HE stood with the other young herds
At the Hiring to-day;
And I laughed and I chaffed and changed words
With every young hind of them all
As I stopped by the lollipop stall;
But never a word did he say.
He had straggly long straw-colored hair
And a beard like a goat;
In his breeches a badly-stitched tear
That I longed, standing there in the crush,
To re-mend, as I hankered to brush
The ruddle and fluff from his coat.
But his bonnie blue eyes, staring wide,
Looked far beyond me,
As though on some distant fellside
His dogs were collecting the sheep,
And he anxiously watched them to keep
A young dog from running too free, —
And I almost expected to hear
From the lips of the lad
A shrill whistle sing in my ear,
As he eyed that green hillside to check
The fussy black frolicking speck
That was chasing the gray specks like mad.
So I left them, and went on my way
With a lad with black hair;
And we swung and rode round all the day
To the racket of corncrake and gong;
But I never forgot in the throng
The eyes with the far-away stare.
The jimmy-smart groom at my side
Had twinkling black eyes;
But the grin on his mouth was too wide;
And his hands with my hands were too free;
So I took care to slip him at tea
As he turned round to pay for the pies;
And I left him alone on the seat
With the teapot and cups
And the two pies he’d paid for to eat.
If he happens to think of the cause,
It may teach him to keep his red paws
For the handling of horses and pups.
But alone in the rain and the dark
As I made for the farm,
I halted a moment to hark
To the sound of a shepherd’s long stride;
And the shy lad stepped up to my side,
And I felt his arm link through my arm.
So it seems after all I’m to mend
Those breeches, and keep
That shaggy head clipped to the end,
And the shaggy chin clean, and to give
That coat a good brush, and to live
All my days in an odor of sheep.


After working all day at the tan-pits,
With strong hands tanned horny and hard
And stained by the bark brown as leather,
He would come every night from the yard.
And I from my work at the laundry,
With hands soused in suds clean and white
And soft to the touch as old linen,
Would meet him half-way every night;
I’d meet him half-way every evening,
Though always I shuddered to feel Those hard fingers gripping my fingers
And crushing my soft hands like steel.
But now I’m forgot and forsaken;
And eagerly waiting he stands
For a girl coming home from the gardens
With weathered and grubby red hands.
As unseen in the dark of a doorway,
I watch him alone and apart,
My cold fingers fumble my bosom,
To loosen his clutch on my heart.


Young lads tramping, fifes and drums —
Down the street the racket comes;
And the drumsticks drub again
On my stretched and aching brain;
While the screeching of the fife
Just goes through me like a knife.
Yet I thought that music gay
When Dick Lishman marched away;
And I laughed; for what was he
But a lad who bothered me —
But a man of many men
I had little need of, then?
Now I know that, if the fife
Cut my heartstrings like a knife,
Rattling drumsticks, rub-a-dub,
On my coffin-lid would drub;
And my heart would never rest
In the hollow of my breast,
But would always start and beat
To the tramping of dead feet.