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And he wrote it all to Mildred, as if praise were
only pleasure, As if fame were only honour, when he laid them
in her hands.
Mildred heard it without wonder, as a sure result
expected, For how could it fail, since merit and renown go
side by side : And the neighbours who first fancied genius ought
to be suspected, Might at last give up their caution, and could
own him now with pride.
Years flowed on. These empty honours led to
others they called better, He had saved some slender fortune, and might
claim his bride at last : Mildred, grown so used to waiting, felt half startled
by the letter That now made her future certain, and would
consecrate her past.
And he came: grown sterner, older-changed in
deed: a grave reliance Had replaced his eager manner, and the quick
short speech of old : He had gone forth with a spirit half of hope and
half defiance; He returned with proud assurance half disdainful
and half cold.
Yet his old self seemed returning while he stood
sometimes, and listened To her calm soft voice, relating all the thoughts
of these long years ; And if Mildred's heart was heavy, and at times her
blue eyes glistened, Still in thought she would not whisper aught of
sorrow or of fears.
Autumn with its golden corn-fields, autumn with its
storms and showers, Had been there to greet his coming with its :
forests gold and brown;
And the last leaves still were falling, fading still the
year's last flowers, When he left the quiet village, and took back his
bride to town.
Home—the home that she had pictured many a
time in twilight, dwelling On that tender gentle fancy, folded round with
loving care; Here was home—the end, the haven; and what
spirit voice seemed telling, That she only held the casket, with the gem no
Sad it may be to be longing, with a patience faint
fade and fall; Yet to grasp the thing we long for, and, with sorrow
sick and dreary,
pain of all.
What was wanting? He was gentle, kind and
generous still, deferring To her wishes always; nothing seemed to mar
their tranquil life: There are skies so calm and leaden that we long for
storm-winds stirring, There is peace so cold and bitter, that we almost
Darker grew the clouds above her, and the slow
conviction clearer, That he gave her home and pity, but that heart,
and soul, and mind Were beyond her now; he loved her, and in youth
he had been near her, But he now had gone far onward, and had left
her there behind.
Yes, beyond her: yes, quick-hearted, her Love
helped her in revealing It was worthless, while so mighty; was too weak,
although so strong;
There were courts she could not enter; depths she
could not sound; yet feeling It was vain to'strive or struggle, vainer still to
mourn or long.
He would give her words of kindness, he would
talk of home, but seeming With an absent look, forgetting if he held or
dropped her hand; And then turn with eager pleasure to his writing,
reading, dreaming, Or to speak of things with others that she could
He had paid, and paid most nobly, all he owed; no
need of blaming; It had cost him something, may be, that no future
could restore: In her heart of hearts she knew it; Love and
Sorrow, not complaining, Only suffered all the deeper, only loved him all