Poems (Coates 1916)/Volume I/The Little Lass
THE LITTLE LASS
AN OLD-TIME DITTY
AS Douglas to his castle came,
Emotion nerved his shatter'd frame,
And soft he pondered,—"Presently
My little lass will welcome me!
"As longs the miser for his gold,
As fever longs, with thirst untold,
So yearns my heart her face to see
Who yonder waits to welcome me!"
But as he turned his steed about,
A mournful peal of bells rung out;
Whereat he cried,—"Nay, merrily!
Ring forth my bairn to welcome me!"
He entered at the castle gate;
(None marked him come, for it grew late,)
He stood within his hall at last;
(None heeded him, for tears fell fast.)
Quoth Douglas: "Friends, if me ye mourn,
With drooping heads and looks forlorn,
Now for your sorrows comfort ye,—
And fetch my lass to welcome me!
"'T is true that I from out these wars
Bring back a wound and many scars,—
But life is mine, and I am free,
And my brave lass hath ransom'd me!"
Up spoke an ancient servitor:
"We mourn indeed the wrongs of war:
We bless thy loved return,— but she
No more shall rise to welcome thee!"
Sudden as falls the giant oak
When smitten by the lightning stroke,
So swoonèd Douglas to the ground,
And bled afresh his healing wound.
They strove to stay life's ebbing tide,
They chafed his hands, they swathed his side,
But Donald wailed,—"Ah, woe is me!—
Thy little lass hath welcomed thee!"