OLD Uncle Bob lay on the settle,
At eventide, while on the hob,
'Roe-tee-riti-too' sang the kettle,
And charmed the dear heart of old Bob.

'Ree-tee-riti-too' on his ears, long
The ear-chaining melody played,
Till back on his mind rushed the years,
Entombed, and he more than half said:

'Twas just such an even as this is,
When down by the oak in the dell,
The bliss was made mine of all blisses,
In glances I won from my Nell.

An August sun hung in the heaven,
Or slowly went down o'er the hill,
When lilting her song to the even,
The darling skipt over the rill.

From moss'd stone to moss'd stone she
skipt, and
Then up like a roe the hillside,
Anon pass'd the willow-tree tript, and
Then, then what had Ellen espied?

Had sight of my face the maid flurried?
'Not flurried,' I murmur'd—'Nay, nay!'
As plucking a harebell she hurried
Again with her prize up the way.

The harebell consigned to her bosom,
Her eyes seem'd to rivet; she viewed,
And still with a smile viewed the blossom,
Till near to the spot where I stood;

Then raising her head and a golden
Lock twisting, a word left her tongue,
Recall'd to my fancy an olden
Time dearer than bard ever sung.

That time now of times—ah, an olden
Time dearer than bard ever sung;
And oh, for the glamour so golden,
The moment that word left her tongue.

'Dear Robin,' she said, and so sweetly
She linked the word 'dear ' with my name,
My senses forsook me completely,
And fierce delight shook my whole frame.

'Dear Nelly,' said I, and the sweetest
Of hands in my hands I then prest;
And the hour that ensued was the fleetest,
That ever a mortal man blest,

Nay, while yet the words she had spoken
Like silver bells rang in my ears,
I felt that a barrier was broken
Had kept us asunder for years.

Then lived we the olden time over
Again—ah, the sweetest of hours!
Ere years aid the mind to discover
What cankers may lurk in life's flowers.

When at the eve-song of the ousel,
Our hearts with a rapture would glow,
Would mock what his fiercest carousal
Can on the mad Bacchant bestow.

Then, hand in hand skimmed we the
Or up the deep valley would run
And find in the willow's cool shadow,
A shield from the heat of the sun.

There sat we full often and prattled
Of all we had done or would do,
And still from our little tongues rattled
Whatever we fancied or knew.

Aground its old stem oft we sported;
And charmed with their colour or smell,
As oft 'neath its shade we assorted
The blooms we had pluck'd in the dell.

That time of times dearest, that olden
Time dearer than bard ever sung,
The meanest of flowers yet a golden
Flower seem'd to this bosom when young.

The daisy we'd prize, coy and cosy,
Its white cup, blood-rimm'd, and the gold
Of its eye made it worthy the posy
Our mothers should smile to behold.

We'd there too the blue-bell which loveth
To play with the breeze in the shade,
As eastward in spring-tide he moveth
To heal the wounds winter hath made.

The cowslip was ours who with maiden
Like modesty looks at the ground,
While winds with her riches are laden,
And earth with her beauty is crown'd.

The woodbine we loved, and as truly
The poppy that flared in the sun,
Whose cup black and crimson we duly
Were taught by our mothers to shun.

To later born bloom as to early
Our little hearts opened, or clung,
To darnel as primrose and rarely
Oft while each we gathered, we sung.

And echo oft woke at our singing,
Or laughed back our laughter aloud,
While down thro' the clear air came ringing
A trill from the lark in the cloud.

That time of times dearest, that olden
Time dearer than bard ever sung!
Thus fleeted so radiant and golden
The hours when this bosom was young.

Thus fleeted the spring and the summer;
Thus richer hued autumn went pass'd;
And welcome awaited the comer,
When winter came on with a blast.

Then oft we with puft cheeks have striven
To mock—the wind's bugles—and mocked
While oaks in his anger were driven
And houses like cradles were rock'd.

Then loved we to see the snow falling
In large feathery flakes to the ground;
And oft in each other snow-balling,
An hour of pure rapture was found.

Then loved we the skater to view as
He flew here and there in a trice;
And up for a clap our hands flew as
He wrote out his name on the ice.

Then, then, when the brisk day had ended
Then, then for the night that came down;
The hour I to Nelly then wended:—
The welcome my errand would crown:

The father would hand me a cracket;
The mother would smoothen my hair;
The sister would rax down my jacket,
Or with me some dainty would share.

Then while round the table would story
On story the elder folk tell,
Wee Robin was left in his glory
To prate in the nook with wee Nell.

And so pass's the time—time—that olden
Time dearer than bard ever sung!
Then oh, for the dreams bright and golden
That nightly their spells o'er us flung.

That time of times dearest, that olden
Time dearer than bard ever sung!
Of this so we talk'd till the golden
Sun sank and the Moon o'er us hung.

Then look's up a moment the maiden
And gazed on the planet above,
And I saw in her eyes a soul laden
And sparkling with rapture and love.

Then gushed from those wells of pure beauty
Such spells had my heart been a stone,
I'd felt as I felt then my duty,
My love, and my all were her own.

Then tho' failed my speech crabb'd and broken,
To speak what I'd do for her sake,
More golden words never were spoken
Than seemed to her ear what I spake.

Then claspt I her tight to my bosom;
And, ere that great moment had pass'd,
I kist and was kist by the blossom
And—oh—that first kiss was our last.

I kiss'd and was kiss'd—love controlled in,
That moment my arms round her cast,
We kiss'd and our feelings so golden!
But oh that first kiss was our last.

Beneath a dark alder a devil
In man's shape had lurked, and that hour
A tale of black import and evil
Had enter'd her fond father's door

And from that loved door I was chidden
Till raving and dying she lay—
Then to her bed-side I was bidden,
But what could I then do or say?

She perish'd the victim of slander;
And I from that time was oft eyed,
Alone in the night-tide to wander,
And pace for long hours the burnside.

And this would I do till from sorrow
And manifold labour and prayer
My soul did an angel's strength borrow
To break the strong bonds of despair.

'Then peace, peace was mine.' On the settle
Unc turned here and saw at the hob
A little Nell using the kettle,
And 'Tea tea,' she said, 'Uncle Bob.'