They heard the South wind sighing
A murmur of the rain;
And they knew that Earth was longing
To see them all again.
While the snow-drops still were sleeping
Beneath the silent sod;
They felt their new life pulsing
Within the dark, cold clod.
Not a daffodil nor daisy
Had dared to raise its head;
Not a fairhaired dandelion
Peeped timid from its bed;
Though a tremor of the winter
Did shivering through them run;
Yet they lifted up their foreheads
To greet the vernal sun.
And the sunbeams gave them welcome.
As did the morning air
And scattered o'er their simple robes
Rich tints of beauty rare.
Soon a host of lovely flowers
From vales and woodland burst;
But in all that fair procession
The crocuses were first.
First to weave for Earth a chaplet
To crown her dear old head;
And to beautify the pathway
Where winter still did tread.
And their loved and white haired mother
Smiled sweetly 'neath the touch,
When she knew her faithful children
Were loving her so much.
There was grief within our household
Because of a vacant chair.
Our mother, so loved and precious,
No longer was sitting there.
Our hearts grew heavy with sorrow,
Our eyes with tears were blind,
And little Jamie was wondering,
Why we were left behind.
We had told our little darling,
Of the land of love and light,
Of the saints all crowned with glory,
And enrobed in spotless white.
We said that our precious mother,
Had gone to that land so fair,
To dwell with beautiful angels,
And to be forever there.
But the child was sorely puzzled,
Why dear grandmamma should go
To dwell in a stranger city,
When her children loved her so.
But again the mystic angel
Came with swift and silent tread,
And our sister, Jamie's mother,
Was enrolled among the dead.
To us the mystery deepened,
To Jamie it seemed more clear;
Grandma, he said, must be lonesome,
And mamma has gone to her.
But the question lies unanswered
In our little Jamie's mind,
Why she should go to our mother,
And leave her children behind;
To dwell in that lovely city,
From all that was dear to part,
From children who loved to nestle
So closely around her heart.
Dear child, like you, we are puzzled,
With problems that still remain;
But think in the great hereafter
Their meaning will all be plain.
She leaned her head upon her hand
And heard the King's decree --
"My lords are feasting in my halls;
Bid Vashti come to me.
"I've shown the treasures of my house,
My costly jewels rare,
But with the glory of her eyes
No rubies can compare.
"Adorn'd and crown'd I'd have her come,
With all her queenly grace,
And, 'mid my lords and mighty men,
Unveil her lovely face.
"Each gem that sparkles in my crown,
Or glitters on my throne,
Grows poor and pale when she appears,
My beautiful, my own!"
All waiting stood the chamberlains
To hear the Queen's reply.
They saw her cheek grow deathly pale,
But light flash'd to her eye:
"Go, tell the King," she proudly said,
"That I am Persia's Queen,
And by his crowds of merry men
I never will be seen.
"I'll take the crown from off my head
And tread it 'neath my feet,
Before their rude and careless gaze
My shrinking eyes shall meet.
"A queen unveil'd before the crowd! --
Upon each lip my name! --
Why, Persia's women all would blush
And weep for Vashti's shame!
"Go back!" she cried, and waved her hand,
And grief was in her eye:
"Go, tell the King," she sadly said,
"That I would rather die."
They brought her message to the King;
Dark flash'd his angry eye;
'Twas as the lightning ere the storm
Hath swept in fury by.
Then bitterly outspoke the King,
Through purple lips of wrath --
"What shall be done to her who dares
To cross your monarch's path?"
Then spake his wily counsellors --
"O King of this fair land!
From distant Ind to Ethiop,
All bow to thy command.
"But if, before thy servants' eyes,
This thing they plainly see,
That Vashti doth not heed thy will
Nor yield herself to thee,
"The women, restive 'neath our rule,
Would learn to scorn our name,
And from her deed to us would come
Reproach and burning shame.
"Then, gracious King, sign with thy hand
This stern but just decree,
That Vashti lay aside her crown,
Thy Queen no more to be."
She heard again the King's command,
And left her high estate;
Strong in her earnest womanhood,
She calmly met her fate,
And left the palace of the King,
Proud of her spotless name --
A woman who could bend to grief,
But would not bow to shame.