by Frances Sargent Locke Osgood
A true story.
You've read, my pet, in olden story,
That oft o'er royal infant's bed,
Some mystic gift of grace or glory
By fairy hands was shed.
I know a child in modern days,
Who, when a baby, thus was bless'd;
But 'twas by One of rarer skill
Than fays of old possess'd.
This Being, kind as powerful, lent
The child two wondrous living gems,
More precious than the costliest stone
In Eastern diadems.
And fair they shone from morn till night,
Those treasures, 'neath the lifted lid;
But when the gems of Heaven came out,
The gems of earth were hid;
For oh! so delicately wrought,
So dainty, and so pure were they,
The lamp-light and the evening air
Would dim their azure ray.
In each white case a magic well,
A little, fairy, charmèd thing,
At times, to bathe the jewels, pour'd
Its never-failing spring.
But more amazing gifts than these,
Each tiny talisman possess'd;
Now was she not a favor'd child,
To be so richly bless'd?
No sooner did she raise the lid,
Than suddenly, in each gem of light,
A perfect little picture came,
In colors pure and bright!
Mamma! and were they all her own?
And might she always with them play?
What color were the toys, mamma?
What kind of stones were they?
Two beaming sapphires! Heaven's own light
And color shone within them soft;
But clouds would o'er them flit at times,
And dew would dim them oft.
Each in an ivory casket kept,
Whose lid was moved on viewless hinge,
With azure scroll-work all inlaid,
And trimm'd with silken fringe.
Sometimes the child the caskets lock'd,
And kept them closed for many an hour;
And none could lift the little lids,
Save the kind Giver's power.
But then, when He commanded her
To ope each tiny oval case,
The gems within, by some strange charm,
Had gain'd new light and grace.
'Twas painted with consummate art,
'Twas copied with a skill divine,
From whatsoever chanced, just then,
Before the gem to shine.
Was it a friend's belovèd face?
Not Raphael's self the breathing form
With such celestial truth could trace,
So life-like, bright, and warm!
Was it a landscape? lo! within
Her jewels waved the foliage green, --
Hill, river, cot, and cloud, were there,
And Heaven o'erarch'd the scene.
All day, the great, good sun for them
New pictures of delight would weave,
'The crimson coming of the morn,
The funeral pomp of eve.'
The tiniest flower that deck'd the bower,
Was imaged in each azure gem;
For them the rainbow smiled from heaven;
The stars came out for them!
But oh! most wonderful of all!
These faithful friends to none betray'd
The shifting pageant, as it pass'd,
Save to the little maid.
When others gazed, they only saw
A deep blue light, that softly smiled,
Untroubled, save at times by tears,
Shed o'er them by the child.
Though deep within, e'en while they look'd,
The mimic diorama play'd,
The gazers could but guess at it,
It smiled but on the maid.
Mamma! mamma! who was the child?
Her name, my love, was Lucy Grey.
Why! that's my name! you know, mamma,
I've no such toys as they!
Indeed you have! This very hour,
There is a portrait in them drawn
Of one you love. Go now, my child,
And shut them till the dawn.
Oh! sweet mamma! I've caught you now;
You needn't try to look demure;
You've made a cunning story out;
But I am right, I'm sure.
Yours is the portrait painted there,
In colors beautiful and bright;
I'll shut you up, and keep you in,
To dream about! Good-night!
Stay, Lucy, love; you'll not forget,
When you repeat your nightly prayer,
To thank the Giver of all good
For gifts so rich, so fair?
No, dear mamma! and I will try
To keep my spirit pure and true,
That so the costly gems He gave,
Lose not their heavenly hue.