Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 3/Elfie Meadows


A sunny day in leafy June, white clouds are floating high,
Leisurely through the blue expanse, and bees hum drowsily;
In shady nooks the cattle herd, and ruminating doze,
While onward, with a rippling song, the glancing river flows.

With fairy steps a maiden stroll’d along the rushy bank,
Her light foot hardly seem’d to crush the daisies where it sank.
The dragon-flies unheeding brush her soft curls as they pass;
The wary lizard boldly peeps from ’neath his tuft of grass.

Beneath her hat of plaited straw her eyes shine soft and blue,
Her tender, quivering mouth tells tales of feeling deep and true:
O Elfie Meadows!—scarce eighteen—how many a heart has beat
To kiss the flow’ret in your hand, the daisies ’neath your feet!

Yet scorn can dwell in those sweet eyes, cold words those lips can speak;
For many, though you’re scarce eighteen, to gain your love would seek.
You wave them off with calm disdain. Have you no heart to give?
Or is it in yourself alone, and for yourself, you live?

Not so, sweet Elfie: next your heart a tiny pledge you wear,—
Within a case of purest gold a lock of raven hair;
And ever and anon you take, and to your lips you press,
This token of unfailing love to cheer your loneliness.

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And if,” I ask, “long years should pass, and he should not return,
This tribute of a fleeting love you scornfully would spurn?”
Never,” she says, with flashing eyes; “time matters not to love;
And ours is true,—it springs below, but rears its fruit above.”

Ah, Elfie, but you little know how absence can estrange,—
How fondest hearts at last find out ’tis possible to change.”
She stamp’d her little foot at me. “I tell you ’tis not so
With love that bears its flowers aloft, and has its roots below.”

Others have said the same,” quoth I, “who loved as well as you,
Yet ten or twenty years have served to prove their love untrue.”
Her small white hands she tightly clasp’d, and said, with face a-glow,
Their love no fruit could bear on high—it had no root below.”

And yours, my Elfie,” murmured I, “how can you test its truth,—
It may be that maturer years will scorn the love of youth?”
Nay, try me not too hard,” she said, “I only know I love,
And love that has such root below is perfected above.”

We two sat on a mossy bunk, her soft eyes look’d before
Into the river’s crystal depths; fain would I test her more;
But one she little wist was near, had secretly o’erheard
Words that his inmost heart had touch’d, his deepest pulses stirr’d.

And what,” he ask’d, in quivering tones, “if some friend true and tried
Had told you that your faithless Guy had found another bride?”
Around his neck she wildly flung her arms with joyous glee:
Ah, never, Guy, would I believe you could be false to me!”