The morning sun shines bright and clear,
Clear and cold, for winter is near,—
Winter, the chill and dread:
And the fire burns bright in the exile's home,
With fagot of fir from the mountain's dome,
While the children clamor for bread.
Against the wall stands the idle wheel,
Unfinished the thread upon the spindle and reel,
The empty cards are crost;
But nigh to the hearthstone sits the wife,
With cleaver and mallet,—so brave and so blithe,
She fears not famine or frost.
Fair and soft are her braided locks,
And the light in her blue eye merrily mocks
The shadow of want and fear,
As deftly, with fingers supple and strong,
She draws the glittering shave along,
O'er the slab of cedar near.
Neatly and close are the shingles laid,
Bound in a bunch,—then, undismayed,
The Swedish wife uprose:
"Be patient, my darlings," she blithely said,
"I go to the town, and you shall have bread,
Ere the day has reached its close."
Eight miles she trudged—'twas a weary way;
The road was rough, the sky grew gray
With the snow that sifted down;
Bent were her shoulders beneath their load,
But high was her heart, for love was the goad
That urged her on to the town.
Ere the sun went down was her promise kept,
The little ones feasted before they slept;
While the father, sick in bed,
Prayed softly, with tears and murmurs low,
That his household darlings might never know
A lack of their daily bread.