[Curator’s note: The Mary Secord referred to in this poem is actually Laura Secord. Fidelis was the pen name of Agnes Maule Machar. A later version of this poem can be found here.]
The sweet June moonlight softly fell On meadow, wood, and stream Where, 'neath the crags of Queenston Heights, The green waves darkly gleam. Alone the whip-poor-will’s sad cry Blent with the murmuring pines, Save where the sentry paced his rounds Along the Yankee lines. But, in one lowly cottage home, Were sorrow and dismay ;— Two troubled watchers might not sleep For tidings heard that day. Brave James Secord—no craven heart, Beat in that crippled frame That bore the scars of 'Queenston Heights'— —Back to his cabin came. With tidings of a secret plan Fitzgibbon to surprise, As, with his handful of brave men, At Beaver Dam he lies ;— For Boerstler, with seven hundred men, And guns, and warlike store, Will steal upon our outpost there Guarded by scarce two-score ! ‘Then, crushed at once, as it must be, Our gallant little band ! The foe will press to force the heights And sweep the conquered land ! ‘Then noble Brock had died in vain ! —If but Fitzgibbon knew !— But the poor cripple’s foot is stayed, Though brave his heart and true. Then Mary, bending o’er her babes, Looked up, and smiled through tears ; — ‘These are not times for brave men’s wives To yield to women's fears ! ‘You cannot go to warn our men,— They would not let you through ; But if they'll let a woman pass, This errand I will do.’ She soothed away his anxious fears,— She knew the forest way ;— She put her trust in Him who hears His children when they pray. Soon as the rosy flush of dawn Glowed through the purple air, She rose to household tasks, and kissed Her babes, with whispered prayer. Then to her faithful cow she went ; —The sentry at the lines Forgot to watch, as both were lost Among the sheltering pines. The rising sun’s first golden rays Glanced through the forest aisles And lighted up its sombre depths With changeful golden smiles. The fragrant odour of the pines,— The birds' fresh carols sweet— Breathed courage to the trembling heart And strength to faltering feet. And on she pressed, with steadfast tread, Her solitary way, Through tangled brake, and sodden marsh, Through all the sultry day ;— Though for the morning songs of birds, She heard the wolf’s hoarse cry, And saw the rattle-snake glide forth, From ferny covert nigh. She stopped not short for running stream —The way found by the will,— Nor for the pleading voice of friends At fair St. David’s Mill. The British sentry heard her tale And cheered her on her way, But bade her ‘ware the Indian scouts That in the covert lay. Anon,— as cracked a rotten bough, Beneath her wary tread, She heard them shouting through the gloom— She heard their war-whoop dread. But quickly, to the questioning chief, She told her errand brave,— How she had come a weary way Fitzgibbon’s men to save ! The red-skin heard, and kindly looked Upon the pale-faced 'squaw ;'— Her faithful courage touched his heart, Her weary look he saw. ‘Me go with you’ —was all he said,— His warriors waved away, — He led her safe to Beaver Dam, Where brave Fitzgibbon lay. With throbbing heart her tale she told ; Full well Fitzgibbon knew How great the threatened danger was, If such a tale were true ! Then to De Haven swift he sent To call him to his side,— And all the moon-lit summer night, Swords clash and troopers ride,— While Mary, in a farm-house near, In dreamless slumber lay, And woke to find her gallant friends Had fought and gained the day ! If e’er Canadian courage fail, Or loyalty grow cold, Or nerveless grow Canadian hearts, Then be the story told,— How woman's will and woman's wit Then played its noblest part, —How British valour saved the land, And woman’s dauntless heart !
Source: G. Mercer Adam (ed.) Rose-Belford’s Canadian Monthly and National Review, vol 4, Jan-June 1880. Toronto: Rose-Belford Publishing Co., 1880
Click here to see a later version of this poem, published in 1902, under the title Laura Secord and using Fidelis’ real name, Agnes Maule Machar.