TO JOSIAN FROM PRISON
Sweetheart my daughter:
These three days and nights
(Stephen has told me) thou dost grieve for me
Silently, hour by hour. Yet do not so,
My little one, but think what happiness
We shared together, and attend thy tasks
Diligently as thou ’rt ever wont to do.
When thou dost add thy mite of joyous life
To the great world, thou art a giver too,
Like to the birds who make us glad in spring.
Be happy therefore, little bird, and stay
Warm in thy nest upon the housetop high,
Where may God keep thee safe. And so, good-night.
Dearest my little one:
It hath been ruled
That I shall go away to that far land
Which I have told thee of. Men call it Death.
Thou knowest that our souls cannot be free
Dwelling within these houses of the flesh,
Yet for love’s sake we do endure this bondage,
As would I gladly if God willed it so.
Stephen will care for thee as for a daughter,—
Be to him then a daughter; he has none
Save thee to love him. For the rest, remember
That in the quiet mind the soul sees truth,
And I shall speak to thee in our loved books,
As in the sunshine and the sound of music,
The beauty and the sweetness of the world.
Three kisses give I thee,—brow, eyes,
Think wisely, and see clearly, and speak gently.
Thy little bed at night shall hold thee safe
As mine own arms,—thine elfin needle make
Thy little room a bright and lovely bower.
Thy household fairies Rainbow, Lodestone, Flint,
Shall do thy will. Thy stars have said to me
That thou wilt see far lands and many cities.
Await thy Prince from that enchanted shore
Beyond the rainbow’s end, and read with him
Thy magic runes. This charge I lay on him
That he shall love thee—more than I—farewell!
To Josian my daughter and
Alan was gathering his French for some sort of greeting, when the young girl spoke in a sweet clear voice and in English.
“I am glad that you have come,” she said. “Father Stephen says that you desire to hear of my father.”
“I came from England in the hope that I might,” Alan answered simply.
“I cannot tell you very much of his work,” the girl went on, motioning him to a seat, with a quaint grace of gesture. “I was so very tiny, you see, when he went away. He used to tell me stories and sing little songs to me, and teach me to know the flowers and the birds. My mother would have done so, he said, and he wished so far as he could to be both father and mother to me. It seemed to me that he was so, and I loved him—not as dearly as he loved me, because I was so small, but as much as I possibly could. Oh, much more than my nurse, although Maddalena is very dear to me.