Traits and Trials of Early Life/The Lady Marian
THE LADY MARIAN.
Her silken cloak around her thrown,
Lined with the soft brown fur,
So that no wind, howe'er it blew,
Could blow too rough on her.
The lady Marian thus went forth,
To breath the opening day;
Two snow-white ponies drew the chair
That bare her on her way.
A little page upheld the reins,
Who, drest in gold and green,
Might have seem'd fitting charioteer
To her the fairy queen.
The graceful equipage drove on,
And sought the woodland shade;
Where boughs of aspen and of birch
A pleasant shelter made.
A murmur musical and sad
Disturbed the noon-tide rest;
For balanced on each topmost branch
Hung the wood pigeons' nest
But soon amid the parting trees
There came a gladder song;
For, fill'd with music and with light,
A small brook danced along.
The small brook had a cheerful song,
But one more cheerful still,
The song of childhood in its mirth,
Came o'er its sunny rill.
Over the silvery wave which shewed
The pebbles white below,
Where cool beneath the running stream
The water-cresses grow;
A little maiden gathering them,
Bent down with natural grace;
The sunshine touch'd her auburn hair,
The rose was on her face.
A rose accustomed to the sun,
Which gave a richer hue
Than ever pale and languid flower
Within a hot-house knew.
Blessing the child within her heart,
Marian past thoughtful by,
And long the child watch'd thro' the boughs,
With dark and alter'd eye.
And when the lady past again,
The brook its glad song kept;
But, leaning on its wild flower bank,
The little maiden wept.
Marian was still a child in years,
Though not a child in thought;
She paused, and with her low soft voice,
The cause for sorrow sought.
It was for envy Edith wept,
And this she shamed to say;
And it was long e'er Marian learnt
Why tears had found their way.
At last she rather guess'd than learnt,
And with a graver tone
She said, "Oh rather thank thy God,
My lot is not thine own.
"How would my weary feet rejoice
Like thine to walk and run
Over the soft and fragrant grass,
Beneath yon cheerful sun.
"And yet I trust to God's good will
My spirit is resign'd;
Though sore my sickness, it is borne
At least with patient mind.
"Though noble be my father's name,
And vast my father's wealth;
He would give all, could he but give
His only child thy health!
"Ah, judge not by the outside show
Of this world, vain and frail—"
Still wept the child; but now she wept
To watch a cheek so pale.
The lady Marian's voice grew faint,
Her hour of strength was o'er;
She whisper'd, "Come to-morrow morn,
And I will tell thee more."
Next morning Edith sought the hall;—
They shew'd her Marian laid
Upon a couch where many a year
That gentle child had pray'd.
And dark and hollow were her eyes,
Yet tenderly the while
Play'd o'er her thin white cheek and lip
A sweet and patient smile.
The shadow of the grave was nigh,
But to her face was given
A holy light from that far home
Where she was hastening—heaven.
It was her latest task on earth,
That work of faith and love;
She taught that village child to raise
Her youthful heart above.
She gave her sweet and humble thought
That make their own content;
And hopes that are the gift of heaven,
When heavenward they are bent.
And many wept above the tomb
That over Marian closed;
When in the bosom of her God
The weary soul reposed.
None wept with tenderer tears than she
Who such vain tears had shed;
But holy was the weeping given
To the beloved dead.
Throughout a long and happy life
That peasant maiden kept
The lesson of that blessed hour
When by the brook she wept.