Read Chapter VIII. of Mercy Philbrick's Choice, free online book, by Helen Hunt Jackson, on

As the months went on, Mercy began to make friends.  One person after another observed her bright face, asked who she was, and came to seek her out.  “Who is that girl with fair hair and blue eyes, who, whenever you meet her in the street, always looks as if she had just heard some good news?” was asked one day.  It was a noteworthy thing that this description was so instantly recognized by the person inquired of, that he had no hesitancy in replying,-

“Oh, that is a young widow from Cape Cod, a Mrs. Philbrick.  She came last winter with her mother, who is an invalid.  They live in the old Jacobs house with the Whites.”

Among the friends whom Mercy thus met was a man who was destined to exercise almost as powerful an influence as Stephen White over her life.  This was Parson Dorrance.

Parson Dorrance had in his youth been settled as a Congregationalist minister.  But his love of literature and of science was even stronger than his love of preaching the gospel; and, after a very few years, he accepted a position as professor in a small college, in a town only four miles distant from the village in which Mercy had come to live.  This was twenty-five years ago.  Parson Dorrance was now fifty-five years old.  For a quarter of a century, his name had been the pride, and his hand had been the stay, of the college.  It had had presidents of renown and professors of brilliant attainments; but Parson Dorrance held a position more enviable than all.  Few lives of such simple and steadfast heroism have ever been lived.  Few lives have ever so stamped the mark of their influence on a community.  In the second year of his ministry, Mr. Dorrance had married a very beautiful and brilliant woman.  Probably no two young people ever began married life with a fairer future before them than these.  Mrs. Dorrance was as exceptionally clever and cultured a person as her husband; and she added to these rare endowments a personal beauty which is said by all who knew her in her girlhood to have been marvellous.  But, as is so often the case among New England women of culture, the body had paid the cost of the mind’s estate; and, after the birth of her first child, she sank at once into a hopeless invalidism,-an invalidism all the more difficult to bear, and to be borne with, that it took the shape of distressing nervous maladies which no medical skill could alleviate.  The brilliant mind became almost a wreck, and yet retained a preternatural restlessness and activity.  Many regarded her condition as insanity, and believed that Mr. Dorrance erred in not giving her up to the care of those making mental disorders a specialty.  But his love and patience were untiring.  When her mental depression and suffering reached such a stage that she could not safely see a human face but his, he shut himself up with her in her darkened room till the crisis had passed.  There were times when she could not close her eyes in sleep unless he sat by her side, holding her hand in his, and gently stroking it.  He spent weeks of nights by her bedside in this way.  At any hour of the day, a summons might come from her; and, whatever might be his engagement, it was instantly laid aside,-laid aside, too, with cheerfulness and alacrity.  At times, all his college duties would be suspended on her account; and his own specialties of scientific research, in which he was beginning to win recognition even from the great masters of science in Europe, were very early laid aside for ever.  It must have been a great pang to him,-this relinquishment of fame, and of what is dearer to the true scientific man than all fame, the joys of discovery; but no man ever heard from his lips an allusion to the sacrifice.  The great telescope, with which he had so many nights swept the heavens, still stood in his garden observatory; but it was little used except for recreation, and for the pleasure and instruction of his boy.  Yet no one would have dreamed, from the hearty joy with which he used it for these purposes, that it had ever been to him the token and the instrument of the great hope of his heart.  The resolute cheer of this man’s life pervaded the whole atmosphere of his house.  Spite of the perpetual shadow of the invalid’s darkened room, spite of the inevitable circumscribing of narrow means, Parson Dorrance’s cottage was the pleasantest house in the place, was the house to which all the townspeople took strangers with pride, and was the house which strangers never forgot.  There was always a new book, or a new print, or a new flower, or a new thought which the untiring mind had just been shaping; and there were always and ever the welcome and the sympathy of a man who loved men because he loved God, and who loved God with an affection as personal in its nature as the affection with which he loved a man.

Year after year, classes of young men went away from this college, having for four years looked on the light of this goodness.  Said I not well that few lives have ever been lived which have left such a stamp on a community?  No man could be so gross that he would utterly fail to feel its purity, no man so stupid that he could not see its grandeur of self-sacrifice; and to souls of a fibre fine enough to be touched to the quick by its exaltation, it was-a kindling fire for ever.

In the twenty-seventh year of her married life, and near the end of the twenty-fifth year of her confinement to her room, Mrs. Dorrance died.  For a few months after her death, her husband seemed like a man suddenly struck blind in the midst of familiar objects.  He seemed to be groping his way, to have lost all plan of daily life, so tremendous was the change involved in the withdrawal of this perpetual burden.  Just as he was beginning to recover the natural tone of his mind, and to resume his old habits of work, his son sickened and died.  The young man had never been strong:  he had inherited his mother’s delicacy of constitution, and her nervous excitability as well; but he had rare qualities of mind, and gave great promise as a scholar.  The news of his death was a blow to every heart that loved his father.  “This will kill the Parson,” was said by sorrowing voices far and near.  On the contrary, it seemed to be the very thing which cleared the atmosphere of his whole life, and renewed his vigor and energy.  He rose up from the terrible grief more majestic than ever, as some grand old tree, whose young shoots and branches have been torn away by fierce storms, seems to lift its head higher than before, and to tower in its stripped loneliness above all its fellows.  All the loving fatherhood of his nature was spent now on the young people of his town; and, by young people, I mean all between the ages of four and twenty.  There was hardly a baby that did not know Parson Dorrance, and stretch out its arms to him; there was hardly a young man or a young woman who did not go to him with troubles or perplexities.  You met him, one day, drawing a huge sledful of children on the snow; another day, walking in the centre of a group of young men and maidens, teaching them as he walked.  They all loved him as a comrade, and reverenced him as a teacher.  They wanted him at their picnics; and, whenever he preached, they flocked to hear him.  It was a significant thing that his title of Professor was never heard.  From first to last, he was always called “Parson Dorrance;” and there were few Sundays on which he did not preach at home or abroad.  It was one of the forms of his active benevolence.  If a poor minister broke down and needed rest, Parson Dorrance preached for him, for one month or for three, as the case required.  If a little church were without a pastor and could not find one, or were in debt and could not afford to hire one, it sent to ask Parson Dorrance to supply the pulpit; and he always went.  Finally, not content with these ordinary and established channels for preaching the gospel, he sought out for himself a new one.  About eight miles from the village there was a negro settlement known as “The Cedars.”  It was a wild place.  Great outcropping ledges of granite, with big boulders toppling over, and piled upon each other, and all knotted together by the gnarled roots of ancient cedar-trees, made the place seem like ruins of old fortresses.  There were caves of great depth, some of them with two entrances, in which, in the time of the fugitive slave law, many a poor hunted creature had had safe refuge.  Besides the cedar-trees, there were sugar-maples and white birches; and the beautiful rock ferns grew all over the ledges in high waving tufts, almost as luxuriantly as if they were in the tropics; so that the spot, wild and fierce as it was, had great beauty.  Many of the fugitive slaves had built themselves huts here:  some lived in the caves.  A few poor and vicious whites had joined them, intermarried with them, and from these had gradually grown up a band of as mongrel, miserable vagabonds as is often seen.  They were the terror of the neighborhood.  Except for their supreme laziness, they would have been as dangerous as brigands; for they were utter outlaws.  No man cared for them; and they cared for no man.  Parson Dorrance’s heart yearned over these poor Ishmaelites; and he determined to see if they were irreclaimable.  The first thing that his townsmen knew of his plan was his purchase of several acres of land near “The Cedars.”  He bought it very cheap, because land in that vicinity was held to be worthless for purposes of cultivation.  Unless the crops were guarded night and day, they were surreptitiously harvested by foragers from “The Cedars.”  Then it was found out that Parson Dorrance was in the habit of driving over often to look at his new property.  Gradually, the children became used to his presence, and would steal out and talk to him.  Then he carried over a small microscope, and let them look through it at insects; and before long there might have been seen, on a Sunday afternoon, a group of twenty or thirty of the outcasts gathered round the Parson, while he talked to them as he had talked to the children.  Then he told them that, if they would help, he would build a little house on his ground, and put some pictures and maps in it for them, and come over every Sunday and talk to them; and they set to work with a will.  Very many were the shrugs and smiles over “Parson Dorrance’s Chapel at ‘The Cedars.’” But the chapel was built; and the Parson preached in it to sometimes seventy-five of the outlaws.  The next astonishment of the Parson’s friends was on finding him laying out part of his new land in a nursery of valuable young fruit-trees and flowering shrubs.  Then they said,-

“Really, the Parson is mad!  Does he think he has converted all those negroes, so that they won’t steal fruit?” And, when they met the Parson, they laughed at him.  “Come, come, Parson,” they said, “this is carrying the thing a little too far, to trust a fruit orchard over there by ’The Cedars.’”

Parson Dorrance’s eyes twinkled.

“I know the boys better than you do,” he replied.  “They will not steal a single pear.”

“I’d like to wager you something on that,” said the friend.

“Well, I couldn’t exactly take such a wager,” answered the Parson, “because you see I know the boys won’t steal the fruit.”

Somewhat vexed at the obstinacy of the Parson’s faith, his friend exclaimed, “I’d like to know how you can know that beforehand?”

Parson Dorrance loved a joke.

“Neighbor,” said he, “I wish I could in honor have let you wager me on that.  I’ve given the orchard to the boys.  The fruit’s all their own.”

This was the man whom Mercy Philbrick met early in her first summer at Penfield.  She had heard him preach twice, and had been so greatly impressed by his words and by his face that she longed very much to know him.  She had talked with Stephen about him, but had found that Stephen did not sympathize at all in her enthusiasm.  “The people over at Danby are all crazy about him, I think,” said Stephen.  “He is a very good man no doubt, and does no end of things for the college boys, that none of the other professors do.  But I think he is quixotic and sentimental; and all this stuff about those niggers at the Cedars is moonshine.  They’d pick his very pocket, I daresay, any day; and he’d never suspect them.  I know that lot too well.  The Lord himself couldn’t convert them.”

“Oh, Stephen!  I think you are wrong,” replied Mercy.  “Parson Dorrance is not sentimental, I am sure.  His sermons were clear and logical and terse,-not a waste word in them; and his mouth and chin are as strong as an old Roman’s.”

Stephen looked earnestly at Mercy.  “Mercy,” said he, “I wonder if you would love me better if I were a preacher, and could preach clear, logical, and terse sermons?”

Mercy was impatient.  Already the self-centring of Stephen’s mind, his instant reverting from most trains of thought to their possible bearing on her love for him, had begun to irritate her.  It was so foreign to her own unconscious, free-souled acceptance and trust.

“Stephen,” she exclaimed, “I wish you wouldn’t say such things.  Besides seeming to imply a sort of distrust of my love for you, they are illogical; and you know there is nothing I hate like bad logic.”

Stephen made no reply.  The slightest approach to a disagreement between Mercy and himself gave him great pain and a sense of terror; and he took refuge instantly behind his usual shield of silence.  This also was foreign to Mercy’s habit and impulse.  When any thing went wrong, it was Mercy’s way to speak out honestly; to have the matter set in all its lights, until it could reach its true one.  She hated mystery; she hated reticence; she hated every thing which fell short of full and frank understanding of each other.

“Oh, Stephen!” she used to say often, “it is bad enough for us to be forced into keeping things back from the world.  Don’t let us keep any thing back from each other.”

Poor Mercy! the days were beginning to be hard for her.  Her face often wore a look of perplexed thought which was very new to it.  Still she never wavered for a moment in her devotion to Stephen.  If she had stood acknowledged before all the world as his wife, she could not have been any more single-hearted and unquestioning in her loyalty.

It was at a picnic in which the young people of both Danby and Penfield had joined that Mercy met Parson Dorrance.  No such gathering was ever thought complete without the Parson’s presence.  Again and again one might hear it said in the preliminary discussion:  “But we must find out first what day Parson Dorrance can go.  It won’t be any fun without him!”

Until Mercy came, Stephen White had rarely been asked to the pleasurings of the young people in Penfield.  There was a general impression that he did not care for things of that sort.  His manner was wrongly interpreted, however:  it was really only the constraint born of the feeling that he was out of his place, or that nobody wanted him.  He watched in silent wonder the cordial way in which, it seemed to him, that Mercy talked with everybody, and made everybody feel happy.

“Oh, Mercy, how can you!” he would exclaim:  “I feel so dumb, even while I am talking the fastest!”

“Why, so do I, Stephen,” said Mercy.  “I am often racking my brains to think what I shall say next.  Half the people I meet are profoundly uninteresting to me; and half of the other half paralyze me at first sight, and I feel like such a hypocrite all the time; but, oh, what a pleasure it is to talk with the other quarter!”

“Yes,” sighed Stephen, “you look so happy and absorbed sometimes that it makes me feel as if you had forgotten me altogether.”

“Silly boy!” laughed Mercy.  “Do you want me to prove to you by a long face that I am remembering you?-Darling,” she added, “at those very times when you see me seem so absorbed and happy in company, I am most likely thinking about the last time you looked into my face, or the next time you will.”

And for once Stephen was satisfied.

The picnic at which Mercy met Parson Dorrance had taken place on a mountain some six miles south-west of Penfield.  This mountain was the western extremity of the range of which I have before spoken; and at its base ran the river which made the meadow-lands of Penfield and Danby so beautiful.  Nowhere in America is there a lovelier picture than these meadow-lands, seen from the top of this mountain which overhangs them.  The mountain is only about twenty-five hundred feet high:  therefore, one loses no smallest shade of color in the view; even the difference between the green of broom-corn and clover records itself to the eye looking down from the mountain-top.  As far as one can see to northward the valley stretches in bands and belts and spaces of varied tints of green.  The river winds through it in doubling curves, and looks from the height like a line of silver laid in loops on an enamelled surface.  To the east and the west rise the river terraces, higher and higher, becoming, at last, lofty and abrupt hills at the horizon.

When Parson Dorrance was introduced to Mercy, she was alone on a spur of rock which jutted out from the mountain-side and overhung the valley.  She had wandered away from the gay and laughing company, and was sitting alone, absorbed and almost saddened by the unutterable beauty of the landscape below.  Stephen had missed her, but had not yet dared to go in search of her.  He imposed on himself a very rigid law in public, and never permitted himself to do or say or even look any thing which could suggest to others the intimacy of their relations.  Mercy sometimes felt this so keenly that she reproached him.  “I can’t see why you should think it necessary to avoid me so,” she would say.  “You treat me exactly as if I were only a common acquaintance.”

“That is exactly what I wish to have every one believe you to be, Mercy,” Stephen would reply with emphasis.  “That is the only safe course.  Once let people begin to associate our names together, and there is no limit to the things they would say.  We cannot be too careful.  That is one thing you must let me be the judge of, dear.  You cannot understand it as I do.  So long as I am without the right or the power to protect you, my first duty is to shield you from any or all gossip linking our names together.”

Mercy felt the justice of this; and yet to her there seemed also a sort of injustice involved in it.  She felt stung often, and wounded, in spite of all reasoning with herself that she had no cause to do so, that Stephen was but doing right.  So inevitable and inextricable are pains and dilemmas when once we enter on the paths of concealment.

Parson Dorrance was introduced to Mercy by Mrs. Hunter, a young married woman, who was fast becoming her most intimate friend.  Mrs. Hunter’s father had been settled as the minister of a church in Penfield, in the same year that Parson Dorrance had taken his professorship in Danby, and the two men had been close friends from that day till the day of Mr. Adams’s death.  Little Lizzy Adams had been Parson Dorrance’s pet when she lay in her cradle.  He had baptized her; and, when she came to woman’s estate, he had performed the ceremony which gave her in marriage to Luke Hunter, the most promising young lawyer in the county.

She had always called Parson Dorrance her uncle, and her house in Penfield was his second home.  It had been Mrs. Hunter’s wish for a long time that he should see and know her new friend, Mercy.  But Mercy was very shy of seeing the man for whom she felt such reverence, and had steadily refused to meet him.  It was therefore with a certain air of triumphant satisfaction that Mrs. Hunter led Parson Dorrance to the rock where Mercy was sitting, and exclaimed,-

“There, Uncle Dorrance! here she is!”

Parson Dorrance did not wait for any farther introduction; but; holding out both his hands to Mercy, he said in a deep, mellow voice, and with a tone which had a benediction in it,-

“I am very glad to see you, Mrs. Philbrick.  My child Lizzy here has been telling me about you for a long time.  You know I’m the same as a father to her; so you can’t escape me, if you are going to be her friend.”

Mercy looked up half-shamefacedly and half-archly, and replied,-

“It was not that I wanted to escape you; but I wanted you to escape me.”  She perceived that the Parson had been told of her refusals to meet him.  Then they all sat down again on the jutting rock; and Mercy, leaning forward with her hands clasped on her knees, fixed her eyes on Parson Dorrance’s face, and drank in every word that he said.  He had a rare faculty of speaking with the greatest simplicity, both of language and manner.  It was impossible not to feel at ease in his presence.  It was impossible not to tell him all that he asked.  Before you knew it, you were speaking to him of your own feelings, tastes, the incidents of your life, your plans and purposes, as if he were a species of father confessor.  He questioned you so gently, yet with such an air of right; he listened so observantly and sympathetically.  He did not treat Mercy Philbrick as a stranger; for Mrs. Hunter had told him already all she knew of her friend’s life, and had showed him several of Mercy’s poems, which had surprised him much by their beauty, and still more by their condensation of thought.  They seemed to him almost more masculine than feminine; and he had unconsciously anticipated that in seeing Mercy he would see a woman of masculine type.  He was greatly astonished.  He could not associate this slight, fair girl, with a child’s honesty and appeal in her eyes, with the forceful words he had read from her pen.  He pursued his conversation with her eagerly, seeking to discover the secret of her style, to trace back the poetry from its flower to its root.  It was an astonishment to Mercy to find herself talking about her own verses with this stranger whom she so reverenced.  But she felt at once as if she had sat at his feet all her life, and had no right to withhold any thing from her master.

“I suppose, Mrs. Philbrick, you have read the earlier English poets a great deal, have you not?” he said.  “I infer so from the style of some of your poems.”

“Oh, no!” exclaimed Mercy, in honest vehemence.  “I have read hardly any thing, Mr. Dorrance.  I know Herbert a little; but most of the old English poets I have never even seen.  I have never lived where there were any books till now.”

“You love Wordsworth, I hope,” he said inquiringly.

Mercy turned very red, and answered in a tone of desperation, “I’ve tried to.  Mr. Allen said I must.  But I can’t.  I don’t care any thing about him.”  And she looked at the Parson with the air of a culprit who has confessed a terrible misdemeanor.

“Ah,” he replied, “you have not then reached the point in the journey at which one sees him.  It is only a question of time:  one comes of a sudden into the presence of Wordsworth, as a traveller finds some day, upon a well-known road, a grand cathedral, into which he turns aside and worships, and wonders how it happens that he never before saw it.  You will tell me some day that this has happened to you.  It is only a question of time.”

Just as Parson Dorrance pronounced the last words, they were echoed by a laughing party who had come in search of him.  “Yes, yes, only a question of time,” they said; “and it is our time now, Parson.  You must come with us.  No monopoly of the Parson allowed, Mrs. Hunter,” and they carried him off, joining hands around him and singing the old college song, “Gaudeamus igitur.”

Stephen, who had joined eagerly in the proposal to go in search of the Parson, remained behind, and made a sign to Mercy to stay with him.  Sitting down by her side, he said gloomily,-

“What were you talking about when we came up?  Your face looked as if you were listening to music.”

“About Wordsworth,” said Mercy.  “Parson Dorrance said such a beautiful thing about him.  It was like music, like far off music,” and she repeated it to Stephen.  “I wonder if I shall ever reach that cathedral,” she added.

“Well, I’ve never reached it,” said Stephen, “and I’m a good deal older than you.  I think two thirds of Wordsworth’s poetry is imbecile, absolutely imbecile.”

Mercy was too much under the spell of Parson Dorrance’s recent words to sympathize in this; but she had already learned to avoid dissent from Stephen’s opinions, and she made no reply.  They were sitting on the edge of a great fissure in the mountain.  Some terrible convulsion must have shaken the huge mass to its centre, to have made such a rift.  At the bottom ran a stream, looking from this height like little more than a silver thread.  Shrubs and low flowering things were waving all the way down the sides of the abyss, as if nature had done her best to fill up the ugly wound.  Many feet below them, on a projecting rock, waved one little white blossom, so fragile it seemed as if each swaying motion in the breeze must sever it from the stem.

“Oh, see the dainty, brave little thing!” exclaimed Mercy.  “It looks as if it were almost alone in space.”

“I will get it for you,” said Stephen; and, before Mercy could speak to restrain him, he was far down the precipice.  With a low ejaculation of terror, Mercy closed her eyes.  She would not look on Stephen in such peril.  She did not move nor open her eyes, until he stood by her side, exclaiming, “Why, Mercy! my darling, do not look so!  There was no danger,” and he laid the little plant in her hand.  She looked at it in silence for a moment, and then said,-

“Oh, Stephen! to risk your life for such a thing as that!  The sight of it will always make me shudder.”

“Then I will throw it away,” said Stephen, endeavoring to take it from her hand; but she held it only the tighter, and whispered,-

“No! oh, what a moment! what a moment!  I shall keep this flower as long as I live!” And she did,-kept it wrapped in a paper, on which were written the following lines:-

  A moment.

  Lightly as an insect floating
    In the sunny summer air,
  Waved one tiny snow-white blossom,
  From a hidden crevice growing,
    Dainty, fragile-leaved, and fair,
  Where great rocks piled up like mountains,
  Well-nigh to the shining heavens,
    Rose precipitous and bare,
  With a pent-up river rushing,
    Foaming as at boiling heat
    Wildly, madly, at their feet.

  Hardly with a ripple stirring
    The sweet silence by its tone,
  Fell a woman’s whisper lightly,-
  “Oh, the dainty, dauntless blossom! 
    What deep secret of its own
  Keeps it joyous and light-hearted,
  O’er this dreadful chasm swinging,
    Unsupported and alone,
  With no help or cheer from kindred? 
    Oh, the dainty, dauntless thing,
    Bravest creature of the spring!”

  Then the woman saw her lover,
    For one instant saw his face,
  Down the precipice slow sinking,
  Looking up at her, and sending
    Through the shimmering, sunny space
  Look of love and subtle triumph,
  As he plucked the tiny blossom
    In its airy, dizzy place,-
  Plucked it, smiling, as if danger
    Were not danger to the hand
    Of true lover in love’s land.

  In her hands her face she buried,
    At her heart the blood grew chill;
  In that one brief moment crowded
  The whole anguish of a lifetime,
    Made her every pulse stand still. 
  Like one dead she sat and waited,
  Listening to the stirless silence,
    Ages in a second, till,
  Lightly leaping, came her lover,
    And, still smiling, laid the sweet
    Snow-white blossom at her feet.

  “O my love! my love!” she shuddered,
    “Bloomed that flower by Death’s own spell? 
  Was thy life so little moment,
  Life and love for that one blossom
    Wert thou ready thus to sell? 
  O my precious love! for ever
  I shall keep this faded token
    Of the hour which came to tell,
  In such voice I scarce dared listen,
    How thy life to me had grown
    So much dearer than my own!”

On their way home from the picnic late in the afternoon, they came at the base of the mountain to a beautiful spot where two little streams met.  The two streams were in sight for a long distance:  one shining in a green meadow; the other leaping and foaming down a gorge in the mountain-side.  A little inn, which was famous for its beer, stood on the meadow space, bounded by these two streams; and the picnic party halted before its door.  While the white foamy glasses were clinked and tossed, Mercy ran down the narrow strip of land at the end of which the streams met.  A little thicket of willows grew there.  Standing on the very edge of the shore, Mercy broke off a willow wand, and dipped it to right in the meadow stream, to the left in the stream from the gorge.  Then she brought it back wet and dripping.

“It has drank of two waters,” she cried, holding it up.  “Oh, you ought to see how wonderful it is to watch their coming together at that point!  For a little while you can trace the mountain water by itself in the other:  then it is all lost, and they pour on together.”  This picture, also, she set in a frame of verse one day, and gave it to Stephen.

  On a green point of sunny land,
    Hemmed in by mountains stern and high,
  I stood alone as dreamers stand,
    And watched two streams that hurried by.

  One ran to east, and one to south;
    They leaped and sparkled in the sun;
  They foamed like racers at the mouth,
    And laughed as if the race were won.

  Just on the point of sunny land
    A low bush stood, like umpire fair,
  Waving green banners in its hand,
    As if the victory to declare.

  Ah, victory won, but not by race! 
    Ah, victory by a sweeter name! 
  To blend for ever in embrace,
    Unconscious, swift, the two streams came.

  One instant, separate, side by side
    The shining currents seemed to pour;
  Then swept in one tumultuous tide,
    Swifter and stronger than before.

  O stream to south!  O stream to east! 
    Which bears the other, who shall see? 
  Which one is most, which one is least,
    In this surrendering victory?

  To that green point of sunny land,
    Hemmed in by mountains stern and high,
  I called my love, and, hand in hand,
    We watched the streams that hurried by.