long black hair
Fell o'er a cheek most ghastly fair.
Youthful he seemed—but worn as they
Who spend too soon their youthful day.
When his glances dropped, 'twas hard to quell