Part 1

“I love the winter violet blue,”
The child said to her mother,
“With its sweet scent and purple hue,
It blossoms through the rain and snow,
And never heeds what wind may blow,
Sure earth has no such other.”
And she made answer quietly,
That lady beautiful to see,
Bending the child above,
“The likest thing in all the earth
To that sweet flowret's modest worth,
Is pure unselfish love.”

And her eyes shone with double light
Through the long silken fringe,
Around their lids so shrunk and white,
And on each cheek glow'd strangely bright
The spot of hectic tinge.
Amid the fair child's ringlets free
Play'd her long fingers wan,
“You must love your father tenderly,
Clarice, when I am gone.

“When he comes weary from the chase
He will not meet my glad embrace,
Nor chide again in playful mood
The weakness of my woman's blood,
As shrinking I essay.
The heavy corselet to unlace,
And take the visor from his face
After the battle day.

“No hand but yours to mix the cup,
When he is vex'd and hot.”—
The little child look'd meekly up,

Through locks that cast a golden glow
Upon her delicate young brow,
Like sunrise on a hill of snow;
“O, sweetest mother, do not go;
You know he loves me not.

“He bids me sternly from his sight,
He cannot brook my voice to hear;
His large dark eyes so fiercely bright,
That look so soft when you are near
As shaded clouds of summer light,
To me are black as winter night.

“He gives no kisses to my cheek,
Like those he gives to you,
Why is it,—gentle mother, speak—
He cannot love us two?
Has his broad breast a heart so small,
That it can care for one alone?
And how may love to him be shown
Who loveth not at all?”

So quick the breathing came and went,
Against that lady's wasted side,
For sorrow as the child replied,
That every breath was like a sob,
And you could hear the pulses throb,
Like short rough waves too closely pent,
Of an uneasy tide.

Far up, far up, in turret high,
With loophole looking to the sky,
That lady's chamber lay;
Whence they could see the tall trees toss
Their topmost boughs in middle air,
And down below the small white cross,
On roof of the carved chapel fair,
Gleam in the sunset ray.

“My child, my child, did He not love,
Who hung for thee thereon?”
(Slowly doth her finger move,
Until it showeth steadily
Sign of best love an agony,
That little cross of stone.)

“And where for Him was mercy dear,
Or pitying thought, or soothing tear?
Who loved Him as He loved?
Did they not scorn His gentleness?
Did they not mock His soul's distress,
And meet His melting tenderness
Unsoften'd and unmoved?

“And you are His, sweet daughter mine,
Whom, shadow'd o'er by His own sign,
We vow'd His cup to share—
To love, to suffer, and to do,
These are the marks His children wear;
And seems the path too rough for you,
The cross too sharp to bear?

“Nay, truest hearts love on, my child,
And look not for return,
And love is gentle, patient, mild,
Nor knoweth aught of words that burn,
Of fierce reproach and anger stern.
E'en selfish worldly hearts have caught
A warmth by others given;
But that which gives its own for nought
Is like the God of Heaven.”

The little maiden bow'd her head,
Her soft cheek blush'd a deeper red,
And tears came swimming o'er her eyes,
Like rain, 'twixt earth and summer skies;
But ere the sunset's golden touch
Had faded from that cross of stone,
The shower had pass'd, the cloud was gone
The child knelt by her mother's couch.

Her gentle eyes, all blue and clear,
To Heaven were lifted trustingly
“Good Christ, keep Thou my father dear,”
Thus meekly did the maiden pray,
“And guard him in the battle fray,
And make him to love me.”

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