Lily the Fair,

And the Big Brown Bear.

A Tale for the Little and Good.

Decorative initial letter “O” from the word “Once”. The letter is contained within a square and is superimposed over a vegetal pattern.
Once on a time there lived a prince1
Who had a castle grand,2
With gallant knight and pages bright,3
To round about him stand.4
He’d gold and gems, and diadems,5
And silver too to spare ;6
But he was sad and sorrowful7
And grey had grown his hair.8
For just when all was happiness9
And love, and joy, and pride ;10
A dreadful sorrow smote this prince—11
His faithful wife had died.12
She was his very all in all,13
More dear to him than pearl,14
But one sad day she passed away,15
And left one little girl.16
One little girl so white and soft,17
With eyes of tender blue,18
And hair as golden as the corn,19
And teeth of pearly hue ;20
Her smile was like the sunny light21
That spreads at early morn,22
And ne’er was seen a sweeter mien23
Than Lily did adorn.24
For Lily did her father call25
This little princess fair ;26
She was his only pleasure, now,27
In his sad life of care ;28
He loved her for her mother’s sake,29
And watched her as she grew ;30
While little Lily soft and sweet31
She loved her father too.32
One day out-spoke a courtier old :—33
My lord, this grief must cease34
If you, your people, and this land35
Would longer live in peace36
King Wolfstan’s girded on his sword37
And called his men of war38
And ere six days have gone their way39
They’ll be our gates before.”40
Then bring my sword, and eke my shield,41
And blow the trumpet’s blast ;42
For with my gallant knights and men43
This cruel king we’ll cast44
Forth from my peaceful happy land45
And send him back in dread :46
He soon shall rue the luckless day47
He such a journey sped.”48
Nay, nay, my prince,” the courtier said,49
All fighting ends in pain ;50
You’d conquer if you went to war,51
But still would count your slain,52
Our fairest wives would weep and mourn ;53
Our daughters, sisters, fair,54
Must be bereft of some one brave,55
And given to despair.”56
True !” said the prince, “ and such a grief57
As mine may all be saved.58
Speak out my courtier, wise and good,59
How shall this king be braved ?”60
A peaceful ambassage I’ll form,61
And onward hence this night,62
I’ll say that you, my noble prince,63
Will wed his daughter bright.”64
I wed another—wed again ?65
Oh, no !” the brave prince cried.66
To save this plain from blood and stain,67
You’ll take another bride.68
Then Wolfstan’s fiery men at arms69
Would sheathe each cruel sword,70
And for the feast from great to least,71
We’d spread the marriage board.”72
The Prince’s trembling hand caressed73
Fair Lily’s golden hair,74
And dark and heavy grew his brow,75
With sorrow and with care.76
To save my land from cruel war,77
From blood and deadly strife,78
Til do this thing, my courtier true,79
And Wolfstan’s daughter wife.”80
The banners wave, the trumpets blow,81
The people raised a cry,82
As Wollstan’s daughter in her car83
Rode in her triumph by.84
Upon her brow a golden crown ;85
Her robe was cloth of cold ;86
But, oh ! her look was keen and sharp,87
Her haughty smile was cold.88
You’re welcome wife,” exclaimed the prince,89
He strode to her and smiled.90
She gave her thin white hand, and asked—91
Who is this little child ?”92
This is my little Lily bright—93
My joy, my very own,94
She’ll love you, too, my noble wife ;95
Now join me on my throne.”96
So Wolfstan’s men at arms went back,97
When done the wedding feast,98
And happy peace, in place of war,99
Was shared from great to least.100
But in the palace peace came not,101
Came happiness no more ;102
For Wolfstan’s daughter soon began.103
To hate the child full sore.104
Two years had passed, a tiny prince,105
A tiny princess, too,106
Had come to share the father’s love ;107
But blacker Wolfine grew.108
She beat sweet Lily cruelly,109
Her golden tresses tore ;110
And when one day the prince away111
She drove her from the door.112
Then Wolfine wept, and Wolfine cried,113
When straight returned her lord :—114
What shall I dos where can she be ?115
Ah ! slay me with thy sword.116
Our little Lily lost and gone—117
Ah, me ! “ twill break my heart !118
What have I done that I should bear119
This cruel bitter smart ?”120
The knights and pages, men at arms,121
With torches blazing high,122
Then searched the mountain and the stream,123
They searched the forest nigh ;124
But ne’er a trace of Lily fair,125
The hapless father found,126
Though in one spot in forest dark,127
Dark blood had stained the ground.128
And from that time ’twas always said129
When speaking of that day,130
That Lily of some cruel beast131
Had been the dainty prey132
And years sped on, and Wolfstan died—133
Wolfine his cruel child134
And on the throne her brother sat,135
A prince both true and mild.136
But on that day when Lily fair137
Was from the palace driven138
She fled amidst the forest wilds,139
Where rocks were rough and riven ;140
Where birds were strange and beasts were fierce,141
Where serpents crawled and twined ;142
Where lightnings tore the lofty trees,143
Where bleak winds howled and whined.144
All hungry, all footsore, and weak,145
At last she sat her there,146
And felt that she, so helplessly,147
Must give up and despair ;148
And yet around her all was bright,149
All nature blithe and free,150
The insect, honey gathering,151
The bird, fruit from the tree.152
Why should I sit alone and die153
When every thing I see154
Can eat and sing, can live and sleep,155
On rock, and bank, and tree ?156
If bird and bee, and rabbit brown,157
Can skip, and flit, and fly,158
And find the forest dark their home,159
Ah, surely, cannot I ?160
No father’s love will guard me here,161
My bed will be the sod,162
But though no palace o’er my head,163
I still can trust in God !”164
She smiled ; and drinking where the fount165
Gushed from the mossy mound,166
Went on refreshed, and picked the fruit167
That ripened o’er the ground.168
Her food the nut, the acorn white,169
The berry brown and blue,170
The mushroom fair, without compare,171
That sprang each morn anew.172
She slept where buds and leaves her bed173
Had heaped within a tree,174
And day by day she roved away175
Her home the forest free.176
One eve, amidst the rugged rocks,177
Arose a plaintive cry,178
And Lily, in a darksome rift,179
Saw something injured lie.180
She clambered down, and bruised and torn,181
All moaning lying there,182
She found so helpless, bleeding, too,183
A clumsy little bear.184
The wretched cub its little eyes185
Turned on fair Lily’s face,186
And whined and asked her pity sweet187
For its poor helpless case.188
She bore it forth, and clambered up189
To safe and solid ground ;190
And with pure water from the fount191
She bathed each bleeding wound.192
The bear cub whined, her handsit licked,193
It played around her feet,194
When, as she watched it laughingly,195
A growl her ears did greet.196
Forth from a thicket, huge and brown,197
With eyes all flash and glare,198
Its white teeth glistening, furiously,199
Out rushed the mother bear.200
Poor Lily felt her time was nigh,201
And on her knees she fell,202
As to the fierce and sullen growl203
Rose echoes in the dell.204
The bear’s hot breath came on her cheek,205
The fangs her shudder made,206
When round her in its clumsy sport,207
The little bearling played.208
It whined, it growled, it rubbed its head209
Against her gentle hand ;210
The mother bear, with puzzled look,211
Her awkward offspring scanned,212
And perhaps in dear, her little son,213
Said “ This is my dear friend !”214
For softly scenting her all o’er,215
The huge she bear did end.216
That night within a dank, dark cave217
Fair Lily rested hard ;218
The little bear her pillow made,219
The old she bear her guard.220
And in the morn sweet honeycomb221
She fetched from far and near,222
And from that day, the bears’ firm friend,223
She lived quite free from fear.224
The years passed on, the old bear died225
One winter in the snow ;226
Her son, fair Lily’s faithful friend,227
A mighty bear did grow ;228
He hunted for them patiently,229
He honey brought, and roots230
The sweetest nuts, the brownest corn,231
The ripest of all fruits.232
And Lily, too, a beauteous maid,233
Had grown so passing fair ;234
And like a robe of golden glass235
Hung down her glorious hair.236
The cave their home, the forest free237
Supplied their simple need ;238
And armed with such a shaggy friend,239
From danger she was freed.240
One day the great brown bear was gone241
To hunt for honied prize,242
When from the distant valley deep243
There rose the hunters’ cries244
The shouts of men, the blast of horn,245
The soft spring breezes bore ;246
But Lily’s hands were claspéd when247
She heard her guardian’s roar.248
The sounds came near, and nearer still,249
The bear’s deep growl came near ;250
And soon with white and slavered mouth,251
And soon in deadly fear,252
All wounded sore, and hunted down,253
The bear crept to her side ;254
And up, upon a noble horse,255
A gallant prince did ride.256
Forward, my men !” he shouted loud,257
And raised his spear on high258
To lay the shaggy monster low,259
When, with a bitter cry,260
Fair Lily rushed before her friend,261
Around its rugged head262
Her soft and snowy arms she threw,263
And clasped it as it bled.264
Oh, spare him, “ tis my only friend !”265
She cried ; and in a maze,266
The prince’s bright spear fell to earth,267
And on her he did gaze.268
What, ho, my men !” he cried aloud,269
Behold a wonder rare ;270
Although these many years have passed,271
I’ve found the Lily fair.”272
He took her to his palace proud,273
The bear came close behind,274
He gladly made her his fair wife,275
When she was so inclined ;276
And with a ring of costly gold,277
And with a golden chain,278
The great bear sat at Lily’s feet279
All through her happy reign.280