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THE SLEEPING BEAUTY.

 

 

A NEW VERSION.

 

 

BY ANNA O. STEDMAN.

 

Alas! I am so very tired,

This glorious summer's day ;

It seems to me a long, long time

Since last I came this way.

You say you don't remember me?

Well, that is not so strange,

For in the last one hundred years

Of course must be some change.

 

Nor is, it strange that, having lain

So long upon the shelf,

In making an appearance

I must introduce myself.

Alas! how sad that none remain

Of all I used to know

And love, and rest my heart upon,

One hundred years ago.

 

And while the recollections sad

Are crowding on my brain,

As in the busy life around

My youth returns again ;

I hear some graceless youngster say,

From out the crowd below:

"What's the old woman driving at?

I wish she'd let us know."

 

Shades of my ancestors! Not thus,

As you too fully know,

Spake we unto our grandmothers,

One hundred years ago.

Still, yielding to the high demands

Of the present "high-toned" day,

I'll strive to answer his commands

As briefly as I may.

 

 

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My children, you have doubtless heard,

To your juvenile delight,

The story of the Sleeping Maid,

The gallant rescuing Knight?

Ah, yes, you all remember well,

But did you know until

This moment that that castle grand

Once stood on New Fane hill?

 

But yes, this maid of high renown,

(A maid no longer, she,)

Upon the heights of this old town

Reared a large family ;

And feeling weary with her work,

She donned her big night-cap,

And quietly she settled down

To take another nap.

 

It was in seventeen seventy-four

The sleepy fit came on,

And as nothing very special

To disturb her has been done,

She very calmly snoozed away,

Just as she did before,

Till she was wakened by the noise

Of eighteen seventy-four.

 

'Tis true she had some curious dreams,

As happens to the best,

And once or twice came very near

Being broken of her rest.

But they did quite well without her,

And built, and bought and sold,

Until her children, like herself,

Were growing gray and old;

 

And then the fancy came to them

That 'twould be finer still

To place their habitations

In the valley 'neath the hill.

Now, you must know, it could not be

So many girls and boys

Could move their goods and chattels down

Without a little noise

 

But on they came, and reared the homes

That shelter them to-day,

 

 

 

 

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But that the old hill held most grand

They could not bring away.

Its air, its streams, its proud old mounds

With verdure covered o'er,

These be its heaven-born heritage

Till time shall be no more!

 

The years rolled on, a greater thrill

Shook mightily the land.

When the voice of God doth speak to men.

Where shall His children stand?

Not in the ranks of cowards!

Not in the bonds of slaves!

Sooner shall heaven's dews nightly fall

Upon their martyr graves!

 

So, with whitening lip and sinking heart,

The mother said "good-bye,"

And tried to smile upon the boy

She was sending forth to die.

And wives grew pale, and closer clasped

Their babies to their breasts,

And prayed but, ah! you know it all ;

Why need I tell the rest

 

How many of that honored band

Who proudly marched away,

Have fallen by a traitor's hand,

How many stand to-day

The victors in as brave a host

As e'er to battle led?

Then let us give them equal praise,

The living and the dead.

 

But the God of battles spake again,

The tide of blood was stayed,

And His sunshine blessed once more the land

Laid waste by treason's raid ;

And the ancient dame, but half aroused

By the mutterings of her foes,

Just quietly fell back again

To finish her repose.

 

'Tis true that in the vale below,

So peaceful though it seem,

The waters did not always flow

Smoothly as one might deem ;

 

 

 

 

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But tell me, what can you expect

In this dull world of ours,

Where women talk, and men but loaf,

To while away the hours?

Surely, the proverb learned in youth

Will never be less true,

That "Satan finds some mischief still

For idle folks to do."

 

Nathless, altho' some trifling wave

Would sometimes swell the tide,

Yet, mainly, with this quiet life

All seemed quite satisfied

Until a certain year when Spring

Came in with gentle breath,

Wafting away the memories

Of cold, and sleep, and death

 

With her some magic influence came,

Some subtle, mystic spell,

That warmed the blood and thrilled the veins

Of all o'er whom it fell ;

Not that which spring-time always brings

Sometimes, alas! too late,

When leaflets burst, and lovers woo,

And robins seek their mates

 

Yet none could read the spell, till one,

More brilliant than the rest,

Remarked in Yankee fashion

To his neighbor, that he "guessed"

If they'd wake up their ideas,

'Twas very plain to show

That this old town first drew its breath

One hundred years ago.

 

Then his brother Yankee answered him:

"Wa-al, what are you goin' to do?

You just shell out your notions, man,

I'll be bound we'll put you thro'."

"Do!" quoth his patriotic friend,

In tones that pierced him thro',

"We'll have a celebration grand,

That's what we're going to do!

 

"We'll have some grand orations, fit

For Independence Day,

 

 

 

 

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And the finest band of music

That ever came this way.

We'll get up a rousing dinner

Of the best that can be found,

And ask our friends and neighbors in

From all the country round.

 

"We'll tell them all the wondrous deeds

Our forefathers begun,

And try to think of something smart

That we ourselves have done.

We'll call our sires and grandmothers

From out their place of rest,

And, though you youngsters of to-day

May do your prettiest,

You'll see them march about the town

As lively as the best.

 

"Talk of your expositions,

World's fair, or fancy ball ;

Beside our great Centennial

They'll be nowhere at all!

I tell you, we'll get up a show

Will knock these others flat ;

If we don't make the thing a go.

You're welcome to my hat!"

 

Well, they have, doubtless, done their best,

But whether they've complied

With these amazing promises,

OUR GUESTS can best decide.

 

Now she who armies could not rouse,

Nor civic feuds surprise,

On hearing all these murmurings

Began to rub her eyes ;

And, rousing up her weary limbs,

She said, in accents slow,

"If they have a grand Centennial,

I surely ought to go."

 

'Tis therefore I have come to greet

My numerous family,

Although it seems incredible

That all belong to me.

Whate'er the virtues of Newfane,

Or her renown may be,

In latter years she is not famed

For her fecundity.

 

 

 

 

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But tho we may not all have shared

The same baptismal font,

You all are welcome, just the same,

As sons of old Vermont;

And as justice has been fully done

To what has gone before,

Let us attempt, with hopeful gaze,

The future to explore.

 

First, by your leave, I beg it may

Be fully understood

That, having slumbered long and well,

I've now waked up for good;

And, borrowing our starting point

From apostolic lore

To leave the things that are behind

And press to those before

What shall we hope for as we look

Through the long mist of years?

What shall we pray for, bending low

To him who ever hears?

 

Shall we hope our beauteous valley

Ne'er may cease to bud and bloom?

That our streams may join their music

With the spindle and the loom? .

That the iron horse may find his way

Among these hills of ours,

Helping us coin the quiet day

Into busy, golden hours?

And may we ask for better things:

That knowledge grow and love increase,

And learn of all good gifts below,

The best of all to dwell in peace.

 

God knoweth best; these issues all

To Him we humbly leave,

While with most earnest hearts we strive

His promise to believe,

That whoso seeketh, he shall find,

Who asketh shall receive.

And, tho' 'tis sad to own, our lives

Are not perennial,

So 'twould be vain to ask you to

Our next Centennial ;

Yet, blessed be God that nobler aims,

More glorious hopes have we,

That, by His grace, we all may stand

Beside the crystal sea.