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A quest like his is cheerfully pursued,
And now where Empalado's waters creep
Winning their way with arms and practised feet, While in the tottering boat the Father keeps his seat.
32. For three long summer days on every side They search in vain the sylvan solitude ; The fourth a human footstep is espied, And through the mazes of the pathless wood With hound-like skill and hawk-like eye pursued ; For keen upon their pious quest are they As e'er were hunters on the track of blood.
Where softer ground or trodden herbs betray The slightest mark of man, they there explore the way.
Humaner thoughts this little band inspired,
savage horde may have its fastness here,
To serve the Lamb who for their sins was slain, Blessed indeed their lot, for so to die is gain !
35. Them thus pursuing where the track
lead, A human voice arrests upon their
No lark rejoicing in the orient sky,
36. The voice which through the ringing forest floats Is one which having ne'er been taught the skill Of marshalling sweet words to sweeter notes, Utters all unpremeditate, at will, A modulated sequence loud and shrill Of inarticulate and long-breathed sound, Varying its tones with rise and fall and trill,
Till all the solitary woods around
alone into the wood The Father gently moved toward the sound, Treading with quiet feet upon the grassy ground.
So to have heard so fair a creature sing The strains which she had learnt from all sweet birds of spring.
Rejoicing in her consciousness of power,
That with the music of its dying strain
41. It might be deem'd some dim presage possess'd The virgin's soul; that some mysterious sense Of change to come, upon her mind impress’d, Had then callid forth, ere she departed thence, A requiem to their days of innocence. For what thou losest in thy native shade There is one change alone that may compensc,
O Mooma, innocent and simple maid, Only one change, and it will not be long delay'd !
42. When now the Father issued from the wood Into that little glade in open sight, Like one entranced, beholding him, she stood; Yet had she more of wonder than affright, Yet less of wonder than of dread delight, When thus the actual vision came in view; For instantly the maiden read aright
Wherefore he came ; his garb and beard she knew; All that her mother heard had then indeed been true.
43. Nor was the Father fill'd with less surprise ; He too strange fancies well might entertain, When this so fair a creature met his eyes. He might have thought her not of mortal strain ; Rather, as bards of yore were wont to feign, A nymph divine of Mondai's secret stream ; Or haply of Diana's woodland train:
For in her beauty Mooma such might seem, Being less a child of earth than like a poet's dream.
44. No art of barbarous ornament had scarr'd And stain'd her virgin limbs, or 'filed her face; Nor ever yet had evil passion marr’d In her sweet countenance the natural grace Of innocence and youth; nor was there trace Of sorrow, or of hardening want and care. Strange was it in this wild and savage place,
Which seem'd to be for beasts a fitting lair, Thus to behold a maid so gentle and so fair.