DOWN the long hill came poor Marie,
Her basket on her head.
The tears rolled slowly down her cheeks
And flecked her kerchief red,
And every tear bewept the day
When Wilhelm marched to France away.
The gurgle of the mountain spring,
As from the wooden spout
The water, like a joyous child,
Leaped laughing, prattling out,
Cried Wilhelm ! Wilhelm ! in her ears,
Till she could hardly see for tears.
She wiped them with her apron blue,
And sought her heart to cheer.
“Why should I weep since he is true,
Perchance may soon be here ? ”
But the light harebell shook its head
At every cheerful word she said.
In clefts and crannies of the rock
Which walls the narrow street,
The bluebell and the heatherbell
Cling fast with slender feet,
And, with slight vines and tufts of grass,
Beckon and nod to all who pass.
“ O wayside darlings ! ” cried Marie,
“ He praised my eyes of blue,
When will he come to say again
That they shine bright as you ?
Here, let me kiss you where you stand,
I will not touch you with my hand.”
The light wind sent a shiver down
Through all the garlands green,
And shook the dewdrops from the cups
Of flowers that grew between.
On Marie’s face the drops were shed
Like mourners’ tears upon the dead.
Down to the market-place she came
With weary step and slow.
The heaps of fruit and stands of flowers
Were blooming in a row,
And everywhere hung overhead
Wreaths of immortelles for the dead.
The people in an anxious crowd
Filled all the street and square ;
You might have heard a passing cloud,
It was so silent there,
As from the church-steps some one read
The list of wounded men and dead.
For in the glorious battle fought
And won but yesterday
Were half the men of that small town,
The brown-haired and the gray.
Through the rapt throng poor Marie pressed,
To quake and listen with the rest.
She heard a whisper, as she passed,
That burned her like a flame.
“ Poor, poor Marie! ” it said ; she turned
To see from whence it came.
Hope kissed her pallid lips, and fled.
“Tell me,” she cried, “ O, is he dead?”
They bear a woman down the street:
“ His mother, give her air.”
She knows the kerchief and the gown,
She knows the ashen hair.
“ Mother, let me die, too,” she moans,
And senseless falls upon the stones.
Up the long hill climbed poor Marie,
Her stony eyes were dry.
The heart beneath the kerchief gay
Breaking, could only sigh.
One thought spun ceaseless in her head,
“Why do I live when he is dead?”
Fainting she leaned against the rock,
The bluebells kissed her face.
“He called my eyes as blue as these
Here in this very place; —
Here in this very place,” she said,
“And still they bloom while he is dead.”
Mrs. Mary E. Anderson.