Ada Cambridge (21 November 1844 – 19 July 1926 / St Gemans, Norfolk)
The Old Maid's Story
Ay, many and many a year's gone by,
Since the dawn of that day in spring,
When we met in the pine-woods, Harry and I,
And he gave me this golden ring.
I had lovers in plenty, of high degree,
Who wooed in my father's hall;
But none were so noble and brave as he,
Though he was the scorn'd of all.
On the soft, green grass, where the shadows lay,
All fleck'd with the sun and dew,
With a ring and a kiss did we seal, that day,
Our vow to be leal and true.
'Twas a life-long vow;—but they did not know—
And they thought not of love or pain;—
We met just once in the sleet and snow—
We were never to meet again!
He was sent away o'er the blank, wide sea,
And I, with my hopes and fears,
Had never a message to comfort me
For over a score of years.
They laugh'd at my heart, they paraded my hand,
But I answer'd them, cold and grim—
“If Harry ne'er comes to his native land,
They shall only belong to him.”
At last came a tale from the battle-field;—
And they were not scornful now.
The sentence of exile might be repealed—
They would honour our plighted vow!
They told how my Harry, like olden knights,
Had fought for his land and Queen;
Fought hard and well on the Alma heights,
Where the deadliest strife was seen.
They told how he fell in the fire and smoke,
And they gave me his things to keep;
They wonder'd why I never cried or spoke,—
But it was too late to weep.
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