The Princess was of ancient line,
Of royal race was she;
Like cameo her face was fine,
With sad serentiy:
Yet bent she toiled with dimming eye,
Her rice and milk to buy.
With lacework that for pity plead,
So out of date it seemed,
She sought to make her daily bread,
As of her past she dreamed:
And though sometimes I heard her sigh,
I never knew her cry.
Her patient heart was full of hope,
For health she gave God thanks,
Till one day in an envelope
I sealed a thousand francs,
And 'neath her door for her to see
I slipped it secretly.
'Twas long after, I came to know
My gift she never spent,
But gave to one of greater woe,
And wearily she went . . .
To be of charity a part,--
That stabbed her to the heart.
For one dark day we found her dead:
Oh she was sweet to see!
Exalted in her garret bed
With face like ivory . . .
Aye, though from lack of food she died,
Unflawed she flagged her pride.
Robert William Service