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The Story Of Gladys
by [?]

“I leave my child to Heaven.” And with these words
Upon her lips, the Lady Mildred passed
Unto the rest prepared for her pure soul;
Words that meant only this: I cannot trust
Unto her earthly parent my young child,
So leave her to her heavenly Father’s care;
And Heaven was gentle to the motherless,
And fair and sweet the maiden, Gladys, grew,
A pure white rose in the old castle set,
The while her father rioted abroad.

But as the day drew near when he should give,
By his dead lady’s will, his child her own,
He having basely squandered all her wealth
To him intrusted, to his land returned,
And thrilled her trusting heart with terrors vague,
Of peril, of some shame to come to him,
Did she not yield unto his prayer–command,
That she would to Our Lady’s convent go,
Forget the world and save him from disgrace.

But hidden as she had been all her life
From tender human ties, she loved the world
With all her loving heart, the fresh, free world
That God had made, and this life seemed to her
As but a living death. A living tomb
The harsh stone walls that from the convent frowned
Upon the peaceful valley sweet with flowers.
The beautiful green valley, threaded by
Bright rivulets that sought the quiet lake,
Dear haunts sought daily by her maiden feet.
And “wilt thou not, for my sake?” and “thou shalt
To save thy sire from shame!” so wore the days,
And still she did not promise, though she wept
At his wild pleadings, trembled at his rage;
Then of her mother’s dying words he thought–
Her dying words–“I leave my child to Heaven.”
And twisting them with his own wishes, wove
A chain therewith that bound her wavering will;
A chain made mighty by the golden threads
Of rev’rence and of holy memories.
And so with heavy heart she gave her vow,
That in the autumn she would leave the world,
But first for one free summer did she pray.

And through those bright spring days she roamed abroad,
And poured upon the winds her low complaints;
The while her dark soft eyes sought all the earth,
The beauteous earth that she too soon must leave;
And all her mournful murmurs ended thus
With this sad cry of, “Oh, the happy world!”
Ended with these low words as a sigh,
I will obey, but, “oh, the happy world!”

Oh, wondrous beauty of the morning skies!
Oh, wide green fields with beady dew impearled!
The lark soars upward, singing as she flies,
Oh, wave of free, swift wings, oh, happy world!

Oh, wordless wonder of the evening sky,
Far ivory citadels with flags unfurled;
Deep sapphire seas where rosy fleets float by
The golden shores remote; oh, happy world!

Oh, my blue violets by the laughing brook!
My shy, sweet darlings, in your green leaves curled,
Bright eyes, sometime you will all vainly look
For me, your lover. Oh, the happy world!

So passed the days of spring, and she must sign
Dull papers to appease the hungry law,
And to the castle down a writer came;
No graybeard old, and dryer than his tomes,
A tall, fair-faced youth, with bright, bold gaze,
And blood that leaped afresh like crimson wine,
Rash blood that led him to leap o’er a gate
Five-barred, within the mossy park, upon
The knight’s old stumbling steed that played him false
To its own harm, for which it lost its life,
More fortunate the youth, though bruised he,
And bleeding from his many grievous wounds,
And Gladys tended him with gentlest care
Till love crept in and took the place of pain,
And in her heart took Pity’s weeping place
And dwelt a king. He knew she was the bride
Of Heaven, not to be vexed with earthly love,
But yet, upon the last night of his stay,
As by the lake’s low marge he met the maid,
And saw her soft eyes fall before his own,
He laid an almond blossom in her hand,
A blossom that both sweet and bitter is,
And said but this, “Say, is dear love a dream?”