David Lewis Paget
The Elopement - Poem by David Lewis Paget
‘Be waiting up at the window, ' said
The note he sent by hand,
‘I'll come and collect you at midnight, '
Said the note, ‘the way we planned.'
She heard the clatter of hoofbeats in
The courtyard down below,
And waved to him from the window
As she seized her portmanteau.
She quickly skipped down the staircase
Holding both her shoes in hand,
Trying to avoid the clatter as
She raced down to her man,
It only took but a moment then
To seat her on his horse,
And gallop out of the courtyard on
Their way to the watercourse.
A light appeared in an upper room
And they heard her father roar,
‘By God, you'll pay for your insolence,
I told you once before.'
He'd promised her to a Banker's clerk
Who had paid him for her hand,
Though she had said that it wouldn't work,
She had bowed to his command.
But then the couple had plotted,
He was sworn to break her free,
‘If anyone is to marry, it
Will just be you to me.'
They headed down to the water where
The sloop, ‘The Esperance',
Was waiting for their arrival
Before sailing off to France.
It took an hour to set the sails
And wait for the tide to turn,
They hid themselves below the deck
In a cabin at the stern,
But soon the thunder of hoofbeats said
They must have been found out,
For then they heard her father's call,
‘It's best that you come out, '
He ventured slowly out on the deck
To reason with the man,
Then saw the flash of the powder that
Was loaded in the pan,
The ball cut straight through his windpipe,
Left him sprawling on the deck,
While she was dragged from below, and screamed
‘All curses on your neck.'
He locked her into an attic room
And he wouldn't let her out,
Though she would wail, and would scream at him,
And curse and yell, and shout,
She waited up till the early hours
Then she set her room alight,
The fire spread till they all were dead
From that single candlelight.
It sits as a blackened ruin now
With soot on the standing walls,
A testament to a daughter who
Refused to be overruled,
And still some nights when the moon is bright
There's a whisper, close at hand,
‘I'll come and collect you at midnight,
And we'll leave, the way we planned.'
8 December 2017
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