At last the words sunk deep within his heart,
With god-like courage cried he out at last,
“Oh, Gloria, beautiful, I can lose thee,
Lose life and thee, to battle for the right.”
And when he joined the brave and stalwart ranks,
Like Saul amid his brethren he stood,
Braver and seemlier than all his peers,
And nobly did he battle for the right.
Gentlest unto the weak, and in the fray,
So dauntless, none—no fear of man had he;
He wrought dismay in Error’s blackened ranks
So nobly did he battle for the right.
But at the last he lay on a lost field;
Couched on a broken spear, he pallid lay;
With dying lips he murmured Gloria’s name,
“The field is lost, and thou art lost to me.”
When lo! she stood beside him, pure and fair,
With tender eyes that blessed him as he lay;
And lo! she knelt and clasped his dying hands,
And murmured, “I am thine, am thine at last.”
With wondering eyes, he moaned, “All—all
And I am dying.” “Ah, not so,” she cried,
“Nothing is lost to him who dare be true;
Who gives his life shall find it evermore.”
“Methought I saw the spears beat down like grain,
And the ranks reel before the press of knights;
The level ground ran gory with our wounds;
Methought the field was lost, and then I fell.”
“Be calm,” she cried, “the right
is never lost,
Though spear, and shield, and cross may shattered be,
Out of their dust shall spring avenging blades
That yet shall rid us of some giant wrong.
“And all the blood that falls in righteous cause,
Each crimson drop shall nourish snowy flowers
And quicken golden grain, bright sheaves of good,
That under happier skies shall yet be reaped.
“When right opposes wrong, shall evil win?
Nay, never—but the year of God is long,
And you are weary, rest ye now in peace,
For so He giveth His beloved sleep.”
He smiled, and murmured low, “I am content,”
With blissful tears that hid the battle’s loss;
So, held to her true heart he closed his eyes,
In quietest rest that ever he had known.
The spare-room windows wide were raised,
And you could look that summer day
On pastures green, and sunny hills,
And low rills wandering away.
Near by, the square front yard was sweet
With rose and caraway.
Upon a couch drawn near the light,
The Deacon’s only daughter lay,
Bending upon the distant hills
Her eyes of dark and thoughtful gray;
The blue veins on her forehead shone
’Twas wasted so away.
She moved, and from her slender hand
Fell off her mother’s wedding-ring;
She smiled into her father’s face—
“So drops from me each earthly thing;
My hands are free to hold the flowers
Of the eternal spring.”