The Book of the Native

by Charles G.D. Roberts


 

The Ballad of Crossing the Brook


 

Oh, it was a dainty maid that went a-Maying in the morn,
    A dainty, dainty maiden of degree.
The ways she took were merry and the ways she missed forlorn,
    And the laughing water tinkled to the sea.

The little leaves above her loved the dainty, dainty maid;

5
    The little wind they kissed her, every one;
At the nearing of her little feet the flowers were not afraid;
    And the water lay a-whimpling in the sun.

Oh, the dainty, dainty maid to the borders of the brook
    Lingered down as lightly as the breeze;

10
And the shy water-spiders quit their scurrying to look;
    And the happy water whispered to the trees.

She was fain to cross the brook, was the dainty, dainty maid;
    But first she lifted up her elfin eyes
To see if there were cavalier or clown a-near to aid,—

15
    And the water-bubbles blinked in surprise.

The brook bared its pebbles to persuade her dainty feet,
    But the dainty, dainty maid was not content.
She had spied a simple country lad (for dainty maid unmeet),
    And the shy water twinkled as it went.

20

As the simple lad drew nigh, then this dainty, dainty maid,
    (O maidens, well you know how it was done!)
Stood a-gazing at her feet until he saw she was afraid
    Of the water there a-whimpling in the sun.

Now that simple lad had in him all the makings of a man;

25
    And he stammered, "I had better lift you over!"
Said the dainty, dainty maid—"Do you really think you can?"
    And the water hid its laughter in the clover.

So he carried her across, with his eyes cast down,
    And his foolish heart a-quaking with delight.

30
And the maid she looked him over with her elfin eyes of brown;
    And the impish water giggled at his plight.

He reached the other side, he set down the dainty maid;
    But he trembled so he couldn’t speak a word.
Then the dainty, dainty maid—"Thank you, Sir! Good-day!" she said.

35
    And the water-bubbles chuckled as they heard.

Oh she tripped away so lightly, a-Maying in the morn,
    That dainty, dainty maiden of degree;
She left the simple country lad a-sighing and forlorn
    Where the mocking water twinkled to the sea.

40