The Girl of Loch Dan

Samuel Ferguson

The Shades of eve had crossed the glen   
  That frowns o’er infant Avonmore,   
When, nigh Loch Dan, two weary men,   
  We stopped before a cottage door.   
“God save all here,” my comrade cries,          
  And rattles on the raised latch-pin;   
“God save you kindly,” quick replies   
  A clear sweet voice, and asks us in.   
We enter; from the wheel she starts,   
  A rosy girl with soft black eyes;           
Her fluttering courtesy takes our hearts,   
  Her blushing grace and pleased surprise.   
Poor Mary, she was quite alone,   
  For, all the way to Glenmalure,   
Her mother had that morning gone           
  And left the house in charge with her.   
But neither household cares, nor yet   
  The shame that startled virgins feel,   
Could make the generous girl forget   
  Her wonted hospitable zeal.           
She brought us in a beechen bowl   
  Sweet milk that smacked of mountain thyme,   
Oat cake, and such a yellow roll   
  Of butter,—it gilds all my rhyme!   
And while we ate the grateful food           
  (With weary limbs on bench reclined),   
Considerate and discreet, she stood   
  Apart, and listened to the wind.   
Kind wishes both our souls engaged,   
  From breast to breast spontaneous ran           
The mutual thought,—we stood and pledged,   
  “The modest rose above Loch Dan.”   
“The milk we drink is not more pure,   
  Sweet Mary,—bless those budding charms!—   
Than your own generous heart, I’m sure,           
  Nor whiter than the breast it warms!”   
She turned and gazed, unused to hear   
  Such language in that homely glen;   
But, Mary, you have naught to fear,   
  Though smiled on by two stranger men.           
Not for a crown would I alarm   
  Your virgin pride by word or sign;   
Nor need a painful blush disarm   
  My friend of thoughts as pure as mine.   
Her simple heart could not but feel           
  The words we spoke were free from guile;   
She stooped, she blushed,—she fixed her wheel,—   
  ’T is all in vain,—she can’t but smile!   
Just like sweet April’s dawn appears   
  Her modest face,—I see it yet,—           
And though I lived a hundred years   
  Methinks I never could forget   
The pleasure that, despite her heart,   
  Fills all her downcast eyes with light,   
The lips reluctantly apart,           
  The white teeth struggling into sight;   
The dimples eddying o’er her cheek,—   
  The rosy cheek that won’t be still!—   
O, who could blame what flatterers speak,   
  Did smiles like this reward their skill?           
For such another smile, I vow,   
  Though loudly beats the midnight rain,   
I ’d take the mountain-side e’en now,   
  And walk to Luggelaw again!