They stood at the garden gate.
  By the lifting of a lid
She might have read her fate
  In a little thing he did.

He plucked a beautiful flower,
  Tore it away from its place
On the side of the blooming bower,
  And held it against his face.

Drank in its beauty and bloom,
  In the midst of his idle talk;
Then cast it down to the gloom
  And dust of the garden walk.

Ay, trod it under his foot,
  As it lay in his pathway there;
Then spurned it away with his boot,
  Because it had ceased to be fair.

Ah! the maiden might have read
  The doom of her young life then;
But she looked in his eyes instead,
  And thought him the king of men.

She looked in his eyes and blushed,
  She hid in his strong arms' fold;
And the tale of the flower, crushed
  And spurned, was once more told.

Shells by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Milwaukee: Hauser & Storey, 1873.

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