She twirled the string of golden beads,
That round her neck was hung, - -
My grandsire's gift; the good old man
Loved girls when he was young;
And, bending lightly o'er the cord,
And turning half away,
With something like a youthful sigh,
Thus spoke the maiden gray: -
"Well, one may trail her silken robe,
And bind her locks with pearls,
And one may wreathe the woodland rose
Among her floating curls;
And one may tread the dewy grass,
And one the marble floor,
Nor half-hid bosom heave the less,
Nor broidered corset more!
"Some years ago, a dark-eyed girl
Was sitting in the shade, -
There's something brings her to my mind
In that young dreaming maid, -
And in her hand she held a flower,
A flower, whose speaking hue
Said, in the language of the heart,
'Believe the giver true.'
"And, as she looked upon its leaves,
The maiden made a vow
To wear it when the bridal wreath
Was woven for her brow;
She watched the flower, as, day by day,
The leaflets curled and died;
But he who gave it never came
To claim her for his bride.
"Oh, many a summer's morning glow
Has lent the rose its ray,
And many a winter's drifting snow
Has swept its bloom away;
But she has kept that faithless pledge
To this, her winter hour,
And keeps it still, herself alone,
And wasted like the flower."
Her pale lip quivered, and the light
Gleamed in her moistening eyes; -
I asked her how she liked the tints
In those Castilian skies?
"She thought them misty, - 't was perhaps
Because she stood too near;"
She turned away, and as she turned
I saw her wipe a tear.