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Well, so time passed on; a year was gone,
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 !
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,
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
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
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 held each little trembling hand,
As I strove to make them understand
Ah, Sir Arthur might look grave and stern,
Little Arthur hid his face, and May
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,
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
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
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,
But Sir Arthur-Oh, this was too hard !-
In my lady's time, seemed to rejoice
Each day more; and I could hear his voice Even, sounding younger and more glad.
He might perhaps have blamed them, but his wife Never failed to take the children's part:
She would stay him with her pleading tone,
Saying she would strive, and strive alone, Till she gained each little wayward heart.
And she strove indeed, and seemed to be
Yet, when May had most her mother's look,
Then the lady's calm, cold accents shook With some memory of reproachful pain.
Little May would never call her Mother:
Kissed her golden curls, and softly said,
She was gentle, kind, and patient too,
Ah, their mother's gentle memory dwelt
Near them, and her little orphans felt She had the first claim upon their heart.
So three years passed ; then the war broke out; And a rumour seemed to spread and rise;
First we guessed what sorrow must befall,
Then all doubt fled, for we read it all In the depths of her despairing eyes.
Yes ; Sir Arthur had been called away
The cold, bitter gulf that must remain
Nearer came the day he was to sail,
When, one night, the children at my knee
Knelt to say their evening prayer to me, I looked up and saw Sir Arthur near.