Menella Bute Smedley

The Little White Doe

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In the beautiful forest is straying
An innocent little white doe,
And the creature is happily playing
With the sunlight that flickereth so;
The sunlight so soft and so tender,
That moves with each leaf as it moves,
And the doe, quite amazed at its splendour,
Is hunting the beam that she loves!

Alas! is she never reflecting
How far she has roamed from the track?
How far from the mother expecting
Her darling who does not come back?
Alas! can the sunshine deceive her?
The sunshine so tender and bright;
Can it lure her from home, and then leave her
Alone in the darkness of night?
Dark night round the forest is closing,
It frightens the little white doe,
Who earnestly longs to be dozing
With the mother that fondles her so.
The cold makes the little thing shiver,
She bleats for the sunshine that's fled,

She lays herself down by the river,
And mournfully thinks she is dead.
By the side of that stream brightly flowing
A dear little child has to pass;
To her home she is leisurely going,
When she sees something white in the grass.
She cries out, with joy in each feature,
“How charming a plaything is this!
You dear little beautiful creature,
I hope you will give me a kiss!”
Quite close to her breast she doth fold it,
And kisses its innocent face,
Her fat little arms can just hold it,
And she walks with a tottering pace.

Her home by the bright fire is lighted,
With triumph she opens the door,
She enters,—she laughs out delighted,
And puts down the doe on the floor!
It moves not,—as motionless lying
As if it was modell'd in snow;
It is pretty if dead or if dying,—
It moves not,—ah, poor little doe!
Then May wrings her hands in her sorrow,
And almost in anger she cries,—
“Are you dead? will you not live tomorrow,
And open your beautiful eyes?
“In my arms, little doe, I will take you,

You freeze me, so cold have you grown,
But indeed I will never forsake you;
I found you, and you are my own.”
With that white, frozen thing, sadly weeping,
She mournfully creeps to her bed,
And clasps to her bosom while sleeping
The doe she believes to be dead!
The heart of the dear little maiden
Beats against the cold breast of the doe,
With love is that tender heart laden,
And love works enchantment we know.
Yes, life through the creature is stealing,
Her heart gives an answering beat,

And the wonder she cannot help feeling
Finds vent in a pitiful bleat!
May wakes, in the low sound delighting,
Embraces the doe in her bed,
And feeds her with milk, so inviting
'Twould almost give life to the dead.
She smoothes her soft hairs as a duty,
She washes her free from each speck,
And a blue ribbon, bright in its beauty,
She ties round her pretty white neck.
The doe is quite pleased with such petting,
And fondly keeps licking her hand,
But still in her heart is regretting
Her home in the free forest land.

She utters a sorrowful bleating,
But May comprehends not the strain,
For the meaning that sound is repeating
Is “Please take me back, dear, again.”
One day in the forest they're playing,
And frisking with frolicsome glee,
And further and further keep straying,
Like creatures that love to be free.
Ah! oak, with thy branches wide spreading,
Once dear to the doe's startled mind,
Ah! track to a happy home leading,
She runs on and looks not behind.
She runs like the wind,—swiftly flying,
She reaches the well-beloved glade,

And there her old mother is lying
Asleep in the beautiful shade.
Through the long ferns her wee darling presses,
Ah, softly she slackens her pace,
With tenderest bleats and caresses
She crouches and licks her dear face.
Oh, rapturous, passionate meeting,
Oh, moments that form a bright past,
Too exquisite not to be fleeting,
Yet follow'd by joy that can last!
May watches them, tearful and breathless,
Her pleasure is mix'd with regret;
She sees their affection is deathless,
She feels she must part from her pet.

But after much talking and loving
(Not a word of it May understands),
The mother towards her is moving,
And rubs her soft nose in her hands.
And when,—for the stars are now peeping,—
May runs o'er the dew-cover'd ground,
The old doe beside her is creeping
And the young one is frisking around.
Quite close to May's cottage they made them
A new home so pretty and neat;
Each night in that warm nest they laid them,
Each morning waked May with their bleat.
The wee doe jumps up to caress her
With kisses she prizes, we know,
And the mother's fond eyes softly bless her
For her love to the Little White Doe!

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