She was knitting,
And the portraits of our fore-folk hung around;
When there struck on us a sigh;
"Ah--what is that?" said I:
"Was it not you?" said she. "A sigh did sound."
I had not breathed it,
Nor the night-wind heaved it,
And how it came to us we could not guess;
And we looked up at each face
Framed and glazed there in its place,
Still hearkening; but thenceforth was silentness.
Half in dreaming,
"Then its meaning,"
Said we, "must be surely this; that they repine
That we should be the last
Of stocks once unsurpassed,
And unable to keep up their sturdy line."