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Under the Mango.

Under the solemn mango shade1
The white-skinned conquerors stood ;2
The Saxon foot was planted down,3
The Saxon face wore a lordly frown,4
As they paused by the swirling flood.5
Cringing and creeping round them,6
The servile natives came ;7
Of ancient curse and doom they told,8
Of the race that owned that soil of old,9
Of their great god’s guardian name.10
Carelessly laughed the Englishmen,11
By one, by two, by three ;12
Sprite, ban, or legend, we’ll have our house,13
Under the deep cool shade of the boughs,14
Under the mango-tree.”15
They dug the strong foundation,16
Through turf and root and bone ;17
For many and white, and ghastly, and bare,18
Were the things they brought to the upper air,19
Ere‘the builders’ task was done.20
In the whispering Indian evening,21
By their finished work they laid,22
Laughing, jesting, o’er pipe and glass,23
While the squirrels darted amid the grass,24
Under the mango shade.25
Bright in starlight and moonlight,26
Fanned by the river breeze,27
The silence of the jungle dark,28
Just broken by sudden hoot or bark,29
And the whish of the waving trees.30
Suddenly stood before them31
An old white-bearded man ;32
In his lifted hand a skull he held,33
And the loungers gazed like men half-spelled,34
As his bitter speech began.35
And by his father’s ashes,36
By their desecrated graves,37
He cursed the spoilers as they lay,38
He cursed the house that stood that day39
Beside the Kama’s waves.40
Ere the next fruit shows on the mango,41
Ye shall perish one and all !42
Sudden and soon your deaths shall be,43
And the work ye have wrought ’neath the mango-tree,44
Shall not survive your fall.”45
He flung the skull among them,46
And with a wild weird cry47
Plunged in the depths of the rapid river,48
That sung its own sweet song for ever49
Under the Eastern sky.50
And or ever upon the mango51
The next year’s fruit was seen,52
O’er the graves of two of that merry group,53
Rang the farewell shot of the saddened troop,54
Whose comrades they had been.55
He breasted the rushing Kama,56
The last left of the three ;57
The strong young arms were true and tried,58
Yet a corpse was left by the eddying tide,59
Under the mango-tree.60
He lay ’mid the desolate ruins,61
Of the house the seer had doomed ;62
For the tempest had crushed it in its place,63
And the spot where they stood it was hard to trace,64
’Mid bright poison weeds entombed.65
Far too wild a story for credence,66
From modern minds to sue ;67
Yet hard and real is the riddle of life,68
And each breath we draw is with marvel rife,69
And—the wonderful tale is true.70