Menella Bute Smedley

The Wedding-Ring

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PART I

Children should not leave about
Anything that's small and bright,
Lest the fairies spy it out,
And fly off with it at night.
Foolish people wonder so
Where the little pins can go
That are lost through years and years
Surely every one must know
Fairies take them for their spears!

Even scissors, knives, and rings,
Though so large, and such a weight,
(Little avaricious things,
So ambitious to be great!),
I have known them steal away,
As the ants do sticks and clay
(For united strength is strong);
You may see ants every day,
Dragging heavy weights along.
Through the bright grass fluttering,
Laughing till they cannot speak,
Moonlight fairies softly spring,
Playing games of Hide and Seek.
And a little blue-eyed fay,
Deftly hides herself away
From the eager-seeking troop,

Calling out in accent gay
Such a pretty fairy “whoop!”
Hunting low and hunting high,
Whispering and shouting loud;
“Chaffing” her for being shy,
Mocking her for being proud.
Spreading o'er the moonlit sands,
All dispersed in shining bands;
Searching still—and still at fault,—
Till a fairy claps her hands,
And proclaims a sudden halt.
Lo, she points her tiny foot,
Silent in her great surprise,
Where beside a primrose root,
Such a dazzling creature lies;

Eager fairies round it come,
Pompous fairies haw and hum,
Timid fairies shrink in fright;
Can it talk, or is it dumb?
Will it hurt us? can it bite?
Then the wisest fairy born
(Almost thought too wise to thrive)
Touch'd it with a sort of scorn,
Saying, “It is not alive;”
Saying, “'Tis a golden thing;”
Saying, “'Tis a wedding-ring.
Wedding-ring for mortal made,
Bitter grief its loss will bring
To the Princess Scherazade!”
Azurine, the blue-eyed fay,
Who had hid herself erewhile,

Join'd them in a sulky way,
Pouting lips that ought to smile.
Angry that the sport forsook,
They forgot for her to look;
So she said, extremely cross,
“Let us throw it in the brook,
Careless losers merit loss!”
But Luline cried, “Not so,
Let us neither lose nor keep;
Unkind fairies—don't you know?—
Find it hard to go to sleep;
For a little conscience pricks
Worse than little thorns in sticks.
But a little heart at ease
Better is than pranks or tricks;
Let us be good fairies, please!”

They divided into parts,
All according to their lights;
Luline led the Tender Hearts,
Azurine the Tricksy Sprites.
Wise Monimia lonely stood,
Would not join with bad or good,
So abuse from both did get.
(Well, I really never could
See the use of wisdom yet!)
Tricksy Sprites have seized the ring,
But Luline cries, “How unfair!
Muster, Tender Hearts, and spring
On the robbers gather'd there!
Azurine, just turn about,
You and I should fight it out.
Single combat is the dodge.

Don't engage the rabble rout
In a horrible hodge-podge!”
Azurine laugh'd saucily.
“I have got it, you have not.
This is well from you to me,
Who have not what I have got!
Come, my gay, successful troop,
Roll it, 'tis a golden hoop.
Hoop is a delicious play;
Let the conquer'd mourn and droop,
Every fairy has her day!”
As the golden creature flew
Swifter than the feather'd dart,
What did little Luline do—
Luline of the tender heart?

Noble spirit—nerves high-strung,
Through the hoop herself she flung,
Stopping the too dreadful race,
And, while cheers of rapture rung,
Lay exhausted on her face!
It was by the river's side,
Moment more had been too late;
In the darkly-flowing tide
Wedding-ring had met its fate;
Azurine cried, “Hip, hurrah!
Tender Hearts the victors are;
Luline is the queen of queens.
Luline of the tender heart,
What a thorough brick thou art,
Worth a thousand Azurines!”

Then the noble foes embrace,
As brave foes have done before;
Hand to hand and face to face,
Hugh each other more and more.
All in pleased contentment gaze;
Then the wedding-ring they raise,
Polish it from stain or speck,
And, with little songs of praise,
Hang it round Lulina's neck!


PART II

In the night she cannot sleep
For the depth of her distress;
In the day she can but weep—
Lovely, sorrowful princess!
On her hand she draws her glove
At the footstep of her love,
Of her love, the royal prince;
Trembling like a frighten'd dove,
At his touch she seems to wince.
Dared she but her grief to tell
To the prince who loved her so,
Then, perchance, had all been well,
Though indeed we cannot know;
For she had not strength for that,
And her heart went pit-a-pat
At the notion of the thing.
So in misery she sat
Mourning for her wedding-ring.

For Prince Azof swore one night
That her white hands should not be
Always cover'd from the sight,
But that all who liked should see;
For no hands were ever known
White and lovely as her own;
And no jewel should she wear,
But her wedding-ring alone
Should enclasp one finger fair.
And the hour is very near,
And the banquet rich is spread,
When she knows she must appear
With her hands uncoverèd.
How she wrings them in her grief!
Crying out for some relief—
Crying out in her distress,

“I of mourners am the chief,
Most unfortunate princèss!”
What is that which floateth by,
Scarcely seen and scarcely heard?
Little shining butterfly?
Little radiant humming-bird?
Doth it brush her brow and cheek?
Will it sing or will it speak?
Doth it glitter, glance, and gleam?
Will it melt like snow-crown'd peak?
Is it real or a dream?
It is gone,—but in her hand
(Ah, what joy a sunbeam brings!)
Lies that precious marriage band,
Most beloved of wedding-rings!

On her finger soon shines bright
That small rim of golden light,
Which she welcomes with a kiss,
Cooing out her soft delight
At a happy chance like this.

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Menella Bute Smedley