The Lady Lo-Fu

On a bright and sunny morning,
From her mother's house there came,
One who needed no adorning, —
Lo-Fu was the lady's name.

On her arm a basket swinging,
Made of silk her own hand weaves,
Forth she wanders blithely singing,
Bent on gathering mulberry leaves.

From her head in graceful tresses
Falls the fine and lustrous hair,
While each shapely ear caresses
Just one pearl of beauty rare.

Purple bodice, broidered quaintly,
Silken skirt with amber lace,
Gave the touch demure and saintly
To her sweetly winsome face.

Travellers dropped the loads they carried,
And in wonder stroked their chin;
Young men, whether free or married,
Doffed their hats a glance to win.

Farmers stay their hand in ploughing,
Peasants stand as in a dream,
Now and then the trees allowing
Of the girl a passing gleam.

On this morn an Envoy passing,
From a mission to the sea,
Where much wealth he'd been amassing,
Saw Lo-Fu beneath a tree.

For her silkworms food providing,
Work she did with greatest zest;
All her friends around residing
Owned her silk was of the best.

Near the tree the Envoy stopping
With his escort in array,
Soldiers boughs of mulberries lopping
Helped to make a fine display.

From his retinue emerging
Came the Envoy's trusty man,
Who his master's message urging,
Gently asked her name and clan.

" Lo-Fu," came the answer proudly,
" Of the ancient house of T " sin!"
Adding, too, a little loudly,
" And my age is seventeen."

" Will you join me?" asked the Envoy,
" Sharing all my wealth and power,
All the treasures of this convoy
Would not far exceed your dower!"

" You have a wife," she answered coldly,
" And most foolish are, I fear;
I, she added firm and boldly,
" Also have a husband dear.

And my husband is the leader
Of a thousand horsemen brave,
Midst whom not one base seceder
Would another captain crave!

" On his charger, white and fiery,
'Mongst the troop he 's first espied,
Soldier-like, erect and wiry,
With his keen sword by his side.

" When but fifteen he enlisted
Without patronage or fame,
And at twenty, unassisted,
Officer at Court became.

" Then at thirty, unexpected,
Captain in the Royal Clan;
Now at forty he 's selected
Chief commandant of Ch'ang-an.

" Gallant, but of gentle bearing,
When the battle 's fought and won,
For the praise of men less caring
Than the meed for duty done.

" Yes, a clear-eyed, clean-souled hero
Is the man I'm praising now,
And your value sinks to zero
When compared with his, I vow.

" True, a lowly work I'm doing,
And the silk we use I spin,
But remember you are wooing
Lo-Fu of the House of T " sin."
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