So each year the seasons shifted, — wet and
warm and drear and dry;
Half a year of clouds and flowers, half a year of dust and sky.
Still it brought no ship nor message, — brought
no tidings, ill or meet,
For the statesmanlike Commander, for the daughter fair and sweet.
Yet she heard the varying message, voiceless to all ears beside: “He will come,” the flowers whispered; “Come no more,” the dry hills sighed.
Still she found him with the waters lifted by the
morning breeze, —
Still she lost him with the folding of the great white-tented seas
Until hollows chased the dimples from her cheeks of
And at times a swift, shy moisture dragged the long sweet lashes down;
Or the small mouth curved and quivered as for some
And the fair young brow was knitted in an infantine distress.
Then the grim Commander, pacing where the brazen cannon
Comforted the maid with proverbs, wisdom gathered from afar;
Bits of ancient observation by his fathers garnered,
As a pebble worn and polished in the current of his speech:
“‘Those who wait the coming rider travel
twice as far as he;’
‘Tired wench and coming butter never did in time agree;’
“‘He that getteth himself honey, though
a clown, he shall have flies;’
‘In the end God grinds the miller;’ ‘In the dark the mole has eyes;’
“‘He whose father is Alcalde of his trial
hath no fear,’ —
And be sure the Count has reasons that will make his conduct clear.”
Then the voice sententious faltered, and the wisdom
it would teach
Lost itself in fondest trifles of his soft Castilian speech;
And on “Concha,” “Conchitita,”
and “Conchita” he would dwell
With the fond reiteration which the Spaniard knows so well.
So with proverbs and caresses, half in faith and half
Every day some hope was kindled, flickered, faded, and went out.
Yearly, down the hillside sweeping, came the stately
Bringing revel to vaquero, joy and comfort to each maid;
Bringing days of formal visit, social feast and rustic
Of bull-baiting on the plaza, of love-making in the court.
Vainly then at Concha’s lattice, vainly as the
Rose the thin high Spanish tenor that bespoke the youth too kind;
Vainly, leaning from their saddles, caballeros, bold
Plucked for her the buried chicken from beneath their mustang’s feet;
So in vain the barren hillsides with their gay serapes blazed, — Blazed and vanished in the dust-cloud that their flying hoofs had raised.
Then the drum called from the rampart, and once more,
with patient mien,
The Commander and his daughter each took up the dull routine,
Each took up the petty duties of a life apart and
Till the slow years wrought a music in its dreary monotone.