There is sorrow in Beechenbrook Cottage; the dayHas been bright with the earliest glory of May;The blue of the sky is as tender a blueAs ever the sunshine came shimmering through:The songs of the birds and the hum of the bees,As they merrily dart in and out of the trees,—The blooms of the orchard, as sifting its snows,It mingles its odors with hawthorn and rose,—The voice of the brook, as it lapses unseen,—The laughter of children at play on the green,—Insist on a picture so cheerful, so fair,Who ever would dream that a grief could be there! The last yellow sunbeam slides down from the wall,The purple of evening is ready to fall;The gladness of daylight is gone, and the gloomOf something like sadness is over the room.Right bravely all day, with a smile on her brow,Has Alice been true to her duty,—but nowHer tasks are all ended,—naught inside or out,For the thoughtfullest love to be busy about;The knapsack well furnished, the canteen all bright,The soldier's grey dress and his gauntlets in sight,The blanket tight strapped, and the haversack stored,And lying beside them, the cap and the sword;No last, little office,—no further commands,—No service to steady the tremulous hands;All wife-work,—the sweet work that busied her so,Is finished:—the dear one is ready to go. Not a sob has escaped her all day,—not a moan;But now the tide rushes,—for she is alone.On the fresh, shining knapsack she pillows her head,And weeps as a mourner might weep for the dead.She heeds not the three-year old baby at play,As donning the cap, on the carpet he lay;Till she feels on her forehead, his fingers' soft tips,And on her shut eyelids, the touch of his lips. "Mamma is so sorry!—Mamma is so sad!But Archie can make her look up and be glad:I've been praying to God, as you told me to do,That Papa may come back when the battle is thro':—He says when we pray, that our prayers shall be heard;And Mamma, don't you always know, God keeps his word?" Around the young comforter stealthily pressThe arms of his father with sudden caress;Then fast to his heart,—love and duty at strife,—He snatches with fondest emotion, his wife. "My own love! my precious!—I feel I am strong;I know I am brave in opposing the wrong;I could stand where the battle was fiercest, nor feelOne quiver of nerve at the flash of the steel;I could gaze on the enemy guiltless of fears,But I quail at the sight of your passionate tears:My calmness forsakes me,—my thoughts are a-whirl,And the stout-hearted man is as weak as a girl. I've been proud of your fortitude; never a traceOf yielding, all day, could I read in your face;But a look that was resolute, dauntless and high,As ever flashed forth from a patriot's eye.I know how you cling to me,—know that to partIs tearing the tenderest cords of your heart:Through the length and the breadth of our Valley to-day,No hand will a costlier sacrifice layOn the altar of Country; and Alice,—sweet wife...!