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Or was it Christian charity,
The richest and rarest of all dowers ?
Who shall tell us ? No one speaks;
Either of anger or of pride,
By those who are sleeping at her side.
Hereafter ? — And do you think to look On the terrible pages of that Book
To find her failings, faults, and errors ? Ah, you will then have other cares, In your own short-comings and despairs,
In your own secret sins and terrors!
THE EMPEROR'S BIRD'S-NEST.
Once the Emperor Charles of Spain,
With his swarthy, grave commanders,
Some old frontier town of Flanders.
Up and down the dreary camp,
In great boots of Spanish leather, Striding with a measured tramp, These Hidalgos, dull and damp,
Cursed the Frenchmen, cursed the weather. Thus as to and fro they went,
Over upland and through hollow, Giving their impatience vent, Perched upon the Emperor's tent,
In her nest, they spied a swallow.
Yes, it was a swallow's nest,
Built of clay and hair of horses, Mane, or tail, or dragoon's crest, Found on hedge-rows east and west,
After skirmish of the forces.
Then an old Hidalgo said,
As he twirled his gray mustachio, « Sure this swallow overhead Thinks the Emperor's tent a shed,
And the Emperor but a Macho!"
Hearing his imperial name
Coupled with those words of malice,
Half in anger, half in shame,
Slowly from his canvas palace.
“Let no hand the bird molest,"
Said he solemnly, "nor hurt her!” Adding then, by way of jest, « Golondrina is my guest,
'T is the wife of some deserter ! »
Swift as bowstring speeds a shaft,
Through the camp was spread the rumor, And the soldiers, as they quaffed Flemish beer at dinner, laughed
At the Emperor's pleasant humor.
So unharmed and unafraid
Sat the swallow still and brooded,
And the siege was thus concluded.
Then the army, elsewhere bent,
Struck its tents as if disbanding,
Very curtly, “ Leave it standing !”
So it stood there all alone,
Loosely flapping, torn and tattered, Till the brood was fledged and flown, Singing o'er those walls of stone
Which the cannon-shot had shattered.