Laura, my Laura! ‘Yes, mother!’ ‘I
want you, Laura; come down.’
’What is it, mother—what, dearest? O your loved face how it pales!
You tremble, alas and alas—you heard bad news from the town?’
’Only one short half hour to tell it. My poor courage fails—
Laura.’ ‘Where’s Ronald?—O
anything else but Ronald!’ ’No, no,
Not Ronald, if all beside, my Laura, disaster and tears;
But you, it is yours to send them away, for you they will go,
One short half hour, and must it decide, it must for the years.
Laura, you think of your father sometimes?’
‘Sometimes!’ ‘Ah, but how?’
’I think—that we need not think, sweet mother—the time is not yet,
He is as the wraith of a wraith, and a far off shadow now—
—But if you have heard he is dead?’ ‘Not that?’ ‘Then let me forget.’
‘The sun is off the south window, draw back
the curtain, my child.’
‘But tell it, mother.’ ‘Answer you first what it is that you see.’
‘The lambs on the mountain slope, and the crevice with blue ice piled.’
‘Nearer.’—’But, mother!’ ‘Nearer!’ ‘My heifer she’s lowing to me.’
‘Nearer.’ ’Nothing, sweet mother,
O yes, for one sits in the bower.
Black the clusters hang out from the vine about his snow-white head,
And the scarlet leaves, where my Ronald leaned.’ ’Only one half hour—
Laura’—’O mother, my mother dear, all known though nothing said.
O it breaks my heart, the face dejected that looks
not on us,
A beautiful face—I remember now, though long I forgot.’
’Ay and I loved it. I love him to-day, and to see him thus!
Saying “I go if she bids it, for work her woe—I will not.”
There! weep not, wring not your hands, but think,
think with your heart
’Was he innocent, mother? If he was, I, sure had been told,
‘He said so.’ ‘Ah, but they do.’ ’And I hope—and long was his dole,
And all for the signing a name (if indeed he signed) for gold.’
’To find us again, in the far far West, where
hid, we were free—
But if he was innocent—O my heart, it is riven in two,
If he goes how hard upon him—or stays—how harder on me,
For O my Ronald, my Ronald, my dear,—my best what of you!’
’Peace; think, my Laura—I say he
will go there, weep not so sore.
And the time is come, Ronald knows nothing, your father will go,
As the shadow fades from its place will he, and be seen no more.’
’There ’ll be time to think to-morrow, and after, but to-day, no.