ON the hills of old Otsego,
By her brightly gleaming lake,
Where the sound of horn and hunter
Sylvan echoes love to wake,
Where the wreaths of twining verdure
Clamber to the saplings' tops,
I sat beside sweet Minnie Wilder
In the great field picking hops.
Then the clusters green and golden
Binding in her sunny hair,
Half afraid, yet very earnest,
Looking in her face so fair;
Speaking low, while Squire Von Lager
Talked of past and coming crops,
Said I, "Minnie, should a soldier
Stay at home here, picking hops?
"While the country, torn asunder,
Calls for men like me to fight,
And the voice of patriots pleading
Asks for hands to guard the right;
While from hearts of heroes slaughtered
Still the life-blood slowly drops,
Can I—shall I stay beside you,
Minnie darling, picking hops?"
Very pale the cheek was growing,
And the hand I held was cold;
But the eye was bright and glowing,
While my troubled thought was told;
Yet her voice was clear and steady,
Without sigh, or tear, or stops,
When she answered, speaking quickly,
"'Tis women's work, this picking hops.
"Men should be where duty calls them—
Women stay at home and pray
For the gallant absent soldier,
Proud to know he would not stay."
"Bravely spoken, darling Minnie!"
Then I kissed her golden locks,
Breathed anew a soldier's promise,
As we sat there picking hops.
"Now I go away to-morrow,
And I'll dare to do or die,
Win a leader's straps and sword, love,
Or 'mid fallen heroes lie.
Then, when all of earth is fading,
And the fluttering life-pulse stops,
Still, 'mid thoughts of home and heaven,
I'll remember picking hops."