They stray through the sunlit, summery weather,
   Two maids and a youth, 'neath skies of blue,
And each of the three, as they walk together,
   Is secretly wishing there were but two.

Yet the maidens love each other dearly,
   And both love the youth, if he only knew;
And he loves one as a sweet friend merely,
   And the other he loves as lovers do.

And she who has won his heart's best passion
   Gives back but a fancy, a passing whim:
She loves him only in coquette fashion;
   While the other maid--she would die for him.

And while they wander across the meadows,
   Their three hearts brimming with love's sweet pain,
Fate is sitting within the shadows,
   Weaving for them a tangled skein.

And she shall weave till the autumn weather,
   When th' threads shall unravel and all come straight;
But well she loveth to knot them together,
   And tangle the ends for a time, doth Fate!

She at whose feet is cast that treasure,
   A man's heart strong with love's full tide,
Shall use it awhile as a thing of pleasure;
   Bruise it, and break it, and cast it aside.

And she who is loved as a sweet friend only
   Shall find it bleeding upon the ground,
And being herself so sad and lonely,
   Shall strive through pity to heal the wound.

And after a time, when she's hushed its grieving,
   She shall take it with all its wounds and scars,
And hide it away in her breast, believing
   'Tis the richest treasure under the stars.

But the three walk on o'er the sunlit meadows,
   And dream all life is a summer land;
And they pass by one who sits in the shadows,
   And see not the webs in her bony hand.

And so we all while the days are flitting
   Plan out a future of joys and pains,
And see not Fate in the shadows sitting,
   Knotting and tying the tangled skeins.

The vows we vow with a fond "Forever,"
   The pledge we deem there can naught befall,
Fate with a touch of her hand can sever.
   Ah me! 'tis folly to plan at all.

Those that we love may the soonest fail us;
   We may learn to worship whom now we hate.
And what do our plans and our dreams avail us?
   Better to leave it all with Fate.

By Ella Wheeler

The Galaxy. Volume 21, Issue 3 (March 1876): 405.

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