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 The Walker of the Snow - Atlantic

Speed on, speed on, good master!
    The camp lies far away;—
  We must cross the haunted valley
    Before the close of day.

  How the snow-blight came upon me
    I will tell you as we go,—
  The blight of the shadow hunter
    Who walks the midnight snow.

  To the cold December heaven
    Came the pale moon and the stars,
  As the yellow sun was sinking
    Behind the purple bars.

  The snow was deeply drifted
    Upon the ridges drear
  That lay for miles between me
    And the camp for which we steer.

  'Twas silent on the hill-side,
    And by the solemn wood
  No sound of life or motion
    To break the solitude,

  Save the wailing of the moose-bird
    With a plaintive note and low,
  And the skating of the red leaf
    Upon the frozen snow.

  And said I,—"Though dark is falling,
    And far the camp must be,
  Yet my heart it would be lightsome,
    If I had but company."

  And then I sang and shouted,
    Keeping measure, as I sped,
  To the harp-twang of the snow-shoe
    As it sprang beneath my tread.

  Nor far into the valley
    Had I dipped upon my way,
  When a dusky figure joined me,
    In a capuchon of gray,

  Bending upon the snow-shoes
    With a long and limber stride;
  And I hailed the dusky stranger,
    As we travelled side by side.

  But no token of communion
    Gave he by word or look,
  And the fear-chill fell upon me
    At the crossing of the brook.

  For I saw by the sickly moonlight,
    As I followed, bending low,
  That the walking of the stranger
    Left no foot-marks on the snow.

  Then the fear-chill gathered o'er me,
    Like a shroud around me cast,
  As I sank upon the snow-drift
    Where the shadow hunter passed.

  And the otter-trappers found me,
    Before the break of day,
  With my dark hair blanched and whitened
    As the snow in which I lay.

  But they spoke not, as they raised me;
    For they knew that in the night
  I had seen the shadow hunter,
    And had withered in his blight.

  Sancta Maria speed us!
    The sun is falling low,—
  Before us lies the Valley
    Of the Walker of the Snow!