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Tales of a Wayside Inn

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THE WAYSIDE INN. One Autumn night, in Sudbury town,Across the meadows bare and brown,The windows of the wayside innGleamed red with fire-light through the leavesOf woodbine, hanging from the eavesTheir crimson curtains rent and thin. As ancient is this hostelryAs any in the land may be,Built in the old Colonial day,When men lived in a grander way,With ampler hospitality;A kind of old Hobgoblin Hall,Now somewhat fallen to decay,With weather-stains upon the wall,And stairways worn, and crazy doors,And creaking and uneven floors,And chimneys huge, and tiled and tall. A region of repose it seems,A place of slumber and of dreams,Remote among the wooded hills!For there no noisy railway speeds,Its torch-race scattering smoke and gleeds;But noon and night, the panting teamsStop under the great oaks, that throwTangles of light and shade below,On roofs and doors and window-sills.Across the road the barns displayTheir lines of stalls, their mows of hay,Through the wide doors the breezes blow,The wattled cocks strut to and fro,And, half effaced by rain and shine,The Red Horse prances on the sign. Round this old-fashioned, quaint abodeDeep silence reigned, save when a gustWent rushing down the county road,And skeletons of leaves, and dust,A moment quickened by its breath,Shuddered and danced their dance of death,And through the ancient oaks o'erheadMysterious voices moaned and fled. But from the parlor of the innA pleasant murmur smote the ear,Like water rushing through a weir;Oft interrupted by the dinOf laughter and of loud applause,And, in each intervening pause,The music of a violin.The fire-light, shedding over allThe splendor of its ruddy glow,Filled the whole parlor large and low;It gleamed on wainscot and on wall,It touched with more than wonted graceFair Princess Mary's pictured face;It bronzed the rafters overhead,On the old spinet's ivory keysIt played inaudible melodies,It crowned the sombre clock with flame,The hands, the hours, the maker's name,And painted with a livelier redThe Landlord's coat-of-arms again;And, flashing on the window-pane,Emblazoned with its light and shadeThe jovial rhymes, that still remain,Writ near a century ago,By the great Major Molineaux,Whom Hawthorne has immortal made. Before the blazing fire of woodErect the rapt musician stood;And ever and anon he bentHis head upon his instrument,And seemed to listen, till he caughtConfessions of its secret thought,—The joy, the triumph, the lament,The exultation and the pain;Then, by the magic of his art,He soothed the throbbings of its heart,And lulled it into peace again. Around the fireside at their easeThere sat a group of friends, entrancedWith the delicious melodies;Who from the far-off noisy townHad to the wayside inn come down,To rest beneath its old oak-trees.The fire-light on their faces glanced,Their shadows on the wainscot danced,And, though of different lands and speech,Each had his tale to tell, and eachWas anxious to be pleased and please....