Lady Jane

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  Down the green hill-side fro' the castle window
  Lady Jane spied Bill Amaranth a-workin';
  Day by day watched him go about his ample
  Nursery garden.
  Cabbages thriv'd there, wi' a mort o' green-stuff—
  Kidney beans, broad beans, onions, tomatoes,
  Artichokes, seakale, vegetable marrows,
  Early potatoes.
  Lady Jane cared not very much for all these:
  What she cared much for was a glimpse o' Willum
  Strippin' his brown arms wi' a view to horti-
 —Cultural effort.
  Little guessed Willum, never extra-vain, that
  Up the green hill-side, i' the gloomy castle,
  Feminine eyes could so delight to view his
  Noble proportions.
  Only one day while, in an innocent mood,
  Moppin' his brow ('cos 'twas a trifle sweaty)
  With a blue kerchief—lo, he spies a white 'un
  Coyly responding.
  Oh, delightsome Love! Not a jot do you care
  For the restrictions set on human inter-
 -course by cold-blooded social refiners;
  Nor do I, neither.
  Day by day, peepin' fro' behind the bean-sticks,
  Willum observed that scrap o' white a-wavin',
  Till his hot sighs out-growin' all repression
  Busted his weskit.
  Lady Jane's guardian was a haughty Peer, who
  Clung to old creeds and had a nasty temper;
  Can we blame Willum that he hardly cared to
  Risk a refusal?
  Year by year found him busy 'mid the bean-sticks,
  Wholly uncertain how on earth to take steps.
  Thus for eighteen years he beheld the maiden
  Wave fro' her window.
  But the nineteenth spring, i' the Castle post-bag,
  Came by book-post Bill's catalogue o' seedlings
  Mark'd wi' blue ink at 'Paragraphs relatin'
  Mainly to Pumpkins.'
 'W. A. can,' so the Lady Jane read,
 'Strongly commend that very noble Gourd, the
 Lady Jane, first-class medal, ornamental;
  Grows to a great height.'
  Scarce a year arter, by the scented hedgerows—
  Down the mown hill-side, fro' the castle gateway—
  Came a long train and, i' the midst, a black bier,
  Easily shouldered.
 'Whose is yon corse that, thus adorned wi' gourd-leaves,
  Forth ye bear with slow step?' A mourner answer'd,
 ''Tis the poor clay-cold body Lady Jane grew
  Tired to abide in.'
 'Delve my grave quick, then, for I die to-morrow.
  Delve it one furlong fro' the kidney bean-sticks,
  Where I may dream she's goin' on precisely
  As she was used to.'
  Hardly died Bill when, fro' the Lady Jane's grave,
  Crept to his white death-bed a lovely pumpkin:
  Climb'd the house wall and over-arched his head wi'
  Billowy verdure.
  Simple this tale!—but delicately perfumed
  As the sweet roadside honeysuckle. That's why,
  Difficult though its metre was to tackle,
  I'm glad I wrote it.

© Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch