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Yet she would not blame him, even to me, Though she often sat and wept alone;
But she could not hide it near her death,
When she said with her last struggling breath,"Let my babies still remain my own!"

I it was who drew the sheet aside,
When he saw his dead wife's face. That test
Seemed to strike right to his heart. He said,
In a strange, low whisper, to the dead,
"God knows, love, I did it for the best!"

And he wept—Oh yes, I will be just—
When I brought the children to him there—

Wondering sorrow in their baby eyes;

And he soothed them with his fond replies, Bidding me give double love and care.

Ah, I loved them well for her dear sake:Little Arthur, with his serious air;

May, with all her mother's pretty ways, Blushing, and at any word of praise Shaking out her sunny golden hair.

And the little one of all—poor child!

She had cost that dear and precious life.
Once Sir Arthur spoke my lady's name,
When the baby's gloomy christening came,

And he called her "Olga—like my wife!"

Save that time, he never spoke of her:
He grew graver, sterner, every day;
And the children felt it, for they dropped
Low their voices, and their laughter stopped
While he stood and watched them at their play.

No, he never named their mother's name.
But I told them of her: told them all

She had been; so gentle, good, and bright;

And I always took them every night Where her picture hung in the great hall.

There she stood: white daisies in her hand,

And her red lips parted as to speak
With a smile; the blue and sunny air
Seemed to stir her floating golden hair,

And to bring a faint blush on her cheek.

Well, so time passed on; a year was gone,
And Sir Arthur had been much away.
Then the news came! I shed many tears
When I saw the truth of all my fears
Rise before me on that bitter day.

Any one but her I could have borne!

But my lady loved her as her friend.

Through their childhood and their early youth, How she used to count upon the truth

Of this friendship that would never end!

Older, graver than my lady was,
Whose young, gentle heart on her relied,

She would give advice, and praise, and blame,
And my lady leant on Margaret's name,
As her dearest comfort, help, and guide.

I had never liked her, and I think

That my lady grew to doubt her too,

Since her marriage; for she named her less,
Never saw her, and I used to guess

At some secret wrong I never knew.

That might be or not. But now, to hear
She would come and reign here in her stead,
With the pomp and splendour of a bride:
Would no thought reproach her in her pride
With the silent memory of the dead?

So, the day came, and the bells rang out, And I laid the children's black aside;
And I held each little trembling hand,
As I strove to make them understand They must greet their father's new-made bride.

Ah, Sir Arthur might look grave and stern,
And his lady's eyes might well grow dim, When the children shrank in fear away,— Little Arthur hid his face, and May
Would not raise her eyes, or speak to him.

When Sir Arthur bade them greet their " mother,"
I was forced to chide, yet proud to hear
How my little loving May replied,
With her mother's pretty air of pride,—
"Our dear mother has been dead a year!"

Ah, the lady's tears might well fall fast,
As she kissed them, and then turned away.

She might strive to smile or to forget,

But I think some shadow of regret Must have risen to blight her wedding-day.

She had some strange touch of self-reproach;

For she used to linger day by day,
By the nursery door, or garden gate,
With a sad, calm, wistful look, and wait

Watching the three children at their play.

But they always shrank away from her
When she strove to comfort their alarms,

And their grave, cold silence to beguile:

Even little Olga's baby-smile Quivered into tears when in her arms.

I could never chide them: for I saw How their mother's memory grew more deep In their hearts. Each night I had to tell Stories of her whom I loved so well When a child, to send them off to sleep.

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