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[158]

A weight seemed lifted from my heart, a pitying friend was nigh;
I felt it in his hard rough hand, and saw it in his eye;

And when again the Sheriff spoke, that voice so kind to me
Growled back its stormy answer, like the roaring of the sea.

‘ Pile my ship with bars of silver, pack with coins of Spanish gold
From keel-piece up to deck-plank the roomage of her hold,

‘ By the living God who made me, I would sooner in your bay
Sink ship and crew and cargo than bear this child away!’

‘ Well answered, worthy captain! shame on their cruel laws!’
Ran through the crowd in murmurs loud the people's just applause.

‘Like the herdsmen of Tekoa, in Israel of old,
Shall we see the poor and righteous again for silver sold?’

I looked on haughty Endicott with weapon half-way drawn,
Swept round the throng his lion glare of bitter hate and scorn;

Fiercely he drew his bridle-rein and turned in silence back,
And sneering priest and baffled clerk rode murmuring in his track.

Hard after them the Sheriff looked, in bitterness of soul;
Thrice smote his staff upon the ground, and crushed his parchment roll.

‘Good friends!’ he said, ‘since both have fled, the ruler and the priest,
Judge ye, if from their farther work I be not well released.’

Loud was the cheer which full and clear swept round the silent bay, As with kind words and kinder looks, he bade me go my way:


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