Waldemar’s Chase

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Late at eve they were toiling on Harribee bank,
  For in harvest men ne’er should be idle:
Towards them rode Waldemar, meagre and lank,
  And he linger’d and drew up his bridle.

“Success to your labour; and have ye to night
  Seen any thing pass ye, while reaping?”
“Yes, yes;” said a peasant, “I saw something white,
  Just now, through the corn-stubble creeping.”

“Which way did it go?”  “Why methought to the beach.”
  Then off went Waldemar bounding;
A few minutes after, they heard a faint screech,
  And the horn of the hunter resounding.

Then back came he, laughing in horrible tone,
  And the blood in their veins ran the colder,
When they saw that a fresh-slaughter’d mermaid was thrown
  Athwart his proud barb’s dappled shoulder.

Said he, “I have chas’d her for seven score years,
  As she landed to drink at the fountains.”
No more did he deign to their terrified ears,
  But gallop’d away to the mountains.

© George Borrow