William Topaz McGonagall
Hanchen, The Maid Of The Mill - Poem by William Topaz McGonagall
Near the village of Udorf, on the banks of the Rhine,
There lived a miller and his family, once on a time;
And there yet stands the mill in a state of decay,
And concerning the miller and his family, attend to my lay.
The miller and his family went to Church one Sunday morn,
Leaving behind their darling child, the youngest born,
In charge of brave Hanchen, the servant maid,
A kind-hearted girl and not the least afraid.
As Hanchen was engaged preparing dinner for the family
She chanced to turn round, and there she did see
Heinrich Bottler, her lover, and she sincerely loved him,
Then she instantly got him something to eat and bade him begin.
And in the midst of her business she sat down beside him,
While he did justice to the meat and thought it no sin,
But while he was eating he let fall his knife,
Then he commanded Hanchen to pick it up or else he'd take her life.
Then as she stooped down to pick up the knife,
The villain caught her by the throat, and swore he'd take her life,
Then he drew a dagger from under his coat,
Crying, tell me where your master's money is, or I'll cut your throat.
And still he threatened to kill her with the dagger in his hand,
If the poor girl didn't comply with his demand,
While in his choking grasp her breath was fleeting faster and faster,
Therefore she had no other choice but to die or betray her master.
Then she cried, mercy, for Heaven's sake let go thy hold.
And I'll tell thee where my master keeps his gold;
Then he let go his hold without delay,
And she unto him thus boldly did say.
Here, take this axe and use it, while I run upstairs,
To gather all my money, besides all my wares,
Because I'm resolved to fly along with you,
When you've robbed my master of his gold and bid France adieu.
Then deceived by her plan he allowed her to leave the room,
Telling her to make haste and come back very soon,
Then to her master's bedroom she led the way,
And showed him the coffer where her master's money lay
Then Heinrich with the axe broke the coffer very soon,
While Hanchen instead of going upstairs to her room,
Bolted all the doors upon him without dismay,
While Heinrich was busy preparing to carry her master's money away.
Then she rushed to the mill to give the alarm,
Resolved to protect her master's money, while she could wield an arm;
And the only being in sight was her master's boy of five years old,
Then she cried, run! run! and tell father there's a robber taking his gold.
Then the boy did as she bid him without any doubt,
And set off, running on the road she pointed out;
But at this moment, a shrill whistle made her stand aghast,
When she heard Heinrich, crying, catch that child that's running so fast.
But still the boy ran on with might and main,
Until a ruffian sprang up from the bed of a natural drain;
And snatching the boy in his arms, and hastening towards the mill,
While brave Hanchen was afraid the boy would he kill.
Then the villain came rushing with the boy towards the mill,
Crying, open the door, or the child I'll kill;
But she cried, never will I open the door to thee,
No! I will put my trust in God, and He'll save the child and me.
Then the ruffian set down the child, for a moment to look about,
Crying, open the door, or I'll fire the mill without doubt;
And while searching for combustibles, he discovered an inlet to the mill,
Saying, my pretty maid, once I get in, it's you I will kill.
Then he tied the hands and feet of the poor child,
Which caused it to scream with fear, very wild;
Then he stole back to the aperture to effect an entrance,
And when Hanchen saw him, she said now is my chance.
So the ruffian got safely in the great drum wheel,
Then Hanchen set on the engine, which made the ruffian reel;
And as he was whirled about, he screamed aloud,
And when Hanchen saw him like a rat in a trap, she felt very proud.
At length the master arrived and his family,
And when she heard his kindly voice her heart was full of glee,
Then she opened the mill door and let him in,
While her eyes with tears of joy were full to the brim.
Then the master set off the engine without delay,
And the ruffian was dragged forth while he shook with dismay,
And Heinrich and he were bound together under a strong escort,
And conveyed to Bonn Prison where villains resort.
So thus ends the story of Hanchen, a heroine brave,
That tried hard her master's gold to save,
And for her bravery she got married to the miller's eldest son,
And Hanchen on her marriage night cried Heaven's will be done.
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