“’The sweetest flower that
I give you as we part,
To you, it is a rose,
To me, it is a heart.’”
And the man took the flower, and took the hands too, and kissed them; then a memory chanced to come to him, and he glanced about him on the moss-covered forest floor. He saw some little clover-like leaves that all forest-lovers love, and he stooped and picked one of the gleaming white blossoms and laid it in Helen’s hands. “Dearest,” he said, “it is beautiful to make love with the flowers; I chanced to think how I once wrote a pretty little poem, and if you will love me more for it, I will tell it to you.” Then while the girl gazed at him happily, he went on to add, “This was long before I knew you, dear, and when I worshiped the flowers. One of them was this little wood sorrel.
I found it in the forest dark,
A blossom of the snow;
I read upon its face so fair,
No heed of human woe.
Yet when I sang my passion song
And when the sun rose higher,
The flower flung wide its heart to me,
And lo! its heart was fire.”
Helen gazed at him a moment after he finished, and then she took the little flower and laid it gently back in the group from which he had plucked it; afterwards she looked up and laughed. “I want that poem for myself,” she said, and drew closer to him, and put her arms about him; he gazed into her upraised face, and there was a look of wonder in his eyes.
“Oh, precious girl,” he said, “I wonder if you know what a vision of beauty God has made you! I wonder if you know how fair your eyes are, if you know what glory a man may read in your face! Helen, when I look upon you I know that God has meant to pay me for all my years of pain; and it is all that I can do to think that you are really, really mine. Do you not know that to gaze upon you will make me a mad, mad creature for years and years and years?”
Helen answered him gravely: “With all my beauty, David, I am really, really yours; and I love you so that I do not care anything in the world about being beautiful, except because it makes you happy; to do that I shall be always just as perfect as I may, thro all those mad years and years and years!” Then, as she glanced about her, she added: “We must go pretty soon, because it is late; but oh, before we do, sweetheart, will you kiss me once more for all those years and years and years?”
And David bent over and clasped her in his arms again,
Sie ist mir ewig, ist mir
immer, Erb und Eigen, ein und all!
END OF PART I
“When summer gathers up her robes
And like a dream of beauty glides away.”
“Across the hills and far away,
Beyond their utmost purple rim,
And deep into the dying day
The happy princess follow’d him.”