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IV. The Champion

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892). The Poetical Works in Four Volumes. 1892.

Narrative and Legendary Poems

Mabel Martin
IV. The Champion

SO in the shadow Mabel sits;

Untouched by mirth she sees and hears,

Her smile is sadder than her tears.

But cruel eyes have found her out,

And cruel lips repeat her name,

And taunt her with her mother’s shame.

She answered not with railing words,

But drew her apron o’er her face,

And, sobbing, glided from the place.

And only pausing at the door,

Her sad eyes met the troubled gaze

Of one who, in her better days,

Had been her warm and steady friend,

Ere yet her mother’s doom had made

Even Esek Harden half afraid.

He felt that mute appeal of tears,

And, starting, with an angry frown,

Hushed all the wicked murmurs down.

“Good neighbors mine,” he sternly said,

“This passes harmless mirth or jest;

I brook no insult to my guest.

“She is indeed her mother’s child;

But God’s sweet pity ministers

Unto no whiter soul than hers.

“Let Goody Martin rest in peace;

I never knew her harm a fly,

And witch or not, God knows—not I.

“I know who swore her life away;

And as God lives, I ’d not condemn

An Indian dog on word of them.”

The broadest lands in all the town,

The skill to guide, the power to awe,

Were Harden’s; and his word was law.

None dared withstand him to his face,

But one sly maiden spake aside:

“The little witch is evil-eyed!

“Her mother only killed a cow,

Or witched a churn or dairy-pan;

But she, forsooth, must charm a man!”