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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Old Story

By Mary Emily Bradley (1835–1898)

[Born in Easton, Md., 1835. Died, 1898.]

“MEIN kleines mädchen! tell me, tell me true—

What was that the wind said awhile ago to you?

What was that the daisies told, whispering, to the grass

And the yellow butterflies, when they saw you pass?”

Answered then the maiden, blushing rosy red:

“Mutter mein! Ich liebe dich, was all the wind said;

Ich liebe dich, I tell you true, was every single word

The daisies or the butterflies could possibly have heard.”

“Wherefore spake the wind so,” the mother asked, “to you?

Mein kleines mädchen, tell me, tell me true.”

Then the daughter’s eyelids drooped; low the head was hung:

“The wind was but a messenger,” quoth she with faltering tongue.

“And bore a message back from you?” “Ah, mother darling, yes!

You would not have your daughter rude, so what could I do less?

But this I told the wind indeed: to breathe it in his ear

So low and soft that only he in all the world should hear.”

Tenderly the mother’s hand smoothed the maiden’s hair:

“Tell me, sweet, the message that you sent with so much care.”

Redder grew the pretty cheek, but bravely answered she:

“Mutter mein! ’twas only what the wind had said to me!”

“Only that!” The mother smiled through her sudden tears,

Knowing well what love costs—the pain, the bliss, the fears;

Must it find its way so soon to her liebling’s heart,

With its passionate delight and its cruel smart?

All day long her own heart was aching for her child;

All day long the maiden dreamed, and in her dreaming smiled;

For every wind that shook the leaves was still a messenger

From her lover, whispering “Ich liebe dich!” to her.